Monday, March 29, 2010

Racism in Spring Break

During my spring break I went out on Friday night with my girlfriends. We all decided to go to a club called 7 which closes at 2am. When we got there it was around midnight and there was a long line. Because we go there often we became friends with the people who worked there. As we kept walking closer to the door and not in line, one woman commented by saying, “look at those Asian girls they think they can get in, please.” I also heard another remark, “look kung pao chicken!” I was so angry at the racial comments that it almost ruined my night. I thought about it until we all laughed because we ended up getting in right away. Many people use racial remarks for different reasons. In this example the people that said those racial comments did it as an insult, because they were angry at what my friends and I did.
Sometimes people think that they can say something racist around their friends, because they think they can get away with it. We talked about this in class which is called Micro-aggression (2007). For example a few of my friends in high school have given me the name “chop sticks” since middle school. It happened in one of our classes when one of my friends decided to blurt out chop sticks to get my attention. I thought nothing of it, because I didn’t think it was that extreme. I did not start thinking about it closely until the teacher was so angry he yelled at everyone to stop and said that racial comments were not allowed in his class.
In our class Diversity and Inequality in Professional Practice we continue to talk about racism and diversity. It is a primary topic during dialogue discussions. What I encountered during spring break was very shocking to me, because someone said a racial slur to my face. After this incident, it made me think about a lot of other times when a racist comment has been geared towards me in the past. However, every time something like this happens to me I tend to let it go.

(May-June 2007). Examples of Racial Mircroaggressions. American Psychologist
Amy Phengsavath

From school Disrimination to Transgender

Boonchan Khamda:
This week in class we discussed the issues with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgenders. This sparked my interest because I had read an article about a girl who brought her girlfriend to prom and the school decided to cancel prom due to the issue she wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring a girl. After the school canceled prom she filed a law suit against them saying they violated her first amendment. Now she is being made out to be the poster child for gay and lesbian teens that stand for their rights and way of life. She is receiving numerous supports from famous people and others of the same sexual orientation. This article is showing how some schools don’t support the gay and lesbian choice. The controversy behind this is that she made the effort to go to the school for permission first and instead of giving her an answer they decided to cancel the entire prom altogether. This caused some backlash against her because it ruined prom for everyone else.
This relates to a speaker we had come in and talk to the class. The speaker was a transgender person who faced discrimination against him because of his sexual preference. He shared with us his story about how he had lost his job because of his identity. He had also shared the hardship he had with his family. Growing up he explained that when his father would introduce his partner to their friends his father would say that it is just his friend. He shared with us ways to talk to people who are transgenders and gay or lesbian. He said to be honest with them and ask straight forward about their sexual orientation. This would make it easier for the both of you to understand each other. A few definitions I found interesting about his speech was when he said that gay and lesbian is a sexual orientation, and transgender is how you identify yourself.
I think it’s unfair for the student to be punished because of their sexual preference. I also think it’s very unfair to cancel the prom because someone wanted to bring someone of the same sex. This kind of discrimination is happening too often. If anything her case brought awareness to the discrimination we all still see in the world. Having our speaker come in and share his experiences with the class really broadened my mind on gay, lesbian, and transgender people. This really shows what we are learning in class, how we deal with discrimination and how we can raise awareness.

Please copy and paste link, the hyperlink doesn't work.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Diversity, Segregation, Prejudice&Social Contact Theory withing the Youth

Last week we had our midterm exam so the term diversity, segregation, prejudice and idea of the Social Contact Theory are very fresh in my head, as it should be being a social work major. This weekend I found a great example of diversity and segregation within a group of high school athletes. This experience proved to me that diversity, segregation and prejudice is everywhere and the Social Contact Theory is always in effect, at any age.
On Sunday, February 28, 2010, a few friends and I volunteered to work as student athletic trainers for a basketball tournament held in Kennedy Center at Augsburg College. This event is called the Augsburg College Church Youth Basketball Tournament. The tournament has been occurring for the past nineteen years and is increasingly growing. While working the tournament I observed the diverse groups of teams and noticed that they were all segregated by the church they attend; therefore they only associated themselves with others from their church. As the tournament went on, I noticed more and more of the high school kids breaking out of their comfort zone and socializing with other players and teams. This transition took at least two to three hours, but in the end I was amazed that even high schoolers experience diversity and segregation, though they may not realize it. It also amazed me that so many people with different identities and backgrounds came together because of a single commonality, but wouldn’t associate with outer groups. This is when I noticed the Social Contact Theory was in effect.
The Social Contact Theory works to eliminate prejudice in a large diverse group, such as the one I observed. Though the first step to eliminating prejudice is to be aware of your own prejudice, the process of the Social Contact Theory is still undergoing. According to our PowerPoint, prejudice can be reduced in five ways: with equal status, pursuing a common goal, see “others” common humanity, contact must be sanctioned in an appropriate institution and creating potential friendships (Allport, 1954). Knowing these five conditions of eliminating prejudice through the Social Contact Theory gave me something to compare my experience to. When observing the basketball players at Augsburg College Church Youth Basketball Tournament, I saw that all of the conditions were met. I can assume that all of the athletes were of equal status, at least during their time in the tournament, because all were dressed alike (student athletes) and all were the same age group creating a greater sense of unity. Also all of these student athletes were striving for a common goal, winning the tournament and sharing the love of game. As I said earlier, this tournament has been reoccurring for the past nineteen years, this means that there is a long enough time to see “others” common humanity. The institution where the tournament took place was appropriate because all of the teams could be observed and with time, prejudice and segregation began to decrease. Finally, by the end of the tournament I could see that friendships were being created. After completing the Augsburg College Church Youth Basketball Tournament, I have realized that my volunteer work was worth the experience and that not only is diversity, segregation and prejudice everywhere, but the Social Contact Theory is always in effect.

Allport, G. W. (1954). The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Pettigrew, T. F. (1998). Intergroup contact theory. Annual Review of Pstchology, (49), 65-86.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Navy Fires Foul- Mouthed ‘Captain Bligh’

Navy Fires Foul- Mouthed ‘Captain Bligh’

The Star Tribune put out an article on March 8th about a woman Navy captain fired because of her “foul mouth.”(8 March, 2010) This article starts by making this woman sound like she did something terrible; someone being fired from a Captain’s position would surely have to have done something so horrific to be let go from the Navy. This woman was fired because of her foul language. As I continued to read I found myself wondering what this woman was doing that was different from any men in the Navy. The Star Tribune interviewed a couple of people that were under her command; it was said that this woman was verbally abusive and one man said that she degraded him by putting him in “time out.” I believe that this article brings up a major gender issue. The Army, Marines, and Navy are notorious for their harsh behavior when preparing people to get into the field. I find myself very confused that a woman is fired for a “foul mouth” when I believe that when a man does this it’s not even thought about. This also goes to show that even in the Navy a woman still must act like a lady or else she may face the consequences of being kicked out. I am extremely frustrated with this article because I believe that in the Navy everyone should be held at the same standards, everyone’s signing up for the same goals, right?

Anonymous (2010) Navy Fires Fouled Mouth ‘Captain Bligh.’ 8 March, 2010.


CEO fired for racist email

Recently in the news, we’ve heard racism occurring everywhere. I found an interesting video clip of a CEO who was fired for forwarding racist images comparing the first lady, Michelle Obama and a chimpanzee, not to mention that along with the images was a quote from Larry the cable guy, “I don’t care who you are, this is funny.” Walt Baker, the CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association who forwards the images claims that this was only supposed to be between him and his friends. He says that he is not racist but I think others see it differently. Jerry Maynard, a Tennessee city council man spoke out against Baker and made it clear to the public that the people of Tennessee are not like Baker .Baker is aware that his action caused him to lose his friends and possibly his job according to the Convention Business Bureau. There was another case that involved a senator forwarding a group image with one image that is plain black with two eyes floating. It is clear that the issue of racism is still at large and it seems to get worse rather than getting better. I found it funny how Baker claims that he is not racist yet he was willing to forward these racist images to his friends. In my opinion, I think these actions were done to reiterate what group holds hierarchical position or known as racial formation; to establish a hierarchy and target certain groups for discrimination” (Marsiglia 2009). Another thing I want to point out is that looking back on the history of racism, Martin Luther King Jr. made a very good point in how people should be judge; “People are judge by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin” (MLK, Rothenberg 2010).It’s obvious that Baker and the secretary ignored this. In addition to past history, race has been conducted through scientific processes and found nothing to prove any differences yet, Baker and the secretary seems to ignore the facts and continue to perpetrate the idea that there is a distinction between the groups based on their phenotypes (Marsiglia 2009) in which people of color are then continued to be oppressed.
-Maikou Vang

Marsiglia, F. F. & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression and change: Culturally grounded social work. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books, Inc.

Rothenberg, Paula S., (2010) Race, class and gender in the United States: An integrated study (8th Ed). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Peace, Prejudice, and Poverty

This past weekend, March 5th and 6th, was the Peace Prize Forum held at Augsburg this year. The main title for the weekend was “Striving for Peace: A Question of Will.” The last year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize was the key note speaker, Martti Ahtisaari, from Finland. His main idea was the question of will, and that in order to obtain peace you have to want it. He was a mediator between opposing sides at war to help and resolve conflict. This brought me to the contact hypothesis circumstances on reducing prejudices. The groups that are fighting usually start fighting due to some type of prejudice or oppression. I think that through this mediation and these guidelines for reducing prejudice we can help reduce oppression and also poverty. It is all so much more complicated and intertwined than this, but this could be a start. The sides need to come together in a way that allows a) an equal status common ground, b) cooperatively pursue common goals (peace), c) lets them meet long enough to see their common humanity, d) contact sanctioned by an accepted institution, and c) potential for friendship may occur, or in this case, peace. (Allport, 1954) By doing this repeatedly, touching on the emotions, or reason for fighting, and changing the stereotype of each other, peace can then be accomplished. If we can get mediators like Martti Ahtisaari in more and more countries where there is war or conflict then maybe a result will be peace. By achieving peace and reducing prejudices or working out oppressions then this can also help with the poverty levels, especially countries that are warzones, of those people who are being oppressed. This sounds so simple, but unfortunately it isn’t. To find mediators willing to put themselves in those kinds of situations is tough and also getting leaders from both sides to agree to civilly work towards peace can be very hard to do. I think that world peace and poverty can be reduced through trying these processes and guidelines. I wish I was brave enough to become a mediator in those kinds of situations and help other countries resolve their conflicts, but I’ll stay on the small scale level with individuals and small groups as a social worker.

Allport, G.W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why does Facebook allow Prejudice Groups to Exist?

By: Elizabeth Jeska

Many people including me use Facebook on a daily basis. According to the statics on Facebook’s website there are more than 400 million active users. Active users spend an average of 55 minutes a day on the website-keeping in contact with friends, playing games, and joining groups or becoming fans of pages (Statics, 2009). Facebook stats say that more than 20 million people become fans of pages every day. Groups and pages can range over a wide variety of interests, including things such as sports teams, college and high schools and groups like if I get 1 million fans my wife says she will let me turn our living room into a pirate ship. Many of groups on Facebook are pointless and they are for fun. It was not until recently when I was looking around Facebook did I realize that there were prejudice groups being formed and many people becoming fans and supporting these. According to Marsiglia and Kulis 2010, “A prejudice is an irrational and unsubstantiated negative feeling towards members of different cultural groups, such as racial and ethnic groups, women, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities, and certain religious groups, which generates stereotypes about those groups (p.38). A few of the groups I have come across are: We Want a White History Month with 133 people supporting; this group discusses how it is unfair that there is a whole month dedicated black history and no month for white history. All people on welfare should have be drug tested; which says that all people on welfare are drug addicts and that they should tested before they are allowed support. It’s not rape if... in which then people comment with reasons it wouldn’t be rape. These are just a few of the Facebook pages I have come across. I find it interesting that a website with this many people is allowing such groups to exist, especially when a rule against such is written in Facebook’s rules and responsibilities. The rule states, “You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence” (statement of rights and responsibilities). Why is Facebook thus letting such groups exist? There needs to be a better way to regulate the types of groups that are allowed on. Facebook should not be a place where people have to deal with prejudices and hate speech. Facebook groups should respect the rights of others and realize that other ethnic groups, social classes, and sexual orientations are online as well. Facebook should be a place where all people are allowed to connect with each without having to deal with prejudices.

Statics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Statement of rights and responsibilities. (2009, December 21). Retrieved from

Marsiglia, F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression, and change. Chicago, Illinois: Lyceum Books

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why is prejudice hard to change?

Rather than ignore the facts we may as well accept the truth; we all have been prejudice in our lifetime.

As we discussed in class prejudice is hard to change because:

1. We are unaware of our own prejudices.

2. We must want to understand.

3. We must desire change.

4. We are socially conditioned.

5. We are scared and need support.

Allport (1954) proposed a hypothesis: Prejudice is reduced if people meet under conditions of equal status.

1. Equal status

2. Cooperatively pursuing common goals

3. Meet long enough to see “others” as common humanity

4. Sanctioned by an institution that is accepted by contact situation

5. Friendships are potential

I applied these factors to my service learning experience as a tutor at the Franklin Learning Center, which is an adult education program. The Majority of the students with whom I work come from Islamic backgrounds. We have learned that the above conditions can be hard to achieve because of power and resource differentials between dominant and minority groups. Research has shown that if we interact with people different from ourselves we can broaden our ideas and gain more experience. When doing so prejudices can be reduced. For the past month I have done 24 hours of service learning, and I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned to the above conditions. So far, I have met conditions 2-5. The first assumptions I had about each student came from negative stereotypes that I associated with his or her culture group. After meeting for the past month those assumptions have been replaced by more positive perceptions of the individual. Students and I work toward achieving the same goals, whether it’s preparing for the citizenship or GED test. Although, the “equal status” condition is not met, AllPort’s hypothesis has proven to be true when applying it to my service learning experience. Not meeting the “equal status” condition supports the idea that the theory tends to work even when the contact conditions are not all met.

-Alicia Fowler

Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Racism, taking a reverse role

Blog By: Thomas Orbison

In Diverse and Inequality in Professional Practice class, we have covered many topics. One topic that is heavily discussed is racism, prejudice and excluding people of another color. Because of the interesting topics we learn, I always tell my friends at home what we discussed in class. One of my friends told me to check out an article online. It is about a Stepping Contest in Arkansas. (Online Debate Rages Over White Team's Step Competition Win, March 2nd, 2010) Stepping is a form of dance where the dancers stomp their feet and clap their hands to make rhythmic sounds and beats. This dance originated from the black Greeks and has been in African American culture for a long time. It is seen by many African Americans as a “black only tradition”. In Atlanta the Coca Cola Company held the stepping competitions and Greek sororities came to compete and white Sorority Zeta Tau Alpha entered the competition to try to win. They made it all the way through the beginning, the quarter finals, and the finals. When it was all over, the white sorority had won, beating 5 other sororities who were made up of all black members. Because of this, there is a hot debate over the win. The article doesn’t say too much, but some people said the judging was unfair. It never said outright that it was unfair because the girls were white, but it was certainly implied. Also, due to all this uproar and tension within the black community, Coca Cola has decided that the runner up, Alpha Kappa Alpha will share the win and receive the same $100,000 in scholarships. I find this is very interesting because most of the time we only focus on when a minority group is being treated unfairly or excluded from something. Also, there is never really much talk about what is usually called “reverse racism”, which refers to when a white group is perceived to be treated unfairly or excluded from something. This may be because it does not happen to often. Because of this fact, the white sorority has to share first place when they won the competition out-right. It was also said that some people felt their culture was being taken from them. I do not see it as that. I think in this situation it may have occurred because step dancing is becoming popular. Because of this people of many races will get into it and try to become good at it. This sort of thing has been happening for many years and will continue to happen. It’s a good thing, I think, that other cultures want to learn stepping. So, I say let it happen and be happy for the winners.