Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020
Dean Scott Ryan
Dear Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff,
Last week, our nation witnessed, yet again, the tragic murder of another unarmed African American citizen by a police officer. George Floyd is another victim of the senseless police brutality experienced in communities of color. His death has sparked protests from Americans of diverse backgrounds and people all around the world. His death followed other recent tragedies of Sean Reed and Breonna Taylor, both dying by the hands of those who are sworn to serve and protect. Like many of you, we are angry and grieve with their loved ones and people across our nation.
We recognize the pain, fear, anger and sense of hopelessness students, alumni and many in our SSW community and family are experiencing right now. As Social Workers, we are in a position to demand and influence change. We must stand strongly against racism, hatred, bigotry and all forms of injustice.
We are at our best when we come together to engage respectfully across the political spectrum, and support those who feel marginalized, disadvantaged or threatened.
We know there are systemic issues in our criminal justice system, within law enforcement and in our political and educational institutions. You have a right to demand reform of policing and fundamentally change how law enforcement and the criminal justice systems are structured.
More than any other profession, we recognize the importance and strength of diversity and inclusion. We understand the importance of standing up against hatred and bigotry.
Racism, discrimination, white nationalism, white supremacy, micro-aggressions, neo-Nazism, violence and hate in any form is unacceptable behavior and must be immediately and strongly denounced.
The pain felt is further exacerbated when violence is committed by those sworn to uphold the law and by those we, as a society, give so much authority. Black Lives Matter and parents of black and brown children should not have to worry about letting their kids play in a park, go to school, walk down a street, walk to the store or drive a car fearful that a police officer will stop them and take their lives.
This criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth in our country must end. The militarization of law enforcement must end. The systemic denial to high quality educational opportunities and the schools-to-prison pipeline must end. The privatization of police, prisons and jails must end. The end to criminalization of Black political activity must end. Health disparities in communities of color and people living in poverty must end.
As we move forward, our responsibility is to practice compassionate Social Work and to remain committed to academic scholarship, discovery, research and education.
My family participated in a peaceful protest this weekend in our community, and were heartened by the many people there, as well as the support shown by the hundreds of persons driving by, bringing drinks and shouting words of encouragement.
If you want to make a difference, here are some suggestions:
Challenge your own racism and that of others.
Recognize and address your biases.
Engage in racial justice work.
Support organizations and groups working toward change.
Contact your local and national legislators.
Complete the 2020 Census.
We should all be leaders in the fight for justice and fundamental changes to our society. It all begins here in our School of Social Work through substantive class discussions, research and scholarship.
To that end, we will continue sharing resources, information, strategic actions and educational opportunities via our School’s website and social media pages. Please be sure to connect with the SSW for the latest news by following our social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our new LinkedIn page.
Scott D. Ryan
Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington