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ACOSA Update

Greetings from the Chair 9.20.23
By Cheryl Hyde
Posted: 2023-09-20T13:30:00Z

Greetings! To those observing the Jewish High Holidays, I hope you have a happy, healthy, and sweet new year, and a safe fast as well. As we make the turn into Autumn, my favorite season, I hope everyone can find some time to enjoy the outdoors.

I have to confess that I’m a bit out of sorts at the moment. Some of this is because my household has been upended by the return of COVID. My daughter tested positive and is basically out of school for the week. She’s in isolation with the cats rotating in and out of her room on a regular basis. It seems that COVID is making a comeback as I now know more people who have or have recently had it than at any time during the lockdown. I’ve also heard that as a pre-emptive measure, a number of school districts across the country (think red states) have passed regulations prohibiting mandatory masking. Really – why engage in a very basic public health measure? Having a loved one fighting to breathe is so much better.

On a more global level, between the Maui fires, Moroccan earthquake, and Libyan floods, it seems as though human arrogance has partnered with a very angry Mother Nature to produce one catastrophic event after another. I’ve been dwelling a lot on whether we’ve passed the tipping point to save the planet – a path that takes one down a very nihilistic rabbit hole. Yes, I was heartened by the recent protests against fossil fuel in New York City and elsewhere, but the greedy lure of profit over people seems to be curtailing any and all efforts to make meaningful change. And for many of us, it feels just too overwhelming to do anything that might matter.

So, what about something a bit more localized and more actionable, because a good action always lifts the spirits (at least for me)? This past weekend, the Washington Post ran several articles that, in various ways, presented efforts to ban diversity content in education. In one case, the focus was on the suspension of a high school teacher for using the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Another piece was on the closing of a public library over LGBTQA content. Still another article was one the trend of red states pulling out of a national library network because they have problems with “woke” initiatives. What is so interesting is that it took very few individuals to get these censorship balls rolling. Two parents claim that their children felt uncomfortable learning about slavery, and the content and educator are gone.

The ethos of this tyranny of the minority, which is doing its best to preserve white supremacy, is evident in the current U.S. Supreme Court. This court consistently upholds the racial, class, and patriarchal privileges in ways that harm a majority of us. For this reason, I strongly encourage folks to join us this Thursday evening for a panel discussion called “Imperiling Action: The Implications of the Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling for Social Work Education” (see elsewhere in this eBlast for details). Organized by ACOSA’s LEAD Committee, panelists will focus on past, present, and future policies and practices regarding racial equity (or lack thereof) in education. More importantly, we can dialogue about strategies that we can undertake to protect and promote racial equity in social work education and beyond.

Remember, this Supreme Court case had its roots in a few white folks feeling that they should have gotten into the academic program of their choosing and because they didn’t, people of color needed to pay. That’s tyranny. Bring your colleagues and students so we can collectively push back.

I suspect that my feeling “out of sorts” is because everywhere I turn there seems to be something that is just really messed up. Health, education, employment, climate, community well-being. It’s exhausting and chaotic to be in or bear witness to crisis after crisis. I wish I had a magic wand so that I could “fix” things. But I don’t. I do have the desire to be in community – such as our Thursday night event, or CSWE gatherings, or other opportunities to be together. Withdrawal and isolation, as tempting as that can be, unfortunately allows tyranny to continue. So instead, join with us.

In solidarity, Cheryl (