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Creating Spaces: Exploring the Role of Cultural Knowledge as a Source of Empowerment in Models of Social Welfare in Black Communities

Mekada Graham
The British Journal of Social Work
Vol. 32, No. 1 (JANUARY 2002), pp. 35-49
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23716410
Page Count: 15
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Creating Spaces: Exploring the Role of Cultural Knowledge as a Source of Empowerment in Models of Social Welfare in Black Communities
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Abstract

Research data continue to indicate that black communities are disproportionately represented across social welfare statistics. The Macpherson Report (1999) considered the impact of institutional racism and the various ways in which these contingencies affect the life chances of black families and individuals. Black community-based organizations have responded to these challenges through culturally constructed interpretative frameworks in shaping and defining social welfare activities. Through a critical reading of cultural elements and products they have utilized cultural knowledge as a source and means of empowerment. These are important sites of empowerment that reject deficit approaches to embrace culturally affirming models located in cultural knowledge and lived experiences. In this way, black communities have engaged in an active process of revitalization, cultural renewal and regeneration. This article explores models of social welfare in black community-based organizations and draws on a research study conducted by the author, which examines the role and saliency of cultural knowledge in shaping social welfare delivery. Research findings reveal the ways in which black agency is sometimes located in culturally constructed ways to reflect on daily lives and experiences. Cultural knowledge acted as a vehicle in framing action-orientated communal strategies for social and educational change.

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