The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Archive for the tag “racism”

Can white understand colour?

This US teacher gets it – and it works for social work and other caring professions too – read what she has to say HERE.


Swarms of racists

Those who know me will know I’ve been more active on Facebook recently than on the blog.  But it’s time to string a few more words together on a very important subject.


I don’t think anybody wants to see mass migration (albeit perhaps for different reasons, bear with me).  I don’t want to see a massive influx of immigrants coming to Britain or Europe. But they are. I would rather they were able to live in their own countries. Because the truth is that most of them would rather live in their own countries. And when it is safe to do so many of them return to their homelands. Because that is what they would prefer. But it’s not that simple.

We as a society, as communities and as individuals, whatever our circumstances, need to recognise that if people are uprooting their entire lives, leaving everything they know and love, for a dangerous journey to a strange place, then they are doing it for a very good reason.

Generically speaking, “we”, in the destination countries, have raped, pillaged and bombed their homelands until they are no longer safe or viable places to live. Where we’ve not done that we’ve promoted consumerism and a vicious form of capitalism that has broken down communities into individuals fighting each other for resources. If we have any compassion left in our souls we should be recognising that the plight of asylum seekers (aka immigrants) is a symptom of the global world we are creating and that we as humanity need to be responding to that to make this world a safer place for all of us to live. NIMBYism is not going to help. The back yard is getting smaller. As Niemoller is famously quoted as saying: when it comes to our turn who will be left to fight for us?

I’m far from alone in my concerns.  In one report the Guardian recently commented on a growth in Naziism related to the rising numbers of asylum seekers being accepted into the country.  (Sorry, don’t have a link for this any more.)

Laurie Penny, writing in the New Statesman, has observed the rise in racism since returning from a year of travels.

Penny likens our situation to the old legend of boiling frogs – the frog starts out in a saucepan of cold water and doesn’t notice the increasing temperature as it sits on the fire slowly being boiled alive.  She’s right. Starting with media coverage of UKIPs stance on immigration, the recent UK elections opened a floodgate of simmering racism such that there is no shame in sharing bigoted, dehumanising views in person, online, or through the media.  In one experiment adapted Nazi propaganda posted to the Daily Mail online received way more upvotes than downvotes, suggesting (blind) support for some quite worrying views.  From online (pre-moderated) comments from the public I have seen there are certainly some deeply entrenched fears that all migrants are heading for Britain (not true), that it will lead to the collapse of the country, strong disbelief in the government’s desire or ability to protect the country, a desire to close our borders, and a consistent theme that most migrants are not genuine, only coming for our generous benefits (they’re not) and NHS and all migrants should be sent back to where they came from.

I have personally had two conversations in recent days, with complete strangers who have come across as very angry in their tirades about ‘immigrants’: one harking back to the ‘coloureds in the 50s’, another picking up on David Cameron’s recent unfortunate terminology in complaining of them ‘swarming over here’.

Whilst you “can’t please all the people all the time”, and there will instead of xenophobiaalways be opposition, our leaders need to learn the advice of Ahtisaari and show true leadership.  They know the power of their ill-spoken words.  Talk of using electric fences, dogs and the army to keep swarms of migrants at bay reinforces negative images, builds fear and increases community tensions and the risk of violence.

We have to ask ourselves the question: what’s in it for them, the politicians?  By distracting public opinion and stoking strong feelings on to migration, what important and unpalatable actions are being performed by governments that could have far more reaching consequences for our local and global communities and even the world we live in?

Thankfully there are communities who are welcoming and supportive of migrants.  Although too few have their voices heard in the wider media scramble for negative news, they are not alone.

There is a crisis.  A humanitarian crisis.  Digging in the trenches and lining up the gun sights is not going to make it go away.


Confronting racism face to face from the BBC

Morals, Emotions & Politics

Reported on MNT, and originally reported in Political Psychology, researchers have shown that the emotional arousal of men after watching part Sylvester Stallone’s “Cliffhanger” led to stronger anti-immigration attitudes, compared to two control groups who watched tranquil or non-anxiety inducing videos.  The researchers were aiming to test the observation and belief that “induced anxiety could ‘carry over’ to impact political beliefs, potentially triggering prejudice toward groups such as immigrants. When anxiety levels are high voters are more likely to recall negative experiences with immigrants and interpret ambiguous information in a more negative and threatening manner.”

A lesson for us all, not just the politicians!!

Fitness to Practice?

A female social worker struck off for faking conversations with a vulnerable child during an assessment had been qualified for 17 years.  Included in the hcpc report is the statement that she seemed not to realise the potential consequences of her actions for the child and his family.

A male social worker struck off for having an inappropriate sexual relationship with, and supplying drugs to, a service user, to whom he had been allocated as the social worker, had been qualified for 36 years with no known previous concerns regarding practice.  A lack of remorse and insight into the impact of his actions was a significant factor in his being struck off the register.

An experienced social worker who had undertaken diversity training made a shockingly racist comment to a Zimbabwean colleague.  With no known previous concerns regarding practice she claimed the comment was meant to be lighthearted, when in fact other staff also found it offensive.  The social worker who made the offensive comment “has shown no meaningful insight or remorse, nor has she indicated that she appreciates the seriousness of her conduct” according to the hcpc.

A male residential social worker responded with excessive physical actions against a child, shocking his colleagues and despite de-escalation training.  His claim of self-defence was not accepted and he too was considered to have refused to acknowledge the seriousness of his action.

A male social worker had sexually harassed female staff in at least two different workplaces.  He had not shown any remorse or apologies for his actions.

Each case is concerning in its own right.  However, what is worrying about these cases as a whole, is that out of five at least three involved experienced social workers, and all showed no apparent awareness of, or willingness to acknowledge, the inappropriateness of their actions.  In at least two cases the worker had an apparently unblemished record; in only one case was it noted that there had been previous similar behaviour.


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