Toward a Historically Accountable Critical Whiteness Curriculum for Social Work
Keywords:Whiteness, Social Work History, curriculum, pedagogy
Whiteness—distinct from individuals who identify as white—is a social construction; and social constructions, by definition, can be disassembled. Whiteness is also wholly constituted by and inseparable from white supremacy, and thus exists purely as racial injustice. These are historical facts. Consequently, racial justice demands that whiteness be dismantled and abolished. Social work, as a profession committed to racial justice, is directly implicated in this imperative. Yet, due to misunderstanding and unawareness, the above facts register with most social workers as exaggerated claims, baseless untruths, or ideological propaganda. Social work requires a historically accountable critical whiteness curriculum in order to correct this pervasive misunderstanding and to facilitate informed participation in the pursuit of racial justice in a way that accurately apprehends the nature of whiteness. This curriculum, introduced here, explores the history and invention of whiteness in global, U.S., and social work contexts; examines the integral role of education in deploying and maintaining whiteness; and considers reconstruction and abolition as alternative modes of responding to whiteness as a social problem. The curriculum ultimately shows abolition to be the only historically and theoretically consistent response to whiteness, leading to a call for abolition as praxis and for further curricular development.
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