Social Work faculty & staff within The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies penned an open letter to address their commitment to social justice and actions to begin addressing systemic inequities.
Their letter is reprinted below:
We are experiencing an unprecedented convergence of a national call to address systemic inequities as manifested by police violence and murders of Black people, a health pandemic that disproportionately targets people of color, and the subsequent economic downturn. While a letter cannot begin to address the magnitude of these issues, our faculty and staff met recently and unanimously agreed that it is important to take actionable steps towards fulfilling our mission to build healthy communities that maximize human potential and promote social and economic justice.
The horrific loss of Black lives at the hands of the police and racist terrorists — including the most recent loss of life of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks — and the profoundly disproportionate effects of COVID19 on African Americans is our backdrop to this letter. However, we know that these are the proximate manifestations of 400 years of systemic racism that has inflicted multiple harms in myriad ways on Black Americans.
We are proud to be committed to a profession that is deeply rooted in social justice. We are also fortunate to be part of Georgia State University, one of the most racially diverse universities in the country. As such, we have a responsibility to our students and broader communities to engage in ongoing scholarship, teaching, and service aimed at identifying and eliminating racism and oppression. This unprecedented moment in history makes it clear that we as a social work community need to do more and dig deeper as individuals, as researchers, as educators, and as administrators to identify implicit biases, and to stand up against anti-blackness, systemic racism, and violence against the Black community.
Therefore, the social work faculty and staff at Georgia State University pledge to:
- Stand firmly against individual and systemic racism, anti-Blackness, and violence against African Americans, and to openly identify as anti-racist.
- Create an environment that encourages self-reflection, critical dialogue, and learning among and between faculty, staff, students and community partners.
- Listen to the needs of students and the broader community and strategize ways in which we can be leaders in truth telling, reconciliation, and healing.
- Strengthen curriculum to ensure future social workers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and strategies to be effective leaders in the fight to dismantle racism using critical theories and anti-oppressive practices utilizing a trauma-informed lens.
- Develop, implement, and engage in actionable strategies that dismantle white supremacy and advance anti-racist progress within the School of Social Work, AYSPS, the University, and in our communities.
This pledge is only a first step, and one that will evolve over time. Our work to engage in systemic change is one that must involve the voices of students, stakeholders and community partners. Our faculty and staff want to invite each of you to join us in this dialogue. We know that much work needs to be done but we can accomplish much more with frequent and open dialogue that can take us forward to a better and more equitable society.
The Faculty and Staff of the School of Social Work