Social Work Educators as White Allies?
An Integrative Literature Review
Keywords:White Allies, Social Work Edcuation, Antiracism
White educators represent the majority of social work faculty. Current research suggests that many White social work educators are not prepared to address racism in classroom discussions and model antiracist behavior. An integrative literature review was conducted by the co-authors—a White man and Black woman, both social work educators—to examine how recent literature characterizes the “White ally” educator and explore concepts designed to prepare White faculty for purposive action to dismantle White Supremacy. Integrative review is a methodology used to summarize empirical/theoretical literature to provide a comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon. Twenty-two articles met inclusion criteria for this review. The analysis involved two steps: First, a synthesis and integrative model of the literature on educators as White allies. Second, an application of the critical race theory concepts interest convergence and anti-essentialism. The integrative model of the White ally educator suggests a White identity process; necessitating critical self-reflection and multi-level, antiracist action. Critical examination of the literature troubles the concept of “White ally,” pointing to the potential re-centering of Whiteness. Further research is needed to help social work educators recognize racism in their work and prepare future social workers to engage in antiracist social work practice.
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(2), 245-261. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2009.200700109
Akamine Phillips, J., Risdon, N., Lamsma, M., Hambrick, A., & Jun, A. (2019). Barriers and strategies by White faculty who incorporate anti-racist pedagogy. Race and Pedagogy Journal: Teaching and Learning for Justice, 3(2), 1-27. https://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1045&context=rpj
Ansley, F. (1997). White supremacy (and what we should do about it). In R. Delgado & J. Stefancic (Eds.), Critical White studies (pp. 592-595). Temple University Press.
Aveling, N. (2006). “Hacking at our very roots”: Rearticulating White racial identity within the context of teacher education. Race Ethnicity and Education, 9(3), 261-274. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613320600807576
Azzopardi, C., & McNeill, T. (2016). From cultural competence to cultural consciousness: Transitioning to a critical approach to working across differences in social work. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 25(4), 282-299. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2016.1206494
Baldwin, J. (1998). A talk to teachers. In T. Morrison (Ed.), James Baldwin: Collected essays (pp. 678-686). Library of America. (Original work published 1963)
Bender, K, Negi, N., & Fowler, D. N. (2010). Exploring the relationship between self-awareness and student commitment and understanding of culturally responsive social work practice. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 19(1), 34-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313200903531990
Boucher, M. L. (2016). More than an ally: A successful White teacher who builds solidarity with his African American students. Urban Education, 51(1), 82-107. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085914542982
Boutte, G. A., & Jackson, T. O. (2014). Advice to White allies: Insights from faculty of Color. Race and Justice, 17(5), 623-642. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2012.759926
Boyle, D. P., & Springer, A. (2001). Toward a cultural competence measure for social work with specific populations. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 9(3-4), 53-71. https://doi.org/10.1300/j051v09n03_03
Bubar, R., Cespedes, K., & Bundy-Fazioli, K. (2016). Intersectionality and social work: Omissions of race, class, and sexuality in graduate school education. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(3), 283-296. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2016.1174636
Charbeneau, J. (2015). White faculty transforming whiteness in the classroom through pedagogical practice. Race Ethnicity and Education, 18(5), 655-674, https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2013.831823
Chiariello, E. (2016). Why talk about whiteness? We can’t talk about racism without it. Teaching Tolerance, Summer(53), 31-33. https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/summer-2016/why-talk-about-whiteness
Cochran-Smith, M. (1995). Uncertain allies: Understanding the boundaries of race and teaching. Harvard Educational Review, 65(4), 541-571. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.65.4.m77263886583326v
Conn, V. S., Valentine, J. C., Cooper, H. M., & Rantz, M. J. (2003). Grey literature in meta-analyses. Nursing Research, 52(4), 256-261. https://doi.org/10.1097/00006199-200307000-00008
Corley, N. A., & Young, S. M. (2018). Is social work still racist? A content analysis of recent literature. Social work, 63(4), 317-326. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swy042
Council on Social Work Education [CSWE]. (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards. https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Standards-and-Policies/2015-EPAS.aspx
CSWE. (2020). 2019 statistics on social work education in the United States. https://cswe.org/getattachment/Research-Statistics/2019-Annual-Statistics-on-Social-Work-Education-in-the-United-States-Final-(1).pdf.aspx#:~:text=There%20were%20more%20than%205%2C600,States%20as%20of%20fall%202019.&text=90.6%25%20held%20a%20master's%20degree,a%20license%20in%20social%20work.
CSWE. (2020). Two pandemics. https://www.cswe.org/News/General-News-Archives/Two-Pandemics
Craig de Silva, E., Jackson, V., Oldman, V., Schachter, R., Wong, J., & Lopez, L. (2007). Institutional racism & the social work profession: A call to action. National Association of Social Workers. https://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=SWK1aR53FAk%3D&portalid=0
Davis, A., Mirick, R., & McQueen, B. (2015). Teaching from privilege: Reflections from White female instructors. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 30(3), 302-313. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886109914560742
De Lissovoy, N., & Brown, A. L. (2013). Antiracist solidarity in critical education: Contemporary problems and possibilities. Urban Review, 45(5), 539-560. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-013-0235-8
Deepak, A. C., Rountree, M. A., & Scott, J. (2015). Delivering diversity and social justice in social work education: The power of context. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 26(2), 107-125. https://doi.org/10.1080/10428232.2015.1017909
Denevi, E. (2017). Being an ally: The role of white educators in multicultural education assumptions and actions. https://www.teachingwhilewhite.org/being-a-coconspirator
Desnoyers-Colas, E. F. (2019). Talking loud and saying nothing kicking faux ally-ness to the curb by battling racial battle fatigue by using White accomplice-ment. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, 8(4), 100-105. https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2019.8.4.100
Diangelo, R. (2012). Antiracist education and the road ahead. Counterpoints, 398(2012), 289-302.
Dismantle Collective. (2019). White allyship 101: Resources to get to work. Retrieved from https://www.dismantlecollective.org/resources/
Dixon-Woods, M., Bonas, S., Booth, A., Jones, D. R., Miller, T., Sutton, A. J., Shaw, R. L. Smith, J. A., & Young, B. (2006). How can systematic reviews incorporate qualitative research? A critical perspective. Qualitative Research, 6(1), 27-44. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794106058867
Dominelli, L. (1989). An uncaring profession? An examination of racism in social work. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 15(3), 391-403. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183x.1989.9976127
Droogendyk, L., Wright, S. C., Lubensky, M., & Louis, W. R. (2016). Acting in solidarity: Cross‐group contact between disadvantaged group members and advantaged group allies. Journal of Social Issues, 72(2), 315-334. https://doi.org/10.1111/josi.12168
Feize, L., & Gonzalez, J. (2018). A model of cultural competency in social work as seen through the lens of self-awareness. Social Work Education, 37(4), 472-489. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2017.1423049
Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed (revised). Continuum. (Originally published in 1968).
Gaffney, C. (2016). Anatomy of an ally. Teaching Tolerance, Summer(53), 34-37. https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/summer-2016/anatomy-of-an-ally
Ganong, L. H. (1987). Integrative review of nursing research. Research in Nursing & Health, 10(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.4770100103
Garvey, J., & Ignatiev, N. (1996). The new abolitionism. Minnesota Review, 47(1), 105-108. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/438721/pdf
Giroux, H. A. (1997). Rewriting the discourse of racial identity: Towards a pedagogy and politics of Whiteness. Harvard Educational Review, 67(2), 285-320. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.67.2.r4523gh4176677u8
Greene, L. S. (1990). Tokens, role models, and pedagogical politics: Lamentations of an African American female law professor. Berkeley Women's Law Journal, 6, 81-92. https://lawcat.berkeley.edu/record/1113681?ln=en
Grillo, T. (1995). Anti-essentialism and intersectionality: Tools to dismantle the master's house. Berkeley Women's Law Journal, 10, 1-15. https://lawcat.berkeley.edu/record/1115249?ln=en
Grzanka, P. R., Frantell, K. A., & Fassinger, R. E. (2020). The White Racial Affect Scale (WRAS): A measure of White guilt, shame, and negation. The Counseling Psychologist, 48(1), 47-77. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000019878808
Han, K. T., & Leonard, J. (2017). Why diversity matters in rural America: Women faculty of color challenging Whiteness. Urban Review, 49, 112-139. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-016-0384-7
Harris, A. P. (1990). Race and essentialism in feminist legal theory. Stanford Law Review, 581-616. https://doi.org/10.2307/1228886
Helms, J. E. (1997). Toward a model of White racial identity development. In Arnold, K.D. & King, I.C. College student development and academic life: Psychological, intellectual, social, and moral issues (pp. 207-224). Garland Publications.
hooks, b. (1989). Talking back: Thinking feminist, thinking black. South End Press.
Houh, E. (2005). Toward praxis. University of California Davis Law Review, 39, 905-939. https://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/issues/39/3/race-sex-working-identities/DavisVol39No3_HOUH.pdf
Indigenous Action Media. (2015). Accomplices not allies. An indigenous perspective and provocation. https://www.indigenousaction.org/accomplices-not-allies-abolishing-the-ally-industrial-complex/
Johnson, Y. M., & Munch, S. (2009). Fundamental contradictions in cultural competence. Social Work, 54(3), 220-231. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/54.3.220
Juárez, B. (2013). Learning to take the bullet and more: Anti-racism requirements for White allies and other friends of the race, so-called and otherwise. In Unhooking from whiteness (pp. 33-51). Brill Sense. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6209-377-5_3
Jupp, J. C., Berry, T. R., & Lensmire, T. J. (2016). Second-wave White teacher identity studies: A review of White teacher identity literatures from 2004 through 2014. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1151-1191. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654316629798
Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. One world.
Kindle, P. A., & Delavega, E. (2018). Increasing awareness of white privilege among social work students. Multicultural Education, 26(1), 24-30. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1215234.pdf
Kivel, P. (2006). Guidelines for being strong white allies. Racial Equity Tools. https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/kivel3.pdf
Larke, P, & Larke, A. (2009). Teaching diversity/multicultural education courses in the academy: Sharing the voices of six professors. Research in Higher Education Journal, 1-8. https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/09170.pdf
Ledoux, C., & Montalvo, F. F. (1999). Multicultural content in social work graduate programs: A national survey. Journal of Multicultural Social Work, 7(1-2), 37-55. https://doi.org/10.1300/j285v07n01_03
Leonardo, Z. (2002). The souls of white folk: Critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, and globalization discourse. Race ethnicity and education, 5(1), 29-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613320120117180
Leonardo, Z. (2015). Contracting race: Writing, racism, and education. Critical Studies in Education, 56(1), 86-98. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2015.981197
Logan, G., Lightfoot, B. A., & Contreras, A. (2017). Black and Brown millennial activism on a PWI campus in the era of Trump. The Journal of Negro Education: Special Issue—When Voices Rise: Race, Resistance, and Campus Uprisings in the Information Age, 86(3), 252- 268. https://doi.org/10.7709/jnegroeducation.86.3.0252
Lopez, I. F. H. (1994). The social construction of race: Some observations on illusion, fabrication, and choice. Harvard Civil-Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 29, 1-62. https://lawcat.berkeley.edu/record/1115043/files/fulltext.pdf
Lynch, M. E. (2018). The hidden nature of Whiteness in education: Creating active allies in White teachers. Journal of Educational Supervision, 1(1), 18-31. https://doi.org/10.31045/jes.1.1.2
Martin, P. S. (2008). “I’m white, now what?” Setting a context for change in teachers’ pedagogy. Counterpoints: Ideologies in Education: Unmasking the Trap of Teacher Neutrality, 319, 161-179. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42979856
Matias, C. E. (2013). Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self and our kids: Counterstories from culturally responsive White teachers? . . . to culturally responsive White teachers! Interdisciplinary Journal of Teaching and Learning, 3(2), 68-81. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1063061.pdf
McCoy, H. (2020, June 12). The life of a Black academic: Tired and terrorized. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/06/12/terror-many-black-academics-are-experiencing-has-left-them-absolutely-exhausted.
Miceli, M., & Castelfranchi, C. (2018). Reconsidering the differences between shame and guilt. Europe's Journal of Psychology, 14(3), 710-733. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v14i3.1564
Michael, A., & Conger, M. C. (2009). Becoming an anti-racist White ally: How a White affinity group can help. Perspectives on Urban Education, 6(1), 56-60. https://urbanedjournal.gse.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/pdf_archive/56-60--Michael_and_Conger.pdf
Miller, L. A., & Harris, V. W. (2018). I can’t be racist - I teach in an urban school, and I'm a nice White lady! World Journal of Education, 8(3), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.5430/wje.v8n3p1
Mills, K. J. (2020). “It’s systemic”: Environmental racial microaggressions experienced by Black undergraduates at a predominantly White institution. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 13(1), 44-55. https://doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000121
Milner IV, H. R. (2008). Critical race theory and interest convergence as analytic tools in teacher education policies and practices. Journal of teacher education, 59(4), 332-346. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487108321884
Moss, L. J., & Singh, A. A. (2015). White school counselors becoming racial justice allies to students of color: A call to the field of school counseling. Journal of School Counseling, 13(5), 1-36. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1062933.pdf
Page, M. (2009). Pedagogy of privilege: White preservice teachers learn about whiteness. Teaching and Learning, 24(1), 3-21.
Pappas, C., & Williams, I. (2011). Grey literature: Its emerging importance. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 11(3), 228-234. https://doi.org/10.1080/15323269.2011.587100
Patton, L. D., & Bondi, S. (2015). Nice White men or social justice allies?: Using critical race theory to examine how White male faculty and administrators engage in ally work. Race Ethnicity and Education, 18(4), 488-514. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2014.1000289
Powell, J., & Kelly, A., (2017). Accomplices in the academy in the age of Black Lives Matter. Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, 6(2), 42-65. https://doi.org/10.31274/jctp-180810-73
Quay, S. E., Pastelis, A., McLaughlin, K., & Cain, E. (2006). What college professors can learn from K-12 educators. The Teaching Professor, 20(9), 1-2.
Reason, R. D., & Broido, E. M. (2005). Issues and strategies for social justice allies (and the student affairs professionals who hope to encourage them). New Directions for Student Services, 110(Summer), 81-89. https://doi.org/10.1002/ss.167
Rowe, W., & Atkinson, D. R. (1995). Misrepresentation and interpretation: Critical evaluation of White racial identity development models. The Counseling Psychologist, 23(2), 364-367. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000095232011
Souza, M. T., Silva, M. D., & Carlvaho, R. (2010). Integrative review: What is it? How to do it? Einstein, 8(1), 102-106. https://doi.org/10.1590/s1679-45082010rw1134
Spencer, M. S. (2008). A social worker’s reflections on power, privilege, and oppression. Social Work, 53(2), 99-101. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/53.2.99
Sue, D. W. (2017). The challenges of becoming a White ally. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(5), 706-716. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000017719323
Tatum, B. (1994). Teaching White students about racism: The search for White allies and the restoration of hope. Teachers College Record, 95(4), 462-476. http://www.goldenbridgesschool.org/uploads/1/9/5/4/19541249/teaching_white_students_about_racism.pdf
Thomas, J., & Harden, A. (2008). Methods for the thematic synthesis of qualitative research in systematic reviews. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 8(45), 1-10. 8https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-8-45
Torraco, R. J. (2005). Writing integrative literature reviews: Guidelines and examples. Human Resource Development Review, 4(3), 356-367. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534484305278283
Utt, J., & Tochluk, S. (2020). White teacher, know thyself: Improving anti-racist praxis through racial identity development. Urban Education, 55(1), 125-152. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085916648741
Von Robertson, R, & Chaney, C. (2017). “I know it [racism] still exists here:” African American males at a predominantly White institution. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, 1(39), 260-282. https://digitalcommons.humboldt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=hjsr
Wagaman, M. A., Odera, S. G., & Fraser, D. V. (2019). A pedagogical model for teaching racial justice in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 55(2), 351-362. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2018.1513878
Wahler, E. A. (2012). Identifying and challenging social work students' biases. Social Work Education, 31(8), 1058-1070. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2011.616585
Whittmore, R., & Knafl, K. (2005). The integrative review: Updated methodology. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 52(5), 546-553. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2005.03621.x
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).