Afrocentric approach to social work practice
Afrocentric approach to social work practice
The Black Leadership Initiative (BLI) is a unique program taking an Afrocentric approach to social work practice. Emphasis is placed on community, collective action, cultural context, and Ubuntu- the West African concept of shared consciousness and group cohesion.
Samuel Bradley, Jr.
Tyrone M. Parchment
The Black Leadership Initiative was designed to support, develop, and prepare MSW-level practitioners to address issues facing the Black community. This exciting program continues BCSSW's legacy in innovation by providing one-of-a-kind professional development through a curriculum that focuses on an Afrocentric approach to social work practice, which centers the cultural experiences and values that connect people of African descent. We are proud to now have 30 fellows in the BLI. Representing two years of strong enrollment, our students hail from as far away as Sierra Leone to as close to home as Brockton, and Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Students who participate in the Black Leadership Initiative are placed in a field assignment specially arranged to support Black communities while engaging students in meaningful leadership development opportunities. There are exciting opportunities for field work throughout the Boston area—we're working with 600+ partnerships and agencies.
Specialized monthly meetings for the BLI cohort are designed to create opportunities for faculty and staff leadership to talk with students as a group. The monthly meetings provide specialized training related to field, coursework, and community building. The monthly meetings also introduce BLI fellows to professional networks comprised of key public leaders, scholars, and executives in Boston.
Specialized courses are provided as electives to the Boston College community as a whole. These courses focus specifically on the experiences of the African diaspora, a term commonly used to describe the mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades. This critical aspect centers on the histories of the African and Black diaspora, and systems of oppression such as child welfare, criminal justice, employment, education, and healthcare.
The career paths for students focusing on an Afrocentric social work perspective are vast. Whether you're working in a predominantly Black high school as a school counselor, working as a diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist for a for-profit or non-profit organization, or working on policy changes with organizations like the NAACP or Brennan Center for Justice, your career paths will be unique and rewarding. Students on this track will have the foundational knowledge to implement Afrocentric social work perspectives to combat anti-Blackness from an intersectional lens.
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Work directly with the community.
Total number of events held annually (6 virtual and 4 in-person).
Connect with other BLI fellows.
Number of courses that fall under the BLI umbrella.
Explore your classroom options.
Current number of fellows in the BLI program.
You're in great company.
This is a cohort-based program that helps students develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges facing Black communities in Boston and beyond. Space in the program is limited to 20 student fellows each year, allowing students to take many classes with their cohort. The BLI-specific courses center around Afrocentric social work practice and put the Black experience at the forefront of the curriculum.
This is one of six fields of practice offered at BCSSW. The Afrocentric Social Work field of practice centers on the African Diaspora and Black experiences, inclusive of continental Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Central America, and the United States. Students will learn how to implement and apply Afrocentric perspectives such as Ma’at and Nguzo Saba principles in working with Black clients on micro, mezzo, and macro levels.
BCSSW students can earn a certificate in Black Leadership by taking three specific courses—“Re-thinking Diversity,” “Afrocentric Organizations,” and “History of Activism in Black Communities.” In these courses students will learn about anti-Black racism, racial trauma, systemic barriers, and the historical significance of activism and advocacy among Black people and how that has shaped modern-day activism.
Students in the BLI center the history and culture of the African diaspora in order to address the needs of Black clients and communities. Ubuntu, an African philosophy based on the concept of shared humanity, lies at the heart of the curriculum.
The grant will fund a paid internship program that will match students with Boston community-based providers offering behavioral health services to Black and Latinx populations.
The school offers a suite of academic programs that center the cultural experiences and values that connect people of African descent.
Topics of discussion will include Afrocentric social work, harm reduction training, and trauma-responsive field advising.
The professors bring a combined total of more than 50 years of experience to teaching, research, and clinical practice.
Researchers in the School of Social Work have received a two-year, $395,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Evidence for Action program to find out.
Melissa Bustillo, Musa Kamara, Aanandita Shrestha, and Vincent Sweeney will work for state and local agencies in Boston this summer, helping public officials tackle key issues such as education, immigration, and substance use disorder.
The BLI Retreat is an annual event open to current BLI fellows. The retreat occurs over a period of 24 hours in a retreat facility off campus. The purpose of the retreat is to gather with one another to build stronger bonds within the BLI cohort.
During the retreat, fellows are able to engage with BCSSW staff, faculty, and alumni while participating in organized activities meant for getting to know each other, reflecting, and identifying future goals.
"Having the opportunity to be a part of the Black Leadership Initiative at BC has been one of the most healing experiences I have had throughout my educational journey. For so long, I have tried to find a community that accepts me for who I am, and that uplifts me with the foundation of peace, joy, and harmony. The best thing about being in the BLI is the ability to have a community where we share so many of the same struggles, yet where we are all so different."
"I chose to study at BCSSW because of the Black Leadership Initiative and Leaders for Equity and Justice in the Workplace certificate. There was no other school of social work that offered these unique opportunities, and being able to learn through an Afrocentric Social Work perspective was really valuable to me."
"I chose BCSSW for the Afrocentric Social Work field of practice and to be a member of the Black Leadership Initiative. Being a part of the inaugural BLI cohort has been a tremendous honor, and I could not imagine my MSW experience without the love and support of this beautiful community."
100% of BCSSW students receive some form of scholarship.
Employment rate within one year of graduation (Class of 2021).
BCSSW has 47% faculty diversity with 32 full-time faculty members.
Average length of a job search for a graduate is 6 weeks (Class of 2021).
“Students will get the training and education to center the Black and African experience in their social work practice. If we really want to challenge white supremacy, here is one way of doing so.”
This certificate program was designed to prepare master’s students to improve equality in the workplace for women, people of color, and other marginalized employees. Students will need to complete three courses to earn the certificate. Open to all BCSSW students.
Co-founded by Asst. Professor Samuel Bradley, Jr.
The Work Equity initiative aims to advance equity in the workplace by developing solutions to the root causes of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination and biases built into the structure of jobs and employment systems.
Founded by Assistant Professor Robert O. Motley Jr.
This lab provides an interdisciplinary intellectual space in which faculty and students can critically examine the intersection of racism, violence, and trauma and its impact on the well-being of Black emerging adults 18 to 29 years of age.