Faculty as a Barrier to Dismantling Racism in Social Work Education
Keywords:Race, Critical Race Theory, social work, faculty, racism
Facilitating learning around race and racism is often uncomfortable for faculty as well as students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the experiences of undergraduate social work educators who teach about race and racism in social work programs. I employed a qualitative case study design to understand the lived experience of undergraduate social work educators who teach race specific content. I employed a combination of purposive sampling and snowballing methods to identify nine participants from the Southeast region of the United States. Utilizing a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework to analyze interviews, several key findings emerged revealing faculty as barriers to facilitating learning around anti-racist content in the classroom. These findings were a) their own racial identity; b) insufficient formal preparation around race and racism; c) lack of faculty comfort with anti-racist content; and d) lack of skill in teaching anti-racist content. Recommendations include the implementation of scaffolded antiracist content throughout social work curricula that would be required by the Council on Social Work Education as part of the accreditation process.
Abrams, L. S., & Gibson, P. (2007). Teaching notes: Reframing multicultural education: teaching White privilege in the social work curriculum. Journal of Social Work Education, 43(1), 147-160. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2007.200500529
Abrams, L. S., & Moio, J. A. (2009). Critical race theory and the cultural competence dilemma in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 45(2), 245-261. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2009.200700109
Adams, M., & Zuniga, X. (2016). Getting started: Core concepts for social justice education. In M. Adams & L. A. Bell (Eds.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (pp. 95-130). Taylor & Francis Group. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315775852-11
Amankwaa, L. (2016). Creating protocols for trustworthiness in qualitative research. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 23(3), 121-127.
Applebaum, B. (2010). Race, critical race theory and Whiteness. In P. Peterson, E. Barker, & B. McGraw (Eds.), International encyclopedia of education (pp. 36-43). Elsevier LTD. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-044894-7.00541-8
Bell, D. A. (1980). Brown v. Board of Education and the interest convergence dilemma. Harvard Law Review, 93, 518-533. https://doi.org/10.2307/1340546
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2018). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield.
Brew, A., & Mantai, L. (2017). Academics’ perceptions of the challenges and barriers to implementing research-based experiences for undergraduates. Teaching in Higher Education, 22(5), 551-568. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2016.1273216
Campbell, E. (2014). Using critical race theory to measure "racial competency" among social workers. Journal of Sociology and Social Work, 2(2), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.15640/jssw.v2n2a5
Constance-Huggins, M. (2012). Critical race theory in social work education: A framework for addressing racial disparities. Critical Social Work, 13(2), 2-16. https://doi.org/10.22329/csw.v13i2.5861
Constance-Huggins, M. (2018). Intersection of race, gender, and nationality in teaching about race and racism. Reflective Practice, 19(1),81-88. https://doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2017.1361918
Council on Social Work Education [CSWE]. (2008). Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Standards-and-Policies/2008-EPAS/2008EDUCATIONALPOLICYANDACCREDITATIONSTANDARDS(EPAS)-08-24-2012.pdf.aspx
CSWE. (2015). Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Accreditation/Accreditation-Process/2015-EPAS/2015EPAS_Web_FINAL.pdf.aspx
CSWE. (2017). 2016 Annual Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States. Author. https://www.cswe.org/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=6e8bc9e7-ebd6-4288-bc7a-d2d427d68480
CSWE. (2020). 2019 Annual statistics on social work education in the United States. Author. https://www.cswe.org/getattachment/Research-Statistics/2019-Annual-Statistics-on-Social-Work-Education-in-the-United-States-Final-(1).pdf.aspx
Crenshaw, K. (1995). Race reform, and retrenchment: Transformation and legitimation in antidiscrimination law. In N. Gotanda, G. Peller, & K. Thomas (Eds), Critical race theory: The key writings that formed the movement (pp. 103-122). The New Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780691186429-023
Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage.
Davis, L. E. (2016). Race: America’s grand challenge. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 7(2), 395-403. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/686296
Deepak, A. C., Rountree, M. A., & Scott, J. (2015). Delivering diversity and social justice in social work education: the power of context. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 26(2), 107-125. https://doi.org/10.1080/10428232.2015.1017909
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (Eds.). (1997). Critical White studies. Temple University Press.
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical race theory: An introduction (2nd ed.). New York University Press.
DiAngelo, R. J. (2018). White fragility : why it’s so hard for White people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.
Eberhardt, J. L. (2019). Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. Penguin Group USA.
Edmonds-Cady, C., & Wingfield, T. T, (2017). Social workers: Agents of change or agents of oppression?. Social Work Education, 36(4), 430-442. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2017.1291802
Essed, P. (1991). Understanding everyday racism: An interdisciplinary theory. Sage
Garcia, B., & Van Soest, D. (1997). Changing perceptions of diversity and oppression: MSW students discuss the effects of a required course. Journal of Social Work Education, 33(1), 119-129. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.1997.10778857
Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021). About. https://grandchallengesforsocialwork.org/
Hannah-Jones, N. (2014, May). Segregation now. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/segregation-now/359813/
Harding, S. (1993). Whose science? Whose knowledge?: Thinking from women's lives. Cornell University Press.
Holland, A. E. (2015). The lived experience of teaching about race in cultural nursing education. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26(1), 92-100. https://doi.org/10.1177/1043659614523995
Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1995). The active interview. Sage.
Jay, M. (2003). Critical race theory, multicultural education, and the hidden curriculum of hegemony. Multicultural Perspectives, 5(4), 3-9. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327892mcp0504_2
Jeffery, D. (2005). What good is anti-racist social work if you can't master it?” Exploring a paradox in social work education. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(4), 409-425 https://doi:10.1080/13613320500324011
Jeyasingham, D. (2012). White noise: A critical evaluation of social work education's engagement with whiteness studies. British Journal of Social Work, 42(4), 669-686. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcr110
Jiang, C., Mitran, A., Miniño, A., & Ni, H. (2015). Racial and gender disparities in suicide among young adults aged 18–24: United States, 2009–2013. Health-E Stats series. National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/suicide/racial_and_gender_2009_2013.pdf
Kohli, H. K., Huber, R., & Faul, A. C. (2010). Historical and theoretical development of culturally competent social work practice. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 30(3), 252-271. https://doi.org/10.1080/08841233.2010.499091
Kolivoski, K. M., Weaver, A., & Constance-Huggins, M. (2014). Critical race theory: Opportunities for application in social work practice and policy. Families in Society, 95(4), 269-276. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.2014.95.36
Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Sage.
Love, B. L. (2019). We want to do more than survive. Abolitionist Teaching and the pursuit of educational freedom. Beacon Press.
Mathews, T. J., MacDorman, M. F., & Thoma, M. E. (2015). Infant mortality statistics from the 2013 period linked birth/infant death data set. National Center for Health Division of Vital Statistics. National Vital Statistics Reports, 64(9), 1-30. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_09.pdf
Matias, C. E., & Mackey, J. (2015). Breakin’ down whiteness in antiracist teaching: Introducing critical whiteness pedagogy. The Urban Review, 48(1), 32-50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0344-7
Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. Jossey-Bass.
NASW Social Work Policy Institute. (2014). Achieving racial equity: Calling the social work profession to action. http://www.antiracistalliance.com/SWPIRacialEquityReport.pdf
Ortiz, L., & Jani, J. (2010). Critical race theory: A Transformational model for teaching diversity. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(2), 175-193. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2010.200900070
Owen, D. S. (2007). Towards a critical theory of whiteness. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 33, 203-222. https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453707074139
Patton, L. D. (2016). Disrupting postsecondary prose: Toward a critical race theory of higher education. Urban Education, 51(3), 315-342. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085915602542
Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice. Sage.
Pittman Chavella, T. (2010). Exploring how African American faculty cope with classroom racial stressors. Journal of Negro Education, 79(1), 66-78.
Pittman Chavella, T. (2012). Racial microaggressions: The narratives of African American faculty at a predominantly White university. Journal of Negro Education 81(1), 82-92. https://doi.org/10.7709/jnegroeducation.81.1.0082
Rahill, G. J., Joshi, M., Lucio, R., Bristol, B., Dionne, A., & Hamilton, A. (2016). Assessing the development of cultural proficiency among upper-level social work students. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(2), 198-213. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2016.1152134
Richards, B. N. (2019). Faculty assessments as tools of oppression: A Black woman’s reflections on (colorblind) racism in the Academy. In W. Carson Byrd, R. J. Brunn-Bevel, & S. M. Ovink (Eds.), Intersectionality and higher education: Identity and inequality on college campuses (pp. 136-152). Rutgers University Press. https://doi.org/10.36019/9780813597706-009
Sakamoto, I. (2007). An anti-oppressive approach to cultural competence. Canadian Social Work Review, 24(1), 105-118.
Saldaña, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.
Shavers, M. C., & Moore, J. L. (2014). Black female voices: Self-presentation strategies in doctoral programs at predominately White institutions. Journal of College Student Development, 55(4), 391-407. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2014.0040
Smith, L., Kashubeck-West, S., Payton, G., & Adams, E. (2017). White professors teaching about racism: Challenges and rewards. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(5), 651-668. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000017717705
Smith-Maddox, R. & Solórzano, D. (2002). Using critical race theory: Paulo Freire’s problem-posing methods, and case study research to confront race and racism in education. Qualitative Inquiry, 8(1), 66-84. https://doi.org/10.1177/107780040200800105
Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC]. (2018). Hate map. https://www.splcenter.org/hate-map
SPLC. (n.d.). Home. https://www.splcenter.org/
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques (2nd ed.). Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452230153
Swaine, J., Laughland, O., & Lartey, J. (2015, June 1). Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as White people. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/01/black-americans-killed-by-police-analysis
Varghese, R. (2016). Teaching to transform? Addressing race and racism in the teaching of clinical social work practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(sup1), S134-S147. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2016.1174646
Young, S., & Zubrzycki, J. (2011). Educating Australian social workers in the post-Apology era: The potential offered by a ‘Whiteness’ lens. Journal of Social work, 11(2), 159-173. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468017310386849
Zembylas, M. (2015). ‘Pedagogy of discomfort’ and its ethical implications: the tensions of ethical violence in social justice education. Ethics and Education, 10(2), 163-174. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449642.2015.1039274
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).