Episode 173 - A Panel Discussion on Systemic Racism (part 1 of 2)

Monday, August 17, 2015, 9:38:01 AM

Image of Elizabeth Bowen, Diane Elze, Isok Kim, and Charles Syms

The social work code of ethics asks that social workers focus efforts at addressing discrimination and other forms of social injustice. Therefore, it is essential that social workers in training be provided the opportunity to learn about and explore the inequities faced by individuals, groups, and communities they will work with. In this episode, the first of two parts, four members of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work faculty (Elizabeth Bowen, Diane Elze, Isok Kim, and Charles Syms) share their experience and thoughts about leading classroom discussions on this important and often challenging topic.

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Average Rating: 4stars  interesting panel discussion on cultural diversity, Sunday, February 07, 2016

By A.Bishop :

Professors Bowen, Elze, Kim, and Syms did an excellent job discussing various aspects of institutional racism that exist today in social policy and social work practice. Each professor was able to articulate the impact historical and current social policies have on our current understanding of institutionalized racism, oppression, and diversity, and how they incorporate a culturally-diverse perspective into their classrooms at the University at Buffalo.

Each professor shared from their personal experience in the field of social work and social work education. The intersectionality between their experiences was fascinating. The panel brought perspectives from various racial backgrounds in addition to considering questions of gender and sexuality. For example, I found Prof. Bowen’s discussion of white privilege as a social worker particularly interesting. She was able to articulate how stereotypes of social work have given her access that others might have difficulty attaining. Dr. Kim was thoughtful in bringing the concept of the “model minority” (Thrupkaew, 2010) to the discussion; when discussing institutional racism, it is important to consider the systematic racism perpetrated against Japanese and Chinese Americans in our history, in addition to that against black Americans.

The discussion of how to bring these concepts into the classroom was a testament to the commitment the University at Buffalo holds to being a leader in providing its social work students with an education that incorporates concepts of cultural diversity and competence and provides a comprehensive view of social welfare policy and history. In order to fight against the current policies and practices that perpetuate systems of oppression, it is necessary that today’s social workers are well-versed in the history and importance of social policy as it pertains to issues of race, diversity, and human rights.

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Average Rating: 5stars  a must-listen on systemic racism in today's world., Sunday, February 07, 2016

By Tom Power :

Professor Syms and Drs. Bowen, Elze, and Kim do an excellent job of discussing how systemic racism affects their teaching, life experiences, and views on the world. It was nice to have a panel of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds come together to have an honest discussion about their understanding of the topic.

Their offerings on how social work students react when they first become aware of systemic racism mirrored my personal classroom experience on discovering the depth of the problem. It is nice to know that these professors are aware of their students’ personal journeys in the world of social work.

I found their discussion on how race plays a part in their role as a social worker interesting and insightful; I work in a predominantly white community, so I do not have these experiences. I am glad that they shared this. Dr. Kim’s thoughts on “the model minority” and the systemic racism that lies in that mentality were helpful to hear, especially based on his personal experience with the topic. It was also helpful to hear Professor Syms’s experiences as an African-American Child Protective Services worker interacting with African-American families, as there is an issue with systemic racism currently in this nation’s foster care system.

Dr. Bowen’s discussion on drug addiction and mass incarceration is especially relevant at this time as the heroin epidemic has become front-page news in Western New York. The corrections system is disproportionately filled with African-American and Hispanic people convicted of drug crimes despite similar rates of drug addiction by each race; the idea that this continues to not be addressed is discouraging, and I agree with Dr. Bowen that it has become the “new Jim Crow”.

This was a quality discussion, and it is well worth your time to listen to this podcast.

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Average Rating: 5stars  how to address racial injustice: four perspectives, Tuesday, January 26, 2016

By Beth Waliker :

Episode 173, which draws upon the academic expertise and personal experiences of four instructors in the Social Work Department at the University of Buffalo, explores each person's unique approach to the topic of social injustice in the classroom setting. While some have found the use of personal disclosure an effective teaching tool, such as Dr. Diane Elze, who is white, Gay and has proud working class origins, and Dr. Liz Bowen, who describes her background as white and privileged. Both professors prefer to model open sharing to encourage their students to do the same. Dr. Bowen describes how she has become mindful of privilege and therefore makes a concerted effort to include the talents of academicians of Color into her curriculum. Instructor Charles Syms,who is African American and Dr. Isok Kim both make excellent points regarding institutionalized racism in the area of American history instruction which does not do nearly enough to raise awareness surrounding the abuses and discrimination both groups experienced in the past and how this has influenced current policy and laws. Both acknowledge that a full elucidation of historic injustices is a necessary step to changing the national psyche and current practices that make the U.S. the number one incarcerating country in the world and through continuous exclusionary practices, has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that traps many people in a mind-set that says the only option out of poverty is criminal behavior. Finally, all of the panelists were in agreement that, as social workers, we need to analyze and understand institutionalized racism, structural oppression and heterocentrism and how all three deeply affect the clients we work with and that helping them includes not only working in a clinical capacity, but also in a policy changing one that advocates for economic and social justice for all.

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DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.