Critical race theory and social work

Authored by: Monique Constance-Huggins

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138578432
eBook ISBN: 9781351264402
Adobe ISBN:


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Advancing social and economic justice for oppressed populations is a hallmark of the social work profession. Racial minorities remain one of the most oppressed groups in the United States today. Social workers should therefore develop an understanding of the forms of oppression racial minorities face and seek ways to dismantle them. One perspective that provides a framework for understanding the oppressive experiences of racial minorities and the role of race in shaping these experiences is Critical Race Theory (CRT). CRT draws attention to the workings of race and racism in the United States. This has utility for the social work profession, which has the responsibility of addressing structural barriers such as racism that threaten the well-being of individuals. In fact, Reisch (2016) noted that the profession has drifted from its macro responsibilities and calls for it to refocus its efforts on addressing macro forces, such as racism, which lead to individual problems. CRT is a framework that can be useful in helping the profession regain its focus. This chapter introduces the concept of CRT, highlights its importance in discussing contemporary race issues, as well as discusses CRT’s fit with the mission of social work. The chapter ends with examples of how CRT can be applied to social work education, practice, research, and policy.

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