I want to welcome you to the Dorothy Pearson Lecture on equity and social justice. My name is Jan Greenberg and I’m a professor in the School of Social Work. It’s a real honor today for me that Dean Teasley has accepted our invitation to speak today. This lecture is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Dorothy Pearson, who is a graduate of our program. Before turning it over to Professor Robert, who will introduce Dean Teasley, I want to say a few words about Dr. Pearson, as her story is one that I realy find inspirational and as a graduate myself of the UW Madison School of Social Work, I take really great pride in being a Badger when I tell this story, so you’ll need to indulge me. So Dorothy was born in Darbun, MS which is a really small farming community. She was the youngest of nine and she refers to herself as the surprise child. When she was 8, the family moved to Bogalusa, LA, a small paper mill town. She excelled in high school and her parents were really supportive of her aspiring to a higher education Her 8 older siblings never went beyond high school and many didn’t graduate from high school. She went on to receive her bacherlor’s degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1959 and was about to enter graduate school at either Atlanta University or Fisk University, which are historically black universities, but five days after receiving her bachelor’s degree, she decided that she’d take a trip up to Milwaukee as a vacation where her brother lived. As she recalled, I don’t know if any of you have been to Bogalusa, LA in the middle of summer, but it is hot and humid. She recalls falling in love with the cool breezes off of Lake Michigan. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the UW Madison School of Social Work actually had two campuses. One here in Madison and another campus in Milwaukee. And also part of her- so she decided that maybe she was thinking about going to a school of social work here in Madison, but part of her motivation for wanting to attend the UW was the fact that the South at that time was really deeply segregated and Dorothy wanted to know what it was like on the other side. She had done well in a segregated school system and wanted to see if she could make it in an integrated school system. So she decided to apply to the UW Madison Milwaukee Social Work Campus. So this is in the summertime far past the application deadline, right? She was initially told she had to wait a year. But you don’t tell Dorothy to wait when she’s determined to reach a goal. So she decided to make an appointment with the director of the School of Social Work at the Milwaukee campus and he met with her and he was so impressed that he granted her a waiver and had her accepted into the Master’s program. Now she had to deal with the fact that she had little to no money and she was an out of state student and could in no way afford the out of state tuition. Back then the graduate school had these special scholarships in the form of a waiver of out of state tuition for promising young scholars. So Dorothy was admitted to the School of Social Work, but she couldn’t afford the tuition, and she called the graduate school and the graduate school told her that all of these scholarships had been already allocated. So what Dorothy did was she called the Deans Office and set up an appointment with the Dean of the Graduate School. She went in and she made her case for why she should get one of these out of state scholarships and the Dean at that time was so impressed that he decided to make an extra waiver for one of these in state scholarships for her. So now she was admitted to the School of Social Work. She had in-state tuition. She just needed money to live off of. Back then, like the VA today, had these stipends for students, these large family agencies used to offer stipends to social work students. It was common when I went to school here in the 70s. So Dorothy decided that would be one avenue for her to support herself, so she applied to one of these large family service agencies in the Milwaukee area. She was accepted into that Field Placement, but when she met with the director, they said that they had allocated all of their stipends for the year. But when she met with him, he was so impressed with her, he said but if you do really well during your first semester of your graduate school, I will make an exception and I will make an extra stipend available to you. So she eventually entered the School of Social Work and she struggled the first semester but she got a stipend. and completed our MSW program, and then she went to work for a couple years before she came back and got her PhD in 1973. As a PhD student here, she founded the Wisconsin Association of Black Social Workers in 1972. She went on after getting her PhD to a position for a short time at the University of Miami School of Medicine and the Barry School of Social Work. And then she went on to a position at Howard University where she remained until her retirement in 1999. At Howard she established a doctoral program in Social Work degree, and many of the speakers we’ve had are former students in that doctoral program. She became the first director of that program. She was also a founding member for the advancement of doctoral education in social work, and she served for many years as the associate Dean at Howard. Dr Pearson has been the recipient of many awards in her career. The National Association of Social Work bestowed on her its highest honor, the honor of a social work pioneer, and in 2017 we honored her here at the school with a distinguished alumni award. Dr. Pearson is obviously somebody who has touched my life in a huge way and she obviously has a keen intellect. She is incredibly motivated, somebody who persevered, persisted and did not let obstacles get in her way when these obstacles were mighty high. However, I think it’s really important to keep in mind that part of her success was the fact that doors here at the UW Madison were open to her at a time when doors were being tightly shut to African Americans across higher education. As a young woman in her early twenties, she had the vision and the courage to walk through those doors when an opportunity rang. Her story and success gives me incredible pride in the School of Social Work that became part of it, but also pride in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Every time I tell this story, I feel like this is the first time I’ve told it. So with that background in mind and having a picture of who Dorothy Pearson is and the meaning of this lecture, let me turn it over to Director Stephanie Robert, who will introduce our keynote speaker. [Applause] ROBERT: Welcome, everybody. I’m Stephanie Robert, the director of the school, and it’s my pleasure to introduce Dr. Martell Teasley to you today. Dr Teasley earned his MSW at Virginia Commonwealth University and his PhD in social work from Howard University. He then was on the faculty at Florida State University College of Social Work for a number of years earning tenure there, and became chair of the Social Work department at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He’s now dean of the College of Social Work at University of Utah in Salt Lake City. This is the beginning of his second year, and I had the privilege of visiting their school just last month and doing some work with them and seeing their beautiful college. Dr Teasley’s research and teaching in social work has had a particular focus on social work in schools. Teaching in this area and conducting research on school social work and topics such as bullying, cyberbulling, school choice, and Afro-centric charter schools and he’s written editorials advocating for change, such as an editorial on shifting
zero tolerance schools to restorative justice, a topic that is near and dear to many of our hearts in the room. His teaching and research has also covered topics related to cultural competence in social work. For example he has a paper that’s a review of social justice and diversity content in course syllabi and another paper that examines perceived levels of cultural competence for school social workers. He also while at Florida State University chaired a disaster recovery certificate program right after Katrina, so that was an important program in teaching BSW and MSW students how to do that work. Dr Teasley has had a number of important leadership roles in the social work community, and right now one of his important roles is as the president of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, which is a mouthful. So I get to see him in these national venues showing leadership and how schools of social work should come together to address many of society’s current problems. So I appreciate his leadership and I am so pleased to introduce you to him. I’m eager to hear what he has to say and to learn from him. Thank you. [Applause] TEASLEY: Thank you so much for that warm introduction and thanks so much to everyone. I’m really glad and proud to be here with you today. A little jet lagged- I had to get up at four-something this morning but I’m doing well. I actually met Dr Pearson- She was actually exiting Howard University as I came there. I do know who she is, our paths crossed, but I never knocked on her door in terms of teaching, but I will make sure I contact her and say thank you for being here. So I had tried to put some color into this powerpoint but as I was telling Jan, it was haywire on me, so I decided to just leave it black and white. Can everyone hear me? Okay. So I’m going to- the title of the presentation as you see here, I’ll read from the abstract that I sent in. Populism is an appeal to grassroots citizens as a challenge to the values of the established structure of power in favor of government and policy making that more directly impact the people. Silent on racism and bigotry, homophobia oppression of immigration populations, antisemitism, and anti-Muslim rhetoric, 21st century populists in the United States seek to undermine many progressive era gains in favor of authoritarian rule and nationalism. What this means for the social work profession and its stance on social justice and human rights has received little attention within research literature. As stewards of social justice, the social work profession must do its part to hinder potential destructive influences of the growing populist movement while demonstrating its commitment to economic opportunities, reducing inequality, morality, human rights, diversity, and inclusion. So within this presentation, I will conceptualize characteristics of the current populist movement and its meaning for the social work profession. In building an argument with implications for the social work profession, I will also discuss some strategies for consideration at the micro, meso, and macro levels. So first let’s just take a look at some definitions of populism here. Populism arises in the context of a political crisis, when legitimacy of institutions is questioned and when the political status quo seems incapable of responding to populist demands. So both the left and the right have not done very much to reduce the growing inequality in this country and therefore you see the rise of populism. Populist leaders most often come from outside the political class- remind you of anyone? That is, they are outsiders to the ruling elite. Their appeal is that they are from the ordinary people and uncontaminated by the political class and their long-term enshrined interest. There’s a couple other definitions here. Populists remain a politics of hope, a type of redemption politics where a messianic leader promises a better world for those left behind or locked out of economic, social, and cultural rewards and privileges resulting from the move to neoliberalism and globalization. Populists see themselves as true Democrats, voicing popular grievances and opinions systematically ignored by government mainstream parties, and the media. And just a few definitions of a populist leader, who makes a strong appeal towards nationalism, both domestically and his stance on the international stage. Populist leaders expose the traditional elite as the enemies of the ordinary people. And populist leaders attack and discredit traditional civil society organizations and political parties, who are seen as unnecessary and useless to the restoration of proper power back to the people. So perhaps the greater era for the social work profession was that of the Progressive Era. It started in the 1890s running through the 1920s. Progressive era reform was characterized by a marked period of widespread social activism and political reform in the United States, much of that taking place here in Wisconsin with the Wisconsin idealism, as I’m sure most of you know. Or you should know. One can identify the progressive era with social justice as it tackled longstanding problems due to rapid industrialization and unfair labor practices, government corruption, immigration and urbanization. It was a time when common citizens challenged government and its policies to address worker’s rights women and childrens’ rights, and labor issues, such as pay and benefits and dangerous conditions in the workplace. Progressives set up training programs for social welfare workers in order to formalize practice and advocate for less fortunate families. The iconic image of Jane Addams at Hull House as a form of residential community service for the poor and newly arrived immigrants to settlement houses typify social work’s leadership of the period. The clear and present challenges that called social workers into action during the progressive era are just as present today with the growth of populism in America and around the world. Human rights violations in the form of detention of asylum seekers fleeing persecution, xenophobic immigration policies, voter suppression, growing inequalities, reduced welfare rights, racism and a backlash against multiculturalism are social trends that squarely differ from social work values Indeed a small group of scholars already are challenging the profession on its stance on Islamophobia. Noble maintains that our current populist movement also provides the social work profession with the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to social justice, community well-being, democratic principles and human rights and reminding the reader of the history of the 21st century, Noble cites the quick erosion of human rights during the time of Nazi Germany. I think it was 1933-1934, one of those years when Hitler gets elected. Prominent Jewish folks put an editorial in the German newspaper saying all this stuff Hitler is talking about is just phooey. We have laws here and he’s not going to be able to do any of these things that he’s talking about. You know the rest of that story. A culture of anti-humanist populism and authoritarian welfare can erode the human rights framework underpinning social work and other humanitarian professions. Therefore the social work profession must understand the challenge that the profession faces in dealing with populism in the 21st century. In the 21st century, the term populism is most often associated with an authoritarian form of politics. Populist politics revolve around a charismatic leader, as I’ve said who appeals to and claims to embody the will of the people in order to consolidate his or her power. In the current era, there are populist movements throughout the globe, particularly in westernized countries. The reasons for this are many fold, but mainly hinge on increasing inequality. Noting that Brexit appears as a victory for the real people in Britain, according to Princeton University political scientist Jan Mueller. He quotes and says every populist operates with a symbolic and ultimately moral distinction between the real people and those who don’t belong. In many ways today’s populist movement has a long history in its making. It represents the climax a longitudinal process to rid the United States of its status as a federally sponsored social welfare state, to do away with the promise a social contract where government intervenes to promote the promise of social equality and provides what is considered a re-distributive process of services to those less fortunate as a social good. Consider for a moment two sets of founding fathers for the country with the era of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and a cast of others viewed as the original founding fathers are the first wave. The first wave of founding fathers ensured that wealthy land owners received the highest rights and privilege based on their status, and that government should not succumb to the wishes and whims of the masses nor should government restrict the masses from individual freedom and the fruits of their labor. The second wave of founding fathers comes into place with the New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s to include the many political policies triumphs during the civil rights movement. From the desegregation of the military by President Harry Truman in 1948, veteran’s benefits under the GI bill in 1944, the triumph of Voter’s Rights Acts and Medicare in 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and other civil rights legislation gave progressive liberals a lasting victory that shaped American social welfare for the rest of the 20th century. The efforts of the second wave of founding fathers witnessed the expansion of the middle class, gross poverty reduction among many minority groups, including reductions in disparities in educational outcomes and overall greater movement towards the American Dream. However, since the advent of the Progressive Era and its climax in the triumphs of the Great Society, conservatives and libertarians have mounted a sustained effort to reverse social policy and government funds to welfare programs to aide the poor through reducing union workers and their benefits, and the need to reduce educational programs such as Head Start. The quintessential goal of libertarians and conservatives has been to rid the United States of its guaranteed social welfare program to reduce taxation and government oversight and regulation of financial systems in America. How this movement by conservatives and libertarians helped galvanize and encompass today’s populist movement in America is something that historians, social psychologists, and sociologists will write about for some time. With the proliferation of political think tanks in the 1970s-80s, there were a series of policy moves crafted by conservative politicians aided by many liberals that culminated in ongoing reduction of the social welfare safety net in America, while at the same time helped to reduce growing inequality throughout the United States and westernized democracies. So let’s look at this first graph here. If I had a lot of time, I could talk about subsequent presidents, whether they are liberals or conservatives- what we see here is the decreasing share in this brown golden line here of the bottom 90% down to 23% of all wealth in the United States, while we see in increase in the amount going to the top 1% over time. And if you notice, this is during Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies. And so we see increasing inequality no matter who those leaders are. And this is one of the problems that populists have. During this period, the 1970s and 80s, the United States middle class really starts to lose ground. This happens with the demonization of government and its far reaching programs. At the peak of shared prosperity in 1973, the poorest 20% of households nevertheless had only 4.3% of total income. By 2003, this tiny share shrunk by 20%. So that meant that the poorest 20% only had about 2% of the income where the middle fifth quartile lost even more ground. The share of the top quintile, that is the people at the top grew at the expense of the bottom 80% and yearly since 2000, it garnered half of the nation’s total income. So all of the wealth gained within the country is going to the top echelon, and this is nothing new. Today, for many former middle class communities, well paid union jobs are mostly gone. Much of the blame for the loss of US jobs has been attributed to globalization and international treaties that have reduced wages of the American worker. It was the conservative Ronald Reagan though who loosened regulations for international tariffs on goods once solely made in the United States and bought in the United States. From the 1980s to the present, nearly 40% of the American manufacturing base moved overseas. Data from the US Department of Commerce showed that United States Multinational Coorporations the big brand name corporations that employ 1/5 of all American workers, cut their workforce in the US by 2.9 million during the 2000s, while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. Real wages for high school educated American men have fallen 40% since the 1970s. For the bottom 90% of workers average wages have flattened since the 1980s. Many older white men are in despair. They suffer a much higher than average death rate due to alcoholism, consumption of drugs, and even suicide, while life expectancy for all others groups is rising, even for African American and Hispanic men. For that group between 1990 and 2008 for older white men without a high school diploma, it has been reduced, and they are left in despair. The perpetual motion of the American Dream machine stopped due to automation, offshoring, and the growing power of multinational countries. The year it stopped was 1950. People started to have less income and less net worth, and many have experienced downward mobility. If you were born before 1950, your income rose and you gained assets. If you were born after 1950, you did not. This is the first generation that experienced downward mobility so that they attained less income and less net worth than people do ten years before them. Since the 1960s, the share of men aged 25 – 54 no longer looking for work has reduced by 1/3. According to populists, American politics, particularly the government society, are all headed in the wrong direction as author Yascha Mounk states in The People Versus Democracy Today’s populists are no longer disillusioned about government, they have turned to anger and are more willing to engage in anti-democratic methods that disavow democratic norms and what we perceive as rights for the people. For populists, neither individual institutions nor individual rights should usurp the will of the people. That’s really dangerous if you think about that. So we don’t pay attention to individual rights or our institutions, we pay attention to the will of the people. Therefore, liberal institutions may need to be undermined according to populists in order to sustain the will of the people. According to Arlie Hochschild in Strangers in Our Own Land, there are many people in the United States who see themselves as above the government and its high ideals about how people should live. But these same people use a host of government services. More generally, there are large swaths of Americans who associate big government with affirmative action the promotion of multiculturalism, a noisy big brother, a remote controlled big brother, a bad parent playing favorites, a federal instead of state department of education, taxes, and an insistent beggar at the door. The government takes money away from people of good character and gives it to those of bad character those who are idle. Head Start, Medicaid, SNAP, supplemental nutrition programs, programs supported by liberals are all out of order, according to populists. The problem with government for the populists is that while both the left and the right have different agendas, there is more or less a common agenda supporting the conditions and contexts in which growing inequality has manifested. Yet in her research in rural Louisiana, in terms of understanding why a people affected by industrial and commercial pollution from a local plant have become anti-environmental themselves, the author seeks to understand how people who need and use government services and benefits. Even some of the affluent actually despire government. Their use of government services as it suits their pleasure- this seems to be an acceptable acceptance, she says, based on the logic of rural Louisianans who have experienced greater times in the past. Just 25 years ago, surveys indicated a great respect for government among American populations. In the 1980s, most citizens were satisfied with government and rated government institutions favorably. However, that has changed today. While 2/3 of United States seniors believe that it is extremely important to live in a democracy, less than 1/3 among millennials. In 1995 1 in 6 Americans believed that the army rule was a good form of government. Today, 1 in 6 believe military authoritarian rule is a good form of government. A democracy without rights belongs to the tyranny of the majority, or in this case, the tyranny of populists. On the other hand, rights without democracy leave rule to the wealthy and those with compelling advantages over others. We are in an era where populists are now attempting to undo liberal democracy. So let’s just take a look at a few more graphs here. So over time, what we see here is that in general the top 1% has gained most of the wealth as I’ve talked about, and there’s been diminishing returns for the rest of us, unless some of you are in the top 1%, and so that is really the crux of the problem here, that- and this makes for all types of problems within social work education as faculty talk to me about not knowing how to talk to students about these issues, you know? If we look here while the group among the richest 10% has increased, most of our wealth is going to the top 1%. So if we look here, this is like the top 1% all by themselves here, with 40% of the wealth, and this is the other 10%. So the top. 10% of the people own 90% of the wealth in this country and the rest of us vie for the 10% that’s left. It’s a depressing slide. So here if we look in terms of the world economic report in terms of the challenges of why populism is rising across the globe what we see happening in other countries is the same thing that’s happening in the US where here- this is called an elephant curve by economists. The bottom 50% capture 12% of total growth, and that mostly went to emerging countries like China and many Asian countries, where all our jobs shifted overseas, which we saw the squeeze on many people in westernized democracies like the United States, and then while that’s taking place, the top 1% captured 27% of the growth, so that’s really why you’re seeing these populist movements all over the globe. Now, one of the problems that we have here really relates back to the 70s and 80s, during the Civil Rights Era. So many of us here are old enough, and some of you have studied the programs created during the Civil Rights Era, the Man Power Program, etc. But my point is two things. One, we were training people for jobs that we were shipping overseas, and two, we demonized the advent of training programs to help people and prepare them for a high tech society. And so all of that has emerged, and that’s the problem that we have right now. There are plenty of jobs. We just haven’t trained the people for them. And we were training people for jobs that we were shipping overseas. And that’s a central problem that we have in this country right now. Given that liberal democracies are losing their appeal to many westernized cities, has led to a gross imbalance in wealth, as I’ve talked about. Liberal democracies have become less adept in producing for its citizens. Liberal democracies are experiencing a performance crisis. Populists have seized on such crises around the world and they are exploiting this weakness in an appeal to liberal democrats and government. In general, power declines for a given form of government when it does not produce for its citizens. In the United States, it should be noted that whites first start moving to the right in 1972. 41% of whites were in the democratic party. By 2014, it was only 24%. Also in 2014, we now have 24% who are Republican that shifted to 27%. who are now Republican. Now a solid number of whites have shifted to populist politics and the tent is widening for those who are empathetic and believe the populist stance. With the election of Trump and the possibility of his reelection, and it really could happen, the question becomes whether we will move from a populist moment to a populist age, which he believes will cast a grave danger over liberal democracy. One of the staples of the social work profession is its continued focus on the impact of inequality. According to the preamble of the NASW Code of Ethics, the primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and live in poverty. Given its focus on policy formation, and its impact on social welfare and client centered practice, the reduction of inequality stands central to the mission of the social work profession. For this reason, the social work profession must place a strong emphasis on social justice as central to any attempt at advocacy for oppressed and vulnerable populations and dealing with populists. Yet the profession has witnessed an explosion of inequality but has not developed a planned and sustained professional response. In his award-winning language at the 2016 Society for Social Work Research conference, scholars noted that from the progressive era to the present, the social work profession has placed less interest on social welfare policy than it did in the past. Moreover, the global top 1% earners have captured 2x as much of the growth as the 50% at the bottom. The bottom 50% has nevertheless enjoyed important gains as I pointed out there. The global middle class, which contains all of the 90% of income groups in the US and EU, has been squeezed. According to Joseph Stiglitz, growth inequality in the United States is on the rise. We are now a country of the 1%, for the 1%, and by the 1% he says. Today in the United States, just 8 Americans has a much wealth as the bottom 35% of Americans. At the same time, nearly 50% of Americans have less than $500 in the bank, and the average 401k has about $50,000 in it. Sitglitz points out that increasing inequality and poverty have eviscerated the American middle class, reduced social mobility, and economic opportunity for the vast majority of Americans. As these shifts have occurred, there have been exponential economic gains by those at the top, as I’ve stated, reduced economic opportunity for well-paying jobs and rising national inequality are a central complaint of populists. Economic inequality is widespread in the United States and throughout industrialized countries. For Stiglitz, it is American social policy that has created inequality not shipping jobs overseas. Inequality is not a product of globalization, but a lack of workforce investment and social welfare planning for a high tech economy. What did take place was a social compact of measures fostered by the GOP to reduce the country’s social welfare safety net for many blue collar workers and for some white collar workers, because the country grew more towards financialization. This was done through demonization of worker’s unions to include teacher’s unions, the more towards reducing corporate pension plans, corporate deregulation, outsourcing, reduced consumer protection and government spending that has ballooned the national debt to name a few. The debt used as a reason to make further cuts to government and to exclude the cultural other is one of the things that is really fomenting populism. All this has set the stage for group tribalism, meaning that there is great awareness of group identification as a form of protection and loyalty. In a moment of clarity for all of us while we talk about increasing inequality, we are in many ways experiencing a mini economic boon in the country. So gross national product is going up, there are more jobs, but some of that is fool’s gold. For example, only 25% of people work from 9-5. Some people work from opening to noon, come back, they’re working low wage jobs with no benefits, and pension plans have been reduced just about through the United States. I had a big age gap about two years ago when I was in the classroom doing a lecture on social welfare policy talking about pension plans and a student raised his hand and said what’s a pension plan because they basically don’t exist for certain groups anymore. Such a climate is anti-immigration and at times xenophobic. In fact, it is anti-individual or against any group’s value set that competes for social resources versus those who are “rightful citizens of the land” and stewards of the culture. That is, white Americans. Amid the shrinking footprint of social expenditures and increased inequality, public opinion often precedes immigrants as taking away from established US citizens who are more deserving. Politicians are thus encourged to emit populist messages and tend to assess the legitimacy of a new model of social protection based on the ideals that social rights have ethnic and cultural bases as well and that citizens who have lived longer in a particular territory and who have common cultural heritage and origins are more deserving than others. In the imagination of populists, a leader need to be elected who will fight for the true wishes of the people. All institutional roadblocks obstructing this person from carrying out the will of the people need to be undermined. In the imagination of the populists, government has displaced freedom. It has taken away community, it promotes diversity, it has taken church out of school, it does not protect its citizens, its officials do not live a simple life, the government gives too much, it does too much, and it owes too much. An anti-establishment identity formed within working class members who voted for President Trump. What elites who are against Trump do not realize is that as they railed against his lifestyle, and talked about him as being a reckless person, populist saw him as one of them. According to Amy Chua in her book “Tribes” Trump’s base identifies with him in several ways. He is not a feminist, not politically correct, gets caught making mistakes and doesn’t read books. They like the way he talks, the fact that he shoots from the hip and his mannerisms and vocabulary are all imperfect, but much like those of ordinary people. Thus, with non-ideological approaches the government, the election of President Trump who dislikes government and states that he speaks for the common people is part of the rise of Donald J. Trump to president of the United States. Of course, the real surprise for President Trump and his ascendance as the so-called leader of the free world to include his now-rising poll numbers is that this was not supposed to happen in America. It always does the right thing, and it carries the morals for the world as we know it. Part of the danger of populists who celebrate demographic principles but only as they directly relate to the wishes of the people is that they are misguided due to the short-term thinking and disregard of institutional norms. With politicians doing wolf-whistle politic tactics, mixed with racial, ethnic, and class strife mixed with xenophobic tenancies and culture wars debates, misguided tribes and ethnic anger has been used as part of political persuasion thus creating a paradox where people end up voting for people who support legislation that appears to satisfy some need only to find that the voting decisions created need in another area. For example, in Thomas White’s “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”, he notes a rich man’s economic agenda is paired with social issues as the winning formula for political advocacy for the right. For example, vote to stop abortion and receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to get government off your back, and receive in conglomeration a monopoly everywhere from media to meat packing. Vote to strike a blow against elitism, and receive a system where wealth is more concentrated than ever. Vote to get rid of socialized forms of health care and get an out of control unaffordable free market health care system. Get tough on education outcomes and safety in school, and create a school to prison pipeline. How does this occur? It occurs through tribalism itself as a normative process, in which inequality creates group homeostasis, leading to social tension. A great part of tribalism is racism. As Amy Chua writes, “Racism is group consciousness at its most repugnant.” “Built on the premise that human beings can be divided by skin color into inwardly superior and inferior groups.” Innately inferior and superior groups. “Yet paradoxically, as a form of group blindness, racial categories like black, white and Asian erase ethnic differences and identities.” In America, tribalism divides people into racial and ethnic groups, geographic areas, and class and status. Within this group, people form deep stories about themselves and their experiences. The deep story is one imprinted within the mind about one’s experience in life. Feelings about those experiences and the language and symbols that accompany a deep story because its fixation of feeling as knowing, the deep story is sometimes void of facts, removed from objective judgement, but full of truth based on feeling. Quite often, people form empathy walls, shutting out greater understanding of the cultural other. From here, people form a subjective set of ways in which they view the world. Deep stories about someone’s experience help create structural amnesia, leaving people less inclined to deal with macro problems such as structural and institutional inequalities that lead to the conditions and contexts that they find themselves in. So people are more worried about the here and now instead of the big structural thing. In such an environment, deep stories about the cultural other, which are needed for greater understanding of humanity are rarely given space and consideration. In my last section, I’ll talk a little bit about cultural and identity politics. Now that the United States has transformed from a majority white population to a majority minority population faster than any other European country in history- it really has. Let’s just look here at another piece on inequality. So we see that across the world, inequality has increased. India has been the greatest abuser in not sharing wealth, and the US and Canada are second place there. But here we see from the Bureau of Labor Statistics a graph of the increasing share of immigrants and people who are non white in the United States which projects in 2060 to be 78.2% of the population there. And this is causing all kinds of problems. Really what we must understand is that pushing people off of the land what we’re witnessing from an anthropological perspective is people migrating back to those very lands that they were pushed away from. Except for those folks who were eliminated, like the Native Americans. The United States is experiencing racial strife that is reminiscent of a by-gone era in the country. 47 million people in the United States are born abroad from 140 different countries, which is the highest among nations. However, as inequality increases, groups often retreat into tribalism. They close ranks, becoming more insular and less tolerant. Thus racism and ethnic and cultural bias have more pronounced as inequality has increased. As Amy Chua states, racists split America and classes split American whites. On the one hand, racists claim that racist claims are made against whites who now feel that they are being discriminated against because of their whiteness. Combined with growing levels on growing fixation on identity politics, populists point to the growing problem of diversity. Culture wars are on display throughout our country. In August of 2017, after a white nationalist march on the campus of University of Virginia, a Unite the Right Rally held in Charlottesville, VA where violence broke out and someone was killed. According to journalist Eugene Scott of the Washington Post, he found that a lot of blue collar men think that they are living in an increasingly feminized world, and Donald Trump represents unabashed and unapologetic masculinity and his in-your-face refusal in terms of giving in to political correctness and sensitivity. These notions of inclusivity that drown out the individual and group voices of populists have become a sensitive issue and is the substance of identity politics. Given the emotional enclaves that people place themselves into, it is hard to build a coalition of trust when mistrust is already assumed. The new political climate is one that is moving towards placing restrictions on the social welfare rights of the cultural other. From elements of the American Dream to the use of the social safety net. I think what will end up happening as we attempt to resolve the immigration problem, something we already have is different statuses of citizenship. More than likely is that some people will never become citizens. They’ll be in so much debt it will be hard to ever become a citizen. That’s more likely where the country is headed. Or is already there. Rising inequality and US debt continue to breed austerity measures and social rights September 11, 2001 exacerbated xenophobia in America, particularly those from Middle Eastern descent and Muslims. The terrorist attack and the take-down of the towers in New York was a surreal experience for America. Part of the response was the increase in what is known as the surveillance society, characterized by the proliferation of social control measures which have heightened the public’s sense of insecurity. The political bait that has ridden the wave of public fear, and many countries have seen the radical revision of universal discourse and democratic principles on which societies of the Second World War were constructed. Indeed a sense of unchecked immigration, particularly illegal immigration, is front and center to populists. For populists, politicians have a misguided fetish with diversity, empathy for illegal immigrants, and they root for enemies of the country. Neither independent institutions or individual rights, the case of human rights for immigrants should exceed the will of the people, and thus the will of the people needs full support with no compromise. Universal brotherhood or appeals to human rights are incompatible with the nationalist needs of the people. Thus, it is not only permissible but expected and respected when President Trump designates immigrants from Honduras seeking asylum as people who are gang members, Islamic terrorists, murderers, and part of drug cartels- so for the populist, this is appropriate. Large numbers of whites are anxious about the so-called browning of America. As Chua explains, when groups feel threatened, they turn to tribalism. The closed ranks become insular and less tolerable. The reason for these anti-oppressive movements about inclusivity and universalism is that they see an abatement in funds for social welfare that they need. A 2011 study showed that half of white Americans believe that whites have replaced blacks as the primary victims of discrimination. Paradoxically, the reality for many black and Hispanic Americans is that they see no way of equaling whites in terms of wealth and assets. So here’s one of my last slides. Well, one of the last graphs here. So for all of what the United States has done, particularly in terms of black America, they’ve gained no more than 3% of the wealth. Okay? About 2.5%. What we see here is that whites still have most of the wealth and while black wealth has increased some in terms of assets, you see the disparities here. And then if we look at our Hispanic brothers and sisters, who have now surpassed African Americans in terms of wealth, I say that with a caveat, because there are a lot of people here who are illegal in terms of Hispanic who we don’t count in terms of their income. The populist movement is real in America. Hate crimes have considerably increased since 2016, and during the Obama presidency, ammo and gun sales were at an all-time high based on perceived fear that a black man as a president would attempt to extinguish the second amendment of the United States Constitution, that is the right to bear arms. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate group formation has been energized since the results of the 2016 election. The number of hate groups has risen both years of the Trump administration. Important to mention is our national lack of understanding Islam, which has led many to see Islam as a monolithic religion and evil. Uninformed, many Americans believe that Islam has no values in common with other cultures. It is inferior to the West, and it is a violent political ideology rather than a religion. When feminists challenge the social order of sexual harassment, assaults, violence, and economic domination built on masculinity, it often infuriates traditional gender role groups. Further the equal pay with men at a time when blue collar white male unemployment and living wages are on the decline is a bitter pill that will find it hard to penetrate many white male empathy walls and their sense of personhood as the foremost protector and provider for families. Fringe or borderline quotes and speaking gaffes by activist groups is the stuff that Rush Limbaugh and his notion of feminazis ferment on in terms of their diatribes against women. It was Limbaugh in 2015 on his nationally syndicated radio show who stated that feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to mainstream pop culture. On October 21, 2018, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration just this past week is considering a narrower definition of gender as biological and immutable and determined by genitalia at birth, the most dramatic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protection for transgender people under federal civil law. For the populists, when the established structure of power puts forth issues based on ideals about multiculturalism as achieving parity with traditional values, such practices are not the best interests of the people because they are percieved as intruding on limited resources for those who deserve them most. So I think you get my drift that I’m going to stop there and go into some implications for social work. One, that we must continue to support ethical norms and values, and we must practice them with no exception or abatement to the rules. There shouldn’t be exceptions to the rules. We’re already being compromised, say for example in Texas with the detention camps. Many of the people working down there saying some of these despicable things to social workers, asking us to compromise our values. We also should not speak pejorative truths, that is truths that are in our favor. And that’s a problem with America in general. People just have these big lenses and these empathy walls. But it is our ability to discern facts that makes us responsible citizens, and we must all take responsibility for the world that is a world we want to live in. Social Workers must also advocate for political accountability, transparency of democracy and in our social justice agendas. Join groups that challenge populist policies wherever they manifest themselves. Remember that we are the people who meet clients where they are, so if we engage populists we have to listen to their stories. It may be painful, but you gotta watch NBC and Fox News to know what’s going on. You can’t just watch one side, the one that favors your particular persuasion. Work in solidarity to develop and support a humanized society. This is huge. Affirm and recommit to a practice with a human rights agenda and become more politically and morally active as role models. Recommit to anti-racism, anti- oppression, and critically informed social work practice. You know a lot of people don’t think oppression still exists, and so you can’t have drive-by debates with them You have to sit down and talk with them and explain to them how people are still oppressed. Give witness to the human toll of subjugation, oppression, racism, tribalism and structural disadvantages. Social workers must insist on maintaining professional ethics and standards of practice, as I said, and we must defend and support institutions in our democracy. So voting is an institution. Now there’s a huge movement for voter registration among the profession. Some of us talked about this years ago. I think it’s a bit Johnny-Come-Lately and I’ll tell you why. If you read Carol Anderson’s book “One Person, No Vote” she talks about how since the rollback of the Voting Rights Act, nearly 900 voting precincts have been disbanded in the United States, mostly in minority communities. And so, a person asked me recently, they said well, why is it that black people don’t vote? And I said, oh, here we go. What I had to explain to them was this- and I put it in this context- if you were in Mississippi in 1850, and Carol Anderson talks about this in her book, and voting cost $1.50 when the aggregate income of a black family was $100 a year $1.50 was a lot of money. Not only that, you had to read a section of the constitution when you were illiterate and you had to count precisely the number of jelly beans in a jar. And so that’s how you stop people from voting in 1890. 40 years after reconstruction. The way you do it today is you move the polling places you stop voting on Sunday- you know, early voting after church, and then you don’t give people time to vote. Or you do these things like you gouge the voter rolls like you see taking place in countries. So it’s the same type of impact that we’re having today. And so as I told the person then, she said oh. But you have to explain those things to people. Major social work organizations must come together in the human rights agenda. So the National Association of Deans of Social Workers- deans and directors- NASW, CSW, all need to come together to have a common agenda. Most of the time we run scared in terms of what we may do, but it’s not that time in history because the point I’m trying to make here is that the populists are playing hardball. They’re not going by the rule of law. They’re going by the rule of the people, and Trump’s their man. And his popularity is not dwindling. It’s growing. We must realize that. The social work profession needs to develop an intersectional form of social justice that examines inequality as it pertains to the unique challenges that identities groups are concerned with. So instead of this whole intersectional notion of identity, we need to develop what I call an intersectional form of social justice that’s inclusive of everybody, including the populists. We must expose the work of these demagogues like the present ones sitting in the White House who are not really for the people but for themselves. Social workers must continuously practice professional ethics and be suspicious of situations which are declared exceptions to professional ethics. Do not speak pejorative truths I talked about that. This is a big one here. So while we talk about challenging the dual loyalty dilemma- clients versus government policy, really we’re talking about this micro/macro curriculum dichotomy, so I have said to the CEO of CSW- the Council of Social Work Education- that social work has an internal and an external problem. What I mean by that is that internally, when you come into a social work program, most of what we teach is clinical practice. This is a time when greater understanding of how our society and politics political understanding is needed. Externally, that’s what people see us as – as clinical based practitioners. And and that’s not enough if we’re going to live up to the greatest times and assets of our profession. I think you get the drift there. So we must advocate for political accountability, transparency of democracy, and the social justice agenda. I think I talked about this- this is where my slides got a little bit muddled. I think this is the last slide here, so thank you so much. [Applause] AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. You said join groups. What groups in Madison would you recommend? TEASLEY: Well I would imagine those that support institutions within our country, so whether it be education, whether it be voting, whether it be rights for a particular group, but we should have no abatement on them. We shouldn’t be ashamed of joining those groups. If you’re a feminist, if you’re pro-black, but we must listen to both sides in doing that. And so you know we get the myopic lens. I’m black and black essentialism is extremely important to me, but someone else’s essentialism is important to them also. So support- see because one way to tear down a democracy is to remove rules and institutions, and so if people are able to gerrymander and reduce voting for particular groups, that’s a problem. Some of the things that are taking place now are very problematic. We saw Neil Gorsuch who was up for the Supreme Court not even given a hearing. Then we ushered in a person recently, and you know that whole debacle that took place there and the demonization of the women. That was highly problematic because young people are watching, and they see this as the way we conduct ourselves in terms of our institutions, and so if our senators are supporting these pejorative truths, it’s problematic. We’re going to have to join organizations to fight back and build coalitions and it’s going to take time. So a lot of what we do is me- it’s about me, so I need to see some change right now because I did X, Y, and Z. Well, change occurs over time, and the people who initially wanted to end slavery, the people who wanted to have women vote, the people who wanted to stop seeing immigrants pick fruit for little money- many of them died in the struggle. While they have beautiful stories about the Civil Rights Movement, there were people who tried to register people to vote who were lynched. And we never heard about it in southern towns. It’s going to take those types of efforts to maintain our democracy. AUDIENCE MEMBER: So I get to ask a question now. One of the dilemmas I face is that I feel like there’s this juncture between two of our roles. So on the one hand, we talk about how as social workers one of our roles is to give that bridge. We talk with different people and we’re that bridge because there aren’t many bridges. On the other hand, it’s really important for us to be among the most vocal voices, to stand up for social justice and what’s going on in the community. Now, maybe those two roles live together, but I have a hard time embodying both of those at once. Maybe I’m alone in that, but that’s something that I feel conflicted about. TEASLEY: Well I would say you’re in it for the long haul. So, it’s how long you’re going to be that loud voice. And who you pass the baton on to. You know it’s like family. The older I get, I realize everything I do needs to really be for my children so I can pass along my legacy and help them to do the same thing. And so that’s really what it’s about. It’s about capacity building, and so as the Ancient Egyptians would say, may the love of you last through the memory of you. It is the memory of people who do certain things to protect institutions. Not necessarily being the loudest voice, but the most persistent voice. That is important, if that helps. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah, that helps. I also feel that we as social workers need to be some of the more radical voices out there about social justice, so I understand that maybe as individuals we can’t each have all of those roles. TEASLEY: When we say we’re radical, I’m not sure if people know what that really means. Being a radical is really, I mean, tough. If we think of people who were radicals. If we think of the Black Power movement, which was radical. If we think of my cousin who was the first woman in America who led a prayer for Muslims and was disbanded from a group that left the country. Radicals face a lot of challenges. Dr. King represented the radical church. And so I think there’s some degree between advocacy and radicalism. And the evolution of a process, so that we’re here now and where do we need to go? So you’ve got to admire the anti-abortion people and their longitudinal process of what they do whether you believe in it or not. Many of us are old enough to remember when you couldn’t put a fetus on a billboard. But that was a major triumph for them. Now radicalism for them was blowing up abortion clinics. But they have pushed and pushed and they keep their agenda front and center, and they leave a continuing constituency of people to pick that work up as they move on. And we’ve got to do that also as social workers. We’ve got to have something that we stand for as social workers that we’re not afraid of. And what may be radical for our major organizations is not being sued because whenever I try to talk to them, the first thing they say is oh, the lawyers don’t like that. So we’ve got to do some out of the box thinking. You’ve gotta admire our president because every script they give him, he tears it up and just shoots from the hip, as they say. And so he has a radical critique of the status quo. That’s true. How many radical actions is he willing to take? I don’t know. So let’s be tempered when we say that. That’s my point there, in a long winded way. AUDIENCE MEMBER: It’s more of an observation than a question. I really appreciate this talk. It’s interesting I met this guy a couple weekends ago at the Y, and he was talking about the Red Sox in Massachusetts and he was from Massachusetts – what brought you here, and he got a job at the VA, and he’s a social worker. Get out! I’m a social worker too, that’s awesome. But I talked to this other guy that works at the VA, he’s like Yeah, I’m not really owning it, and I really connected with that. You say you’re a social worker, first thing in our society, oh you don’t make much money. And so I think we tend to not live it. We can get out of practice. And so that’s what we were talking about. Really living it and challenging ourselves to challenge other people and these are scary times. So the more we get out of practice with owning it, the more we get sheltered and cloistered and we’re not really living out in the community. TEASLEY: Well stated. AUDIENCE MEMBER: And not just live it at our job. I don’t think anybody here is just, 5 o’clock flip into another person, but really being foreceful. TEASLEY: Yeah, well stated. So there’s something more to the profession than being clinical entrepreneurs. Diagnosing people’s problems. So the early founding people of the profession, particularly women That’s not what they were about. They could have done a whole lot of other things with their time, and some of them had money and came from wealthy families. But they chose to take on advocacy for groups.They chose to go into factories, to deal with problematic working conditions. They chose to deal with children who were being stuffed into chimneys to be chimney sweepers and who had tuberculosis and who were getting poor nutrition. They chose to do all those types of things. They got out of their comfort zone. And so I’m a war veteran, and probably the scariest time of my life was being bombed. You know, it’s coming from the sky, but one of the things that did for me, that put things in perspective, some of the things that we think are so daunting here are very minuscule. And we have this whole sense of me-ism that I have to do it myself when we have to coalition build. And that’s huge. We’ve individualized ourselves so much that we’re docile. And so that’s one thing, that the populists are doing this collectively. So thank you.