Steadfast in Combating Racism and Sexism
On October 19, 2020, NYU Silver Dean Neil B. Guterman and Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Richeleen A. Dashield sent the following message to NYU Silver students, alumni, faculty, and staff:
Dear Members of the NYU Silver Community,
We are faced every day in our profession, in our classrooms and fieldwork, and in our daily lives with opportunities to overcome bias, racism, and other forms of hatred. Working to eliminate these forces and their pernicious effects is one of our cardinal values and responsibilities as social workers, whether we encounter such biases interpersonally or more broadly within our society.
Recently, the White House issued an Executive Order on race and sex stereotyping, which targets diversity trainings around the nation, and seeks to shut down efforts at building understanding, developing self-awareness, and taking action. The Executive Order aims to stifle and restrict training about racism, sexism, and the power of social contexts, statuses, and structures that have been shown across myriad empirical studies to strongly shape the life opportunities, barriers, and experiences of those with marginalized backgrounds. NYU Silver’s anti-racism agenda is one natural expression of our profession’s long mandate to dismantle such structures and combat all forms of bias and exclusion, and to elevate the worth, life opportunities, well-being and dignity of every individual. Although the enforceability and implications of the Executive Order are unclear at this time, its clear intent is to limit the learning and teaching about marginalized experiences and social inequity, and therefore it implicitly takes aim at social work education.
We therefore stand firmly in solidarity with the statement of opposition from the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the nation's leading body of distinguished social work scholars and practitioners, and many other professional education associations around the nation have followed suit (for example, see the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Public Health Association). NYU’s Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation also issued guidance for the NYU community.
As we await further clarification on the implications of this Executive Order, we wanted to let you know that the School is continuing ahead with our Action Against Racism agenda and its initiatives and we remain steadfast in advancing their progress.
As a school of social work, our commitment to social justice is grounded not only in theory, but also in praxis, involving both reflection and action for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Our individual and collective leadership requires us to enact our social work core values, advocate for marginalized groups, and work to remove barriers that cause harm. We applaud the many recent efforts by the NYU Silver community to advance social justice, including the work of Silver staff, faculty, and students to form a “Silver Votes” campaign as part of NYU Votes, as well as Associate Professor Darcey Merritt’s advocacy assignment that inspired her policy students to craft online petitions on a range of social justice topics.
These important initiatives are just two examples that serve as a reminder of the challenges and opportunities for each of us to act as change agents at Silver and in our communities when it is needed most. Thank you all for your engagement and participation now and moving forward.
Neil B. Guterman
Dean and Paulette Goddard Professor
Richeleen A. Dashield
Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion