Session: Title: Reparations and/in Schools of Social Work (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

280 Title: Reparations and/in Schools of Social Work

Sunday, January 19, 2020: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Capitol, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
Tiffany Younger, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Diana Melendez, MSW, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, William Frey, MSW, Columbia University, Kirk James, PhD, New York University and Cameron Rasmussen, MSW, CUNY Graduate Center
Through a variety of efforts from organizers, advocates, and scholars, discourse on reparations as a form of institutional accountability for slavery and the genocide of native peoples is changing within mainstream culture. This change in discourse has been increasingly visible including in presidential election primaries in which democratic candidates are being asked their public stance on reparations, many of whom are in favor of some form of reparation process. There is a growing debate about what form reparations should take, largely focused on holding the State accountable as the primary offender of white supremacist racial harm. In the last few years universities have become another focal point of the reparations debate, specifically, what forms of reparations could universities undertake to account for their role in slavery and native genocide, in perpetuating and furthering racist ideologies, discourses, policy and practice (e.g., Georgetown Reparations Fund). As an example of the wave of collective action pushing institutions to address their historical role in racial and economic inequalities, Scholars for Social Justice (SSJ), a formation of progressive scholars, has recently launched a reparations and higher education campaign to build momentum in universities across the U.S. Many students, faculty and administrators have joined this movement and have begun to engage in more research and discourse, and ultimately mobilizing towards actualizing reparations.

This roundtable seeks to build on the work of SSJ, and other grassroots efforts, in order to look at the specific historical role schools of social work have played in perpetuating racial harm to communities of color, and their responsibility in taking accountability and making reparations. We will focus on (3) related points of inquiry towards this these aims: 1) How did schools of social work participate in the institutionalized enslavement and genocide of people from Africa and people indigenous to this land? 2) How have schools of social work participated in the reproduction of racial harm by affirming, perpetuating and colluding with white supremacy at institutional, cultural, and interpersonal levels? 3) How can social work higher education critically engage in a process of accountability which creates meaningful opportunities for justice and healing for communities of color (representative of a range of intersectional lived experiences) where multiple levels of stakeholders can participate in a reparation process?

Our goal is to stimulate an interactive, critical, and reflexive discussion about the various possibilities for reparations and the role of schools of social work in taking accountability for past and continuing harm. We will employ various pedagogical techniques to create and hold space for participants to bring their complete, authentic, and vulnerable selves. These techniques and methods include: embodiment exercises; dialogic pedagogy to build moments for critical reflection, listening, and process; and cultivating a space for everyone to be challenged and consider their own role and positionality in regards to reparations and schools of social work. Our hope is that this workshop will generate deeper discussion serving as a catalyst for further research, organizing and activism towards accounting for systemic white supremacy and racial harm.

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