The tragic death of George Floyd represents a pivotal point in our fight against racism. The tragedy of his final words resonates across the country, and adding his name to the list of recent acts of violence against individuals belonging to oppressed and disenfranchised populations, set in the context of the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus pandemic on these same populations, presents an opportunity for effecting real change in addressing institutional racism perpetrated against citizens of our country.

As Social Workers, we are bound by professional ethical principles that value social justice and the dignity and worth of all people. As educators, we are equally bound to model these values to our students. In both of these roles, we feel that it is imperative to not be silent, but to add our voice to those striving for social change. We will not be silent.

Racism in any form contradicts our professional code of ethics, and we collectively and adamantly oppose the recent acts of violence targeted toward people of color. Our Department stands firm in its commitment to and advocacy for equality for all people. We are committed to understanding and acknowledging the effects of privilege and oppression, and we will actively continue our work—both in the classroom and in our personal lives—to create a more equitable world. Guided by social work ethical principles, we support the array of non-violent advocacy efforts currently occurring across the country that seek to elucidate social and economic injustices.

Watching in silence is unacceptable. Societal transformation is imperative, and we must exhaust all options in ending systemic racism, minimizing health disparities, and eliminating racial violence, once and for all. These are troubling times, but, together, we are the change.

Nowhere is this more important than in the State of Alabama. Our history of racism and violence against minorities date back to the beginning of the country. But, Birmingham is also the location of some of the most important battles for civil rights. The fight has been here, and we agree with the Mayor of Birmingham who emphasized his support for civil disobedience and the President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham who emphasized the need to stand in solidarity with minorities in our community.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Faculty and Staff of the Department of Social Work, June 11, 2020