Understanding and teaching tolerance can help prevent anger and grief from escalating into bias and stereotyping in the classroom and elsewhere in society. For example, the historical events of 9/11 led to widespread anger and grief, and in many quarters resulted in bias or unfair judgments toward Muslims and people of Middle Eastern heritage. More recent events have resulted in similar biases. When there is an awareness of one’s own predispositions, which illuminate some form of prejudice, whether in favor or not in favor of someone or something, that awareness can be a compass that helps to direct anger and grief into more productive outlets. Appropriate resources related to biases and tolerance may support additional consciousness when working with affected communities.
Scenario An Arab American family entered a human services office seeking services, including food, housing, and counseling for their family. After completing the necessary paperwork, the Arab American father explained to the intake worker that the family has encountered biases in the United States, and because of this treatment they were anxious about coming to the office to obtain assistance for the family.
While waiting to be assisted by the assigned human services case worker, the family noticed the majority of the other families waiting to be assisted for various services moved to sit on the other side of the waiting room. As awkward as this felt for the Arab American family, they sat and waited to be assisted.
After a few minutes of waiting, a passerby said to the Arab American family, “Why are you here? We don’t want any trouble. We are all here needing help, trying not to die.” Seconds later, a Muslim American case worker greeted the Arab American family and apologized for the passerby’s behavior. She escorted them to her office to further assist them with the human service resources they were seeking. A different European American case worker greeted the passerby and escorted him to another room to address his adverse behavior towards the Arab American family.
Instructions As you consider this scenario, write a 3–4 page paper that responds to the following:
● Explain how it was biased for the passerby to assume the Arab American family was dangerous.
● What can be done to educate the passerby, so they understand how their assumptions were biased and to improve/enhance their tolerance.
● Evaluate your own cultural beliefs and theories and attitudes about immigrants of color coming from non-European countries. What are some attitudes you’ve heard or believe as an American? Describe what you would do to ensure those beliefs do not interfere with your professional obligation to assist these clients?
● Cite and describe at least three scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles that can be used to understand and teach tolerance, and if possible, provide a link to each one.
○ Evaluate each article that focuses on cultural competence and explain how it could be incorporated into a plan of action for building tolerance in clients who exhibit bias towards others in a human services setting.
○ Explain why each article would be an effective part of your plan of action.
● How might concern/fear about facing these biases affect this Arab American family seeking services? Provide specific examples of how this affects client functioning and clinical presentation.
● How do “religion and culture,” come into play in incidents like this one? And why would they be related to client functioning and clinical presentation?
● Propose a plan of action to deal with your own preconceptions about Arab and Muslim Americans and to ensure you respond appropriately as a human services professional.