There are many things that can divide us from one another, such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, cultural barriers, language barriers, or access to healthcare. There are many reasons for which an individual might be discriminated against such as age or sexual orientation. Certain circumstances can hinder access to participation in meaningful occupations. For example, victims of sex trafficking are often forced by their captors to participate in non-preferred occupations, and are often prohibited from participating in activities of daily living.
It is also important to consider the role played by occupational marginalization. Occupational marginalization is when people with disabilities are excluded from being able to participate something they enjoy (e.g., sports). This differs from occupational deprivation, which is when something outside of your control prevents you from doing an important or meaningful occupation; e.g., aboriginal women and men living in the amazon are deprived of the opportunity to ski by virtue of their isolated locale (Townsend & Wilcock, 2004).
I also think we need to be cognizant of ageism. When we are younger we tend to think we won’t be treated the way the older generation is treated today usually in nursing care facilities, (e.g. take showers once a week, or not be asked about treatment options such as living in an individual room without anyone else) (Hayes, 2013). We can’t ignore the important issue of ageism—we need changes to our healthcare system.
We also need to be careful not to allow discrimination against the LGBT community. We should unite people of different sexual orientations to advocate for the LGBT community, rather than leaving the LGBT community to fight their battle against oppression alone.
My understanding of social justice has been expanded during my time at Touro. I grew as a student by being exposed to facts, figures and the perspectives of people from many different marginalized populations. This helped me to develop a better understanding of oppression. While at Touro, I constantly found myself thinking about helping different people groups to provide them with social justice. I realize I can’t actually help everyone, but I think I have learned to narrow my goals to be more realistic. I can focus on oppressed groups that I relate to, or am a part of, and be their voice; I can help those who are marginalized feel empowered by providing occupational justice.
My experience at Touro has helped me to become less judgmental towards particular people groups such as the LGBT group, and victims of sex trafficking. I have gained a sense of compassion for all groups who are occupationally deprived.
I feel I have the ability to accurately identify if an individual might be experiencing occupational deprivation, occupational isolation, occupational alienation, occupational marginalization, or occupational imbalance. I can use my knowledge and personal understanding to be sensitive to clients who are experiencing any of these, as well as to to advocate for them.
Serving food to older adults at the multigenerational center allowed me to treat older adults with respect and treat them the way I want to be treated when I am older. I listened intently and made sure to meet their need immediately.
I helped in the fight against occupational isolation by participating in the Musclar Dystrophy Association (MDA) walk. The MDA provides opportunities and resources for children with muscular dystrophy so they can experience meaningful occupations.
I fought against occupational marginalization by advocating for a student with vision impairment. Due to her impairment, the basic expectations of her education were being ignored. She was deprived from receiving the best education due to outside circumstances that could be resolved.
I participated in fighting occupational deprivation by making meals at three square, which provides meals for families in need.
- Hayes, S. (2013). Trafficked: The terrifying true story of a British girl forced into the sex trade. Napperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.
- Townsend, E., Wilcock, A. A. (2004). Occupational justice and client centered practice: A dialogue in progress. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71 (2), 75-83.