Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Work Month 2016: Forging Solutions Out of Challenges

March is Social Work Month 2016. The official theme is 'Forging Solutions Out of Challenges'. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) picked this theme to honor macro social worker Frances Perkins. She used the skills she gained from her experience at Chicago's Hull House to formulate policies that addressed unsafe working conditions and economic crises. She would become the first female secretary of labor and cabinet member in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. She used that position to improve conditions for working Americans. As an advocate of safer workplaces and workers' rights, her contributions helped create the American middle class.

From NASW:

Our nation’s more than 600,000 social workers have amazing tenacity and talent. They confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live. We celebrate the contributions of social workers during National Social Work Month in March.
World Social Work Day 2016 is on March 15th. The theme ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples'.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Christian Science Monitor: The surprising relationship between intelligence and racism

The Christian Science Monitor revealed that people with high intelligence (or simply a postsecondary degree) may not support policies that help racial minorities, such as affirmative action and school desegregation:
Are smart people less racist than their less-intelligent peers?

That was the question asked in a new study that examined the relationship between verbal intelligence and attitudes on race and racial policies.

The findings may surprise some: While people who score higher on intelligence tests are less likely to hold racist stereotypes (such as imagining that people of another race are lazy or unintelligent), they're no more likely to support government policies that aim to reduce racial inequality. For example, while 95 percent of study participants who scored higher on the intelligence test said that black and white children should attend the same schools, only 22 percent support school-busing programs.

In a similar racial attitudes study of college students, Baylor University researchers found that white students on average think black and Latino students need to 'work harder' in school than their Asian peers. In my humble opinion, I am not surprised by these research findings. Both reports remind me of the color-blind concept of laissez-faire racism by Lawrence Bobo that explains how intelligent people who believe in the values of equality and inclusiveness can still hold negative attitudes towards racial and ethnic minority groups. Laissez-faire racism is an ideology that blames minorities for their poorer economic situations, viewing it as the result of cultural inferiority. In other words, an educated and intelligent person can say he or she is not racist but may still hold prejudiced views of other groups as culturally inferior. Under this system, racial inequality is manifested in subtle ways that shifts the blame from systemic racism (e.g., redlining and employment discrimination, both of which can have long-term consequences on earnings and wealth) to personal responsibility.

Student Debt Makes College More Expensive for Women

As a woman of color, I understand how difficult it is to repay student loans. Social workers, on average, earn an average salary of $42,000 (source: Payscale). Yet students are increasingly graduating with $29,000 in student loans (source: The Institute for College Access and Success). This data does NOT include student loan debt accumulated from graduate school. This Bloomberg report reveals women (especially Black and Hispanic women) take longer than men to repay their student loans:
Student debt haunts women for years longer than it stays with men, research suggests. A report from the American Association of University Women shows that women take longer to pay off their education loans, which imposes a heavier burden on their finances years after they graduate. Black and Hispanic women in particular earn much less than other groups over time, and end up struggling the most to get rid of the debt that financed their college educations.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ProPublica: Debt and the Racial Wealth Gap

Income inequality is a top policy issue in America. The middle class are no longer the majority and falling behind financially. Meanwhile, the percentage of affluent families and poor families have increased. The racial wealth gap is an even more pronounced problem in America. According to ProPublica, even small debt has an enormous price on the well-being of black families:
IF you are black, you’re far more likely to see your electricity cut, more likely to be sued over a debt, and more likely to land in jail because of a parking ticket.

It is not unreasonable to attribute these perils to discrimination. But there’s no question that the main reason small financial problems can have such a disproportionate effect on black families is that, for largely historical reasons rooted in racism, they have far smaller financial reserves to fall back on than white families.

The most recent federal survey in 2013 put the difference in net worth between the typical white and black family at $131,000. That’s a big number, but here’s an even more troubling statistic: About one-quarter of African-American families had less than $5 in reserve. Low-income whites had about $375.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Social Work Day on the Hill - March 1-2, 2016

March is Social Work Month. Social workers from across the country will gather together for a day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC:
BSW, MSW, PhD social work students and new entry profes­sionals from across our nation will join together in Washington DC to attend the second annual student-led Social Work Student Advocacy Day on the Hill. The Congressional Auditorium in the Capitol Visitor Center from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM is the location of the full-day conference that is organized by social work students and sponsored by the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) and the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work (GWSCSW). Come meet and greet other social work students, new entry social work professionals, and other colleagues. The March 1st, Social Work Student Advocacy Day on the Hill is the kick off event for the Congressional Social Work Caucus' Annual “Social Work Day on the Hill” on March 2, 2016.

The goal of the March 1st event is to discuss how policy is shaped and learn the critical issues that affect the social work profession and our consumers. This year's event will focus on H.R. 3712, the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015. Hands on training will provide unique opportunities for engaged social work students and others to learn first hand how advocates can promote professional growth and inclusion. Hear how event speakers and other leaders voice ideas and the professions concerns to legislators and Congressional staff. Most importantly, experience the power of social work by getting involved in collective engagement and experience the impact of direct advocacy efforts.
Click here to register for the event. The cost for registration is $25.00 which includes lunch. Early career professionals, guests, and sponsors are welcomed to participate.

Former congressman Edolphus "Ed" Towns, in conjunction with the Congressional Social Work Caucus and its Chair, Rep. Barbara Lee, invite you to attend the Social Work Day on the Hill. It will be held on Wednesday, March 2, 2016, on Capitol Hill. For more information, contact Charles E. Lewis Jr. at In the meantime, browse the 2015 press release and 2015 report of Social Work Day on the Hill.