Publisher: AOTA Continuing Education
Cheryl Lucas, EdD, OTR/L
Director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program
Selena Washington, PhD, MSPH, OTR/L
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO
Earn .1 AOTA CEU (1.25 NBCOT PDU/1 contact hour)
AbstractRecent events of injustice and violence caught on camera demonstrate the reality of daily life for people of color, specifically in the United States (ABC News Network, 2020). Historic and societal attitudes, in addition to government policies, laid the foundation for philosophical and operational structures of government, social, and health care systems that continue to promote inequity and bias toward Black, Indigenous, and people of color populations (Gerlach et al., 2018). The historic normalization of racial inequity has contributed to unconscious bias, marginalization, and prejudice as a way of doing and being within the social and cultural contexts of the United States. This is often difficult for historically dominant groups to comprehend because they lack personal experience of or exposure to inequities.
Occupational consciousness as developed and defined by Ramugondo (2015) is the “ongoing awareness of the dynamics of hegemony [the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group] and recognition that dominant practices are sustained through what people do every day, with implications for personal and collective health” (p. 488). Occupational consciousness provides a lens for occupational therapy students, faculty, and practitioners to understand the historical underpinnings of occupational injustice. This will assist occupational therapy students, faculty, and practitioners to evaluate thoughts on occupational participation for clients, communities, and populations and to assume the role of change agent within their everyday interactions in educational and work settings.
This article focuses on enhancing occupational consciousness through reflection and understanding of historical and political policies in the United States as it relates to occupational justice.
1. Reflect on the occupational therapy profession in the context of social and occupational justice
2. Reflect on hegemonic historical and political policies of the United States that led to the occupational marginalization of people of color
3. Identify the contemporary manifestations of systemic racism in the culture of the United States
4. Identify the frameworks of systemic racism to increase knowledge and understanding for occupational therapy faculty, students, and practitioners
Target Audience: Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants
Content Focus: Professional Issues: Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
Lucas, Cheryl, EdD, OTR/L; Washington, Selena, PhD, MSPH, OTR/L
(CEA October, 2020) Understanding Systemic Racism in the United States: Educating Our Students and Ourselves
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