Kasey Wertman Advocacy in Human Services
Human service advocacy is about helping people speak up for themselves. It’s about helping people feel heard, understood, and like their opinions matter. Unless society turns into a perfect utopia someday, someone will always be in need of a voice, whether it’s because of who the president is and what they believe in or because a war is going on in another country and their citizens are being dehumanized or because the wealth gap between the middle and upper classes continues to increase. Because of this, there will always be a need for advocacy.
Advocacy is about change and social justice. A popular and important social movement in today’s society is the feminism movement. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights. It’s about bringing political, social, and economic equality between men and women. Advocates for feminism campaign for issues like reproductive rights, domestic violence, family medical leave in the workplace, equal pay, and sexual harassment (Day, 2016). Feminism is such a popular movement that we see campaigns for it all the time. A toy company called Goldieblox advertised a feminist commercial during the Superbowl which depicted girls turning their seemingly girly hobbies into something associated with boys; their ballet shoes were being spiked to skateboards, their teddy bears were wearing motorcycle glasses. These girls represented women in a different light; they were empowered, fierce, and active. A store in London called Harrods gained some attention on social media when they started selling two books, one for girls and one for boys, called “How to be Gorgeous” and “How to be Clever.” This gender stereotyping grew major attention on Twitter and the store quickly reacted and removed the books from their shelves. In 2014, Barck Obama started an “It’s On Us” initiative. This campaign is meant to bring awareness to sexual assault across America and put an end to it. The goals of the campaign are to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in those situations, and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and its survivors are supported (Gergalova, 2017). These are only a few of the numerous campaigns out there advocating for feminism.
Advocacy is not only important in America, but in every country around the world. Another aspect that impacts the need for advocacy is military action. An example of this would be war. One war that has sparked major attention around the world is the Syrian War. This war started back in 2011 when protests started breaking out in Syria. The Syrian government responded with violence. Protestors teamed up and started the Free Syrian Army, seeking to overthrow the government. Because of all of this, a civil war started. Since the beginning of the war, almost 500,000 Syrian citizens have been killed and over one million injured, and over half the country’s population has been forced to leave their homes (Erickson, April 15). Advocacy groups like Syria Relief & Development have made it a priority to advocate for the well-being of Syrians in need. This group advocates for initiatives like a call for targeted medical services to vulnerable communities in Syria, like women, children, and the elderly, a call for improved humanitarian access (food, clean water, shelter, healthcare, etc.), a call to address Syria’s education challenge, and a call for support to Syria’s neighbors. The success of this group’s programs is dependent on the effective advocacy for Syrian people (Advocacy, 2017).
There has always been a split in the country when it comes to political positions, the democrats and the republicans. During the 2016 presidential race, the country was more divided than ever. The democrats selected Hillary Clinton as their nominee and the republicans selected Donald Trump. Even though she won the popular vote, Clinton did not take enough states in the electoral college and Trump won the presidency causing one of the largest upsets in U.S. electoral history (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018). Trump has a lengthy history of making racially charged and derogatory remarks. He is known for talking about and treating people differently based on their race. During his political rise he constantly attacked Barack Obama, stating that his birth certificate was fake, he was actually born in Kenya, and that he did not work hard as a president. When launching his campaign, he made comments that made it seem like all Mexicans were rapists and that they brought drugs and crime into the United States. He exaggerates and is quick to highlight urban crimes. He has retweeted white nationalists. He was endorsed by David Duke, the former Klu Klux Klan leader. He endorsed and campaigned for Roy Moore, an Alabama Senate candidate that spoke positively about slavery (Leonhardt ; Philbrick, 2018). Because of this and because of the spike in hate crimes since his campaign, minorities are fearful; fearful, not only for their freedoms and citizenships, but for their lives. Groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are advocating for organizations fighting to end racism in America and to ensure the equality of political, economic, social, and educational rights for all people (Nichols, 2016).
In America today, the wealth gap between social classes is incredible. In 2015, the top 20% of U.S. households owned more than 84% of the wealth and the bottom 40% of U.S. households owned only 0.3% of the wealth. If we compare how much CEOs and unskilled workers earn, the pay ratio is 354-1. This is a serious problem and only 5% of Americans agree and believe this problem needs attention. One explanation for this might be that Americans believe the center of the American Dream is the idea that anyone who works hard can move up in the economy, but this just isn’t the case. America is now one of the most unequal of all western countries. It has less social mobility than Canada and Europe. It was difficult to find any real advocacy groups for the wealth gap in America and this is probably due to the fact that it’s much worse than most Americans believe. The idea of the American Dream has clouded our vision and is preventing us from seeing this crisis. George Carlin, comedian, joked that “the reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it” (Fitz, 2015).
There are many aspects that impact the need for advocacy; political positions, the economy, social movements, and military actions. Depending on the issue, the need for advocacy is sometimes more severe but is never unimportant. Advocacy is about giving people a voice when they feel as though theirs doesn’t matter. It’s about standing up for what you believe is important and helping others. People will always be in need, therefor there will always be a need for advocacy.
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Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/
Gergalova, A. (2017, April 27). 10 Inspiring Feminist Campaigns You Should Know.
Retrieved from http://yonah.org/channel/inspiring-feminist-campaigns
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List. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html?module=ArrowsNav;contentCollection=Opinion;action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft;pgtype=Multimedia
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During Trump’s Presidency. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lgbtq-organizations-to-support-trump_us_58338176e4b058ce7aacab76