Today we witnessed an egregious assault on democracy in our own nation’s capital. The ease with which armed white nationalists entered the Capitol building, with little resistance and even encouragement from some of the police, stands in absurd juxtaposition to the police and military response to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not a partisan statement to say that there is a double standard for white and BIPOC people in this country when it comes to protest. Black Lives Matter protests are a response to Black people being killed by the police. Today’s attempted overthrow of the democratic process is a militaristic response to not getting one’s way in a free and fair election. We are in a dangerous period, one that is especially dangerous for people of color because the underpinnings of what we witnessed today are firmly rooted in white supremacy, which is alive and thriving.
As a social work professional, as someone who has hope for what this country is capable of being, as a mother of two boys whose father suffered terribly and died as the result of his service to this country, as someone who cares deeply about social, racial, and economic justice, and as an educator, I won’t refrain from calling out what has been a coordinated and prolonged assault on the democratic principles that we in the U.S. are supposed to value and uphold. I hope that more of our social work students, practitioners, educators and scholars consider pursuing a career in politics. This profession’s intentional study and attention to issues of equity, equal opportunity, and justice position us well, advantage us actually, for such a career. But whatever our career paths, we must never back down from confronting and working to dismantle oppression, racism, and other forms of injustice that pervade our systems and institutions.
Be safe and be strong, and please let’s all continue fighting for an equitable and just society.
Kristen S. Slack, PhD
Professor, Interim Director, and PhD Program Chair