Friday, November 13, 2015

Protesting Racism: Disgusting?

I remember the way I felt when I first learned about the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960's in all its graphic and gory details.

First, I was angry and confused about why this wasn't taught accurately (if at all) in grade school. Sure, in January, we talked about Martin Luther King and how inspiring he was.. but we didn't talk about the events leading up to his "I had a dream" speech and subsequent murder. The systematic and pervasive oppression and discrimination perpetrated against African Americans was never presented honestly. Secondly, I couldn't believe we as a nation treated African Americans like that *SO* recently in our history. My classmates and I would watch the videos and documentaries in horror and think "Thank God that's over"...

Yes, that's my white privilege showing.

This was around 2008 when Barack Obama was about to win the presidency. It seemed like an overwhelmingly positive time in American history for Black Americans and race relations.

Well.. looks like it's still a work in progress.

I heard someone say just yesterday how disgraceful the Temple/Drexel/Penn student protests were. Students across the nation have been protesting in solidarity with the University of Missouri students. Peaceful demonstrations (which is a Constitutional right, by the way), much like the ones that took place in the 1960's, to take a stand against the overt racism and apathy on and around campus, are causing outrage among conservatives. 

I came across this atrocious post this morning, and it feels ridiculous to even acknowledge such an ignorant stance and comment; but I am seeing and hearing people say things like this far too often. Is it possible that we need another Civil Rights upheaval? When did overt racism become acceptable again-- by a presidential candidate, no less?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Don't Underestimate Older Adults

The cartoon above is how the majority of American society views older adults. They are looked at as a group of people who are getting up there in age and don't know much about what going on in life or what issues are being discussed within our nation. This is not true. As we discussed in class today many older adults get out to the polls and vote to make sure their voices are heard. They pay close attention to debates and issues being discussed by potentially elected officials. We can not assume that older adults just sit around staring at microwaves confusing them for T.V.s we have to remember that older adults are still well informed about what is being discussed in our society.  Do not write them off. 

Side Bar: 

I came across this meme and it rubbed me the wrong way. 

In class we discuss misconception about welfare and this just show what some think that all those who are on welfare do with their benefits. This is not the case for all families on welfare. Memes like this annoy me because the always have a negative command at the end like " Get a job like the rest of us." or " Is this what my taxes are paying for ?" It's really sad as we have come learn many people on welfare benefits do not rely on the benefits for ever. They use them until they are able to get back on their own fit. We have to continue to advocate for these families and help educate people on the misconspetions of welfare and those who recieve benefits.  

Special Treatment for the Unworthy..

As we all know, it's common to hear on the news of all the special treatment that occurs in our country and who is granted those privileges. One key example of this occurrence that we commonly hear about is through the lives of celebrities and athletes. The most recent allowance of this special treatment is the NFL player Greg Hardy. This story has been a topic of discussion recently mostly because of the team Hardy is associated with, the Dallas Cowboys, who is our city's ultimate rival. That reason to me seems very barbaric along with the overall story. Basically Hardy was convicted of multiple charges which include assault and threatening his girlfriend's life. The consequences? Because of Hardy's occupation and the high profile of the case, Hardy was sentenced to a suspension of 60 days and 18 months of probation. These charges were basically a slap on the wrist because of who committed these horrendous crimes.

This crime has be downplayed by not only this player, but also the NFL and the Cowboys. It honestly is disgusting that a person who committed such disgusting crimes is allowed to play. Not only play but according to the Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones is a "team asset". And these organizations continue to support Hardy because he won his appeal because he ultimately paid off his ex-girlfriend through a secret financial settlement. Not only do I have a problem with the fact that Hardy is playing and continuing to make millions of dollars, but he will NEVER admit he was wrong or pay his "dues" to society. The NFL has been known to sweep controversial topics like domestic violence, rape and other issues under the rug while allowing players to continue to be apart of their organization. On the other hand some players have been disciplined and have fought to rejoin the NFL. Take Micheal Vick for example; he served time in jail and constantly gets involved with organizations to correct his past mistakes. Now I still don't like that Vick is back making millions of dollars, but he at least tried to correct his past.
Terry Bradshaw says it best that we don't have any place in the NFL for the Greg Hardy's of the world. We constantly are allowing these issues to become "okay" through the continuation of these controversial players to join these teams and the overall organization. What message are we sending to younger generations who unfortunately are constantly admiring these athletes and celebrities? What message does it send to males about domestic violence? What does it say to women about their worth and what our national organizations think about their treatment? More importantly when is enough actually enough? We should be making improvements as our society advances but it seems like wins and losses are the only thing that matters. The whole ideal of worthiness comes into play and in my personal opinion Greg Hardy is completely unworthy of our compassion. Especially when it is evident he can't show it himself.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990

 The Video I would like to share is the new character with autism that they added to Sesame Street which for those who may not know is a very popular early childhood show that is on T.V. The program is often known for its diversity and cultural awareness, but it was not until this year that they have added a charter who is on the autism spectrum.  The Sesame Street character is not only included individuals who are on the spectrum. It is teaching parents as well as other children about autism and how they can help children learn on the spectrum learn and play together. I thought that this video really represented the article that we read in class Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Special Education ... and Were Afraid to Ask (I.D.E.A.).  I thought it went along with the end of the title everyone you wanted to know but were afraid to ask! That is exactly right, often parents of children who don’t have a disability are often afraid or uncomfortable talking about another child’s disability. I often think that is, because not enough parents know how to address the issue. I think that the sesame place song not only teaches children how to included individuals with disability but their parents too.
 I know from firsthand experience that parents of children with disability would rather you ask what their child’s diagnosis was instead of ignoring them. Often parents tell their child without a disability to quiet down if they are talking about the individual. However, many parents of the child with a disability would rather you include there child into the conversation. For example, I was walking a little girl into school who is diagnosed with Rett syndrome. There was a child who was telling her dad the child was in her class and that she can’t talk. Dad, hushed the little girl, because he was embarrassed and did not know how to handle the situation. We were walking in front of them and he knew that we could hear his little girl. The sesame street song is addressing that parents should involve the other child in the conversation and that it is okay.  A better way of addressing the situation than hushing there child would be to include the child and the child’s parents. Say something like, yes the little girl is unable to use her voice to talk, but that does not mean she has nothing to say. The other child diagnosed with Rett syndrome uses a PODD- Book to help her communicate. Not being able to use your voice is not the same as having nothing to say. I think that the sesame street song is not only teaching children to include other but also teaching society to include others.

Altshuler, S. (2007). Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Special Education … and Were Afraid to Ask (I.D.E.A.). Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation, 23-33.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Poverty, Education and the Social Worker's role

It is no longer news that United States is doing badly on the economic scale of developed countries. According to the 2015 Index of Economic freedom, the country is actually at number 12 and countries like Ireland and Estonia are on numbers 8 and 9 respectively. That was a surprise because the general belief is that United States is the greatest. Here in the country, the level of poverty has also grown and currently, the poverty rate has remained real high at 15% and one out of every 16 people are living in deep poverty. (
For many, the burden should be on the government to alleviate the situation. Policies and laws are supposed to be enacted by policy and law makers to help change the tide of things. The gap between the super rich, the middle class and the poor should be narrowed down as much as is possible. This is true in any way that you think about it. But at the end of day, the burden actually lies on us individuals to help make our lives better by taking advantage of the little opportunities that come our way. There are a lot of programs in our society that we can take advantage of to help turn things around for the better. Having established that we are in a world that is quite unequal, there is no need folding our hands and to continue to be counted as the 15% of the population in the country that are poor. And that is where the social workers come in. Not only should the social worker advocate for programs that will give cash and in-kind services to the poor in the society, they should also encourage them to take advantage of those programs that will help them survive when the cash and in-kind services are no longer available. This can be achieved through quality education. Education not only help individuals escape poverty by developing the skills they need to improve their livelihoods, but also generates productivity gains that fuel economic growth. While growth does not automatically reduce poverty, without it sustained poverty reduction is not possible.  As social workers, programs that will help improve the current school system should be advocated for and children and parents encouraged to take advantage of these programs in order to reduce the rate of poverty in our society which we hope will help narrow the equality gap that we are currently experiencing.  

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Prejudice, Discrimination, and Police Brutality

While reading about social justice and civil rights, I began to think about all of the recent reports of police officers using excessive force when interacting with African American men and women.  Such as when the school police officer in South Carolina grabbed the student out of her desk and threw her to the floor for not complying with an order to go with the officer.  When I first read this article and saw the video, I was shocked, and I wondered if this would have happened if the student was white and not African American.   There have been many incidents in the past few years that have been similar to this incident in that a white police officer used excessive force when interacting with an African American suspect or person of interest.

I also began to think about how many times people have seen only some of the facts and leaped to some conclusion that has nothing or very little to do with actual events.  In these cases, events can quickly spiral out of control before all of the facts are known.  This was portrayed in a recent episode of CSI: Cyber in which a video of police brutality was taken out of context, modified to make it look like the African American suspect was killed, and released to the public.  These events led to rioting in the town portrayed in this episode.

Something I thought of while reading about the incident in the South Carolina school and after seeing this episode of CSI: Cyber was that maybe incidents like these would not happen as much if people were better able to relate to the victims of prejudice.  An attempt to teach children what discrimination felt like was made by Jane Elliot in her third grade classroom in 1968 after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  This was called the brown-eyed and blue-eyed experiment.  In order to demonstrate to her students the effect that discrimination can have on a person, Jane Elliot divided the class by the color of their eyes.  The brown-eyed children were allowed to sit in the front and were told they were better than the blue-eyed children, who had to sit in the back.  She then observed the differences in their behavior.  The following Monday, she switched the groups so that the blue-eyed children were told they were better than the brown-eyed children and observed the changes in their behavior throughout the day.  Although this was a very controversial experiment, the children had had the opportunity to feel what it is like to be discriminated against.
The topic I would like to talk about this week is the misconception of the word “welfare.” When we hear this word, we automatically assume that the people on welfare are those that are lowlifes. What people do not know is that everyone, not just the less fortunate, is actually receiving welfare as well. The textbook definition of welfare is “people contributing to care for others and for themselves. The system exist for two primary reasons: (1) to create a “safety net”… (2) to provide for services that individuals cannot provide.” In a sense, the world revolves around welfare. Therefore, welfare can be universality or selectivity depending on your situation. What bothers me the most is when people say, “all people on welfare are poor and lazy.” What they don’t know is that there are actually many requirements that the participants need in order for them to receive these benefits. For example, they must have a job, or work X amount of hours per week. So these people are working just as many hours as those who are not on welfare, but the reason why they need it is because even though they work long hours they still cannot make ends meet due to their low wages. The people not on welfare will then use the “blaming the victim” approach, and will try and find any reason to blame the individual rather than the society for the inequality in the economy, after all they’re the ones making the people poor in the first place. The problem here is that instead of addressing the big picture--the economy, they are blaming the individuals on welfare themselves for making the economy bad. This is a problem because with this mindset, nothing will ever be resolved; the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor. What also bothers me is when everyone believes that these “poor and lazy” people will live on welfare their entire lives and not find a job to improve their life. What people don’t understand are these programs and how they work. For example, the TANF program has a five-year limit, and limited funding.  There are many loops and regulations that need to be met, and not everyone who applies can receive it and everyone has to understand that. It is just mind boggling that some people are so quick to judge, not taking into consideration that everyone is brought up differently. Nobody wants to admit that they are on welfare, but in reality we all are.