The African American community is a particularly unique social category because of the history of slavery and official subjugation over the years. Working with the community for advocacy and social change is a particular interest bearing in mind the impetus for change the community has expressed after the Obama Presidency, which made a great deal of effort to address the community’s critical concerns. In the contemporary scene, the community has diverse role models and institutional systems that promise robust progress and a future of greater integration and societal acceptability particularly in the aftermath of the George Floyd fiasco with the criminal justice system, which has been accused of excessive use of force and ethnic profiling over the years. Poverty causes many problems like criminality, reckless drug use, and many socially retrogressive conditions. Through advocacy and social change, human service professionals can work with communities to alleviate the problems of poverty gradually to initiate progress.
Historical Backgrounds and Changing Demographics
The African American populations in America have changed over the years, particularly due to the American Green card Lottery initiative and the recent political changes that have been witnessed. According to the 2018 U.S. population census, the African American population comprises 12.7% of the total population amounting to 40.9 million people. The community has witnessed racial injustices and subjugation over the years. Thus, it has witnessed structural violence in a sense due to the struggles to abridge the socioeconomic gaps created out of strained socialization and institutionalized subjugation. After the Civil Rights Movement, which led to the institutionalization of considerable reforms in the race relations, the community has witnessed dramatic changes in critical services like education, access to medical care and social security because of affirmative action programs.
Recent economic developments in the United States have generally changed the plight of the African American community despite popular sentiment about the same. Most inner-city neighborhoods, which have suffered the most, are thriving with better educational and recreational facilities, better access to excellent schooling facilities, and better security, which tends to boost the overall state of welfare (Gorski, 2017). Drug dependence causes poor health outcomes and mental health concerns, which diminish the prospects of integration into the broader social spectrum of American society.
Cultural Competency Skills Applicable To the Social Problem of Poverty
Poverty in America is a unique social problem because it arises from a unique process of misunderstanding, exclusionary processes, lack of resources, the collective history of discord, and many other systematic challenges of depravity. In communicating social change and advocating progress, it is essential to cultivate proactive disposition, problem-solving, communication, and self-reliance (Offutt et al., 2016). It is noteworthy that the education system is one of the most critical institutional processes for poverty alleviation and community empowerment. Encouraging the community members to embrace educational opportunities at whatever stage is a way of planting the seeds of progress.
Poverty occurs as injustice, socioeconomic depravity, and lack of social connection within communities. The community members need to understand that justice is often deliberative, and being proactive and critically inclined to make changes is a fundamentally viable way of achieving rapid progress. Self-reliance and self-esteem are essential skills to cultivate among the community to evade the many pitfalls people experience because of poverty (Ivinson et al., 2017). Leadership as a social skill is vital for the community at the household and community levels so that useful priorities can be set, and the necessary resources are mobilized towards attaining the desired goals. Moreover, cultural competency skills of cooperation, coordination, and mobilization of community members for the development of relevant and suitable social institutions that secure the lives and futures of younger members of the community is particularly vital for the community in the light of continuous gang activity and drug use.
Ethical Challenges in Advocating Social Change for Poverty Alleviation
The critical challenge in advocacy and social change promotion among a historically disadvantaged community is the expectation that people get agitated when certain viewpoints are pronounced that do not resonate with the community’s social sentimentality and prevalent political dispositions. Most communities faced with poverty believe that resources alone can solve the problem while, in reality, cultural change and social change, which can be cultivated through advocacy, can equally go a long way. Ethical challenges could also arise in trying to make sense or give explanations as to the causes and effects. Practical communication skills and professionalism is called for in addressing the critical problem of poverty among the African American community.
Human service professionals have to abide by the cardinal ethical principles of the profession: justice, beneficence, promise-keeping, non-malfeasance, truth-telling, justice, and autonomy. The professional has to model intervention advocacy programs and social change that is both targeted and appropriate within the unique circumstances of the individuals or community. Poverty creates vulnerabilities, which can be exploited. However, empowerment with information and institutional processes to yield necessary safeguards can help communities progress through those challenges. Moreover, there are vital resources of leadership, role-modeling, and proactive engagement within communities, which can go a long way in addressing ubiquitous problems (Roper, 2017). The NOHS ethical standards are vital considerations because they spell the limits and the mode of operation of human service professionals. For instance, recognizing the dignity of all people makes human service professionals proactive and acceptable among diverse working experiences. A spirit of tolerance for diversity and skillful communication can be achieved in situations mired by conflicts of ideas and opinions.
Diller, J. V. (2013). Cultural diversity: A primer for the human services. Nelson Education.
Gorski, P. C. (2017). Reaching and teaching students in poverty: Strategies for erasing the opportunity gap. Teachers College Press.
Ivinson, G., Beckett, L., Thompson, I. C., Wrigley, T., Egan, D., Leitch, R., & McKinney, S. (2017). The research commission on poverty and policy advocacy.
Offutt, S., Bronkema, F. D., Murphy, K. V., & Davis, R. (2016). Advocating for Justice: An Evangelical Vision for Transforming Systems and Structures. SOCIAL WORK CHRISTIANITY&, 94.
Roper, C. (2017). Social justice leadership: advocating equity, access, and opportunity for black students attending urban high-poverty elementary schools.