African Americans and the African Diaspora

Chair: Yarneccia D. Dyson (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
APM Assignment: 2017–2019

Co-Chair: Zuleka Henderson (Columbia University)
APM Assignment: 2017–2019

Social work research and practice are expected to be guided by social justice traditions. Accordingly, social work research and practice attend to the most vulnerable populations in society. The lived experiences of African Americans in the United States are shaped in part by the historical legacy of national servitude, Jim Crow segregation and discrimination, and contemporary tensions regarding race. These experiences have contributed to the disproportionate representation of African Americans among the nation’s disadvantaged and most vulnerable. Other citizens of the African Diaspora have often experienced similar devastation of their native and cultural strands. Given that African Americans and, similarly, people of the African Diaspora carry a different life experience tied to the Diaspora, how are cultural competencies that deal with these groups within the United States and global contexts advanced? How do social work and social welfare become mindful, respectful, and progressive in such engagements?

The intersection of racial and/or ethnic identity with other primary identities such as gender, nationality, sexuality, and social class has further marginalized African Americans and other citizens of the African Diaspora worldwide. Topics of exploration for presentation within this Track include the assumption and functioning of these multiple identities on individual, familial, communal, and societal roles and cross-cultural and cross-national frameworks. The Track also seeks to address historical and contemporary social work research and/or practice with African Americans and citizens of the African Diaspora. At the core of these proposals should be an examination or analysis of the role and importance of social work education as a mechanism for promoting social and economic justice, engaged scholarship, and culturally sensitive practice.