Forty to None Launches Network For Professionals Working With LGBT Youth

NEW YORK – November 20, 2013 – The Forty to None Project, a program of the True Colors Fund, announces the launch of the Forty to None Network. The Network is a collective of individuals who are working to address or have the potential to impact the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth homelessness.

Forty to NoneRecent reports estimate that up to 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT, while only 5-7% of the general youth population does the same. The Forty to None Network seeks to reduce this disproportionate representation in part by facilitating a reciprocal information exchange among service providers, educators, researchers, advocates, government officials, health care professionals, philanthropists, and young people.

“Most street-based teens use the streets as a means to survive because they have no other way to survive and take care of themselves,” says ZiZi Phillips, youth advocate and formerly homeless young person. For ZiZi the Forty to None Network is a platform where young advocates can connect and educate the public about youth homelessness from their own experiences.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are disproportionately represented among youth who experience homelessness,” said Network member Barbara Poppe, Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “That’s why the Forty to None Network is so important. By working across sectors and in coalition with other organizations and agencies, Forty to None provides leadership and energy to help end the crisis of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth homelessness.”

“We created the Forty to None Network in response to the feedback we’ve received from people around the country working on LGBT youth homelessness – that there is a missing consolidated, national network to facilitate the sharing of ideas and action,” said Jama Shelton, Director of the Forty to None Project. “It is our hope that the network will build bridges across systems that impact LGBT youth, and keep everyone engaged in this critical work informed and working collaboratively.”

Forty to None Network membership benefits include first looks at best practices, research and fundraising resources, and legislative and policy updates. Members will be invited to help shape the content distributed through the Forty to None Network by sharing their experiences, providing feedback, and engaging in ongoing dialogue via Network facilitated online communication and in-person networking opportunities.

“Joining the Forty to None Network is a no-brainer,” said Network member Blase DiStefano, Creative Director and Entertainment Editor for OutSmart magazine in Houston, Texas. “At my lowest point, I at least had a place to live. For those of us who are homeless, this network could be a lifesaver.”

Those working in social services, public policy, research, and other related areas on the local, state, and national levels, or those whose work impacts the systems that serve LGBT homeless youth may sign up to join the network at www.fortytonone.org/network.  The Forty to None Network is made possible through the generosity of the Yambao family in memory of Norman Miller Yambao.

About the Forty to None Project

The True Colors Fund’s Forty to None Project is the nation’s first and only national organization solely dedicated to raising awareness about and bringing an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit www.fortytonone.org.

Source: Forty to None

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

Buycott: Did You Know Buying Dixie Cups, Angel Soft, or Brawny Supports the Koch Brothers

BuycottDid you know buying Dixie cups, Angel Soft toilet tissue, or Brawny paper towels were part of the Koch Brothers empire? Neither did I, until a nifty mobile app called Buycott was created, and it is currently available for download in Google Play and iTunes

In North Carolina, Billionaire Art Pope owns Maxway and Roses among others, and he does not allow any of his stores to be constructed unless they are in neighborhoods that are two-thirds minority. Then, he uses those profits to advocate for policies against the poor and minorities. The buycott app and future similar inventions could create a phenomenon that corporations are not used to. It could drive competition between corporations for consumer dollars if consumers decide to reward those that contributor to charity and punish those who use their profits to lobby for more oppressive polices.

According to Forbes Magazine,

Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen. Scan a box of Splenda sweetener, for instance, and you’ll see its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

To watch Forbes test drive the app in a supermarket aisle, click here.

Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott business practices that violate your principles rather than single companies. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling, will scan your box of cereal and tell you if it was made by one of the 36 corporations that donated more than $150,000 to oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.

Deciding to add that campaign to your Buycott app might make buying your breakfast nearly impossible, as that list includes not just headline grabbers like agricultural giant Monsanto but just about every big consumer company with a presence in the supermarket aisle: Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg’s, Unilever and more. Read Full Article

View the Video Below to See How it Works:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBU51v5obDo[/youtube]

Community Organizes to Stop Racial Profiling by the Durham Police Department

In response to the community activist group Fostering Alternative Enforcement Action (FADE) ongoing efforts to expose troubling reports of racial disparities and bias by the Durham Police Department, Mayor Bell convened the Human Relations Commission on Tuesday October 1, 2013 to hear from the community.

As the meeting commenced, there was a palpable sense of urgency and somberness among the packed audience. In a orderly and quiet manner, a steady stream of community members, eighteen in all, came before the Commission to speak. They were an impressive cross-section of Durham—old and young, black and white, the primly and casually dressed, all united by a desire to make the community they love work better for all people.

With three minutes to address the 15-member Commission, speeches ranged from those highlighting SCSJ’s recent Durham PD Racial Profiling data to emotional pleas regarding the perilous state of young black men in Durham. One white pastor talked of “two Durhams”, one where he was able to do drugs freely as a Duke undergrad and another where a black neighbor was unable to get police to respond in a timely matter to a missing child report.

When he called on her behalf, the police promptly responded. This combination of data and personal stories of ill treatment at the hands of law enforcement was a potent mix. While Commissioners asked no questions and made no comments, it is hard to imagine they could have sat through the testimony and not been deeply moved and alarmed. At one point, one speaker addressed the Commissioners directly, rhetorically stating that all of the African American members knew what he was talking about, that they had either experienced police mistreatment because of their skin color or knew someone that had.

As the meeting came to a close, the Chair of the Commission informed the audience that members would now take time to review written and oral testimony and data reports, conducting further research as needed. Ultimately, the Chair said, the Commission would make recommendations to City Council regarding the issues raised at the hearing. When it become apparent that there would be no further comment from Commissioners, an audience member haltingly shouted out, “Will we know what recommendations you make?” The Chair responded formally and somewhat unconvincingly, “You will know.”

Want to get involved? You can visit the FADE Facebook page to learn more and attend the group’s next meeting. You can also email shoshannahsayers@southerncoalition.org to join SCSJ’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative email list and receive regular updates.

What is Thunderclap and How can It Help Grassroots Organizing?

by Madeline Anderson, SCSJ Communications Intern

Thunderclap logoThunderclap is a free crowd-speaking platform that allows a message to be seen by a multitude of people on a variety of different social media sites at the same time. The purpose is to help maximize the chance of your message going viral by coordinating a multi-media strike alongside your loyal supporters. Thunderclap sends a message to each supporter’s preferred social media outlet such as Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr which automatically posts your message on their page at the same time. This technique could possibly expand your message and reach to thousands and even hundreds of thousands people at the same time creating a viral message.

So, how exactly does it work? In order to “thunderclap” a message, select a mission/message that you wish to broadcast widely over social media. Create a catchy tag line, add an image that illustrates your goal, and insert this information into the Thunderclap website. To avoid spammers, the message will go through an online approval process. For a message to go into effective “thunderclap state,” you must get a certain number of supporters to participate by a certain date which is set by you, the organizer. The default setting is 100 supporters within a week.  However, you may adjust the time and the number of supporters to best fit your needs.  The more supporters you have the greater the social media reach of your message.

When you create your Thunderclap, you share it via any social media sites which can include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Personal webpage, Tumblr or by e-mail in order to get your supporters to participate. When you have the amount of support you need, the Thunderclap message will be sent out on the date and time you specified. For example, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice set up a Thunderclap to remind North Carolinians to register to vote by the October 11, 2013 deadline, and we are seeking 100 supporters. When we reach this number, Thunderclap will arrange for our reminder message to be posted to the social media pages of each supporter at the same time on the same day. This will increase our chances of creating awareness on this important matter.

What about the supporters? What are they signing up for and what are their options? Supporters are allowing Thunderclap to share this one message on their behalf.  It will post on their feed ONCE at the time/date they agree to, and it will not be sent out as spam (i.e. a message sent to all their friends). Facebook and Twitter only store the information through a secure connection to spread this message so there is no personal information shared (i.e. passwords). Supporters are also able to opt out of the project at any time if they change their minds.

Thunderclap and grassroots campaigning In terms of increasing the scope of your grassroots message, this tool is phenomenal. IF you were to get 250 supporters for your Thunderclap message, the total social media reach could be well into the millions. The goal is to hone a strong, simple message and make it viral. Given the amount of media shared every day, trying to get a message noticed can seem daunting. With a Thunderclap coordinating a multitude of voices discussing your message at the same time, your message will be mass pushed to the forefront of all of your supporters’ feeds. Want to give it a try? Check out SCSJ’s Thunderclap – and please support it!

Watch the Thunderclap how-to video:

http://youtu.be/vsKf587KJO8

DOJ Sues North Carolina Over New Voter ID Laws

Yesterday, the United States Department of Justice filed suit against the State of North Carolina to contest the passage of the most restrictive voter id laws in country. Prior to the Republican led legislature gaining control, North Carolina was a leader in the country for voter participation which many believe is no longer the case. North Carolina was the only battleground state during the 2012 Presidential Election season to veto and not institute voter id laws.

This suit comes on the heels of a similar suit filed against Texas in its efforts to implement strict voter id laws in the Lone Star State. To counterbalance the law, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) located in Durham North Carolina, is in the process of urging potential voters to register prior to the October 11, 2013 deadline.  In the wake of the new law, same day registration was eliminated. SCSJ is requesting support in their effort to help create awareness and knowledge of the deadline in order to register as many people as possible. If you are interested in helping spread the message of the voter registration deadline, visit SCSJ’s messaging link.

According to MSNBC News:

The law is perhaps the nation’s strictest. In addition to requiring voters to show a limited range of state-issued IDs, it also cuts back on early voting and ends same-day voter registration, among other provisions. All of those provisions disproportionately affect racial minorities, studies show. Rick Hasen, a law professor at UC Irvine and a prominent expert on voting, has called the law “a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote.”

Holder called the cutbacks to early voting “especially troubling,” noting that in the last two presidential elections, 70% of minority voters took advantage of early voting.

The measure was pushed by Republican lawmakers who control the state’s legislature, and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican. An August poll found that just 39% of North Carolinians support their state’s law, with 50% opposed. Along with a slew of other conservative measures enacted by the Republican government, it helped spark an energetic progressive opposition movement that since the summer has held demonstrations across the state.

Leaders of the movement, including Rev. William Barber III, the president of the state’s NAACP chapter, applauded the lawsuit Monday, as did North Carolina Democrats. Read Full Article

[gview file=”https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/172179893-20130930-DOJ-v-NC-Complaint.pdf”]

Rev. Barber is the leader of the Moral Monday protest and the ongoing fight to protect civil rights and the quality of life for North Carolinians. If you are interested in his reaction to the suit brought by the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, view the video below:

The Importance of Social Work and Politics: A Social Worker’s Call to Arms

A protester holds a sign at San Francisco International Airport during a demonstration to denounce President Donald Trump’s executive order that bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in San Francisco.

The social work profession is a diverse and vast profession whose mission is to improve outcomes and the quality of life for vulnerable populations. To put it another way, social workers are trying to help America find its dream again, and this dream crosses party lines. However, we are having difficulty seeing our common goal because we are so focused on the differences between us. What happened to “The American Dream” and how can it be part of our future again?

We have forgotten somehow the importance of social work in the political arena. Some may ask, “How can the social work profession help our society and improve the lives of  citizens?” The social work profession is the foundation that must be restored to help empower society to find its dream again and make it a reality.

Age 0-6 is the most important and formative years in a child life, and social work is the profession that creates programs to help aid families and protect children from scars that may affect them for the rest of their life. If a child is denied needed resources such as food, shelter, developmental education, and ability to live free from abuse, this child’s chances of benefiting from the best public or private education is diminished. ~ Deona Hooper, MSW

As social workers, we can be a great force for this kind of growth in our society, but we must be the Superpac for the poor and vulnerable populations. Too many social workers are “fighting the good fight” alone in their agencies and private practice. Although we work on the individual level, we must also” be a united front” as a profession politically and in our community.

We cannot be this force if we do not become more united and take a leadership role in society. Too many social workers have forgotten their social justice roots and are too caught up in their private practice or agency to reach out. As a result, social work as a profession has become almost invisible. We are not taken seriously by other professions and not really recognized politically either.

The voice and face of social work needs to be heard and seen by our government, by our society and by ourselves. Many times, there is a disconnect between social work values, legislation and the agencies we work in. We must unite as a profession and advocate for better work conditions, more efficient systems for client care, and be the voice for the populations we serve.

We are not represented properly in our society because we have remained silent, and being active in our profession and community can change this. We are the face, we are the voice, and we are the fire of our profession.

I call to you …don’t let your fire burn out. We cannot restore hope in society if we cannot restore it in ourselves.

NC NAACP President Key Note Speaker For NC State Wide Fast Food Worker Strike

2006-12-01 14.20.14

NC NAACP President, William Barber III, was a speaker at the August 24th March on Washington hosted by Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN). I finally was able to catch up with Reverend Barber even though I had to go to Washington, DC to do it. Reverend Barber has been the catalyst in organizing Moral Monday protest, and since the North Carolina General Assemble is not in session, he has been taking Moral Monday Protest on the road.

Moral Monday protest have been planned for 13 cities all around the state to help organizer create awareness and unity on the multitude of issues facing North Carolinians. I had the opportunity to ask Reverend Barber about the Republican Board of Election in Elizabeth City possibly setting a precedent that will prevent college students in campus housing from voting.

Reverend Barber said, “It’s Wrong…It’s wrong! Whatever they do that violates people constitutional rights, they will be filling lawsuits to seek redress in the court.” For more information on the 13 city Moral Monday tour, you can visit the NC NAACP website at www.naacpnc.org.

However, Reverend Barber is on a different mission today as he provides the key note speech supporting a state-wide strike by fast food workers.  According to the NC NAACP Facebook Event Page:

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II will be giving the keynote speech at the Fast Food Workers Strike for Good Jobs and Freedom on August 29th. Workers from over 60 fast food restaurants across the state will go on strike on the 29th to demand a living wage. No one can survive on $7.25/hr.

Dr. Barber and the NC NAACP stand in solidarity with these courageous fast food workers and we call on the Forward Together Movement to join us. We will gather at Martin St. Baptist Church at 1001 E. Martin St. in Raleigh at 3:30 and march together through downtown Raleigh. Dr. Barber will speak following the march.

Photos by Deona Hooper, MSW

How Businesses Are Taking Advantage of Teachers Without Jobs

I recently came across a craigslist ad that was filed under “education/teaching” and had the title “Part-time Help”.  I opened the link and the full ad read, “Teachers make the best servers. Now hiring for part-time waitstaff….”. Our skillful educators are being targeted for unskilled labor jobs.

Can't Afford Poster Board, I am a Teacher
A sign from one of the many teachers who rallied in Raleigh for Moral Monday- expressing frustration over low pay and continued cuts.

It should not really come as a surprise considering all the cuts to public education made by the NC legislature this session, and I immediately felt outraged. The North Carolina education changes include ending tenure, removing restrictions on class size, eliminating several teaching and teaching assistant jobs, and ending a 10% pay increase for teachers with Master’s degrees.

Ten years ago, North Carolina ranked 29th in teacher salary. The projection for the upcoming year will rank North Carolina’s teacher pay at 48th in the nation. It saddens me to live in a society where teachers are expected to have low-incomes and the idea of a supplemental job is commonplace.  However, seeing teachers rally at Moral Monday protests gives me hope.

Sadly, teachers are not the only ones feeling financial pressure.  Educated professionals across the board are suffering economically.  In May 2012, Huffington Post reported on the triple increase in the number of PhD’s who received food stamps between 2007 and 2010.

It seems the face of poverty is looking more and more educated. Degrees can now symbolize immense amounts of debt and unemployment instead of a ticket to wealth or even a steady job. Previous generations believed a high school diploma was a ticket to employment.

My peers and I grew up believing that an undergraduate degree guaranteed a good job which later changed to a Master’s degree guaranteeing a job.  Now, even a PhD’s is not enough to keep you off food stamps.

Looking forward, our state and our students face serious challenges.  When we treat teachers poorly, students suffer.  Our children will get their education within a public school system that devalues teachers and is underfunded which is a scary thought.  If our children learn that there is no advantage to seeking education, then we are breeding hopelessness in them.  After all, why bother with academics if it won’t even get you a decent paying job?

ACOSA Journal of Community Practice: Organizing, Planning, Development & Change

by Deona Hooper, MSW

The latest edition of the Association of Community Organizing and Social Administration (ACOSA) Journal of Community Practice was recently published. The journal presented articles that focused on macro practice and systems change in a variety of areas such as  psychiatric housing, diversity challenges in staffing community health centers, and strategic prevention frame work to name a few. However, one particular article that resonated with me was “Reaching Out to the Hard to Reach: Lessons Learned from a Statewide Outreach initiative by authors Kathleen S. Gorman, Allison M. Smith, Maria E. Cimini, Katherine M. Halloran, and Anna G. Lubiner.

Here is an excerpt from the journal article:

Despite high levels of need, many federal assistance programs are underutilized, with differential participation rates among demographic subpopulations. Outreach efforts seek to address challenges facing potentially eligible program recipients. This article examines a statewide initiative to address barriers to participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), focusing on the elderly and people with disabilities, eligible immigrants, and low-income working households. We describe a dynamic approach that relies on community partnerships and utilizes media messaging, information dissemination, and direct client assistance to reach our target populations. The data illustrate how continuous evaluation allows for systematic adaptation of strategies, highlighting lessons learned for future outreach efforts.  ~Download Journal Article

Unfortunately, this article like many other journal articles in the social sciences are not easily accessible because they often reside behind a pay wall in order for users to gain access. This prevents many practitioners, who may not be attached to an educational institution, from gaining access to best practices and evidence based knowledge. Most importantly, it prevents the authors and researchers who dedicate their time to creating such authoritative works from taking advantage of new technologies to further enhance recognition as experts in their respective areas. Currently, copyright assertions by the publisher prevents me from sharing the article with you. However, ACOSA members are giving free access to all journal articles, and I must say their membership fees are very modest in comparison to most professional associations.

smjcpAccording to ACOSA’s website:

The Journal of Community Practice articulates contemporary issues, providing direction on how to think about social problems, developing approaches to dealing with them, and outlining ways to implement these concepts in classrooms and practice settings. As a forum for authors and a resource for readers, the Journal of Community Practice makes an invaluable contribution to community practice its conceptualization, applications, and practice. As the only journal focusing on community practice, it covers research, theory, practice, and curriculum strategies for the full range of work with communities and organizations.

The Editors seek submission of articles from academics and practitioners who are engaged in community practice. The Journal of Community Practice occasionally publishes a feature article and Notes from Practice or Notes from Teaching to supply readers with up-to-date resources.

This unique interdisciplinary journal covers a range of research methods, including:

  • Case studies
  • Curriculum development
  • Historical studies
  • Participatory research
  • Policy analysis
  • Program evaluation
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Theory and model development and testing

For more information on ACOSA and the Journal of Community Practice, view their website at www.acosa.org

Social Work Action Network (SWAN) London UK: Interview with Dan Morton

In the wake of austerity, there appears to be a resurgence of a social work movement to address the increasing inequities being forced upon vulnerable populations. Social Workers around the globe are revisiting and taking notes from generations passed in how they responded to the onset of the civil rights movement.

Recently, I interviewed Dan Morton who is on the steering committee for the Social Work Action Network (SWAN) in London, United Kingdom. We discussed how austerity policies by global governments are causing social workers to become more involved in politics. Here is our discussion:

SWH: What is SWAN, and What types of issues do SWAN focus on?

DAN: The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) is a radical campaigning social work organisation which was formed in the UK in 2004, and it sees itself in the tradition of 60’s/70’s radical social work movement and the magazine ‘Case Con’.

What makes SWAN different from those days, is that we are a partnership of practitioners, service users, educators and students. While SWAN still has a large membership in the UK and rotates its national conferences here, it has a strong international focus – there are SWAN groups or similar organisations elsewhere in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

SWAN sees the value in both collective practice and good relationship based individual social work, but understands that social workers must analyse and act upon the social problems they encounter with a close eye on structural and cultural influences on people’s lives. In the present international context, that means understanding austerity as a project of neoliberalism and opposing its levers in social policy – managerialisation, marketisation and privatisation. We understand the links between capitalism, crisis and the inequality and social devastation it causes. Instead we are broadly in favour of a model of human rights and partnership based practice, radical community work and a comprehensive, progressive social security system. The notion of linking ‘private troubles to public issues’ is a touchstone for SWAN.

SWH:  What is the mission and vision for SWAN in the wake of Global Austerity?

DAN: SWAN has strong links to progressive global social movements, for instance Occupy and the wider anti-capitalist movement. We are keen to support those involved in social action such as colleagues in Greece and more recently Turkey. We also have also run defence campaigns when social workers are attacked or vilified, such as Norbert Ferencz a Hungarian social worker who was arrested for speaking out against a law to criminalise rough sleepers. Likewise, in the wake of the Baby Peter tragedy in the UK some years ago, SWAN defended practitioners against the British tabloid The Sun‘s witch hunt against social workers, by highlighting unbearably high case loads, lack of resources and support experienced by many practitioners.

SWAN has often reconfigured the anti-capitalist phrase ‘another world is possible’ to ‘another social work is possible’ – we live out our methods for practice while we work towards that world through respectful alliances between practitioners, trade unions, grassroots movements, user lead organisations and pressure groups.

SWH: What are SWAN’s highest priorities?

DAN: At present to continue to build our networks and encourage practitioners and those who use services to work collectively against inequality and oppression. This means working with trade unions and service user movements to avoid divide and rule. While imperfect, we need to defend what system of social support we have left while envisaging something better. While we are under a sustained attack in the UK which is resulting in a marked increase in poverty, in Greece we have seen people turning their children into social services, as they have no way to buy the necessities of life for them.SWAN has a network of regional groups in the UK and in Eire and they will have their own particular priorities.

At the moment anti-racist social work is especially important in the wake of increased far-right activity in the UK (the rise of the English Defence League and Islamophobia in the UK, the brutal attacks on Roma in Eastern Europe). We must continue to work with disabled people to refute attacks dividing them as either ‘lazy scroungers’ or ‘worthy strivers’.

SWH: If someone wants to become more familiar or collaborate with SWAN, where would they find you on the web, and what key points do you want them to know?

DAN: SWAN has an English language website – www.socialworkfuture.org – and a Facebook site. Our twitter handle is @swansocialwork. We gladly welcome written contributions on radical practice both in the UK and internationally- email swansocialwork@gmail.com. We would also be delighted to have more folk in the US and Canada link up with us, though we do have connections already in some cities and states. In terms of key points, we would ask practitioners to look at the global neoliberal project over the last 30 years and the attendant rise in inequality and social problems. What do you feel the priorities of a social worker should be?

Supreme Court Guts the Voting Rights Act of 1965

 

Supreme Court

Community organizing is even more critical after the United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 earlier today. Voting rights suffered an unnecessary setback with the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder (June 25, 2013).  Section 5 is a part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which requires certain jurisdictions, identified in Section 4 of the Act, to get preclearance before implementing any changes affecting voting.  In an opinion not consistent with decades of Supreme Court precedent, this Court struck down Section 4 deemed the coverage formula which determined which states and counties had to obtain preclearance before changing its voting laws.  Without the coverage formula, states with histories of discriminatory voting practices do not have to consult with the Department of Justice before changing its voting laws.  The Court has effectively removed any barriers preventing re-implementation of legislation that prejudices the voting rights of vulnerable populations.

How Can I Help

One of the most important elements of Section 5 is the notification requirements and comment processes the Voting Rights Act established and the centralized flow of information through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  Since the implementation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, jurisdictions had to seek input from affected minority voters, and submit information about the proposed change to DOJ.  They are no longer required to do so. Now, organizations on the ground will need to develop a procedure for collecting and disseminating this vital information.

  • Voting rights advocates and communities still have options for challenging discriminatory voting laws, but they’ll have to be more proactive in bringing those challenges.  We can no longer rely on the Section 5 process.  Grassroots community organizers should begin by identifying voting rights experts and attorneys that have the capacity to help challenge bad voter laws.  The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is one of those resources in many areas, and we can refer you to resources in geographic areas we don’t have the capacity to help.  E-mail us at info@southerncoalition.org.
  • This is critical: we need community organizations on the ground to track changes and potential changes in voting laws.  There are jurisdictions who will try to pass bad changes under the radar.  Develop a plan to have your representatives at county commission, school board and city council meetings, so that you can be aware of proposed changes.  Develop relationships with county boards of elections so that you will have another avenue for notification of changes to election laws.  Identify any changes to voting laws that may have already been enacted, but were not yet implemented because of Section 5. Also, identify when those changes may become effective and establish a reporting system for immediate dissemination.
  • Working with the voting rights experts and attorneys you’ve identified at  either SCSJ and other groups. Develop a mechanism for communicating potential changes in voting laws.  Attorneys will need to file lawsuits and seek preliminary injunctions and seek rulings from courts halting the implementation of bad voting laws.  But we can’t file those lawsuits unless we know about the changes.  Decide on a plan for conveying information about changes in law.

The best way to fight back against changes that will be detrimental to voters of color is to elect officials who will be respectful of voting rights which means voter registration and Get Out The Vote work is even more critical.  Let potential voters know their voting rights are at stake. Let’s get them registered and make sure they cast their vote on Election Day!

For Information on North Carolina Voter ID Laws, view below:

[gview file=”https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Voter-ID-Talking-Points-and-Affected-Individuals-ltrhd.pdf”]

What’s the Difference between Social Justice and Social Work

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice  (SCSJ) is a nonprofit dedicated to the expansion of civil rights located in Durham, North Carolina, and I have been watching their activities for a long time. They are truly on a mission to reform the criminal justice system, protect voting rights, racial profiling, and immigration reform.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Shoshannah Sayers, the Deputy Director at SCSJ. Although mostly composed of lawyers, they also have community organizers who assist with outreach to help aid vulnerable populations. Before we get into the interview, I want to share several reasons why I believe collective collaboration with various fields is needed in order to impact today’s societal problems.

social justiceOften, I talk about my work as a social worker, but I have never really discussed what fuels my passion and desire for systematic change. When I got out of college, my first job was at a Youth Correctional facility until I was transferred to the Super Max facility which housed the worst of the worst inmates in the State of North Carolina.

It was a 24 hour lock-down supervision facility, and once I entered, I was locked-down with them too. To transfer an inmate, they had to be strapped down like Hannibal Lecter, and this is no joke. Then, I went into law enforcement as a patrol officer because I thought I could do more prevention, but this proved to be problematic for me too because of the systematic flexibility.

After I finally started working in the field in which I was educated, social work, the realization hit me that these systems are not designed to do prevention.

As a third generation teen parent, I may not have a PhD behind my name, yet I feel uniquely qualified in understanding how education, social services, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system aids oppression and retards vulnerable populations’ ability to rise above their circumstance. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is not possible without opportunities and a support system. These systems can not be reformed from within because one must either conform, leave voluntarily, or against their will.

My hope is that macro-practice social work and organizations such as SCSJ will begin to collaborate and share resources by realizing you are working to uplift the same demographics.  Here is the Q&A with SCSJ on their mission and vision for the future. Spoiler Alert…They will have their first MSW Macro intern starting in the fall.

SWH: Tell me a bit about the mission and goals of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, when it was formed, and your role there.

SS: The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, or SCSJ, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in August 2007 in Durham, North Carolina, and I was privileged to be part of it. We were a multidisciplinary group, predominantly people of color, who believed that families and communities engaged in social justice struggles need a wide variety of tools to be successful in overcoming structural racism. We saw the need for a team of lawyers, social scientists, community organizers, and media specialists to support them in their efforts to dismantle structural racism and oppression.

Most importantly, this diverse group of experts needed to be willing to listen to what each community wanted instead of “parachuting in” and telling a community how we experts thought the problem should be addressed. SCSJ was born from this deep passion for listening to communities first and foremost. We do give advice and provide multiple options, but in the end, it is the community that decides how their issue will be addressed and our commitment is to provide the highest quality tools available to execute the community’s plan of action.

I was a board member from the organization’s founding in 2007 until early 2013, when I resigned from the board in order to pursue a staff position with SCSJ. I am currently the Deputy Director, and quite honestly it’s my dream job – I get to help people and support our mission every single day. I also get to work with some of the most dedicated, passionate social justice advocates I have ever met.

SWH: What kind of tools and research do you guys use in helping to support the cases and projects that you take on?

SS: Because our staff includes a variety of experts, we are able to bring many tools to the table. We have a policy analyst/researcher who uses GIS maps to give visible representations of inequality in the system. For example, he was able to create maps showing where marijuana arrests take place and then lay that over a map of where high concentrations of African American communities were. The result is a clear visual depiction of the practice of targeting African American neighborhoods for marijuana arrests. Being able to see this on a map is so much more powerful than reading statistics in a report.

Other tools include our legal team, which engages in social justice litigation ranging from voting rights to environmental justice to criminal justice reform. And our bilingual community organizer is able to mobilize local communities on issues from immigration reform to job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

SWH: Social Workers were originally the staples in the social justice movement, and now social justice advocate positions tend to be held by attorneys. In what ways have you guys engaged macro community practice social workers or would like to engage for collaboration or partnerships?

SS: This is an exciting area that we are just beginning to explore. Our first macro social work student will begin her practicum with us in the Fall 2013 semester, and we are excited about the new tools she will bring to the table. Her work will largely be around helping formerly incarcerated people organize and gain the tools they need to successfully reintegrate into society. Based on her experiences, we plan to create a plan to more widely integrate macro social work into our efforts.

SWH: What are two of the highest advocacy priorities of the coalition at this time?

SS: Right now our two highest priorities include one litigation strategy around voting rights issues and one community organizing effort around empowering formerly incarcerated people. We have been involved in redistricting litigation since 2011, where our goal is to get over 40 North Carolina voting precincts redrawn in a more fair and equitable way. In our opinion, the current redistricting plan attempts to dilute the vote of African Americans by cramming them all into a few districts and leaving their voice unheard in many other districts. We had a trial on part of this case during the week of June 10, 2013, and we hope to hear back on the success of that effort very soon.

Our second effort is around solutions to the epidemic of unnecessary drug arrests in communities of color. The general population of North Carolina is 68.5% white, 21.5% black, and 8.4% Latino, while the state’s prison population for drug-related offenses is 28.5% white, 53.2% black, and 17.6% Latino. Communities of color are obviously disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, which makes these communities more likely to face the harsh, sometimes lifelong collateral consequences triggered by a criminal conviction. Last year we supported a bill in the general assembly that would have gotten rid of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, replacing these with civil penalties and fines that did not involve a criminal conviction. In the current political climate, this bill died in committee.

As we regroup and wait to see what the legislature will look like in the next long session, we need to find more immediate remedies. Our first community organizing effort was a successful Ban the Box pilot in Durham, NC. Ban the Box campaigns ask local government employers to remove the check-box question, “have you ever been convicted of a crime?” from their employment applications. This gives formerly incarcerated people the chance to get a job interview where they can explain, in person, the nature of their record rather than being automatically excluded without ever getting an interview. Once we were able to pass Ban the Box in Durham, it was taken up by other communities across the state and we now have 6 municipalities participating. SCSJ continues to organize communities to expand Ban the Box.

Building on this success, our new community organizing project is to make marijuana possession a “lowest law enforcement priority.” This means that the police would be seeking out people committing more serious offenses rather than seeking out marijuana possession. We plan to use the same community organizing model (and probably work with many of the same communities) for the LLEP initiative as we have used for the Ban the Box initiative. Together, this type of community organizing can make important strides in reducing the collateral consequences of incarceration while we await a General Assembly that may be more interested in these issues.

SWH: What vision does the coalition have for the future?

SS: Our vision is simple: Communities will succeed in realizing their own goals and people will know from experience that they can make a difference on issues that matter to them. I think of it like this: once a community works with SCSJ and has a victory, they will know that THEY hold the power to make real chance. They will go forward, either with our help or on their own, to make more and more positive social change.

SWH: If readers want to follow your activities and projects, how do they find you on the web?

SS: I encourage people to visit our website at www.southerncoalition.org. We are also available on Facebook at www.facebook.com/southerncoalition and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/scsj. Readers are also invited to join our LinkedIn Group at http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Southern-Coalition-Social-Justice-5021808

Daryl spent 40 months in an Alabama Prison before getting his associate’s, bachelor’s, and law degrees. Listen to his story and plea for change:

Why the Rothman Commission was Created to Save Macro Practice Social Work


Francis Perkins with FDR

Social work has traditionally been a profession that has embraced the principles of social justice, social action, and equality with individuals functioning as change agents fighting oppression and inequality in order to improve outcomes for their communities. Social Workers such as Jane Addams, Frances Perkins, Whitney Young, Congressmen Ron Dellums and Ed Towns as well as Senator Barbara A. Mikulski to name a few used their social work background to influence social policy and legislation. Organizations such as ACOSA (Association for Community Organizing and Social Administration) was created to promote the development of community organizing and macro thinking in social administrations which would later commission Dr. Jack Rothman to evaluate the current state of macro practice courses being taught in social work education. The Rothman report was completed in October 2012 and will be discussed in greater detail later in the article.

However, under today’s standard none of the individuals listed above would be entitled to call themselves a social worker under today’s standard because they do not meet the standard of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Clinical Social Workers focus on micro practice in which therapeutic treatments deal only with how an individual can develop mentally, cognitively, or behaviorally. However, macro community practices are focused on influencing the social policies that creates oppression and inequality. Macro practice social workers are change agents committed to making social change while the other is managing individual change.

For instance, Social Worker Frances Perkins was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, and she was also the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet by President Franklin D. Roosevelt whom she helped craft New Deal legislation. During her tenure as Secretary of Labor, Perkins championed the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration and its successor the Federal Works Agency, as well as the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act.   She was a major force in establishing the Social Security Act, Unemployment benefits,  and public assistance for the neediest Americans.

Perkins fought to reduce workplace accidents and helped create laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she was responsible for establishing the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard forty-hour workweek. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service. Perkins resisted having American women be drafted to serve the military in World War II so that they could enter the civilian workforce in greatly expanded numbers. Sadly, Frances Perkins with all her achievements as a change agent with graduate degrees in political science, sociology and economics would not have been considered a social worker today.

Since 1988, ACOSA has served as the official representative of social workers in a broad array of community/macro practice professions.  These include “Community organizers, activists, nonprofit administrators, community builders, policy practitioners, students and educators.  These conversations led ACOSA to commission a study to explore the concerns of its members regarding the status of community/macro practice in social work.  The report would focus on both identifying the problems with macro practice in schools of social work  while also looking for possible solutions.

The timing of this study and its outcome could not be more relevant with today’s societal issues.  During the survey process, Dr. Jack Rothman determined that many in the profession believed the over focus on clinical social work has devalued community/macro social work.  Participants were concerned about the future of community/macro practice as exhibited by the lack of macro courses for individuals interested politics, administration, public service, and grassroots organizations.  One respondent of the survey Dr. Rothman constructed pointed out that many social work faculty believed that anyone could teach macro classes—no experience or training in the field was needed.

Participants stated that ACOSA should seek to gain visibility with other professional groups and disciplines-­‐-­‐“to interface better so our community-based work is known and social work is not seen as simply casework. ”We need to relate to these groups”, they said, because “we have a common cause in macro areas and there is strength in numbers.” There were concerns that if the community/macro practitioners in social work do not establish themselves as visible players in broader areas of intervention and public policy that other fields will step in and replace us.

One of the recommendations of the Rothman Report was to develop a high-level special commission to look at community/macro social work.  One of the key issues ACOSA members expressed was the level of support received from their schools when addressing the lack of courses in the community/macro area. As a result, participants wanted to engage the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) with respect to macro practice course in social work curricula.  Additionally, participants wanted to raise the visibility of community/macro practice and advocate for a strong place for community/macro practice within social work institutions and with the public.

Since the survey was conducted, a Special Commission with 16 individuals has been formed.  One of their first tasks will be to prioritize the issues raised by participants in the survey.  They will begin to work on growing faculty with experience in community/macro practice, as well as to work with CSWE to develop curricula in response to the need for students interested in a community/macro concentration.

Also, ACOSA has developed core competencies for community/macro practitioners, and they are looking at developing research studies that reach beyond the individual application of social work principles.  The association will begin to work with organizations that are incorporating social, cultural, economic, political and environmental influences that advance social justice solutions as well as develop change agents that empower individuals at systemic levels.  Moreover, they have also begun to develop collaborative relationships with legislatures, community members, non-profit groups, and organizations that address the needs of communities on a macro scale.

For organizations and individuals interested in community practice and the work ACOSA is doing, you can contact its current Chair, Mark Homan at   (mbhoman@msn.com).

You can also view the full report below:

[gview file=”https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/ACOSA+Report-by+Dr.+Rothman.pdf”]

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