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Editorial Comment & Introduction

As hard to believe as it may seem, the University years of understanding and developing awareness around anti-oppressive practice issues is the 'easiest' bit. By easy, I recognize that people experience much of what I go through; confusion, blame, anger, joy, hope, failure, depression...BUT the real test comes when we get that certificate and go out on the pretence that we can intervene in people's lives and make a difference.

Some practitioners I know do not adopt any anti-oppressive elements to their work. They have got their degree and have been in the field for a period of time. They stumble along, wondering what they 'could do' or 'might do'.

Someone who is really committed to the principles of changing lives, enabling people to gain some control and generally being a worker who can adopt a critical approach to their work, is someone who chooses to ACT upon what they have LEARNT.

That's why Student Youth Work Online is taking this step. We want to develop an online place where people can not only read about Black perspectives and anti-racism, but utilise resources and take their learning into the field. And we want it to be a safe environment where people can test their experiences, get support and develop their skills.

Its fruitless trying to say there isn't time, or the conditions aren't right. Anti-oppressive practice needs to flow through youth work, or the continued reproduction of workers who don't really go into the job with a sense of commitment will continue.

I like to think of it as three steps to using this section of the site:

Read, develop, contribute to, and understand the notions of racism, how it works and how to tackle it. Concrete your theories and values and how these will inform your practice.

Discuss, argue and engage in what you have read, learnt or believe. Use the discussion boards to ask questions, challenge and test what you feel about issues. Contribute and take from anti-racist strategies.

Access and add to a collection of online resources, together with practical guides to developing anti-racist youth and community work. Keep the spirit of what you have learnt alive.

I hope that this new addition to our expanding resource will prove useful. Moreover, I hope that the contributions of those who have experienced first hand racism, anti-racism and developed their own Black perspectives will enable us as workers to be effective, consistent and clear about where we stand.

I would like to leave you with one thought. Recently, I attended a conference surrounding issues of developing a Black perspective in mental health and addiction work. We were fortunate to have a guest speaker - Theresa Marsh - from Canada who spoke with passion about a project she had developed there. Someone in the audience asked a question about not being able to develop anti-racist strategies in practice, citing lack of time and support as reasons. Theresa stood up and shouted to the audience, "You can do this, you can make a change, a difference - you just have to BELIEVE its possible..."

Go and make a difference...

Jason Wood, Editor - April 2001/ Email: bp@youthwork.every1.net

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Revised: February 14, 2002 .

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