Your occupation can define you as a person. It relates your passions, commitment, integrity, and values to your professional and personal life. Jim White appears very passionate about his work as a coach of high school sports. This is evidenced by his opening action of hitting the arrogant, disrespectful, captain of the football team that he coaches. Jim now finds himself without a job to support his family. Due to the circumstances, Jim takes a job as a football coach in McFarland, California which is located in the agricultural valley of California. The family begins their journey from Idaho to California. The population in McFarland is immigrant workers and their families. The first notion of white privilege in the movie is when Jim’s daughter, Jamie, wakes up and asks Jim, “Are we in Mexico?” (McFarland USA, 2015). Jim is defensive and stereotypical when he see a Hispanic man, driving a “low rider,” staring at his family. Jim even offers to move to Bakersfield and commute because he doesn’t feel that his family is safe in McFarland. There is also a scene after this where the family views their home. It is painted pastel pink and it has a portrait of “The Virgen de Guadalupe” painted on the living room wall. Jim states that he will buy some paint to cover it. I saw the horror in the family’s eyes when they saw the brightly painted walls and the portrait. Jim did get the paint, however, his youngest daughter, Jamie, asked him to leave the Virgen de Guadalupe and he did.
In comparison, my parents always told me to not go into certain neighborhoods by myself. I did not know the reason and was not allowed to ask. I now realize that it was similar to this situation with the difference of African American instead of Hispanic. My parents would refer to those people with different colored skin as, “Not the kind of people I should be around.” The attitude of white privilege and discrimination has been with me since my birth, but I never knew it until I reached adult age. My father was racist, and he was raised in a time when segregation was common. If he was here today, he would be arguing with me regarding white privilege. I have always seen a bigger world though and I like people, regardless of their color or beliefs. I embrace the differences as an opportunity to learn. This is why social work was a great choice for me.
Jim and I also share the identity of being parents. As a parent, we should protect our children from harm and guide them to be the best person that they can be. Jim lost his way for a moment in the movie, as we all do as human beings and parents. He had a super comeback though. Jim forgot to pick up his fifteen-year old daughter’s birthday cake and her celebration was ruined. Jim made up for it by asking his community to help him give his daughter a Quinceañera.
There was a time when I worked two jobs and I forgot to pick up my son from Boy Scouts. I understand how life can swallow us up as students, parents, employees, and many times as parents. As a social worker, I will make this a priority to work with individuals to assist with time management and priorities.
Jim’s family depended on his salary alone to support his family. Thus, the reason for this drastic move and new beginning. Most of my children’s lives, we have depended on my salary alone to support us. It does put excessive pressure on that one person that is responsible for the sole income for the family needs. I don’t know about Jim, but I felt desperate sometimes. This gives me empathy for those that help every day.
Comparatively, a teacher’s and a social workers salary are relatively similar. Both positions are of the helping nature and /nobody picks this type of professional to become wealthy. It’s always about touching those lives and helping others to see their own potential. In the process I always hope to learn as much as I can from those whom I am helping. I feel this is a two-way street. Apparently, Jim did as well. Jim inspired, encouraged, empowered, and respected the culture to create a winning cross-country running team because he saw potential in the children and the community. “The sense of family belonging is intense and limited to family and close friends. People who are not family or close friends are often slow to be given trust.” (Carteret, M. M. ED, March 15,2011). I see strengths in every person that I meet, and I will always point something positive about the way that someone looks, acts, or speaks. I feel that this is what I am meant to do in my life, and I have been doing this most of my life without a graduate degree. I can’t wait to complete my education to be the improved me with the education and platform to make the difference that I desire.
The last intersectionality that I chose is heterosexual. Gender identity is become very important in our society and I feel that it does not get the respect that it should. I am heterosexual and it is apparent that this character is too. Our shared beliefs on this topic are evident because we both are married to someone of the opposite sex/gender. Jim is portrayed as a traditional family man and father to his children. I am the same type of mother/parent to my children, as well. We share this intersectionality and the tradition that comes with this choice.
However, I would have to be extremely cautious with transference. I find that when I have many similarities with those that I work with, I want their experience to be a good as mine. I have been working for about two tears on this and I am comfortable with recognizing when it appears.
Apply a Framework
The theory I chose to apply as the framework is the resiliency perspective, also called the strengths perspective. This theory is based on the consideration of social and personal processes that assist people in leading valuable and fruitful lives. Many times, resiliency is studied as it applies to the individual. It has been used to be applicable to the family unit and the community. I feel that this theory applies to this story with accuracy. The traits that are in resilient children are seen as protective factors. There are four common traits. They are problem-solving skills, social capability, independence, and sense of tenacity and future. Jim White inspired the Hispanic community as a whole to support and believe that they are worthy and see the future outside being pickers through the supportive aspects like supportive interactions, reinforcement from adults in authority and not, individual traits like self-esteem, inspiration, and being accountable. (Marsiglia & Kulis, 2016).
Using the Theory Tenants
Jim White had a challenge being accepted into a Hispanic farming community. Being that this was the only job he could get after he hit a student, he became very resilient and determined to make this only option work for himself and the community. Jim made his white privilege and his occupation work together to create a powerful connection with the students and their families. Jim proved with resiliency and willingness to learn that he could be a part of the community. He taught his students and their families what a positive situation that he could bring to the all of them. As far as discrimination and oppression, Jim took many microaggressions from other school faculty and students regarding his all Hispanic team. Jim also took many microaggressions from the students at McFarland when he first arrived. Some of the comments were a bit troubling to Jim, but he never let anything that was thrown his way slow him down or hinder him. He did have his moments when he wanted to just leave, but his wife became his voice of reason when he was doubting.
Create a Social Justice Response
Throughout the movie several of the characters referred to never being more than pickers or in prison. The social injustice is that, even they don’t see themselves as worthy of a better life or deserving of more than what they have now. Jim White saw potential in this community and these children. They all were successful to a degree and most came back to McFarland to live after college. This was a social justice fairy tale that myself, as a social worker, can only hope to have the experience of feeling. There is nothing better than the feeling that comes with fighting for what you believe in even if it’s uncomfortable, it shows growth. “Both racism and bias rely on what sociologists call racialization. This is the grouping of people based on perceived physical differences, such as skin tone. This arbitrary grouping of people, historically, fueled biases and became a tool for justifying the cruel treatment and discrimination of non-white people.” (Teaching Tolerance. (2018). What Is White Privilege, Really?). Jim White used his white privilege and his occupation to benefit his team and push them to where he knew that they could go. When working with Jim White as a social worker, I would encourage him to do exactly as he did. I think that when he did want to give up, I would have asked him to make a list of the accomplishments and the disappointments and compare the two, maybe even ask others how they see him and why they like him or dislike him, and lastly I would ask him to discuss how he is feeling with his family before he decides what to do. At a micro level, Jim has taken white privilege and his educational position and used both to benefit himself, his family, his students, his school, his community, and his town. I could offer him the information on “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh or perhaps Looking at the website of UnidosUS and reading some of the situations that others experience being Hispanic in America.
As Latinos become a larger proportion of the U.S. population, there is a greater need for social work education to provide culturally sensitive training to social work students (Furman, Bender, Lewis, & Shears, 2006; Iglehart & Becerra, 1995). Still almost forty percent felt that the graduates were not culturally prepared after graduation to work with the Hispanic community and approximately ninety percent of graduate faculty expressed that they understand the importance of preparing graduate students to work with this community. (Furman, 2002).
The social justice is that Jim White and his family embraced the farming community in McFarland, and he went beyond his comfort zone by showing the Hispanic families that he was willing to pick alongside of them and experience what a day in their life felt like. He respected these people and they respected him and his family. They protected his daughter as if she was family too. When people really try to understand and show respect for others, it can be a positive relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out like the movies. We struggle every day for equality and fairness in our society. Social injustice is on all levels and the work as a social worker is very rewarding and more important than some realize. By learning about other cultures and understanding how important it is to allow each person to practice their culture. Advocating for oppressed people is what I have done my entire life. I have always stood up against bullies in school and lost a job or two by speaking up for equality and fairness. Jim White and I share the willingness to take on something bigger than ourselves. Jim and I differ in the gender aspect, but we share the same passion and I would have done many of the things just as he did. We as social workers must have firm boundaries and remember that it is not our journey, but those that we seek to help. If we don’t continue to try to be the change that we want to see, then how is anything ever going to change for me, you, or our world.
- Ciardi, M. and Gray, G. (Producers) & Caro, N. (Director). (2015). McFarland USA
- Gragg MSW, J., Furman PhD MSW, R., Junko Negi PhD, N., Kenji Iwamoto PhD, D., Rowan PhD MSW, D. and Shukraft MSW, A. (2010). Social Work Practice with Latinos: Key Issues for Social Workers. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2861823/ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2019].
- Marcia Carteret, M. (2019). Cultural Values of Latino Patients and Families | Dimensions of Culture. [online] Dimensionsofculture.com. Available at: http://www.dimensionsofculture.com/2011/03/cultural-values-of-latino-patients-and-families/ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2019].
- Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. S. (2016). Diversity, oppression & change: Culturally grounded social work (2nd edition). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
- Teaching Tolerance. (2018). What Is White Privilege, Really?. [online] Available at: https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2018/what-is-white-privilege-really