The themes of race and justice have taken center stage in the United States over recent weeks; the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the impending deportation of tens of thousands of undocumented children from Central America have left deep imprints upon the national consciousness.
These are just the latest examples of how issues of race and justice can affect the work that social workers do on a daily basis, and there is little doubt that discussions surrounding these critical themes will continue to play a major role in shaping American social policy moving forward.
This academic year, the Boston College School of Social Work’s diversity theme is ‘Race and Justice.’ Over the course of 2014-2015, BC Social Work will convene a series of opportunities addressing this issue for faculty, staff, students and alumni. Diversity events will include: a speaker series, trainings, retreats, and discussion groups.
On Monday, September 8, BC Social Work hosted its first diversity initiative event of the academic year, entitled Race & Justice: A Conversation with Agency Leaders for Students and Faculty. The event was hosted by Professor Ruth McRoy, Chair of the BC Social Work Diversity and Justice Committee, and included a panel discussion of leading agency executives in the Boston area, all committed to finding new ways to serve increasingly diverse populations.
“[The current social inequities of today] don’t constitute a black problem, or a white problem, this is an American problem,” McRoy explained in her welcome address. “This is all of our problem. With so much talent that is underemployed and over-incarcerated, we all suffer. But it’s important, for us as social workers, to look at this at a much deeper level. What is happening in society today? What are the costs? And what can we do to begin to address these issues?”
Panelists Maria Campanario-Araica, Director of English Language Learners & Students with Disabilities for the Boston Public Schools, Maicharia Weir Lytle, Executive Director of LIFT Boston, and Andrea Perry, (MSW ’99) Executive Director of YouthConnect at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and an adjunct faculty member at BC, began to tackle some of these questions. All hoped for better partnerships among agencies, and also, for ongoing collaborations between schools of social work and agencies such as those currently in place at Boston College.
“I think for the field of social work to continue to address issues of poverty, race, and injustice, we need to ensure that our social workers are prepared, and I think that starts in social work school,” said Perry. “It’s critical for a next generation of social workers to be able to dive deep into these issues. “
Stay tuned to Innovate@BCSW for commentary on this year’s diversity focus: race and justice.
The Diversity and Justice Committee of Boston College School of Social Work is dedicated to fostering a welcoming environment for all students, faculty, and staff. Diversity awareness is a core value that prepares our students for effective and culturally-sensitive practices when working with diverse populations. Human needs, rights, issues, and solutions are intertwined with culture. Every year, the Committee coordinates activities focused on one specific issue of diversity and justice.