Unveiled Stories

By Nicole Hind

With a Masters in Narrative Therapy, Nicole has been practicing counselling for a bunch of years. Follow her blog to find out more: www.unveiledstories.com

Privilege, Racism and Intergenerational Trauma

Have you travelled overseas and had a sudden realisation you could live in this country forever and never truly understand the people and the culture? That feeling is familiar to many folks living in Australia, including the traditional custodians our First Nations people.

To fully appreciate this we need to understand white privilege, racism, and intergenerational trauma.

Privilege isn’t just about who has what, it’s about whose way of doing things and therefore WHO is considered most valuable by the dominant culture. Our understandings of ‘mental health’ are not immune to this. White folks like me struggle to imagine existing in a world where little is in alignment with what we believe is important, is innate to us, or what our family and community value.

We are used to understanding racism as a simple concept because the dominant culture gives us permission to see it this way: you aren’t ‘racist’ if you don’t [insert atrocity]’. But racism is endemic in our culture. It enables all of us, including police, to see Aboriginal and TSI people as ‘other’ or ‘less ‘than’ with dangerous consequences. People are suffering on our watch.

Couple these with intergenerational trauma: ‘If people don’t have the opportunity to heal from trauma, they may unknowingly pass it on to others through their behaviour’ (The Healing Foundation https://healingfoundation.org.au/intergenerational-trauma/).

Consider this: How can people heal from past trauma if they continue to be subjected to new trauma on a daily basis?

When lions write history we only get their side of the story. We need to demonstrate every day that we value not just the lives of First Nations people (although that’s a damn good start), but ways of doing things that differ from what is familiar. It is my belief that our collective mental health will improve if we are willing to do so.