As a way to understand the explicit power of historical forces and the unconscious pull such forces have on shaping our own lives and relationships, we are asking each student to explore these dynamics by reading and reflecting (through journaling) on one of following books.

An Indigenous Peoples’ History Of The United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. “Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native peoples who once inhabited his land”. (Beacon Press, 2014)

We ask that you choose the book you read based on two primary criteria:

(a) that you perceive the topic to be one where you can begin to locate how dynamics such as privilege, power, positionality, and oppression remain at play and/or influence social work practice; and

(b) that it be one where you will learn content about the history of oppression in the United States.

Using these criteria as your guide, you will select one book listed for reading and journal reflection.

As you read, your reflections should address the following content and practice behaviors:

• Examples of what the book offers as history and the extent to which that history is reflected in present-day forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination in the United States;
• Examples of how the structures and values of the United States may oppress, marginalize, and alienate some people, while creating or enhancing privilege and power for others.
• Examples of discriminatory practices that you see evidenced in the way the social work profession today engages with members of the group(s) discussed in the book. Please identify dynamics (privilege, power, positionality) in the examples where appropriate.
• How are the dynamics of oppression and discrimination expressed in your agency?
• Where do you see examples in your agency of practices to advocate for human rights and social and economic justice?
• When working with diverse groups, where do you see examples of your personal values and biases intruding? Identify what strategies you have used to develop sufficient self-awareness to prevent personal values and biases from influencing how you work with service users.

The written journal assignment is expected to be a mix of observations on history, examples of present-day dynamics (privilege, power, positionality, oppression) from practice, including one’s agency (both positive and problematic), and your own reflections on conscious and unconscious bias as it impacts your life and work. Where you disagree with key points in the book you are expected to use sources other than your personal beliefs to substantiate your objections to content in the book.

The journal entries assignment should total between 8-10 pages, using standard APA formatting.

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