Reflections on Jackson & Volckens’ Community stressors and racism and Minkler’s Introduction to community organizing and community building

I appreciate the idea that we are studying a practical, on-the-ground-activist-map and an academic and analytical one. The readings of Minkler’s (2006) case studies and Jackson & Volckens (1998) illustrate this very well.

While Jackson’s “reverberation theory of stress and racism” as it occurs in both the dominant political majority group and throughout the subgroup as their stress and “racism” is subjected to other less prevalent political minority groups. I question the idea of racism within the subclasses for the obvious reason that while a political majority has dominant control of society and its apparatuses, it is impossible for any subgroup to exhibit racism when they don’t have dominant control. That doesn’t stop the dominant group from defining these terms and claiming “reverse” racism that is evident in many online social network exchanges and news media reports.

While Jackson & Volckens (1998), emphasize the stress that racism causes the dominant group and the subgroups, preying upon individual and community health concerns, and while they emphasize the reduction of intergroup conflict and racist behavior as a benefit for all, which is obvious. However, the authors neglect to acknowledge how that racism is perpetuated in the dominant group throughout family and interpersonal intentional and unintentional propaganda influence. The readings this week, actually recalled the videos I saw during the Residential Conference in San Francisco where a united group of Palestinians and Israelis joined together to understand one another, and at least to learn to tolerate each other peacefully. It’s a long road to tolerance but it is also needed here in the United States, especially when the dominant group perpetuates the idea that racism and intolerance happens everywhere outside of the United States and never in it. The experience of friends, family and ancestors speaks another story.

While Minkler (2012) indicates early that this volume is designed as an overview and assessment not a step-by-step approach to community organizing, the examples that are provided in the chapters and in the appendices happily contradict that assessment somewhat, and other step-by-step resources are provided in the references. While it isn’t Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals (which is referenced), I like the rules for “conscious contrarians,” especially in “doing things differently” and openly confronting issues of racism et al and demonstrating “cultural humility” (Minkler, 2012, p. 10).

Minkler especially emphasizes this on page 12 when she cites Dorothy Nyswander’s (1967) “respect for diversity.” This has hit me hard for the last several months when communicating with friends of color here and new friends of color at the Residential Conference as I stop myself to think and ask their perspectives, instead of telling them. As practitioners, especially within the realm of participatory action research (PAR) and asset-based community development (ABCD), we have to be very conscious of not influencing or controlling the communities we are attempting to help so they can help themselves and not inserting ourselves into a position of power. As humans, as Americans of the United States, this is and always be a consideration; given the cultural reputation that the United States and its citizen have when it concerns, “helping.”

References:

Jackson, J. S., & Volckens, J. (1998). Community stressors and racism: Structural and individual perspectives on racial bias. In X. B. Arriage & S. Oskamp (Eds.), Addressing community problems (pp 19-52). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Minkler, M. (2012). Introduction to community organizing and community building. In M. Minkler (Ed.), Community organizing and community building for health and welfare (3rd ed., pp. 5-26). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

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