Disrupting White Supremacy

Testimonios to Reveal the Experiences of Women of Color in Social Work Doctoral Education


  • Cynthia Mackey Arizona State University
  • Nidia Hernandez
  • Stephanie Lechuga-Pena
  • Felicia Mitchell




white supremacy, social work doctoral education, BIPOC, testimonios, anti-racism


Social workers must participate in ongoing anti-racist and culturally attuned approaches to disrupt white supremacy in our profession, institutions, and society. Our social work mission, values, and ethics demand that we engage in social work education, practice, and scholarship that seeks social justice for all people. In line with these expectations, social work doctoral education is tasked with training the next generation of social work scholars by providing doctoral education that is responsive to society's most pressing social problems. While disrupting white supremacy is an aspirational goal, we argue that white supremacy infiltrates social work education, manifests itself in diverse ways over time, often isolating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We use testimonios to explore these issues and describe four BIPOC women’s experiences navigating their social work doctoral programs. From these insights, we contend that social work doctoral education continues to uphold white supremacy by promoting Western epistemologies and theories above other equally valid forms of knowledge, including non-Western schools of thought created by and for BIPOC scholars. We provide recommendations for alternative theories and epistemologies for social work curricula and offer implications to support BIPOC students in social work doctoral education.


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