Social Workers in the U Essay

Pages: 4 (1300 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Anthropology

¶ … social workers in the U.S. have any obligation to international social work? Why?

While the word "obligation" might seem a bit strong regarding the social worker in the United States and his or her responsibility towards others on the planet, philosophically the answer is yes, social workers are accountable to other peoples, no matter their location. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) asserts that the "…struggle for human rights remains a vital priority for the social work profession in the 21st Century" -- and moreover, the NASW urges social worker organizations to "develop and maintain collaborative relationships with international development agencies (http://www.socialworkers.org). Indeed the NASW asks members to help raise funds for special projects developed by Social Workers Across Nations (SWAN). The social work profession is not an isolated department unique to a Western society; it is a movement, a philosophy, if you will, based on justice, human needs, and empathy.

In that light, among the important issues that social workers in the United States should be concerned about is the problems associated with indigenous peoples (IPs). A peer-reviewed piece in the journal Global Governance relates to the human rights issues and IPs; the indigenous peoples in Africa, South America, and elsewhere on the planet are victims of abuses, including: a) land loss; b) environmental destruction; c) forced displacement; d) imposed assimilation; e) discrimination; and f) ethnocide (Stavenhagen, 2005, 19).

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Among the more egregious discriminatory policies impacting IPs have been designed to "…eliminate and transform indigenous cultures" because states saw these indigenous cultures as "…detrimental to the idea of national integration and development (Stavenhagen, 21). For example, Stavenhagen references the injustices done to native peoples in the U.S. And Canada, who were forced to learn English and punished when they spoke native languages (21).

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Another piece in the peer-reviewed Politics of Identity journal notes that IPs have historically been marginalized by colonial powers; they have struggled to survive "…against the colonizing states' efforts to eradicate them culturally, politically and physically" (Alfred, et al., 2005, 597). The colonizing countries didn't necessarily attempt to "eradicate" the actual people, albeit they did try to remove the existence of IPs "…through the erasure of the histories and geographies that provide the foundation for Indigenous cultural identities and sense of self" (Alfred, 598).

In too many cases indigenous peoples remain -- as in "earlier colonial eras" -- "occupied peoples who have been dispossessed and disempowered in their own homelands" (Alfred, 598). On page 609 Alfred mentions the work being done by Cherokee/Creek scholar Tom Holm (and Diane Pearson and Ben Chavis) that brings to the table the "original peoplehood concept"; that is, there are four concepts that Alfred refers to as "interlocking" and they should be known to social workers who deal with diverse cultures (some of which are connected to IPs). The four are: a) sacred history; b) ceremonial cycles; c) language; and d) ancestral homelands (609).

If any of the identity elements (like "sacred history") becomes lost, or is even in danger of being discarded, "…unified action can be taken to revitalize and restore that part of the community by utilizing relationships," Alfred explains on page 609.

Why should social workers in the U.S. understand and relate well to the above-mentioned information vis-a-vis indigenous peoples in other parts of the world? First of all, because the struggle for human rights anywhere is the responsibility of social workers everywhere. And secondly, if social work is, as mentioned earlier, a movement rather than a department in some Western bureaucracy, professionals in the field are duty-bound morally to be informed and to take whatever steps they can to mitigate injustice to indigenous peoples.

TWO: Are the historic and present-day issues that affect migration and indigenous persons relevant to social work? How?

With particular reference to the United States, it is estimated that there are 11 million immigrants (most from Latin American countries including… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/social-workers-us/8633619.