This post was supposed to be about the “Raise the Age” Campaign in Michigan, but it turns out we have way more to explore…

Since the beginning of the semester I have been thinking, advocating, studying and learning about the “Raise the Age” Campaign in Michigan.

This State is one of only five States that automatically prosecute 17-year-olds as adults (Weemhoff & Staley, 2014). The campaign wants to change the Juvenile Court Jurisdiction in order to have this spectrum of adolescents to be prosecuted as youth. If these adolescents are prosecuted as youth, they are going to be able to receive the resources that usually are provided in the Juvenile Justice System in order to rehabilitate youth. Once specific services are identified for the youth’s unique needs, like education, mental health support, and the offer of developmentally appropriate and rehabilitative alternatives to youth in the community, effectively partnering with the families of those in the JJS, among other resources.

The debate over the RTA campaign involves three main issues: The first issue concerns the public safety and the media involvement that surrounds it. The next issue revolves around the developmental age of the individual that commits acts of delinquency.  Finally, recidivism is a issue that is used to condemn and to abolish youth.

To understand how the state of Michigan got to the point of debating whether or not to increase prosecution of 17-year-olds as adults, it is important to briefly understand the historical antecedents that brought the legislators, media, general public and the offenders to this point.

The development of the JJS in the U.S was founded in a different philosophy than the Adult Criminal Justice System. While the first is based on the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders, the last one is based on the punishment of the criminals.

“In the early twentieth century, the Progressives began to perceive children in a new manner. Industrialization and modernization led to the view that children were “corruptible innocents whose upbringing required greater structure than had previously been regarded as prerequisite to adulthood.” (Chamberlin, C.  2001  p. 394)

Some scholars believe that juvenile offenders still can be rehabilitated if treated as juveniles rather than as adults and that ‘getting tough’ on juvenile crime does not provide the answer” (Chamberlin, C.  2001 p. 391)

It’s common and normal for youth to engage in risky behaviors that may negatively impact their health. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for advanced reasoning and managing impulses; this part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until the mid-20s. Physiologically, a kid’s ability to demonstrate self-control, fully process decisions, and regulate emotions at the same time is a challenge. Therefore, youth have less capacity for self-regulation in emotionally charged situations, increased sensitivity to environmental influences and peer pressure, and difficulty considering the consequences of their actions. Some of their behaviors make perfect sense when acknowledging their developmental stage — for example, acting out, trying to create boundaries with parents, and trying to differentiate themselves from others may be expressed by breaking curfew, running away, underage drinking, driving under the influence, shoplifting, and other common misbehaviors. Adult guidance and support are appropriate ways to prevent and respond to these behaviors — not adult criminal court and conviction. (Human Impact Partners,  2017)

If a 17-year-old is sent to the adult court, once he/she enters the Criminal System, they are most likely to recidivism, since inmates usually do not receive appropriate rehabilitative services.

“…the lifelong consequences of an adult conviction are devastating. Nearly all youth in prison will eventually return to the community but will find significant barriers to employment, education, housing, and public benefits—the key elements to a successful future. Without effective reentry and support services, young people may find themselves in a revolving door to prison.” (Weemhoff& Staley, 2014, p.  2)

Many researches demonstrate the neuro-plasticity in teenager’s brains, which also demonstrates that the human brain is constantly being developed, specially for youth under eighteen-years-old.  It leads to be more capable of being regenerated after a trauma, for example.  Being condemned and charged to an adult prison is for sure a trauma that a teenager that committed delinquency will suffer. But, because of a lack of  treatments regarding youth needs, the chances of recidivism are high. Although, if this same teenager could be accountable in the juvenile justice system, his/her chances of receiving proper treatment would increase the rate of him/her to become a better person, an adult that assumes responsibilities and a citizen that is good for society. (Szymanski, F, 2017)

The NASW Preamble states that: “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living”. (NASW, 2008)

In addition to that, the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants, either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for crime after conviction. (U. S. Constitution)

With that being said and understanding that Social Workers have a set of core values that advocate for social justice; dignity and worth of the person; integrity and etc. (NASW, 2008), it is understandable that Social Workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice. (NASW, 2008)

Although as social workers (or future ones) we probably believe and agree with that, rehabilitating these youth does not seem good for many industries, like the prison industry (that need to have a certain number of inmates to make their profit), the gun industry and the pharmaceutical industry (usually the crimes associated with youth has relation with drug abuse and sell, in order to stop using drugs, often prescribed-drugs are used instead).

Therefore, understanding that most of the times what leads this population to commit crimes is the lack of substantial biopsychosocial background, and understanding that the policies created in the U.S were always created to benefit one race over the other, benefit the wealthier and the “good families” even though the American Constitution has several articles that would prove the contrary, social workers should always have in the back of their heads the history of this country while assessing and engaging with juvenile offenders, their families and stakeholders , trying to identify their real needs and advocate for those in real need of social change and social justice.

Even though I strongly advocate for the RTA Campaign, during this small research I realized that the JJS in the U.S is very different in terms of custoding youth, once many Residential Placements are private and receive profit with each teenager that is sent to one of these facilities, then the JJS I am used to (the one from Rio de Janeiro). The reality is that the JJS in Rio is completely overcrowded and there is absolutely NO resources for rehabilitating any of the youth that commit delinquency. But I started to ask myself: Do I really believe that the JJS in the U.S is better? Isn’t the fact that it makes profit over the adolescents a complete bias situation that we should AT LEAST consider when thinking about rehabilitating youth? So, even not having the time needed to do this research, I decided to go a little deeper into it and found two articles that really impressed me: “Growing up locked down” and “NO PLACE FOR KIDS – The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration”

Both these articles made me think that the campaign is just a first baby step. Then we need to focus on how effective in rehabilitating youth our residential placements are. The juvenile correctional placements throughout the country are dangerous, inneffective, unnecessary, obsolete, wasteful and inadequate.

We must ask ourselves and our legislators if this is what we expect from a place that is supposed to rehabilitate a human being. What kind of human being would leave this facilities. What are we as a society providing to the human beings that were involved in the JJS and did not receive appropriate tretment, education, many of them do not even have identification (ID’s) and etc.

As I said, I started the research to advocate for the campaign, which I still do, but I am endind it thinking even deeper about these youth involved in crimes and how much we failed them and how much we expect from them.

What I really hope is that in a long future we maybe not even need to have residential placements, or have a different model that would reform juvenile correction placements, in order to absorb the youth that really need to be in a placement like this. I hope that we fail less with them. I hope!

 

 

 

 

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Am I the oppressor? Who is the oppressor? With this attitude, I sure am…

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When I saw the texts assigned for group 3 this week I said out loud to myself: – I REFUSE to read Paulo Freire in English!!! 

What an presumptuos, overconfident, snob, vain and OPRESSIVE person I am… I am sure that Paulo Freire would condemn my attitude and probably try to educate me about the roots of why I am letting myself be like this, if this is not exactly who I am.

Putting myself together and realizing that I am here to learn (and not only because I am pursuing a Masters degree, but mostly because we learn every single day during our lives and because I have been learning over the past couple of years how important education is, specially in terms of social justice and making social changes) and that the fact that I have read a couple of things from Paulo Freire and can speak the same language that he does, DO NOT make me a Paulo Freire expert or with more knoledge than anybody else. I AM FAR AWAY from that! And I learned that with the texts from this week assignment, hence I am both humanized and dehumanized, right?

I grew up in a upper middle class family, which gave me the opportunity to receieve a good private education. For a variety of reasons, I went to many different schools during both elementary and high-school. I had the opportunity to go to an amazing school for some years, where the teachers were considered left-wing teachers, and multiple teachers were Philosophy, History, Law students during the military dictatorship that occured between 1964 – 1985 in Brazil. Because of them I read books that were prohibited during that time, I learned about torture, about social injustice, about capitalism, about how damage and obscure a country can be when the people in power do not give the chance for people to speak what they want, to learn what they want, to access what they want.

As I said before, I attended multiple schools, unfortunatly (or maybe fortunatly) I ended my high school years in a extremely right wing school, which belonged to 2 former military people. I don’t need to say that obviously the teachers in there, even though many of them tried to provide us with  a good education, being able to learn from our actions, analyinzing others actions and putting things in perspetive, since we are humanizing and also dehumanized in many ways, most of them did not have the abbility to do that. They couldn’t manage the pressure of being there trying to teach something different than what was “supposed to be taught”.

Well, all this to say that one of the things that Paulo Freire said in his book that resigned with me is that when education is not freeing, the dream of the oppressed is to become the oppressor. 

To continue my thought, I need you to read this article: (I swear it is worth it! ) 🙂

https://theintercept.com/2017/10/07/brazil-election-jair-bolsonaro-us-tour/

Why did I ask you to read this? Because I went to school with the 3 children of this guy. They were absolutely ignorant. Sexists. Racists. Homophobic and many other absurd things. But now, almost 15 years after I graduate from High School, knowing these people in person, having spent 2/3 years of my life seeing how they would act in school and now how they act in politics (all the 3 Bolsonaro’s children are involved in politics) just make me think that at some point they must have been oppressed, I can almost assure that! Pay attention to their fathers actions. check at the school they went. Bolsonaro (the father) was in the military regime while people were being tortured. He always states that they should have been tortured. He also said many times that his dad was extremely rigid with him and if he would try to play with a doll or “decide to become gay” his dad would have killed him. He was oppressed. Now he is the oppressor. And so it goes with all his children.

They have been gaining power with some populist actions like charity… According to Freire ” True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the ‘rejects of life’, to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that hands – whether of individuals or entire peoples – need to be extended less in suplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work, and working transform the world.”

Paulo Freire has been extremely criticized by the Bolsonaro family. They believe that the schools in Brazil are “too left wing” and that they are the entities responsible for gay people, trans people, divorce, women that wants to become succesful in a career instead of being a mother and etc. They believe that the teachers have been teaching with Paulo Freire’s method of education and that, according to them, he is a comunist and Brazil cannot have schools that teach students how to be a comunist. (If you are questioning WHAT THE HELL? – I am with you!)

The Bolsonaro family like to say that they believe in love and in family. And thats why they act how they do…. LOVE?

I BELIEVE IN LOVE! I BELIEVE IN TRYING MY BEST TO NOT OPPRESS ANYONE, IN ORDER THAT I KNOW I HAVE PROBABLY BEEN OPPRESSED IN MANY WAYS AND THAT ALL FORMS OF OPPRESSION ARE SINGULAR AND ALL THE  WAYS OF RESIGNIFICATION ARE ALSO SINGULAR. LET’S DO OUR BEST! LET’S EDUCATE OURSELVES AND EDUCATE OTHERS! 

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Here is a banner during a right wing protest organized by Bolsonaro’s fans that says: Stop with the Marxist indocrination. Enough of Paulo Freire.

MERITOCRACY? One possible way to explain Intersectionality

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According to Merriam Webster Dictionary:

Definition of meritocracy

plural meritocracies

1:a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement

  • only the elite, in that new meritocracy, would enjoy the opportunity for self-fulfillment
  • —R. P. Warren

2:leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria

  • many private schools have sold their birthright by choosing … “diversity” over scholarly meritocracy
  • —L. G. Crovitz

meritocracia[2]

I need to admit that because of a variety of reasons, it was really difficult for me to start posting on the blog when I was supposed to. Usually when I post on my blog, I read the Mullally book chapters for the week, I watch the videos and then I post my answers/thoughts about that week’s content. Right after that I usually check 2 or 3 other posts about the same topic. Make comments on the ones that I like the most and that is pretty much it. ​Well, let’s say that this week was fairly different from the others… I watched the 3 videos about “Unpacking Intersectionality”, but for some reason I was blocked and could not understand exactly what Professor Jamie Mitchell was trying to explain.

Once I realized I was having problems with the subject, I decided to go the other way around. Instead of going straight to the book, I read my peer’s blogs first. WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE IT WAS! It opened up my mind. From their posts and experiences shared, I understood what intersectionality is and how it applies and implies in my daily basis and also in everyone’s lives!

Reading one of my classmate’s blog, she used the word MERITOCRACY. Her post was really amazing and in the context that she used this word it made complete sense, although, this word resigned with me in a bad way. And since it stayed in my head for a while, I decided that I need to write about this.

So here is what I did: After thinking about past political episodes in Brazil and in the U.S., I decided to go to the dictionary to check the exact meaning of the word. By doing that, I realized that I could be right in my thoughts.

In one of the videos assigned for this week, Patricia Collins, one of the many black feminist scholars who has been shaping student’s understanding about the theme, explained that “intersectionality is commonly discussed as a way of understanding social location. That is how people experience inequality or disadvantage in society depending on their multiple social identities.”

According to Mullally (2010), a “person’s identity is associated with physical, psychological, social and cultural variables such as appeareance, personality, socail status or class, social roles, and race and ethnicity.” Following this author’s thoughts, just one identity might become the major marker of of an individual or more prominent  in most situations or contexts than others, for example, someone’s race or gender.

Mullally (2010) states that “the concept of multiple identities contains much potential for the development of anti-oppressive social work theory and practice”. Although, after reading my peers posts, reading the book and watching the videos, now I can say that I understood what Mullally tried to explain about intersectionality. So, it seems easier for me to explain this concept through the idea of meritocracy.

If you believe that someone that “worked hard”, “studied hard” is the one that deserves to be in a Ivy League school or the CEO of a company, let’s think deeper about that. Nobody will ever be the same in ANY WAY of someonelse. Even if you are twins, born and raised in the same family, house, city, went to the same school and did every single thing at the same time somewhat equal, YOU ARE STILL NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BE THE SAME or to have the same emotions, reactions and etc. Human beings are different, have different perceptions of same situations and have different resiliency. And that is just the psychological part. We need to add to that the biological part, which we may include different timmings to accomplish something that “was supposed” to be accomplished at a certain stage of life and, what I consider the most important: the social aspect.

If you were born as a male (at least identified as), Caucasian, from a higher class, your parents provided you the best in terms of education (piano lessons, private school, private language courses, tennis classes and etc.), you are most likely to be the one student that is going to be accepted to an Ivy League school. And obvious, after that you are going to become the CEO of that amazing company. Please, understand here that I am not, in any way, trying to say that this is a rule and for sure it is going to happen to every single person that had better opportunities in life. As I previously said, there are other things that may determine what might happen to you and to which paths you may follow. What I am really trying to say is that, because of many different identities like gender, social economic status, race, religion and etc, you might (and as for now, in the world that we live, will) face more difficulties than others.

Following the example above, if you are a person of color, that grew up in a poor family, didn’t attend special courses, didn’t go to a private school, didn’t have the same family support that the example provided, you are probably not going to go to Harvard and, because of that, you are not going to become the Google’s CEO and you have probably been facing the cruel glances of the ones that had the previlege of being born in a completely different setting.

It is really important to remeber that as future social workers, we need to be attentive to the intersectioality of identitiesour patients/clients are presenting to us. If we are working as a probation officer, for example, we need to bear in mind that the kid that commited any act of delinquency (juveniles), in the vast majority of cases, did that because of a background of struggles. We need to keep in mind that in order for a person to “fail”, there is a whole system that failed before. No judgments are necessary! Empathy and knowledge of the theories and researches is what is needed. It is important to understand that equality IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than equity. Giving the same to everybody does not make the individual’s life better. And in a macro practice, do not make policies better. We need to provide what is necessery to each individual in order to get the best out of him/her.

Emilio-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meritocracia (5)

Here I share a video from The School of Life, which I liked very much…

And here is a post about the “meritocratic appointments of President Donald Trump”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/12/22/13959016/trump-meritocracy-white-men

So…. Any thoughts about that?  I would love to talk about this theme that feels really intense to me!

 

Proposed Topic on the Final Project… Orange is the old black

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Orange is the old Black. Motivate. Advocate. Activate.

For my final project, I am thinking about writing about the “Raise the Age” campaign in Michigan and how it relates to PODS and, especially, with Social Justice. It would be more like a “real research paper” about the theme. The Juvenile Justice System has been the theme I have been advocating for more in the last years and after moving from a country that wants to decrease the age (from 18 to 16), it sounds interesting to me to understand better why

“Michigan remains one of only FIVE states that automatically prosecute all 17-year olds as adults. This policy is at odds with state laws and national and international policies that declare adulthood to begin at age 18.”

The title chosen for now might or might not change. It will happen if, during the course of the research, I find that the majority of adolescents being incarcerated in juvenile facilities or charged as adults belong to different ethno-racial than Caucasian.

Any thoughts on that? If it was you that was conducting this research, what would you include in your paper?

I would love to learn and receive your opinion about the theme proposed!

Please check the link bellow to have more information about the campaign!

https://www.raisetheagemi.org/

 

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Do unto others what you would have them do unto you

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During the past weeks of classes we have been discussing themes such as oppression and culture, that lead us to have a structural perspective that is the normalizing the gaze of oppression and its naturalization.

As stated by Spencer (2008), “oppression and systems of power are extremely complex, multifaceted, and saturate our individual psyche and external environment”. According to this line of thinking, it is clear that promoting social change and social justice is not easy, since we all have been submitted to the prevailing and dominant state of order.  We have all been submitted to the systems of power that put the minorities like people of color, Muslims, Latinxs, enabled-bodied, Jewish, individuals with mental health disorders along with other targeted groups; creating a society that perceives these targeted groups as the fuel in a machine which creates the social construct of crime, powerless, mental and physical illness, legitimating that the white, male, bourgeois phenotype was the norm against all the other groups. Showing these ones as dehumanized, degenerated and less-developed than the ones previously mentioned.

The groups identified as the Other (Mullaly, 2010) were the ones considered that did not have the ideal body type, and they also were assumed not to possess the mainly virtues, which affirmed their degeneracy, according to the white bourgeois supremacy.

The concept presented by Mullaly (2010) in the book Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege referring to how whiteness was associated with reason and blackness with body is not very different from the one suggested by Lombroso in his famous book “Criminal Man” where he used modern Darwinian evolutionary theories to “prove” the inferiority of criminals to “honest” people, of women to men, and of blacks to whites, thereby reinforcing the prevailing politics of sexual and racial hierarchy.

Lombroso increased the Positivist Penal Law how we understand today and corroborated to increase the thinking of a white dominant supremacy over any other race, also expressed by Mullaly (2010).

As expressed by Spencer (2008), “the most painful thing about racism is its invalidation, even more so than the incident itself”. Some people do not agree that there is an “apology” for what racism and other prejudice created. I do agree with that. There are things that are over painfully and cannot be forgotten. Although I feel that, I also believe in honesty and in being truth to one and another. I believe in educating people and captivating their hearts by trying to put everybody in others peoples shoes. I hope for reconciliation.

Since neoliberalism began, our modern culture has ingrained into the fabric of society those that we need to dehumanize in order to have something to act against and make a big part of the population to believe in it.  We live in a world where if the Medicine with the pharmaceutical companies do not stop the subject, the taxable person, the target, the law enforcement will.

Not very different from the country where I was born and raised, Brazil, there are many actions of oppression at the personal level towards the groups considered the subordinate groups, accentuating differences between those two. As stated by Mullaly (2010), the message to the subordinate groups is that they are inferior because they do not meet these standards or norms.

In Brazil we had a long and sad history of slavery. Even though it legally was abolished in 1888, a diminished status still exist for minority groups. I can recall myself perpetuating oppression while I was a kid and after during my teenage years. I had absolutely no idea or dimension of that, but I did. It is very common in Brazil for middle-class and upper classes to have maids. Usually they are very poor woman from the slums. Usually they are people of color.

I used to have a maid and she would sleep in my house. She used to have her own bathroom and bedroom, which were in the kitchen. The space was really small, had no windows and she could not use the same plates, cups or silverware that my family would use. Also her food was different than ours. As a kid, I never understood why, after a while it started to bother me, and when I started college and my education was increased, I understood the mechanisms that would put that poor woman in such horrible conditions. It took me many years until I could convince my family to get rid of the tiniest room ever seen, the horrible bathroom and started to share all the meals with her in the dining room. As I previously said, I do not think that this is an apology and after that everything is going to be fine. Also I don’t believe that if every single family in Brazil would do that, we would be excused for what our ancestors have done in the past. I understand that education is the key and that the only way to reduce the harm created by horror, prejudice and racism. All of us should have critical role in dismantling oppression and generating a vision for a society based in equality.

Paulo Freire (1970) in the article of Spencer (2008), stated that “a commitment to social justice requires a moral and ethical attitude toward equality and a belief in the capacity of people as agents who can transform their world”. Therefore, he stated that to create social change and to promote social justice, we must begin this process with ourselves—”through a self-reflective process that examines the contradictions between our espoused values and our lived experience”. (Spencer, 2008)

The debate about Human Rights, decolonization, dehumanization and others brings us, as future social workers to the point of making an effort to dislocate the sovereign way of thinking, to inquire things that come by the mainstream midia and that it is crystallized in our minds and, by that, we will be doing a huge part of our job, that is the one that disrupt the normalized gaze and objectified bodies, inspiring reflections about the Era that we live. In agreement with Spencer (2008), as a social worker, I strive to be an ally, which was defined by Adams, Bell, and Griffin (2007) as “an individual from an agent group who rejects the dominant ideology and takes action out of a belief that eliminating oppression will benefit both agents and targets of oppression”

Since this blog is about a carioca’s perspective, here I will give you a example of what I believe is an act of educating people and trying to prevent social practices of oppression: While the country was helding the 2016 elections for mayor, One of the candidates, a former History teacher, and state representative left-wing, from the PSOL party used as his slogan the Bertold Brecht quote: “Nada deve parecer impossível de mudar. Nada deve parecer natural” (Nothing should be seem as impossible to change. Nothing should be seem as natural.)

Here is the complete quote:

“Desconfiai do mais trivial, na aparência singelo.
E examinai, sobretudo, o que parece habitual.
Suplicamos expressamente: não aceiteis o que é de hábito como coisa natural, pois em tempo de desordem sangrenta, de confusão organizada, de arbitrariedade consciente, de humanidade desumanizada, nada deve parecer natural nada deve parecer impossível de mudar.” (Bertolt Brecht)

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The easiest way to start is to start from the beginning. So here we go to chapter 1 of ” Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege”

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In the book “challenging the oppression and confronting privilege“, Mullally states the imperative of theory, which, according to him, for those who work in professions that help others, is often seen as esoteric or abstract. This statement opposes to what common-sense understands by practice, which for those would be common-sense, concrete and what occurs in the real world, for instance, in a mental health clinic. “Social work is seeing by many as essentially carrying out pragmatic and practice tasks” (Mullally, 2010). Some may say that spontaneity and the personal qualities of the worker are often considered more important than theory. David Howe (1987) in (Mullally, 2010), condemns the fact that people are often tenacious to elevate theoretical ignorance to a level of professional virtue. The author explains that: 1- theory is part of everyday life and 2- theoretical ignorance just brings up dishonest practice. Howe (1987) demonstrates how all social work practice is related to theory.

According to Mullally (2010), “theory carries out four basic functions: description, explanation, prediction and control and managment of events. Social work is practice-based and pursues all of these four phenomena: it attempts to explain what causes them; it predicts future events; and it attempts to control and manage events of all levels of human activity (Reynolds, 1971).

Theories are important specially in a course about diversity and social justice,  because they take a multi-dimensional approach to a hypothesis and help to describe through a series of applications the ways in which society functions. It further aims to explain these causes, hypothesize future outcomes for these behaviors, and aspires to study how this plays out on all level of human activity.

Studying theory will help my colleagues and I to be stronger clinicians.   Being open to studying the various theories (which are naturally continually evolving through practice) in social work, will help us to better learn about the “social structures, institutions, policies, practices and process with respect to how they treat all groups in society” (Mullaly, 2010).  If we aim to work interpersonally or with the wider community, we must be aware of how social scientists before us have understood these trends.

Furthermore, as we learn about theory we must also think critically.  No theory is the same or should be viewed as truth.  A theory, by nature of its name, is meant to be regarded but also questioned and tested.

In this course on diversity and social justice, studying and making sense of the established theories in social work are imperative.  As Mullally (2010) denotes in Chapter 1 of the text, organizations and agencies typically focus on how clinicians directly practice and impact their clients in the real world, but typically do not acknowledge that theory informs this work.

I also realize that not all theories will apply to every scenario and each theory might not entirely be applicable.

Without developing an underlying background in the various theories presented in social work, clinicians operate under the umbrella of their own experiences, views of the world, and biases.

While I was reading the chapter one of the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about something that I have already experienced in my life: while studying Psychoanalysis and starting to practice it, many would have a very similar idea that Mullaly presented to us: the fact that if you are a good person, with good intentions you can practice Psychoanalysis. By many, Psychoanalysis is not considered a science but only a practice. Freud, known as the father of Psychoanalysis stated that in order for one to become a Psychoanalyst, he/she must start a formation (like a development) based in a tripod, which includes: personal analysis, knowledge of the theory and clinical supervision. If you don’t have these three bases working together, you are just someone in front of your patient/ client doing something else that is not Psychoanalysis, but pure assumptions of things that you can only think with your mind, being vulnerable to counter-transference (anyone that conducts therapy can be lead to have positive or negative feelings towards your patient/client).

According to Mullally (2010), “theory carries out four basic functions: description, explanation, prediction and control and managment of events. Social work is practice-based and pursues all of these four phenomena: it attempts to explain what causes them; it predicts future events; and it attempts to control and manage events of all levels of human activity (Reynolds, 1971).

Theories are important specially in a course about diversity and social justice,  because they take a multi-dimensional approach to a hypothesis and help to describe through a series of applications the ways in which society functions. It further aims to explain these causes, hypothesize future outcomes for these behaviors, and aspires to study how this plays out on all level of human activity.

Studying theory will help my colleagues and I to be stronger clinicians.   Being open to studying the various theories (which are naturally continually evolving through practice) in social work, will help us to better learn about the “social structures, institutions, policies, practices and process with respect to how they treat all groups in society” (Mullally, 2010).  If we aim to work interpersonally or with the wider community, we must be aware of how social scientists before us have understood these trends.

Furthermore, as we learn about theory we must also think critically.  No theory is the same or should be viewed as truth.  A theory, by nature of its name, is meant to be regarded but also questioned and tested.

In this course on diversity and social justice, studying and making sense of the established theories in social work are imperative.  As Mullally (2010) denotes in Chapter 1 of the text, organizations and agencies typically focus on how clinicians directly practice and impact their clients in the real world, but typically do not acknowledge that theory informs this work.

I also realize that not all theories will apply to every scenario and each theory might not entirely be applicable.

Without developing an underlying background in the various theories presented in social work, clinicians operate under the umbrella of their own experiences, views of the world, and biases.

While I was reading the chapter one of the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about something that I have already experienced in my life: while studying Psychoanalysis and starting to practice it, many would have a very similar idea that Mullaly presented to us: the fact that if you are a good person, with good intentions you can practice Psychoanalysis. By many, Psychoanalysis is not considered a science but only a practice. Freud, known as the father of Psychoanalysis stated that in order for one to become a Psychoanalyst, he/she must start a formation (like a development) based in a tripod, which includes: personal analysis, knowledge of the theory and clinical supervision. If you don’t have these three bases working together, you are just someone in front of your patient/ client doing something else that is not Psychoanalysis, but pure assumptions of things that you can only think with your mind, being vulnerable to counter-transference (anyone that conducts therapy can be lead to have positive or negative feelings towards your patient/client).

As the readings for this week asserted, we must be careful of creating a metaphor of decolonization.  The term “decolonize student thinking,” for example, changes how we view the real meaning of the word.  The term “decolonization” is intended to be the revival of a culturally indigenous identity through which a series of challenging, life-altering steps must be taken. Decolonization is an act of recapturing one’s stolen, eradicated culture due to the process of colonization.

I absolutely agree that the systems that my country and probably every other country has established (education, community, healthcare, work, etc.) are a product of the social environments that were established by a dominant group. By nature, the dominant group have put systems in place that act to systemically dampen the cultural influences of minority groups.  With this in mind, there are certainly things in our current social environment that are unsettling and are in the way of decolonization.

Like my colleagues, I want to fight for what is fair and just in order to decolonize. The challenge is that by unintentionally asserting settler nativism, it reinvests in the colonial structures of our society.

After the readings about decolonization, which at the begginning I must admit I thought was going to be a little bit odd and boring (since everybody knows what decolonization is, right? )I must say Iam really interested in decolonization and started to see it with a different mind. I am really glad that we were assigned to read about it and, at least for me, it opened my mind.

I believe that in order to decolonize, we, as is future social workers, must prioritize and put all our efforts in deconstructing what is “naturally” giving to us as a colonized society, the outdated dominant-culture worldviews in our work in order to open the door to justice for the colonized and disadvantaged groups in our society.

After finishing the reading, I realized that in many ways I have been a colonist in situations such as institutions that I worked in the past and that would put me in situations that I was probably believed to act as one. Many times, as a white, upper-middle class, educated woman you can be put into situations that turn into you as the opposite of what you are trying to do or show. While working in juvenile facilities, many kids would discretely (some not really discreet) say things like “what can she do for me, she doesn’t know anything about myself, my race, my ethnicity, my people…”.

I believe that in order to do this and to not tend to follow into the patterns that they would put me, I first have to decolonize myself, trying to understand, accommodate, and respect other cultures as unique as they are. Study all the theories, put in practice, advocate for my beliefs and in order to have a more generous and equal society.

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