Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Racism in social services, Social workers-Professional ethics, Anti-racism, United States-Race relations, Interpersonal relations, Anti-racist action, Racism, Social work


Current National Association of Social Workers codes, mandates, and policies require members to work to end racism. Although there is a strong need for social workers to consistently act against racism there are times social workers choose not to interrupt racism in interpersonal interactions. This study was interested in learning how social workers understand their decisions not to act against racism to gain a better understanding of the barriers to interrupting racism. This information may assist social workers in meeting their personal and professional obligations to combat racism. Ten self-identified White anti-racist social workers were interviewed for this qualitative study. Participants were asked to reflect on their experiences identifying as anti-racist and choosing to interrupt/not interrupt racism in interpersonal interactions. The research noted participants' anti-racist expression emerged from varying levels of racial awareness. Participants described significant internal and external factors impacting their choice to stand against racism and revealed a deep complexity to individual decisions not to interrupt racism. Findings suggest that increased awareness of the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that make disrupting racism challenging may help social workers act more consistently to interrupt racism in interpersonal interactions.




iii, 89 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 77-83)