I am grateful for a graduate school program that focuses on both intellectual and academic growth as well as action and practice. For example, my Health Disparities Policy professor decided to count participation in Social Work Advocacy Day as a substitute for a class presentation. She boldly prioritized political action and encouraged us to embody what we talk about in the comfort of the classroom.
And so, tomorrow I will join hundreds of my fellow social workers for the bi-annual Social Work Advocacy Day in Raleigh! I will attend a morning training and then meet with numerous legislators – both state senators and representatives – to voice my thoughts and opinions on important state policy issues. I will use my professional privilege as a social worker to advocate for those who have been marginalized. I will advocate for change and raise awareness of issues that matter to me. I will speak directly with those who vote on state-wide matters.
This is both scary and exciting. I have never met with legislators before, let alone shared my humble opinions with them. It seems like such a bold, unique opportunity…and while it may be in some ways, it also is quite ordinary.
What I mean is, these are leaders who represent and work for us. Not only do we have the right and responsibility to meet with them and share our thoughts, but our legislators welcome it! They make time for it. This forced me to remember that not only are these leaders important, but so are we. So in the spirit of Social Work Advocacy Day, let’s recognize the boldness of our own voice. And let’s not be afraid to use it!