Statement of Intention
This website has been established to document our process, progress, and commitments towards moving the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) to become a more anti-racist institution. It must begin with an acknowledgement. In its 120+ year history, members of the CSSW community have endured experiences of racism, discrimination, and oppression. On behalf of CSSW, we in leadership acknowledge the institution’s role in ignoring the exclusion and marginalization of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). This acknowledgement is a necessary beginning but by no means sufficient. It has to be accompanied by a commitment from all of us within the institution to do better, and the actions and accountability required to make that better future a reality.
The United States was built on and has maintained a culture of racism for more than 400 years. As a system, racism permeates every aspect of our personal and professional lives. It is only through concentrated, comprehensive, and conscious effort that we can eliminate racism given its long-term, firmly-established hold on our society.
Social work is, at its core, about social justice. It’s about racial justice. It’s about ensuring equity such that all individuals in our society can reach their full potential. Systemic racism stands in opposition to these goals. These systems “engineer” poorer outcomes with respect to health, education, and economic opportunity among people of color. The School, and the field of social work more generally, work in opposition to these forces to promote human well-being at every level across all strata of society, and to ensure that all can reach their full potential. The term “well-being” appears in almost every definition of social work, every statement of social work values, and each professional organization’s code of conduct. Racism is a major obstacle to well-being. Racial injustices have had, and continue to have, a significant negative impact on the lives of people of color for hundreds of years. CSSW must adopt a position of active anti-racism to promote an equitable and inclusive environment in which all can thrive.
CSSW Council of Deans
Ann McCann Oakley