Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE
NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director
As I write this, the country has witnessed another senseless police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, a former Illinois resident, this time just north of the border in Wisconsin. This was followed by the killing of two protesters and injury of another with an assault weapon by a 17-year-old vigilante from Antioch. This has been a difficult summer as our state and country continue to see the long-term effects of systemic racism and witness the need for police reform.
As a chapter, we are taking on this issue with the establishment of a Task Force on Racial Justice. Co-chaired by NASW-Illinois Chapter Board Members Latesha Newson (Calumet District Chair) and Kristin Rubbelke (Member At-large), the task force will review internal and external efforts regarding social work and racial justice, including police reform, as well as develop a survey to gather feedback from chapter membership regarding racial justice initiatives and the role of social work. It will ultimately provide recommendations to the chapter board which may help to inform the chapter’s advocacy efforts.
The chapter remains very focused on the issue of racial justice in our state. Earlier this month, national NASW President Mit Joyner addressed our board. While discussing her vision, Mit talked extensively about many of the ideas noted in her inaugural column in the national Social Work Advocates magazine—“[S]ocial workers cannot become silent bystanders.” And that for “Social workers, the time is now for us to use our collective knowledge, skills and values to lead the transformative change this nation so desperately needs. The social work profession and NASW must take bold, intentional and deliberate action…. There is no going back to the routine of inequality. If we do, our profession will normalize disparities and racism.” Very sage comments by our incoming national President. We have much work ahead of us.
Some other things of note…
NASW has endorsed Joe Biden for president together with his running mate Kamala Harris. It is no coincidence that this week, we are also commemorating 100 years since women were given the right to vote. Voting for women and men is crucial at a time when American’s right to vote is in danger of being suppressed. The following is a link to voter registration resources https://ova.elections.il.gov/. Please encourage colleagues, friends, and clients to exercise their right to vote.
The longest serving governor in Illinois history, Jim Thompson, passed away this month at the age of 84. While we didn't always agree with the former Governor, in July 1988, Governor Thompson signed the original Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act into law, and social work licensure became effective in the state of Illinois, January 1, 1989.
Just a reminder to register for the November 19th one-day virtual ethics conference, Rethinking Ethics: https://www.naswil.org/conference.
Wishing you all strength and good health.