RETRACTION: Calling In Call-Out Culture: Social Workers Having Difficult Conversations Ethically on Social Media

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Calling in Call-Out Culture: Social Workers Having Difficult Conversations Ethically on Social Media

Since the publication five days ago, on January 8, 2020, of “Calling In Call-Out Culture: Social Workers Having Difficult Conversations Ethically on Social Media,” there has been extensive criticism on Twitter of the article. As one of the authors, I take responsibility for its imprecise language that gave many the idea that, instead of advocating for a calling-in based on respect, kindness and inclusion, I instead perpetrated “the idea that speaking truth to power is unethical, and that justice must come second to the needs of the privileged” (in this case, my needs as a white woman), as one tweet in response to the article stated. In trying to show the harm that the social media tactic of calling out can inflict, I instead caused harm and hurt to many who read it as a calling out and dismissal of those who suggested a #MacroSW Twitter Chat on white supremacy in the social work profession. I am very sincerely sorry for this. Anti-racist and anti-oppression work is an essential part of my social work practice. I failed miserably to evidence that.

I share here a portion of the statement by #MacroSW Chat organizers that I contributed to, and which best expresses the responsibility I take for this poorly written piece. The complete statement may be found here:

“The white members of our group accept the fact of our white privilege and acknowledge the countless ways it is used to aggress against anyone without it. We don’t offer any excuses or rationale for our role in alienating people of color or causing them to feel alienated or as if they can’t readily engage in the #MacroSW community or Twitter chats. We are individuals coming together to promote unity in our profession. . .We are committed to learning from this experience and working to grow a more inclusive #MacroSW community. We are committed to confront white supremacy in our work. In moving forward, we will approach our work with an even greater degree of humility.”

It’s important to note that I have participated in the #MacroSW Twitter Chats since they began in 2014, representing and facilitating from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work account. In writing this article, I was speaking for myself, and not for the university or the school.

As a white woman, I will be careful to have my intentions – in this instance, conveying alternatives to calling out using the Code of Ethics as a guide – match the message and wording of any writing I henceforth publish under my name. My practice will continue to emphasis intersectionality and my efforts will continue to attempt to ameliorate the impact of this article.

Thank you to all who pointed out the many, many ways in which I hurt and offended you. This has been a humbling and educational experience. I know that I will carry its lessons with me in the future.

Patricia Shelly, MSW

Patricia Shelly, MSW more than 3 years ago

A Profoundly Difficult Read

This is a profoundly difficult read. To double down on the importance of white feelings, and to weaponize and gaslight antiracism activists by using professional code of ethics is a new low. Being a social worker who was very close to the "call out" described here, I can assure you that my and my colleagues have been mischaracterized. And while I do not wish ill health to any social workers who are vulnerable, the insinuation that our work is "bullying" or "shaming" further protects white supremacy at the expense of the pain that whiteness has caused on both our students and colleagues of color, not to mention the communities we serve.

Like it or not, the field of social work is riddled with white supremacy and saviorism. A failure to talk about these things only perpetuates them, and disproportionately affects those we claim to care about so much.

Laura Hoge, LCSW, LCADC more than 3 years ago

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