The recent events in our nation’s Capitol have caused feelings of disbelief, shock, and outrage among many of us. During this time, we look for inspiration and leadership to guide us out of this dark moment in our nation’s history. This week, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our nation’s most revered civil rights leader, and an individual who fought and died for racial and economic justice. May we take comfort in his message and may his memory inspire courage among us and others. In contrast to the disturbing attack on the Capitol during the efforts to certify the 2020 U.S. presidential election, let us remember Dr. King’s words, “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”
The recent events at the Capitol do not reflect the values of faculty and staff in the Department of Social Work & Child Advocacy and they are the antithesis of the values that we try to engender in our students and graduates. As educators, we take inspiration from Dr. King, who said that “the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character -that is the goal of true education.” This is what we want for our students and how we frame the education that we provide for them in our department and in our communities.
We recognize the role of Whiteness in these events,both in the ways that they were carried out and in the ways that we interpret them. There were many symbols from the white nationalist movement, including anti-Black and anti-Semitic imagery, which we condemn. These are stark reminders that as a society, we have failed to effectively confront White supremacy.
As individuals and professionals who are dedicated to social justice through our chosen fields of social work and child advocacy, we use critical thinking skills to carefully evaluate claims of truth. We know that working towards social justice means reckoning with, not ignoring, the long history and continuing reality of racism and violence in this country.
As a bright light, we believe that we are living in a period of time that can be transformative for how we think and talk about history, racism, science, equality, and democracy. This is an opportunity for change. Even as we struggle with recent violent events, we embrace the opportunities that are presented to us today. Thus, we close with a quote from Dr. King, who wrote in 1963, “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away, that the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all of their scintillating beauty.”
~ The faculty and staff of the Department of Social Work & Child Advocacy
January 21, 2021