Category Archives: cultural competency

Social Workers Respond to Jihadism – Part I – Rationale and Resources

by Pat Shelly

The School of Social Work at the University at Buffalo has a Global Interest Group (GiG), which organizes events exploring social issues in a global context and bringing it into a local discussion. This encourages our MSW students to think outside the box of U.S. culture and look beyond its particular strategies for social change. At our monthly lunches, students, faculty, staff and community members listen an invited speaker, and join in the discussion that follows.

Topics for 2014-15 included working with survivors of torture, international field placement and its challenges, experiences of women in the Arab Gulf, social work issues in Tanzania, and immigration and human rights.

For the final Global to Local event of the academic year,”Social Work Responses to Jihadism: Promoting Peace and Human Rights” was held as an informal dinner discussion.

purple flower is growing up from cracked earth

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Caution: The “R Word” is a Matter of Human Rights

by Pat Shelly


Last week’s decision denying patent protection to a football team’s racist mascot image is progress of a sort.

But for Hilary Weaver, professor of Social Work at the University at Buffalo, the “R word” has impact far outside the sports arena.

Blog weaverHilary reporterPhoto









(Please note that due to the offensive nature of the name of the Washington D.C. NFL football team, I use the “R word” throughout. External links, however, may use it).


The “R Word’s” Painful Legacy

The “R word” is still in daily use. And so are the effects of its painful legacy. Hilary Weaver (Lakota) is  professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo (UB). She was interviewed by the UB Reporter about the U.S. Patent Office decision to deny trademark protection for a racist sports team logo. She spoke about what the “R word” means for her family.


Shortly after joining the UB faculty, she attended a conference at a local hotel. The Buffalo Bills, Buffalo’s professional football team, were playing the Washington D.C. team. “Welcome R——-” read a huge banner in the hotel, where the visiting team was housed.


Years later, she and her two children attended a Buffalo Bisons baseball game. The opposing team was named the Indians. The home town fans’ verbal abuse of all things Indian was insulting and hateful. Her efforts to instill pride in her children about their Native American ancestry were being challenged by this overwhelming display of hostility.


In the beginning of a Buffalo News Buffalo News interview with Weaver, columnist Don Esmonde writes, “Of course it is personal. How could it not be?…Yes, it’s personal when [she] is raising two kids in what she hopes will be a more tolerant, less ignorant America. [And] finally, it was in-your-face personal, the time when Weaver’s world collided head-on with [owner of the Washington D.C. football team] Dan Snyder’s racial myopia.”


Why the “R Word” is a Matter of Human Rights

We are all entitled to our human rights, including those pertaining to protection against discrimination and hate speech:

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Trauma-Informed Care: Is Your Eye on the Thread or the Jewel?

by Pat Shelly

Blog Embroidery LotusA conference on trauma-informed care offers new perspectives on cultural competence and priorities in treating trauma survivors.


 “Knowing that human beings are multiple in our identities, and that those identities are intersectional is foundational to cultural competence [but] not sufficient. Why is this? Because this only speaks to intellectual competence and I would argue that cultural competence is emotional competence. How do we hold the ambiguity of our own and our clients’ identities [and how they inform one another]? …trauma-informed and culturally competent care means good quality, compassionate, empathic, and attuned care.”
– excerpt from keynote address, Trauma Talks 2012: Advancing the Dialogue on Trauma-Informed Care,
by Laura S. Brown, Ph.D.


The above quote from the 2012 Trauma Talks conference and this article about a keynote from the 2014 conference demonstrate how trauma-informed care is continually developing to provide greater sensitivity while addressing complexities in treatment.


Cécile Rousseau, MD, gave a keynote at Trauma Talks 2014: Advancing Cultural Understandings in Trauma-Informed Care, entitled “Culture, trauma transmission and posttraumatic reconstruction.”  Dr. Rousseau is the director of the Transcultural Child Psychiatry Clinic at Montreal Children’s Hospital, and a faculty member at McGill University. She works with children who are refugees, immigrants, and trauma survivors, and publishes widely on issues affecting these populations.

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