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FIFSW Statement on Anti-Black Racism and Social Inequality

The manifestations of structural inequality, institutional violence and unchecked police violence that have played out in In the United States with the gruesome eight-minute public murder of Mr. George Floyd caught on video has now been seen thousands of times worldwide.

People around the world have been traumatized by this horrific act, which is endemic of the systemic racism present in all societies and institutions —and present in all of us.

The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work stands in solidarity with people and communities across Canada, the United States and around the world who strive for social justice and equality by speaking out and taking proactive action against institutional and police violence.  

Social movements occur over time. But there are things we can all do now to combat institutional and societal racism. Below is a list crafted by the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), of which I am secretary and a member. FIFSW joins SSWR in committing to the following as part of a “united effort to end police brutality and effectively combat racism and white supremacy:”

  • Engage in a process of continual self-reflection on our own biases and racist beliefs, that are inherent in us all, and work to make our pedagogy, scholarship and service delivery challenge rather than reinforce these biases.
  • Ensure that we strive to combat the historical and contemporary implications of racism and white supremacy that shape today’s social problems and that we are transparent in our pedagogy, scholarship, and service delivery.
  • Recognize the silence and complicity of our societal institutions and the social work profession in reinforcing and perpetuating institutionalized forms of racism and the marginalization of people of color, and act to break this silence within our institutional practices, professional organizations, and service delivery. 
  • Seek to influence the development of funding sources for research and program delivery that explicitly addresses racism, white supremacy, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and oppression, and establish ways to incentivize and support such research within our institutions of higher learning.
  • Incorporate the voices, input, and feedback of marginalized and oppressed groups most affected by our work in the conceptualization, design, implementation, analysis, and translation of our research and service delivery.
  • Elevate the strengths and resilience of oppressed and marginalized groups in all facets of our work, rejecting a lens of pathology and deficit-based analysis. 
  • Disseminate our scholarship broadly in publicly accessible ways that can meaningfully contribute to social change efforts. 
  • Use our scholarship and expertise, as appropriate, to support advocacy efforts that strive to dismantle racism, white supremacy, and other social injustices and create meaningful structural change.

Without a focus on the economic, social and political structures that oppress racialized communities, the systems that contribute to racial violence will continue to remain unchecked.

Members of our faculty including myself will continue to speak out in the media and beyond – drawing attention to the structural inequities that plague Black and other marginalized communities.

We will continue to uplift the voices of the most vulnerable — an act that is central to social work. We will continue to examine our own Faculty practices. And we will continue to strive towards societal change through our research, leadership, teaching, training, and community engagement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that we live in a global society and that our collective health and futures are tied to the social, economic and heath conditions of all. These links, and the importance of diversity, equity and social justice, can no longer be ignored.

Societies must do better.

On behalf of the Faculty,
In Service,

Dexter R. Voisin
Dean and Professor
Sandra Rotman Chair in Social Work