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  • Writer's pictureJaya Roy, M.A., M.S.W., L.C.S.W.108767

Call To Action: Why Social Workers (and others) Should Care About Black Lives Matters

This is to my colleagues,

This is a call to action. I’m sure all of us are reeling from the recent murders of black citizens, I know I am. To many Black, Indigenous, Mixed-Race and People of Color (BIPOC) the civil unrest we are seeing is not unexpected- it is long overdue. As a person of color and social worker, I am holding on to our professional value of challenging Social Injustice and Dignity and Worth of a Person. We happen to be part of a profession that is not value-neutral when it comes to challenging social injustice. This means we should be in full solidarity with our Black colleagues, clients, and community members.

However I want to be clear, this is not a temporary or short term goal. It’s not enough to voice our disgust or opposition to racism. One of the ways racism continues to thrive is by not following through with action. We might have good intentions but real change comes from the commitment to a life long development of our critical awareness, being radically honest of the ways in which we (and I mean every single one of us) contributes to upholding white supremacy culture and systemic racism. Based on our awareness we reflect and create intentional action to challenge our privilege from a system that is set up to oppress Black people.

Things to keep in mind while doing this work:

  • Center the voices of BIack people, not your own

  • Listen but don’t ask Black and people of color to educate you

  • Take action with yourself, at your home, at your work, in your community

Organization to support:

Professional questions we should be asking ourselves:

  • Can I identify the ways in which white supremacy culture is showing up in my work?

  • Can I make a list of the actions I’ve taken to challenge systemic racism?

  • How can I further decolonize my clinical practice and integrate anti-oppressive frameworks?

  • How am I supporting my BIPOC or colleagues?

Resources to check out:

To my BIPOC colleagues,

It’s an incredible time to be witnessing a fight for the right to accept that Black Lives Matter let alone be seen as valuable and integral to our society. As chair and founder of the Diversity, Equity, and Transformation committee for the California Society For Clinical Social Workers (CSCSW), I am re-evaluating my role and committing to integrating a stronger focus on anti-Blackness, colorism, and the genocide of Native and Indigenous folks in our objectives. I am recognizing my own privilege of being Asian and that means I need to bolster the voices of my Black, Native, and Indigenous members because I too have benefited from this oppressive system. I am also committing to support the National Association of Black Social Workers code of ethics and will think of ways to integrate this into my own work as a POC Social Worker.

I recognize that providing services during this time is an incredible ask on us right now both with how COVID disproportionately affects the Black community and police violence. Many of our work places might value being trauma informed but often ignore the trauma of racism. I don't have answers but I want to tell you, you are not alone. I'm organizing a BIPOC consultation group through CSCSW so that we can be solidarity and process together. because sometimes self care is community care. I leave you with the wise words of Audre Lorde-

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."

With Graditude,


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