If Anti-Racism Is the Goal, Then Anti-Oppression Is How We Get There


  • Carmela Fusciello Smith Southern Connecticut State University
  • Jemel P. Aguilar Southern Connecticut State University https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3564-1337
  • Shuei Kozu
  • Karen A. D'Angelo Southern Connecticut State University
  • Elizabeth King Keenan Southern Connecticut State University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2994-4107
  • Stephen Monroe Tomczak Southern Connecticut State University




Oppression, Social Justice, Anti-oppression practice, higher education, White supremacy


Many schools of social work around the United States of America wrote anti-racism statements because of the recent murders of Black and Brown people. In this contribution, the authors describe a challenging and tense discussion of racism and anti-racism leading to a group process about oppression and anti-oppression in the social work profession. For some, the urgency to address racism led to tactics and strategies that got in the way of social workers engaging in anti-oppressive practices. While the structure of higher education often reinforces traditional hierarchies of power, the profession of social work calls us to promote our core values of social justice, integrity, and the importance of human relationships as we strive for an anti-oppressive future. Consequently, social work faculty may experience role conflict as we navigate these tensions. We believe it is important to harness and process such discomfort as we critically examine the power dynamics within our own department, and our own profession. This voluntary, ad hoc group, composed of a diverse group of faculty members, provides space for ongoing mutual aid, consciousness raising, appropriate discomfort, and accountability. If anti-racism is the goal, then anti-oppression is how we get there.


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