Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The School’s Commitment to Racial Justice Statement:
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is dedicated to eliminating racial injustice and promoting an ongoing process of healing and reconciliation to dismantle racism. This commitment is rooted in the belief that all members of our community are valued and needed to further the human rights and social justice mission of the school and the social work and nursing professions.
We acknowledge that racism is consciously and unconsciously prevalent and persistent. Recent events around the country have compelled us to examine the reality of the multifaceted nature of racism. From the history of slavery, Jim Crow and lynching to the current realities of anti-immigration violence, racially discriminatory state actions, unequal access to services, mass incarceration and police brutality, we continue to be reminded that the fight for racial justice is far from over.
Social work and nursing have a long-standing tradition of upholding and improving diversity, equity and inclusion. Those who practice in the human services arena are obligated to speak out against all forms of racism and inequality, including institutional racism with in our communities and government.
Social work has a longstanding value of upholding and working toward human rights. Social workers and leaders of human services organizations are obligated to speak out against all forms of racism and address structural racism in our communities and the inequitable and racialized outcomes it produces.
As social workers, social work educators, and researchers, we have the professional responsibility to remember that along with the privilege of being at USC comes the responsibility to be civil, respectful, decent, and fair to all people. The violence against, bias toward, and inequitable treatment of people of color, particularly against African-American males, will not be tolerated.
To that end, we will work as a community to address these ongoing issues. We will ensure that all stakeholders in our school know and are prepared to fulfill their responsibility to counter the voices advocating racist views and moral inadequacies based on race.
We recognize that our profession is made up of diverse individuals with different perspectives on racism. Our varying experiences with and participation in systems of power and privilege make ongoing conversations about race, structural and systemic racism, and oppression complex and challenging. As such, we commit to advocate for policies and practices that provide solutions to dismantling oppressive and discriminating systems and develop new research related to racial justice, social work innovation, and anti-oppressive policies.
We will continue to create and foster a culturally diverse environment that strives to be free of discrimination, bigotry, and hate speech. We will also ensure that racial justice is addressed in all courses and that our curriculum presents culturally relevant and responsive perspectives. We see diversity and inclusion as a means to improve and strengthen a broad range of social, political, economic, and health outcomes and will inspire our students to do the same.
The USC School of Social Work will speak out and challenge narratives and actions that run counter to our human rights mission. We are devoted to having candid, experiential, and substantive discussion on systemic and structural racism to evolve our thinking and commitment to developing strategies for community empowerment, collective support, and social change.
Submitted by the Working Group:
Renee Smith-Maddox, clinical associate professor
Rafael Angulo, clinical professor of field education
Tory Cox, clinical associate professor of field education
Terence Fitzgerald, clinical assistant professor
Charles Kaplan, research professor
A Girl Like Me - video
Shopping while black - video
Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation - video
Sexual and Gender Identity
APA Guidelines for working with transgender and gender non-conforming individuals
Resources for Self-Reflections
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources for Students
Strategies for Talking about Race & Racism in the Classroom
Teaching While White Podcast
To facilitate difficult conversations about race and racism, there are some essential prerequisites to consider:
First, recognize that you play a critical role in helping students talk openly about the historical roots and manifestations of social inequality and discrimination.
Second, be reflective of your own racial, ethnic, cultural and unconscious biases. Your experience with diversity, racism, privilege and people of color influence your ability to have these conversations.
Third, acknowledge the challenges to changing your frame of reference about race and racism. Learning how to talk about topics such as white privilege, systems of oppression, racism, police violence and mass incarceration takes practice and courage, regardless of how long you have been teaching.
Finally, be willing to adapt instructional practices, classroom management, and motivational techniques.
- Clarify the meaning of race and racism.
- Acknowledge the fear of offending, discomfort and risk of talking about race. Create a safe space that sets the stage for respectful and honest conversation that is civil and where everyone can voice their views. Focus on the desired outcome of the conversation as well as the process of engaging students in the dialogue.
- Use stories and metaphors as examples that people can connect with. People ignore data that does not fit their perceptions, but stories are compelling. Telling stories is also an effective way to teach, persuade and even understand ourselves.
- Talk about structures, policies, practices and norms. Focus on the context in which racial conflict and racism occurs and address the impact it has. People are more likely to engage in a dialogue about institutional racism when there are no accusations or blame directed at them.
- Focus on shared values such as equality, security, liberty, dignity and respect for others as articulated in the NASW Code of Ethics.
- Talk about solutions as well as the problems so that people feel there is a way to make a difference and do not feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem.
- Frame (or reframe) issues to identify what the problem is about and how it can be addressed. Successful framing puts you in a favorable position to direct the discussion and improves the chances of a successful solution.
- Explore explanations for the disparities. Differences are not always "bad" or “negative.” Help students examine the basis of observed differences.
- Address blatant racist assertions and give your students and yourself an opportunity to process what was said.
- Use reflective writing assignments to launch discussion and make sure everyone in the classroom shares their perspective and rationale.
- Draw from a wide array of materials (i.e., readings, videos, audio clips, images/symbols) to help you deal with what is uncomfortable and unfamiliar in the conversation.
The Role of Resonance in Conversations about Race & Racism
What is resonance? When someone courageously shares, they need to know that you have heard them and support them. Often we just need to be listened to with empathy. We do not necessarily need advice or for someone to solve the problem. So we resonate to provide that support to each other. Here’s how to resonate:
- What did you appreciate about what was shared?
- What parts moved you?
- What strengths did you hear?
- How did it make you feel?
- What do you relate to what has been shared?
Next, offer appreciation for what was shared:
- Do not offer advice or ask questions.
- Just appreciate what was shared.
- Be respectful.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Stay focused on the person who is sharing.
- If you have a strong response to someone’s story because you relate to it, that’s great! You can share what you are feeling, but be careful not to launch into your own story and lose the connection with the person. You will be able to share your story next, after that person’s resonance time is over.
Diversity and Inclusion Standards for Social Work Courses
Introduction to Social Justice Oriented Teaching
Knowing When to Teach Current Events
Teaching for Change
ADL Educator's Resources
Teaching Race & Anti-Racism in Contemporary America
Critical Pedagogy for Social Justice
Solving Social Justice Problems Through University Education - ebrary
Teaching Social Justice
Center for Evidence-Based Policing
Diversity Workshop: A guide
Diversity and Social Justice
Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice - NASW
Undoing Patriarchy - A Syllabus
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