GBABSW Position Statement
on Racism and Police Brutality
We, the members of the Greater Boston Association of Black Social Workers (GBABSW), have always and continue to condemn police brutality that has resulted in the recent death of George Floyd. We would like to also call attention to the losses of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Rayshard Brooks, Massachusetts’ own, DJ Henry, and the countless other Black people who have died due to irresponsible use of power at the hands of police.
The Greater Boston Association of Black Social Workers was founded fifty-two years ago out of a need for social workers to respond to the specialized needs of the Black community, and while many debunk that need, the systematic racism that plagues America today is a founding belief that our voice is still needed. Our Code of Ethics states that our primary focus is the welfare of the Black individual, the Black family, and the Black community. As such, we are obligated to engage in actions to improve social conditions for our people. We must use our knowledge of the Black experience, our commitments to self-determination, and our helping skills for the benefit of Black people (NABSW Code of Ethics).
While police conduct in Boston has not risen to the extent of the violence that is increasingly exposed by the media in other cities, there are numerous accounts from our Black constituents that have experienced racism when interacting with the police that they often perceived as life-threatening and left them feeling humiliated and angry. This is supported by Boston Police Department data of Field Interrogations and Observations beginning in 2016 that documents the disproportionate targeting of African Americans by the Boston Police (Lotan, Boston Globe, 2020). While African Americans constitute 25% of Boston’s population, they account for 69% of Boston Police stops (Lotan, Boston Globe, 2020). Racism is multifaceted and institutional racism exacerbates differences among individuals or groups; however, it is not the differences themselves that fuel systemic racism and lead to subordination, but instead, the interpretation of those differences in policy and law enforcement.
At this moment, when people of all races, ages and genders have come together for solidarity and are risking their health in the midst of our global pandemic, we demand an end to police brutality. The Greater Boston Association of Black Social Workers sees this as an opportunity for transformation and believes our voices should be seen, heard, and recognized in larger conversations across the Commonwealth and with representation at all levels.