Statement of New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial
New York, NY
July 16, 2013
NASW-NYC joins with hundreds of thousands of Americans who have expressed outrage and grief in the wake of George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict on July 13, 2013. NASW-NYC represents thousands of professional social workers throughout the five boroughs working in public and non-profit organizations and in private practice.
The senseless killing of Trayvon Martin is spurring a significant national dialogue about structural racism. It is an issue that deeply affects us as social workers and the clients and communities with whom we work. Our Chapter seeks to make clear the following points:
We mourn for the family of Trayvon Martin, who has suffered an unfathomable loss. We recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but a manifestation of the structural racism embedded in the systems and institutions we encounter in our work.
Every day, our professionals and our clients confront the painful realities of structural racism in interactions across all systems, including public education, health and mental health care, criminal justice, child welfare, employment and unemployment, and elder care.
Structural racism, more than individual acts of hatred and bigotry, destroys the collective humanity of all Americans. It engenders fear and stifles potential-furthermore, it harms the mental health of our nation. It causes ongoing trauma in communities of color and is damaging to the white community.
Social workers are uniquely positioned to take organized, collective action to undo structural racism through community building, facilitation of meaningful cross-racial dialogues, advocating for changes to discriminatory laws, and encouraging our clients to empower themselves in order to lead or join all of these efforts.
We stand in solidarity with the communities we serve in order to create a future of equity, justice, and hope, as our professional values and ethics demand.
Martha Adams Sullivan, DSW Robert Schachter, DSW, LMSW
President Executive Director