Dear SSW Community,
I am profoundly and deeply pained by the murders of our African American brothers and sisters. The police shootings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, George Floyd in Minneapolis, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery are only the most recent prominent examples of the racism and violence that continues to be perpetrated against African Americans across the country, even by those who are supposed to protect us.
The University System of Maryland and the UMB leadership join the School of Social Work in fervent protest of the racial violence and the lack of prompt response to hold George Floyd’s murderer and involved partners responsible. We are all making a stand with those who are being oppressed, victimized, and, even, killed; we have to continue to advocate for policies and practices that fight against all forms of oppression, rather than perpetuating them; we have to show that we find this unacceptable and will do everything in our power to change this. We also need to support and stand in solidarity with members of our community, many of whom are experiencing pain and grief following the loss of more Black lives to racialized violence.
We in the UMSSW are engaging to counteract the nearly devastating and gross injustice in a range of ways. We cannot be devastated—we need to be actively planning and implementing ways to move ahead in solidarity to all those who are suffering from this 400 year old pandemic of racial violence. Participating in demonstrations, meeting to develop deeper partnerships with Black owned and led organizations; and finding ways to support each other to deal with the exhaustion, anger, and despair are all part of that effort. Many in our community are indicating that they could use support in talking with their children, their co-workers, their neighbors--we are working to find ways to provide that support through some pop up chat groups.
We are planning the launching of a solidarity campaign and are determining how best to add our voice and value to community-based anti-racist organizations and efforts. We will, of course, continue to expand our own anti-racist efforts within the School of Social Work and through our school- and community-based initiatives. Although these ideas and the capacity to address these issues are not new to the SSW the urgency and intensity of this experience is making us feel like we are a step behind being ready to roll out these initiatives.
The UMSSW remains committed to ending racism, to seeking social justice, and to joining with all who are suffering because too little has been done. Please continue to communicate with us about the ways that we can respond effectively to the horrors that we see, far too often and for far too long. I know that the UMSSW will continue to generate ideas and activities that will make a difference. We seek your engagement and assistance in finding productive strategies
Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW