CURRENT ISSUES & THE SSW

RACIAL JUSTICE

#mdsswracialjustice

February 2018

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Dear School of Social Work Community,

 

Recently a banner created to memorialize “Black Lives Taken” as a direct result of systemic racism and police violence, which has hung in the lobby of our School of Social Work for most of the year, was defaced with the words “All Lives Matter.  Remember That.”  In context – whether written on a banner specifically memorializing “Black Lives Taken” or uttered in response to a movement affirming that Black lives matter – “All Lives Matter” is interpretable as contrary to those who support racial equity, as well as diversionary, and offensive. 

 

Those, like the signatories below, who affirm “Black Lives Matter” argue that African Americans have been particularly disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited as a result of historical and contemporary social, political, and economic structures.  As a result, a special focus is required to overcome and undo these structures, to remedy their attendant suffering and stigmatization, and to promote the inherent dignity and worth of those who are targeted or treated as disposable.  The “Black Lives Taken” banner – and the broader Black Lives Matter Movement – are about this focus, and not about exclusion.

 

The banner seeks to draw our attention in the same way as Ella Baker when she said, “Until the killing of blackmen, black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”  The Movement is the current embodiment of Dr. King’s affirmation of the dignity and worth of Black people and communities, when he urged junior high schoolers in Philadelphia to have “a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth, and your own somebodiness.  Don’t allow anybody to make you feel you are nobody.”   The statements of Baker and King are only necessary – or even sensible – in a context that treats certain people like nobody. 

 

As educators, we believe it is important to use this moment as one that facilitates deeper understanding.  We invite you to an upcoming Chat & Chew to share and hear thoughts and feelings on these issues.  Students, staff, faculty and administration are welcome to join us in 2w11 at the following times:

 

Thursday, 2/22, at 5pm

Wednesday, 2/28, at 5pm

Monday, 3/5, at noon

 

We look forward to continuing to work with you all to promote human liberation, equity, and social justice.

 

Richard Barth, Dean

Megan Meyer, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Jodi Frey, Chair of the Faculty

Adam Schneider and Tanya Sharpe, Co-Chairs, Diversity and Anti-Oppression (DAO) Committee