In this project, the 6-stage approach to reduce racist attitudes, developed by Sergent et al. (1992) serves as a starting point for the awareness announcement plan that will be used to affect military servicemembers’ perceptions of Arab prejudice seen during a military conflict. The six steps to reducing racist attitudes include:
1. Understanding racial and cultural differences
2. Understanding racism
3. Examining racial attitudes
4. Understanding and identifying the sources of racial attitudes.
5. Setting goals
6. Developing strategies
As part of the awareness announcement plan, communication
theories are linked and stated when it is appropriate to utilize them.
Several parts of the approach are supported with the theories stated in
the literature review section.
The installation charged with putting this plan into action for the study should use the recommendations in this section to develop their plan of activities and announcements during the newly created Arab-American History/Awareness Month. Results from the SAS-Arab pretest will guide the installation in creating specific initiatives. For example the pretest may find that most military members are very comfortable with Islam due to years of deployments to the Middle East region but they may still be uncomfortable including an Arab member in their social circle. The pretest should help the installation best tailor the awareness month to what is most lacking among its members.
Developing an Awareness Announcement Plan. In developing the awareness announcement plan, it will be important to understand racial and cultural differences between Arab-Americans and non Arab-Americans. As an application of the uncertainty reduction theory, it is necessary to reduce the perceived differences between the Arab and American cultures.
One major factor for effective communication with people from other cultures is the ability to understand their cultures (Gudykunst & Kim, 1997). Culture is defined in different ways. For the purpose of this project, culture is defined by Prosser as “the tradition’s, customs, norms, beliefs, values, and thought patterning which are passed down from generation to generation” (as cited in Infante, Rancer, & Womack, 1997, p. 401).
Although there has been intense, continuous contact between Arabs and westerners in education, politics, and economics throughout history, there is a great deal each group could learn about the symbolic meaning of each other’s actions to assist in interpreting each other’s behavior (Meleis, 1982). It will be important to understand that the descriptions of Arab culture and communication patterns do not adequately capture the elements of human interaction (Fegali, 1997), however some concepts of Arab culture can help provide a better understanding to decrease the use of prejudicial terminology being used. Issues dealing with clarifying the term “Arab”, understanding that “Arab is not a race, religion, or nationality” (Almaney & Alwan as cited in Feghali, 1997, p. 349), and identifying basic cultural values, such as collectivism, hospitality, and honor (Feghali, 1997).
During the treatment month, base newspapers may want to feature military members of Arab decent in a “troop focus” section of the installation’s paper. The focus would not have to be blatant, but seeing an Arab-American as part of the Armed Forces, wearing the same uniform and observing the same military customs and courtesies can only help reduce that uncertainty some members may feel.
Another key approach to reducing Anti-Arab attitudes is
to understand racism. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1977)
defines racism as “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human
traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority
of a particular race” (p. 950). Instead of using de-humanizing, ethnocentric
and racist terms during wartime situations toward some individuals who
may be classified as “Arabs”, the issue at hand should be stressed, rather
than the type of people we may be fighting against in wars.
This re-focus is in line with the concepts studied in the social judgment theory (Sherif, Sherif & Nebergall, 1965). Highlighting the similarities between the current prejudice toward Arabs and acts of discrimination made toward other ethnic groups throughout American history will cause individuals to re-think their actions as they will appear to be in contradiction with beliefs they previously held.
To understand and identify the sources of racial attitudes, it is important to identify exactly what needs to be addressed. The SAS-Arab survey given to military personnel will identify what treatment will need to be given to identify the Anti-Arab prejudicial terms and ideas that individuals are holding. As a result of the administration of the SAS, the assessment of the nature of racial attitudes will identify the situations and contexts in which negative attitudes toward Arabs are most likely to be expressed (Sergent et al., 1992). The information is beneficial in planning programs that increase tolerance and acceptance of individuals from Arab groups. From the survey, the data may indicate that part of the intervention should involve highlighting situations in which stereotypes are most commonly held by military members toward Arabs.
The goal of the awareness announcement plan is to treat
military members’ perceptions on negative Arab terms used during a military
conflict through information dissemination. Various types of communication
are to be used to decrease anti-Arab sentiment, especially during a military
conflict. The goal is that negative terms and racist attitudes toward
Arabs will be minimized by the amount of information released through the
Awareness Announcement Plan.
The strategy public affairs officials will develop to affect the negative military perceptions of Arabs during military conflict is outlined in terms of an Awareness Announcement Plan.
The plan is to be implemented primarily during an “Arab-American History/Awareness Month”, created specifically for the test installation. A formal creation of this month would involve a much more tedious and possibly unsuccessful process. If the information is relayed to military personnel during August, a month currently undedicated to any particular ethnic group, it will be less likely to be viewed as a problem since other nationalities, races, and religions are spotlighted in various ways and at specific times of the year throughout the military services.
During the Arab-American History/Awareness Month, information highlighting Arab-Americans serving in the U.S. military will be disseminated. The installations’ newspaper and television programs, as well as brochures and focus groups are key mediums that will be utilized as part of the plan. Through the use of various mediums, the plan aims to educate military members on people of Arab groups.
During the month, the installation newspaper will spotlight military members of particular Arab groups and identify and explain some religious holidays, such as Ramadaan and cultural norms. The plan aims to show that people of Arab groups are part of U.S. military, assisting in the installation’s mission. Also, it shows that some Arab groups share religion, culture, and social norms, but that each person is different. Although people are governed by similar norms, come from the same geographical location, speak the same language or share similar religious beliefs, their behaviors and values may differ (Meleis, 1982).
The installation’s television programming department will assist by showcasing American-Arab military members and their lives. Coverage of Arab-American military members assisting in military conflicts is another story that can be aired. Various commander-generated viewpoints can help emphasize that it is as inappropriate to generalize about Arabs as it is to make generalizations toward people as diverse as Americans (Meleis, 1982). This concept is part of the idea of the uncertainty reduction theory discussed previously in this section and in the literature review.
Brochures providing information on Arab culture can assist in clarifying the term “Arab” and give background on the history and culture of Arab groups. Several cultural norms that may arise during military conflict in Arab countries can be addressed in the brochures to provide key information to all military members for awareness purposes. Unacceptable terminology can be mentioned in the brochure as part of the plan to reduce Anti-Arab attitudes.
A focus group comprised of Arab-American military members
should be consulted to identify key issues that affect some of the negative
perceptions and review articles, television programs, and brochures before
dissemination. This focus group can provide valuable insight into
the appropriateness and correctness of the materials. A schedule
of meeting times would be vital to ensure adequate time is appropriated
for review of the program and suggestions.
| Abstract | Introduction
| Statement of Problem/Research Question
Literature Review | Method | Treatment | Projected Results | Discussion | Appendix | References | OU DoD Page |