O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon thee. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
We are currently living in increasingly complex and turbulent times. Some would say dark, difficult, and depressing days. Not only are we dealing with the isolation, frustration, and anxiety of the trauma of Covid-19 with over approaching 150,000 deaths in the United States alone. We are also dealing also with the trauma, pain and violence of racism and anti-Black racism and the killing of African Americans by law enforcement officers. The issue of police brutality is not new. The recent murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and others such as Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and so many others at the hands of law enforcement is not new. As African Americans in this country, we have been targeted and terrorized as a people. The racial unrest going on across the nation stems from the marginalization, dehumanization and the lack of dignity that is afforded to African American men, women and children as well as all groups of color and oppressed populations. Black people are familiar with feeling a range of emotions of being angry, sad, fearful, frustrated, exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed in knowing that despite our educational status, level of income, community involvement, not having a criminal record, doing our best to live a Christian life and try to live a good life – one’s life, our children’s life and our loved one’s life can all be tragically ended all based on being Black in America in 2020. We need to stop and reflect on the current crisis in American society and engage in both courageous conversations and actions to make this world a better place.
Dr. Martin Luther King famous quote eloquently states, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” How do we as Christian social workers, activists, and advocates for social justice forge innovative and creative solutions out of the vast amount of anger, rage, conflict, shame, resentment, anxiety, guilt, defensiveness, fear, hopelessness, oppression and injustice that is so prevalent in our society? As Christian social workers and helping professionals, how do we advocate for and implement social change and improve outcomes for Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) and for so many others in our society that are negatively impacted by detrimental social practices and policies? What are our efforts to promote a more humane society and leave a legacy of confronting injustice and eradicating oppression?
We have the power and courage to speak out against injustice that is confronting American society. It is important to realize that the perseverance, care, compassion and concern of Christian social workers can bring about change. We need to raise our voices and advocate for socially just policies and practices. We as social workers must promote justice, human rights, equality, equity, and liberation. We must be social justice workers and have the courage to speak out against all forms of injustice. All of us have work to do and not just feel the pain, discomfort, and anxiety in the moment. We need to work to ensure access to jobs, quality education, health care, housing and work on healing the pain, divisions, and disparities that are so prevalent in our society. We need to focus on peace, justice and recognizing the humanity in others and address the widening gap between the haves and have-nots in our society. We have to intervene and provide needed assistance to those impacted by discrimination due to poverty, race, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status and other aspects of one’s identity.
We can make a difference in the world by bearing witness with our clients and letting them know that they are not alone or by themselves. We value the importance and significance of human relationships and connection every day when we establish rapport and create a collaborative mutually beneficial professional relationship. Our focus is not on what is wrong with our clients and pointing out their inadequacies, faults, and shortcomings. Instead, we recognize that everyone has a story to tell and we don’t ask: “What is wrong with you?” but ask different, strengths based questions such as: “What is going well with you?” “What makes you grateful?” And, “What has happened to you?” We are present and listen to them own and share their story. This is putting into practice compassion, hope, love, and the ability to be respectful, sensitive, competent and caring.
In closing, Isaiah 6:8 NIV states: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” And in Joshua 24:15 it states: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” God is calling on us to be courageous and raise our voices against injustice. What we do daily and collectively as social workers can make a difference for creating a brighter future. We can promote the humanity, worth, value and dignity of African Americans and ALL of humanity. We can advocate for freedom, justice, liberty, equality and equity for everyone. Together, this is how we serve the Lord as Christian social workers.
Dr. Anthony C. Hill, Ed.D, MSW is an Associate Professor at Springfield College School of Social Work and Behavioral Sciences in Springfield, MA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.