by Catharine Hannay
Here's my latest guest post at the Center for Adolescent Studies blog, with resources to help you support students and clients from different backgrounds:
One of my most sobering moments as an English as a Foreign Language teacher came during a discussion about Martin Luther King’s ‘crusade for justice.’ Some of the students didn’t know what ‘crusade’ meant, so I asked for a volunteer who could define the word.
A young man from Saudi Arabia raised his hand. “I don’t know how to explain in English,” he said. “But I know it means something bad.” All of the Muslim students nodded their heads in agreement.
It made me realize how much I’d been influenced by my own upbringing in a Christian family of western European descent, and that a lesson on civil rights wasn’t just a Black and White issue.
According to Pamela Hays’ ADDRESSING Framework, cultural influences are a combination of ge, evelopmental and acquired isabilities, eligion, thnicity, ocioeconomic Status, exual orientation, ndigenous heritage, ational origin, and ender.
As David Treleaven explains in his book on Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness
Systems of oppression divide groups into two categories: those that are privileged and everyone else… By ensuring we’re attuned to the social identities someone carries—and considering how those identities might interact with ours—we can adjust our interventions to try to effectively meet the needs of the person we’re working with.Treleaven gives the example of Yvonne, a middle class Black woman who was having panic attacks because a neighbor muttered racial slurs every time she passed him in the hallway. Yvonne’s therapist tried to be supportive by leading her in a guided meditation.
“Know that you are safe… Safe in this office, and safe in this world. Mindfully rest yo—”
And that’s as far the therapist got before Yvonne stood up and reached for her coat.