The novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie’s was such an inspiring powerful book that left a profound impact on me. One thing the book helped me realize is that everyone that I meet and run into has their own personal story and you never know what it took for them to get to the place they’re at. Some individuals have to work so much harder to get things that come easy to others. Take Arnold for example, he had to get up every morning and go to a school that was more than 30 miles away from his home.
He was never guaranteed a ride to school or home and he was seen as an outsider in both his hometown and his new school. He went through all of this to receive the same education as those that were receiving it effortlessly compared to Arnold. One of the main things I took from the book is to always be grateful to be where I’m at. I grew an even deeper respect for those individuals who work even harder to get where they’re at. Arnold is the true representation of courage and strength. There were many parts throughout the novel that depicted prejudice, oppression, and institutional racism.
These conditions effected the Native American population greatly and the book represents that. Right as the book starts you see representations of oppression and institutional racism. Arnold was telling his life story and he was explaining his medical condition that he has had since he was a baby. Due to his condition he’s teeth began to crowd. As he grew up he eventually had to get some of his teeth removed. In the novel Arnold states “Our white dentist believed that Indians only felt half as much pain as white people did so he only gave us half the Novocain” (Alexie, 2007, pg. ).
This was a great example of oppression and institutional racism. The doctor’s ridiculous inaccurate belief that Native Americans only felt half as much pain as white people effected the conditions of care that Arnold received. Another example of racism is when Arnold meets Penelope for the first time and Penelope associates the way that Arnold talks with Native Americans. In the novel Arnold states “Hey, she said. I asked you where you’re from…Wellpinit, I said. Up on the rez, I mean the reservation. Oh, she said.
That’s why you talk so funny” (Alexie, 2007, pg. 61). Penelope’s racism affected the condition in which Arnold was looked upon. One of the most racist statements that took place throughout the novel was the joke Roger made towards Native Americans. The joke was implying that Native Americans came from the relations between an African American and a buffalo (Alexie, 2007, pg. 64). In my opinion the entire novel was a representation of racism, oppression, and institutional racism that Native Americans face and the conditions that follow due to those factors.
I would take many steps to establish a culturally competent working relationship with the Spirit family. First and foremost I would examine my own beliefs and values and see if any of them would clash with the Spirit family. I would also ensure that I have no biases towards the Spirit family. After ensuring that I can give the best optimal help to the Spirit family I would move on to establishing a trusting relationship with the family. The next step I would take to becoming culturally competent is learn more about the Spirit family’s beliefs and culture by conducting research and by talking to the family.
By doing this I’ll better understand the family’s lifestyle and as well learn what the family may be struggling with and the various inequalities they face. The next step I would take in becoming culturally competent is getting more involved in events relating to the Spirit family’s culture to create a better understanding of their culture and what matters most to them. I believe that these steps will lead to a trusting culturally competent relationship with the Spirit family.
I felt that both the book and the assignment were very powerful in representing the many inequalities and injustices that minorities face. The assignment and the novel sparked feelings of anger, heartache, empathy, passion, and inspiration. These feelings were a result of reading about Arnold’s story and seeing the many injustices him and his family faced and how despite his condition he was able to prevail against all odds and succeed in his task of getting out of the reservation and getting a good education.
The feelings also sparked from this assignment, it had me revaluate my feelings. These feelings will definitely impact my work with minority clients. Like I mentioned before I now have an even deeper respect for minorities who have to work so much harder to get what they want. This will lead to me having empathy, respect, and most of all compassion while working with my clients.