Black social workers: identity, racism, invisibility/hypervisibility at work

Chijioke Obasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
333 Downloads (Pure)


Summary: This article provides a reflexive account of qualitative research with Black female social workers in the North of England. It uses ‘Africanist Sista-hood in Britain’ as the theoretical framework guiding the research. The data are gathered from six semi-structured interviews and two focus groups. Data were analysed via thematic analysis. Participant data are used to discuss issues of identity, race and racism as they contribute to positions of visibility, invisibility and hypervisibility within the social work spaces discussed. The article challenges Western forms of knowledge production as the dominant discourse in social work research, practice, education and training and links this to wider issues of power, privilege and suppression of marginalised voices. Findings: The findings section reveals examples of racism, marginality, invisibility and hypervisibility as part of the lived experiences of Black female social workers in the study. It includes discussions of ‘collective strategic projection’ as a consequence of the development of the ‘race taboo’ often present in these work environments. Applications: The article calls for social work educators, practitioners and the wider academic field to do more to centralise anti-racist approaches in an attempt to challenge racism in social work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-497
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • social work
  • black perspectives
  • racism
  • feminism
  • anti-oppressive practice
  • social work education


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