Prejudice bias reflection paper
Out of comfort zone (prejudice, bias) reflection paper – 25% of the Final Grade One of the objectives of this course is to push students to evaluate their own biases, prejudices or misunderstandings. Students will, therefore write a reflection paper (5-6 pages long) that assesses their own preconceptions about issues or people. Students may not feel comfortable admitting or writing about their biases but it is important to remember that the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one. You could write about a certain episode that happened in the past or you could write about a continuing struggle. Include as many of the following as possible in your paper. You could write them under different sub-headings. Introduction Name the prejudice/bias “Dictionary” or accepted definition of the prejudice Particular group you are referring to or are biased against Any specific experience that led to the prejudice, various sources of you bias (why do you think you are biased against this particular group/issue, what are the various factors that may have influenced your opinion about this group) Body Your thoughts, feelings, preconceived notions about this group Any –isms you noticed or experienced, any relevant theory (social learning, systems theory), did you learn this prejudice from observing others or from your interaction with them How long have you been feeling this way against this group With time, has your opinion changed, remained the same as or become stronger as you interact with them When did you become aware of your negative feelings towards this group How it informed your behavior or your worldview (were you behaving differently towards this group, purposely staying away from them, avoiding or limiting communication/interaction and so on) Conclusion How you managed to overcome the bias (if it was in the past) or what you are doing at present to restrain it so that it doesn’t move towards discrimination You could write steps you are taking or are planning to follow in the future (Example) My prejudice against women with several children I was strongly prejudiced against women who had several children. I was biased against these women whether they had the financial support to raise the children or not. However, I was more angry at economically strained women who chose to have children that they could not feed or look after, because I felt they were choosing to put the children through extreme poverty even when they had a choice not to do so. Source of my bias – I believe my bias began when I started reading about population explosion, about how our natural resources were strained to breaking point and how the environment had suffered because of too many humans that the earth could not sustain. Everyday I read and heard about catastrophes that were awaiting us because our population growth was untenable. In developing countries, I have seen people fight over a bucket of water and wonder if that is the fate that awaits us not too distant in the future. In particular, I believe my bias became stronger as I saw a woman begging on a busy street of Kathmandu and every year a new baby joined the coterie. She would beg around aggressively with her numerous children following her, often harassing the passersby by getting too close to them or shouting at them when they did not give her alms. I could not understand why she simply could not be content with two children and perhaps a job. In developing countries, the state holds no responsibility for the children who are uncared for. They have no CPS or other institutions to ensure the wellbeing of the children and therefore, many poor children become victims of trafficking, forced child labor and other undesirable activities. Understanding my bias – Over the years, I have begun to realize that women (especially in developing countries) rarely have the choice to decide the number of children they want. It is usually the men or the husbands who make the decision. Cultural and religious influences often equate masculinity with higher number of children and therefore, men in such societies prove their virility by producing many children. In such cultures, women’s worth and fertility are associated with the number of live children she can produce and there is immense pressure on her to prove her “worth” through children. Many patriarchal cultures demand women bear male children to continue the family line or to ensure support in old age. Many poor women do not have access to family planning services or cannot afford contraceptives. Even if they had access to these services, many women would not take advantage without the consent of their husbands. Because of these reasons, it would be unreasonable to be biased against women who have several children that they are not in a position to take care of. Theory – I would use Systems theory to explain my behavior. When I was growing, I was exposed to issues of increasing population and over use of resources everywhere, in the television, in the newspapers, in the magazines, in my conversation with friends and acquaintances, in the billboards that advised family planning and spacing of children, in the radio that talked about poverty induced through big families, in the textbooks that discussed how poor countries were becoming poorer through unchecked population growth and so on. There were multiple sources that interacted to cause anxiety in me about the future state of the world and I believed everyone who contributed towards unnecessary population growth were responsible for it. Conclusion – I have a deeper understanding of various reasons why parents choose to have children they cannot afford. I cannot blame the women solely for putting children in a vulnerable situation though over-population is something that I am still very concerned about.