The purpose of this workshop is to show how critical race theory (CRT) and critical discourse analysis (CDA) can be used to examine how race and racism operate in families and society in general and in social work practice in particular. We illustrate key points of CRT and CDA through the examination of the life histories of two teenage young men who were long-term clients of a violence prevention program located in the upper Midwest of the United States. One young man, who was a refugee from Southeast Asia, did very well in the program while the other, who was African-American, was the first client ever to be discharged from the program.
During the first half of the workshop, the panelists will delineate CRT and CDA. Critical race theory (CRT) is a “discourse of liberation” whose purpose is to combat racism by bringing often hidden racist practices to light (DeCuir & Dixon, 2004; Dunbar, 2008; Parker & Lynn, 2002, p. 7). Critical discourse analysis examines ideologies of power embedded in language and posits that such examinations lead to social actions that transform these ideologies and the practice that follows from them (Wodak, 2001). We propose CDA as a natural fit with CRT because both focus on power relations. CRT provides a broad view of issues related to race and power, while CDA involves close textual analysis that integrates individual actions with cultural themes and practices related to power but not specifically to race.
Relying on prepared statements, the panelist will define CRT and CDA and describe the intellectual traditions from which they evolved, their underlying assumptions, and how together they provide a powerful framework that could be used to advance social work practice and policy.
The second half of the workshop will be devoted to illustrations of how CRT and CDA work together in an analysis of the two life histories. We will show how this analysis deepened our understandings of the African-American youth's truncated life chances that in turn led to ever-decreasing opportunities for his self-realization, while the Asian-American young man experienced an ever-increasing set of opportunities for his self-realization. We show how a race-based analysis leads to explanations of the divergent outcomes that these two young men experienced and deepens understandings of the impact of race and racism on human lives.
Written information summarizing the presentation, including a list of key references, will be provided. There are limited opportunities within academic social work to obtain advanced training in critical race theory and critical discourse analysis. This workshop will help to fill this gap.