In 2010 I was a student in Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University social work program. The first semester was known as the pre-social work semester, and the intent was to root out students who were not ideologically aligned with the profession. The class was asked to write a position paper on Peggy Mcintosh’s essay White Male, White Privilege. Upon completion of our papers, students were asked to give a brief presentation discussing what they learned about their own racist attitudes. I watched in absolute amazement as the students, one by one, stood in front of their peers and went along with the program ̶ ̶ admitting that they were not aware of their own racism until reading Mcintosh’s essay. I refused to capitulate to such nonsense and was later told that I was not fit for the profession because of my oppositional attitude.
Social work, as a profession, is politically motivated. The primary purpose is advocating for social change which best helps the fields primary constituency (Gray, 1996). Dominated by the left, social workers believe that capitalism is the root cause of poverty, inequality and most importantly, racism. Social workers are trained to view socialism as a core ideal of the profession while also viewing it as being a fundamentally correct worldview (Duarte, 2017). To effectively accomplish their goal, social workers need to “see society as a struggle between groups with competing interests” (Duarte, 2017) to deconstruct what they view as, systems of oppression.
The term hegemony refers to the power of a dominant group. Social workers, and the left in general, view white America as an oppressive system. There has been a mass awakening to the indoctrination taking place in our universities with the teaching of concepts like white privilege and critical race theory. CRT, as it has come to be known, defines racism in terms relating to social status and power. What used to be defined as a hatred for someone based on the color of their skin, or their nationality, is now a politicized term that equates racism to any dominant social structure. Advocates of CRT claim that our society is built for the benefit of white people and, for the purpose of perpetuating whiteness while leaving others behind or forcing them to conform. It stands to reason then, that if social workers intend on dismantling what they view as an oppressive power structure, they must deconstruct whiteness altogether.
This is what LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) Cristina Combs intends to do with her Twelve steps to recovery from whiteness program. Based on the tenets of white privilege philosophy and critical race theory, this twelve-step program attempts to break down the sickness (as they see it) of whiteness for the purpose of creating a more equitable world. Step one, of course, is admitting you are racist. I watched my fellow classmates do this at NSU. Step two involves acknowledging that as a white person, you will never know what it is like to walk in the shoes of a person of color. Step three is understanding the need to be gentle with yourself as you come to grips with the horrible things you have done to perpetuate white supremacy. The whole thing reads like an alcoholics anonymous program in which admitting you were wrong and weak is the first step to recovery.
Read the rest here at David Risselada’s site.
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