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Black Social Workers on Politics: Voting, Running, Legislating and More
We’re less than a month from a national election which is taking place amid a global pandemic and a national racial reckoning. In this panel, three Black social workers – Brian Benford (MSW ’20), Dr. Charles Lewis (MSW, PhD), and Nerissa Vogt (MSW ’20) will reflect on their career and personal choices that have put them inside the political process inside work on elections, running for office, and actively lobbying in policy making processes. The panel will discuss tensions, promise, and pitfalls of the work, in 2020 and beyond.
Director of Coalition Programs
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
Monique Minkens presented and led a discussion about the issues of systemic racism in the laws and programs surrounding domestic abuse and how White supremacy has affected the programs and supports. She also addressed some of the ways that social workers may perpetuate this racism through their work and discuss some suggestions of what social workers might/should do differently.
Discussion on Affecting Organizational Change
Jacquelyn Boggess is a lecturer on diversity, oppression, and social justice in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work and director of the nINA Collective. She works with organizations, leadership teams, and individuals to determine why, whether, and how they intend to incorporate racial equity into who they are and how they work—internally and externally.
Defund the Police: What it means, why it matters, and how social workers can support the cause
Kadijha Marquardt-Davis, MSW ’20
Savion Castro, MMSD school board member
Anti-Racist Social Work
A conversation with Jacob Hanifl, MSW ’15
Reflections on “Social Work So White”
Bethany Matson, current MSW student
Danielle Gladney, current MSW student
Jerome Flowers current MSW student
Rachel Warren current MSW student
Amanda Ngola, Clinical Assistant Professor; Associate Director of Field Education
Dane County Peer Support Leaders Reflect on this Moment, Racism in Mental Health Services, and the Article: We Don’t Need Cops to Become Social Workers: We Need Peer Support + Community Response Networks
Carmella Glenn, CPS, Program Coordinator, Just Bakery/Madison area Urban Ministry
Tim Saubers, CPS, Peer Specialist Program Manager, Access to Independence
Tara Wilhelmi,CPS, Founder of EOTO, LLC
Dani Rischall, LCSW, Chrysalis Executive Director (UW-Madison BSW Alum 2007)
“Collecting our voices” with UW-Madison SSW alumna Maggie Smith, MSW, who talked about her experiences supporting the Milwaukee Black Lives Matter protests, how she is supporting organizations active in Wisconsin with this work, and her current networking with other social workers around racial justice organizing.
There are many organizations coordinating efforts around Black Lives Matter. These are just a few in the Madison area to keep up with on social media or their webpages:
Message from the director
Stephanie Robert, Director and Professor of the School of Social Work sent a statement to all students, faculty, and staff on Saturday, May 27th. The letter included examples for getting involved now. Click here to read the full statement.
We Invite Your Stories. We Need Your Stories.
We were sad, angry, exhausted as we witnessed the knee-choke-hold that killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. This comes just on the heels of the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Sean Reed. All of these travesties are due to persisting racism sustained by white supremacy culture, demonstrating the historical and present racism specifically targeting Black people in our country.
In response, some of us are marching and protesting in the street, affirming that Black Lives Matter, demanding the end to the police violence and killing of Black people.
Some of us are supporting the protesters by donating money and supplies to the organizations leading them, writing notes in support, putting signs in our yards and on our cars.
Some of us are taking the first tentative steps, putting a post on our Facebook walls for the first time in support of Black Lives Matter, engaging our family and friends in conversation about the context in which this is all happening.
Some of us are uneasy about the violence and unrest we see in the streets across America and calls for police accountability, but want to learn more, are willing to learn more, and are just not sure where to start.
As social workers and citizens living through the confluence of a global pandemic and social uprising unlike we’ve ever experienced, it’s becoming clear that the world will not go back to a ‘normal’ that only existed for a few. That we cannot afford to go back to that normal. That in order for all lives to matter, Black lives must matter.
As social workers we need to step up in support of our communities; we need to step in to interrupt injustice and oppression; and we need to learn how to step back to give space to the organizations and individuals who are doing the work on the ground.
Some of us are on fire, moving forward quickly and forcefully. We are well connected, in touch with the issues and know what to do. Some of us are paying close attention but feel less directed and need a spark to light the fire and get started. We know that deep systemic change calls for sustained effort and continued pressure to change culture, polices, and laws. There is room for all of us in this work and we hope that each of us will challenge ourselves to engage in new and more powerful ways, whatever that may mean for us individually.
Two of the things the School of Social Work has started:
- The School of Social Work will host a series of discussions Focus on Action: Voices from the Field. We will host weekly discussions that aim to highlight a variety of voices about action people are taking in support of Black lives. We want to bring different approaches and opinions to our School of Social Work community for thought and discussion, so that it might inspire more and creative action.
- A blog were we invited social workers, students, faculty, staff, and alumni to share your stories of this moment and the ways to build our collective future. What are you doing in support of Black lives? How are you supporting one another? Is this part of your work, your calling, or both?
We offer these as spaces of imperfection. We do not have the answers to all the ills of US society. We attempt to amplify voices that are too infrequently heard and share our efforts with one another as a way to continue a journey toward justice — as a way to support each other in taking next steps, from wherever we may be starting.