Social Work in Action (January 2013)

NASW CEO Elizabeth J. Clark, on behalf of the association, submitted testimony in September at a U.S. Senate hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism, held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Clark stated that NASW applauds the committee for hosting the hearings and for Congress and the federal government in taking increased measures to prevent and combat hate crimes and domestic extremism.

The letter noted that the killing of six people at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., was related to racial, religious and ethnic intolerance. “Oak Creek was not a Sikh tragedy, but an American one,” Clark stated. “The overwhelming response by Americans of all faiths reaffirms that our country has not forgotten the importance of pluralism and protecting the rights of all.”

She said NASW joins elected leaders and civic, faith-based and educational institutions in taking steps to address xenophobia, racism and anti-religious hate in the country today.

“We hope that these hearings are only the first step in bringing stakeholders together to identify concrete solutions,” Clark said.

Clark also spoke at the NASW Alaska Chapter’s conference on Restoring Hope: The Power of Social Work. Clark’s presentation emphasized the importance of having hope as social workers embark on trying to make positive changes through the profession. “The best definition that I have found of hope is this: Hope is a way of thinking, feeling and acting. You can feel the power of hope — almost hold it, literally — in your hand, and, when you feel it, you realize that in the presence of hope anything is possible,” Clark said at the conference.

Clark urged social workers to not underestimate their work. “If you ever doubt the importance of your work or the importance of the profession, take a moment to think what the world would be like without social workers. If the profession of social work ended this decade, would it matter?...I contend that it would matter, and matter greatly. The world would be a much less hospitable and less caring place without social work.”

The conference was held in September in Anchorage, Alaska, and featured keynote speakers Peter Alsop, nationally known singer-songwriter, educator and humorist; and Terry Cross, LCSW, pioneer of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.