MSW 8- Examine a Social Problem for a Specific At-Risk Population
Begin by providing an overview of the social problem with which a social worker may be involved. As part of this overview, explain how elements of human rights and social justice intersect with this social problem.
Next, discuss the specific population you have chosen for focus on for this assignment. Describe and analyze characteristics of this population such as ethnicity, health concerns, and socioeconomic class.
Explain the implications of this problem on the developmental phase of life (i.e., infancy and early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or late adulthood) that you have previously selected. Your explanation should examine how an intervention, or lack thereof, might affect the individual’s life course trajectory.
Once you have presented the social problem and the selected population, explain how your studies and experience as a social worker will assist you in advocating for your clients who face this problem.
Support your assessment of human behavior in social environments by drawing upon at least five scholarly works in the discipline of social work.
Length: 10-12 pages, not including title and reference pages
Your assignment should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA7 standards.
Overview of the Issue
The African Americans are among the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. One of the most significant social issues facing this population is racial discrimination. It refers to unfair treatment of people based on their skin color or racial or ethnic origin. African Americans in the U.S. have faced racial discrimination since the pre-colonial era (Bleich et al., 2019). Although the abolition of the slave trade led to policies abolishing official racial discrimination, unofficial racial discrimination persists. Efforts to abolish racial discrimination through policy actions were fueled by the policies implemented during the Obama administration. From 2009 to 2016, the Obama administration established several policies to reduce racial discrimination against racial minorities in the U.S. Such policies include fair lending, college administration, health care and housing (Bleich et al., 2019). However, the contribution of policy actions in ending racial discrimination ended with the end of the Obama era. The Trump administration began rolling back these policy efforts in 2017. Consequently, the future of reducing racial bias through federal policy in the U.S. has become uncertain. This calls upon social workers to take up an active role in ending racial discrimination through their advocacy role to substitute policy actions.
In the U.S., racism against Black Americans is still a significant social issue in the 21st century. During the colonial era, Blacks were the primary trade commodity in the slave trade, while the free blacks faced restrictions of their freedom and rights. Free African Americans were subject to many forms of discrimination, including segregation, lynching and Jim Crow laws (Bleich et al., 2019). With time, the federal government gradually outlawed formal racial discrimination, as the slave trade became illegal. Despite this, racism remains widespread in the U.S. It is reflected in socioeconomic inequality in the current American society.
Researchers indicates presence of racial discrimination in various sectors of modern U.S. society, including the healthcare, housing, criminal justice system, politics and the U.S. Human Rights Network (Small & Pager, 2020). Institutional discrimination among African Americans has resulted in many significant negative impacts on their individual lives. For instance, discrimination in access to education has resulted in low education attainment among African American population and limited their chances in the job market. This has consequently impacted their income and poverty levels quality of life and pushed some members to commit crimes to earn a living (Small & Pager, 2020). Therefore, it could be partially blamed for the high incarceration rate among African Americans in the U.S. On the other hand, discrimination in the healthcare system has also impacted African Americans. It has contributed to low rate of insurance coverage, limited access to healthcare services, and increased disease burden among African Americans (Carter et al., 2019). It could therefore be partially blamed for racial disparity in healthcare outcomes.
Racial discrimination among African American society intersects with human rights and social justice elements. Racial discrimination is considered a serious human rights problem in the U.S. Institutional racial discrimination such as access to education, healthcare, and social systems curtails the rights to education, health, fair treatment, liberty and fair judgement (Small & Pager, 2020). In addition, racial discrimination promotes social injustice in society through discrimination in access to opportunities. This is by promoting the unequal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society on a racial basis. The increasing adverse effects of racial discrimination amid uncertainties regarding policy role in eradicating the vice calls for social workers to take the leading role in addressing the issue. Therefore, Social workers have a significant role in creating an antiracist American society. The role entails using their professional knowledge to propel American systems toward action for meaningful social change. It also entails fighting for all elements of racial discrimination in society.
The chosen vulnerable population for this study is African Americans. African Americans are among the largest racial minority group in the U.S. They represent approximately 14 % of the entire U.S. population, making them the second-largest racial minority group after the Latinos (“Facts about the U.S. Black population,” 2021). The African American population is among the fastest-growing population in the U.S. Research indicates that the population has increased by 29% over the two decades. This makes its growth rate higher than the white majority, which has been identified as 13% over the two decades (“Facts about the U.S. Black population,” 2021).
The African American population is diverse regarding racial and ethnic composition. It consists of multiple races and ethnicities. The three major demographic groups among this population include Single-race, non-Hispanic Black people, Multiracial, non-Hispanic Black people. Approximately 10% of African American population are foreign-born thus came to the U.S. as immigrants. The majority of these immigrant populations were born in African or Caribbean nations. The African American population is relatively young. The populations median age is approximately 32. Roughly 30% of the entire Black population is below 20, and 11% are 65 or older. Although the vast majority of the African Americans speaks English, a significant number speaks Spanish, French and Amharic (“Facts about the U.S. Black population,” 2021).
Owing to the continuing institutional discrimination facing African Americans in the U.S., more than half of the population lives below the federal poverty line. This makes poverty one of the significant social-economic issues facing this population. The median household income for this population is $44,000 (“Facts about the U.S. Black population,” 2021).
More than a third of households are headed by married couples, while female heads the other third. Approximately a quarter of the population is part of non-family households. The high number of female-headed families is attributed to the high incarceration rate of African American males due to the high crime rate and racial profiling.
In terms of educational attainment, the African American population has lower educational attainment than the white majority. This has been attributed to racial discrimination in access to education. In this population, almost a quarter of individuals aged 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or more, while only 40%% of the population have at most graduated from high school (“Facts about the U.S. Black population,” 2021). The low education attainment has significantly affected this population regarding access to better jobs and choosing a healthy lifestyle.
Regarding health, African Americans remain the least healthy ethnic group in the USA. Using the Healthy People 2010 initiative goals to measure health among this population, African Americans still lag. The population has the highest age-adjusted death rate compared to the other ethnic group in the U.S. The trend is attributed to many factors related to racial discrimination, such as poor access to basic needs and exposure to violence (Barajas et al.,2019). The Life expectancy between the black and the Whites also continues to widen. In addition, Infant mortality rates are also significantly high, owing to poor maternal health. Over the past few decades, chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes have risen, owing to unhealthy lifestyles and poor access to preventive healthcare services (Barajas et al.,2019). An increase in chronic illnesses is partially responsible for increased mortality.
Over recent decades, four leading causes of morbidity and mortality among this population are heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and homicide. The high rate of homicide and interpersonal injuries in the population indicates the presence of violence and crimes. Research has established a higher rate of child maltreatment, assault and fights in this population (Barajas et al., 2019). In addition, African American women report higher sexual and physical violence by an intimate partner than other ethnicities. Mental and behavioral health is another primary health concern among African Americans. This population endure frequent mental and behavioral health issues than other etnicities. These issues are related to discrimination and the adverse effects of discrimination, such as poverty.
The poor health among African Americans is also attributed to discrimination in access to health insurance. As a result, a significant portion of this population is uninsured, hindering access to preventive and specialized healthcare services. In addition, due to discrimination in the education and employment sector, the representation of African Americans in the healthcare sector is significantly low. This causes voluntary failure to access healthcare services in fear of receiving culturally incompetent care from providers belonging to other racial populations. Access to education is also crucial in dismantling unhealthy cultural beliefs and practices that contribute to poor health (Barajas et al., 2019).
The absence of favorable health policies contributes to poor health among this population. There are limited health policies implemented in response to the health needs of blacks. Besides, the already implemented health policies are discriminatory. For instance, the 2010 Obamacare act implemented to promote access to healthcare targeted U.S. citizens only, leaving behind the 10% African Americans U.S. immigrants. Racism against African Americans is also correlated with substandard housing and employment. These factors are associated with increased risk of exposure to toxic substances, occupational hazards, illicit drugs, unhealthy foods, and violent neighborhoods. These factors expose the population to a high risk of accidents and chronic illnesses. As a result of all these factors, several health disparities exist between African Americans and white Americans. Diseases seen among older individuals in other populations are prevalent among the relatively young individual in African American population.