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PhD Student Presents at the Social Work, White Supremacy and Racial Justice Symposium


March 15, 2021

(HOUSTON, TX) - GCSW doctoral student Gabbie Aquino-Adriatico presented "Keeping it 100: Innovative Ways to Combat Racism in Social Work Education" for the Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice Symposium.

The presentation shared some of her work as a community advocate for Keeping it 100, an annual gathering and organization set with the intention of providing space for 100 women to cultivate community by engaging in events and discussions that promote activism within an inclusive environment.

Read more about Gabbie’s experience presenting via livestream for the first time, her personal and professional aspirations, and what she hopes Keeping it 100 will achieve in the age of COVID-19.   


Name: Gabrielle "Gabbie" Aquino-Adriatico

Tell us more about Keeping It 100. What’s the meaning behind its name and what do the organizers hope to accomplish?

Keeping it 100 means keeping it real and keeping it authentic. How can we, women and girls of color, live our most authentic lives? We do so by surrounding ourselves with community to remind us of who we are and how powerful we are. Oftentimes, the stories we hear in the media are very deficit-based in their promotion of individualism – this is the legacy of white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism. Keeping it 100 seeks to shift the narrative by cultivating community and creating events that help women and girls of color live their most authentic and powerful lives.

Keeping it 100 was started by my social work sisters, Annalisa and Renee, who hosted events every March for 100 girls to help them keep it 100; however, the pandemic shifted everything because a gathering of 100 was unsafe. So, in response, we shifted to a web-based platform. This platform includes weekly virtual events, resources, a blog that shares our experiences as women during this pandemic, and a marketplace that promotes women and youth-owned small businesses. This platform also has a "Take Action" page because our goal is to engage in activism and promote messaging that we know will create a more inclusive environment for all communities. 

What activities has Keeping it 100 helped facilitate and why are they important to maintain especially during a pandemic?

One of our main activities is our weekly show called “Say Something” where we highlight individuals and organizations who keep it 100 for their communities. Every month there’s a theme. Past themes were celebrating Black excellence, celebrating women, COVID-19 and communities of color, Black Lives Matter, human trafficking, Trump trauma, healing justice, voting, wellness, and more. However, our episodes typically consist of an intersection of all these themes because we feel it is important to have a holistic perspective in engaging in social justice work. Our Say Something guests are community organizers and advocates who disrupt the status quo and dedicate their lives to creating a more inclusive environment for the generations to come. Our vision is to use our platform to amplify the important work of these folks because they truly help create a more inclusive, engaged, and proactive society. They’re not just engaging in performative justice, they are doing the work!

Another program Keeping it 100 has is virtual talking circles because maintaining a connection to the community is our lifeline even if we can’t meet in person. Community is always needed, not during this pandemic, but in regular life. Community is there for us to remind us of who we are and what we are capable of doing. Our talking circles have different themes. For example, I am part of the Sister Scholars talking circle. Sister scholars is a space for women of color graduate students and graduates. This is a monthly circle where we share challenges, wins, and goals to hold us accountable in our professional growth. Sister scholars is a space to dream, grow, breathe, and keep it 100 with the work we do.

A large majority of presentations for the Racial Justice Symposium so far have been group presentations. What was the experience like presenting alone and via livestream?

I would not be here today if it weren’t for the generations before me – it was their efforts, their power, their strength that got me to this place where I can be the first person in my family to be in a doctoral program. It was a nerve-wracking experience to present alone on a new platform for me (livestream) but I honestly felt the energy of my Keeping it 100 team, my community, and my sister scholars while I presented. I channeled in their spirits, wisdom, and knowledge to share the amazing work that they have done. I could not have done this work alone. This work was only possible from a collective effort from my team, community, and family. And to be honest, I technically didn’t present alone because I am expecting a baby this August so my baby was there with me the entire time! 

You’re fairly new to the PhD Program and already presenting at conferences and symposiums. What are some other personal and professional goals you hope to achieve during your time at the GCSW?

One of my goals is to use my privilege as a doctoral student to engage in research that makes a public and community impact. What’s the point of all this knowledge and training if it is not accessible to our communities? I hope to find ways to share resources and my research with organizations that help create structural change and organizations that serve survivors of human trafficking.

Helping to shift the narrative among Southeast Asian communities is another goal of mine during my time at GCSW. Oftentimes, the narrative for our community is deficit-based and the increase in violent attacks among Asian American communities is symbolic of that! We are painted as the “other” and often marginalized. We are often talked about but rarely spoken to, especially in pivotal policy meetings that impact our community. It is time to stop waiting for a seat at the table, so I plan to use my time at the GCSW to start to build a table with my powerful colleagues, sisters, and community, that is inclusive to promote the well-being of our communities. 

Another goal is to continue to engage in decolonization work. I have so much more learning to do on topics like decolonizing structures within higher education and the field of social work while also decolonizing my identity as a Pinay born in Southern California. I don’t think I’ll achieve this goal during my time at GCSW because decolonization is a lifelong process; however, I do think the GCSW is challenging and preparing me to engage in this lifelong work with our thought-provoking professors, curriculum, and research projects. This work is so important because as an expecting mother, I hope to raise a child who does not have to experience the effects of white supremacy and racism. My child will know how powerful their community is!

Why are social workers essential to organizing and addressing issues like the those Keeping it 100 is dedicated to bringing awareness to?

Social workers are imperative in organizing and addressing issues like voting, promoting racial justice and awareness, the pandemic and lack of political response that contributes to health inequities, human rights, and so much more. Our field is the only values-based field which makes us unique but also places a sense of duty among social workers because it pushes us to think – what are we doing to fight for social justice, promote the dignity and worth of each individual, cultivate an inclusive community, and so much more? Honestly, if we are not doing anything about it, then we are complacent and enabling injustices to occur. Everyone has a part to play and social workers have the potential to be key leaders who can not only advocate for change but create change, especially in oppressive structures.

Anything else you would like to share?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my responses and experiences with the symposium!


WATCH Gabbie's presentation on our YouTube channel.