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Cherie Bridges Patrick, Ph.D. is a 2020 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.


Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick at her Dissertation Defense.

Clockwise: Dr. Philomena Essed, Committee Chair, Dr. Donna Jeffery, Committee Member, Dr. Donna Ladkin, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Donna Ladkin, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Donna Jeffery, Ph.D., Committee Member


Critical Discourse Analysis, Antiracism, Race, Racial Discourse, Racial Dominance, Racial Justice, Racism, Racism Denial, Social Work, Willful Blindness, Whiteness, Helping Professions, Social Justice Leadership, Willful Avoidance

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This thesis explored social worker discourses to learn what they could reveal about professional workplace practices and experiences with race and racism. The study traced the subtle and elusive racism often found in everyday professional conversations that are not considered racist by dominant consensus. Using tools of thematic and critical discourse analysis (CDA), and van Dijk’s (1993, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2011) general theory of racism and denial (1992, 2008), data from 14 semistructured interviews and one focus group with a racially diverse group of social workers was analyzed in two ways. First, thematic analysis offered a horizontal or flat exploration that illustrated various manifestations of racism, denial, and whiteness. The second, vertical critical discourse analysis took a sociocognitive approach to examine underlying discourse structures that hold racism and whiteness in place. Findings suggest the presence of subtle and nuanced racism and whiteness in social worker discourses, and I discuss how these forces work in tandem to produce dynamics that preserve hegemonic structures and support dominant status. This power analyses brought attention to often overlooked forms of counter-power and resistance embedded in participant narratives. Inferences from focus group discourse illustrated four interpersonal capacities that supported constructive racial dialogue. Findings revealed vastly different racial experiences between Black, biracial, and White social workers in their professional settings. Implications for social work (and more broadly the helping professions) education, training, and leadership and change practices are provided. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,



Cherie Bridges Patrick, Ph.D.

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-2545-508X

Cherie is the founder of Paradox Cross-Cultural Consulting, Training and Empowerment, LLC. Primarily focused on the education, counseling and faith-based professions, she combines her research and scholarly interests with her consulting practice. Cherie is adept at creating generative and liberating dialogic environments that promote transformational social change. Through customized workshops, consulting and coaching, she engages individuals at the organizational, community and grassroots levels around the historical and current consequences of oppression-based trauma; healing; and embodied liberatory practices. Clients include The Episcopal Church–Diocese of Southern Ohio Becoming Beloved Community movement, the National Association of Social Workers–Ohio Chapter, The Buckeye Ranch, and other non-profit organizations. Cherie is also a facilitator for The Ohio Child Welfare Training Program.

A licensed clinical social worker, Cherie currently provides individual distance counseling utilizing a somatic psychotherapeutic approach. These practices create mind-body spaces for healing primarily around various forms of trauma including oppression-based trauma, intimate partner violence, and childhood trauma. Her multiracial and multiethnic clinical and educational experiences include extensive work in community mental health and with Somali immigrant families around the complexities of global displacement and resettlement. Cherie is a section instructor for the Simmons College of Social Work online MSW program where she teaches Dynamics of Racism and Oppression. She has also served as a Master’s level adjunct professor at The Ohio State University and IUPUI where she has taught Social Work Practice with Diverse Populations and Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families and Groups.

Cherie received her Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, her Bachelor of Social Work from Capital University, and holds an Associate of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Franklin University. Cherie is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the NASW Ohio Chapter Anti-Oppressive Informed Practice group and leadership team. She is also a task force member of a newly formed global collaborative aiming to enhance the well-being and psychosocial support for peacebuilders operating in conflict zones during COVID-19. She is engaged in the Province V of The Episcopal Church Dismantling Racism Becoming Beloved Community efforts and is an advisor to the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Inclusion Committee in the Palm Desert.