Chapter Update

Tuesday, October 26

NASW Illinois and the National Association of Black Social Workers-Chicago Chapter

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, CAE

Over the past month, NASW Illinois Chapter President Yolanda Jordan and I have had the opportunity to participate in several events with the National Association of Black Social Workers-Chicago Chapter (NABSW-CC). Two of these events took place this past week. Our NASW Illinois Chicago District and NABSW-CC, along with Metropolitan Family Services, hosted a presentation and book signing by Waldo Johnson, Jr., PhD, who discussed his latest book Social Work with African American Males: Health, Mental Health, and Policy. Waldo’s book looks at both the historical and modern issues of African American masculinity from a unique vantage point. A sample of the wide-reaching issues Johnson and his book contributors address include the HIV/AIDS impact, homicidal and suicidal behavior, physical well-being, and a father’s family role. The book represents the first investigation of its kind to be conducted from the social work perspective, providing insights into these penetrating issues in our current society.

Waldo is associate professor at the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) and immediate past director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC). At SSA, Waldo teaches social welfare policy and human behavior in the social environment in the MA program and research methods in the MA and PhD programs. A family research scholar, his substantive research focuses on male roles and involvement in African American families, nonresident fathers in fragile families, and the physical and psychosocial health statuses of African American males. As a research methodologist, he is interested in the use of qualitative research methods in guiding policy and practice research.

Following his presentation, Waldo answered a variety of questions about his book. There were many high school students in attendance who participate in a variety of Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center’s educational programming. Their questions were very authentic and thoughtful and included why he wrote about men instead of women (He said that while girls and women face very real challenges, those faced by African American men are greater); whether it is better to focus our help on children and teenagers rather than adults (While that is a common refrain of policymakers, children exist as part of a family system and one cannot treat any one part in a vacuum); whether African American men ever commit suicide as it is often said that they do not (They do, but it often looks different than how non–African Americans do it); and whether the terms “mental Health” or “mental Illness” aren’t overly stigmatizing (No, but also had no problem with other terms like emotional wellness, behavioral health, etc.).

On Friday, Yolanda and I represented the NASW Illinois Chapter at the NABSW-CC’s Annual Institute at Chicago State University, which was co-sponsored by the Chicago State University MSW program. The institute’s theme, “Breaking the Silence of Violence in Our Community,” featured a variety of workshops on topics such as “Violence and Mental health,” “Responding to Interpersonal Violence in Child Welfare Settings Through Family-Centered Practices,” “Black Masculinity and Violence,” and “How Our Communities of Faith Are Responding to Community Violence.” U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-7) served as the institute’s keynote speaker.

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, CAE, has served as executive director of the 7,000 member Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) since October 1999. He has over twenty-five years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience including extensive work with boards of directors, committees and volunteers, and advocacy around a wide variety of social work, human service, and international political issues. Joel is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Fellowship Leadership Program and a current adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work as well as Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.

Posted on 10/26/10 at 10:04 AM


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