Impact of Internalized Racial Superiority on White Social Workers’ Skills, Practice and Effectiveness

Description of Course:

Session amounts may vary based on the individual needs of the organization.

For individuals, please contact us for more information.

This course will examine the history of race and racism in the U.S., especially as it applies to White people in the social work profession. With this background, participants will explore how Internalized Racial Oppression (IRO) impacts both People of Color (through messages of “inferiority”) and White people (through messages of “superiority”). Participants will consider the “perfect storm” IRO creates, damaging relationships and thwarting effective professional practice.

Participants will reflect on implications of Internalized Racial Oppression for their work. They will practice using antiracist language with one another, as they reflect on their professional experiences. Finally, they will design strategies for implementing their new insights and knowledge in their social work practice.

Teaching Methods:

The course is geared to social work practitioners, particularly White social workers, though People of Color are welcome. The instructor will use verbal and written presentations of material; facilitate large group discussion of concepts and of participants’ practice. Participants will work in small groups to share personal experiences of Internalized Racial Oppression – especially Superiority; they will design strategies to implement antiracist practices.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will recognize how the history of racism as a structural arrangement in the U.S., has privileged White people and oppressed People of Color.
  • Participants will reflect on how racism impacts White people as we internalize messages of White superiority.
  • Participants will practice antiracist language, based on a common analysis of racism and Internalized Racial Oppression.
  • Participants will design strategies to practice antiracist language, share insights with colleagues, and organize with other antiracist social work professionals to examine their institutional policies, programs and structures.


The course requires reading two articles in advance of the meeting.