Grassroots Organization and Justice Through Social Media

Grassroots Organization and Justice Through Social Media

Christina Navas, Vivian Tisi, Tamala Close
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7134-7.ch013
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This chapter will provide the reader with information on the importance of grassroots organization in addressing social justice issues for speech-language pathologists (SLP). The authors provide background information on the use of social media to promote social justice efforts. The chapter also identifies and discusses the development and implementation of two online platforms that have been effective in raising awareness about the importance of diversity, advocacy, and social justice issues in the field of speech-language pathology. It provides the reader with important information on the issues and problems in the field of SLP that led to the development of the two online platforms and the processes involved with developing them. Finally, the chapter concludes with a description of previous and current goals and outcomes, along with future endeavors of both platforms and recommendations for others who are interested in using social media as a tool to transform professional environments to facilitate justice within the discipline and society.
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Current data from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) shows that only 8.3% of members and affiliates identify as Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, or multiracial (2020). These demographic trends reflect only a 1.4% increase over the course of a decade (ASHA, 2020). The aforementioned findings are so alarming, that they are being discussed in broader, mainstream publications. The Atlantic published an article titled “The 33 Whitest Jobs in America'' (Thompson, 2013) that criticized speech-language pathology as the fourth whitest profession in the United States. They are also inconsistent with broader demographic trends for the United States indicate that minoritized race populations makeup about one-quarter of the population and are rapidly growing (Frey, 2020; US Census Bureau, 2020).

Information from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2018-19 school year, indicates that 79% of all students served by IDEA were from minoritized racial/ethnic backgrounds. By 2050, it is estimated that minoritized race people will no longer be the minority (U.S. Census, 2018). The rapidly occurring changes in the diversity of the U.S. population is presenting our field with a number of challenges. One of the primary challenges is to clarify our discipline’s role and responsibility in the development of a profession that is: 1) representative of the current and future U.S. population; 2) knowledgeable about cultural differences; and 3) culturally responsive to the needs and priorities of the individuals who receive the services of a speech-language pathologist.

The lack of diversity in the field of speech-language pathology has its consequences. For when racially underrepresented students enter clinical and academic settings, the likelihood of seeing themselves represented in their professors and classmates are slim (Battle, 1999). Adequate support for these students, given their own linguistic and cultural backgrounds, does not always take into account the financial, academic, and social factors that racially underrepresented students face when compared to their white counterparts (Saenz, Wyatt, Reinard, 1998).

Furthermore, there are studies in other fields indicating that racial minority student attrition and mental health concerns often cause these students to leave the field (Lipson et al, 2018). Given the challenges mentioned above, racially underrepresented students who train to become speech-language pathologists may lack the holistic support necessary for retention in the field of communication sciences and disorders (CSD). It also means that students may have to deal with racialized practices that create or result in unwelcoming/hostile professional environments, such as microagressions, isolation, and/or structural barriers to career success, such as mentoring opportunities (Ginsberg, 2018). Finally, it means that there is a greater likelihood that a cultural mismatch will negatively impact service delivery to our clients, such as an exaggeration of value differences between heritage and dominant-American culture and assimilationist social environments (Wu, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Minoritized: To be minoritized means to be pushed to the margins often by means out of your own control ( Paniagua, 2015 ). The authors choose to use this word intentionally in lieu of the term “minority” as it is not due to the lack of representative numbers that disenfranchises people of marginalized experiences, rather the socio-cultural hierarchies and policies that negatively impact them. For example, white billionaire women who independently gained their financial success are a minority within the United States. However, their experience in the world is not minoritized nor disenfranchised given that their race and economic status holds power. However, using this term is not a perfect perspective as it centers the power of white culture instead of honoring the identities of these communities.

Redlining: The practice of denying a creditworthy applicant a loan for housing in a certain neighborhood even though the applicant may otherwise be eligible for the loan. The term refers to the presumed practice of mortgage lenders of drawing red lines around portions of a map to indicate areas or neighborhoods in which they do not want to make loans (Fair Housing Act).

Grassroots Movement: A group of individuals who come together at a smaller level to take action, and organize for changes in policies, procedures, or practices that impact members at the individual level but also along with broader systems and levels (i.e., within the group, local community, regional, state, national, international).

Network: A network can be defined as human connections made in order to facilitate cooperation and resource sharing with relation to economic and social life, and collaborative consumption.

Cultural Mismatch: The phenomenon of cultural mismatch occurs when the majority of teachers come from a different cultural background than the majority of students they are teaching. The current research on cultural mismatch is in response to the increasing demographic changes in students and the resulting conflict between their teachers. This conflict is reflected in the poor outcomes of students and the difficulty in retaining teachers. To compound this issue, many young and inexperienced teachers are placed in schools with a majority minority population, often finding themselves unprepared for the difference in life experiences between them and their students. These differing experiences can lead to an inability for teachers and students to communicate with each other; the resulting frustration leading to discontent with the school system, by all concerned ( Cultural mismatches can also occur outside of the educational environment when the person in a position of power is from a different cultural background than their subordinates. For example: clinician and client relationships, boss and employee relationships, academic advisor and advisee relationships, political representative and constituent relationships.

Sustainability: The ability to be in existence constantly, withstanding time and hurdles or obstacles.

Community: Community can be defined as a group of people that bring a sense of belonging and close-knit personal ties to one another. A community gives a sense of safety and familiarity, knowing that members are from a similar background and share social norms, customs, rituals, and values.

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