Abstract: Men of Color with Histories of Incarceration and Drug Use Developing Critical Consciousness: From Homophobic and Sexist Attitudes to Sympathy Toward LGBTQ+ Individuals (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

279P Men of Color with Histories of Incarceration and Drug Use Developing Critical Consciousness: From Homophobic and Sexist Attitudes to Sympathy Toward LGBTQ+ Individuals

Friday, January 14, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Rogerio M. Pinto, PhD, LCSW, Professor, University of Michigan
Carol Lee, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Marc Arthur, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Vitalis Im, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann ArborAnn Arbor
Liliane Windsor, PhD, MSW, Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Background: Research shows that guided discussions (critical dialogues) after viewing allegorical scenes/illustrations that express personal and historical attitudes around oppression of marginalized groups have potential to help oppressed individuals develop critical consciousness and help them address internalized prejudices. This NIH-funded study uses data from recorded critical dialogue sessions of Community Wise (CW), a group intervention aimed to reduce substance use and recidivism among men of color. For this study, we focused on homophobia and sexist attitudes as they predict harmful behavior to self and to others. We are grounded in Paulo Freire’s critical consciousness, an individual’s understanding of and action against the structural roots of oppression. Critical consciousness raising takes place when an individual moves from internalized prejudice and self-destructive behaviors to acceptance of self and others.

Methods: We – researchers, providers and community residents, members of the Newark Community Collaborative Board, used CBPR to develop CW including the illustrations meant to inspire critical dialogues. We used qualitative data collected during 13 sessions, entitled, Boys and Girls, where 28 men of color with histories of incarceration and substance misuse (2-4 individuals per group) viewed illustrations concerning gay/lesbian relationships. We used a protocol to guide discussions. CDs lasted about 50 minutes; they were recorded/transcribed; and we used NVivo to code transcripts. Analysis was conducted by four coders who read transcripts independently and developed codes in an iterative process. We read /analyzed transcripts, open-coded independently, and discussed preliminary codes; and came to a 100% agreement about passages that best embodied codes. Saturation occurred after 10 transcripts. “member check” involved members of the Collaborative Board who reviewed findings, substantiated quotes, and contributed to data interpretation.

Results: We identified four key themes – Critical Appraisal and Critical Reactions toward the illustrations; and Critical Reflections and Critical Consciousness around 14 sub-themes. Reflecting the data collected in response to questions posed by facilitators, the initial discussion revolved around homophobic and sexist attitudes involving pejorative and stigmatizing terms – e.g., “I don’t like men datin’ men. That’s fuckin’ disgustin’.” Halfway through the sessions, participants slowly began to understand that their language/meaning supported oppressive structures that impacted them – e.g., “...for me, personally, these sessions have really helped me to be able to be like, “Oh, man, why do I think like that? Are there other things that I need to consider?” Toward the end of the sessions, participants realized that clinging to beliefs/morals usually used to uphold homophobia and sexism was, in their words, “crazy” – e.g., “...because your family is a certain way, now you hate this person. How could you hate somebody if you don’t even know ‘em?”

Conclusion: By engaging in critical dialogue around gender-identity and sexual orientation, participants progressed from homophobic and sexist attitudes to greater understanding and sympathy toward LGBTQ+ individuals and women. Critical dialogue inspired by allegorical illustrations has potential to help individuals from different oppressed and marginalized groups to develop critical consciousness around myriad issues that may help abate myriad forms of oppression, such as racism, xenophobia and others.