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Article

Larry E. Davis, John M. Wallace Jr., and Trina R. Williams Shanks

African Americans have been a part of the nation's history for nearly four hundred years. Although their history includes the forced imposition of chattel slavery, the strict enforcement of legal segregation, and a tenuous acceptance as equal citizens, African Americans have been, and continue to be, major contributors, creators, investors, and builders of America. In this article we summarize briefly the history of African Americans, we examine racial disparities in key indicators of social, mental, and physical well-being, and we highlight persistent strengths that can be built upon and areas that provide hope for the future. The challenge for social work is to simultaneously celebrate the historical successes and ongoing contributions of African Americans to this country while also recognizing the vestiges of structural racism and fighting for greater civil rights and social and economic justice.

Article

Rowena Fong, Ruth G. McRoy, and Alan Dettlaff

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.

Article

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.

Article

Priscilla Gibson

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.

Article

Joshua Kirven

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.

Article

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.

Article

Karen Smith Rotabi

Howard W. Odum (1884–1954) was the founding dean of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Public Welfare.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

Brenda F. McGadney

Rosa Parks (1913–2005) was best known as an African American civil rights activist, who in 1955 refused to give up her seat to a White man on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, leading to conviction for civil disobedience and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The 112th U.S. Congress celebrated her 100th birthday as National Day of Courage with a resolution recognizing her as the “first lady of civil rights” and the “mother of freedom movement” and commemorates her “legacy to inspire all people of the United States to stand up for freedom and the principles of the Constitution.”

Article

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.

Article

Racism  

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.

Article

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.

Article

King Davis and Hyejin Jung

This entry defines the term disparity as measurable differences between groups on a number of indices. The term disparity originated in France in the 16th century and has been used as a barometer of progress in social justice and equality in the United States. When disparity is examined across the U.S. population over a longitudinal period, it is clear that disparities continue to exist and that they distinguish groups by race, income, class, and gender. African American and Native American populations have historically ranked higher in prevalence and incidence than other populations on most indices of disparity. However, the level of adverse health and social conditions has declined for all population groups in the United States. The disparity indices include mortality rates, poor health, disease, absence of health insurance, accidents, and poverty. Max Weber’s theory of community formation is used in this entry to explain the continued presence and distribution of disparities. Other theoretical frameworks are utilized to buttress the major hypothesis by Weber that social ills tend to result from structural faults rather than individual choice. Social workers are seen as being in a position to challenge the structural origins of disparities as part of their professional commitment to social justice.