Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Last chapter summary

Thank God. This book is a hard read.

H. Wayne Johnson
Human Diversity and Empowerment
Chapter Twenty Two
N. Yolanda Burwell

In “Human Diversity and Empowerment”, N. Yolanda Burwell discusses the the history of diversity in American culture and way it has been handled. She covers the forms of resistance to diversity and the backlash from them in the first half of the article. In the second, she gives the blocks and the enhancers to cross-cultural empowerment.

The four major categories of resistance to diversity are as follows. Extermination is when individuals of the diverse group is systematically killed. Expulsion is when s group of people are forced to move from the main population into an area specifically for them. Exclusion and segregation is when members of a population are denied privileges and rights based solely on being part of a certain group and forced to use separate facilities. And assimilation is when the diverse group is educated and made to fit into the social norms. (p. 389 - 390)

When this resistance to diversity becomes great enough, social movements are born. People do fight back. Some through the legal system. Others through riots and protests. No one likes being powerless. (p. 391)

There are also four specific blocks to empowerment within the society. One is “missing the consumer's view of service”. When the helper doesn't understand how their help is being view, they often can cause more harm than good. Another is “dominance thinking”, where someone thinks because they have a position of power that their way is the only way. Thirdly is “marginalizing or homogenizing groups”, when one person or trait is considered to represented the whole or lumping everyone of a certain group together. Fourth is “privilege”, where one group has unearned advantages over another. (p. 392 - 394)

There are also four things that enhance cross-cultural empowerment. “Lived experiences” is where personal stories are shared, allowing people of diverse groups to see each other as human. “Consumer and personal rights” are rights that apply to everyone. “Multiculturalism” helps to enlarge the understanding and acceptance of other cultures. And finally, “tapping into energies for change” is the active process of bringing forth change. (p. 394 - 395)

As informative as this article was, it suffered from two very distractive elements. First was the writer's implied message that all social workers should be political activists. While every social worker does have a duty to provide care and empowerment to their clients, I don't believe that having all social workers become activists is a good thing. Those who are more comfortable providing and fighting for individuals are more likely to see their clients as individuals and not a cause. The second distraction was that while she presented three of her topics in sets of four, she didn't do the same for what fights against the resistance to diversity. It left a very unbalanced presentation.

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