Racial disproportionality and disparities are problems affecting children and families of color in the child welfare, juvenile justice, education, mental-health, and health-care systems. The term “disproportionality” refers to the ratio between the percentage of persons in a particular racial or ethnic group at a particular decision point or experiencing an event (maltreatment, incarceration, school dropouts) compared to the percentage of the same racial or ethnic group in the overall population. This ratio could suggest underrepresentation, proportional representation, or overrepresentation of a population experiencing a particular phenomenon. The term “disparity” refers to “unequal treatment or outcomes for different groups in the same circumstance or at the same decision point.” A close examination of disproportionality and disparities brings attention to differences in outcomes, often by racial group, and by social service systems. It is necessary to examine the reasons for these differences in outcomes and to be sure that culturally competent practices are upheld.
Disproportionality and Disparities
Rowena Fong, Ruth G. McRoy, and Alan Dettlaff
Sadye L. M. Logan
Esau Jenkins (1910–1972) was a grass-roots activist who used a community-based approach to aid the oppressed and impoverished African American families and children in the low country regions of South Carolina.
Martin, Elmer P.
Elmer Perry Martin (1946–2001) is prominent for his contributions on African Americans families, history, and culture both in the academy as a professor and co-author and with the general public as the creator/founder/manager along with his wife, Dr. Joanna Martin, of the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Inc.
Jeff, Morris F. X., Jr.
Dr. Morris F. X. Jeff Jr. (1938–2003) was an Afrocentric-centered social worker, practitioner, activist, advocate, trainer, and consultant who spoke with clarity on urban problems and solutions using an African-centered paradigm.
Davis, Larry E.
Shaun M. Eack and Valire C. Copeland
Larry E. Davis was a pioneering scholar and educator in social work and psychology who dedicated his professional life to understanding the social dynamics of race and their impact on the lives of racial and ethnic minorities. An ardent author and teacher, Dr. Davis published extensively on social work practice with multiracial groups and approaches to support African American families, and consistently strived to educate the field on the complexities of culturally competent social work practice. In 2002, he started the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems, the first center of its kind in any school of social work, which became internationally recognized as a leading social science research center and a beacon for scholarship on race. Due to his considerable accomplishments, Dr. Davis was the first to be recognized with lifetime achievement awards in both social work education and research by the Council on Social Work Education and Society for Social Work and Research.
Culturally Responsive Practice With African American Youth
Husain Lateef and Dominique Horton
Although scholars in the applied social sciences and allied professions have paid increasing attention to many of the disparities experienced by African American youth, very few efforts have been made to increase awareness of how culturally responsive practice can inform prevention and intervention efforts with this population. In response, the authors present an overview of cultural factors among African American youth, including information on their ancestral heritage, language, and known findings from culturally responsive interventions, to establish guideposts for next steps required to advance practice within social work. Subsequently, the authors conclude by sharing implications for continued research with communities and preliminary steps for social work practitioners that work with African American youth and their families.
Afrocentric Social Work
Colita Nichols Fairfax
Afrocentric social work is a concept and praxis approach applicable in environmental and global settings where people of African descent are located. Using concept analysis as a methodology, this article explores Afrocentric social work theory and its applicability in the social sciences. Concept analysis is an examination of a thought or theory with the intent to create a more concise operational definition. Afrocentric social work not only is applicable to racial and social justice issues, it also is applicable to intellectual and philosophical discourses of social work, which has largely ignored Afrocentric social work as a viable theory and philosophical canon. The Walker and Avant method of concept analysis is employed in this article to provide a systemic discourse to define the attributes of Afrocentric social work, as well as its structural elements that scholars and practitioners utilize as a theory and praxis application.
Out-of-School Suspension of African American Youth and Progressive Education Alternatives
Wendy Haight and Priscilla Gibson
Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.
African American Social Welfare History
This article discusses the African American social welfare system that began to develop during the early 20th century. This social welfare system, designed by African Americans to serve African Americans, addressed needs that were not being met by any other formal social services while the nascent social work profession was emerging. The myriad programs included settlement houses, boys and girls programs, training schools, and day nurseries. The women’s club movement played a critical role in the development of this social welfare system and provided much of the impetus for change and inclusion. Through formal organizations, including the National Urban League (NUL) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and an array of clubs and social groups, social services were extended to urban and rural communities throughout the United States.
African Americans Overview
Larry E. Davis, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and John M. Wallace Jr.
Since their arrival 400 years ago, African Americans have endured 246 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of apartheid followed by decades of systematic racial discrimination and injustice. Nevertheless, Africans and their descendants have contributed significantly to the building of the United States and have greatly influenced every sector of society. To document this tenuous position, we summarize key demographic, economic, and social trends as well as the potential role of macro social work to improve outcomes. Present-day racism in the United States is persistent and frequently underestimated, so combatting anti-Blackness and White supremacy at structural and societal levels is essential.
Mentoring and Coaching
Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Julie Orme
This article provides a synopsis of mentoring and coaching, with a focus on the importance of mentoring in academia. Although there are considerable differences between mentoring and coaching, both of these processes share similar goals and foundational elements. Over time, the traditional concept of mentoring has evolved to become more relational in nature. Scholars have noted the benefits of this contemporary type of relational mentoring, as well as the challenges of mentoring with select populations (i.e., women and people of color) who have historically experienced barriers to receiving appropriate mentorship. Theoretical frameworks and practice recommendations are presented for understanding and developing mentoring relationships. By using a relational and holistic approach to mentoring, social work educators and practitioners can help to advance the next generation of leadership within the profession.
Odum, Howard W.
Karen Smith Rotabi
Howard W. Odum (1884–1954) was the founding dean of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Public Welfare.
Black Lives Matter
Mildred Delozia and Charles M. S. Birore
Black Lives Matter (BLM), which led to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLMM), has been described as a movement with a global following. The movement is aligned with the social work profession’s purpose and values. The social work profession is a human rights profession and has a history of involvement with movements, beginning with the settlement house movement in the late 19th century. The BLMM frames its narrative based on human rights and espouses an agenda that calls out injustice in all facets of social justice. Therefore, a central aim is to understand the BLMM from multiple perspectives. Definitions, theoretical perspectives, and types of social movements are presented, and then the framework of social movements is used to understand the BLMM. Finally, the BLMM is examined in relation to historical social movements, advocacy organizations, and criminal justice reform.
Brenda F. McGadney
Benjamin L. Hooks (1925–2010) was best known as an African American civil rights leader, lawyer, Baptist minister, gifted orator, and a businessman (co-founder of a bank and chicken fast-food franchises), who was executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (1977–1992). Hooks was appointed by President Richard Nixon as one of five commissioners (first African American) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1972, commencing in 1973 with confirmation by the Senate.
Egypt, Ophelia Settle
Carrie J. Smith
Ophelia Settle Egypt (1903–1984) was a pioneer in family planning among economically disadvantaged African Americans. She is best known for her work in planned parenthood through her efforts at the Parklands Planned Parenthood Clinic in Washington, DC, from 1956 to 1968.
Karen D. Stout
Thurgood Marshall (1908–1993), the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is credited with ending American apartheid. He fought for the civil and equal rights for ethnic minorities, women's rights, prisoners' rights, and was opposed to the death penalty.
The National Association of Black Social Workers
Founded in May 1968, in San Francisco, California, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) is the premiere organization of Black social service and social welfare workers devoted exclusively to the development of professional social workers in the Black community. Committed to a philosophy of self-help and self-determination, the mission of the NABSW is to prepare workers to assume responsibility as advocates of social change and social justice, and to actively engage in the fight for racial equality and social liberation for the African ascendant community. The organization is open to all members of the African diasporic community, regardless of educational achievement, occupational status or political, religious, institutional or social affiliations.
Selena T. Rodgers
Racism is pervasive, endemic, and historically rooted in systematic assumptions inherent in superiority based on race and requires the critical attention of all social workers. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has made strides in tackling racism as demonstrated by the social worker and civil rights activist Whitney Young Jr. (1921–1971), other pioneers, and more recently, the NASW zero-tolerance racism policy. Undergirded in empirical discussion, this article leads with the etymology of race(ism), followed by a discussion of Racial Formation Theory and Critical Race Theory. The article gives a historical sketch of racism, followed by examples of its contemporary indicators—throughout social institutions—in the United States. Racism is pervasive and impinges on micro-level and macro-level systems. It is, therefore, beyond the scope of this article to address how racism impacts each group in America. Social work scholars and other experts have provided extensive empirical documentation about the historical trauma and sufferings of other racial groups (e.g., Native Americans/Native peoples/American Indians, Mexican Americans) discussed elsewhere. Specifically, the racism endured by blacks in America is the emphasis of this article. Themes of “colorism” and historical trauma are provided to contextualize advances in national reform and encourage a broader conversation about the racism that blacks experience globally. In addition, this article highlights strides by the social work profession to eradicate racism. Implications for social work are discussed.
Life Span: Parenting
Daphne S. Cain and Terri Combs-Orme
Parenting is a key part of social-work practice and research, particularly in the child welfare arena. Despite significant research and theory in other disciplines about the importance of the parent–child relationship to the quality of parenting, the focus of social work appears to lie in narrow goals such as the prevention of abuse and child placement and to employ interventions that lack significant evidence of effectiveness. This entry summarizes social-work practice and research in the area of parenting and reviews the state of the art overall in research and knowledge about parenting.
Black Women and Maternal Death
Valire C. Copeland and Betty Braxter
The upward trend in the number of Black maternal deaths between 2005 and 2020 warrants an in-depth assessment of risk factors associated with the increased maternal mortality rate in the United States for this subgroup population. The risk factors are multifactorial and, in part, have been organized into several categories: demographics, social determinants of health (SDOH), medical conditions, and the quality-of-care interventions by health systems providers. In addition, the overall trends, causes, and solutions to decrease maternal mortality current rates reflect the social inequities in our society. Black maternal deaths have been rising in recent years due to complex causes which stem from structural and systemic health inequities. In part, unvaccinated pregnant women were at greater risk of severe illness and hospitalization and even death if they were diagnosed with COVID-19. While Black Americans were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the disparities in maternal mortality predate and extend beyond the pandemic. In part, and together, the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths include cardiovascular disease, other medical conditions and infections, cardiomyopathy, blood clots in the lung hypertensive disorders related to pregnancy, adverse pregnancy outcomes, racial bias of providers, and perceived racial discrimination from patients. In addition, an overview of nonmedical factors referred to as SDOH, which intersect with health status outcomes, will be discussed. An overview of Black women’s maternal mortality and morbidity, factors contributing to poor maternal health status outcomes, and intervention strategies at the provider, health systems, and policy levels are provided. Social workers in health care systems function as health care providers and clinicians. Therefore, contributing medical and nonmedical issues are factors to consider for a holistic perspective during engagement, assessment, and intervention. The terms Black women and Black birthing persons are used interchangeably.