#SocialWork4BlackLives Response to 2016 Election

Ready or not Trumpism, a noxious brew of right-wing populism, white supremacy, fascism and neoliberalism, is poised to gain state power with the consent of many Americans. This represents an existential threat to Black lives at home and abroad. As the Black Lives Matter Global Network recently stated:

Donald Trump has promised more death, disenfranchisement and deportations. We believe him. The violence he will inflict in office, and the permission he gives for others to commit violence, is just beginning to emerge. In the face of this, our commitment remains the same: protect ourselves and our communities.

We at #SocialWork4BlackLives take Trumpism literally and seriously. It’s proponents mean exactly what they say and have been demonstrating that since the election, from hate crimes to Cabinet picks.

If social work matters at all, these are the times it should matter most. Social work as usual is simply not adequate for this moment. More is required. At #SocialWorkforBlackLives we consider social work in and of itself to be an act of social justice — and if we intend to live our social work values we must act in accordance with them, meeting racial injustice pace for pace. We urge social workers everywhere to join us. To do so, we propose that social work professional organizations, schools, and individual social workers explicitly support the Movement for Black Lives by:

  1. Working to understand and address our implicit and explicit bias as a profession to begin deconstructing our own institutional and systemic racism.
  2. Reviewing, reflecting upon, discussing and publicly endorsing the Vision for Black Lives Policy Agenda.
  3. Collaborating with the Movement for Black Lives to develop strategies to advocate for and implement the Vision for Black Lives Policy Agenda.
  4. This might look like local NASW chapters making meaningful connections with, and supporting the work of their local Black and brown-led anti-racist organizations.
  5. Collaborating to create learning opportunities to build competence in fighting for Black Lives and practicing racial justice generally.
  6. Additional opportunities for our professional organizations, schools and individual social workers to fight Trumpism can be found here. We urge our professional organizations to further compile, disseminate and coordinate such opportunities.

As social workers, we should be leading our professional and personal communities in racial justice practice. We know social change comes from many people engaging in many types of action: both changing systems from within and dismantling those that need to go. We cannot accept Trumpism as the new normal.

As we strive to fight for a world where Black Lives Matter, we should remember the promise and the warning voiced by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Today’s dissenters tell the complacent majority that the time has come when further evasion of social responsibility in a turbulent world will court disaster and death. America has not yet changed because so many think it need not change, but this is the illusion of the damned. America must change because…black citizens will no longer live supinely in a wretched past. They have left the valley of despair; they have found strength in struggle; and whether they live or die, they will never crawl or retreat again. Joined by… allies, they will shake the prison walls until they fall.”

  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1968