Prasanna photo

Questioning our Own Stories

“Because it happened and I didn’t think it mattered”

It can be difficult to question assumptions. There’s the chance we could find out something we do not want to know, or that makes us uncomfortable. What we find out could be something about ourselves, and then we are risking exposing the basis on which we have built our identity.

Dr Prasanna Srinivasan is a Lecturer at the Education faculty, at Monash University, Melbourne.

Prasanna’s research has given her a deep understanding of the ongoing impact of colonialisation in Australia, and the ways in which the stories and ‘truths’ that subsequently became embedded into Australian culture are worth being questioned, especially by educators and community organisations.

“During my research not very long ago, I worked with one particular educator with ‘dark’ skin,” she said.

“She shared her story with me, and it is a powerful illustration of the influence of colonisation.”

Here is the story:

“You know I had always dreamt about marrying a white man and I am married to a white man now. Right since I was young, I only wanted to marry a white man. I don’t know why I don’t like dark skin. Maybe, it was because I was teased here at school because of my skin colour when I was young. But I didn’t think that really did affect me, but maybe it did”

“Being colonised by ‘whiteness’, she was talking through the ruins of exclusion during her school days,” Dr Srinivasan said.

“‘Whiteness’ governed her desires and fears, and even dictated her dreams and her aspirations.”

Dr Srinivasan invites us to reflect on this story through the following questions.

When she says, “I don’t like dark skin”,

  • What does it mean for her and others, who have ‘dark’ skin?
  • What does it mean for us as educators with ‘white’ or ‘dark’ skin?
  • What are we going to do about this?

Attendees to The Workforce Council’s latest event will have the chance to delve into these kinds of inquiries in a unique day-long space. It is titled ‘Rainbow Neighbourhood: Creating Diverse and Inclusive Organisations’ and will feature a keynote from journalist and social commentator, Stan Grant.

The day will provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions, hear stories, and consider how we might work better together as a community. It is ideal for anyone working with children and families in children’s services, community services, and health services, or with an interest in inclusion more generally.

The ‘Rainbow Neighbourhood: Creating Diverse and Inclusive Organisations’ event is coming to Fitzy’s Convention Centre in Logan on Saturday 20 April, 2016.

Save the date – Registrations for ‘Rainbow Neighbourhood’ are opening soon.  Click here to visit our events page.