Themes from the opening and keynote speaker at @UBSSW Poverty is a Human Rights Issue: 4th Annual Symposium:
- Poverty is nuanced
- It is based on the history of the United States and US Social Policy
- Many “good” policies to integrate individuals have been create but..
Have been created so marginalized communities can be integrated because profits have been able to be made off of their exploitation (ie. Predatory Lending allows credit, for profit education allows debt and worthless degrees) #PHRI #MacroSW #Policy
- There are many two tiered systems (4% loan rates vs 11% loan rates).
- Military budget
- If we have Medicare for all, how do we ensure a second system for the wealthy doesn’t get created so we don’t wind up back where we started? #MacroSW #PHRI
Possible Solutions:
- Reparations
- Transformative Policy Change
- Racial Justice
- Baby Bonds (See Derrick Hamilton’s Work)
#MacroSW #PHRI
Other community points:
- We are sitting in a building next to a neighborhood that is being redlined.
- We are sitting in a building that is responsible for the gentrification of the neighborhood.
- We need to lift the bar for everyone in the country.
(For those not here we’re at the @UBuffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, which is part of the Buffalo Medical Corridor, which is gentrifying the Fruit Belt district of Buffalo, largely in part to the rapidly increased property values and taxes) #MacroSW #PHRI
The @CityofBuffalo is working on some possible property tax relief options/policies so that lifelong Fruit Belt residents won’t lose their homes #MacroSWI #PHRI
Current speaker is Sam Magavern from @PPGBuffalo.

Current Theme:
- Who is the average person in poverty?
- Statistically today across the US it is a female headed house hold, white, high school graduate, in the suburbs.
- This is a change from rural areas.
- Stereotypes persist
- These statistics are not representative of the Buffalo/Niagara experience.
#MacroSW #PHRI
- The workforce is better educated today than they ever have been.
- We have to think at the #MacroSW level
- “As long as their are poverty wage jobs there will be people in poverty.”
Now Dr. Patton on Building AI Systems with Black Youth from Under-resourced Communities in Chicago: Examining Challenges and Opportunities #MacroSW #PHRI
Take Aways:
- Youth are sharing their lived experience on social media to navigate safe and unsafe spaces in their communities and to seek support and process trauma.
- Nuanced communications.
- Need community experts to provide context.
- Annotators must undergo training #PHRI
- If not used properly AI can be used on social media for more policing, and mass incarceration.
- If used properly AI can be used on social media to help save lives, provide services
#MacroSW #AI #PHRI
Further Take Aways:
- Marginalized communities have been arrested for their social media use. Social Media has been used for mass incarceration and surveillance.
- Black and Marginalized communities have been ignored in the past by AI developers/Tech #MacroSW #PHRI
Thank you @DrDesmondPatton and @SAFElab for this incredible work! #MacroSW #PHRI
Lots of #Micro and #Clinical take aways when we look at trauma processing and navigating communities and safe spaces. Also, for those of us not in these communities to have cultural humility, and to learn to better understand #SoMe code switching and use, and understand our bias.
We’re having a wonderful lunch from @WestSideBazaar! Next up will be remarks from @njsmyth, Dean of the @UBSSW! #MacroSW #POVBuffalo #PHRI #HumanRights
Take Aways
- Think on the Macro Level
- Be Solutions Focused/Miracle Question
- How do we get people connected?
- We need to be at the tables where economic and policy decisions are being made. We need to be a part of the solutions process, in tech spaces.
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
More Takeaways:
- If Social Workers are at tech tables we can share our knowledge to help stop problems before they start.
- We don’t need to know how to code.
- We just need to understand conceptually.
- ...or use our SW skills to ask questions, find out information!
- Tech connects and influences people.
- We can’t say we aren’t “tech people”
- We have to figure out how we’re going to be in this space as Social Workers.
- We have to have our Social Work perspective at the table so we’re not chasing after things, but rather influencing them
“We have more value than most people have any understanding of...and the only way to show it is by just showing up!” - @njsmyth
Final take aways from @njsmyth:
- Challenge ourselves.
- Go into the tech and digital spaces we feel uncomfortable with.
- Use our SW Skills
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo #PHRI
Now up is Rev. Emily McNeil, the Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS and NY Poor People’s Campaign #MacroSW
“A new and Unsettling Force: Drawing Inspiration from MLK to Build a Movement to End Poverty”
Take Aways:
- When poor people have little or nothing to lose, and their interests are aligned, they are a powerful force if they can be mobilized.
- Demand for a basic standard of living.
- Mass organization = power
Take Aways
50.5% of New Yorkers are Poor or Low Income
Social Services Funding is down 32%
17% of the nations homeless live in NYS
Black NYers are incarcerated at 8x the rate of white NYers
#PoorPeoplesCampaign #MacroSW #POVBuffalo
Second Video:

Take Aways:
- Stop the war on the poor.
#MacroSW #PoorPeoplesCampaign #POVBuffalo
Other Take Aways:
- This campaign is Non-Partisan.
- Neither of the two main political parties are working for the poorest.
- We have to work across region, religion, and race to organize.
- All systems are connected.
- The most directly impacted must be in leadership.
Community Comments/Take Aways:
- The Abolition Movement took more than 100 years.
- Many other social revolutions/changes that we take for granted now, were once thought totally impossible (many if not all were fought against by business, special interests).
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Truth commissions are helpful.
- Go in with a sense of humility to truly listen to folx loved experiences and narratives (step down approach)
- Faith communities shouldn’t look at helping with folks survival (ie. food pantries) as the same as stepping up and working to change the system #MacroSW #POVBuffalo
And now time for a panel filled with incredible talent! “Local Initiatives and Practical Approaches” #MacroSW #POVBuffalo #HumanRights
Take Aways
- Gap in lending to refugee communities
- Land is valued based on whether it can generate taxes, but not food
- Older Refugees face isolation and Food Access issues
- Easier to suggest ideas that are in place than point out problems
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Education is a recurring theme. Education of lawmakers, landlords, tenants, social workers, community members.
- People are still being denied housing based on source of income in Buffalo
- It is now protected in Erie County
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Governments choose to act or to not act.
- On the ground work is what has made the difference to the enforcement of policy.
- Policy change follows grassroots work.
- Food world takes 10-12 years from idea to policy change.
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Community partnerships are key.
- Build community partnerships where you can.
- You can’t be good at everything.
- Learn what partnerships are available.
- Get out of the “this is my service area” or “this is my job;” we have to work together to bridge gaps beyond our missions
- Buffalo does not need to reinvent the wheel.
- There are national networks to tap into.
- Networking our impact and leverage vs. scaling up
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
“If we do things right at the local level it is possible to share them upward” - Salina Raja, PhD
- Use “Community of Opportunity” instead of “Food Desert.” This approach takes into account non-traditional food delivery systems like cultural coops, etc.
- Refugees are reviving storefronts.
- Bringing and keeping money in the neighborhoods.
- Having positive impacts culturally and financially
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Social Media
- Boots on the Ground
- Talk With Community Leaders. Form relationships with them to build trust within communities.
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Policy Literacy: Must communicate WHY it matters.
- Concise Briefs are good
- ...but so are narratives.
- We all need to be speaking with each other.
Rev. McNeil is now offering a response/reflection to the panel
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- “People are political actors no matter what in the communities they live”
- Some projects are projects of survival
- How are we bringing these narratives to policy makers? How are we raising up voices of the marginalized?
- Collaboration vs. Competition
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- Education is key to empowerment
- It’s hard to get the word out
#MacroSW #POVBuffalo
- “Food Deserts” take away responsibilities for conditions. Deserts just exist. We should be using the word “Food Apartheid.” Samina Raja, PhD #MacroSW #FoodJustice
What an incredible symposium today put on by the @UBSSW. Truly empowering, with information on the #MacroSW, Mezzo, and Micro levels. Looking forward to bringing a lot of these lessons back to my colleagues.
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