Social Work Education in the Shadow of Confederate Statues and the Specter of White Supremacy
Keywords:Racial justice, social work education, oppression, white supremacy
Driven by our code of ethics and our call to reckon with our embeddedness within a white supremacist institution in the US South, the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work re-visioned our approach to the MSW curriculum. Using case study methods, we trace our history and on-going work through interviews, document review, and community conversations, centering student voices. Students interviewed spoke about activism prompted by racist events on campus and nationally, and the inadequate response from the administration. Their efforts led to school-wide initiatives including curriculum shifts and accountability and action. The first-year generalist course, Confronting Oppression and Institutional Discrimination was restructured and resituated. Critical Race Theory was infused across the coursework. Two new working groups were created: The Anti-Racism Task Force and Reconciliation Standing Committee. Efforts to address racism and white supremacy in academic spaces require sustained activism to expose how racism is embedded within our institutions. While much work remains in the practice of becoming an antiracist institution, this model can serve as a prototype for others as they work to create programs that are site-specific and universally reflective of the institutional changes we need.
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