Transformational Healing & Critical Race Theory in Practice – Nicole Vazquez, MSW, MPP & Susana Victoria Parras, LCSW, PPSE
Guests: Nicole Vazquez, MSW, MPP & Susana Victoria Parras, LCSW, PPSE
Host: Shimon Cohen, LCSW
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In this episode, I talk with Nicole Vazquez and Susana Victoria Parras about critical race theory (CRT) in social work practice. Nicole brought the fire on Episode 37 Critical Race Theory and Social Work and I’m so excited and honored to have her back. Nicole is a critical race scholar, the former Field Director and Chair Designee at Cal State Dominguez Hills’ MSW program, and currently runs Vazquez Consulting. She is a queer Afro-Latinx cisgender woman of Mexican American and Panamanian parents. Susana is a justice/healing based therapist in South Central, Los Angeles, California, and a former school social worker. She is a mother, partner, daughter of Guatemalan immigrant parents, and on the path to liberation, healing, and restoration. Nicole and Susana cover so much in this episode! They talk about the micro-macro divide and how that separation is challenged by CRT. They discuss how CRT provides a framework to be grounded in an understanding of positionality and power, and get into specific examples of how to apply the tenets of CRT to social work practice. Susana stresses the importance of interconnectedness and how she now practices in a way where she looks at how these tenets “live in the body” rather than only intellectually. Nicole explains how to utilize CRT in having a historical and contextual understanding of the forces impacting people’s lives, put together with practitioner humility, to work authentically and collaboratively with people, rather than from a savioristic, paternalistic approach. They explain how CRT’s critique of liberalism – individualism – shows us how liberalism blames people for their conditions, and takes so much away from us, especially community and culture. We explore ways social work and social work education perpetuate oppression. We discuss how the social work concept of professionalism can separate us, and they explain how separation comes from colonization and white supremacy, and that connection and healing comes from ancestral/Indigenous ways. Susana talks about feeling limited by CRT and shares what she calls healing justice work. We also talk about if social work can truly be decolonized. Nicole and Susana’s message is deeply transformative and uplifting. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.