Dear Members of the SSW Community,
The core values of those of us in the social work profession, values that are taught in all of the programs within our school, center on social justice and the dignity and worth of human beings. How do we live those values in a world designed to limit them? The recent and tragic killing of George Floyd challenges us again to answer that question. We acknowledge the depth of trauma and grief of generations in the black community systematically oppressed, marginalized, hurt and killed.
We demand justice and call out the names: George Floyd, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Terrance Franklin, David Smith, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice among countless other victims, many whose stories have never been seen and heard. We also recognize this as a time to reflect on our own history and look for opportunities to intentionally learn and better engage with our community. In doing so, the majority of us who benefit from the power and privilege of being white cannot begin to solve this problem without examining the ways in which we are part of it.
As director of SSW, I trust the intentional and thoughtful organizing done by the Diversity and Equity committee to guide our engagement. I also recognize the action and activism already being done by so many in our SSW community who are connected to the mission and work of racial equity. I have asked the Diversity and Equity Committee to assist and lead our community in gathering resources, activism opportunities/events guided by the leadership within the broader community, and social justice action steps that we can immediately participate in as a response to the here-and-now.
As we continue to move forward in our internal and external social justice work, we trust the guidance and leadership of students, faculty and staff active in the Diversity and Equity Committee in the call to action for justice. As a first step, a major banner will be highlighted on our landing webpage, CALLS FOR JUSTICE AFTER THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD. It will link users to statements and actions related to our work.
—Jim Reinardy, Interim Director, SSW