NASW-Illinois Chapter Statement on Black Lives Matter
Chicago, IL—In the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) would like to reinforce our full support of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) and its efforts against police brutality, racial inequality, and social injustice.
Over the past 400 years, the plight of African American people has continuously been met with oppression, marginalization, and discrimination. The United States Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal,” but ironically, this statement was written at a time where slavery was still in existence and therefore not inclusive of African Americans. Even after The Emancipation Proclamation, the repression of Black Americans—rooted in bigotry, bias, and racism—continues to present itself in a variety of modes. From outright racism to microaggressions, from biases in the workplace to unjust policies, the fight for social equity continues.
As social workers, we believe in the beauty of diversity. Our profession’s code of ethics points to the importance of promoting diversity, expanding competence, and challenging injustice. As such, we need to recommit ourselves to routing out these injustices through advocacy, informed policy, and education regarding inclusion, cultural sensitivity, and unconscious bias.
Progress can only be made if we are willing to evolve personally, professionally, and systemically. White supremacy has shaped our country, our systems, and our minds. Starting with ourselves, social workers need to be continually looking inward to how our thoughts and perceptions have perpetuated racist ideals. We need to be committed to learning about ourselves, our profession’s background, and the systems that we protect so we can be ready to break down systems that preserve a longstanding culture of racial prejudice and perpetuate historical trauma. The imperative for enlightenment in the social work profession cannot be overstated.
As quoted by Jane Addams, “The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” The NASW-Illinois Chapter believes that there is no place in our world for racial prejudice or social injustice. As such, it remains committed to confronting racism and racist systems while continuing to evolve the social work practice in order to best serve those who are most disenfranchised. Starting with ourselves and our homes, we remain steadfast in building bridges—not silos—and constructing new systems that promote dignity, respect, and inclusion for individuals regardless of their race, class, or gender.
Contributing Authors: Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW NASW-Illinois Chapter Calumet District Chair Kristin Rubbelke, MSW, LSW NASW-Illinois Chapter Member At-Large and Political Action Committee (PAC) Chair
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. The NASW-Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is one of the association's largest chapters and advocates for over 20,000 social workers in Illinois alone. NASW-IL strives to advance social work careers, grow social work businesses, and protect the profession while seeking to also enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through advocacy.