As social workers we use every free moment to part take in self-care so that we can have some kind of balance in out life. Either if is shopping taking a nap or going for a job, like the inmates in Organ. I think this a wonderful idea but many people may not agree with it. Even though prisoners have committed illegal crimes, we have to remember that they are humans just like us.
The Oregon program allows individuals in prison to run beside people in the community. Those in blue are the inmates and those in orange are the community members. Only 150 participants are allowed to run at a time, and because there are about 2,000 individuals residing in the prison, it could take up to four years waiting time for people to actually participate in the program. It is said that it is not simple for inmates to get into the program and usually they have to have 18 months of clear conduct to be accepted into it. But, I do believe that this program can really impact inmates by allowing them to feel a sense of normalcy and interaction with citizens outside of their day-to-day connections. I value freedom of human beings and certainly the importance of human connections/relationships and diversity within those bonds. Therefore, I believe that it is very important for people, especially those in jail or prison to talk to people outside of that setting, and to experience non-prison living even if just for a short period of time. Everyone needs a break and some self-care, and this is a very effective way to give them that, by giving them the gift of normalcy and worth. Diversity of people leads to a great array of values, beliefs, ideas, customs, etc. which makes these relationships crucial vehicles for change. I believe that this program is a great way to enhance the inmates’ overall well-being, socialization, and perspective. As a social worker, I believe that the social environment plays a huge role in human interaction and behavior. People deserve to be shown their worth. They deserve service that will only promote their capacity and opportunity to move forward and address their own needs and goals. Letting these individuals become exposed to an environment that shows normalcy is an important step towards making them feel empowered and important.
Body image is a major concern for most of our society today. It’s all about this fad around “thinspiration” thigh gaps, collarbones, hip bones, yada, yada, yada. Well, what I would like to know is how did this all begin? We look at Marilyn Monroe, who at one time was America’s sexiest woman of all time, and she was not very small or even a size zero. The ideal for this type of “sexy” has completely shifted. Now it seems like all we see and hear in the media is how to look thinner, how to lose belly weight, how to look younger, etc. Is small really better? Everything is all about hiding who we really are, about reshaping our already perfect, original bodies. Why should we aspire to be this thinner, younger looking version of ourselves? If it is to be healthy, then I agree that we should try to make those adjustments as needed, but a problem arises when an individual takes this body image ideal to the extreme. When I say extreme, I am talking about developing illnesses and disorderly eating habits due to one’s appearance of themselves.
Did you know?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disorder!
Hess and Biber’s article “Am I thin Enough Yet?” addresses the issue of a woman’s sense of worth in terms of her ability to attract a man. It shows that some women really start to focus on what they are eating and how their bodies look as compared to other women they see, a lot of them being models, actresses, etc. Girls and women are paying attention to their weight so much as to weighing themselves multiple times per out the day. This can lead to excessive exercising habits, and disordered eating habits. We want to try to empower women to look beyond the fake Barbie image, and to realize their unique self-worth. The article describes the eating disorder cycle as one that is a “trap”… girls and women become obsessive with their appearance and with their bodies, where ultimately it is never good enough. We are aspiring to be these photo-shopped, enhanced, and materialized people we see on the television and in the media, when we forget the beautiful, delicate people we are.
I came across a video the other day titled “Parents Allow Transgender Child to Choose Gender”
A short summary of the video: Parents to a 6 year old who was born female allow their child to identify as male. Ryland was born deaf and the Whittington parents found out when he was about one year old. Ryland soon became vocal about his gender identity shortly after he received cochlear implants. He would say “I am a boy” and refer to himself as a brother.
Despite the challenges this couple had to go through, finding out their child was deaf and not a girl like they had planned for, they were very empathetic in their response to let the child be free to choose his own lifestyle. In my opinion, it is so important for us as individuals to allow other individuals to choose their own paths. We should trust in their decisions especially regarding gender and sexual orientation because that person knows better than any one else how he/she feels and would like to be identified as. Just like I do not want people making decisions about aspects of my own identity, I would not want to force a label on somebody who does not even use that same label on him/herself. It is ultimately their choice, no matter how young, old, or what not; not ours. Not our body. Not our mind. Not our choice. Again, this is all my opinion, and of course there may be others who disagree and that is okay. But, what I took from this video is that it must be very difficult for children especially, to be forced into gender roles that they are not comfortable with. I think that sometimes we make up excuses for behaviors we are not comfortable confronting, so we may say that the child is just going through a phase and he/she will grow out of it; and these excuses may push our own decisions onto the child, by enforcing their birth sex and not allowing them to explore/experiment with the opposite gender role identity. An example would be a parent not allowing her son to dress up in girl clothes, or to carry a purse around (because it’s not what boys are supposed to do). I loved this video so much because of how supportive and compassionate Ryland’s parents were about his decision to be a boy. Ryland said “When the family dies, I will cut my hair so I can be a boy”, followed by “Why did God make me like this?” The parents acknowledged his feelings and maintained the mindset that even though Ryland was only 5 years old, they needed to start truly listening to what he was saying and feeling. As a future professional social worker, I believe in an individual’s right to self-determination and believe that it is incredibly important to meet people where they are by not allowing our own stereotypes, biases, or beliefs impact the other person’s actions/decisions regarding their own identity.
The population of elderly inmates has been increasing over the past decades, and National Public Radio (NPR) gives us a look at the perspective of those who have been in prison for twenty or thirty years. Laura Sullivan invites us to listen to “Life After ‘Life’: Aging Inmates Struggle For Redemption”
After listening to this, I noticed a huge issue surrounding these older adults with life sentences is reintegrating into society after living in such a secluded environment, and what some even consider now as their “home” because of the day-to-day routine they have there. The ones who are lucky enough to be approved for community corrections have to find a job, learn how to set up bank accounts and use an ATM. They will have the responsibility of paying rent, as well as finding transportation to wherever they need to go, and this may include learning how to take the bus and obtaining any materials that may be required to do so. We have to think about how much society has changed since the 1970’s and 80’s and how overwhelming it must be to reintegrate into a normal lifestyle after spending decade after decade surrounded by the same walls and floors. The reintegration process is extremely difficult, especially for those who are on the older side of the age spectrum. For those who have been in prison for 10+ years have to try to find and obtain a job after having a great gap in their work experience. They may be thought of as not having the skill set for the work or discriminated against based on their criminal history. So along with being ex-cons, these individuals may be targeted due to their age or other aspects of their identities. A lot of our society sees these gray/white-haired individuals and believe that they do not deserve life on the outside because of the orange jump suits they are wearing. Sullivan points out that they were kept in prison for years and years not because they were a threat, but because “they deserved it”. I want us to keep in mind that life was different back then for the elderly population. They were sent to prison on a life sentence that initially came with parole but as crime started to spike and years passed, the “life sentence” has changed, increasing the number of years while slowly starting to eliminate parole.
I am very disappointed that our criminal justice system holds the opportunity for offenders to eventually be “free”, but does not prepare them for the reintegration process. It’s almost like throwing them out into the world to deal with it on their own because of their criminal history; as if these individuals would be able to pull themselves up without any help. Everyone deserves the opportunity to change. Just as our world is continually changing, along with society, policies, standard “norms”, etc., people may have what it takes to change as long as they are pushed in the right direction and offered services, resources, and opportunities to make the change a reality. I believe that we need to provide these people with tools to move forward with their lives and to operate outside this world that they have been calling “home” for so many years. I praise the efforts of the Long-term Offenders Program, but I do believe there are still a lot of grey areas, gaps, and questions to be raised about the effect imprisonment has on the elderly population and the reintegration process they may get to experience… that is if they do not pass away on their sentence.
My feelings about Ferguson
I will start off with the Naturalization Act of 1870, which is a United States federal law that created a system of controls for the naturalization process and penalties for fraudulent practices. It is also noted for extending the naturalization process to “aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.”
The word I would like to point out in this description is “Aliens.” “Alien” is not familiar or like other things you have known: different from what you are used to.” I know this federal law was established in 1870, but the feeling I get is that is the law is till lingering and has not been established at all. Being an African American In the United States makes me feel like an “Alien”, due to the injustice and violence that I see other African American face. It seems like African American are labeled as the unknown and the unfamiliar. We are looked at as unnatural and barbaric. Last time I checked I wasn’t an Alien, I thought an Alien was something that was not from earth but what do I know. Looking at America’s history they are known to reject the unfamiliar but by now you would thought they have accepted African American, seeing that it has been over 100 years. This “Naturalization Act” is just something on paper to show that America accepts African Americans, but as history shows’ they really haven’t. America doesn’t accept African Americans they just tolerate them, it sad but it true. This may sound like a cliché but you brought us here. I refuse go blind to racism in America. Now you are tired of tolerating us and now you want to get rid of us RIGHT, RIGHT. So you do it through law enforcement, through some who can plead self-defense, some one who can “stand their ground”, please kill the theatrics America. Last time I check Human Rights were granted to every human being and not just a particular group, but then again I’m an “Alien”. Was Michael Brown an Alien? Was Trayvon Martin an Alien? Is every African American an Alien? No we are we are people, humans that have been denied out Human Rights for years. We did not come here on flying saucer, we came here cramped on ships, which fought for the rights that we are suppose to have today. When I saw NO INDICMENT run across my screen, my heart and jaw dropped, my paws were sweaty. This just showed me that America will never get use to African Americans and that we have a long way to go. Officer Wilson claimed he was just doing his job, and that he felt like his life was in danger. Were you fearful for your life or were you fearful of the unknown? Please believe me if I was an Alien I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be staying on this dreadful earth. I would get in my saucer and leave. But I can’t do that so I will stay here and fight and let the obvious be known. Racism is no longer an entity it is something that is visible to the naked eye, it is someone dressed in a uniform and badge. They may be apart of the neighborhood watch.