Environmental racism is real. Neighborhoods housing people of color and people of lower socio-economic status are riddled with landfills, manufacturing plants, hazardous waste sites, and utilities plants that increase their exposure to pollution and risk of detrimental health conditions. Environmental racism also includes a lack of preventive policies, consistent oversight, and accountability.
I LOVE being outdoors in nature and the benefits to our mental, physical, and emotional health are scientifically documented. I would rather work on the grass under a tree than in an office of cubicles, so I am excited that NASW is focusing on environmental social work.
I shared a post on LinkedIn about NASW’s Social Work Talks Podcast covering environmental issues and a ‘Holistic Health Educator’ responded “Social workers need to keep environmentalism, false narratives, woke ideology, and personal bias out of their work. It’s unbecoming and harmful.” WHAT?!
I used to get so frustrated when people would assume that I had taken people’s children away or sat on a couch all day and listened to people cry, but then I realized that I can’t expect nonsocial workers to understand there are various social work fields and population areas when actual social workers lack the same knowledge. (Check out Social Work A to Z Lists)
First of all, social work is political! Second of all, real people are dying globally due to a multitude of harmful environmental factors. Thirdly, I am sure that this person’s idea of ‘false narratives and woke ideology’ are what I consider truth and humanity. It is mind-blowing that a person with the title ‘Holistic Health Educator’ doesn’t understand the personal bias of which he speaks is likely our personal values that influence the type of work that we engage in. Tackling environmentalism and advocating for those who are disenfranchised is exactly what social workers are mandated by the NASW Code of Ethics to do. Yet another talking head who doesn’t know that, “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” I would guess that he’s also never heard of micro, mezzo, and macro social work.
“Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients”, because social work is political! And social work is expansive. And we will continue to stand up and show up and speak up!
I’m a social worker, of course my skills are highly transferable.
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Nicki Sanders, MSW, is committed to career development, professional development, and organizational development. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki supports high-performing women of color in social work leadership in developing careers that feed their hearts, minds, and wallets. She has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams, volunteer recruitment and retention, and social impact programming. Nicki is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. She is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.
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