Much like trying to define my service work, I found it challenging to parse out my work around social justice. Again, it is something that I just "do." I am committed to social justice particularly in the areas of racism, ableism and mental health. You will detect these themes throughout essentially all of my teaching, writing and service work. I maintain active profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook where I do a great bit of "social media activism and advocacy" around race, ability and health/wellbeing as well as the intersections of those.
I have often been told by students and colleagues alike that me speaking on such topics with boldness, transparency, and compassion has given them the strength to live out their own truths; something I strive to do daily in a manner that honors who I am but does not harm others. Standing on this foundation of authenticity, integrity and creativity has made it possible, not so much easy, but definitely possible to address the challenges to inclusion and belonging in our classrooms, workplaces, and other communities in which we find ourselves embedded. It has also made me a resource for colleagues and those in leadership who strive to create their own inclusive learning and work environments.
I have worked on several professional (national) and university committees or councils on diversity, equity and inclusion. I am member of CSWE's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Network. I also worked with the Director of the CSWE Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice, Dr. Yolanda Padilla, to design a Connect Session entitled "Overcoming Resistance and Securing Partnerships for DEI Initiatives" for CSWE's 2020 APM. In 2021, I ended my term as chair of CSWE's Cultural Competence Track, which I began in 2018. Before that, I served as a councilor on CSWE's Council on Disabilities and Persons with Disabilities (2014 - 2017), a council I will be seeking to rejoin.
In 2019, I was appointed by the Dean of the UGA School of Social Work to create, coordinate, and chair a new committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). At the University level, I served on various committees around diversity, equity, and inclusion: Council of Academic Diversity Leaders (2021-2022), Diversity Advisory Council (2019-2022), UGA Office of Institutional Diversity search committee for an Associate Director of Faculty and Staff Initiatives (2022).
Although most of these committees were focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, I saw my role as incorporating elements of social justice and belonging to our work and pushing these groups' agendas toward action.
I try to write about social justice, particularly in the areas of social work and/or mental health. With colleagues Dr. Quenette Walton (University of Houston) and Dr. Joan Blakey (University of Minnesota), we wrote a peer-reviewed article entitled "Black Women and COVID-19: The Need for Targeted Mental Health Research and Practice," published in Qualitative Social Work. I was also invited to write a guest article for the National Association of Social Workers Health Section Newsletter where I focused on "rethinking culturally competent social work practice in health care settings. " I got personal for pieces written for UGA's School of Social Work Social Justice Wanted magazine, writing pieces entitled “'No More': Black Women Are Shedding Their Capes and Abandoning the Superwoman Trope" and "A Personal (Re)Dedication to Social Justice Efforts in Black/African American Mental Health."
In addition to being asked to write on topics related to social justice, I have been asked to speak on them locally, nationally and globally. At UGA, I gave talks on racism in healthcare; gender-based violence faced by women of color; working towards health equity; intersectionality; race and the criminal justice system; self-care practices in the current social-political climate; and anti-blackness. Nationally, I gave a talk on addressing the needs of students with invisible disabilities in social work. And on the international stage, I joined one of my social work students, Jarrett Daniels, for a presentation entitled "Voices Unheard: The Experiences of Black Male Social Work Students" at the 2018 International Colloquium on Black Males in Education in Dublin, Ireland.