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Dexter Voisin writes about his experiences “navigating the constellation of restraints on Black life” for Zócalo Public Square


Dean Dexter Voisin published an article in Zócalo Public Square on “navigating the constellation of restraints on Black life.”

Voisin shares his personal experience with colourism, “a form of discrimination against people of darker skin that ethnic groups enact toward each other,” and how the vestiges of colonialism influenced his upbringing and how he was perceived in the Ivy League institutions where he studied and worked.

Then there are those agonizing times when my Black excellence, hard work, and integrity are readily castrated as soon as a white narrative contradicts them. Black culpability and white innocence are as American as apple pie. Driving while Black, bird watching while Black, teaching in the academy while Black, drinking coffee at Starbucks while Black—many of these violent injuries have become more visible due to social media, but they have been hidden in plain sight for over 400 years. Rooted in white supremacy, liberal white violence is sophisticated, at times it is patronizing, wielded by silence, claiming ignorance or viewing Black bodies in privileged spaces as being trespassers.

> Click here to read the full article.

On Friday, March 26, at 6:00pm, FIFSW is hosting the event “How the social work profession has promoted racism without racists: Real talk about anti-Black racism.” Click here to register.

Voisin has served as Dean of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work since 2019. He holds the Sandra Rotman Chair in Social Work. Prior to his appointment at the University of Toronto, he was Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago for two decades where he was a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for the Study of Race, Culture, and Politics and the Center for Health and the Social Sciences. He was also the Director of the STI/HIV Intervention Network (SHINE) and Co-Director of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (CCHE).

A central focus of Voisin’s scholarship is examining the impact of structural, neighborhood and police violence on the life chances and behavioral trajectories of urban youth and the protective factors that protect youth in the presence of such adversities. His research demonstrates that the problems of structural and neighborhood violence exposure are correlated with youth mental health problems, school failure, negative peer networks, and high rates of HIV-related risk behaviors. His latest project is a book entitled America the Beautiful and Violent: Black Youth and Neighborhood Trauma in Chicago, was published by Columbia University Press in August 2019.