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RUNNING HEAD: Personal Bias

Paper

Human Diversity and Generalist Practice:

Personal Bias Paper

Introduction

In this course, Human Diversity and Generalist Practice, students have

studied many populations that are commonly oppressed. Those people groups

include women, individuals who identify as gay and lesbian, residents of the

Appalachian Region, individuals with disabilities, religious minorities, and African

American people. Each of these people groups must overcome different obstacles

due to their identity. However, the source of those obstacles is the same for each

population; the bias of others.

Personal bias, if not maintained, often leads to discriminatory behavior

against the least favored population(s). The first step in eradicating those unjust

behaviors is to identify the one's own bias. To be honest, when I first read the

directions for this paper, I (sarcastically) thought, "This ought to be fun". Those

thoughts aren't to protest against the need for self-awareness. I truly believe that

self-awareness is absolutely crucial to a Social Workers ability to serve any and

every client they cross paths with. However, those thoughts are to protest my own

prejudices. I would absolutely love to think that there is no such thing as prejudice,

discrimination, oppression, and so forth. But unfortunately, that's far from the truth.

So, this paper is going to be a painfully honest assessment of my own bias. We all

have them, hidden or not; please consider that before passing judgement.

Description of My Personal Bias

The people group that I am most biased against is a group that we didn't

discuss in this class. However, it was discussed in a different class; individuals who

commit crimes; especially criminal acts against someone or something that they

see as weaker than themselves. Some examples of these crimes would be rape,
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abuse (of a person or animal), neglect (child, elderly, disabled), murder, gang-

related crimes, hate-crimes, and theft (especially theft to support other illegal

actions).

This bias most likely began to form when I was a child. Generally, I was raised

to be a woman who stands up for herself and others in need. My father is a veteran

and at the time, a police officer; my mother had been abused by a few "loved ones"

and refused to allow anyone to harm her again; and my Grandmother wasn't afraid

of anything or anyone, which she had no hesitations in displaying if any harm came

near her family. Specifically, that meant putting the needs of others before your own

wants, respecting elders, and appreciating people who serve to protect and heal our

country and community. As well as learning to forgive...depending on the size of the

transgression. My family, like many who live between corn fields and cow pastures,

upheld the ideology that a bullet is much cheaper than a long prison sentence for

specific crimes.

My personal bias against some criminals was strengthened about a year

after I graduated high school. Living in a small town, I got to know just about

everyone. It's not hard to do when your high school makes up about a third of the

town and surrounding farms. Choir class was actually pretty popular in my school,

even with the football players, which is where I met and started dating one of those

guys. Nothing really came of the relationship but I'd gotten to know his brother,

Justin, and we'd remained friends afterwards. That was my freshman year of high

school and Justin was a year behind me in school so I'd had about 3 years of day-to-

day small talk with him by the time I'd graduated. A month after Justin graduated,

he was scheduled to go to Basic Training for the Navy. He wanted to follow his

brother who was already a Marine. But three days before shipping out, Justin was
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brutally murdered by another person we had all gone to school with. This person

was also one of Justin's, and my sister's, close friends.

Austin, the murderer, told the courts that he had killed his friend because he

wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. That was his reason. Selfishness.

The selfish desire to do something completely wrong. The defense attorney tried to

rationalize his actions by stating that he wasn't mentally sound. That reasoning was

proven incorrect by Austin's premeditation of the murder.

Questions

What is it about the population that is problematic for you?

Crime at its root is driven by selfishness. With that statement and the

description above, I feel the need to say that I am a rational person. I know that

theft occurs by people who are hungry and need to feed their children. I also know

that murders have occurred by individuals who weren't safe unless that person was

permanently removed from their lives. I'm not talking about those situations. I

strictly mean crimes that are committed only because the criminal wanted

something that they weren't supposed to have, such as the virginity of a child.

There are no extraordinary reasons that can excuse crimes like rape and abuse. I

am personally biased against criminals like this simply because of their choice to

commit these crimes. They chose to put their selfishness before the well-being of

another human being. I have zero respect and a lot of disgust for someone who

chooses to do that.

How will this affect you as a social worker?

Social workers are taught and expected to respect and advocate for the rights

of all people. As I'm sure you noticed in the previous paragraph, I don't believe that I
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could do that if I were working with criminals like Austin. I'd like to think that I could

force myself to serve them as I'm expected to by the NASW Code of Ethics, but

honestly the only way that I could is if I didn't know what their crimes were. And

even still, I don't think I could handle it.

As a professional how might your own biases promote oppression and

discrimination against this group of individuals?

Because I most likely wouldn't be able to work with this population

effectively, I know that would be promoting oppression and discrimination by not

assisting them. I can accept that because I don't feel that these criminals deserve to

have anything but their most basic rights protected and even then, I struggle with

those. It isn't morally correct but the way that I see it is that if someone violates the

basic rights of another human being, then why should their rights be protected?

However, I would still observe those rights for them because I have to. Beyond

those rights though, such as delicious meals, television and free college education, I

wouldn't be able to support them.