In the Face of Hate and Violence

By Rachel L. West

In the face of hate and violence we must be resolute. Yesterday Nazis rallied in Charlottesville, VA. One person demonstrating against the white supremacist rally, Heather Heyer, was murdered. Many others were injured.

Social justice is a defining component of social work. We are tasked with fighting oppression and giving a voice to those silenced by institutionalized discrimination. Over the past eight months #MacroSW has had many chats about the new challenges brought about by the current White House administration. Yesterday’s events in Charlottesville was a watershed moment.

While oppression was weaved into the fabric of American society from the start and white supremacy groups have long operated in the US; anti-racist groups and actions taken by Department of Justice in the 1980’s and 1990’s had driven many of those hate groups underground.  The fact that so many of the people participating in the really (including those who marched on the UVA campus the night before with torches) did not feel compelled to cover their faces demonstrates how emboldened these groups now feel.

I’ve have started a Google Doc (embedded below and linked here) where we can share events that are being held in response to yesterday’s events. If you know of or are coordinating an event please add it to the doc. It is an open doc and anyone with the link can edit and share. The event can be a vigil, a march, a town hall, a workshop; basically any public event (online or in person) that is taking place to combat white supremacy.

Those of you who teach courses or workshops can also find and share related resources on the #MacroSW Syllabus.

Original photo Credit: By Edward Kimmel from Takoma Park, MD (Climate March 0746 resist) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: Building a Better World #MacroSW Chat, May 4th at 9pm EST

Update: Chat archive now available!

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The organizing chat series was born out of a need to fight back against an anti-social work agenda being pushed by the current president and his administration, but also to start a dialogue about the role of social work in organizing and direct action. Is our work simply to ameliorate the suffering of the oppressed or is it to transform systems to end oppression?

Now more than 100 days into a new presidential administration, this question–and the answer to it–is becoming increasingly critical.

Many social workers are engaging in various forms of resistance both individually and collectively. Whether developing new programs and resources for oppressed people being increasingly marginalized, advocating for policy change, or participating in public actions, social workers are on the front lines in the fight for a just and equitable society. But what does that society look like and how do we get there?

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This discussion is the last in the first ever #MacroSW organizing chat series. The first chat focused on understanding power as organized people and organized money. The second chat discussed how we can effectively build relationships to develop grassroots power. The third chat focused on the power of protest as a tactic among many to achieve strategic change. How can we now take these concepts into the real world? And to what end?

In the fourth chat of the series, we will answer the following questions:

  1. What is your vision for a world consistent with social work values?
  2. What needs to change to make make your vision for a better world a reality? What are you doing to make that happen?
  3. Which social work skills do you think are most useful in your work to build a better world?
  4. How can #MacroSW help? What topics would you like to see discussed in future organizing chats?

About the Host
IMG_20170120_121533_860.jpgJustin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: The Power of Protest #MacroSW Chat 4/13 at 9pm EST

Update: Chat archive available!

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At first glance, social work may not appear to be intrinsically linked to protest. After all, we’re more likely to be found working behind a cluttered desk or our car between home visits. But in the earliest days of the profession social workers were integrated within the communities they served. Settlement houses were often used as meeting locations for community activists to organize strikes and other public demonstrations.

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Image source. Photograph shows the American delegates to the International Congress of Women which was held at the Hague, the Netherlands in 1915. The delegates include: feminist and peace activist Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954), social activist and writer Jane Addams (1860-1935), and Annie E. Malloy, president of the Boston Telephone Operators Union. To the right of Malloy may be labor journalist and activist Mary Heaton Vorst (1874-1966) and the woman wearing a hat on the far right may be Lillian Kohlhamer of Chicago. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2012)

Since the election of Donald Trump, America has seen a resurgence in public activism in

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Left to right: Rudra Kapila, Sunya Folayan, Karen Zgoda, Kristin Battista-Frazee at the Women’s March in DC, January 2017. See more #MacroSW at the March here.

the form of mass protests and actions. Social workers of course have taken part in many of these actions as individuals or small groups, but our profession’s collective presence has been limited. The current administration has taken many actions that are explicitly contrary to social work values. With calls from the NASW and other social work institutions to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to an anti-social work agenda, it is time for social workers to consider how we can take bolder action to resist unjust policies.

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This discussion continues the #MacroSW organizing chat series. The first chat focused on understanding power as organized people and organized money. The second chat discussed how we can effectively build relationships to develop grassroots power. How can we now take these concepts to develop public demonstrations of our power? And to what end? In the third chat of the series, we will answer the following questions:

Q1: Have you ever taken part in an action (rally, protest, disruption, etc)? What was it? Describe the experience. #MacroSW

Q2: Was the action effective? Why or why not? If so, what did it achieve? #MacroSW

Q3: Are there specific forms of protest or tactics you think social workers should be engaging in? #MacroSW

Q4: Do you have plans to participate in an upcoming action? What is it? If not, what would you like to see in your area? #MacroSW

About the Host

Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Social Work Month 2017: For What Do You Stand Up?

Poster for 2017 Social Work Month : Name in Red background at top with white band in middle with the motto, "Social Workers Stand Up" in White space - the "d" in "Stand" has an arrow pointing up as the long side of the "d." Ath the bottom is the logo for NASW, the national association of social workers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poster: National Association of Social Workers

(archive of this chat here)

March is Social Work Month, a time to “educate the public about the contributions of social workers and give social workers and their allies tools they can use to elevate the profession,” according to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). “Social workers stand up for millions of people every day. These include people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, our veterans, children, families and communities. Yet many people still misunderstand who social workers are and the invaluable contributions they bring to society…Social workers are trained to look at situations in a holistic way. They help people increase their ability to solve problems, to cope with stressors and to get needed resources. Social workers bring individuals together with other people and their communities to find solutions for problems that continue to plague our society, including hunger, lack of affordable housing, and equal rights for all. And social workers make organizations responsible to people through sound social policy.”

Every year, Social Work Month highlights resources and information that can lead to policy, laws and legislation that serve to increase social justice and advance the social work profession. It was established in 1963.

Logo for 2017 World Social Wrok Day has human head with long hair in streams of multi-colored ribbons, blue background, at bootom are country- and cityscapes, with the title in upper left in oick letters.
Logo: International Federation of Social Workers http://ifsw.org/news/world-social-work-day-2017/

 

 

World Social Work Day is celebrated on the first day of Spring, March 21st.

 

 

 

 

Join the #MacroSW chat this Thursday, March 16, with host Pat Shelly from @UBSSW, as all kinds of social work organizations, practitioners, agencies, legislators, schools and students share ideas and actions that help celebrate our profession in all its aspects. We’re pleased to have Greg Wright of @NASW on the chat too!

Discussion questions:

  1. What activities are you engaging in for #SWmonth 2017?
  2. Who or what do you stand up for?
  3. Why this choice?
  4. How does Social Work Month help you and other social workers?

And…
~Please share media – news, movies, books – that feature social workers~

The New Social Worker Online magazine has many articles, art and poetry by social workers in its special Social Work Month Project 2017 series.

Here is an annotated list of novels about social workers from 2015. Titles:  All Our Names (2014); The Believers (2010); Fourth of July Creek (2014); The Interestings (2014); The Social Worker (2011); Unprotected (2012). And let’s add PUSH by Sapphire (1997).

 

Multi-colored letters wiht a sunburst effect spell out "social work month" in a design of 3 tiers, one word on each line.
Image: Media Education Foundation

 

Resources:

Green, Adrienne. (2016. August 11). From social worker to foster parent and back. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/social-worker/495533/

International Federation of Social Workers. (n.d.) Global definition of social work. Retrieved from http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work/

Lewis, C.E. Jr. (2017 March). Young social workers should be preparing for the future. The New Social Worker. Retrieved from http://www.socialworker.com/extras/social-work-month-2017/young-social-workers-should-be-preparing-for-the-future/

National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.) Social Work Month 2017. Retrieved from http://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/swmonth/2017/default.asp

New Social Worker (2017 March). Social Work Month 2017.  [Blog posts].Retrieved from: http://www.socialworker.com/topics/social-work-month-2017/

Social Work Licensing Map (n.d.) [Social worker’s salary guide] [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://socialworklicensemap.com/social-worker-salary/

Zimmerman, E. (2017, March 12).  Social workers help many people. Sun Herald. Retrieved from http://www.sunherald.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article137497983.html

 

 

 

#MacroSW Organizing Chat 2: Building Relationships 3/2 at 9pm ET

Update: Chat archive is now available!
otupa1qvrelmmztkthdvlii0dvaffyko_k_xpzzqpiharv9ejqnewo2regenyjwuov2nd5qtpxjzepntvl6jtit8xb-itxqrrlbwxnbmb85lzan3vktjajxxtjyhcsby9buch19As the new presidential administration comes into power, basic assumptions about the role of government in assisting the most marginalized have been thrown into question. Social workers should be deeply concerned about proposed changes to social service programs and the government agencies that administer them.


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on social workers to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to the anti-social work agenda that is being put forward by the new administration. But how do we actually proceed?

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In the first chat of this series, we discussed power–how it’s defined, who has it, and how we build it. To build the power we need for change requires organized people or organized money. In this week’s chat, we will discuss how to build the relationships needed to effectively organize. What starts as a small group of likeminded people can grow into a network of activists driving a movement.

The most important component of organizing, like social work, is listening and building relationships. We must meet people where they are and forge connections based on empathy, shared experiences, or common interests. This development of trust allows us to ask people to take necessary actions they may not ordinarily take–attending a protest or challenging an elected official–in a way that isn’t transactional, but based on mutual self-interest and respect.

To take a closer look at these concepts, we will discuss the following questions:

  1. Organizing builds public relationships which differ from personal or professional ones. What do you think this means?
  2. How would you engage stakeholders to start organizing around an issue you care about?
  3. Do you see a unique role for social work institutions to build relationships for change?
  4. Once you’ve established public relationships for organizing, what do you think is the next step to address an issue?
  5. What will you do in the next month to organize around around the issue of your choice?

Resources:

About the HostQqXY63jEj1wbBoicVsEaQjGfuDlpZCo8Xk8T4KinZTZcZT9U3sPkz6_NTKAIrmeTRJJD1X2hwwQNBPuWdgNTzwsqRdzIL6RGlQ7LjWleiZlI08MQ1maO-VeWIKaxgKcdaVnMTmgX.jpg

Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he
leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.

Fighting an Anti-Social Work Agenda: Understanding Power #MacroSW 2/2 at 9pm EST

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Chat archive now available!

As the new presidential administration comes into power, basic assumptions about the role of government in assisting the most marginalized have been thrown into question. Regardless of your political affiliation, social workers should be deeply concerned about proposed changes to social service programs and the government agencies that administer them.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has called on social workers to organize, oppose, resist, and educate in response to the anti-social work agenda that is being put forward by the new administration. But how do we actually proceed?

#MacroSW is introducing a organizing chat series to educate social workers on the important role they play in resisting cuts to services and advancing social justice in their communities by teaching basic community organizing skills that will move social workers from an online space to real world action.

In the first chat of the series, we will discuss the concept of  power–who has it, what structures support it, but also how to build our own to confront injustice. For most of us, power does not come naturally. We have all been disadvantaged in some way by a lack of power–through economic oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism or based on some other characteristic. Therefore learning to want power can be challenging. But social workers also have a unique relationship to power. We may experience personal oppression from society while working at institutions that uphold traditional power structures.  

To take a closer look at these concepts, we will discuss the following questions:

  1. How do you define power and how do you know it when you see it?
  2. Who has power in our society and why?
  3. What role does social work play in maintaining or challenging current power structures?
  4. How can advocates for justice build power to challenge inequality
  5. What new or existing opportunities do you see for yourself to build power?

Resources:

About the Host

img_20170120_121533_860Justin Vest is the lead organizer for Montgomery County at Progressive Maryland where he leads issue-based advocacy campaigns and develops volunteer organizers to fight for social and economic justice. He earned his BSW from the University of Montevallo and MSW from the University of Alabama before relocating to the DC Metro area.