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Woman who accused police of excessive force is not a social worker

Earledreka White. Photo courtesy of MSN.

Earledreka White. Photo courtesy of MSN.

A Houston woman who claims she was the victim of excessive police force is not a social worker although several news accounts have identified her as one.

Earledreka White is not in the National Association of Social Workers database. The NASW Texas Chapter also said she is not in the state database of licensed social workers.

In fact, NASW was contacted by a social worker named “Suzy” who said White is psychology assistant.

Suzy has contacted the Washington Post to have headlines change that identify White as a social worker but the newspaper has not changed the headline.

Social workers often complain their professional title is misused, with reporters and editors calling people social workers who are not educated and licensed social workers.

“As a social worker myself I refuse to allow media to exploit my profession in an effort to benefit their false ‘headline grabbing,'” Suzy said. “The same thing happens with local media too.”

A Houston policeman pulled White over for allegedly crossing a double line while driving. White got out of her car to ask why she was being pulled over and the policeman allegedly threatened to arrest her. White called 911 because she felt threatened but was handcuffed and arrested by the policeman.

White has filed a formal complaint against the police.

NASW is against the use of excessive police force and is working with other organizations to urge reforms. To learn more visit NASW’s SocialWork Blog.

 

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16 Comments

  1. A black woman accused the police of excessive force and that’s your takeaway? Please…. non-social workers (like most media outlets) use the term so loosely because they don’t know about licensing requirements, NASW’s definition of a social worker, etc. Whatever the specific population—geriatric, welfare, child protection—if we help someone in any professional capacity then we are “social workers” to the outside world. Gimme a break. There are bigger issues than what this woman or someone else calls herself. To focus on the social worker taking offense over a misnomer, rather than the accusations of excessive force and racism put forth by this woman, is indicative of everything that’s wrong in the world right now. Let’s have an honest, open conversation about those accusations first. All other non-mf***ing factors can take a back seat. #blacklivesmatter. IJS.

  2. That’s crazy, why does it matter to anyone so much that she is “not a social worker.” I honestly don’t think this is an attempt by the media to “exploit the profession” because that would imply that what White did was somehow wrong, right? What is the exploitation of the profession here? I don’t understand at all…. What?????

    Enlighten me please, GWright.

  3. Costa:

    Thanks for taking time to comment. NASW is active in the movement to end racial profiling by police, end excessive use of police force, and improve relationships between police and the communities they serve.

    We are often asked to issue statements and get involved in myriad cases of police abuse that sadly continue on a daily basis across the nation. As regards Earledreka White NASW has been contacted repeatedly over the past week to issue a statement on this case in light of the fact a member of our profession was involved in yet another possible case of police abuse of power.

    While investigating the matter we learned Ms. White was not a social worker. The media had misidentified the profession, which happens frequently and which we also try to address when we can. Through the Facebook post we hoped to alert the many folks who had contacted us that she was not a social worker. Many wanted us to issue a statement based on that fact alone

    That does not negate that what happened Ms. White may have been wrong. Absolutely not. It does not mean police overuse of force is wrong. Absolutely not. And it doesn’t mean NASW is not working on these issues.

    Again, thanks for your concern and for contacting us. We understand your position and wanted to give you more details on what was happening behind the scenes.

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager

  4. Kimberly:

    Thanks for taking time to comment. We understand your concern. I will reply to your comment in a similar way that I replied to the another commenter, Costa.

    As I told Costa, NASW is active in the movement to end racial profiling by police, end excessive use of police force,and improve relationships between police and the communities they serve. Please look through our position papers and statements in the media room press release section at http://www.socialworkers.org and on NASW’s Social Work Blog (www.socialworkblog.org).

    We are often asked to issue statements and get involved in cases of police abuse that sadly continue to be reported around the nation. As regards Earledreka White NASW has been contacted repeatedly over the past week to issue a statement on this case in light of the fact a member of our profession was involved in yet another possible case of police abuse of power.

    While investigating the matter we learned Ms. White was not a social worker. The media had misidentified the profession, which happens frequently and which we also try to address when we can. Through the Facebook post we hoped to alert the many folks who had contacted us that she was not a social worker. Many wanted us to issue a statement based on that fact alone.

    That does not negate that what happened Ms. White may have been wrong. Absolutely not. It does not mean police overuse of force is wrong. Absolutely not. And it doesn’t mean NASW is not working on these issues.

    Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us.

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager

  5. Thanks for taking the time to respond GWright. I really appreciate it! My point is this:

    When an nasw article quotes someone saying that the profession is being exploited by media sensilization in a specific instance, I should hope that is actually happening in that instance. But that didn’t happen with the Washington post article. I personally don’t think the profession is being exploited because I don’t think White did anything which would bring shame to our profession. Maybe a writer made a short cut in misidentifying her, but an NASW article should investigate, make a small point about her not being a social worker, and then take a side on the issue. What you did is make the point that she is not a social worker the headline. When I see this article, I see: EXTRA EXTRA read all about it, this black woman is impersonating a social worker.

    Do you see how I can see that?

  6. Wow . My life was threatened 7 times I was allowed to be bullied harrassed assaulted and told to suffocate my self by Jim Jones who harrassed and bullied me and threatened my life because I didn’t join him in causing troubles for others and our bosses. He is now the forman at the brewster dpw . He has 2 police reports against him and nothing. The officers are great people but it comes from above . I was pushed out of my job and now struggling to make ends meet .I am now 17 gone because of the 3 guys . My buddy was going to hang him self because of these guys he works there . And is afraid to speak up because he saw me lose my job.

  7. I’ve read the post, all the comments and responses, and still I wonder (to borrow and paraphrase from Sojourner Truth who said this better than I ever could), “[ain’t I a social worker?] I could work as much and eat as much as a [social worker] – when I could get it- and bear the lash as well! Ain’t I a [social worker]?”

    This post minimizes the traumatic experience of this young woman, prioritizing that she was not, in fact, a social worker as reported. If the social work profession/NASW faces an image issue about who or what social workers are then address that through policy, programs or other other ways. To me, this is the equivalent of someone standing on a box at a BLM event and yelling, “licensed social work lives matter too!” Really?

  8. Not sure why the NASW needs to clarify who is a social worker in this case. The responds should be framed as a responds to the over policing practicing in communities of color. Her being a social worker or not should not be the issue given the historical framework of our profession.

  9. Costa:

    Absolutely we get your point and we are glad to have the opportunity to explain our position to you. We will strive to be more sensitive in the future and we thank you and others for weighing in.

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager
    NASW Public Relations

  10. I’m a social worker based in NYC, and I am outraged and appalled by this statement. There are so many more important issues to be raise from this woman’s experience from
    a social work perspective that to prioritize professional title protection (to the effect of further discrediting her by insinuating that she misrepresented herself) occurs as callous and opportunistic. Why not use this case to highlight why she may have felt the need to call 911 in the first place – the psychoemotional strain Black ppl and people of color are under from the traumatic impact of being exposed to video after video of our people being killed by police, case after case of lies and cover ups from law enforcement, knowing that even crystal clear camera footage of Eric Garner having the life choked out of him wasn’t enough to warrant a conviction, the fact that Freddie Gray could die in custody from a severed spine and not a single person could be found responsible, the fact that at least 8 Black women have died in interactions with police since Sandra Bland’s death in 2015 less than an hour out from where White was pulled over… I could go on and on. Using Earledreka White’s story to raise the issue of title protection obscures the violence that was done to her, and the urgency with which our profession must fight the epidemic of police violence on people of color in this country. We cannot allow this to be yet another moment in the history of our profession where we prioritize bolstering our professional credentials over being in integrity to our mission “to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” (NASW Code of Ethics). #BlackLivesMatter

  11. Mr Wright,

    I’m very happy you guys are so responsive! Thankful for the NASW and all social workers doing their best under the media team there. Now all we need is for you to apologize, rewrite this article to not focus on the fact that she is not a social worker but instead the actual ISSUE, and you should be reprimanded by a superior.

  12. Question. When did it become acceptable to get out of your car when pulled over? Is it possible the situation would have had a different ending if she would have stayed on her butt in the car.

  13. I believe it is possible for the NASW to clarify Ms. White’s occupation (a media matter, and not her fault) while keeping the issue of police brutality and judicial overreach at the fore. Perhaps a better strategy might be–a victim of a crime was mistakenly described in the press–what an unfortunate example of several all-too-common issues of varying magnitude (brutality, and misunderstanding social work) an what a clarion call for how necessary our work is–to help serve vulnerable people like Ms. White, and to be out in the world so that more people understand who social workers are by watching us work. The focus here lacks tact at best, and empathy at worst. Do better!

  14. I believe a few things can be true at the same time. Ms. White identified herself as a clinical therapist to the police officer as she disregarded the officer’s instructions to get back in the car; the police officer lost his cool and control of the situation in a way that is reprehensible; Ms. White’s attorney released a statement to the media using her position as a helper as a way to garner support for her, so that we can all build empathy for her and get behind her case; social worker’s, frustrated with the mislabeling of their profession as if it is not licensed and regulated, called out the media for their behavior; and the NASW supported the assertion that social workers should be viewed as a licensed and regulated profession. One of these truisms does not negate the other nor should be viewed exclusively as a means to demean the other. It is alright for all things to be true and it is a worthy discussion. Social workers are often diminished in pay, education, and licensure behind other professions with just as rigorous regulatory agreements. We wouldn’t expect a plumber to not be licensed or a doctor or lawyer, etc., but it seems to be alright for anyone who calls themselves social workers to be labeled as such. The NASW is primarily tasked with protecting the profession and advocating for it’s member’s professionalism. It is appropriate for the NASW to both work towards the end of incidents like Ms. White’s case and to protect our profession. It should be that we can work simultaneously towards two goals. I truly hope Ms. White is applauded for the work she does, which is just as valid and licensed with rigorous guidelines, and finds the justice she is seeking. I also hope we, as social workers, continue to seek the dignity and respect in the media we deserve.

  15. Ugh I’m so fed up with the NASW beurocratic ways …and to think this profession has gone through so many incarnations of what defines a social worker and they chose this time to clarify what a social worker is. perhaps she has a bachelors and not a MSW in social work? Does that negate her as a social worker simply because she’s not licensed? Since when is social work about protecting its title and what it defines as social work as opposed to focusing on protecting the marginalized victim? The NASW has only plunged the profession of social work into beurocratic and capatilastic parameters and continues to drift away from the original reason why social work was ever created as a profession … And to think beurocratic and capitalism ways were some of the two major things social work pretty much went against to begin with … Whatever happened to that? Whatever happened to not blaming the victim? Get it together NASW

  16. I don’t care if this girl cleaned toilets for a living. She is a decent person who was mistreated by a bully in uniform and falsely arrested. He is a racist and that department needs to be investigated. Enough is enough.

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