Social Workers Cannot Be Silent: Statement & Call to Action Against Racism & Race-Based Violence
“Do your laws against larceny and murder prevent those crimes? No law will eliminate crimes, but at least you as legislators can assert to the world that you recognize the evil of the present situation and speak your intent to help us overcome discrimination.” -Elizabeth Peratrovich - 1945
Social justice is one of the most important values of the social work profession. Our code of ethics states:
Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers' social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.
As social workers, it is essential to our practice to recognize injustice and stand against it. Alaska is no stranger to social injustices. There is a long history of colonization that has led to suffering for many people throughout our state. We are not shocked by the murder of George Floyd or the many, many people who were murdered before him. We are devastated that year after year our calls to end discrimination and violations of human rights go unanswered. We are ready to see change.
The NASW-Alaska Chapter condemns racism and xenophobia. We are vehemently against the continued murder of unarmed black and brown individuals as a result of ignored police misconduct. We ask that you take action to fight this injustice. Sign a petition, protest, make a donation, or educate yourself on systemic racism in our state and country. Advocate and encourage improved and additional training in your local law enforcement agencies. We are at an impasse and now is the time to take a stand. We need your voice.
In social work solidarity,
The Staff and Board of Directors of NASW-AK
Photo by NASW-AK member Leigh Bolin, June, 2020 Protest in Fairbanks, Alaska
For social workers committed to joining us in this fight, the following resources can help:
Resources and Training
- The Alaska Native Heritage Center offers cultural awareness classes to increase awareness and knowledge of cultural diversity in Alaska. Call (907) 330-8000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- The Alaska Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America will host a session on communication insights with Celeste Hodge Growden, Alaska Black Caucus - ABC president and Dr. Jocasta Olp, diversity lead for the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on June 11 at 3:00 p.m. Look for more information on their Facebook page.
- Add to your reading list, viewing queue, and podcast roster by seeking thought leaders on indigenous rights and antiracism like Willie Hensley, Ibram Kendi, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Rachel Cargill. The Anchorage Public Library and the Alaska State Library have selections from these and other authors that can be checked out as e-books now (while the libraries are still closed to the public). Read about Elizabeth Peratrovich, the Tlingit woman who led the fight for the Alaska Equal Rights Act, in Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich.
- Support Bridge Builders of Anchorage, an organization dedicated to the promotion and celebration of harmony and respect among all cultures in order to make Anchorage, Alaska the first city without prejudice. (www.bridgebuildersak.org)
Thank you to NASW Massachusetts for their resources.