Moving From Multiculturalism to Critical Race Theory Within a School of Social Work
Dismantling White Supremacy as an Organizing Strategy
Keywords:racism, white supremacy, intersectionality, social work education, Critical race theory
The continued presence of racism and white supremacy has risen to a crisis level as today’s global pandemic, police abuse targeting Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) communities, and mass urban uprisings rock the nation. This article presents a case study of a West Coast school of social work that has carried out a five-year systematic campaign to move all levels of the program beyond a multicultural orientation towards critical race theory. This study reveals the results of a self-organized cross-racial committee within a school of social work, motivated by an ambitious goal to implement a racial justice orientation throughout the school’s personnel, practices, policies, and curricula. The committee has been further characterized by its commitment to engage across the power-laden divisions of field faculty, tenure track faculty, and administrative staff. The article offers documented stages of development, narratives from across differences of identity and professional role, and thick descriptions of strategies that led to the adoption and infusion of an intersectional critical race analysis throughout the school’s curricula. The organic development of the campaign and the leveraging of opportunities throughout the campus and across campuses offer important lessons for other schools of social work undergoing transformational change.
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