Equity & Access Newsletter

Secondary Edition

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Trauma-informed through a cultural lens

Numerous sites within SPS are taking a trauma-informed approach with students and sometimes families. We all know that until we take care of a student's basic needs, they may struggle in various aspects with school.

When working with diverse students, you may need to use your trauma-informed skills from a cultural perspective. Students of color, refugees, and immigrants may experience what is called "historical trauma." Historical trauma is "the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma." For example, when you look at slavery and Jim Crow laws in the United States, the impact on African Americans has affected generations even to this day. Here are several principles you can consider when working with trauma-informed groups from a diverse perspective.

  • Establish relationships based on mutuality and respect. Be humble and engage in ongoing self-reflection as it relates to your own values, history, privilege, and power. Try to understand and honor the process where organizations and survivors constantly learn from one another.
  • Seek a deep understanding of the communities you work with. Know the socio-cultural, socio-political histories and the intersections of oppression and trauma with the communities you engage with. Gather your data from various sources to help you gain insight and perspective. When appropriate, use cultural traditions and values to enhance prevention or intervention.
  • Understand the origins of trauma including historical, collective, and intergenerational trauma. Address the work from a social justice perspective. Pay attention to your policies and practices through this lens. Prepare yourself and colleagues to address different forms of marginalization and oppression. Be mindful of your own biases and prejudices.
  • Keep the realities of the survivors central to your work. Make sure the efforts of the intervention/prevention reflect the realities of the people participating. Acquiring knowledge and involvement within the local community is critical. Also consider the subgroups present in the community which can give you a holistic view.
  • Believe in the power and collective wisdom of communities. Maintain and create networks with other entities who you can collaborate with to enhance the work. Implement community engagement strategies so various entities can learn from each other as you support your participants.

Culture can be powerful in helping participants deal with trauma by strengthening community bonds. Approach the work from a social justice perspective, which lets participants know you're there to support and not fix things for them. Using these principles will let participants know you care; and that you recognize and honor their experiences.

Article: Trauma-Informed Principles Through a Culturally Specific Lens

Josie Serrata, PhD & Heidi Notario, M.A. Contributions ...nationallatinonetwork.org/images/Trauma-Informed-Principles-through-a-Culturally-Specific-Lens_FINAL.pdf.


Did you know: What does "LWB" Mean?

In the last several months there have been incidents where African American people have been trying to live their everyday lives; and they've been marginalized and accused of being in the wrong places or doing things in a suspicious manner. It's called Living While Black (LWB). Since the incident at Starbucks this past April, there has been a wave of LWB incidents caught on video where law enforcement has been called to handle the situation.

Most of these incidents end up being nothing because there was no crime committed. But what if you're the person being accused of wrongdoing? Before the incident at Starbucks, their policy only allowed paying customers to use the restroom. The two African American men did not purchase anything (they were waiting for a friend). Employees asked the men to leave, they declined and the police were called. The men were arrested for trespassing but no formal charges were filed.

Organizations have been swift in denouncing these incidents. Starbucks went as far as to close more than eight thousand stores nationally to offer their employees diversity training. Employees have also lost their jobs due to the backlash. Businesses want to show the public that they're being proactive and the actions of their employees will not be tolerated.

Here are several videos that reflect LWB. Use the prompts below to explore your perceptions as you try to view them with a critical lens.

  • Why are all of these incidents happening now?
  • Could privilege be playing a role in increased incidents?
  • How would you react if you were the person being accused?
  • Do you think these incidents would have happened if they were White?

Community Pool Incident

Permit Patty

Trying to Enter His Own Apartment Building

Cornerstore Caroline

Spotlight Equity Champions

Each month, we would like to highlight the equity champions and share some of the work they're doing at their site. Giving students an opportunity to share their identities and feel valued at school is important for their overall well being and engagement.

Here is a list of the five high school champions. If there is an issue that deals with equity, access or climate within your buildings, please feel free to reach out to them.

Sean Nevills, Central High School

Justine Lines, Glendale High School

Jaclyn Hill, Hillcrest High School

Amy Moran, Kickapoo High School

Jana Hester, Parkview High School

What's In Your Toolbox?

What To Do When a Student Comes Out to You

Students often share with each other the teachers they can talk to about what's going on in their lives. Regardless if you're that teacher or not, what do you do when one of your students confides in you and comes out? Understand that some students feel like they're taking a huge risk in coming, out especially if their parents/guardians are not supportive or don't know. Below are several ways you can support students.

  • Listen actively. Letting students know that you hear them can be part of the healing process and lets them know you see them as who they are. It's okay to ask open-ended or clarifying questions like "Do you feel safe at school?"
  • Make yourself available without being a rescuer. Offer up your support in an open-ended manner without pushing the student to do more than what they're ready for.
  • Respect confidentiality. Let the student know that you will not be sharing their information unless there is an issue with safety. Let students come out to others on their own in the way they see fit.
  • Keep biases in check. We all have our personal blindspots about our identities when it comes to gender and sexual expressions. Sharing your beliefs may affect your relationship with the student.
  • Know your resources. If the student is anxious or in crisis, be prepared to provide a referral to a counselor, GSA or hotline. Assess why the student is coming to you and be prepared to support them.
  • Follow the student's lead on language. It's important to use the same terminology the student is using because you're able to build a stronger connection if you're on the same page with communication. Refrain from using slurs or slang that could be hurtful.
  • Take inventory of your response. It's important for you to process your responses and your feelings about the student and the conversation. You want the student to know that you are there to support them. Processing the conversation allows you the opportunity to work on your allyship if future interactions occur.

These strategies can help you when a student comes to you for help or support. Remember the student is coming to you for a reason; offer them what they need and want. Build a relationship to help them thrive.

What to Do If A Student Comes Out To Me