We recently had the opportunity to speak with MSW student Sarah Kim about her involvement with the newly-emerged Black Lives Matter Social Work Student Caucus (BLMSWSC) at Rutgers School of Social Work. BLMSWSC is a student-led group that is striving towards racial justice for the African American community through anti-racism efforts.
As a member, she voices her opinions on the variety of issues the Black community faces and proposes solutions to those problems. Extremely passionate about the need to reform the policies surrounding racism, Kim has been robustly working with her peers to create a petition to NASW. She hopes that the group's efforts come to fruition by compelling the NASW to restructure their anti-racist policies.
Can you share a bit about your background at Rutgers SSW?
I am currently in the traditional MSW program at Rutgers University–Camden. I am in the process of deciding which certificate I'd like to apply for but am on the path to pursue clinical-based work. I plan on joining organizations surrounding psychology in the future, but as of now, I am deeply involved with the BLMSWSC.
What is your role as a member of the BLMSWSC?
Our organization does not have a laid-out hierarchy, which provides everyone the equal opportunity to voice their ideas. I am an actively engaged member of the BLMSWSC, and I currently hold the role of organizing the petition to NASW alongside my peers. It is impressive to see that we newer, passionate students are able to work towards a goal that would be expected of more experienced people in the field.
Understanding BLMSWSC is newly formed, can you share some of the objectives/actions for the group? Do you have any personal hopes/goals as a member?
Some of the BLMSWSC's goals are to end the senseless killing of Black people, encourage more people to be actively anti-racist, and challenge the anti-Black thinking that has plagued this country for centuries, as well as create a school of social work BLM consortium because we want to merge our efforts with other schools of social work in the state and nation to achieve even greater things. Recently, our Rutgers SSW chapter has drafted a petition that we hope to be sent to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) by January. As a member, I want our group's objectives in writing this petition – pushing the NASW to explicitly support BLM via reconstruction of their ethical principles – to come to fruition. My personal long-term goal would be to see more community and family-based programs and the complete restructuring, or even the dismantling, of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
How can members of the SSW community support the BLMSWSC's efforts?
There are many ways in which the Rutgers SSW community can support our efforts. One of the best things you can do is come to our meetings that occur every Friday to learn more about our objectives and become actively involved with the caucus. You can also support our endeavors by signing our petition to the NASW, spreading awareness about our work, as well as encouraging others to read about the ways in which anti-Black policies exploit, discriminate, and kill Black people and how they can be eradicated. No one is free until the Black transgender woman is free.
What are your hopes for social work?
I want people to understand that social work is closely tied to policy. Social workers can voice their opinions on the changes that need to be made to the current system and suggest ways in which to improve it. Everyone involved in the field has the ability to make revolutionary strides, and we should use it to create a more equal, just community.