Assignment 1: LASA 2: Discrimination:
Reflection and Interview
Watch the Frontline program online.
Frontline: A Class Divided
A Class Divided explores the nature of prejudice. Third grade teacher Jane
Elliott deliberately created a classroom situation to teach her students how
it feels to be on the receiving end of discrimination. This is an encore
presentation of the classic documentary on third-grade teacher Jane
Elliott's "blue eyes/brown eyes" exercise, originally conducted in the days
following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. This
classic classroom experiment, conducted in the late 1960s in a small
Midwestern town, demonstrates how quickly and easily schoolchildren can
internalize prejudice and discriminate. Years later, these children discuss
the valuable lessons they learned from this experiment. Elliott employs this
same teaching strategy with a group of adults in the workplace, and
discusses their reactions.
This assignment is designed to allow you to synthesize what you have
been learning about the various dimensions of diversity and the necessity
of treating everyone in an inclusive, sensitive and respectful manner.
Discrimination Paper Part I: Interpersonal Reflection
After viewing the video, consider the following questions and write your
response. Your response should be 4-5 pages and should address each
question thoroughly, reflecting an accurate representation of what you
have learned in this course. Demonstrate scholarship by utilizing
supporting resources to justify your ideas and responses:
• What did you learn from the film? What scene or scenes do you think
you'll still remember a month from now and why those scenes?
• Did any part of the film surprise you? Do you think someone with a
disability, of a different sexual orientation, an older American or
some of a different religion would also find it surprising? Why or why
• Both Elliott and her former students talk about whether this exercise
should be done with all children. What do you think? If the exercise
could be harmful to children, as Elliott suggests, what do you think
actual discrimination might do? Use an example, different from the
example you used to describe labels, from what you have learned
about people with disabilities, older people, sexual minorities, or
people of differing religions.
• How can negative and positive labels placed on a group become selffulfilling prophecies? Use an example from what you have learned
about people with disabilities, older people, sexual minorities, or
people of differing religions.
• Based on what you have learned in this course, discuss an example
(either from the video or from your experiences) that illustrates each
of the following statements:
Dimensions of diversity may be hidden or visible.
Dimensions of diversity are in a constant state of flux.
Dimensions of diversity are not always clear-cut or easily defined.
Discrimination Paper Part II: Personal Interview
For Part II of this assignment, you will have a conversation with someone
who you feel may have faced discrimination. Examples include someone
with a disability, an older American, someone who is a sexual minority, or
someone who lives in a multicultural family. After choosing an individual to
interview, explain to this individual what you have seen in the Class
Divided program. Invite them to watch the program, or parts of the
program, with you. After watching or discussing the program, pose the
following questions to the individual. Be sure to explain the reason for your
questions and why you have selected them to participate in the interview:
• What, if any, discrimination do you experience?
• How have you coped with this situation?
• What do you think needs to change at the cultural level to reduce
Following your refection (Part I listed above), add 2-3 pages to your paper
which addresses the following:
• A description of the individual you chose to interview and why. Explain
how you went about approaching this individual for the interview.
• What are your observations about the person's view of discrimination
and how it affects his/her daily life?
• Did the interaction with the person change your view of discrimination? If
so, explain how the interaction has affected you either positively or
negatively. If it did not change your view of discrimination, explain
• How well do you think you would cope with discrimination from this
• Finally, what is the best manner in which to advocate for those facing
discrimination? What actions will you change based on what you
have learned in this course and how will you serve as an advocate
for those individuals who face discrimination?
Your final assignment, consisting of both Part I and II, should be
approximately 6 -8 pages. Be sure to address each topic listed above and,
as appropriate, cite the online course, the textbook, and other credible
sources to substantiate the points you are making. For example, when
discussing an example of how diversity may be hidden or invisible cite
sources, which you have referenced to substantiate the points you are
Submit your assignment to the M5: Assignment 1 Dropbox by Monday,
July 10, 2017.
Assignment 1 Grading Criteria
Describes what was learned from the film and explains what
scene(s) will be remembered.
Clarifies how some scenes were personally surprising and
addresses how someone else may find the film surprising.
Expresses whether the class exercise should be done with all
children. Provides an example of how discrimination impacts
Discusses positive and negative labeling and, with an example,
depicts how labeling can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Provides examples that illustrate how diversity may be hidden, is
in a constant state of flux, and how diversity is not always
Interviews an individual different from them. Describes the
individual and reasons for choosing the individual and provides
observations about the individual's views on, and experience with, 56
discrimination, and what specific challenges, if any, he or she has
Explains whether this interview changed their personal view of
discrimination and discusses how the student would cope with
discrimination from this person’s perspective.
Expresses, personally, how to advocate for those facing
discrimination and future actions to take based on what has been 28
learned in this course.
Style (8 points): Tone, audience, and word choice
Organization (16 points): Introduction, transitions, and
Usage and Mechanics (16 points): Grammar, spelling, and
APA Elements (24 points): In text citations and references,
paraphrasing, and appropriate use of quotations and other
elements of style
19 Converging Social Justice in Diversity Practice
TOPICS COVERED IN THIS CHAPTER
• Social Justice and Empowerment
• Power and Powerlessness
• Social Justice and the Therapeutic Process
• Feminist Therapy and Social Justice
• Patient Navigation: Social Justice Example
• Implications for Mental Health Professionals
• Case Study
Several professional organizations across multiple disciplines have implicated racism,
sexism, and other forms of oppression as deleterious to health and well-being. An
expansion of mental health professionals’ roles includes being active change agents
against structural inequalities that foster inequity across race, gender, class, and other
sources of identity. Not only in patients’ lives but also in our own do the consequences of
social inequalities manifest. Social justice is oriented to an understanding of clients’
situations as well as to the transformation of the very conditions that press down on
people’s lives (Vera & Speight, 2003). This transformative work, and to the extent that it
is done, describes a social justice framework.
Social Justice and Empowerment
At its core, social justice is concerned with a just and equitable distribution of resources,
advocacy, and empowerment as well as a scrutiny of the processes that lead to inequality
(Vera & Speight, 2003). Fairness extends to all people, across race, sexuality, physical
makeup, religion, and ability and commits to change in systems, policies, and practices
that perpetuate inequality (Fouad, Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006). Thus, social justice is
concerned with restructuring, outreach, education, and empowerment (Ivey & Collins,
2003). In addition, social justice does the following:
1 Encourages full participation in society.
2 Facilitates awareness of structural forces that contribute to disease.
3 Advocates for people to grow in their awareness of social responsibility.
4 Unifies people with others who are similarly situated and marginalized.
Warren and Constantine (2007) capture social justice as investment and involvement in
interpersonal relationships wherein there is unification with “oppressed, marginalized,
and disenfranchised groups in various social justice struggles” (p. 232). Warren and
Constantine (2007) also discuss the importance of creating environments where people
feel physical and psychological safety, resistance to authority, and systemic change.
Millions of low-income people (disproportionately people of color) reside in physically
and psychologically unsafe areas. Peaceful resistance among some people (e.g., visible
people of color) may not be interpreted as peaceful among more powerful others (e.g., the
police). Thus, strategies of resistance must be considered with knowledge of this
difference otherwise loss of freedom and life can occur.
According to Comstock et al. (2008), relational cultural theory is focused on respecting
the quality of relationships that marginalized groups have across the life span that are
inextricably linked to race, gender, and social identities. They contend that psychotherapy
that does not emanate from a multicultural, social justice paradigm is vulnerable to
reproducing the systems of subjugation, shame, and oppression that describe the daily
lives of many stigmatized groups. Cultural competence among mental health
professionals is connected to knowledge of the ways in which cultural oppression and the
myriad forms of social inequity contribute to humiliation and isolation among people
who are from devalued groups. (See Storytelling: United Work.)
Toporek and Williams (2006) conceptualized differences among advocacy, social action,
and social justice. In their view, advocacy is a variety of roles that the counseling
professional adopts in the interest of clients and includes empowerment, advocacy, and
social action. Social action is described as action taken by the counselor external to the
client to “confront or act on behalf of client groups” (p. 19). Empowerment is viewed as
one goal of counseling and psychotherapy and is often in the service of a social justice
Pinderhughes (1995) defined empowerment as “achieving reasonable control over one’s
destiny, learning to cope constructively with debilitating forces in society, and acquiring
the competence to initiate change at the individual and systems level” (p. 136). For
McWhirter (1991), empowerment is a process wherein people or groups of people who
lack power become cognizant of the power dynamics that operate in their lives (e.g.,
prejudice, discrimination) and as a result are able to acquire reasonable control in their
lives without encroaching on others’ rights. (See Storytelling: Change and Costs.)
Empowerment involves educating vulnerable people and communities about resources,
information, programs, and behaviors that can improve the overall quality of their lives
(Helms, 2003). (See Storytelling: Unable to Accommodate That Request.) Empowerment
is a recognition of power disparities and their creation of imbalance, privileging those
with the most resources while inferring disadvantage on those who do not have many.
Patients who struggle with discrimination, of any kind, need to know that they have a
competent clinician who has sociopolitical awareness, which encompasses ethics, social
justice, and cultural competence.
Failure to recognize patriarchy and classism may contribute to missed opportunities to
make organizational changes that encourage equal participation (Hoffman et al., 2005).
Mental health professionals are encouraged to identify and have the ability to discuss
privileges that they receive in society due to race, class, gender, ability, religion, skin
color, accent, and sexuality (Arredondo et al., 1996). This skill supports educating the
woman in the following storytelling about resisting people and systems that exploit her
and learning to engage in decision making to keep herself and her child safe and secure.
In doing so, a social justice paradigm is activated. (See Self-Check Exercise 19.1: Social
Justice in Action.)
Questions that arise from this case include the following: How might a mental health
professional who is multiculturally competent, and ethnically responsible, with a social
justice orientation help mothers avoid homelessness when shelters are full? What is our
social justice responsibility as mental health professionals for patient care outside of the
office hours? Do current ethical guidelines regarding dual relationships impact the range
and scope of advocacy for those in the most need?
Ethical practice (competence, doing no harm, informed consent, professional boundaries)
is critical to social justice work. Three recurring constructs appear to be most salient:
respect, responsibility, and social action (Fouad et al., 2006). A position of respect is
inclusive of deference to the community, abiding by the community’s strengths, and a
stance of humility. Responsibility speaks to duty to serve, being conscientious regarding
the nature of one’s service, and not taking advantage of the vulnerability that
marginalized communities face. Social action encourages pro bono work and to identify
and eradicate practices that are unjust and corrupt (Fouad et al., 2006).
Both short- and long-term advocacy and social action considerations for mental health
professionals are mentioned below:
1 Maintain and develop relationships with community agencies that provide care for
people in need. Even licensed providers who have a cash only policy and do not
accept insurance, which speaks to the wealth of patients and perhaps of the
provider, need to be aware of community services.
2 Use the Internet to identify emergency funds available through churches, the Red
Cross, the YMCA, and similar community agencies for a hotel stay.
3 Contact shelters in adjoining towns and see if transportation can be made to transport a
family to a safe place.
4 Contact the local newspaper to write a story about this issue in order to educate the
5 Contact social services, which are often connected to food banks and other resources to
provide emergency food and clothing.
6 Contact congressional representatives about the need for policy changes that can lead
to more shelters for families. Write letters and encourage others to do so.
7 Collaborate with schools to advocate for meals, coats, and after school care. Tutoring,
counseling, and other services may be available to help children who are
contending with stressful life situations.
8 Encourage the woman to trust that situations change and things do get better.
9 When basic necessities are met, such as shelter and food, encourage the woman to
write her narrative and give voice to her experience. This can be empowering.
Do not resist the expression of the woman’s confusion, uncertainty, fear, and
Encourage and help identify a support group to reduce feelings of isolation.
Get support while supporting. Advocacy work is rewarding but also fatiguing as
the slow wheels of bureaucracy turn and systems are exposed.
Ask patients what they desire.
Do not stereotype, project, or distance (Pinderhughes, 1995).
Investigate the availability of a patient navigator to help the woman manage and
travel to doctor’s appointments.
Investigate 12-Step programs, family therapy, and other services and referrals to
deal with a multiplicity of challenges that arise when people contend with poverty
and the trauma of not having a safe place to sleep at night.
Receive consultation and in some cases supervision from other professionals
about the best course of action.
Explore existing coping skills and behaviors (e.g., panhandling for drugs) and
their impact on life quality (e.g., exposure to violence).
Give the woman examples of where bias is imbedded in institutions and society.
Share how others have coped and survived when confronting a similar situation.
To Dulany (1990), empowerment “is another term for finding one’s own voice. In order
to speak, we must know what we want to say; in order to be heard, we must dare to
speak” (p. 133). A social justice framework asks, “Whose voices are heard first and/or
above the others and why?” Vera and Speight (2003) argue that although a
multiculturally competent counselor is trained to look for discrimination and develop
sensitivity to oppression, counseling professionals are not directed to advocate for the
elimination of oppression or exploitation. Mandatory ethics, or action taken to avoid
breaking the rules, differs from advocacy. Aspirational ethics, conversely, is taking
action at the highest possible level or eliminating oppression, which translates into
greater emphasis on prevention, not remediation, and less of a focus on the individual and
more on sociohistorical contexts. A communitarian model of justice based on collective
decision making and community empowerment is advocated.
Helms (2003) contends that the multicultural competencies and its predecessors offer a
framework for doing social justice within the existing structure of counseling and
psychology. He acknowledges that the reality of social service delivery may not be
supportive of a communitarian model of justice that Vera and Speight (2003) advocate.
STORYTELLING: UNITED WORK
In my research with highly educated black women and their experiences with
microaggressions, all 17 women, in their 20s to 50s, stated that microaggressions had
occurred in their lives and were chronic. The three researchers, too, ethnically diverse and
highly educated black women, had our own experiences with microaggressions. Some of
the study participants were in counseling programs where they experienced
microaggressions from other students and faculty. I do not know of any faculty or
underrepresented graduate student of color who does not contend with regular
microaggressions, which are a source of psychological and physical stress. In others
words, all of the faculty and students that I know who are from underrepresented groups
contend with regular microaggressions. Do microaggressions reflect social injustice? I
believe they do, yet why do they exist? More specifically, what can mental health
professions do toward changing and restructuring academic and work environments that
produce and perpetuate microaggressing behaviors? Dr. Chester Pierce wrote about
microaggressions during the 1980s, when I was a graduate student at Harvard. I write
about them 30 years later. Are things better? In 1982, I arrived in Cambridge for graduate
school without a cell phone or laptop (such technology was not accessible to me, if
readily available). There were .25 cent public phones and computer labs. More than three
decades later, technology is a different world regarding how we write our manuscripts
and communicate with others in the states and abroad. With all of our guidelines, cultural
competencies, ethical codes (which were debased by APA’s involvement with torture as
noted in the Hoffman Report), benchmark ...
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