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Morning Session

Clearing the Air: Holding a Dialogue about Social Injustice

Spoken word has been used for decades (as early as the 1960s) as a creative form of expression to highlight social justice issues, politics, race and community. The artist will perform a number of pieces that demonstrate the impact that specific social justice issues have had and the obstacles that students that come from marginalized groups have to navigate on a day to day basis. In addition, a second presenter will be present to provide further insight on the topics being discussed. Artist and presenter will provide what is known as a “talk back,” where audience will be given the opportunity to ask about the creative process and share their perspective on the issues discussed in the pieces and ask questions relevant to the topic.

Cultural Humility and Strategies for Practice: Considering the impact of personal and professional conflict that inform and/or impede our cultural competency

How do historical and current conflicts influence the competency we have in examining our lives and managing the impact of negative self-talk? How does this examination affect our ability to make healthy decisions in our professional relationships? As professionals providing care and services to others we sometimes neglect providing that same care and service to ourselves, especially when personal or professional conflict occurs. How do these inner and external conflicts affect our cultural competency? When we do not fully recognize the residual impact that personal and professional conflict have in our lives, then our sense of cultural humility is diminished and our capacity to effectively relate to our clients is compromised.

In this workshop we will discuss the strategies that we develop on an unconscious and subconscious level to avoid addressing conflicts (both internal and external) that deeply affect our professional lives, especially as it relates to the decisions we make in interacting with colleagues and clients. These conflicts play a significant role in how we manage ourselves and our relationships and are not divorced one from the other. Moreover, the impact of these conflicts do not simply function as isolated resolved or unresolved events that occurred in the past, but rather they develop into “strategies” employed to cope with, prevent or even avoid conflict in our lives altogether. In addition, it limits the freedom we have to authentically express ourselves. This weakens our ability to enter therapeutic relationships with cultural humility and prevents us from acknowledging that we are always in a process of learning and growing. Instead of performing in ways that are authentic to the mission and vision of social work and our personal commitments to the field, we begin to perform strategically – not from what we want – but rather from what we don’t want to happen again – the conflicts! This has a direct impact on our cultural awareness, the development of culturally diverse environments, and our ability to build positive home/school collaborations that defend against injustice and promote inclusion. In the final analysis the question this workshop will explore is: does your understanding of your own (and others’) cultural background, identity and competency have you thriving in your professional relationships with colleagues and clients or are you simply surviving them? One is a career negotiated with freedom, the other is one that is undermined and controlled by fear.