Session: WITHDRAWN: We Don't Lead with Research; We Lead with Community: Applying Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality to Social Work Research (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

17 WITHDRAWN: We Don't Lead with Research; We Lead with Community: Applying Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality to Social Work Research

Thursday, January 13, 2022: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Independence BR A, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity
Bec Sokha Keo, PhD, MSW, University of Houston, Samira Ali, PhD, MSW, University of Houston, Katie McCormick, LMSW, University of Texas at Austin and Sustain Team, University of Houston
Developed by Black and Brown scholars, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality (CRT/I) are complementary theories that interrogate power and privilege by examining how racism and oppression are enacted both interpersonally and systemically (Bell, 1995; Delgado & Stefancic, 2017; Crenshaw, 2017). CRT/I provide frameworks for analyzing historical and contemporary social and political movements, such as HIV/AIDS activism, Movement For Black Lives, and LGBTQ rights. In Social Work, analyses of power, social structures and their impact on the wellness of communities have been guided by CRT/I (Mattson, 2014; Mehrotra, 2010). CRT/I have also been critiqued from the lens of white supremacy as being too ambiguous or unapplicable to traditional rigorous research methods (Litowitz, 1996). However, the utilization of CRT/I uncovers potential opportunities for social and structural interventions to enhance the overall wellness of Black, Brown, Indigenous, queer, and trans communities who experience health inequities (e.g. HIV/AIDS) disproportionately due to compounding traumas related to systemic oppression (i.e., racism, hetersosexism/homophobia, cissexism/transphobia).

While there has been a recent emergence of Social Work scholarship informed by CRT/I, the practical application of these theories have yet to be explored in the context of Social Work and HIV/AIDS research. Most notably, there remain gaps in understanding the history, utility, and application of CRT/I. Social Work is well positioned to advance anti-racist scholarship by drawing from community wisdom and CRT/I frameworks to inform research practices. This workshop includes a panel of scholars and activists who aim to advance community-based CRT/I informed research methods. The panel will share reflections and strategies on how CRT/I can be actively and intentionally applied across all phases of research from experiences at a funding and capacity building center that partners with Community-Based Organizations led by or serving communities disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in the Southern US.

During this 90-minute session, panelists will: 1) outline and describe the tenets of CRT/I; 2) discuss the importance of centering and elevating community as integral to advancing anti-racist research; 3) reflect on how to prioritize community-led research goals; 4) identify strategies for Social Work scholars to apply CRT/I across research phases; and 5) discuss practical applications of CRT/I to Social Work research in the areas of mental health, trauma-informed care, harm reduction approaches and wellnes in the context of HIV/AIDS.


Bell, D. A. (1995). Who's afraid of critical race theory. U. Ill. L. Rev., 893.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (Vol. 20). NyU press.

Crenshaw, K. W. (2017). On intersectionality: Essential writings. The New Press.

Litowitz, D. E. (1996). Some critical thoughts on critical race theory. Notre Dame L. Rev., 72, 503.

Mattsson, T. (2014). Intersectionality as a useful tool: Anti-oppressive social work and critical reflection. Affilia, 29(1), 8-17.

Mehrotra, G. (2010). Toward a continuum of intersectionality theorizing for feminist social work scholarship. Affilia, 25(4), 417-430.

See more of: Workshops