The Oregon School Social Work Association feels wholeheartedly the need to respond to the recent police killing of George Floyd. We believe Black Lives Matter! We must show up and speak out against racism, police brutality, and excessive use of force. We are outraged and saddened, but we are not shocked. It is not enough to just be outraged, we must act now. We condemn police brutality, excessive force, vigilantism that leads to the death of members of our Black Communities. It is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.

George Floyd’s death, one we continue to hear and see all across America along with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, as well as countless others in the Black community were senseless and avoidable. They are the example of a system of oppression that was created not for the benefit of all, but for those who are able to take advantage of White privilege. The historical trauma of communities of color is real, and every time a killing like these occurs, it is activating the trauma response systems that affect our Black Indigenous People of Color.      . We must create spaces and places where Black Indigenous People Of Color can feel seen, heard and valued, not just the students and families we serve, but for Black Indigenous People of Color School Social Workers as well. We can not move toward healing if we do not acknowledge the harm and pain caused by systemic racism and police violence.

We demand that our state legislators create platforms for our Black communities to be heard so that policies, practices, procedures, and laws are reformed to be more equitable and just. We demand our policy makers to hold our police accountable for racially motivated crimes and excessive use of force. We stand with our National Association of Social Workers to ask for “Changes in policing such as ensuring that it be mandatory that police wear body cameras and that cameras be turned on during encounters with people suspected of crimes.” We ask that failure to use body cameras during encounters with citizens should result in discipline.  We stand with our school districts that state, “We cannot remain neutral about racism. We are ready to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with our community in the fight against anti-Black racism” – Guadalupe Guerrero, Portland Public Schools Superintendent. We encourage all school districts in Oregon to examine the negative impact that police in the building can have on Black, Indigenous, People of Color students, and if districts choose to continue to have police in their schools, to balance this with culturally responsive, equity-focused,  trained school social workers/mental health providers. We encourage our school districts to listen to the demands of our communities of color.

As Social Workers, we are ethically committed to fight for social justice daily. We are committed to support our Black students and families by advocating for change at every level of government. We are committed to help create spaces for our students/families within our schools. We are here to support, provide resources, and listen. As part of the work, we are able to see the beauty, power, and resiliency our Black students bring to our schools. We are committed to continue to serve our students, schools, and communities by acknowledging our Black families, Black Members, and Black Communities. We stand with peaceful protests that speak out against systemic racism that has created barriers to access, and equitable practices. We acknowledge that the Social Work profession has historically had its own issues with racism. We need to commit to do better. We also know that the racial justice work for White Social Workers looks different. If you are a White Social Worker looking for ways to advocate for change, check out this link: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234

Our students deserve better, our schools deserve better, we must do better! BLACK LIVES MATTER!

In Solidarity,

Oregon School Social Work Association

Anti-Racism Resources for School Social Workers

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