Is There A Place For Us? Social Workers of Color As Outside Agitators Within the Profession
Keywords:Outsider, Social Work, Outside Agitators, Social Workers of Color, social work profession
The outside agitator narrative has been used to discredit and harm people of color for decades. Currently, it is being used as a forceful tactic to separate the movement for Black lives from the broader narrative that racism is deeply rooted in American social structures, institutions, and everyday life. This article examines the implications of how the profession of social work has similarly and simultaneously maintained a culture of white supremacy and racist ideologies in our work. As outsiders in a predominantly white profession, social workers of color act as outside agitators when dispelling myths and practices used in and for communities of color. By centering the lived experiences and knowledge of social workers of color, all social workers can increase their awareness of racism within our profession and work together to dismantle the culture of racism and white supremacy that persists within social work.
Abramovitz, M. (2017). Regulating the lives of women: Social welfare policy from colonial times to the present. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315228150
Abrams, L. S., & Moio, J. A. (2009). Critical race theory and the cultural competence dilemma in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 45, 245-261. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2009.200700109
Balfour, D. L., Adams, G. B., & Nikels, A. E. (2020). Unmasking administrative evil (5th ed.). Taylor and Francis.
Bay, M. (2009). To tell the truth freely: The life of Ida B. Wells. Macmillan.
Bloom, N. (2020, July 6). Blaming “outside agitators” for street protests is not a distraction- it’s an American call to arms. IEHS Online. https://www.iehs.org/blaming-outside-agitators-for-street-protests-is-not-a-distraction-its-an-american-call-to-arms/#_ftn7
Busby, J. (2020, June 9). Beware the “outside agitator” dog whistle. Duck of Minerva. https://duckofminerva.com/2020/06/beware-the-outside-agitator-dog-whistle.html
Carruthers, C. (2018). Unapologetic: A Black, queer, and feminist mandate for radical movements. Beacon Press.
Castex, G., Senreich, E., Phillips, N. K., Miller, C. M., & Mazza, C. (2019). Microaggressions and racial privilege within the social work profession: The social work licensing examinations. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 28(2), 211-228. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2018.1555498
Chowdhury, K. (2014, August 14). Outsiders in Ferguson. Counter Punch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/21/outsiders-in-ferguson/
Chowdhury, K. (2020, June 1). The return of the “outside agitator”. Counter Punch. https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/01/the-return-of-the-outside-agitator/
Collins, J. (2020, June 9). The American myths of the ‘black wrecker’ and ‘outside agitator’. Medium. https://email@example.com/the-american-myths-of-the-black-wrecker-and-outside-agitator-43b95621ace9
Constance-Huggins, M. (2012). Critical race theory in social work education. Critical Social Work, 13(2), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.22329/csw.v13i2.5861
Davis, A. Y. (1981). Women, race, & class. Vintage.
Davis, A. Y. (2003). Are prisons obsolete? Seven Stories Press.
Dormon, J. H. (1977). The persistent specter: Slave rebellion in territorial Louisiana. Louisiana History, 18(4), 389-404. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4231728
Eidman-Aadahl, E. (2020) The “outside agitator” trope, asked and answered. Medium. https://elyseea.medium.com/the-outside-agitator-trope-asked-and-answered-e79538b70e68
Fortin, J. (2020, June 8). The long history of the ‘outside agitator’. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/08/us/outside-agitators-history-civil-rights.html
Freire, P. (2018). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing. (Original work published 1968)
Gilder Lehrman Collection. (n.d.). History resources: George Wallace on segregation, 1964. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-resources/spotlight-primary-source/george-wallace-segregation-1964
Jacobs, L. A., Kim, M. E., Whitfield, D. L., Gartner, R. E., Panichelli, M., Kattari, S. K., & Mountz, S. E. (2021). Defund the police: Moving towards an anti-carceral social work. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 32(1), 37-62. https://doi.org/10.1080/10428232.2020.1852865
Kim, M. E. (2018). From carceral feminism to transformative justice: Women-of-color feminism and alternatives to incarceration. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 27(3), 219-233. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2018.1474827
Lum, D. (1999). Social work practice and people of color: A process-stage approach (4th ed.). Brooks.
Lum, D. (2003). Culturally competent practice: A framework for understanding diverse groups and justice issues. Brooks.
McClain, A. (2020, June 15). Social workers cooperate with police forces. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/social-workers-cooperate-with-police-forces-11592255480
Salsberg, E., Quigley, L., Mehfoud, N., Acquaviva, K. D., Wyche, K., & Silwa, S. (2017). Profile of the social work workforce: CSWE Report. https://www.cswe.org/Centers-Initiatives/Initiatives/National-Workforce-Initiative/SW-Workforce-Book-FINAL-11-08-2017.aspx
Scott, C. A. (1970). Ethnic minorities in social work education: A collection of papers highlighting developments and issues concerning faculty, students, and curriculum in social work education. Council on Social Work Education.
Sharpe, C. (2016). In the wake: On blackness and being. Duke University Press. https://www.dukeupress.edu/in-the-wake
Zhou, L. (2020, June 15). The trope of “outside agitators at protests, explained. Vox. https://www.vox.com/2020/6/3/21275720/george-floyd-protests-outside-agitators-ferguson-civil-rights-movement