Session: Using the Arts As an Active Ingredient in Anti-Bias Intervention: The Case of Islam (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

240 Using the Arts As an Active Ingredient in Anti-Bias Intervention: The Case of Islam

Friday, January 22, 2021: 3:45 PM-4:45 PM
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity
Mimi Chapman, PhD, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Steven Day, MCP, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Anderson Beckman Al Wazni, MSW, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Bias in societal structures and personal attitudes threatens the implementation and uptake of empirically supported, well-studied interventions. Both explicit and implicit bias color the choice of interventions, the degree of fidelity to which an intervention is implemented, as well as the climate an agency projects that encourages or discourages engagement by particular populations. Yet, addressing bias is challenging, particularly among helping professionals that come to their work out of a desire and belief that they are doing the right thing. In the wake of the September 11th attacks and subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Muslim identity has become heavily scrutinized in the U.S. and beyond. The bombardment of negative, violent media images of Muslims paired with hostile political jargon has resulted in discriminatory policies, targeted hate crimes such as vandalism to property, a surge in violence after the 2016 presidential election, and distrust of those perceived to be Muslim. Often referred to as Islamophobia, the distrust and fearful response towards Muslims represents an ideology, similar in theory, function and purpose to racism and other similar phenomena, that sustains and perpetuates negatively evaluated meaning about Muslims and Islam. For Muslim women, Islamic identity is further contested because of attitudes toward religious practices that raise questions from the Western perspective about gender equity. Islamic women who choose to wear hijab and who observe religious practices that structure relationships with men are often considered oppressed by their non-Islamic, American counterparts even in professional contexts. Assumptions about gender-based violence in relationships in which both partners are Muslim serve to further alienate Muslim women from the American mainstream. Without dissemination of knowledge of actual beliefs and practices of Muslims, acceptance of stereotypes and negative assumptions, both explicit and implicit, permeate cultural institutions from the academy to health and behavioral health settings. Anti-bias training, sometimes referred to as diversity training, rarely addresses Islam. And, indeed, such training, has little empirical evidence to support the time and money invested in such endeavors. The arts have long been a mechanism to both transmit and promote cultural dialogue. In recent years, empirical studies have sought to document the impact of the arts on attitudes and behavior in the professions. This roundtable will focus on the reality of anti-Islamic bias in social work research and practice and demonstrate arts-based approaches that have growing empirical support can raise consciousness of bias thereby changing behavior. This roundtable will promote conversation about anti-Islamic bias in social work and other helping professions, consider the impact on social work research uptake, and provide methods for assessing the impact of arts-based approaches to this problem. One presenter will focus on Islamaphobia and gender. One presenter will focus on the arts as intervention using visual and performing arts examples along with research methods to assess impact. One presenter will focus on the arts as strategy for promoting inclusivity. Our goal is to motivate participants to consider the impact of Islamaphobia in their own research and to consider the arts as active ingredients in countering Islamaphobia.
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