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“The More Things Change…:” Civil Rights Health Assessment in a ‘Majority-Minority' U.S. Community

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This article, in the form of a case study, describes insight gleaned from a community-based civil rights health assessment project used within a ‘majority–minority' community (one in which people of color are in the majority). In particular, the article explores the importance of recognizing the civil rights experiences of contemporary citizens as a means to inform policy, procedures, and practice. Using a phenomenology framework and narratives from a public forum and multiple focus group sessions, 2 research questions are explored: (a) What widespread beliefs inform the civil rights discourse of citizens in a community where people of color are in the majority? and (b) What issues are described as most salient in such a community? Five themes are explicated: (a) “equal opportunity doesn't exist”; (b) “discrimination is all around us”; (c) “the deck is stacked against us”; (d) “we have no legal redress when violations occur”; and (e) “when we do complain, nothing is done.” The article includes a discussion of how these thematic findings contributed to changes at the city and state levels; implications for future communication research and practice also are presented.

Keywords: civil rights; community; discrimination; people of color; phenomenology; ‘majority-minority'

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Communication, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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