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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Q&A with Dr. Natalie Moore-Bembry
March 19, 2021

An Interview with Teaching Instructor, Assistant Director of Student Affairs and Camden Campus Coordinator Dr. Natalie Moore-Bembry  

Tell us a bit about your journey to social work.
Well, it was quite a journey. Growing up as a military brat, I have always found myself in some type of servant leadership role. Whether it was helping a new student acclimate to the base/school to giving up my own spot in sports so someone else could excel, I have always fell into a helper/advocate role. When I entered college, I was set on becoming a nurse. I changed my major every semester for about a year and a half as I had no idea what I wanted to do. Upon having lunch with one of my suitemates she asked me to walk with her to the Department of Social Work, in full disclosure I had no idea my alma mater had this major, and I had no idea what it was about. I obliged, as I waited for her to meet with her advisor, I came across a handout on the table that said 100 careers in social work. I took out a pen and circled like half of them. Seeing the flexibility of the degree sparked my interest. I spoke to my suitemate then made an appointment to speak to someone in the department about the major and just like that I declared and this time I did not change it. This journey has allowed me to seamlessly move throughout my career from developmental disabilities, to substance use, child welfare, school social work, education and training, to my current position as a faculty member and diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant.

Why is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination so important to you to observe?
This day is observed annually as a remembrance to the brave 69 souls whose lives were tragically ended as they peacefully protested against the apartheid laws in 1960. They were fighting for what they believed in - a basic human right of equality and equity. I believe it is important to observe this day as I owe it to my ancestors who came before me, those who marched, who sat, who were beaten, and eventually murdered just so that I could one day have the basic right of racial equality and equity. They carried the torch for me, and it is my responsibility to continue to carry it for and to others.  

What are some ways people can observe International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination?
There are a lot of things one could do to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, here are a few that can be done on this day - actually everyday:

  • Treat others with respect and dignity no matter one’s race or ethnicity
  • Promote and defend human rights by making a difference in your community
  • Take a stand against racism by not engaging in activities that promote it such as belittling a race, participating in racial jokes, speak up when things are inherently racist, and exercise your privilege to address issues of racism.
  • Teach your children to love and be kind to others.

What are some things the social work profession or social workers can do to eliminate racial discrimination?
Engage in true cultural humility. I have four steps one could use to begin this personalized journey:

  • Recognize how my values and beliefs support or further racial discrimination. This involves a critical self-reflection and critique into your personal, educational, and professional values- who am I, what do I do or say that perpetuates racism?
  • Reflect on the root cause of this discrimination and bias- Why do I believe what I believe? Do my values and beliefs impact others?
  • Regroup- now that you recognize it, start unpacking it. How can I change myself to reduce or eliminate racism in me?
  • React- no more calls to action, now is the time to take action. Take steps to better yourself. As Maya Angelou would say- when you know better you do better. Become cognizant of how you contribute to bias and racism, confront it, and change it. It is not enough to say I am anti-racist; you must be anti-racist.

This story was created in partnership with Rutgers School of Social Work's Committee for Inclusion, Intersectionality, Diversity, Equity, and Advancement (IIDEA) in support of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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