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Episode 232: Confronting Structural Inequality & White Supremacy
I. I am a white person, and I have my own internalized biases, including racism. I am continually working to confront my own biases and to do better, and I do my best to challenge racism when I see it. I am not an expert in anti-racism work but as a social worker and activist, I do have a lot of education and experience in social justice work. I cannot and won't pretend to have the lived experience of a Black or Brown person living in America and I will give a long list of resources at the end of this episode, that is not an exhaustive list by any means. As I posted on social media earlier in the week, we have two Americas. One that works for white people and one that works against Black people. After the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, protests have taken place in cities all over the US and around the world. There are many people who are speaking out against racism and doing boots on the ground work in this area, and I will provide many resources to help you learn more about what they are doing. Since I have a platform that reaches a number of people, I want to take the opportunity to address those who listen to this podcast in hopes that if you feel lost on how to make a difference on the issue of racism, you might have more clarity after listening to today's show.
II. Why am I talking about this? I am a social worker. We follow the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. One of the primary ethical principles that we follow states "Social workers challenge social injustice."
Ethical Principle: Social workers challenge social injustice.
Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers' social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.
In addition, part of being a trauma informed therapist is understanding the power differential inherent in therapy. And my clients have experienced the trauma of abuse, which is rooted in patriarchal beliefs - for example that children must obey their parents and that beating them will make them obey. Most of my clients have experienced sexual violence in some form, which is again rooted in patriarchy. So even when I am not directly talking about racism, awareness of the impact of systemic inequality which support white supremacy is inherent in the work I do every day. If I fail to understand that I am part of the problem. As I have already acknowledged, my white privilege is a part of me that I was born with, just as being oppressed is something that every black person born in America is born with. It is not fair that I have privilege any more than it is fair that a black person is born with a disadvantage that our country assigns to them based on the color of their skin. That is why I am talking about this today.
III. this brings us to what happened to Christian Cooper in Central Park last week. And what could have happened had he not filmed his encounter with Amy Cooper, to whom he is not related. In case you somehow missed that story, Mr. Cooper was birdwatching in Central Park in New York City when he came upon Amy Cooper, who had her dog off leash in an area where dogs are re