Did you ever wonder if what you packed for your children to take to school was good enough? Was it good enough for the school? Was it good enough for your child? Was it good enough to pass the scrutiny of your child’s friends?
As parents, we can all sometimes be anxious about what we have packed into lunch boxes and back packs for our children to take to start the school year. However, today, I’m going to highlight the anxiety that is felt by parents, like myself, and caregivers who also have to pack some Racism Resilience for our children to take to school.
Starting the school year
Like millions of parents and caregivers, we recently sent our son (pictured) back to school for 2020. Another year of highs and lows in learning and navigating all the things that school students need to work through. Not only do we need to help our son navigate these challenges, but we also have to provide coaching on Racism Resilience. That is, we need to give coaching on holding onto his strength of inherited identity, being courageous enough to explore and affirm his own identity, understanding why Australians express their dislike (and sometimes hatred) of First Nations, how to respond appropriately and how to not let the negativity take root and cause long-term impact. As you can appreciate, this takes time and energy and is more advanced than saying, “sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.”
Props to the Teachers
Last year I was reminded by a colleague that teachers have custodianship of our children, who are not only our most precious things from a family point of view, but they are also the future citizens. The incredible work that teachers, educators, educational workers and other school staff do creates environments of learning and growing for our precious future citizens. As a society and culture, we can not treat the teaching/educating work lightly. A very special mention should also be given to the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coordinators, Support Workers, Teachers, Principals, Assistant Teachers and Staff. We can not thank you enough for your presence and support for our First Nations children and for the ripple effect on diversity and cultural awareness that happens throughout the schools. But teachers aren’t the only educators for our children. The home environment is also crucial for Racism Resilience.
Props to the Parents and Caregivers
It is often said that the home is the first learning environment for children. Some children may enjoy a dedicated and intentional learning environment provided by their parents and caregivers. Some don’t enjoy or have access to a focussed environment, but rather have learned by reaction to what’s happening around them. Some children are safe and cherished at home and some are not. As parents and caregivers, we are the first to offer our children some awareness and understanding of themselves and the world around them. We have a duty to ensure that our children do not grow with a closed mentality to others who might look and act differently to them. This is part of our role to coach them to deal with the world around them. We make the choices on raising our children in the best way we can and sometimes those choices are hard because it means we have to change as well.
One of the hard parts about doing the work of parenting and caregiving is realising that you have to make a choice to break with a habit, tradition or belief you’ve inherited, or maintain it. So much has changed in the world over the past three generations, we now need to help our next generations navigate the world with some fundament beliefs. I hope that one of those beliefs is about an understanding of one’s self and an acceptance of diversity around you. It is key for our family and identity formation. It also means less packing of Racism Resilience for parents of First Nations children.
My tips if you’re not sure that packing Racism Resilience is a real thing for school children.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi3iqJykwEo Jane Elliot’s work on racism
https://csrm.cass.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/docs/2019/9/Summary_of_findings_2017_SOAR_student_and_staff_surveys.pdf 6 page summary of the SOAR 2017 Report
https://www.lowitja.org.au/content/Document/Lowitja-Publishing/Racism-Report.pdf Impacts of Racism on Indigenous Health
https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/229469/Mental-Health-Impacts-summay-report.pdf Mental Health Impacts of Racism on Students 2014
Peace & Power