August 2021 Educator|Resource of the Month
The Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice Educator|Resource is a monthly feature that highlights curricular resources and social work educators who address diversity and justice.
Examining Social Work’s Involvement With Racially Punitive Systems
Dr. Yoosun Park, a professor of social work at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Facilitating Injustice: The Complicity of Social Workers in the Forced Removal and Incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1941–1946, impels us to regularly engage in an “examination of an enduring tension within social work which often pits its functions in conflict with its purported values and ethics: the profession’s dual roles as deliverer of social policies and defender of those affected by them” (p. x). It is fitting that we begin the Diversity Center’s series What Does Teaching From an Antiracist Perspective Look Like? on the topic of professional self-assessment. We need to be conscientious of our actions and the actions of the systems with which we work so as not to collude with and legitimize policies of racism. In this Educator|Resource we provide teaching resources illustrating the process of such an examination as it relates to three issues: postincarceration, immigration, and child welfare.
Postincarceration: A Lifelong Burden of Policies, Practices, and Laws
Because our target service communities are low income and disproportionately Black and Latino, even if we are not working directly with the criminal justice system many of the families with whom we work are highly likely to be affected by it. One in three Blacks and one in six Latinos born in 2001 can expect to go to prison during their lifetime, according to a 2018 report. Our work with these families implicates us. Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller, a professor of social work at the University of Chicago, has studied this issue in great depth, conducting ethnographic and other analyses of postincarceration. He exposes how apartment managers, employers, and providers of reentry services collude with the criminal justice system and details the devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. The burden of the policies, laws, and practices governing re-entry is described in the following selected teaching resources (additional resources by Dr. Miller are available here).
Miller, R. J. (2014). Devolving the carceral state: Race, prisoner reentry, and the micro-politics of urban poverty management. Punishment & Society, 16(3), 305–335.
Miller, R. J. (2013). Race, hyper‐incarceration, and U.S. poverty policy in historic perspective. Sociology Compass, 7, 573–589.
Miller, R. J., & Alexander, A. (2015). The price of carceral citizenship: Punishment, surveillance, and social welfare policy in an age of carceral expansion. Michigan Journal of Race & Law, 21, 291–314.
Media and Magazines
- How Thousands of American Laws Keep People "Imprisoned" Long After They’re Released, Politico
- "Halfway Home" Makes Case That the Formerly Incarcerated Are Never Truly Free, NPR
- In new book, scholar offers intimate portrait of mass incarceration’s toll on society, UChicago News
Interviews With Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller (Videos)
- A Conversation With Reuben Miller on Halfway Home, Columbia University Justice Lab
- Reuben Jonathan Miller: Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center
- Annual Lecture 2020: Reuben Jonathan Miller, The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research
Immigration: Social Work’s Problematic Role in the History of Internment
Unlike mass incarceration, other forms of racially punitive systems are much less perceptible—often hidden, silenced, and legally sanctioned—leaving affected communities defenseless. Even if their intentions are to ameliorate the harm that is caused, social workers become complicit when they refuse to take a stance. In the teaching resources below Dr. Yoosun Park, based on extensive archival research, details the little-known direct involvement of social workers in carrying out the tasks of forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans ordered by the federal government during World War II. In her book Facilitating Injustice Dr. Park, however, is clear that this history has enduring implications: “the ideas and ideals that fueled and enabled the events—the intersecting discourse of race, racism, culture, and the borders of legal and social citizenship—are all too familiar today” (p. x). The teaching resources below can help social work students recognize the conditions under which professional complicity can occur (additional resources by Dr. Park are available here).
Park, Y. (2013). The role of the YWCA in the World War II internment of Japanese Americans: A cautionary tale for social work. Social Service Review, 87(3), 477–524.
Park, Y. (2008). Facilitating injustice: Tracing the role of social workers in the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. Social Service Review, 82(3), 447–483.
Interview With Dr. Yoosun Park (Video)
Social Work Complicity in the Forced Relocation and Incarceration of Japanese Americans, interview with Dr. Yoosun Park, Council on Social Work Education
Child Welfare: The Entry Point of the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline”
For at least a decade the child welfare system has been called on to examine its role in what the Children’s Defense Fund called the “cradle to prison pipeline.” As the term implies, there is a predictable pathway across systems—child welfare and foster care, school discliplinary systems, juvenile justice, and incarceration—that happens at the intersection of race and poverty. The rich teaching resources below offer perspectives from the fields of media, law, and the social sciences, which can help expand social work’s understanding of the issues and alternatives for change.
- In the Child Welfare System, Black Families Should Matter (Part 1) and Can Racial Bias Be Corrected in the Child Welfare System? (Part 2), Next City. In-depth reporting and stories on investigations and removals and the successful implementation of a program that strips any information that identifies race from cases being considered for child removal.
- Manifestation of White Supremacy in the Institution of Child Welfare, American Bar Association. Video recordings of stakeholder conversations, policy issue briefs, and readings.
- Cradle-to-Prison Pipeline Project, Northeastern University. A graphic representation of the cradle-to-prison pipeline, video-recorded interviews with individuals in the system, video-recorded community roundtables, a prison survey, and readings.
About the Educators
|The resources under Postincarceration: A Lifelong Burden of Policies, Practices, and Laws are by Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller. Dr. Miller is associate professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice and is the author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.|
|The resources under Immigration: Social Work’s Problematic Role in the History of Internment are by Dr. Yoosun Park. Dr. Park is associate professor at the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania and is the author of Facilitating Injustice: The Complicity of Social Workers in the Forced Removal and Incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1941–1946.|
The views expressed in the Educator|Resource are those of the educator(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council on Social Work Education.
Contact Dr. Yolanda Padilla, CSWE Diversity Center Director, at [email protected].