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BASW’s voices for Black History Month…and beyond

Patriche Bentick - member of the Black and Ethnic Minority Professionals Symposium

Black history month is a time for people to remember, acknowledge and celebrate the major contributions that we have played in the development of modern society.

It gives Black people confidence to discuss topics seen as controversial whilst creating a space to focus on what areas need further development.

We live in a multicultural society, however Black people are not recognised for the positive impact they have had in progressing to this point.

Our impact in areas such as interventions, quality skilled work, policy, legislation, alongside ancient kingdoms and practices are regularly forgotten, or the narrative is appropriated.

Although it is thought that Social Work practice is reflective, non-discriminatory and anti-oppressive; unconscious bias alongside complexities around ignorance play a huge part in maintaining a ‘glass ceiling’.

Higher tiered management structures are dominated by white male professionals who often lack understanding of the complexities surrounding the professional/personal identities of Black Social Workers and/or the families within the communities.

Historical, global and current systemic racism/prejudices have impacted confidence and self-esteem leading to feelings of not being good enough. This leads to faster burn out, exhaustion and inability to fight.

Feelings of being uncomfortable/white privilege supersede having these open discussions or taking action to develop committed Black Social Workers.

Priority needs to be given to developing Black Social Workers in leading roles so they can implement life changing practice, guidance and legislation.

More acknowledgement of good Black Social Workers to develop confidence and their skillset is needed.

Furthermore, it would be beautiful to see more Black male Social Workers being showcased and Black Social Workers advocating for their colleagues and the communities without the fear of expression affecting their carer negatively.

Patriche Bentick