The Black Lives Matter protests have encouraged many to create new platforms to address systemic racism and discrimination within their respective industries. One former corrections officer decided to use her voice to transition into a new career of social work and created a virtual gathering to address racism and prejudice within their field.
Deona Hooper is the founder of SWHELPER, a news platform dedicated to social justice. Hooper says she got inspired to create the website after working in law enforcement and social services. “When I first started SWHELPER, I was writing and trying to get published with existing social work outlets which focused heavily on clinical practice and interventions,” said Hooper in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“As a macro social worker, I was more interested in writing about advocacy for the Affordable Care Act before it becoming law, social justice issues, and system changes. After many rejections, I starting to self-publish, and social media helped me to develop an audience and grow a platform,” Hooper added.”I wanted to create an affordable option for BIPOCS and helping professionals to get access to speakers and networking opportunities usually achieved at a national or global level conference. But, the truth is, I got mad and created my virtual summit because I felt shut out.”
In light of the recent protests against police brutality, Hooper used her platform to create a virtual gathering through her social media platforms to address systemic racism in social work. Though Hooper started the summit since 2017, the virtual gathering was critical to have in light of the political climate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I told the PR firm and the host committee that this feels like discrimination because not only am I the only Black publisher in the social workspace,” said Hooper. “I am the only POC publisher around the world in the social workspace. Although I complained, my concerns fell on deaf ears. My platform has had press access for White House events and a lot of the major ComicCons around the world, but I couldn’t get press access to a conference in my profession.”