Allies for Justice and living by the Code

I want to make this space useful for a social broad an audience as possible, but truly this entry is probably only of interest to social workers 😊. It has been awhile since I have taught Intro to Social Work, but I read a piece a couple of days ago in The New Social Worker that would be great to include in an Intro course, and it reminded me of some other resources that are important to highlight and spend some time discussing in class.

Introduction to Social Work is where students start to become familiar with our Code of Ethics and our core values. A solid introduction to these standards can help students identify with the profession, and also identify where they may struggle with living out these principles. Asking them to think through an action in the context of whether it is in alignment an ethical standard or core value is good practice, and helps them get a feel for how we should make decisions in social work.

The piece I read most recently is called β€œSocial Workers: Allies for Justice?” ( In this, Dr. Lakeya Cherry discusses the risks of racism (citing current illustrations of COVID-19, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd) and grounds her discussion of racist outcomes being the result of racist policies in the context of looking at some of the core values of social work as well as our Code of Ethics. As I mentioned earlier, I love it when there are articles that specifically explore the Code and the timeliness of this one is on point.

The second source I point students to and use in the classroom is the website for the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW). In times when I have taught Intro to Social Work I have used a variety of textbooks. All of them have included a reference to and discussion of the National Association of Social Workers and I think many, if not all, have included a reference to the National Association of Black Social Workers. However, we all know that students sometimes gloss over reading, and I think pulling up the NABSW website in class and discussing some of the links (or assigning students to discuss in small groups) is helpful because it points them to thinking through some issues related to race and our profession. The organization website is here and the information on their history and Code of Ethics is particularly important and a rich focus of discussion. There is also a National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers Showing the reach and focus of different professional organizations is also important because it can help students see themselves as part of a broader professional community.

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