I’ve gone through life experiencing racism and simultaneously understanding my race, where I fit on the spectrum, differently. At one point in time, my internalized oppression dominated my thinking. It is through education, both formal and informal, I have been liberated. My experience at Fordham GSS has been ideal, not only because I have had teachers who have pushed me to my edge to analyze the world around me, but also my classmates who challenged me to grow and learn more. It is here I have had the opportunity to join R.A.C.E. (Racial Awareness Collective for Everyone) and begin organizing students around anti-racist awareness. This experience has been truly invigorating.
I did not realize how much race impacted me as an individual until I became aware of just how much it affected me as a social worker. How could I help individuals attain tools? Also, the knowledge that the tools would be useless if they were not used to combat the structure that was designed to perpetuate an endless cycle of poverty. As I became aware, I knew that just having this information about racism and the oppressive structures within our society designed to keep people of color down, was not enough; I needed to take action, be a part of the change that I desired to see.
Working with R.A.C.E. has provided me the opportunity to be a part of change. By creating a survey and receiving a response from more than 300 students and faculty, we were able to host our first event. The “Being Anti-Racist”panel and group sharing served as an initial event to address the concerns of students.
Students have been experiencing racism in various forms, and want to be educated about racism and how to address it. Having the opportunity to learn from social work practitioners within the field doing anti-racist work, can inspire other social work students and non-social work students alike, to join the movement. Awareness of a problem is not enough; one must commit to taking a stance against it, for if they do not, they are a part of that very problem. How do you know, if you are a part of the solution? Ask yourself, are you anti-racist?
Lyneisha R. Dukes GSS Class of 2016, MSW firstname.lastname@example.org