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Hello. Bonjour. Ciao. Aloha. Namaste.

Welcome. Grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile.

Mindful Discovery was created on the premise of a graduate course exploring Diversity and Social Justice, but I am hopeful that over time, and even after the course has come and gone, that this space can continue to be a place of thoughtful, self-reflection and mindful exploration.

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Diversity through Community Eyes ; A Photovoice Project

This project molded into something more than I could have imagined and went in a direction that I think invoked insightful dialogue and reflection on this small town community.

In developing this project, I struggled with the broadness of it all and I thought the project would be all over the place without more direction. In the end, I am glad that I kept it broad because it allowed the space for the participant’s to do some honest reflection and create their own meaning of diversity in the context of Marshall, MI. Because of this,  I learned more about this small town than my eyes could see on their own. I am thankful for this and for my participant’s genuine input, as it brought to my attention not only the importance and need for increased diversity in Marshall but to the communities willingness and personal desire to move away from the past reputations of Marshall, and move towards a more welcoming, diverse community.

 

This second video exists for background audio purposes only. There was an unresolvable error with the final version where the audio did not properly upload. Please play this second video below in the background, secondary to the original video above, if you would like to experience the audio with the video.

 

 

Think Before you Click

Social media can be a useful mass online tool when it comes to diversity and social justice. This week’s readings and talks gave a lot of insight in how social media can be used for educational purposes, progress in movements and change, communication, as well as networking for a cause. If used correctly, social media can get information out in a blink of an eye and to a wide range of people. This is easy to see even in our everyday lives as most of us have that one Aunt that clicks the “share” button on Facebook for every single meme or picture that pertains to their life and ideals/opinions. I’m sure you can also relate to how you’ve unfollowed that Aunt because you just could not have your social media flooded with that non-sense anymore. This week’s readings and talks, as well as living in the 21st century, bring awareness to how much too easy it is to share information on the internet. It is this notion that resounded with me throughout each reading/talk, emphasizing the importance of being mindful about how and when you share information using these online outlets. As Minkler suggested in their discussion of an online presence, it is not a matter of should you use social media outlets but how and when to use them and how to be mindful of this discretion. When advocating for diversity and social justice using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever the outlet, you want to be mindful to not be “that Aunt”. You don’t want to be the organization that floods people’s feeds with post after post, tweet after tweet, because then you’ll subsequently get overlooked by followers because of the familiarity people have when your organization’s online presence or get unfollowed altogether.

 

Social media should be used as a secondary resource and not eliminate the organizations real world presence and in-person activities in making a change and advocating for social justice. Just like flyers and emails are an outlet for groups, social media should be used in the same manner of informational content for building alliances and connections for further in-person collaborations. Think back to this past semester and the flood of emails we have received about diversity and social justice. Some have been used appropriately, sending out emails about group activity and enticing attendance with delicious free food. Others we have deleted before even opening because of the inappropriate argumentative content of the mass emails and the dreaded “reply all” button. This kind of activity is what we need to be mindful of when advocating for social justice and community action/causes. We don’t want to be the email that gets deleted before being read or the tweet that gets scrolled past without a second thought. We want to be enticing in our social media presence and use it to build on the real world presence of our advocacy group(s). We need to be mindful in our decisions and in the composure of group activity, both in person and online, in a manner that is beneficial and cohesive to the cause, moving progress forward in group endeavors. Be mindful, think before you click “post” or “send”.

Internalization of Oppression.

The internalization of oppression and the cognitive perspective of oppression is an essential aspect in regard to everyday life and is important in interpersonal and intrapsychic practice as social workers. Interpersonal and intrapsychic practice bridge the gaps between all experienced forms of oppression and allows for an individual to be seen for themselves and not just as what society has instilled within them based on their social identities. Intrapsychic work heavily focuses on the internalized oppression(s), the internalized messages of the dominant group, and the cognitive ramifications. Interpersonal and intrapsychic practices, through integral therapeutic services, can be a stabilizing tool to better the suppression of oppression, which is used as a defense mechanism for self-protection. I find this aspect of social work to be very important and an integral part of our professional duty. This type of work brings awareness to both the individual and society about the effects of oppression and validates the individual’s experience(s). It allows individuals to gather a genuine identity and not just see themselves for what society tells them they are. It validates and allows for the expression of the suppressed emotions of oppression, such as frustration, guilt, fear, shame, anger etc., that is negated by social ideologies. It allows for honest, critical reflection and the ability to recognize and link the personal experiences to the social “ism” they belong to and identify in what context they were oppressed by. This too, allows for awareness and validation of personal oppression. Individual work with oppression is also important in regard to the context of group work, as individual oppression grounds personal experiences so as to use these to be able to mutually identity with others within an oppression context, setting the stage and motivation for social change initiative. Social change and human behavior are complex and fluid and is why critical analysis and critical consciousness is important to social work practice.

Intersectionality and Oppression

intersectionality

 

The reading on the Web of Intersectionality and Oppression really got me thinking about individual, everyday realities of oppression and identities. Yes, the social power conflicts and struggles within the dominant and subordinate groups limit those that are oppressed in the aspect of privilege and power directly in the social realm, but how does oppression affect individuals cognitively and internally? The chapter spoke about how each identity interacts with each other, directly impacting how one experiences oppression and at what level but how oppression impacts individual’s self-esteem, well-being, and self-worth are important concepts to address. The internalization of oppression and the cognitive perspective of oppression is an essential aspect in regard to everyday life. These concepts on oppression, particularly how identities intersect on both an internal and social level, are what I hope to learn more about in further readings and apply in social work practice.

Final Project Proposition

For my final project I will be creating a photovoice project analyzing the way diversity as a whole is perceived by others, titled “Diversity through a Community’s Eyes”. In this project, I will be requesting that five participants provide images of what they define as diversity in their community. Along with providing an image of diversity, they will also provide a brief statement of what elements they perceive to be diverse and why they chose their image. Once these are collected, I will analyze them myself and identify the diverse characteristics I perceive from each image. I am interested to see what individuals define as diverse, i.e…

  • Do they indicate individual’s positionalities?
  • Are there indications of microaggressions connected to their image decision or statement? Any stigmas?
  • Are there people in their images? What are they doing? What buildings surround them? Words?
  • Are there any “buzz words” in their statements?

In this protocol, I can reflect on the participants answers and compare them against my own perceptions of the image using what I have learned in this course. I can analyze any similarities across participant’s statements and their images as well as any unanswered questions I have following analysis. Upon completion, I will post these images, statements, analysis, and findings on my blog.

 

Any tweaks, ideas, or suggestions to the project’s methodology is welcomed and appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Week 5 – Microaggressions.

microaggression
noun  mi·cro·ag·gres·sion \ ˌmī-krō-ə-ˈgre-shən \
a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).

But what is the reality of microaggressions? The definition of microaggression may be easy to comprehend but how one perpetrates or experiences microagressions in daily life is the more important matter at hand. As seen in the definition of microaggressions, as well as in the academic articles on both microaggressions and oppression, this type of prejudice is typically unconscious and subtle in nature. They are overt forms of discrimination (i.e. sexism, racism, etc.) that are snuck into every day behaviors and speech. This theme of unconsciousness rang home for me when reading articles on oppression in the past few weeks, and it rang home this week while reading about microaggressions. How can this form of prejudice on multiple dimensions of marginalized groups keep perpetuating in our society and culture? But that the fact of the matter is that it is our society and cultural norms that keep giving power to prejudice. Regardless of well-meaning or incognizant thoughts when it comes to these types of statements, it is our society and culture that makes us blind to what we are saying and how we are behaving. It is this intersection of oppression and cultural norms that continue this type of social learning. It is instilled in judgements that are based on different sectors of society (i.e. religious beliefs, familial upbringing, etc.) and how these judgments are based off opinions that we become unconscious to as they become normalized and routine within our lifestyle. How power and privilege is rooted in these cultural norms, values, and social roles, ultimately creating social inequalities that help divide people into marginalized groups and perpetuates discrimination, oppression, and microaggressions.

So how does one react when they are confronted with a microaggressional statement? It isn’t exactly the easiest thing to confront, especially if the person making the statement truly is unconscious of what they are really saying and or are well meaning in nature. Typically, when confronting the person on their microaggressional statement, one is opposed with invalidating statements such as “you misinterpreted what I said” or “I didn’t mean it like that”, ultimately denying the reality and experiences of the person who feels discriminated against. But to do nothing also perpetuates these types of statements and oppression. It is a fine line decision to speak up or not, especially since the context is typically unforeseen and abrupt in the conversation. So how do you decide? I reflect back on the article about oppression, specifically on the concept of how not everything that hurts you is oppression. I think that is where the root of one’s decision must begin to best form a final decision on how to react. I find myself finding it difficult to determine if a statement is just hurtful and my reaction is more of a personal, defensive mechanism, or if a statement truly is a microaggression, an unconscious oppressive or discriminatory statement.

  • When I’m told “you’re tall for a girl”, is that a microaggression?
  • How about when I return home from a shopping trip with my friend and they state to my fiancé that we “spent all your money!”? Do they really think I don’t contribute to our finances and that he has to take care of it all because he is the male figure in our household? Or they just talking obtusely?
  • Or when someone says “you’re losing to a girl.”
  • What about when people recommend that I take my fiancés last name when we tie the knot? He is supportive of me keeping my own name, why should others care?

Some may be microaggressions, some just may be hurtful statements to me personally. It takes skill to decipher these messages and find the root of their meaning. It takes a commitment to educating oneself on the subject so as to best make these decisions in the future and best represent yourself and bring attention to others on the reality of the matter. To be mindful of not only how we uphold ourselves in behavior and speech, but how we interact with others as well. To do this means to leave lasting impressions on others and to make a meaningful difference.

 

 

 

Microaggression [Def. 1]. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression.

 

Week 2- Oppression

What is oppression?

I think back to reading chapter 2 of Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege by Bob Mullaly and all of the buzz words and phrases I highlighted as I read through it. Needless to say, the article is now half saturated in neon yellow highlighter and yet this question is not easily answered. Oppression, and defining it in all of its perspectives and contexts, is a plethora of social meaning and experiences. Oppression is “difference”, a social product, the “identity formation” of the “other” group(s), and the list goes on from there (Mullaly, 2010). So while I feel well introduced to oppression given the information in this chapter, I am far from being competent in the full wealth of the knowledge concerning it.

An emerging theme from the chapter that has been a resounding concept for me, one I have been reflecting on since finishing the reading, is conscious oppression vs. unconscious oppression, and one’s personal experiences with these forms. Being aware of the oppression one both experiences and exhibits, as well as the instilled, social oppression one experiences and exhibits but is not cognizant of. How one’s social practices, cultural ideations, and everyday practices are influenced by oppression on all levels (personal, cultural, and institutional). How one can get so use to how society functions and the tiers of norms, values, and expectations that are established, that you can become blind to the functions behind them. How, in initial, personal reflection, I never considered myself an oppressed individual but with further reflection and better understanding of the topic, realize that just a few weeks ago a male colleague with less experience than I, was chosen for a specific task at work because of their gender alone. It might not always be intentional, but at times it can be blatantly subtle (a “fun” oxymoron to wrap your head around as well). That while one thinks they may be making the best choice for any given situation, their decision making, and ultimate decision, is influenced on unconscious social norms and values, that are at times directly connected to oppression and the subsequent oppressive behaviors. This identification of awareness hones in on my personal feelings on the importance, and for the need, of mindfulness in all thoughts and actions.

I also found myself reflecting on equality vs. equity while reading this chapter. How historical rebellions and revolutions are focused around this concept of equality, yet the importance of equity within it all is lost in the mix. How fairness is at the forefront of these social movements and changes, but how treating everyone the same (equality) is positioned higher than having the resources to succeed (equity). A heavy topic in and of itself that just touches the tip of the iceberg of diversity, social justice, and oppression.

In full, this chapter was a refreshing eye opener and a wonderful introduction to oppression, leaving a sense of familiarity that as a social work student I can build on in my studies to come.

 

 

Mullaly, B. (2010). Oppression: An overview. In Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege: A Critical Social Work Approach (pp. 34-66). (2nd ed). Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.