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Doin’ The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change Podcast

Started in 2018, Doin’ The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change features interviews with social workers, educators, activists, and others working for social change.

We amplify folks doing anti-racist, anti-oppressive, liberatory work. Racial, social, economic justice. Community-based. Powerful thinkers and action-takers. Engagement in praxis. We aim to elevate and provide counter-narratives to the dominant system. Learn together to enhance our practice.

All episodes have transcripts and are free to access. Use the search feature to look up a variety of topics ranging from community organizing to anti-oppressive mental health to policy advocacy to abolition of the family policing system (“child welfare”) to organizing to end the school-to-prison pipeline. We’ve also covered critical race theory and white supremacy in social work.

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This section of the website is still being developed.
Please go to https://dointhework.podbean.com/ to access any episodes not on here. We have over 60 episodes in total.

E66 Operation Stop CPS – Amanda Wallace, BSW
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Amanda Wallace, Founder and Executive Director of Operation Stop CPS, discusses the surveillance and regulation of families, particularly Black families, within the child protection system. Having worked in child protective services for a decade, Amanda realized the harm being inflicted on children and families, leading her to advocate for change. Operation Stop CPS intervenes to assist families affected by the system, including those who have had their children taken away, emphasizing the system’s connection to historical and present-day anti-Black racism while aiming to build a movement to end family policing through education, advocacy, and support.

E65 Liberation Health Model – Dawn Belkin Martinez, PhD, LICSW
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Dr. Dawn Belkin Martinez, Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion at Boston University School of Social Work, discusses the Liberation Health Model she co-created. Using examples, she explains how the model employs a sociopolitical framework to assess the root causes of people’s problems and offers intervention techniques for improving their lives. Dr. Martinez shares the model’s fascinating history, which originated in collaboration with patients and families in a hospital psych unit and draws inspiration from Brazilian mental health practices, radical counseling and social work, Black feminism, and Marxist theory.

E64 Liberatory Lawyering to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline – Ashleigh Washington, JD & Ruth Cusick, JD
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Ashleigh Washington and Ruth Cusick, co-founders of The Collective for Liberatory Lawyering (C4LL), discuss their work as movement lawyers to end the school-to-prison pipeline. They emphasize the need for legal strategies and organizing models to be used together to improve the material conditions for Black, Indigenous, disabled, and other marginalized students and families. They also introduce their new interdisciplinary practice approach, Barefoot Lawyering, and touch on the progress of LA Police Free Schools.

E63 Constructing a White Nation: Social Work in the Americanization Movement – Yoosun Park, MSW, PhD
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Dr. Yoosun Park talks about her article, and upcoming book, co-authored with Michael Reisch, on the Americanization movement and social work’s role in it. The Americanization movement was a national project rooted in whiteness that aimed to define American identity, viewing European immigrants as Americanizable, and Indigenous Peoples, Africans, Asians, and Mexicans, as un-Americanizable and the Other. Dr. Park explains how white supremacist beliefs from this time continue to impact social work today.

E62 Paid Social Work Internships Part 2 FED UP – Beth Wagner, Claire Mancuso, Natalia Norzagaray & Parham Daghighi
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The episode features MSW students from the University of Texas – Austin who are part of FED UP, a group advocating for paid social work internships. They discuss the group’s creation, strategies, and principles, as well as the challenges and negative impacts of unpaid internships on student well-being. The episode also explores issues of equity in the social work profession and how it is devalued in society.

E61 Paid Social Work Internships Part 1 Payment 4 Placements – Matt Dargay, MSW & Arie Davey, LLMSW
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In this podcast episode, the co-founders of Payment 4 Placements discuss the issue of social work students being required to complete unpaid internships and the costs they incur. The group advocates for paid internships and has chapters across the U.S. The guests also share their experiences in organizing and offer strategies for addressing this issue and changing the current system.

E60 Understanding Antisemitism and Racism – Kohenet Shoshana A Brown, LMSW & Autumn Leonard
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Shoshana Brown and Autumn Leonard of the Black Jewish Liberation Collective and Jews for Economic & Racial Justice discuss antisemitism and racism as features of white supremacy. The guests share their work organizing to disrupt antisemitism and racism and provide a communal space for Black Jews. We need to address these hard topics and work towards building community to bring about change.

E59 Creating Culturally Safe Spaces for Indigenous Populations – Turquoise Skye Devereaux, MSW
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Turquoise Skye Devereaux, a member of the Salish and Blackfeet Tribes of Montana, discusses the harm caused by colonial systems and systemic racism and oppression in education and social work. She explains how cultural competency is a Westernized, colonial myth that does more harm than good, and highlights the differences between Indigenous and Westernized worldviews and ways of living. Turquoise provides examples of ways to create culturally safe spaces for Indigenous populations, drawing on her own experiences and interviews with Indigenous students, and emphasizes the importance of safety, equity, and inclusion.

E58 Organizing to End the School-to-Prison Pipeline – Jewel Patterson, MS; Edgar Ibarria; Nicole Bates, JD
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Jewel Patterson, Edgar Ibarria, and Nicole Bates discuss their work organizing to end the school-to-prison pipeline in California, which disproportionately affects Black and Brown students and families. They explain how criminalization functions in schools, the legal issues and strategies they use to challenge and change legislation, and their success in defunding school police 25 million dollars and reinvesting that money in a Black student achievement program. They also discuss their efforts to reimagine safety in schools and the importance of coalitions and movement lawyering in building power to create change.

E57 Race Doesn’t Exist Without Racism – Deadric Williams, PhD
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Dr. Deadric Williams, Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, discusses the relationship between racism, race, and racialization. He explains that the concept of race emerges from racism, not the other way around, and that racism combines ideology and structural elements like laws and policies to maintain hierarchical dominance of White individuals while oppressing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Dr. Williams highlights how the classification of humans by race served to justify colonialism and slavery, benefiting White people both materially and psychologically. He emphasizes the need for a clear understanding of this process to effectively address racial inequities in the United States.

E56 Addressing Racism in Social Work Licensing #StopASWB – Charla Yearwood, LCSW; Cassandra Walker, LCSW, CCTP; Alan Dettlaff, PhD, MSW
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Charla Yearwood, Cassandra Walker, and Dr. Alan Dettlaff discuss the recent report from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) where they finally released their social work licensing exam pass rates based on race and age. The report shows large differences in pass rates by race and provides clear data for what many of us have known is a racially biased exam that significantly discriminates against Black, Latinx, and Indigenous social workers. There have been many questions about what makes this exam racist, and ASWB and others have placed the blame elsewhere. We get into all of that in our discussion.

E49 Stop Whitewashing Social Work History: Tell the Truth – Kelechi Wright, LCPC & Kortney Carr, LCSW
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Kelechi Wright, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas in the School of Social Welfare, and Kortney Carr, a third-year doctoral student at the University of Kansas and a Professor of Practice in the School of Social Welfare, talk about how social work history – what gets to be told as history, who tells it, what gets valued, what’s considered evidence, what’s considered professional, who is considered a social worker – all of it – is whitewashed. Kelechi and Kortney explain that we need to tell an accurate history that honors the legacy of Black social work and social welfare leaders and teach about the critical theories, knowledge, approaches, practices – work – that they and others have done – and continue to do – to impact communities and the social work profession.

E48 Decolonizing Mental Health & Supporting Indigenous Women – Tyra Wanatee-Flores, BSW
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Tyra Wanatee-Flores, a Two-Spirited descendant of the Sac and Fox Nation in Iowa, discusses her multifaceted role as an advanced standing MSW student, photographer, and activist. She addresses the challenges of Eurocentric social work education and mental health interventions for Indigenous communities, emphasizing the importance of incorporating Indigenous approaches that honor community, tradition, and culture. Tyra highlights her involvement in addressing youth suicide and substance abuse with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, her participation in the Buder Scholars program focusing on decolonizing approaches, and her work with Meskwaki RISE supporting Indigenous survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as advocating for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement.

E44 Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive Mental Health – Hayden Dawes, LCSW
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Hayden Dawes, a PhD student and clinical social worker in Greensboro, North Carolina, discusses his work on mental health disparities, cultural humility, and anti-racism training for clinicians, highlighting the connection to policy. He emphasizes the importance of addressing race, racism, and systemic oppression within clinical settings and shares his structural analysis-based approach to teaching about racism and privilege. He shares how he looks at how internalized oppression affects him, particularly negative internalized messages, and how he has done that work clinically with clients – who are primarily people of color and LGBTQIA – to identify when “the oppressor is speaking.” Hayden stresses the need for White therapists to engage in conversations about race with White clients and advocates for a broader discussion on racism beyond Black and Brown communities, while also sharing his personal journey into this field.

E42 Transformational Healing & Critical Race Theory in Practice – Nicole Vazquez, MSW, MPP & Susana Victoria Parras, LCSW, PPSC
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Nicole Vazquez, critical race scholar and principal at Vazquez Consulting, and Susana Victoria Parras, justice/healing based therapist in South Central, Los Angeles, California, and former school social worker, explore the intersection of CRT and social work practice. They delve into the micro-macro divide challenged by CRT, emphasizing its framework for understanding positionality, power dynamics, and its application in social work. The conversation addresses the critique of liberalism, the impact of professionalism in social work, and the transformative potential of healing justice work, offering a deeply transformative and uplifting message.

E38 Black Power, Black Liberation & Social Work: Back to the Beginning of the National Association of Black Social Workers – Founder Garland Jaggers, MSW & Archivist Denise McLane-Davison, PhD, AM
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Mr. Garland Jaggers and Dr. Denise McLane-Davison discuss their involvement with the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), highlighting its inception in 1968, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., due to concerns of racism within the predominantly white National Association of Social Workers. They delve into NABSW’s founding principles, which centered on addressing systemic racism and promoting Black expertise in social work research and practice, including the development of their own code of ethics and stances on issues like transracial adoption. Both speakers emphasize the importance of prioritizing the Black family and community, employing strengths-based approaches, and their unwavering dedication to advancing Black liberation within the social work profession and beyond.

E8 Black Disability, Disabled Women of Color, Empowerment, Advocacy – Vilissa Thompson, LMSW
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Vilissa Thompson, founder and leader of Ramp Your Voice!, a self-advocacy and empowerment movement for people with disabilities, discusses her work to educate social workers, educators, and medical professionals about being helpful, rather than harmful, to disabled people, especially disabled women of color. Vilissa explains how the intersection of racism and ableism negatively impact this population and shares steps that people can take to educate themselves to be allies and advocates for change. She also talks about creating the hashtag #DisabilityTooWhite and the Black Disabled Woman Syllabus.

E5 Drug Policy and Decriminalization, Racially Biased Policing, Coalition Building – Kassandra Frederique, MSW
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Kassandra Frederique, New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, talks about her work to decriminalize drugs, challenge racially biased policing, and build coalitions. Kassandra emphasizes how to meet people where they are at on these issues and remain accountable to those most affected.