Title

The Effects of Everyday Racism on the Occupations of African Nova Scotian Women

Presenter Information

Brenda Beagan
Josephine Etowa

Start Time

7-10-2006 8:45 AM

End Time

7-10-2006 9:50 AM

Abstract

While cultural differences clearly influence occupational participation and meaning, it is equally important to examine how the hierarchical ordering of social and cultural groups may also affect occupation. This paper explores the impact of racism. The theory of everyday racism (Essed, 1991) suggests that racism is manifest in minute, even trivial, everyday interactions which constitute instantiations (enactments) of existing social relations of power. In other words, an individual incident is given its meaning and destructive power precisely because it encapsulates historical and current social relations. In addition, racist encounters gain their meaning not just from individual experiences but also from the experiences of the collective. Drawing on qualitative interviews and standardized measures with 50 African Canadian women, this paper explores how everyday racism has shaped their participation in occupations and the meaning of occupations. Paid work, schooling, leisure, parenting and spirituality are all directed affected by racism. Paid work and leisure may become episodes of endurance, infused with the need for hyper-vigilance, guardedness against hurtful messages. This experience of occupational participation inevitably alters occupational meaning. When schooling becomes an occupation that demands negotiating for your own dignity – with classmates as well as administration – how does that affect occupational performance? Occupational participation? Meaning? When parenting necessarily takes on added dimensions concerning teaching children survival skills, how can the occupational meaning be understood without taking racism into account? Finally, the meaning of spirituality as a core coping mechanism for surviving racism highlights the political meanings of spiritually-oriented occupations for this population. Taken together, the results suggest valuable way to think about the ‘social environment’ and its effects on occupation.

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Oct 7th, 8:45 AM Oct 7th, 9:50 AM

The Effects of Everyday Racism on the Occupations of African Nova Scotian Women

While cultural differences clearly influence occupational participation and meaning, it is equally important to examine how the hierarchical ordering of social and cultural groups may also affect occupation. This paper explores the impact of racism. The theory of everyday racism (Essed, 1991) suggests that racism is manifest in minute, even trivial, everyday interactions which constitute instantiations (enactments) of existing social relations of power. In other words, an individual incident is given its meaning and destructive power precisely because it encapsulates historical and current social relations. In addition, racist encounters gain their meaning not just from individual experiences but also from the experiences of the collective. Drawing on qualitative interviews and standardized measures with 50 African Canadian women, this paper explores how everyday racism has shaped their participation in occupations and the meaning of occupations. Paid work, schooling, leisure, parenting and spirituality are all directed affected by racism. Paid work and leisure may become episodes of endurance, infused with the need for hyper-vigilance, guardedness against hurtful messages. This experience of occupational participation inevitably alters occupational meaning. When schooling becomes an occupation that demands negotiating for your own dignity – with classmates as well as administration – how does that affect occupational performance? Occupational participation? Meaning? When parenting necessarily takes on added dimensions concerning teaching children survival skills, how can the occupational meaning be understood without taking racism into account? Finally, the meaning of spirituality as a core coping mechanism for surviving racism highlights the political meanings of spiritually-oriented occupations for this population. Taken together, the results suggest valuable way to think about the ‘social environment’ and its effects on occupation.