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Being professional, first and foremost, entails providing color-blind service to my clients employing the principles of my profession. Social workers, as explicated by George Appleby, Edgar Colon and Julia Hamilton, "are uniquely situated to serve the vulnerable" (5), and one of the factors that seem to reinforce the vulnerability of certain groups and sectors are biases and stereotypes used as the bases to justify marginalization or oppression of others. Nurturing my own set of prejudices would stand contrary to the principles that my profession upholds, and will hence hinder me from functioning effectively and from impartially delivering service to clients in need. From the "Melting Pot" days of America when the government and society had tried to create a mold for casting individuals into idealized, successfully assimilated Americans, the social movement throughout the decades had eventually turned to favor cultural diversity and multiculturalism.
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Indeed, the United States today is one of the most culturally diverse countries that according to writer, Walter Benn Michaels, "diversity has become virtually a sacred concept in American life today." Yet despite this already accepted notion and existence of a multicultural society in which every individual is free to pursue the identity he or she feels most connected with, there remains issues that need to be addressed on both the personal and the societal level. One thing is certain to date, that cultural diversity still apparently affects how we, Americans, deal with one another. Cultural diversity forms a large part of our mental constructs, social attitudes and assumptions about our own identities as well as the uniqueness of people who in our opinion belong to a different cultural category (Michaels).
Social Work and Client Roles
Social workers, as explicated by George Appleby, Edgar Colon and Julia Hamilton, "are uniquely situated to serve the vulnerable" (5), and one of the factors that seem to reinforce the vulnerability of certain groups and sectors are biases and stereotypes used as the bases to justify marginalization or oppression of others. Nurturing my own set of prejudices would stand contrary to the principles that my profession upholds, and will hence hinder me from functioning effectively and from impartially delivering service to clients in need.
Professor Stewart Asquith of the University of Edinburgh, in his literature review, "Role of the Social Worker in the 21st century, commented that the core values of social work are based on the "respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people," such that practitioners are entrusted to deal with discrimination and diversity and approach social exclusion effectively. Personal beliefs that stem from cultural biases are not socially disadvantageous per se; what the social workers need to address are the manifestations of such beliefs, and eventually the ill-effects of the behavior that stems from prejudice. Social work, explains Asquith, is a commitment to what is right and just. It exists primarily to provide assistance, support and empowerment to those who bear the brunt of social inequalities.
Therefore, as a student of social work, the awareness of cultural differences can help me internalize my calling, and use the knowledge I have to help quell persisting inequalities. Eventually, I hope to see my clients as purely human—not as male or female, white or black, have-less or have-more, educated or illiterate and so on.
According to feminist writer, Melanie Wiber, who wrote the book Erect Men Undulating Women, gender is a social construct that is "central to the categories of personhood." The society, therefore, can make a woman vulnerable or relegate her to a disadvantaged position by creating limitations around her because of her gender. As a social work practitioner, I can help the victims of sexism by offering case-specific interventions that are based from the principles of psychology and sociology. Specifically, I intend to help clients overcome their own sense of powerlessness by inculcating to them how each individual has his or her inherent strength and will, and how everyone is valuable and worthy to become competent and successful.
Ethical Issues with the Relationship
Ethics is described simply as standards of right and wrong. It is what each individual must do in terms of rights and obligations, benefits and common good. One's ethical standards can evolve and as a practitioner involved in social work, I ought to be more aware of my own set of beliefs so that I can reflect on it vis-à-vis the principles of the social institution where I work. (Johner et al. in Younggren, 2002). There is a need to address ethical issues in social work. Interpersonal interventions are also one of the means to counter the influences of racial discrimination. As with the victims of gender inequality, the sufferers of racial prejudice need to break away from their own vulnerability and perceived powerlessness.
Once again, this is easier said than done. The direct victims of diversity problems often find themselves shut out of opportunities that are perennially open to the mainstream, majority group. Hence, the role of the social work extends beyond the provider of empowerment and instructor of self-worth. The social worker can therefore assume more radical roles and advocate on behalf of the socially excluded, culturally diverse group. Finally, this boils down to the nucleus of social work, which is "dealing with failures in other social policy areas" (Asquith). To end, I chose gender and race because they are both particularly relevant to my persona and I intend to become a dedicated social worker who became inspired by the realities happening in my own culture and gender.
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