Social Work Activist Reader Issue 3

Dearest Activists and Justice Weavers,

I am thrilled to be sharing with you the summer edition of the Social Work Activist Reader e-zine. I continue to be inspired and re-invigorated by our skillful, thoughtful and growing community of justice champions!

Social Workers have an ethical mandate to challenge injustice. Our code of ethics rightly demands that we honor and acknowledge the inherent dignity and worth of each persyn. We serve the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our communities, offering us the opportunity to witness the true, heartbreaking impact of humyn and ecological oppression. And yet, despite these foundational ethical commitments, our work inside traditional social work systems means that we are often in constant negotiation with the incompatible policies, interventions and environments that govern our work. Our roles inside the system demand that we hold the institutional boundaries of our work places, often in ways that are incompatible with challenging injustice, and even (to our great dismay) in ways that perpetuate inequality.

It is difficult to be asked again and again to negotiate our ethics or to compromise our values. Though admirably some of us choose to work outside the system on big-picture cultural transformation, many of us work inside the system, affecting change where we can, inspiring difference in whatever space we find opportunity, acting in transformative ways when and wherever possible. We have much work to do, both a society and as a profession, to bring our practice into alignment with our values of justice, healing, inclusiveness and diverse community wellness. This is, perhaps, the work of our lifetime.

Social workers are the beneficiaries of sometimes significant financial, educational, social, positional and other (some earned, some unearned) privileges. We have the responsibility to be wise custodians of our privileges, of embodying our ethical code in ways that clearly support our commitment to challenging injustice. As justice workers, we strive to actualize our commitment to co-creating meaningful healing in all communities. We aspire to utilize social work tools and interventions in ways that minimize, interrupt and dismantle oppression. In and through the practice of justice centered humyn service work, we use ourselves as tools of justice, liberation and transformation.

This is the call of our day, the still-so-relevant request asked first by those trailblazing pioneers of our proud profession and asked again and again by the many of us today who are continuing and furthering this transformative vision--willing our dreams of justice into an ever evolving reality. The work of liberation is constant, requiring of us a cooperative, ongoing re-dedication to a critical, self-reflective, transformative practice, as well as a commitment to life-long learning in the areas of anti-oppressive and justice-centered humyn service work. Again and again we accept the challenge--striving to be co-creators of healing and justice, to do more good than harm, to recognize and overcome our blind spots and, ultimately, to witness, support, change and transform.

In solidarity,
-heather horizon greene

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