Back to the (not so) Basics of Anti-Racist Education and Practice

The Need for White Social Work Students to Learn How to Create Trust and Relationships




anti-racist practice, social work education, trust and relationships, anti-racism competencies, racism


This study sought to explore the skills white social work students need to develop in order to cultivate an embodied anti-racist practice. Forty-one social work students (approximately half white and half students of color) at a public university participated in semi-structured focus groups to discuss their experiences with anti-racist education and practice in their social work education. A predominant theme observed from these focus groups was the difficulty that white social work students have developing trust and relationships. Findings revealed that these students need guidance on how to build trust and develop relationships before they can engage in learning other anti-racist practice skills. The authors propose offering a future course that will help white social work students to develop these skills through pilot-testing a few embodied anti-racist competencies related to trust and relationship-building. These skills can contribute to the broader Social Work Grand Challenge to eliminate racism as well as the NASW Code of Ethics ethical principle of strengthening relationships as a vehicle for change.


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