Statement on Race

A Statement from the AOSW Executive Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee Co-chairs

Matters of race, injustice, bias and inequality can be difficult to discuss. However, as a society, not discussing them only makes things more difficult. As the nation witnessed the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, this past week has been incredibly difficult. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay not to have the “right” words, or any words. It’s okay not to be able to verbalize thoughts and emotions. It’s okay to have thoughts and emotions we wish we did not have.

What is not okay is for us to fail to hold space or acknowledge what is and has been happening to black communities.

While our country fights a generations-long pandemic of racism, we face a global pandemic that has created uncertainty across our professional and personal lives; it has disproportionately impacted communities of color. This has amplified the issue of social injustice in America and many of us have absorbed the mental and emotional angst it creates.

Whether you are a member of a black or brown community, a family member, an ally or citizen, cancer impacts us all, regardless of the color of our skin or socioeconomic status. As the largest national organization of oncology social workers and advocates, it is imperative that we uphold our core ethical principal of social justice and highlight activities that seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge of oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity.

As social workers, we educate ourselves and those around us to the issues of racism, both personal and systemic. We also strive to uphold the sanctity of human rights and dignity that we all have in common; when anyone’s human rights or dignity are disregarded, we all stand up together for that person’s rights.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., just unveiled a powerful new web portal called Talking About Race. Here you will find digital tools, online articles and videos that can help to inform one’s own knowledge or help with having constructive conversations with friends or neighbors about topics such as race, identity, and bias.

Although the future remains uncertain, remember: We are strong. We are passionate. We are resilient. We are social workers who are leaders and will lift ourselves and our communities.

Posted June 4, 2020