Social Work in the Shadow of Death

Divesting From Anti-Blackness and Social Control


  • Rae Rosario Stevenson Tulane University
  • Joan M. Blakey Tulane University School of Social Work



Defunding police, social work, anti-Blackness, disproportionality, social control


In its current form, the field of social work does not reflect the ongoing reality of Black death and the embeddedness of anti-Blackness in everyday life. This omission leads to catastrophic failures of the profession’s most essential tasks: the advancement of social justice and future social workers’ education. This paper will discuss why the police’s ongoing murder of Black people will not be resolved by simply replacing the police with social workers. We will argue that social workers serving Black people must anchor their work in theoretical perspectives articulated by Black people. Finally, we challenge social work to live up to its social justice mission by divesting from systems of social control and anchoring their work in theoretical perspectives articulated by Black people.


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