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.
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!
What activities are you engaging in for #SWmonth 2017?
Who or what do you stand up for?
Why this choice?
How does Social Work Month help you and other social workers?
~Please share media – news, movies, books – that feature social workers~
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).
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime, whereof the party shallhave been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Section 1; Ratified 1865.
We live at a crucial time in the United States characterized by a rapidly changing social, informational, global and political climate. Social workers and allies in other professions are poised to assume leadership in variety of pressing issues with implications for social change. One such issue is that of mass incarceration. The documentary 13th by filmmaker Ava Duvernay raises a host of issues on the subject and ties this country’s historical position of institutionalizing racial and economic inequality to present day systems of oppression. Mass incarceration has had severe repercussions for many of our country’s most vulnerable groups.
Presently, on any given day in the United States, over 700,000 people are in jail, the portal of entry to the prison system. In addition, the families, children and communities of those incarcerated also experience wide-reaching effects. In essence, we all pay a price for this loss.
The film 13th, traces incarceration in the United States from the abolition of slavery and the ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865 to how the loophole in the amendment has been been exploited for financial gain through today’s prison industrial complex. Currently, in the United States a widening network of for- profit prisons and detention centers has flourished. According to the writer and director of 13th, Ava Duvernay, the film was created so viewers would have a “revolution within” regarding our thoughts about mass incarceration in this country and to serve as a catalyst for new thinking about how we approach this issue from now on. ” ’13th’ is coming out at a time where it might provide some foundational knowledge for folks as we really make demands of our candidates to go beyond Twitter beefs and get into the real issues that affect our everyday lives,” she said. With incarcerations having increased 5 fold since 1940, this is certainly time for both renewed and ongoing conversations.
Join us March 9, 2017 at 9pm EST for our MacroSW Movie night on Mass Incarceration. Alongside #MacroSW chat partner and host Sunya Folayan, our guest hosts for this timely discussion are:
Becky Anthony, Ph. D; MSW Online Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Social Work at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Md.
Jennifer Jewell, Ph. D; Director of BSW program and Coordinator of Dual Degree program at Salisbury University, Salisbury, Md.
What role do social workers play in reducing mass incarceration?
What do you think are some of the factors that allowed this system of racial control to evolve?
What was the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994? What were aspects of the bill that contributed to the rise in mass incarceration?
How does the media influence our viewpoints of people who are currently in prison, specifically men of color?
“13th” highlights the policies that have helped create the devastating mass incarceration problem. What current policies are proposed and how could they affect the current and future prison system in our country?
What further thoughts do you wish to express about social work’s role in addressing mass incarceration?
Smart Decarceration Initiative (website): The homepage of the Smart Decarceration Initiative [hyperlink: csd.wustl.edu/OurWork/SocialJustice/Decarceration/Pages/default.aspx]
Social Work and Criminal Justice (website): A website created by the SDI co-founders that promotes social work research and teaching in the area of criminal justice: [hyperlink: http://www.sw-cj.org/ ]
We are a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. Learn more here: https://macrosw.com/about/
In this episode, our guests Karen Zgoda, Rachel L. West, and Patricia Shelly describe how they are using macro social work Twitter chats to promote support for and education about all forms of macro practice activities. They discuss what Twitter chats are, why they matter, and why social workers are producing and participating in them.
Karen Zgoda, LCSW, is an instructor in the School of Social Work at Bridgewater State University. She starting hosting online social work chats in 2000 and is currently a collaborator and chat host for the #MacroSW Twitter chats, focused on macro social work practice. Karen previously wrote the SW 2.0 technology column for The New Social Worker Magazine and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member and project coordinator at CTCNet working on digital divide issues. Her research and pedagogical interests include technology in social work and education, macro social work, social policy, and research methods. You can find Ms. Zgoda on Twitter as @karenzgoda.
Rachel West, LMSW, is social media manager for the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA), where she became one of the founders of the #MacroSW Twitter chats. In 2012, she founded The Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to community practice social work and politics. Providing consultation to nonprofits and private practices since 2013, Ms. West’s consultation focuses on a number of issues related to advocacy and community outreach, including the use of social media as a community organizing tool. Ms. West also works privately as a career coach, coaching and training macro social workers. Additionally, she is an instructor at Stony Brook University, School of Social Welfare, teaching advanced macro social work practice. You can find Ms. West on Twitter as @poliSW.
Patricia Shelly, MSW, is director of community engagement and expansion at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She has served as a member of the LGBT Domestic Violence Committee of Western New York for 12 years and the Women in Black Buffalo movement for 15 years. Previously, Ms. Shelly was the associate director for the Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender at the University at Buffalo. She is the editor of SocialWorkSynergy, the blog of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. She is a chat partner for the #MacroSW Twitter chats and often serves as a chat host. You can find Ms. Shelly on Twitter as @PatShellySSW.
Episode 210 – Karen Zgoda, Rachel L. West, and Patricia Shelly: Promoting Macro Social Work Through Social Media/Twitter Chats. (2017, February 27). inSocialWork® Podcast Series. [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from http://www.insocialwork.org/episode.asp?ep=210
Update: Chat archive is 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. 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?
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:
Organizing builds public relationships which differ from personal or professional ones. What do you think this means?
How would you engage stakeholders to start organizing around an issue you care about?
Do you see a unique role for social work institutions to build relationships for change?
Once you’ve established public relationships for organizing, what do you think is the next step to address an issue?
What will you do in the next month to organize around around the issue of your choice?
People’s Action – volunteer with a national network of grassroots advocacy organizations
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.
You are on the front lines every day fighting for social justice, important causes and effective programs. What would you say to Donald Trump if he were sitting in your office about the policies we need to strengthen our communities and solve our nation’s toughest problems?
Join us for #MacroSW chat on February 23 at 9 p.m. EST to delve into pressing topics raised by social workers and the Trump Administration and share your stories, policy remedies and suggestions for how we can collaborate. This chat follows up on our invitation to the President and his administration to engage the social work community in a question and answer forum.
For this #MacroSW chat we will compile ideas and feedback to deliver to the Trump Administration. We hope Trump officials will join us and also extend an open invitation to Trump supporters who have similar concerns.
Here are some guidelines and posed questions for the chat.
Review the topics proposed to in our open invitation which include, refugees and immigration reform; child care beyond tax credits and paid leave; reducing opioid, crack, drug and alcohol addiction and criminalization; affordable healthcare for everyone; veteran’s mental health and addiction; violence against minorities and the police and, economy and social justice. Feel free to discuss other topics as well.
What do you want @realDonaldTrump and his administration to know about social workers?
What are your top three issues you want @realDonaldTrump to address and why?
Share with @realDonaldTrump and his administration a challenge, success story or research/data related to your priority issues.
Tweet directly to the President and Trump Administration representatives in your responses. Here are some of their Twitter handles:
Don’t forget to tell us what state you work and live in and tweet directly to your Congressional reps too so they get the message or thanked for their efforts. Find your House Representatives and Senators.
Guidelines for engagement: Our goal is for a respectful and substantive dialogue on both sides of the political aisle so we can work toward real solutions and contribute to emerging policy discussions that impact social workers and those we serve. No cursing or disparaging comments about the President or the Trump Administration. We will also block and report anyone who is trolling, cyberbullying and disrespectful to chat participants who express their opinions. We stand by creating a safe environment for discussion consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics. Check out the Twitter rules for reference.
After the #MacroSW chat, consider writing a blog post to share resources, successes, and struggles and tell your personal stories. When sharing don’t forget to use the #MacroSW hashtag so everyone can see your post!
We will do everything we can to deliver the transcript of this chat to the Trump Administration. If you know anyone with a direct connect, let us know!
One of the signature pieces of legislation during the Obama administration was passage of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA weathered many attempts to be derailed throughout the remainder of President Obama’s term, with dozens of votes to repeal the act held in the House. In 2010, after the Supreme Court upheld the law, it seemed Obamacare was positioned to remain in place.
While the ACA has been considered flawed, even by its strongest proponents, the law enacted a series of changes to health care access. These changes expanded health care to millions of people. These changes included:
Removing provisions allowing health care insurers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions;
Creating health care insurance marketplaces that allowed people without employer’s insurance to purchase health insurance coverage;
Providing subsidies to assist people in need in paying for health care insurance;
Allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26
Now, with a new administration, the ACA is facing a critical crossroads. While President Trump campaigned on a platform to repeal the act and replacing it, it remains unclear what these changes will look like, and when these changes may occur. While some proposals have been offered, the law in its current form remains in place. Meanwhile, as the current congress deliberates on what changes should occur, public opinion on the ACA law has reached a new high in popularity.
Social workers in clinical, inpatient care, and policy settings have had an emerging leadership role with the ACA. Now, our profession looks to ensure that gains made for individuals and their families are not lost and promoting ways to improve access to healthcare in the United States.
Here are some questions we will discuss this week:
How has the ACA changed health care access for you, your clients or communities?
What do you think will happen if the ACA is repealed?
What do you think could be done to improve the ACA?
What do you think is the most common misunderstanding about the ACA? Why?
How should social workers respond to the possible repeal of the ACA?
We, the partners of the #MacroSW Twitter Chat, invite Trump Administration representatives and the President to join the #MacroSW chat on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 9:00 p.m. EST for an open question and answer forum to engage the social work community and professionals who work with people in need of healing and hope and to discuss a range of pressing issues.
#MacroSW twitter chat is a collaborative group of social workers who promote macro focused practices and fight for social justice. We are conveners in the social work profession and host weekly conversations on Twitter every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST with social workers nationwide who come together online to strategize about practice, share resources, and network. Here is our weekly schedule and feel free to connect with us at @OfficialMacroSW or email us at OfficialMacroSW@gmail.com.
Social workers have a mission to reach those who have been forgotten and left behind and to solve our toughest social problems. There are more than 640,000 social workers in the U.S. and we are the largest provider of mental health services in the country. As a reminder, the National Association of Social Workers has sent the Trump transition team this document, Advancing the American Agenda: How the Social Work Profession Will Helpwhich details social work’s rich history, our impact, and how we serve. It provides detailed research and statistics that touch on pertinent issues.
For a Twitter chat forum, questions would be posed to President Trump, and/or administration representatives, from social workers on the below topics. We would also welcome this chat to be convened on Twitter through Periscope or other video streaming service to answer questions live. These topics were selected because President Trump had spoken about these issues on the campaign trail or taken action by executive order. We are open to other topic suggestions from both the Trump Administration and social work community. Leave comments below this post or tweet us and mention our handle @OfficialMacroSW.
If no one from the Trump Administration joins the #MacroSW Twitter chat, we will proceed with convening this question and answer forum and compile ideas and feedback to deliver to your administration. A blog post will follow this invitation closer to Feb. 23 outlining the questions and additional resources to prompt discussion.
Refugees and immigration reform. The Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, which bans aliens from the nations of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia from traveling and seeking refuge in the U.S. This ban has caused alarm at home and around the world, raised constitutional questions which led to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a suspension of this order and has left many believing we are abandoning our core principles as Americans. Social workers play a key role in helping settle immigrants and refugees in communities, protect illegal immigrants who live in the shadows and are at a higher risk to suffer abuse and victims of crime. We also advocate fair and just immigration reforms which honors our nation’s history. We should agree humane treatment of all people is necessary to resolve the struggles our communities face in helping immigrants.
Child care beyond tax credits and paid leave. Greater flexibility in affording childcare is a goal for everyone. We also need to improve opportunities and wages for the childcare workforce, which has an underpaid and predominantly female and minority-race workforce. And, there are too few affordable and high quality child care options for middle class and low income families, often negating efforts to work full-time.
Reducing opioid, crack, drug and alcohol addiction and criminalization. Nationwide addiction has destroyed families and communities. Social workers are on the front lines in combating addiction and can be relied upon to deliver treatment programs to break the cycle of addiction. We also seek to end the criminalization of addiction in which people end up in prison instead of treatment and minorities represent a disproportionately high number of inmates. Social workers seek solutions to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, especially in communities of color, and offer treatment instead of jail for nonviolent offenders.
Affordable healthcare for everyone. As the Trump Administration and Congress seek to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, social workers have grave concerns about how this will be done. The expansion of health insurance and Medicaid has increased social workers’ ability to provide mental health and addiction services and created parity for health and behavioral healthcare and we want this to continue. Also, we know basic healthcare is a necessity for people to live independent and productive lives. This is especially important for the disabled and older adult communities who are entitled to live healthier and stay at home for as long as possible instead of in expensive nursing facilities.
Veteran’s mental health and addiction. Social workers are the largest provider of mental health and addiction services for veterans and their families. We need more social workers working in the veteran’s health administration to end the high suicide rates, heal PTSD and treat trauma, addiction and mental health disorders.
Violence against minorities and the police. The intersection of racism, trauma and violence experienced by black communities and law enforcement officers has led to an untenable situation for everyone. It’s a tragedy that there is a greater incidence of violence and killings of people of color at the hands of police. When police officers die in the line of duty protecting our communities, this is a tragedy that happens far too often. And here is a troubling statistic: over 50 percent of police brutality incidents involve disabled people especially those of color. Cases like Arnaldo Rios-Soto and Korryn Gaines are not isolated occurrences and show the dangerous realities some face if they encounter law enforcement. Social workers are on the ground in every community, working to stem acts of violence and the aftermath of social unrest in the wake of the shootings and killings of black citizens and police officers.
Economy and social justice. Jobs are the backbone of thriving communities; social workers often support those who are un- or under-employed, as are many people with disabilities. Social workers are instrumental in supporting working-class families who are seeking work as well as creating opportunities for people to start businesses and build wealth in the shifting economy with its many changes due to globalization and automation.
Social workers’ expertise and interests extend beyond this list. We are collaborators by nature and dedicated professionals who believe in equality, diversity and advocacy for those who cannot advocate for themselves. We work with marginalized and oppressed people everywhere and care deeply about human and civil rights. Our reach is broad: social workers help people on a one-on-one basis as well as creating large-scale community change and policy initiatives.
In policies and philosophies where the Trump Administration and the social work community have mutual interest, mission alignment and the potential for productive work, we will work with this administration to reach important goals on behalf of all Americans.
We must state clearly, while we are open to collaboration with the new Trump Administration, we will organize and speak out against policies deemed harmful to minorities, immigrants, women, and other disenfranchised populations. The purpose of this invitation is to open respectful dialogue which is necessary in order to devise the best solutions for our rich and sound democracy.
As President Trump has demonstrated so well, Twitter is a rich social media community where people can express themselves freely, and easily organize and communicate. Twitter is an incredible platform to engage large numbers of people and harness the best ideas. We hope that President Trump and his administration will join us for this conversation.
Why do social workers need to know about the opioid epidemic?
Opioid dependence is an epidemic in the United States.
Many social workers are interested in addictions.
We will see opioid dependence regardless of where we practice social work.
It is important that all of us know more about this issue.
Join us on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 9 pm EST, 8 pm CST, and 6 pm PST as we look at the epidemic of overdose deaths in the U.S. caused by use of opioids. We’ll discuss current stats, contributing factors, and evidence-based treatment and prevention practices. The host is Pat Shelly from @UBSSW – she’ll be on the @OfficialMacroSW handle.
Our guest expert is Charles Syms, from the School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, using the @UBSSW handle.
Charles Syms, LCSW/ACSW, is a clinical associate professor who has been a faculty member in the University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work since 1998. A past National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Minority Research Fellow, Professor Syms’s current teaching and research interests include the treatment of individuals with substance use disorders, particularly the impact of alcohol and other drugs on people with mental health problems and those involved with child welfare system. He works to extend this education into the on-line environment.
Professor Syms has over 35 years of professional social work practice. He received his MSW in 1979 from California State University – Sacramento. His experience includes work in child welfare, domestic violence, forensic mental health and substance use disorders. He has held numerous positions, including child protection worker, child protection clinical consultant, prison psychiatric social worker, supervisor on an in-patient chemical dependency unit, domestic violence specialist and group leader, child welfare program director, and a leadership role in coordinating two community-based, university/public school collaborative violence prevention projects. Additionally, Professor Syms shares his experience and expertise as a member of agency-based and professional advisory boards at the local, state and national levels.
Here are some questions we will discuss this week:
Just how widespread is the opioid epidemic?
Why is it worse in the United States than elsewhere?
What are the evidence-based practices that are effective in treating opioid dependence?
Are there preferred prevention models?
What implications for policy does Carl Hart’s talk, “Let’s quit abusing drug abusers,” offer?
What are social workers doing at the macro level regarding this epidemic?
About #MacroSW: #MacroSW is a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. The chats are held weekly on Twitter every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST).
Standing on the platform at the McLean metro stop waiting for the train to take us into D.C. for the Women’s March I was excited and had no idea what to expect from this experience. I attended with my fellow #MacroSW partners, Karen and Sunya, and Rudra, a colleague from the Clinton campaign and hoped the masses gathering would effectively carry a message for our ever-growing list of causes. Trump’s rhetoric was on the verge of becoming reality and that prospect chilled me to my core. As a social worker, I realized our profession would be on the frontlines in fighting for the many people Trump policies would impact. At the Women’s March, my goal was to soak in the energy, observe the strength of so many people coming together, as well as understand the depth and fervent nature of what is shaping up to be “the resistance.”
As you now know, the crowds were twice as large as expected and worldwide women, men, children and people of difference backgrounds converged on Capitol Hill. At the March everyone was kind to each other, I met people from all over the country and there was an unspoken understanding among us that we were taking part in history. The marchers route was diverted from Independence Avenue to the wider Constitution Avenue/ Pennsylvania Avenue route towards the edge of the Treasury Department near the White House. We passed the National Archives Building, the home of the Constitution and Bill of Rights; the Newseum, where we chanted “freedom to the press” and the Trump International Hotel, in which the crowd erupted into shouts of, “shame, shame, shame.” It is shameful what Trump espouses and shameful when elected officials do nothing to fight the injustices unfolding right before them. I’m confident this Women’s March is just the beginning and will turn into further action. People are ready to stand up and fight back. I also know, and this I impress to advocates everywhere, we will not be alone in doing what is right and speaking out about any unjust actions by the Trump Administration.
I participated in the Million Woman’s March in Philadelphia in October 1997. It was a joyous coming together of women from the African diaspora in the United States to bring our best efforts to make our nation, families and communities better. I took my children, one of whom was in a stroller at the time. I came back from that march energized, and willing to WORK even- harder for human rights, social justice and community change. Not boasting, but in record time, and with minimal resources I was able to do some amazing things in partnership with others. So much so, the Department of Justice noted our innovative work. I embody the “Strong Black Woman, and I know how to WORK and get things done. I have been socialized for generations to do this. Fast forward to 2017 and the Women’s March on Washington.
I had decided I was not going to attend.
Why? I had become pretty much battle and WORK weary. I was tired of Black women’s leadership coming in behind that of White women’s leadership, or not being recognized at all. Like everyone else I was experiencing the collective grief and trauma from a brutal political campaign and its unfathomable result. (It wasn’t really unfathomable for me, I was just hoping common sense would prevailt. It didn’t). I was fed up with still having to prove Black Lives Matter in every endeavor of human activity. I didn’t want to have to bite my tongue or talk in code to state my reality. I didn’t want to have to fight with any feminists who believed their contribution to today’s injustice would be simply to “listen and try to understand.” I wasn’t up for any of that bulls*#t. So I pretty much decided to stay home and WORK.
Then, I decided to make another decision. I wanted to spend my birthday with my friends in #MacroSW. I wanted to connect with them, and share a unique experience in coming together to craft our own agenda for activism in this new age. I decided to come to the march as an act of self care, and for Black women self care is often a radical act of resistance. So, I laughed, danced, sang, chanted, swore,and flashed my middle fingers. I took off my work hats (there are many) and drank mimosas, had great discussions, connected with our growing sisterhood, ate cake and, had many plates of lasagne. I didn’t have any answers, I slept in late, I shed tears, I treated myself to dinner and I walked around in my pajamas the day after the march. I left the Strong Black Woman at home, enjoyed myself and allowed myself to become relaxed and renewed. Self care has been my focus the past few years. It allows me to return to my work with a mindful presence, and the need to pace myself in this long protracted ground game of working for human rights, social justice, and refusing to normalize what is not. I marched for financial capability and equal rights for women.
I marched for affordable health care, and decent wages. I marched for the lives of those lost and those to come. I marched for my daughters and grandsons. I marched for the Black feminist leadership I saw front and center during the day’s festivities. But most of all, I marched for myself and my right to sit down when I feel like it.
I marched in solidarity with millions of women around the world, to find the common core of our varied intersectional historical struggles and funnel our collective compassion, strength, and anger to resist the upcoming carnage of President Trump’s administration. I will partner with those who support our cause to fight the insidious forces of sexism and misogyny from damaging women’s rights and bodies.
The Women’s March on Washington was massive. Yet the size of the crowds, in the District of Colombia and around the globe, will not be its only measure. This is a march that will not end; it will continue in various places in various ways like an expanding web of global resistance. This will further strengthen all the actions countering attempts to roll back women’s rights, human rights, and help in the efforts to protect rights that enhance the collective good.
That collective good includes addressing the deeply entrenched racism in the U.S., gender-based violence, gun and drug epidemics, dismantlement of public education, disability rights, action on climate change, access to healthcare, criminal justice reform, LGBTQIAP rights, environmental justice, and the inherent right of all to the four freedoms: of speech, of religion, from want and from fear. Working to protect human rights is essential to redress injustice and injury that arises from so many sources: living with gun violence, immersion in the violence of poverty, multiple systems of oppression.
As Angela Davis said, “I am no longer accepting the things I can not change; I am changing the things I can not accept.”
The march itself generated discussions about white women’s privilege and racism. Disability advocates wrote critically about how organizers did not think to include elements that would have made it a truly accessible march. Many men and boys attended, and one of the memorable moments for me was toward the end of the march – the crowd I was following ended our march at L’Enfant Plaza. As we chanted, “My body, my choice,” it turned into a call-and-response with men chanting, “Your body, your choice.” The crowds watching from the overpasses cheered us. It was heartening to have so many men present as allies. And about time!
Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Women Rise, Refugees Welcome Here; millions of women and their allies stood for advancing the cause of social justice. This may mean we work to keep what had been gained circa 2016. It may mean that new people’s movements will lead to a world that nourishes, and does not diminishes. The march itself generated discussions on white women’s privilege (and men’s privilege) and racism. Disability advocates wrote very critically about how the organizers did not include many elements that could have made this a truly accessible march. And so we learn what can improve future marches planned in D.C. Here are a few: April 15-Tax Day for Trump; April 29-March for Science on Washington; May 6-Immigrants’ March; and on June 11-National Pride March.
The Women’s March Global stressed that its purpose was to promote “the beginning of a peaceful, proactive movement that has grown out of the rhetoric of the recent U.S. election cycle and galvanized people across the world to defend women’s rights and the rights of others.”
The march reached all seven continents; this image is from Antarctica, where people promoted Seals for Science, Cormorants for Climate, Women for Earth, and (of course) Penguins for Peace.
In news reports from Europe, I saw a sign in Budapest reads “Women of the World Unite.” In Wales: a sign has a photo of Nina Simone with her quote: “I tell you what is freedom to me: No fear.” In Ghana: “I stand for tolerance,” and in South Africa, “Stop Violence against Women.” Signs for our time.
As we work ( and march, and protest, and stand and call and email and tweet and blog) in order to advance #socialjustice, be assured the year 2017 will provide many opportunities to join together once again and take it to the streets.
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:
How do you define power and how do you know it when you see it?
Who has power in our society and why?
What role does social work play in maintaining or challenging current power structures?
How can advocates for justice build power to challenge inequality
What new or existing opportunities do you see for yourself to build power?
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.