Through the efforts of individuals and groups, America has made significant strides in affording civil rights to a majority of its citizens. It has not, however, eliminated individual, institutional, and structural discrimination, and in fact, some efforts to eliminate inequality for certain members of society have elicited subtly coded forms of discrimination. These subtle forms are referred to as microaggressions. This entry defines microaggressions and explores the existing literature concerning its taxonomy. We discuss the impact of microaggression on individuals and groups (for example, social, cognitive, political, and economic) based on race, and extend this discussion to gender, sexual orientation, class, disability, and religion groups. The article makes use of examples within American history, such as the presidency of Barak Obama, voter ID laws and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Accumulated recommendations on best practices for countering microaggressions on the micro-, mezzo- and macro- level of social work practice are presented.
Laurens G. Van Sluytman
Darcey H. Merritt, Rachel D. Ludeke, Krushika Uday Patankar, Muthoni Mahachi, and Morgan Buck
Racial justice remains a hot-button issue in the United States, particularly in the aftermath of several high-profile murders of Black and Brown people due to state-sanctioned violence. There is an increased need to explore how racial injustice remains prevalent intentionally and comprehensively in all aspects of micro, mezzo, and macro social work practice. Racism is pervasive in the social work profession, and it is therefore important to address the ways in which it underpins established human service systems (e.g., public assistance and child welfare).
Gina Miranda Samuels
Although the year 2000 marked the first time U.S. citizens were allowed to report more than one race in the Census, multiraciality and multiethnicity are certainly not new in the United States or globally. The history of multiracial America is inextricably linked to its history of immigration, slavery, racism, and the very construction of single-race identities as master statuses during colonialism. Who is multiracial, as well as the idea that such an identity or population can or should exist, is highly complex and has shifted along with societal attitudes and laws governing race identity options and the sanctioning of multiracial families through marriage and adoption. The understanding in the early 21st century of this growing multiracial population is mired in this history, but also idealized as proof of a new and possibly “postrace” America. To examine multiraciality, this entry begins by defining root concepts including race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture to then examine and define multiraciality. This entry will include a brief historical discussion of multiraciality in the United States and will also explore demographic and health trends using such statistics as are available and examine identified risks, disparities, strengths, and resiliencies among this diverse population. Effective and ethical social-work practices with multiracial persons require expansion beyond the black–white dichotomy and monocentric paradigm of race to consider both strengths and vulnerabilities navigated by the increasing number of persons and families who identify as multiracial and multiethnic. Approaches to social work that promote multiracially attuned practices and engagement of the diverse resources for various communities of multiracial persons and families conclude this entry.
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.