I just wanted to publicly thank Relando Thompkins, one of my favorite bloggers, for including me in his 13 Compelling Social Work Blogs post. Relando’s blog, Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian is a lovely blog full of inspirational and thoughtful posts about social work, society, culture, working for social justice and peace. Relando and I share a passion for improving the experience of students of color in higher education. Always thoughtful and thought-provoking, please add N.A.H. to your blog roll!
Last night after a full day of conference sessions and dinner with my colleagues, a friend and I decided to take an evening visit to the MLK memorial. This is my 6th visit to DC in the past few years and the last three times I’ve walked the MLK memorial at night. There is something quite profound about the starkness of the sculpture of MLK and the simple, clean lines of the walls of quotes.
My favorite quote from this memorial always makes me think about social work, because I believe what is expressed through these words exactly sums up what I think social work is all about.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
- MLK, Alabama, 1963
“Those who define the questions to be asked define the parameters of the answers, and it is the parameters of the questions and the ensuing answers that function as the lens by which people view reality.”
Karger, H.J. (1983). Science, research and social work: Who controls the profession? Social Work, 28, 200-205.
On my drive home from work today, I heard this story about the impact on children of witnessing domestic violence. I appreciated that this Minnesota Public Radio Youth Radio Series story was written and reported by a youth who lived the experience. So often we get the Interviewer, who relies on the “Expert Opinion” with a little bit of a personal story to provide the emotional content. For this story the opposite happened, the story was told first-hand; the reporter interviewed the Expert and reflected on the expert’s opinion and how it related to her own experience. I appreciate when the person affected is considered an authority in their own right.
I also appreciate that Ms. McMurray chose to interview an expert I know and respect, my advisor Jeff Edelson, Director of the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse (MINCAVA). The story is important and Ms. McMurray did a thoughtful, and I’m sure difficult, job sharing how witnessing domestic violence as a child has impacted her life. Being a “poster child” for an issue can be a cathartic and healing endeavor; it can also be exploitative and filled with pressure. I hope that for Ms. McMurray, it was the former. I hope that when she tells her story, she is allowed to control how much she shares and to whom she shares. Young people who are asked to speak about their experiences with trauma or violence are easily exploited by adults for a “cause.” Ms. McMurray has a strong voice of her own, and I appreciate that she was willing to share it so publicly.
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald.