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Dean's Statement on the Death of George Floyd

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Dear GSS Community,

On Saturday evening, the President of our University, Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J. issued the following statement addressing “the savage and senseless” killing of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis. In doing so, he calls upon us to open ourselves to the larger causal truths that have kept “communities of color crushed under the weight of racism in our country… and living lives of relentlessly hostile scrutiny.”

Fr. McShane's statement is a powerful indictment of our country’s flawed social, political, and economic conditions that have been shamelessly shaped by racism and exclusion. He is eloquent about the need for each of us to convert our personal pain and anger into action. As individuals and as a community, I ask that we heed this call.

Social work is a profession founded on a commitment to social justice. In truth, I’m not sure we've always kept this commitment at the forefront of our work. As a social worker and a white woman, I stand in solidarity with our communities of color. Yet, I know that a commitment to social justice means I must be willing to recognize and challenge my own biases and prejudices. I believe that as a profession, social work must engage in this same examination. We must be willing to collectively and honestly reflect on how prejudice shows itself in the ways we relate to others and to systematic oppression.

Citizens all across our country have taken to the streets to give voice to the inequities that social workers witness every day. As a profession, we can do better. We must do more. In our work, in all of the organizations and communities we serve, I ask that we recommit ourselves to bringing about the social, political, and economic justice that our profession stands for and is so long overdue.


Debra M. McPhee, Ph.D.
Fordham University
Graduate School of Social Service