SPS: Section Connection Newsletter Explores Foster Care, Anti-Racism

Social and Economic Justice and Peace

foster parents laughing with child

“My journey within the foster care system commenced at the tender age of 5, when I transitioned from one home to another,” says Yusef Presley.

Presley says he entered foster care with his older sister, and at that point, his world consisted solely of his mother and sister.

“The separation from my older sister plunged me into a profound state of depression. I felt shattered and adrift without her,” he says. “What frustrated me the most was my complete lack of control over my circumstances. When I was informed that my mother had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights, it was as if my world had crumbled, and I lost all motivation to exhibit good behavior.”

In the Section Connection newsletter, Presley shares these details in the story “Turning Pain into Power,” written jointly with Tara D. Wallace, MSW, LSCSW, CTF-CBT, chairperson of the Social and Economic Justice and Peace section.

Presley was a youth leader and is now a staff member in the Kansas-based juvenile justice organization Progeny, the article explains.

“Throughout this tumultuous period, my life was marked by medication regimens and periods of detention,” Presley says in the article. “To be candid, it was a single factor that rescued me from this downward spiral—love.”

Presley noted his life took a major turn at the age of 14 when his aunt adopted him. “She treated me as one of her own children and demonstrated a genuine, compassionate love that became the catalyst for positive change in my life. I found inspiration to strive for self-improvement, and I grew weary of the constant battles.”

The other article in this Section Connection is “White Social Workers/White People: Self-Reflection and Advocacy” by Sharon Marie Chester, MSW, LSCW-BACS.

When it comes to the subject of racism, many white people struggle to accept that such a word could be attributed to them. It draws a horrified response and defensiveness, Chester says in the article.

“White social workers are on the front lines of anti-racism, but racial literacy is not infused by osmosis,” Chester says. “We must educate ourselves on the dynamics of power and positionality in ongoing self-reflection, being humble and open to constructive criticism.”

Anti-racism is not simply a landing spot of understanding; it involves palpable execution, Chester explains.

“Actions could trigger a backlash of white fragility in the usually unconscious effort to maintain privilege in the racial hierarchy,” Chester says. “It falls on white social workers to absorb that blow. This has become apparent to me since 2018, when I began leading anti-racism seminars for professional social workers. The shocking degree of defensive backlash by some white social workers has been heartbreaking."

cover of winter 2024 issue

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