Creating Space for the ‘Uncomfortable’: Discussions about Race and Police Brutality in a BSW Classroom

  • Reflections Editor


During the summer of 2014 I was developing my syllabus for a cultural competency course I would
teach in the fall to a group of BSW students. On August 9th of that summer Michael Brown, a young black man,
was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson Missouri. As the fall semester
approached and I was putting the finishing touches on my syllabus, I knew that I would speak with my students of
the events unfolding in Ferguson. But I was anxious of what such conversations would look like. This narrative
offers an overview of the critical dialogue that I engaged in with students about race and police brutality that
semester. It also documents my journey in learning to create space for ‘uncomfortable’ classroom discussions that
foster critical reflection about race in America and preparing social work students to practice in a multiracial