Session: Colorism and Cultural Competence (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

136 Colorism and Cultural Competence

Thursday, January 21, 2021: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Symposium Organizer:
Nicole Ransom, LCSW, Midwestern University
Historically, social workers have been at the forefront of social change. In this way, these professionals serve clients’ intersectional needs through the use of a culturally competent curriculum. Further, the code of ethics decrees that social workers attend to diversity in a respectful manner while addressing one's own biases and privileges. However, some issues are rarely discussed in the field, which creates barriers to address and intervene on these topics in classrooms and practice settings. Colorism, a covert method of racial oppression based upon skin color, is one issue that remains largely overlooked both within communities of color and in the social work literature. Scholars define colorism as a system of inequality, which privileges individuals possessing physical attributes (hair texture, facial features, and skin tone) proximal to Whiteness. Although confounded with racism, colorism is a distinct form of oppression where biases may be present among members belonging to the same ethnic group. In order to deliver effective and culturally appropriate interventions for African Americans, as well as other populations of color, social workers must be apprised of the impacts of colorism and how one's own implicit biases around color, influence the helping relationship. Consequently, this symposium combines research from four social workers in diverse levels of research and practice to highlight: (1) the etiology of colorism, (2) the impact upon African Americans and other people of color around the world, and (3) to provide suggestions for social work scholarship to mitigate the negative effects of colorism. The aim of this symposium is to bring awareness to existing social work research on colorism and to promote discourse on the use of social work education as a mechanism for colorism healing.
* noted as presenting author
Beyond Racism: Colorism As Post-Modern Transgression
Ronald Hall, PhD, Michigan State University
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