Session: Eliminating Racism or Achieving Race Equity: Developing the Grand Challenge (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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109 Eliminating Racism or Achieving Race Equity: Developing the Grand Challenge

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Michael Spencer, PhD, University of Washington and Martell Teasley, PhD, University of Utah
At the 2016 Society for Social Work Research Conference, the American Academy for Social Work and Social Welfare launched the Grand Challenges for Social Work as a ten-year, groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science. The initiative was a call to action for all of us to work together to harness social work's science and knowledge base, collaborate with individuals, community-based organizations, and professionals from all fields and disciplines, and to work together to tackle some of our toughest social problems.

At the root and core of most, if not all, of the Grand Challenges are structural and systemic inequities based on race. None of the Grand Challenges can be examined without a racial and ethnic lens to understand the disproportionate and disparate experiences of people and communities of color within each challenge. At the same time, it has become abundantly clear before and since Covid-19 how critical it is to address racism and race equity as its own Grand Challenge that plagues our society.

The Grand Challenge to End Racism or the Grand Challenge to Achieve Race Equity are candidates for the addition to the current Grand Challenges. In general, this is a further call to action for the field of social work and beyond, to come together to use science and research to dismantle the structural and systemic racism that exists in every facet of our society. Racism is both a standalone challenge for society that needs to be addressed, and a meta-challenge that intersects with each of the Grand Challenges. Whether we address the specific challenge of changing racist thinking or actions, or the larger challenge to achieve race equity has still not been determined. As part of the initiative's five year marking of renewed commitment, each of the Grand Challenges has identified outcome measures addressing the disparities and disproportionalities within the relevant areas of service and research to reach in the remaining five years. The choice of the framing of this grand challenge will help determine the achievable outcomes.

The Grand Challenge on race will launch its own network to support and advance the work of scholars and experts to end racism in our society. This roundtable will draw on the expertise of a range of scholars and leaders in this field and in the Grand Challenges. The result will be an advancement of the final announcement of this much awaited Grand Challenge on race.

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