Human Oppression: The African American and Puerto Rican Perspective

May 24, 2005

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UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK

B 300 Human Oppression: The African American and Puerto Rican Perspective

Course Description

This course will examine economic, political, social and cultural forces operating at global, national and local levels, which generate and maintain oppression based on race and ethnicity in the United States. The course will focus on the oppression of the Black and Latino populations in the United States, highlighting the African American and Puerto Rican Experiences and perspectives. It will provide a framework for analyzing and understanding oppression. An historical perspective will be utilized to explore past and current oppression related to race and color, culture and ethnicity, social class, gender, sexual/emotional orientation and religion. Intercultural, intracultural, psychosocial, social and political responses to oppression will be addressed throughout the course. The course will help social workers to identify how they can address oppression at a personal and institutional level, and will lay a foundation for further learning of culturally appropriate ways of working with oppressed groups.

Learning Objectives/Outcomes

A. Students will learn about demographic trends and forces shaping our diverse society.

B. Students will gain knowledge about Black and Latino population groups and diversity within those groups.

C. Students will gain knowledge of forces and theories of oppression and the ability to apply relevant theories.

D. Students will understand dilemmas of culture and values from diverse perspectives.

E. Students will demonstrate growth in personal attitudes and commitment.

F. Students will assess strengths and limitations of selected action strategies to combat oppression.

Teaching/Learning Methodology

This class addresses social work values as related to oppressed groups and provides essential knowledge for social work practitioners with special attention to the AfricanAmerican and Puerto Rican experiences. The course is not a skills building method oriented course, and it is not a sensitivity group. However, the issues discussed in this class can and do create a lot of feelings. It is expected that students and instructor(s) will struggle around feelings, attitudes and new knowledge related to oppressed people.

The course will combine lectures by the instructor and by invited speakers and class discussions. At times, small groups may be used to encourage students to confront and analyze their personal and professional interactions with oppression. The course assigrinent, a required journal, will allow students to process emotional and ethical dilemmas that the course content may evoke.

Course Assignment

Class attendance and participation are expected and will be considered in the overall evaluation. Each student is expected to keep a log tjournal) reacting to classroom presentations and discussions. Incorporating personal and professional material as it relates to field work, employment or past/present experiences is encouraged. The journal must include reactions to the required readings and is to be turned in several times during the semester.

All students must take responsibility for handing in their Journals on time. Please assess early on if you are going to have any difficulties meeting this requirement. Notifying me in advance of the due date. I am aware that emergencies and certain life circumstances may arise. In this case please notify me as soon as possible. I will assess each case individually giving an extension as needed. Those students who do not receive an extension and turn in the returned work late will be marked down accordingly.

Journals should reflect class discussions (2 pages), articles (2 pages), books (4-5 pages). Your journal should not be a summary of what you have read or heard. It should “connect” to the class content and reading and reflect your thoughts, feelings, issues and concerns. (JOURNALS SHOULD BE TYPED DOUBLE SPACED.)

Suggested Guidelines for Journal

  • React to all classes and all required readings.
  • React to specific content. Do not just summarize material. Do state what inspired the reaction. do not say “the third class helped me to … 11 or “I have problems with the content in this article or book.” Be specific about the content.
  • At times, class and reading materials reinforce each other. However, let the readings “come through”. Do not use class material to react to articles or books.
  • Do share your personal and professional experiences as they relate to the content. This is essential.
  • Please write clearly. Good sentence structure and accurate speUing are appreciated.
  • The following questions might be useful:
    1. How much of the course content is new or.different?
    2. Are you viewing oppression related issues differently? Does the material contradict past knowledge? If so, how?
    3. Is there any information that you have problems with (or appreciate)? Is there anything in particular that irked you during class (or in the readings)? Why?
    4. Have you noticed any changes in your behavior, attitudes, or beliefs?
    5. Are you seeing different “things” on television, newspapers, magazines, etc. that relate to oppression?
    6. How has the content affected your attitudes about racism, ethnocentricism, sexism, heterosexism, etc.?
    7. What are some of the connections between prejudice and attitudes related to oppressed groups?
    8. Has the content helped you to think differently about yourselp. What feelings does the content generate? Why?
    9. What fears, if any, has the course alleviated or raised?
    10. Has the course’s content “spilled over” into other parts of your life, e.g., field work, job, or personal relationships? Are you sharing the content? If so, with whom? How have they reacted?

School: University of Connecticut
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