By Anna Gwiazda
On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Monmouth University’s School of Social Work Growing Together as Allies (GTAA) hosted guest speaker, Anjanette Young, for her presentation titled, “Living Beyond the Trauma of Racism: #Iam Her.” The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding and was partially funded by the Diversity and Innovation Grant from the Intercultural Center. GTAA is a committee of faculty, students and alumni working to advance anti-racism within the school, university, and community.
Anjanette Young is a graduate of Jane Addams School of Social Work at The University of Illinois Chicago and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker . She is the President/CEO of Cafe Social Work, and the author of the book, 30 Days Until the Finish Line. The focus of this session was on the trauma caused by the United States’ broken criminal justice system, which disproportionately victimizes and inflicts violence on Black individuals and communities, and how to take action and get involved in addressing it.
Ms. Young courageously shared with the audience the most traumatic day of her life. She explained that on February 20, 2019, twelve white male police officers wrongly raided her house on a no-knock warrant based on incorrect information. The police officers forcefully entered her house with guns drawn at her and failed to acknowledge her humanity when they refused to allow her to cover her naked body before being handcuffed. Ms. Young highlighted that this was not only a failure on the part of the Chicago Police Department but a social issue that is deeply rooted in the racist criminal justice system. Ms. Young explained that she is a survivor, unlike Breonna Taylor and many other Black people, who faced the same situation but were shot and killed. All twelve police officers currently walk the streets of Chicago without any repercussions, while Ms. Young was left feeling traumatized.
Fighting for social justice is Ms. Young’s legacy, in the footsteps of her grandmother who marched beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. She explained that after the events of the night with the Chicago police her faith guided her to step into the public arena and advocate for policy change within the criminal justice system. She has been speaking out through events like these and is working on passing legislation through the Chicago City Council called the Anjanette Young Ordinance to ensure that no one else endures the inhumane treatment that she received.
Ms. Young advocates that people educate themselves on systemic racism and use their voice through voting in local elections. She urged the audience to reflect to expand their social circles to include a racially diverse network of friends, so in that way we recognize race. She explained that when you fail to acknowledge race you fail to acknowledge the person. Ms. Young concluded the session with questions from the audience and encouraged students to contact her. Please click here to learn more about Anjanette Young’s Ordinance.
To learn more about the other sessions hosted by the School of Social Work Growing Together as Allies Fall 2021 Speaker Series, please click here.