The Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy at Montclair State University stands in solidarity with actions and practices that fight against oppressive systems. We openly acknowledge and affirm that Black lives matter. We acknowledge the trauma our Black students, colleagues and alumni have experienced as a result of enduring anti-Black racism and white supremacy in this country (Franklin & Boyd Franklin, 2000; McCoy, 2020). Recent episodes of anti-Asian violence serve as a reminder that we need to recognize and denounce xenophobia and racism in every form. We acknowledge all the ways that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are impacted by systemic oppression. In response, we reaffirm our commitment to eradicating all forms of racism, discrimination, anti-Semitism, classism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of divisive hate. This commitment is reflected in all the work we do; from the students we educate and the communities we serve to the scholarship we produce and everything in between.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
The Department actively stands with all who advocate for racial justice and seek reform of all systems that oppress and institutionalize racism. As a department, we recognize the continuing need to confront our own biases in our efforts to challenge racial injustice at all levels.
- The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, Section 6.04; 2.01(a) calls for social workers to “act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.”
- Similarly, the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct, Principle E states “Psychologists respect the dignity and worth of all people, and the rights of individuals to privacy, confidentiality, and self-determination… Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status, and consider these factors when working with members of such groups.”
- The American Bar Association’s Model Rules for Professional Conduct lays out in Section 8.4, that it amounts to professional misconduct for a lawyer to “engage in conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.”
We apply these policies using cultural humility (Yeager & Bauer-Wu, 2013): We strive to be life-long learners; we challenge racial barriers and power imbalances that result in systematic injustice; and we promote institutional accountability. Using this framework, here are some of the steps we plan to take that represent these efforts.
Lifelong Learning and Self-Reflection. We recognize and are committing to understanding better the myriad ways that systemic oppression affects our perceptions and lived experiences. We also acknowledge that oppression is existent in systemic structures, including in institutions of higher education and their academic programs. Therefore, we strive to be life-long learners and demonstrate our commitment to our professional and personal growth regarding adopting antiracist practices. For example, we:
- Call on all members of our community, especially our White community members, to educate themselves about racial justice and find opportunities to engage in work for social change.
- Collaborate with the Office of Social Justice and Diversity and other departments and offices to establish training and professional development opportunities for students, staff, and both full-time and part-time faculty.
- Look to the University Senate’s Land Acknowledgement Committee for guidance on how to recognize the presence of the university on unceded Lenape territory in ways that actively support decolonization.
- Continuously reflect, reevaluate, and revise our curriculum and course offerings to thoroughly incorporate topics relevant to challenges persistent in society today. This would include a more honest and critical discussion of the histories of our fields, including a recognition of the ways that helping professionals have both perpetuated and challenged racism within the profession.
- Organize resources and make them easily accessible for faculty, students, and staff.
- Ensure that our courses reflect Black and BIPOC scholarship, and model strategies for students to confront their biases and engage in anti-racist practice and policy.
Challenging Power Imbalances. We reaffirm our commitment to anti-racist policy and practice and always confront and challenge power imbalances that lead to unequal and disproportionate outcomes. With this in mind, we:
- Will form a Diversity Advocacy Workgroup, consisting of both faculty and staff student representation, to represent the Department’s continuing commitment to antiracism in teaching, hiring, and community outreach.
- Will have a diversity advocate serve on each search committee in our department. The primary responsibility of the diversity advocate is to be a vocal and responsible advocate for diversity and inclusion throughout the search process.
- Create a Canvas site with resources on antiracism available for all Department members.
- Empower diverse voices from our local communities, including our current and former students, staff, and faculty, and community stakeholders and give these voices space in a shared governance system.
- Seek direct ways for our efforts to have community impact, including community outreach with collaboration of the Center for Community Engagement to promote field work that addresses community-level needs.
- Ensure students have a safe space to communicate and discuss sensitive topics pertaining to racism and divisive hate on campus.
- Ensure students have equal opportunity to field placements and other professional growth opportunities.
- Commit to the recruitment, support, and retention of BIPOC faculty and staff at all levels of hiring in the department.
Maintaining Institutional Accountability. Finally, we will prioritize processes that are geared toward ensuring institutional accountability in addressing racial and socioeconomic disparities as outcomes to their practices. To do this, we:
- Actively engage in scholarship and evaluation of the racial disparities and social injustices in today’s world, with a particular emphasis on the domains of social services that target children, youth and families of color.
- Ensure our faculty members take part in university committees and outreach to address injustices and promote policy development and implementation that is fair and just.
- Encourage students, staff, faculty, and other members of the university community to speak up as agents of change and contact elected public representatives to influence policy issues.
- We commit to regular self-assessments, both internal and external, that evaluate the success of our efforts to promote racial justice both within and beyond the Department.
We take pride and are humbled by our responsibility of preparing the next generation of practitioners for the richly diverse world that they will inherit as graduates of our programs and experience as change agents in their professional careers. We also acknowledge it is our responsibility to maintain a culturally respectful and inclusive educational environment for all members of our department. Therefore, we embrace diversity and respect for all, while challenging epistemologies and policies that inadvertently promote racism and divisive hate in everything we do.
~ The Faculty and Staff of the Department of Social Work and Child Advocacy
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela
Franklin, A. J., & Boyd-Franklin, N. (2000). Invisibility syndrome : A clinical model of the effects of racism on African-American males. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70(1), 33–41.
McCoy, H. (2020). Black Lives Matter, and Yes, You are Racist: The Parallelism of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. 37, 463-475. https://doi-org.ezproxy.montclair.edu/10.1007/s10560-020-00690-4
Yeager, K. A., & Bauer-Wu, S. (2013). Cultural humility: essential foundation for clinical researchers. Applied Nursing Research, 26(4), 251–256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnr.2013.06.008