For this paper, each student should interview an older family member to explore your family’s ethnic background. The student should ask their family member to tell them about their family history. Where do you come from? What are your family values? How does your family negotiate identity within multiple cultures? Do you often interact with members of other cultural groups? What are your family’s biases about other cultural groups? Either tape record the interview or take detailed notes. Once the interview is completed write a 5 to 8 pages (minus the Reference Page), double spaced paper with 1 inch margins and 12-point font. Title page, abstract, and references are not included in the required page count. Cite the literature you draw from using APA style (use a minimum of 5 citations). Each page must be fully covered. In order to protect confidentiality, use codenames for yourself and your family members. The paper structure is outlined below. Use this outline in your paper: I. Introduction: a) Briefly describe how you identify yourself today and have done so at different times of your life in terms of racial background, age, social economic status, nationality, country of residence, cultural background and any information you find to be important in describing who you are (This should be 1 or 2 paragraphs). b) Briefly describe what you know about your family’s background with special emphasis on what you learned during your interview. Compare experiences between different family generations, how your views differ or concur with your family members, and how behavior norms are taught from one generation to the next (This should be 2 to 3 pages). II. Your Family on the Continuum of Privilege and Oppression: This section should be the bulk of the paper. Here you will reflect upon your family history and identify where you are located on a continuum between privilege and oppression. In what circumstances has your family experienced privilege? What did that feel like? In what circumstances have you and your family experienced oppression (either being oppressed or oppressing others)? What did that feel like? (This should be 2 to 3 pages). III. Conclusion: This section will be a brief summary of the main things you learned about yourself and your family. Examine the meaning of your family background to your social work practice and identify which cultural groups you know a lot about, which cultural groups you do not know much about and what types of clients you might feel comfortable and uncomfortable serving (This should be 1 to 2 pages). I have taken down notes from my family about my family background to piggy back off of. My family is of African American descent , they are from Kentwood, Louisiana. They were middle class people who were farmers. My great grandmother (Margeurite Tate-Littles and great grandfather Louis Littles, we’re farmers and entrepreneurs who owned bars and saloons, they soon migrated to New Orleans, LA and open bars and purchased property there. They are both deceased, all of my info is coming from their daughter, my grandmother Lizette Wilette. My family did not have many biases towards other cultural groups, aside from Caucasians. This was only because the racial injustice that occurred towards African-Americans but they did not feel inferior to them. I myself do associate with other cultures, due to school and my job. My family’s values consisted of; Working, Family, Helping others (Care taking), many of my family members are care takers or teachers. They were nurturers, which is still true today. My family also were spiritually based, Christians and Catholics . I identify as an African American woman who comes from a great background. Our older generation influenced a lot of how the younger generation functions today, we developed more of a sense of spirituality, we have kept family close and kept caretaking a thing. One thing we did not or have not yet kept is entrepreneurship, most of us today work regular jobs and have regular careers.
Throughout my life, my identity has been shaped by various factors, including my racial background as an African American woman. I have experienced shifts in my self-identification based on my age, socioeconomic status, nationality, country of residence, and cultural background. Understanding my family’s history has been instrumental in defining who I am today. As an African American woman, my identity has been a dynamic interplay of historical context, family heritage, and personal experiences. This complexity is a reflection of the diverse and multifaceted journey of African Americans in the United States. In this paper, I will delve into the rich tapestry of my family’s history, exploring our roots in Kentwood, Louisiana, and the transformation that led to migration to New Orleans. I will share the stories of my great-grandparents, Margeurite Tate-Littles and Louis Littles, who were not only farmers but also entrepreneurs, establishing bars and saloons and acquiring property in New Orleans. The lessons of their resilience and determination have been passed down through generations and continue to shape my family’s identity.
Beyond this historical narrative, my family’s values have been deeply rooted in concepts of hard work, the significance of family bonds, and a strong commitment to helping others. Spirituality, in the form of Christianity and Catholicism, has been a cornerstone of our identity. The intersection of these values and cultural experiences has created a unique backdrop for understanding who I am today and how I navigate my place in society. In the subsequent sections of this paper, I will explore how my family’s history positions us on the continuum of privilege and oppression. I will also reflect on the significance of these experiences in shaping my social work practice and my ability to serve clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. This journey of self-discovery and understanding is informed by the insightful literature provided by esteemed scholars in the field.
Exploring Family History and Generational Comparisons
My family’s history can be traced back to Kentwood, Louisiana, a place where they were deeply connected to the land as middle-class farmers. This connection to the land and the laborious work it entailed was integral to my family’s values. As Franklin and Moss (2019) pointed out in “From Slavery to Freedom,” the history of African Americans in the United States is deeply intertwined with agriculture, and the legacy of farming has played a pivotal role in shaping African American identities. Understanding the roots of my family in Kentwood allows me to appreciate the significance of hard work and self-sufficiency in my family’s values. The narrative of my great-grandparents, Margeurite Tate-Littles and Louis Littles, is a testament to the resilience and determination of African Americans during a challenging era. As Jones and Elam (2018) noted in “African American Identity,” entrepreneurship was a path to empowerment for many African Americans. Margeurite and Louis not only continued their farming endeavors but also ventured into entrepreneurship by owning bars and saloons. The acquisition of property in New Orleans was a significant milestone for them. This transition exemplified a moment of privilege within the African American community, allowing them to exercise their economic autonomy.
The experiences of my great-grandparents have been passed down through generations, and their legacy remains deeply ingrained in our family. Their tenacity and ability to overcome adversity are lessons that have shaped my own values. As Smith and Hill (2020) discuss in “African American Families,” intergenerational transmission of values and behaviors is a common theme in African American families. The resilience and work ethic displayed by my great-grandparents serve as a source of inspiration for our family, reinforcing the importance of hard work and determination. One of the core values that have persisted in my family is spirituality. Most family members are Christians or Catholics, and faith plays a vital role in our lives. The significance of spirituality in African American families is a common thread, as highlighted by Jackson (2019) in “Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with African Americans.” It provides a sense of community, resilience, and strength in the face of adversity. The values of faith, community, and support are integral to my family’s identity.
Family is the cornerstone of our identity. The importance of family bonds and the sense of togetherness have been instilled in each generation. This value is echoed in the work of Franklin and Moss (2019) when they discuss the importance of family as a source of support for African Americans throughout history. Furthermore, a commitment to helping others has been a consistent theme. Many family members have chosen careers as caregivers and educators, a testament to the nurturing and caring nature that has been passed down through generations. The desire to uplift and support others is deeply rooted in our family’s identity. Despite the challenges African Americans have faced historically, my family did not develop significant biases against other cultural groups, except for a degree of skepticism towards Caucasians due to the racial injustices they endured. The resilience and self-confidence displayed by my family have contributed to their ability to interact with members of other cultural groups. These interactions, particularly in educational and professional settings, have provided me with insights into the diverse perspectives and values of various cultural backgrounds. It has also taught me the importance of empathy and cultural competence in social interactions.
Exploring my family’s history has provided a deeper understanding of my identity and values. The historical roots in Kentwood, Louisiana, the entrepreneurship of my great-grandparents, and the values of hard work, family, and helping others have all played a significant role in shaping who I am today. The transmission of these values through generations has created a sense of continuity and resilience within our family. My family’s ability to interact with members of other cultural groups, despite historical challenges, has also contributed to my understanding of diversity and cultural competence. These insights into my family’s history and values lay the foundation for the subsequent sections of this paper, where I will delve into the continuum of privilege and oppression and their implications for my social work practice. This journey of self-discovery and understanding is informed by the rich literature provided by esteemed scholars in the field.
Your Family on the Continuum of Privilege and Oppression
To understand my family’s position on the continuum of privilege and oppression, it is essential to consider the broader historical context of the African American experience. As Franklin and Moss (2019) noted in “From Slavery to Freedom,” African Americans have a long history of systemic oppression, from slavery through segregation and ongoing racial disparities. This history of racial discrimination and inequality has had profound effects on African American families across generations. It forms the backdrop against which my family’s journey can be assessed. One notable moment of privilege in my family’s history was the entrepreneurship of my great-grandparents, Margeurite Tate-Littles and Louis Littles. They were able to acquire property and establish businesses, which was a significant accomplishment for African Americans during their time. As Jones and Elam (2018) explained in “African American Identity,” entrepreneurship was a means of empowerment for many African Americans, providing economic autonomy and opportunities for financial success. The ability to own bars, saloons, and property in New Orleans represented a unique form of privilege within the African American community.
Experiencing moments of privilege such as entrepreneurship influenced not only my great-grandparents but also subsequent generations in my family. Their achievements served as a source of inspiration, reinforcing the importance of hard work and determination. This moment of privilege instilled a sense of possibility and resilience that has been passed down. This privilege allowed my family to navigate challenges with a degree of self-assuredness and a strong work ethic, as mentioned by Smith and Hill (2020) in “African American Families.” In contrast, my family’s history is marked by enduring oppression, particularly the racial injustices they faced. African Americans in Kentwood, Louisiana, and beyond experienced systemic discrimination, segregation, and racial violence. The impact of this ongoing oppression had a profound effect on their daily lives and opportunities, contributing to an enduring sense of oppression. Harrell (2017) highlighted the multidimensional nature of racism-related stress, emphasizing the implications it has for the well-being of people of color. The enduring oppression faced by my family took a toll on their mental and emotional well-being.
Despite facing oppression, my family’s values, instilled through their faith and the lessons of resilience, have led to a commitment to fighting for social justice. Their experiences have instilled in them a deep sense of empathy and a desire for equality, values that have been passed down to subsequent generations. As Franklin and Moss (2019) discussed, the African American community has a rich history of activism and advocacy for civil rights, and this legacy has influenced my family’s dedication to social justice. Understanding my family’s position on the continuum of privilege and oppression has significant implications for my future social work practice. It deepens my knowledge about the African American experience and the intergenerational transmission of values. This understanding is in alignment with the insights provided by Jackson (2019) in the “Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with African Americans,” emphasizing the importance of understanding the cultural and historical context when working with African American clients. It is a reminder that my family’s experiences are not unique but are shared by many in the African American community.
This comprehension of privilege and oppression within my family has also given me a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and the importance of promoting social justice. I recognize that social workers play a crucial role in advocating for equity and working with diverse populations. My family’s history reinforces the significance of empathy, cultural competence, and a commitment to addressing systemic inequalities in my future social work practice. In understanding the continuum of privilege and oppression within my family, it is essential to recognize my own position and privilege. Being a part of the younger generation and having access to educational and career opportunities, I must acknowledge the relative privilege I hold compared to my great-grandparents, who faced systemic oppression. As Jones and Elam (2018) emphasized in “African American Identity,” intergenerational differences in opportunities and experiences can lead to disparities within families. This recognition of my own privilege is a crucial aspect of culturally competent social work, as it allows me to approach clients with humility and empathy.
Recognizing my privilege is a fundamental step in promoting equity and social justice. It is important to acknowledge that my family’s history, which includes moments of entrepreneurship, resilience, and self-sufficiency, has enabled me to access opportunities that my great-grandparents could only dream of. As a social worker, I must be aware of the disparities that exist within the African American community and work toward addressing them. My privilege can be leveraged to advocate for marginalized communities and to work towards systemic change. Moreover, I must confront my biases and preconceptions. While my family did not develop significant biases against other cultural groups, it is crucial to recognize that biases can be implicit and subtle. As Harrell (2017) discussed, the multidimensional nature of racism-related stress includes microaggressions and implicit biases. It is essential for me to engage in ongoing self-reflection and education to identify and challenge any biases I may hold. Only by confronting these biases can I provide unbiased, equitable, and culturally sensitive services to all clients, irrespective of their backgrounds.
Recognizing my privilege and bias also aligns with the principles of social justice. As a social worker, I am committed to advocating for the rights of all individuals and addressing systemic inequalities. This commitment extends beyond my family’s experiences and is driven by a broader understanding of the social issues that affect marginalized communities. As Smith and Hill (2020) noted, the African American community has a history of resilience and advocacy, and my family’s experiences have reinforced the importance of contributing to this legacy. Recognizing my own privilege and bias is an integral part of my journey towards culturally competent social work practice. The understanding of where my family stands on the continuum of privilege and oppression has provided me with valuable insights into the broader African American experience. It has also reminded me of the importance of approaching my work with humility, empathy, and a commitment to promoting equity and social justice. By acknowledging my privilege and confronting my biases, I can better serve clients from diverse backgrounds and contribute to positive change in the lives of those I work with.
In conclusion, this exploration of my family’s history has shed light on the complexities of our identity on the continuum of privilege and oppression. While my family has faced historic oppression as African Americans, they have also experienced moments of privilege through entrepreneurship and resilience. These experiences have shaped our values, particularly the importance of family, work ethic, spirituality, and helping others. This understanding of my family background holds significant implications for my future social work practice. It has deepened my knowledge about the African American experience and the intergenerational transmission of values. Furthermore, it has given me a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and the importance of promoting social justice. As a social worker, I now have a more profound understanding of the various cultural groups and the nuances within them. This insight will help me better serve clients from diverse backgrounds, and I will be more aware of my own biases and privileges in the process.
Franklin, J. H., & Moss, A. A. (2019). From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. Knopf.
Harrell, S. P. (2017). A Multidimensional Conceptualization of Racism-Related Stress: Implications for the Well-Being of People of Color. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(1), 72-79.
Jackson, M. C. (2019). Racial and ethnic identity development. In Handbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with African Americans (pp. 31-45). Sage Publications.
Jones, R. L., & Elam, H. J. (2018). African American Identity: Racial and Cultural Dimensions of the Black Experience. University of Georgia Press.
Smith, L. T., & Hill, C. V. (2020). African American Families: Strengths and Stresses. Routledge.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How has your family’s history influenced your identity as an African American woman?
My family’s history has had a profound impact on my identity as an African American woman. The historical roots in Kentwood, Louisiana, the entrepreneurship of my great-grandparents, and the values of hard work, family, and helping others have all played a significant role in shaping who I am today. These experiences have instilled a sense of resilience, a commitment to social justice, and an appreciation for cultural diversity. The values passed down through generations have deeply influenced my beliefs and the way I navigate my place in society.
2. What role did entrepreneurship play in your family’s history, and how did it impact their experiences of privilege and oppression?
Entrepreneurship played a crucial role in my family’s history, particularly for my great-grandparents. They were able to acquire property and establish businesses, which was a significant accomplishment for African Americans during their time. This moment of privilege allowed them to exercise economic autonomy and opportunities for financial success. It instilled a sense of possibility and resilience that has been passed down through generations. This privilege has shaped my family’s values and approach to challenges.
3. Can you elaborate on the values that have been passed down in your family and their significance in shaping your family’s dynamics?
Values of hard work, the importance of family, and a commitment to helping others have been passed down in my family. These values have been integral to our identity and continue to shape our family dynamics. The significance of these values lies in their influence on our work ethic, our sense of togetherness, and our dedication to supporting others. They serve as a source of inspiration and a foundation for our identity.
4. In what ways have you and your family experienced oppression, and how has it affected your understanding of social justice?
My family has experienced oppression in the form of racial injustices, particularly during their time in Kentwood, Louisiana. The racial discrimination and systemic inequality they faced had a profound impact on their daily lives and opportunities. This enduring oppression has influenced our understanding of social justice, instilling in us a deep sense of empathy and a commitment to equality. We have a strong dedication to fighting for social justice and addressing the systemic issues that affect marginalized communities.
5. How do you see the insights gained from your family history affecting your future social work practice and your ability to serve clients from diverse cultural backgrounds?
The insights gained from my family history have a significant impact on my future social work practice. They deepen my understanding of the African American experience and the intergenerational transmission of values. This understanding equips me to serve clients from diverse cultural backgrounds with empathy, cultural competence, and a commitment to addressing systemic inequalities. It also encourages me to confront my own privilege and biases, promoting equitable and unbiased services for all clients.
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