Join the discussion on social justice, equity and inclusion, and social work.
The Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series is a virtual, interactive lecture series hosted by the BUSSW Equity & Inclusion Committee. All Speaker Series events are free and open to the public.
Abolishing Carceral Social Work: The Child Welfare System
Featured Speaker: Alan J. Dettlaff, PhD
September 29, 2022
5:30 – 6:45 pm ET
The child welfare system, in its current state, disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, and Latinx children and families through systemic surveillance, separation, and the adverse outcomes associated with family separation and foster care. Ending this harm will only be achieved when the forcible separation of children from their parents is no longer viewed as an acceptable form of intervention.
In this Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series event, we will discuss the movement to abolish the child welfare system and the broader need for the social work profession to align its practices with its stated values and ethical principles.
Continuing Education Credits: 1 continuing education credit will be available to social workers licensed in Massachusetts upon successful completion of a brief quiz. If you would like to receive continuing education credits, please provide your license number during registration.
About the Speaker
Alan J. Dettlaff, PhD, is dean of the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston and the inaugural Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair. Prior to entering academia, Dean Dettlaff worked in the child welfare system as a caseworker and an administrator. He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU, and master’s in social work and PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington. Dean Dettlaff’s work focuses on addressing and eliminating the impacts of structural and institutional racism on Black children and other children of color impacted by child welfare system intervention. He is co-founder of the upEND Movement, a collaborative movement that seeks to end the involuntary separation of children from their parents through abolition of foster care and the child welfare system.
Moderator & Reflectors
Moderator: Dawn Belkin Martinez, PhD, Clinical Professor and Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, BUSSW
Student Reflector: Noor Toraif, Doctoral Candidate and Lecturer, BUSSW
Faculty Reflector: Linda Sprague Martinez, PhD, Associate Professor, BUSSW
Alumni Reflector: Maya Milic-Strkalj, Family Therapist, Arbour Counseling Services; Boston Liberation Health Group Steering Committee Member; Lecturer, BUSSW
Past Events & Recordings
Nearing the Abolitionist Horizon via Professionalized Social Change Work
Speaker: Sophia Sarantakos, PhD
Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022
The convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the enduring issue of racist state violence has thrust the word “abolition” into the arena of professionalized U.S. social work more so in the past two years than at any other time. Although social change workers with an abolitionist politic are not a new phenomenon, discussions on the need for – and potential and friction of – “abolitionist social work” have increased dramatically since 2020. If professionalized social work is to shift to an abolitionist praxis, this is work that can only be done collectively. To that end, this talk will offer thoughts, not answers, as Dr. Joy James would say. In this presentation, the speaker will ground the audience in the definition and core tenets of prison-industrial complex abolition, query the profession’s stated values through an abolitionist lens, and share their thoughts on clear-eyed political actions that practitioners, researchers, educators, and schools of social work can take if they truly intend to reach for an abolitionist horizon.
ABOUT SOPHIA SARANTAKOS
Sophia Sarantakos, PhD, is a researcher and professor focused on contributing to the advancement of community-based approaches to harm and need, as well as exploring the future of social change work. Sarantakos leads the prison-industrial complex (PIC) abolition workgroup for the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare’s Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge, which organizes and collaborates with other legal systems-focused scholars to increase social work’s understanding of PIC abolition, and its alignment with social work values and ethics. Along with teaching the foundation course “Integrated Social Work Practice for Social Justice,” Sarantakos teaches an “Introduction to PIC Abolition” course for MSW students.
- Transform Harm resource hub (great info on transformative justice and PIC abolition): transformharm.org
- PIC abolition resource guide compiled by Micah Herskind: micahherskind.com/abolition-resource-guide
- Don’t Call The Police (resources by city): dontcallthepolice.com
- Mandated Supporting: jmacforfamilies.org/mandated-supporting
- Mandatory Reporting is Not Neutral: mandatoryreportingisnotneutral.com
- Interrupting Criminalization: interruptingcriminalization.com
- Abolitionist Social Change Collective: Email this address to get connected
Disability, Race & Gender: Reproductive Health Solutions
Speaker: Natasha M. Lee-Johnson
Date: Thursday, February 17, 2022
This presentation focuses on the reproductive health crisis among Black women, especially those with disabilities, by exploring the links between disability, race, and gender and structural barriers to reproductive justice in the United States. Focusing on strategies for social workers, healthcare providers, researchers, and educators, the talk will highlight ways to create change in pursuit of reproductive justice for Black women.
ABOUT NATASHA M. LEE-JOHSON
Natasha M. Lee-Johnson is a doctoral social work student at Louisiana State University studying sexuality and reproductive health among Black women with disabilities. She has served in several leadership roles supporting health equity for women and people with disabilities, and was named a RWJF Health Policy Research Scholar in 2021. In addition, she has held two fellowships within the Association of University Centers on Disability Network. Lee-Johnson is driven by her personal connections to disability justice, and professional observations and engagements with reproductive healthcare systems.
Cultural Betrayal & Conundrums: The Making of a Book
Speaker: Incoming BUSSW faculty member Jennifer M. Gómez
Date: Thursday, January 27, 2022
This presentation is framed around incoming BUSSW faculty member Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez’ forthcoming book, Cultural Betrayal, Sexual Abuse, & Healing for Black Women & Girls: From Black Lives Matter to Me Too. The talk will begin with a description of cultural betrayal trauma theory, followed by a brief review of the empirical research to date. After providing an overview of the book, current conundrums related to the following topics will be delineated: 1) inequity in the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements; 2) the diversity of Black women and girls; 3) radical disruption of the medical model for mental health; and 4) violent silencing. The latter half of the talk will be discussion-based, with attendees providing feedback on the aforementioned conundrums.
Co-sponsor: BUSSW Clinical Practice Department
ABOUT JENNIFER M. GÓMEZ
Jennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D. of the Center for Institutional Courage is a 2021-22 CASBS Fellow at Stanford University and incoming Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at Boston University. Her research in cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT) regarding the impact of violence on Black and other marginalized populations has been recognized by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Ford Foundation, and others.
Asian American Organizing: Lessons in Solidarity & Community Building
Speaker: Carolyn Chou, Executive Director of Asian American Resource Workshop
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2021
The Asian American umbrella includes a wide range of class experiences, languages, racialization, and gendered experiences. Building pan-Asian progressive organizing includes building solidarity across our community and building the leadership of those often marginalized and invisibilized within the Asian American narrative, including queer and trans folks, South Asian communities, Southeast Asian communities, among others. The presentation will explore the opportunities and challenges in organizing, how organizing and healing justice connect, and lessons in building solidarity.
ABOUT CAROLYN CHOU
Carolyn Chou (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW), where she supports the leadership development and organizing around issues of racial, economic, and social justice of a diverse base of progressive Asian Americans, primarily young adults. Through her work at AARW, Carolyn has supported building the leadership capacity and organizing of Vietnamese American young adults in Dorchester, the heart of the Vietnamese community in Boston. Alongside the young adult organizers, Carolyn has helped build the Dorchester Not for Sale formation in the neighborhood, which brings together a diverse set of neighborhood residents to fight for good jobs, truly affordable housing, and equitable planning.
#CRT: The Critical Race Theory of Social Movement Making
Speaker: Dr. Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean of BU School of Law
Date: Thursday, December 2, 2021
The murder of George Floyd ignited large protests against racialized police brutality and across the globe during the summer of 2020. Led by millennials and Generation Z—the two most racially and ethnically diverse generations in the nation’s history—the racial equity protests that occurred resulted in reforms that had previously seemed unimaginable. Indeed, many scholars pondered what forces had helped to enable those protests to emerge and take effect.
In a special lecture co-sponsored by the Equity & Inclusion Committee and hosted by BUSSW’s Online MSW Program, Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig of the BU School of Law seeks to answer that question, contending that the protests and their successes were facilitated, in part, by the combination of two factors: Critical Race Theory and social media.
Resisting Neoliberalism: Critical Reflections from Latin American Social Work
Speakers: Melisa Campana Alabarce & Gianinna Muñoz-Arce
Date: Thursday, October 28, 2021
Social workers in Latin America have a long history of working in partnership with communities in the movement for social justice. Emerging from the shadows of Neoliberalism, individuals, families, and grassroots organizations are joining together to create new social forces and communities of care. This presentation aims to provide an overview of the role of social workers in the struggle for feminism and abortion rights in Argentina and a new national constitution in Chile. What are the factors that influenced these successful movements and what are the opportunities for social workers here in the United States?
This event was part of a joint effort between Boston University School of Social Work, Boston College School of Social Work, and the Grand Challenges for Social Work to celebrate and discuss topics related to Hispanic Heritage Month.
ABOUT MELISA CAMPANA ALABARCE
Melisa Campana Alabarce currently works as an associated researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and as a principal professor of social work at the National University of Rosario, Argentina. She leads the Research Centre in Governmentality and State and is a member of the Argentine Welfare Research Network (RAIAS). She is also editor-in-chief of the Cátedra Paralela Journal. During the last decade, her research and teaching activity has been focused on social work, social policy, welfare, government of the poor and neoliberalism.
ABOUT GIANINNA MUÑOZ-ARCE
Gianinna Muñoz-Arce, PhD, is a social worker from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Chile. She is the coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Work Research Cluster and the editor-in-chief of the journal Propuestas Críticas en Trabajo Social – Critical Proposals in Social Work. In addition to her publications in Spanish, she has recently published articles in British Journal of Social Work, European Journal of Social Work, and Critical Social Policy. She is a member of the Chilean Social Work Research Network and the Social Work Action Network.
Multiracial Feminist Democracy or Authoritarianism? The Crisis of Neoliberal Democracy and the Rise of Racial and Religious Nationalism
Speaker: Tarso Luís Ramos
Date: Thursday, September 30, 2021
Supplemental materials courtesy of Tarso Luís Ramos:
The January 6th insurrection was not the swan song of Trumpism. That rebellion against the prospect of transformational multiracial democracy continues in state houses across the country, where attacks on critical race theory, trans athletes, reproductive autonomy, and election integrity provide both the narrative foundation and legislative road map for authoritarianism, American-style. What are the drivers of this crisis and what are the opportunities for building a more just society in our time?
ABOUT TARSO LUÍS RAMOS
Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director of Political Research Associates (PRA), has been researching and challenging the U.S. Right Wing for more than 25 years. At PRA, Tarso has launched major initiatives on antisemitism, misogyny, authoritarianism, White nationalism, law enforcement, the Far Right, and other threats to democracy. Ramos is a sought-after public speaker and his work has been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, and Time Magazine, among other outlets. Before joining PRA in 2006, Ramos served as founding director of Western States Center’s racial justice program, and exposed and challenged corporate anti-environmental campaigns as director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project. Ramos recently served as an activist in residence at the Barnard Center for the Study of Women and a Rockwood Leadership Institute National Yearlong Fellow for 2017-2018.
Disability Justice for Our Futures and Our Freedom: On Relational Access, Solidarity Work, and Collective Care
Speaker: Lydia X. Z. Brown
Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021
ABOUT LYDIA X. Z. BROWN
Lydia X. Z. Brown (they/them) is an advocate, educator, and attorney addressing state and interpersonal violence targeting disabled people living at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, faith, language, and nation. Brown is policy counsel for privacy and data at the Center for Democracy & Technology, focused on algorithmic discrimination and disability, as well as director of policy, advocacy, and external affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. They are founding director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, & Empowerment. Brown is an adjunct lecturer/core faculty in Georgetown University’s Disability Studies Program and an adjunct professorial lecturer in American Studies at American University’s Department of Critical Race, Gender, & Culture Studies. They serve as a commissioner on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, chairperson of the ABA Civil Rights & Social Justice Section’s Disability Rights Committee, board member of the Disability Rights Bar Association, and representative for the Disability Justice Committee to the National Lawyers Guild’s National Executive Committee.
From Settler Colonialism to Self-Determination: An Indigenous Perspective on Decolonizing Social Work
Speaker: Autumn Asher BlackDeer
Date: Thursday, March 25, 2021
As social work moves toward reckoning with white supremacy, one vital piece of the discussion is often missing from the conversation: settler colonialism. Indigenous communities have contended with these disparities resulting from settler colonialism throughout time, often framing our interaction with the field of social work. This presentation will discuss previous harms against Native communities in both research and practice, highlight Indigenous contributions to social work, and ultimately address how settler colonialism relates to present day white supremacy. Centering Indigenous perspectives, this talk will conclude with self-determination as a way forward to decolonize social work.
ABOUT AUTUMN ASHER BLACKDEER
Autumn Asher BlackDeer is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and is a doctoral candidate in social work at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research is focused on interpersonal violence and behavioral health among Indigenous communities. Autumn holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Arkansas Tech University and a Master of Social Work from the University of Oklahoma – Tulsa. Autumn is a strong proponent for American Indian higher education, an advocate for survivors of sexual violence, and is committed to achieving equity and highlighting resiliency throughout Indian Country.
Black Contributions to Social Welfare & Social Work: A Legacy of Black Self-help, Resistance, and Liberation
Speaker: Justin S. Harty
Date: Thursday, February 25, 2021
Despite having a long and rich history of mutual aid towards families, communities, and neighbors, Black people have repeatedly been excluded from the histories of social welfare and social work. This talk will leverage historical texts, social work conference proceedings, and archival documents to highlight historical contributions to social work and social welfare made by Black individuals, leaders, communities, organizations, and movements that are often absent in the dominant literature of our social work profession. Topics of discussion will include historical Black efforts towards self-help, preservation, liberation, activism, and social justice and a social work profession failing to recognize these efforts as “social work” while struggling to confront anti-Black racism, train Black social workers, and meet the needs of the Black community.
ABOUT JUSTIN S. HARTY
Justin S. Harty is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. He earned bachelor’s degrees in both sociology and philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. He received his master’s of social work, with a concentration in children and families, from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. After earning a master’s degree, he worked for three years as a foster care worker in Chicago, Illinois. He is a licensed clinical social worker serving child welfare involved fathers and provides father-focused trainings to child welfare, foster care, and family strengthening agencies around father involvement and engagement. He is currently an adjunct lecturer at University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, University of Illinois Chicago, and University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice teaching courses on human behavior in the social environment, critical social work, and introductory research methods.
Harty’s research interests include the outcomes and preparedness of young fathers aging out of the foster care system, father engagement in child welfare services, and father-related social services in the history of the social work profession. His current research examines ways to better serve fathers in home visiting, child welfare, and foster care settings. He is currently conducting his qualitative dissertation research on the experiences and needs of young Black fathers in foster care as they leave state care and transition to independent adulthood and early fatherhood. He also conducts historical research on Black contributions to mutual aid, social welfare, and social work history and is currently working with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and several U.S. social work programs to better integrate the history of Black social workers into their curriculum.
Harty is the project coordinator and research assistant on the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study (CalYOUTH) leveraging longitudinal youth and worker surveys as well as child welfare and publicly available administrative data to examine the impact of extended foster care among transition-aged foster youth in California. He is also a research assistant on the Dads Matter-HV study using quantitative and qualitative data along with agency-level administrative data to test a father-focused intervention enhancement to home visiting services in Chicago, Illinois. He is the principal investigator of the Daddy Doula study preparing to pilot an intervention targeting low-income and vulnerable fathers through a father-focused enhancement to existing community-based doula services Chicago, Illinois.
White Antiracist Organizing: Dismantling White Supremacy as part of a Multiracial Movement
Speaker: Josie Diebold
Date: January 21, 2021
ABOUT JOSIE DIEBOLD
Josie Diebold (she/her) is a PhD Candidate at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work in New York. She is a community organizer with the local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national organization that works to engage white people in sustained, active antiracism in accountability to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations. Her scholarship and organizing both center on white antiracist organizing and harnessing power to dismantle white supremacy as part of a multiracial movement for racial justice. Josie has been involved in local and national campaigns to defund the police and decarcerate jails and prisons, grounded in the long-term vision of prison abolition. She is an adjunct in the Master of Social Work program at the University at Buffalo and has lived in the Western New York area for the majority of her life.
Social Work and Racial Capitalism: Where Do We Go From Here?
Speaker: Masoud Kamali, PhD
Date: October 31, 2020
ABOUT DR. KAMALI
Masoud Kamali, PhD is currently the scientific leader of the research and consulting organization ‘Incare Sweden AB’. Prior to 2019, he was a Professor of Social Work at Mid Sweden University and established the only global and educational program of social work with an anti-racism profile. This theoretical framework and practice have had a seminal influence in the education and training of social workers in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
Dr. Kamali was appointed by the Swedish government as the National Leader of the Governmental Inquiry into Power, Integration and Structural Discrimination between 2004 – 2006. The results and suggestions from the Inquiry have led to many anti-oppressive changes in Swedish social policy and the educational system. He has extensive research experience and has published work in the of social work and sociology fields with clear global perspectives on current social problems, such as neoliberalism, war, violence, forced migration, inequalities and discrimination. Dr. Kamali is the author of over sixty books, book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and research reports. His forth- coming book, Neoliberalism, securitisation and symbolic violence: silencing political academic and societal resistance, will be published this year.
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