Education

Professor Claims Social Workers Need Social Justice Training To Do Their Jobs

A City University of New York (CUNY) professor claims that social workers being trained to perform their jobs must “focus on privilege.”

In a journal article for the Journal of Progressive Human Services, published on August 1, CUNY professor Alexis Jemal suggested that it would be “inappropriate” to train social workers “without a focus on privilege,” which she claims contributes to bigotry.

To avoid contributing to the “problem of social injustice,” Jemal claims that social workers must receive “radical social work” training, including understanding concepts of “white privilege” and similar “oppressive systems.”

First reported by Campus Reform Tuesday, Jemal argues that would-be social workers must examine “their own social privilege, explore personal biases and beliefs and the resulting oppression, and develop their capacity for action to challenge unjust conditions.”

Jemal proposes “adopting transformative, anti-oppressive frameworks and practices, radical social workers make visible the invisible social-ecological factors that hurt people, including institutionalized white privilege,” among others.

In addition, the professor proposes a social-justice approach for social workers who deal with clients to help prevent them from experiencing oppressive situations.

The professor says social workers have a duty to fight social injustice because it “makes people unsafe and uncomfortable, [and] denies them inalienable rights.”

“The only way to avoid being a part of the problem is to work actively to change the culture and systems that condone oppression and privilege,” she claims.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.