INFLUENCING SOCIAL POLICY STATEMENT TO THE SOCIAL WORK COMMUNITY

The devaluation and degradation of Black lives is not a recent event in our country. This persistent and systemic injustice predates the founding of this nation. However, recent events have once again brought to the forefront of our collective consciousness the painful fact that is, for too many of us, common knowledge: the repeated injustices experienced by Blacks in America are not relics of the past. They thrive in the modern day: The slaying of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Brunswick, GA; the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, KY in her own apartment; the racist accusation of violence against Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park; the desperate cry of ‘I can’t breathe’ from the voice of Manuel Ellis, Tacoma, WA who was tasered, cuffed and later died in police custody; and the tragic killing of George Floyd who when restrained by the police cried out, ‘I can’t breathe.’ These killings, and others, stem from the pervasiveness of white supremacy in law enforcement and racialized policing that must be disavowed and dismantled. This deep white supremacy permeates law enforcement, and all aspects of U.S. policymaking, from inequitable school funding to social welfare policy steeped in racist stereotypes.

ISP affirms all of the painful feelings experienced by Black and brown people in America. The grief, anger, and pure frustration are firmly justified by our nation’s deep seated racist history. We know that all institutions by nature are steeped in privilege and have done little to recognize, validate and affirm this scourge on black and brown communities. Social work organizations and institutions, including ISP, historically have not done enough to accept responsibility and take thoughtful intentional steps to root out the racism in our midst. It is time for that to change. Statements are not enough. It is incumbent upon the social work community to recognize that we all bear responsibility for this ongoing injustice, and that we are capable of taking proactive steps to address it, if only we have the courage and will. Therefore, ISP will work with our supporters and our partner organizations to do everything within our power to dismantle the shameful and deadly systemic oppression of black and brown people.

The ISP Board of Directors and its members will engage in the following action measures so that we can become an anti-racist organization:

Short-term Actions (1-2 years)

  • Reassess our mission, core values, bylaws, and programming using an anti-racist lens.
  • Require that members of the ISP Board participate in training on how to analyze and understand racism (provided by the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond or CrossRoads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training).
  • Produce an annual report to our members and stakeholders detailing an equity assessment that describes goals, progress and obstacles in our antiracism work.

Ongoing Actions

  • Become an anti-racist organization.
  • Advocate for and demand change that advances racial equity in local, state and national policy and legislation.
  • Apply a racial lens to the structure and operation of institutions of power including city, state, and national legislatures.
  • Engage in ongoing discussions of racism and oppression, including white privilege, at every event produced by ISP.
  • Develop a greater awareness of own conscious and unconscious biases to understand and dismantle internalized racist oppression.
  • Work within anti-racist and anti-oppressive lenses and engage in ongoing learning about these lenses.
  • Allow and accept feeling uncomfortable because feeling uncomfortable is part of the process of dismantling systems of racism and oppression.

We call on every social work school, institution and membership organization to deeply reflect on how we may be reinforcing the oppressive systems we seek to dismantle. As a profession, we must engage in deliberate action to create an anti-racist, equitable and inclusive society. This is an achievable goal and together we will succeed.