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BIPOC Lives Matter, Social Work and Social Justice

It is time for me to speak up.  I feel compelled to use my voice to stand up to the injustice that has been a part of our society and continues to be perpetuated and experienced. 

As a Caucasian person, though, I feel uneasy about writing about this subject; I want to give space to the voices and experiences of BIPOC people. I want to listen and understand. I want those voices to be heard.  But, I can no longer hold back and will not be a bystander.  I have written and rewritten blog posts about the inequality in our society but I have yet to publish any. This is my humble attempt. 

I am a Social Worker. At the core of this profession is the premise that we see the person in the context of their environment. While my work over the past 25 years has been trauma informed (looking at the nervous system and its triggers), Social Work always considers race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and socioeconomic status. We cannot see a person as separate from the context of their own family history or current and historical societal realities. Racism, homophobia, sexism and financial barriers become part of the story of trauma, oppression, as well as resilience. Social Workers continue to be part of supporting social justice and social change whether we are working at the policy level or at the 'micro' level such as working one on one with individuals and families. 

I see the client as the "expert" and this informs my practice. The client is the expert on their history, their relationship with the problems they face, the obstacles they are up against and the tools they have used to stand up to difficulties. It is my job to be curious and to create a safe space to unpack these. It is my job to consider the individual in the context of their personal and social history.  I aim to meet people with empathy and understanding. Everyone deserves to be heard and understood to create change for themselves and hopefully to create social change. The current climate of this global pandemic has served as a pause that has highlighted pervasive inequality. We all must work harder toward social justice. 

This article resonated deeply for me and speaks to the some of the depth of oppression as related to trauma.  

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