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NASW Responds to Shootings in Minnesota, Louisiana and Texas; again urges policing reforms

Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Photo courtesy of talkingpointsmemo.com.

Philando Castile (left) and Alton Sterling. Photo courtesy of talkingpointsmemo.com.

NASW STATEMENT:

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is appalled by the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and again urges reforms that would help end racial profiling and excessive use of police force and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

It is also important that we express how deeply NASW is upset about the tragic shooting deaths of five Dallas police — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith — and the wounding of seven other police. Those deaths are made more tragic by the fact that the Dallas police and the protestors had formed a collaboration to ensure that the march was peaceful. It is gratifying to learn that the shooting of the policemen had no association with the protestors who were responding to the deaths of Alton Sterling or Philando Castile.

NASW recommends that members of the social work profession, which has a long history of pushing for social justice, to work for reforms in the nation’s law enforcement system. NASW is encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the death of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has called for a Justice Department probe of Castile’s death.

This association condemns any retaliatory violence against members of the law enforcement, the vast majority of whom are committed to protecting citizens in their communities.

Although police investigations are ongoing regarding the deaths of Castile and Sterling, data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) shows men of color are more likely to be killed during arrests, especially during minor traffic stops.

Between 2003 and 2009 there were 4,813 arrest-related deaths in the United States and more than 90 percent of people killed by police were male. More than 54 percent were Latino and African American while whites were 42.1 percent, BJS said.

Such data indicates there is a culture within some law enforcement agencies that condones aggressive behavior toward people of color.

NASW supports several initiatives to lessen incidences of such deaths, including national standards on the use of lethal police force, training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color, and making body cameras standard police equipment.

NASW  offers its condolences to the families of Sterling, Castile and the police who were killed in Dallas and wishes a full recovery for police who are being treated for their injuries. In the days and months to come, NASW urges the public and law enforcement agencies honor them by coming together to work on peaceful means to improve relations between police and their communities.

NASW LOUISIANA CHAPTER STATEMENT:

With the tragic death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016, the National Association of Social Workers, Louisiana Chapter (NASW-LA) urges reforms that would help end the excessive use of police force and the need for continued training on how best to respond and react to potential conflict in high risk situations.

NASW supports reforms that could prevent unnecessary police shootings from occurring. These include:
•National standards on the use of lethal police force.
•National standards on how police handle persons living with mental illnesses or disabilities.
•Training to help end police bias and racial profiling when dealing with people of color.

In the aftermath of the recent police involved shootings NASW-LA urges the public to use peaceful means to improve relations between communities and the police who serve them.

NASW-LA joins the Governor in his effort to encourage the faith-based community leaders as well as our local and state elected officials to work together to continue to call for peace and calm across our community as details continue to unfold.

NASW-LA supports the actions of the Governor of the State of Louisiana calling for a thorough investigation by the U. S. Department of Justice.  Further, NASW-LA supports the U.S. Justice Department’s continuing efforts to bring about police reforms and improve community policing. The association encourages the Justice Department to review the Baton Rouge incident to determine whether civil rights violations charges should be filed.

NASW-LA joins the Governor in his effort to encourage the faith-based community leaders as well as our local and state elected officials to work together to continue to call for peace and calm across our community as details continue to unfold.  We recognize that this may be difficult and that there are feelings regarding the events that took place. We know protests are going on, and we urge everyone to remain peaceful. One thing is for sure – another violent act or another family torn apart is not the answer.

NASW-LA also encourages its members and the wider social work community to become involved in activities and organizations that are active in bringing about policing reforms.

NASW TEXAS CHAPTER:

The Texas Chapter of NASW (NASW/TX) offers its deepest condolences to the families of the victims who were killed by snipers opening fire at a Black Lives Matter Rally in Dallas, Texas.  The Chapter also extends its wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured in this horrible attack.

NASW/TX decries the use of violence against those who are exercising their constitutional rights to assemble and protest peacefully and against law enforcement present, who were there to protect the participants during the event.

This senseless tragedy yet again highlights the need for meaningful action to work towards improving relationships between law enforcement and all citizens as well as passing legislation on gun control.

The questions that remain are:

1) when will our elected representatives, pass meaningful gun control legislation;

2) when will law enforcement take positive action on improving relationships with people of color; and

3) how many more people will die as a result of these issues not being addressed.

For needed assistance please contact 211 and the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department- (214) 819-2000

 

28 comments

  1. Bobbie Gustafson

    In terms of social justice, this report, as well as many others by a myriad of entities….misses the boat. What is ‘meaningful gun control’? Look to Chicago for answers. Elected representatives could improve relationships with people of color by passing legislation to clean up our inner cities, starting with education. The schools in so many of these areas are disgraceful. Where is the hope for the children growing up in these areas? Where are the community colleges complete with free daycare for students in these areas? Where are the neighborhood watches and community centers, summer camps for the kids, free clinics including mental health…to name a few. Think back to white flight and the decades since then. Representatives have done nothing to offer a hand up to the residents of the inner cities. We have had a Black president for over 7 years and still nothing has changed. Gun control and sensitivity training for police officers are band aids, measures to address symptoms. They change nothing, but they allow good people to feel good because they are doing something, no matter how ineffective. Why not promote healing instead of treating symptoms. Think of the billions of dollars given to other countries every year that provide arms and vehicles to warring factions. Think of the billions of dollars spent to bring in people from other countries that are then provided social services costing more billions. Michelle Obama’s African trip, costing 100 million dollars and promoting education for Moroccan girls. As we all know, government waste is the norm.
    When will the plight of inner city residents be taken seriously, with serious effort and serious money? Why are the achievements of Dr. Ben Carson, for example, an anomaly instead of the norm? There is money, and lots of it, to offer true hope and change but someone with power and clout has to give a damn and make it an issue. As we know from Social Work 101, real change comes when a social problem effects the life of someone with clout. Well our representatives will not be moving to a ghetto, nor will their children attend inner city schools; so much for clout. Maybe it will take large, well known organizations to band together and make so much noise about it that representatives have to act and make this a national issue instead of offering a band aid to a bleeding population.

    • As a social worker, I continue to be disappointed by the impotent response that NASW offers in the wake of social tragedy. The parent organization — as opposed to local chapters — provide press releases that consistently boil down to, “This is sad. It makes us feel sad, too. Like everyone else, we’d like that sadness to go away so we urge other people to figure out how to do that.” Well, I ask you to do better. As this release states, social work has a history of pushing hard for social change. Never have I witnessed NASW continue that history. Your suggestions are vague and redundant, and ideas never seem to be generated By NASW. Training against racial bias? Does NASW believe that has the ability to result in anything tangible? Moreover, has it not been done before, suggested ad nauseam, before? NASW supports the idea of body cameras? First of all, if you have to begin your paragraph with what you Support, it means you haven’t come up with anything. Second, body cameras don’t work, as we’ve seen time and again, those cameras somehow keep becoming dislodged at convenient times. Not to say they shouldn’t be a part of a large, multi-prong approach, but where are the other prongs? We’re the profession all about social change, and there’s nobody at our professional organization that has any thoughts about additional strategies to the one that so far isn’t working. I don’t believe that. Rather, I can’t, because that’s just too disheartening. Laziness or fear of truly upsetting the status quo – when our jobs are, in many ways, to do just that – are the only explanations I can think of, and both are terrible.
      I’m also left wondering, though I just shredded the “support” section – why is so little of this release dedicated to ideas, approaches, suggestions – why does that get fewer lines than condolences? The latter is important and kind, but it’s – no pun intended – a copout. It’s the “thoughts and prayers”-after-another-mass-shooting response. Except it’s more disappointing for that to come from NASW, an organization built around a profession devoted to enacting progress, safety, equity, equality, ultimately creating durable change. Apologizing in a press release is fine, but we are uniquely equipped to make those condolences palpable, and NASW continues to take the middle ground. There should be task forces, committees comprised of NASW brass devoted specifically to this issue. We are living out the 1960s – a man was lynched in the last 24 hours, in 2016. Black churches burned in Ferguson and surrounding areas – and arguably the most progressive profession’s main organization is responding like it’s sad, very sad, tragic, even. Come on. This is an epidemic and there is a movement unfolding and we have the opportunity to contribute to Real Change, and are cowardly opting out. Providing a boilerplate response when in reality, this is a historical moment the country hasn’t experienced in this manner, in decades. Generations. NASW press releases should reflect the outrage of that situation. Condemnation of the terror that Black individuals and communities face means more than a statistic no one will remember. Are we not outraged? This is the time to live up to our ethos of social justice – that is Half of what the profession is about and that’s what brought me to this profession, as opposed to clinical psychology. And here we are, giving the same milquetoast response we might see from any other field – NASW has lost its sense of purpose, forgotten the purpose of the work. Because this does not read as though it came from anyone truly invested. It’s something obligatory, with nothing to add to the conversation. We must do better than that. We must hold ourselves to being better than that. The abuse, harassment, and murder of Black men, women, and children, at the hands of bigoted, trigger happy police officers and departments, is so horrific, it’s ineffable. When basically every mayor, governor, state’s attorney, has, in response to their city’s Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, spread the message of “This is sad, but don’t you protestors go and graffiti anything,” you have a pretty low bar to clear when it comes to stepping forward and demanding justice – for victims and their families, but also for communities, and our country. And if these press releases tell us anything, it’s that we’re *just* a notch ahead. Thank god for the governor of Minnesota, calling it what it is. He’s currently acting with more courage than NASW. And that’s the umbrella organization! NASW-LA is standing with the aforementioned politicians, spending a whole lot of time advising the community to behave itself.

      I adore social work. I love the work and could not imagine doing anything else with my life; it is so much of my heart. I am Proud of the work I get to do – honored – and I am Proud of the work done by my colleagues. I am Proud of the social service agencies throughout the country that take a stand and are tireless in their efforts to achieve their missions. I am not proud of this profession. And that’s so deeply disappointing.

      • Well said!

      • Thank you Mia

      • Robin Lennon-Dearing

        Thank you for your comment Mia Zucker. We need to work together to solve problems at a macro-level. Our collective influence as a group is a powerful tool for social workers.

        I understand you are angry. What can we do to solve the problem? Can you use your anger and energy to provide leadership for the ideas you suggest? Every state chapter of NASW is looking for leaders that will contribute to making our society a better place.

        We, the social workers who are members, are NASW. NASW is a membership organization. Grassroots organizing is part of our education and history. Let’s make systemic change happen in our communities, organizations and society through our individual and collective involvement as social workers. It starts with our involvement as members and leaders in our local NASW and state chapter NASW.

        Robin Lennon-Dearing

    • Betsy Kurtz-Nunn

      Bravo Bobby. I could not have spelled it out any better or more Eloquently.
      Thank you

  2. “United States and more than 90 percent of people killed by police were male. More than 54 percent were Latino and African American while whites were 42.1 percent, BJS said.”

    Latinos can be of caucasion skin color. How is lumping those numbers with African American representative of people of color? It would’ve been better to get the percentage of African Americans only. These statistics are misleading. If anything it leads me to believe that the actual % of African American killed are lower than caucasion according to this data.

    • Hi,
      I also felt the article here was biased when they lumped together the Latino and African American statistic’s. Maybe the person who wrote the article could please clarify and give the data individually. I truly hope this individual was not trying to spread untruths. I think many will be surprised by this if the data is broken down by individual races. Thank You so much and we would really appreciate the facts.

  3. As social workers, it is our duty to stand up for social justice. Time and time again over the past few years, police departments and prosecutors across this country have demonstrated an inability to responsibly use force, investigate the crimes of their officers, and hold racist police accountable. We must demand change, including the changes NASW named here and many more. No more jail/prison expansions, no more military equipment for police, no more broken-windows policing. We must demand that cities and counties re-prioritize schools, community health/mental health services, and community-led initiatives, especially those led by communities of color.

  4. Gun control only controls “good” citizens. Gun control does not keep criminals from getting guns. A criminal does not go to Big5 and buy a gun. He/she gets one on the streets. So stop with the idea that stricter gun laws are going to change things. Also the US is not going to change the constitution and take away people’s guns. Such conversations are a waste and live in Lala Land. Start talking about real change, like more resources and education for under served communities which will have a real impact and create systemic long term change. FYI I’m a social worker too and work with underserved populations that struggle daily.

    • Thank you, Yvette. How is it that so many miss the point completely, that criminals don’t follow laws?? Duh
      Flint, MI

  5. Is NASW applying for any grants that would allow crisis counselors to be deployed to communities in the wake of these and similar events? While ideally we’d like to do preventative work, that’s at least one option for responsive work. Is NASW applying for any funding to create community organizing curricula so that social workers can engage in the process of social change in a way that’s purposeful and informed? Is NASW working on ways to ensure that there is at least one social worker employed by each police department? Is NASW sending any of its leadership to protests in the cities in which these events are taking place, to show our profession’s solidarity with organizations like Black Lives Matter? Are you guys doing anything? Frankly the Dallas police shootings and the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile should have been two separate press releases – they address different, if interconnected, issues, and so talking about both at once, ends up meaning you don’t really say anything about either. Those are ideas off the top of my head for actual things that actual social workers can actually do. I’m sure we can come up with more. Please contribute.

  6. I am a LCSW and I am appalled at the article and the comments so far, as a HUMAN BEING. What I see and feel about NASW is an organization that is politically motivated from both an internal and external basis and out to increase national control of the organization, more and more aligned each and every day with the leftist, liberal and progressive movements. We are ever increasingly a nation of “us against them” at all levels of society and across all groups of people, including social workers. Do we really and honestly KNOW what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile? Or are we, so called scientifically informed professionals, just joining the herd to rush to conclusions and condemnations based on propaganda and prejudice (whether from the right or the left)? Are we for social justice or HUMAN justice? Do we really care about scientifically based knowledge or do we start out in the profession because of preconceived notions and are only interested in “knowledge” that supports our own biases? How many of us who spout distrust or even hatred toward ENTIRE police departments ever ventured into police departments for honest knowledge and actually gone on “ride alongs?” How many of us have honestly invited police officers or other law enforcement authorities to our venues of assisting our brothers and sisters? Black Lives Matter spouting the “Pigs in a blanket” mantra, is that what we are really about, REALLY? If so (regardless of the justification), all the nice words, phrases and sentences, uttered by NASW or individual social workers have the meaningfulness of farts in a stiff breeze. Are people who come from a conservative, right leaning ideology just stupid, mindless people or worse yet, only bigots or racists? Do they have NOTHING of value to offer in the betterment of our citizens? If the only thing we, as a society and a profession, can do is point the finger of blame at other people or groups, condemn them and insist that they be fixed, is anything really going to improve the human condition? Do we really, really believe gun control will end hatred and prejudice? Really? Do we make every effort to learn from and involve psychiatry, psychology, marriage and family therapy, et al. in increasing our understanding of the human condition? Or are we too married to turf building? Does NASW have ANY INTEREST, AT ALL, in members who have a conservative bent? My observation over the years is ABSOLUTLY NONE. Given a good deal of the rhetoric (not all by any means) of NASW over the years and especially recently, I have experienced buyer”s remorse about renewing my NASW membership and I most likely will not renew next year.

    • Wow. Wow. That this comment comes from a social worker breaks my heart. I hope there are people in your life that can point you in the direction of information that might better inform you. Posts like this make me feel so hopeless…

      • Much like others on the Left, ignoring the ideas and opinions of others because they don’t fit the Left liberal ideology of “your idea is wrong because our idea is right so stop talking.” Yeah, I’m an LCSW and I believe the problem is deep rooted and that we must join together on recreating a culture of respect for one another by building on strengths, not exacerbating weakness. Hearts can be broken…it’s our resiliency to heal that define us as a people.

    • Michelle Doughty

      I have a BSW, MSW, ACSW, and practice as an LCSW. I joined NASW in the early 1980’s and have been proud to say so until recently. We are trained as social workers to help others. We believe in the inherent rights of individuals to be treated fairly and with dignity. We work diligently to make a difference against those who are oppressed by, poverty, religion, race, or sexual orientation . We were founded out of a need very early on in this country.
      Black live matter is a racist organization. It has promoted hatred of law enforcement to the point where radicals are killing police, first in Texas, and today in Louisiana . We have never been about scape goating any population. Why has NASW started now? How many of you so called liberals put a bullet proof vest on before you go out to work every day! I am seriously considering not renewing my membership next year.

    • Good for you. I am in total agreement.

  7. Benjamin Ginther

    I am outraged Mia! I am a white man and want to do everything I can to end the centuries long horror of White Supremacy. Currently I am in the hospital for an indefinite period of time. Please give me suggestions on how and where to start pulling down the structural barriers of racism. Racism is a poison in the system of our society. If anyone out there in social work land believes in systems theory. I do. But I don’t know as a social work student where to start. I want to write letters to my state assemblymen but do not know what to say. I just need help in where I can start besides my social media posts how I can help from this hospital room.Help!

  8. I deeply appreciate NASW’s response to police violence. Police violence is only a tip of the iceberg. A deeper problem is more systemic and widespread – and that is white supremacy and anti-blackness, which has it’s roots in the founding and building of this Nation. It is what justified slavery and the treatment of native Americans. White supremacy and anti-blackness impacts every area of our lives, and is deeply rooted in our subconscious minds through the media, educational system, socialization from our families and peers, music, so on and so forth. Cops are not immune to this conditioning, neither are social workers. We may deny it, protect it, and try not to think about it, but it still influences our actions and thoughts. Non-white people are not immune and they also contribute to white supremacy and anti-blackness daily, often without realizing it. If social work and psychology is to truly advance and make lasting, substantial changes to systemic oppression, it would address white supremacy with courage and honesty. A great start would be evaluating the role of Harvard’s Implicit Bias test in it’s ability to reveal racial bias – along with other forms of bias. Again, thank you for all that you do NASW.

    • And you are one of the biggest reasons we have racial tensions. God help your clients who are listening to your oppressive rants. White supremacy, REALLY. All white people are not racist just like all AA are not. You are a social worker and I am ashamed to have you affiliated with the profession. You are not about change you are about hate. And I am sick and tired of all the slave talk that continues to drain our ears. None of us here at this time nor our parents nor theirs are responsible. We did not do this and you don’t even know who is responsible. My ancestors came over along with many other nationalities and they suffered brutal treatment but you don’t hear news about that bc white people are not interested in playing on the suffering our ancestors endured. And one more point did you know it was actually black owners in Africa who sold “Your people” to the slave traders who took them oh but no one seems to mention that. Was it wrong absolutely but I have AA family and they are not about throwing dirt. And let me say this my daughter in law is directly from Africa and they dislike the radical AA who live here. You need sensitivity training and do not bel9ng in this profession. Shame on you.

  9. “In the days and months to come, NASW urges the public and law enforcement agencies honor them by coming together to work on peaceful means to improve relations between police and their communities.”

    Why isn’t NASW offering to facilitate and mediate these improvement efforts instead of “urges” them to meet? Aren’t Social Workers the largest group of mental health professionals in the U.S.? Aren’t Social Work skills unique to facilitate these meetings and achieve improvements?

    Once again, NASW offers a position statement with no action or ownership to facilitate change.

  10. Society must realize that black men are being targeted on a daily bases. These young men are not the young men of past, they are outspoken and want to be heard and want equality. I do not condone violence, but these young men are not being heard so to get societies attention they result to these tactics. Many will say ” they have a president of color what more do they want “? Many days, within the 8yrs. of his presidency, I have watched and listened to the negative language towards our President, yes our president. I have seen many presidents come and go but I have never heard such awful things said about them as I have heard about this president. Yes this society, I repeat, this society elected a president of color, but did they elect to show him the respect and dignity due him? This is what these young men are looking at. If most of society can not respect their president how can society respect the black man, this is their thinking. These young men are dying, by their hands and by the hands of others, at an alarming rate and that frightens many of us. Yes there should be stricter gun laws but guns are not the only problem. Many will ask what is the problem and how can we make it better for them. Give them a decent education, have jobs for those who finish college, and jobs for those who only want a trade. Pay them a decent wage for the time they put in on their jobs so they can have decent housing for their families. These young men see no future. The only way out is death or jail they see no other alternative. Some people believe that people of color don’t want to work, that they just want the government to take care of them and that is not true. Men of color always knew the value of a job and descent pay. For those of you who read this comment, I ask you to download an article by Frederica H. Barrow “Forrester Blanchard Washington and His Advocacy for African Americans in the New Deal”. 2007 NASW . He was the first African American male social worker working in the White House during Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the First New Deal. This social worker was the director of Negro Work in the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. He begged and pleaded for jobs for African Americans during that time. The government preferred to give people of color hand outs instead of jobs. This was one of the highest jobs a black man could have had and he quit because of what the government was doing. Our President is not making this a welfare state by himself, he is trying to keep the men and women of color with some dignity while waiting for descent jobs and better education. I can’t blame these young men for wanting to be heard, but I do blame them for the way they are going about it.

  11. I left the profession of social work some decades ago to become a community organizer, because mainstream social work education and practice did not fully embrace community organizing as an essential and proven practice to create long-term, sustainable change. I recently returned, this time as an educator, only to discover that social work still does not embrace community organizing. Speaking with students, reflecting with colleagues, reading the current literature, and attending conferences has made me realize that one reason why community organizing has lost its relevance in our field has to do with the institutions that offer stipends to students, and then hire them after graduation. Most of these institutions do not focus on creating long-term sustainable change. In addition, many degree granting programs create macro related concentrations, but my sense so far is that most of these programs focus on policy, administration, philanthropy, etc., and not that many focus on community organizing. Further, it seems to me that many of these programs, though genuinely interested in growing the number of students that choose macro concentrations, often struggle to even get the minimum number to justify offering macro concentration required courses.

    Community organizing is often viewed as a leftist practice, and this can make institutions nervous of integrating it in their routine work. This was the case when I got my own MSW in the 1980s, and it is still the case today. However, speaking from my training, knowledge and direct experience, community organizing aims at building alliances across sectors, including economic backgrounds, faith traditions, and political orientation, to get at the root of the issues plaguing our society. Maybe one way to increase community organizing interest in our field is by creating stipend opportunities for macro concentration students. I have begun to explore this avenue by reaching out to organizations and institutions that do macro related work and that can offer a stipend for field placement, and know that there is interest and capacity, even if limited at first. Other possibilities could be approaching philanthropy for such stipends, placement and employment opportunities.

  12. Hello, thank you all for sharing your thoughts, it is inspiring. I have a few ideas of what we can do. First off, Roy, don’t drop out of NASW, we need those from all sides in order to ensure we think critically and stay on target. There are many angles here, and I believe it is through experience and exposure (even if only in dialogue) to these awful realities that anyone can truly understand or relate to the depth of the problem and the impact is has on everyone – regardless of race and socio-economic status. I agree with many of you: racism remains rampant due to ignorance, fear, need for control, lack of exposure, and so on. As a society we, or those in power rather, have to stop manipulating the environment and allow people of all origins, in this specific context, our black men and women, to thrive. In tandem we need to create opportunities for white and black men to come together. I suggest men because to date, they largely still hold the power.

    So while I do not follow politics nearly as closely as I should, this topic is too important to not join the dialogue; bear with me if what I suggest is already in motion – if it is, please point me in the right direction. Here is what I propose – – EDUCATE AND EMPLOYEE:

    A) Let’s all read F. H. Harrow’s article (thank you for the suggestion Angela)

    B) NASW, or at least those of us who are interested, begin a petition that asks our government to stop fiddling around and take serious action to attack the systemic disempowerment of our black communities – EDUCATE AND EMPLOYEE:
    1. Raise the minimum wage nationwide to $15/hour – NOW.
    2. Update Title 1 (No Child Left Behind); update should require and FOLLOW THROUGH with an increase in funding for schools in communities with high poverty. While there have been promises to put more money toward education, the funding ends up short time and time again.
    3. Increase funding for school social workers; too many schools have too few resources, bring the social workers back. Provide enough of them so they can work hand in hand with parents.
    4. Bring major manufacturers that have plants overseas back to the US and re-open the plants in communities with high poverty so people have reliable, sound opportunities for employment.
    5. For those who qualify (based off income), provide vouchers for free, or at least a significantly reduced cost, for daycare.
    6. Ban all automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
    7. Fund an initiative that screens police for racial bias from the start; when bias is identified, provide additional training to break through the biases and how to respond to crisis safely, even with his/her bias.
    8. Fund an initiative that brings those who live and work (police dept) in these targeted communities, together to simply start to get to know one another, which will day by day, one person at a time, break down the misconceptions and misunderstandings that fuel racism. They can talk in a forum, volunteer on a community project, etc. The goal is to create a forum in which those who live in any one community and those who are expected to serve the community come together. I expect there already are a number of police departments who have strong relationships with their communities; needless to say, this initiative would target those that don’t.

    Ms. Lennon-Dearing is this something that NASW would initiate?

    If NASW does not initiate this petition, then I will; please let me know if you are interested in supporting it and we can take the next steps.

    *Benjamin, sorry you are in the hospital. If you support these views, perhaps we could tackle it together.

    Thanks all. – Lorraine

    • Lorraine,

      I have questions regarding your “petition”:
      1. How will we address the job loss created by increasing minimum wage to $15 an hour?
      2. How will we fund the proposed Title 1 increase in funding?
      3. How will we justify the cost-benefit of increasing school social work salaries….is there any outcomes data justifying this request?
      4. Do you support a decrease in corporate taxes that will bring major manufacturers back to the U.S. Will you support the price hikes of their goods and services that unions will incur upon their costs?
      5. How do we ban all automatic and semi-automatic weapons? Where will the funds for this violation of my right to bear arms?
      6. How do we fund, plus develop structure and process for the initiatives you identify in points 7 and 8?

      Once fleshing out your proposal, I will be happy to determine whether to join you.

    • Lorraine,

      To underscore your points, I certainly think there must be effective redress to the vast intersectional problems that continues to perpetuate social disparities. What I think is the denominator of it all is the deep-rooted racial inequities that has sorely impacted our current social climate, thus as social workers we have been consistently trying to patch surface problems and barely remedying the serious, deeper problem. To some degree we are all at fault of falling short, however, if we ever want to see drastic change we have to be much more intentional. In social psychology, researchers found that we tend to innately gravitate towards “sameness,” than difference. Although it’s rudimentary and widely known, I think it’s important to point tie this into how we work for social change. We can have discussions and be suggestive, but if we don’t make it personal we will not be as effective as we hope. When I say personal, we have to have real relationships with those we are fighting for. We cannot just learn and work together because law makes it inevitable, and then go back to our racially homogeneous neighborhoods. No, we have to cultivate meaningful relationships and share experiences to really make a difference in our work, and to better relate to those different than us. We will have a greater understanding of the others needs, and an improved ability to sympathize. Not only will this improve our work, but it will mitigate racism and the disparities today. While this is a step, it isn’t nearly enough.

  13. Hi Beth,
    I appreciate your response and questions. After my initial email, I thought further about the proposal and concluded that while I believe in the above ideas, to put them into one petition is futile. The “wheel” for many of these points already exists, so it may be more effective to research which group is advocating for the various topics and then work with them. That said, to answer your questions, based off the information I have at this time:
    1. I’d have to learn more about macro-effect for those who’d loose their job by this change, I think it may boil down to a matter of the masses. I expect that the number of those who earn minimum wage is far greater than the population who would be at risk for loosing their job. The current ripple effect for those earning minimum wage is large and wide, affecting the mental and physical health of both parents and children alike (rising healthcare costs that we all pay for); the time available for those who have children to really engage in child rearing (which affects our future leaders), perhaps crime rates, etc. I would further expect that once the wage was increased to match the current cost of living, it would level the playing ground for all, which in turn could increase spending/profits so those who once could not afford to pay their employees $15/hour could do so.
    2. I believe the money for education comes from our taxes, and from my understanding the issue is that the money which was allocated for education was spent elsewhere. So the money is there, and needs to be left in place.
    3. Great question, I don’t have social data in front of me, but would argue that declining test scores are one direct result. But yes, there is data and would just have to be researched and put together.
    4. Yes, yes and yes, I think it’s all worth it.
    5. I’d have to think further about this one. What are your thoughts?
    6. Grants. In fact, I heard a fellow interviewed on the radio who already conducts these types of assessments (#7).

    What are your thoughts on these items? What is your stance on the recent increase in shootings (or perhaps what we’re all experiencing is simply the means to witness them, whereas in the past we rarely knew about it)?

    Thanks, Lorraine

    • Lorraine,

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply! Your petition and rationale are bold and I applaud your courage in presenting it. It is hoped NASW would initiate both qualitative and quantitative research into the root causes of law enforcement shootings. Additionally, NASW would be an ideal association to initiate research into black-on-black shootings, illegal gun ownership and violence in general.

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