Lessons Learned from the CSWE Task Force to Advance Anti-Racism in the Social Work Education Policy and Accreditation Standards:
Praxis in a Racially Volatile Society
Keywords:Anti-racism, White supremacy, CSWE, content analysis, social work competencies, anti-racist pedagogies, racism
On May 25, 2020, Mr. George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a White police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In response to this disgusting display of police brutality, thousands of people all over the world began protesting Mr. Floyd’s killing. The Capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, became one of many flashpoints for the public’s rage against white supremacy and systemic racism as thousands of people flooded the historic Monument District to topple, dismantle and re-frame Confederate monuments with protest slogans. Policing in the United States is rooted in the historical memory of enslavement, the unrestrained and authorized misuse of power by law enforcement, and conflicting values of discourse community. Protestors employed historical memory, which includes resistance, tolerance and strength in the face of tremendously difficult circumstances (Corredor, Wills-Obregon, Asensio-Brouard, 2018, 184). This groundswell of protests merged with those that sprang up for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others slain by police violence, producing a demand for racial justice that could not be stymied. Racial disparate treatment is embedded in police brutality and in all societal institutions. This movement calls into question social justice accountability within social work education, practice, and policy. Have the protests been enough? Will the profession of social work address its own complicity in maintaining racism?
To advance anti-racist social work education, the CSWE Task Force for Advance Anti-Racism was conceptualized in summer 2020 to center anti-racism pedagogies and anti-racist learning environments. Several diverse social work leaders, educators, researchers, community organizers, and students came together to explore how the profession should be re-imagined as a profession that advances anti-racism and the decentering of whiteness. The task force members met to develop, discuss, and refine recommendations for CSWE on Education Policy and Accreditation (EPA). Employing content analysis, the authors identified major themes that emanated from the work of the Task Force. Content themes include how racism, white supremacy and ethnocracy underscores social work as an applied social science that maintains information structures, paradigms, theories, and practices ensconced in academia. The praxis recommendations of the task force include adapting theoretical frameworks for anti-racist social work education; incorporating anti-racism and critical theories, such as Critical Race Theory; updating social work competencies; promoting equitable approaches to hiring and retaining BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) faculty in different positions; and, creating a new anti-racism commission to continue anti-racism work.
Corredor, J., Wills-Obregon, M. E., & Asensio-Brouard, M. (2018). Historical memory education for peace and justice: definition of a field. Journal of Peace Education, 15(2), 169-190.
Copyright (c) 2024 Colita Nichols Fairfax, Michele Rountree, Andrea Murray-Lichtman, Rebecca Maldonado Moore, Michael Yellow Bird, Travis Albritton, Mitra Naseh, Elena Izaksonas, Tauchiana Williams
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