Confronting Historical White Supremacy in Social Work Education and Practice

A Way Forward


  • Zoila Del-Villar New York University



Social justice education, racial formation, pre-service social workers, racial inequality and social services


Oftentimes, social work education is in denial of its seductive and pervasive relationship with White Supremacy, as if it is exempt in power relations rooted in racial formation. The present paper investigates the historical legacy of racial formation within the United States context and its inception in the field of social work. This paper provides comprehensive definitions of the key terms used in teaching social work practice from an anti-racist social justice lens. Whiteness theory is used to highlight the way social work has perpetuated White Supremacy in the evolution of the profession and Black feminist standpoint is used to examine the experiences of non-White women as they interface with racist and oppressive social systems. I advocate for the use of a social justice pedagogy in social work education to help students think critically and reflectively about their future practice to better understand the oppressive power structures in many of today’s agencies, organizations, and institutions.



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