Published In

Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Document Type


Publication Date



Racism in higher education -- United States, Race -- Study and teaching -- United States, Anti-racism -- Study and teaching (Higher) -- United States


Social Justice and Social Work is a foundational course required for all social work students in the master’s of social work program at Portland State University. Although the course has long focused on interrupting oppressions including White supremacy, teaching the course during the fall of 2020 required a nimble dance between our familiar modes of teaching and the need for spontaneous adaptation and creativity. The unique landscape for this course included teaching the course remotely (Zoom), inside a university embattled around the arming of its security force (that killed a Black man in 2018), in a city targeted by an armed federal response to the racial uprising led by Black Lives Matter, in a state with a long history of White supremacy and Black exclusion, and under a federal administration explicitly aligned with White supremacy. This paper offers a reflection of our teaching about and against White supremacy during this unique moment in time. We position our writing at the intersections of teaching and activism, of hope and uncertainty. It is from our shared commitment to the abolishment of White supremacy that the following tenets were derived, grounding our experimental teaching in complexity, complicity, and social transformation: (1) remembering for the future, (2) attending to collective grief and rage, (3) bringing the streets (racial uprising) into the classroom, and (4) repurposing the classroom for social transformation.


Copyright (c) 2021 The Authors

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



Persistent Identifier

Included in

Social Work Commons