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The Trayvon Martin Tragedy

Statement of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers joins with others across our state and nation to share our profound concerns about the unfolding of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. These concerns consist of a diversity of reactions that range from outrage and shock; sorrow for the senseless loss of life and its impact on the families affected; disappointment at the violence that has followed the trial; to a renewed determination and commitment to recognize and address the continuing travesty of racism and other pernicious divisions in our communities.

We strongly advocate for a new dialogue on the broader questions that surround these issues. Such a dialogue should include the following issues:

  • The specter of personal and institutionalized racism surfaces in many ways, but of great concern is its manifestation throughout the criminal justice systems in the U.S., especially to the extent that these systems target and marginalize minorities and other oppressed groups, and result in dramatically disparate rates of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration, especially for young black and brown men. One estimate is that one out of every three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, prison, probation, or parole.
  • The profiling of individuals based on skin color, ethnicity, dress, or similar traits continues to place major population groups at risk for persecution, particularly adolescents and young people.
  • Distorted, stereotypical perceptions and beliefs about historically oppressed populations continue to incite fear and mistrust, and a fundamental breakdown in the social fabric of mutual caring and social interdependency, harming both the victims and the perpetrators of such attitudes.

Professional social workers are committed to addressing the fundamental forces that drive the breakdown in the capacity of our communities to welcome and care for all members of society, especially those with the most severe needs and who are most disengaged. Of particular note, are the dramatically escalating economic and social inequities that divide communities, especially the young from those who are established, and exclude those who deviate from the norms of mainstream American society.

The Board of Directors of the NASW Massachusetts Chapter urges our members, colleagues, and all who are concerned with the above to explore new opportunities for a deeper understanding of the mutuality of interests and experiences on the part of the fragmented groups that are too often generated by the continuing racial and growing socioeconomic disparities. Professional social workers bring considerable expertise in methods of healing and reconciliation, whether these involve psychotherapy, group work, community education, or social action. We have unique roles to play in the leadership and transformation of the many systems and communities that have been continually damaged by the trends referred to above. We, therefore, call for a new dialogue, through social work professional meetings and other forums, and the development of collaborative initiatives aimed at reconciliation community building and inclusion.

Please communicate your ideas and suggestions regarding to Chris Hudson, President, NASW-MA Board: or 781-631-7659.





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