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White Benevolence Racism and Colonial Violence in the Helping Professions

White Benevolence Racism and Colonial Violence in the Helping Professions

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When working with Indigenous people, the helping professions —education, social work, health care and justice — reinforce the colonial lie that Indigenous people need saving. In White Benevolence, leading anti-racism scholars reveal the ways in which white settlers working in these institutions shape, defend and uphold institutional racism, even while professing to support Indigenous people. White supremacy shows up in the everyday behaviours, language and assumptions of white professionals who reproduce myths of Indigenous inferiority and deficit, making it clear that institutional racism encompasses not only high-level policies and laws but also the collective enactment by people within these institutions. In this uncompromising and essential collection, the authors argue that white settler social workers, educators, health-care practitioners and criminal justice workers have a responsibility to understand the colonial history of their professions and their complicity in ongoing violence, be it over-policing, school push-out, child apprehension or denial of health care. The answer isn’t cultural awareness training. What’s needed is radical anti-racism, solidarity and a relinquishing of the power of white supremacy.

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