Awakening the Antiracism Collective Through Transformative Organizational Praxis
A Participatory Evaluative Case Study
Keywords:antiracism, community organizing, collective, Social Work Grand Challenges
Dismantling structures that impede social work professional and organizational growth begins with social work educational institutions. In 2020, the convergence of three pandemics – COVID-19, economic injustice, and, notably, structural racism, catalyzed a group of social work staff and faculty at a public Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in the Southern U.S. The group relied on community organizing and organizational change strategies to form the antiracism collective (ARC). We employed a participatory evaluative case study (Merriam, 1998) methodology to answer two questions: 1) How has ARC accelerated one social work department's integration of antiracist praxis (theory, reflection, action) into all aspects of the department to support the department's mission?; and 2) How can ARC dismantle structures which impede social workers' ability to confront racism? We find that ARC 1) catalyzed department transformation as evidenced by the increased sense of critical consciousness, struggle, integrity, and community; and 2) achieved primarily individual impact, with small but potentially significant department impact, and small but potentially significant structural impact. We highlight strengths and limitations of antiracism collectives as a pathway to confront racism in other social work educational institutions.
Ahmed, S. (2006). Declarations of whiteness: The non-performativity of anti-racism. borderlands, 3(2), 104-126.
Aldana, A., & Vazquez, N. (2020). From colour-blind racism to critical race theory: The road towards anti-racist social work in the United States. In G. Singh & S. Masocha (Eds.), Anti-racist social work: International perspectives (pp. 129-148). Red Globe Press.
Antiracism Collective [ARC]. (2020). ARC foundations. Internal ARC document [unpublished].
Averill, J. B. (2002). Matrix analysis as a complementary analytic strategy in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Health Research, 12(6), 855-866. https://doi.org/10.1177/104973230201200611
Bailey, Z. D., Feldman, J. M., & Bassett, M. T. (2021). How structural racism works—racist policies as a root cause of US racial health inequities. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(8), 768-773. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMms2025396
Basterretxea, I., Cornforth, C., & Heras-Saizarbitoria, I. (2022). Corporate governance as a key aspect in the failure of worker cooperatives. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 43(1) 362–387. https://doi.org/10.1177/0143831X19899474
Beck, E. (2019). Naming white supremacy in the social work curriculum. Journal of Women and Social Work, 34(3), 393-398. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886109919837918
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2018). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States (5th ed.). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
brown, a.m. (2017). Emergent strategy. AK Press.
Came, H., & Griffith, D. M. (2017). Tackling institutional racism as a wicked public health problem: The case for anti-racism praxis. Social Science and Medicine, 199, 181-188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.03.028
Community Information Now. (2017). Westside promise neighborhood profile 2017. https://cinow.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/CINow-WPN-Neighborhood-Profile-final.pdf
Council on Social Work Education [CSWE] Commission on Accreditation. (2021). Site visit report. Internal UTSA Department of Social Work document [ unpublished].
Creative Interventions. (2012). Creative interventions toolkit: A practical guide to stop interpersonal violence. https://www.creative-interventions.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CI-Toolkit-Final-ENTIRE-Aug-2020-new-cover.pdf
Davis, A. Y. (2003). Are prisons obsolete? Seven Stories Press.
Davis, L. E. (2016). Race: America’s grand challenge. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 7(2), 395-403. https://doi.org/10.1086/686296
Davis, M. (2021). Anti-Black practices take heavy toll on mental health. Nature Human Behaviour, 5(4), 410-410.
Freire, P. (2018). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury. (Original work published 1982)
Frey, W. R., Mann, N., Boling, A., Jordan, P., Lowe, K. N., Witte, S. S. (2021). Uprooting (our) whiteness. Advances in Social Work, 21(2/3), 954-977. https://doi.org/10.18060/24140
Gilgun, J. F. (2019). Deductive qualitative analysis and grounded theory: Sensitizing concepts and hypothesis-testing. In A. Bryant & K. Charmaz (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of current developments in grounded theory (pp. 107-122). Sage https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526485656.n7
Gitterman, A., Germain, C. B., & Knight, C. (2018). Ecological framework. In C. Franklin (Chief Ed.), Encyclopedia of social work. Oxford. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.118
Jacobs, L. A., Kim, M. E., Whitfield, D. L., Gartner, R. E., Panichelli, M., Kattari, S. K., Downey, M. M., McQueen, S. S., & 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
Kaba, M., & Hassan, S. (2019). Fumbling toward repair: A workbook for community and accountability facilitators. Project NIA & Just Practice.
Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to be an antiracist. One World.
Kivel, P. (2017). Uprooting racism: How white people can work for racial justice. New Society Publishers.
Kong, V. (2018, November 14). UTSA says racial bias not a factor in removal of Black student. KERA: News for North Texas. https://www.keranews.org/2018-11-14/utsa-report-says-racial-bias-not-a-factor-in-removal-of-black-student.
Kotter, J. (2014). The 8-step process for leading change [Self-published]. https://www.kotterinc.com/8-steps-process-for-leading-change/
Labaree, R. V. (2002). The risk of ‘going observationalist’: Negotiating the hidden dilemmas of being an insider participant observer. Qualitative Research, 2(1), 97-122. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794102002001641
Lauer, C. (2021, June 4). Christian college outside Philly ends social work program, citing gender and sexuality guidelines. The Philadelphia Inquirer. https://www.inquirer.com/education/cairn-university-social-work-degree-ends-sexuality-gender-20210604.html
Mendoza, M. (2018, November 13). UTSA investigating why prof called cops to oust student. San Antonio Express News. https://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/UTSA-investigating-why-prof-called-cops-to-oust-13389728.php
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. Revised and expanded from "Case study research in education". Jossey-Bass https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED415771
National Association of Social Workers. (2021). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English
Olivo, B. (2018, October 22). Anticipating UTSA’s impact on the historic west side. San Antonio Heron: Telling the Complete Downton Story. https://saheron.com/anticipating-utsas-impact-on-the-historic-west-side/
O'Neil, C., & Brinkerhoff, M. (2021). Five elements of collective leadership. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/five-elements-collective-leadership/
Oxford English Dictionary [OED]. (2022a). Community [Online ed.]. Oxford University Press.
OED. (2022b). Integrity [Online ed.]. Oxford University Press.
OED. (2022c). Struggle [Online ed.]. Oxford University Press.
Payne, M. (2020). Modern social work theory (5th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Polk, S. A., Vazquez, N., Kim, M. E., & Green, Y. R. (2021). Moving from multiculturalism to critical race theory within a school of social work: Dismantling white supremacy as an organizing strategy. Advances in Social Work, 21(2/3), 876-897.
Ross, J., & Ghadbian, W. (2020). Turning towards each other workbook. https://communityresourcehub.org/resources/turning-towards-each-other-a-conflict-workbook/
Saldaña, J. (2021). The coding manual for qualitative researchers (4th ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd.
Social Work Coalition for AntiRacist Educators. (2020). Social work so white w Rachel Cargle [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA5ZwkfHLCA
Spade, D. (2020). Mutual aid: Building solidarity during this crisis (and the next). Verso Books.
Stouten, J., Rousseau, D. M., & De Cremer, D. (2018). Successful organizational change: Integrating the management practice and scholarly literatures. Academy of Management Annals, 12(2), 752-788. https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2016.0095
Swan, E. (2017). What are white people to do? Listening, challenging ignorance, generous encounters and the ‘not yet’ as diversity research praxis. Gender, work & organization, 24(5), 547-563. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12165
Teasley, M. L., McCarter, S., Woo, B., Conner, L. R., Spencer, M. S., & Green, T. (2021). Eliminate racism. (Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative Working Paper No. 26). American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare. https://grandchallengesforsocialwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Eliminate-Racism-Concept-Paper.pdf
The University of Texas at San Antonio. (2022). Community relations: Westside partnerships. https://www.utsa.edu/community/Westside-Community-Partnerships/
Todić, J., Cook, S. C., Spitzer-Shohat, S., Williams Jr, J. S., Battle, B. A., Jackson, J., & Chin, M. H. (2022). Critical theory, culture change, and achieving health equity in health care settings. Academic Medicine, 97(7), 977-988. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000004680
United States Census Bureau. (2019). The American Community Survey: 2018 poverty rate in the United States. United States Department of Commerce. https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2018-poverty-rate.html
Walker, M. (2010). Power and effectiveness: Envisioning an alternative paradigm. In J.V. Jordan (Ed.), The power of connection: Recent development in relational-cultural theory (pp. 123-138). Routledge.
Wang, J. (2019). Westside residents slam UTSA officials during downtown campus master plan meeting. https://sanantonioreport.org/westside-residents-slam-utsa-officials-during-downtown-campus-master-plan-meeting/
Wooldridge, K. (2019). What is accountability? Conceptions and challenges of accountability in White anti-racism organizing [Capstone paper]. https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4220&context=capstones
Yearwood, C., Barbera, R. A., Fisher, A. K., & Hostetter, C. (Eds.). (2021). Dismantling racism in social work education [Special issue]. Advances in Social Work, 21(2/3). https://journals.iupui.edu/index.php/advancesinsocialwork/issue/view/1521
Zielinski, A. (2017, November 20). UTSA officials respond to white nationalist banners removed from campus. San Antonio Current. https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/11/20/utsa-officials-respond-to-white-nationalist-banners-removed-from-campus
Copyright (c) 2022 Jelena Todić, Sherri Simmons-Horton, Elizabeth Cruz, Amy Manning-Thompson, M. Candace Christensen, Lucinda Nevarez
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.