Race Class Gender Power Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Sociology - Counseling Type: Essay Paper: #68361468 Related Topics: Atheist, Social Injustice, Race, Sexism
Excerpt from Essay :

Cultural identity formation theories reveal the intersections between race, class, gender, sexuality, status, self-concept, and power. Applying critical race theory and racial identity development models to social work can prove tremendously helpful and promotes the overall goals of the profession. It is not just about becoming more culturally competent and aware of structural racism and other factors that might be affecting clients; the work of increasing cultural competence means becoming more self-aware. Learning about my own cultural identity formation helps me to recognize any biases that I have picked up from environmental cues. Moreover, increasing cultural competence depends on honesty and insight. It is one thing to intellectually understand that racism is psychologically and socially traumatic for people, but quite another to recognize the ways racism has affected my own perceptions and cognitions.

My plan to increase cultural competence includes daily journaling about my inner thoughts as well as my experiences in daily life. Because I live in an urban environment, it is easy for me to comment on structural inequities. I would prefer to expand my definition of cultural identity formation to include issues related to gender and class, because I believe that race, class, and gender are deeply entwined issues. As Abrams & Mojo (2009) point out, I believe that critical race theory involves more than just race but also sexual orientation, languages, physical ability or disability, and the intersections of these "multiple axes of oppression" that affect identity development and social functioning...


245). Through my personal encounters, I am better able to see why I might have self-doubt in some areas but feel privileged in others.

My plan to increase cultural competence also includes making an active effort to engage people from different backgrounds. Rather than allowing race, religion, gender, sexuality, and other key elements of identity become invisible, I commit to speaking openly about these issues. The more open I become in my communications, the more I can recognize how these issues are affecting my clients. Similarly, the more I confront the "invisible" aspects of identity, the better I will be at helping my clients to come to terms with their frustrations and guide them towards the resources and techniques they can use for self-empowerment. Finally, my plan includes extending my work with clients to political activism and policy development. "Social workers challenge social injustice" precisely because we work with a diverse group of people and situations (National Association of Social Workers, 2001, p. 9). We are culturally literate and able to recognize systemic prejudices, injustices, and inequities, and also develop strategic interventions or capitalize on existing opportunities to subvert them.

The process of racial or cultural identity development is similar but not the same for whites as people of color. As Sue & Sue (2013) point out, progressing through stages of conformity, dissonance, resistance and immersion, introspection, and integrative awareness characterizes the white cultural identity development. This very model was based on Cross's original model for Black identity development, which progresses through stages including pre-encounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, internalization, and internalization-commitment (Sue & Sue, 2013, p. 291). The difference between white and non-white identity development in a society in which whiteness is presumed normative and privileged is that for people of color, an "encounter" of racism usually precedes identity formation. Whites, on the other hand, might not realize they are even "white" until they interact with people of color. At that stage, the person either experiences some cognitive dissonance realizing that they have prejudices but are willing to move beyond them.

In a society in which whites are no longer technically the majority, white status remains part of the social structure. Likewise, whites continue to take white privilege for granted, and many whites fail to acknowledge that white privilege even exists.…

Sources Used in Documents:


Abrams, L.S. & Moio, J.A. (2009). Critical race theory and the cultural competence dilemma in social work education. Journal of Social Work Education 45(2).

Hud-Aleem, R. & Countryman, J. (2008). Biracial identity development and recommendations in therapy. Psychiatry (Edgemont) 5(11): 37-44.

National Association of Social Workers (2001). NASW standards for cultural competence. Retrieved online: https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/naswculturalstandards.pdf

Sue, D.W., Jackson, K.F., Rasheed, M.N. & Rasheed, J.M. (2016). Multicultural Social Work Practice. John Wiley.

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