Negotiating racism: The voices of Aboriginal Australian post-graduate students

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2013, 14 pp. 157 - 185
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Purpose - Recent research into the nature and impact of racial discrimination directed at Aboriginal Australian children and youth has revealed how such a stressor can negatively impact upon varying physical health, emotional well-being and education outcomes. Despite the strength of these findings for identifying need for action, such research has been largely limited by either a lack of consideration as to the potentially complex nature of racism targeting Aboriginal Australians or alternatively offering little in identifying sources of resiliency for Aboriginal Australian students. It is the purpose of this investigation to identify the voices of high-achieving Aboriginal Australian post-graduate students with regard to their experiences of racism, how they may have coped with racism and their advice to future generations of Aboriginal youth. Methodology - A series of in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with seven Aboriginal Australian PhD students within an Australian University. The interviews were designed to capture the perceptions, experiences and coping strategies used when faced with racism. The data was carefully and repeatedly scrutinized for emerging themes that were shared by the majority of participants. Findings - Numerous themes emerged with issues pertaining to the veracity of racism and conceptualizations of racism across historical/ cross-generational, contemporary, verbal, physical, institutional, cultural, political, electronic, personal, reverse/internalized and collective/group dimensions. In addition, the negative impact of racism was identified, but more importantly, a series of interrelated positive coping responses (e.g. externalization of racism, social support) were voiced. Implications - The implications of these results attest to the need to understand the many faces of racism that may still be experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders today. In addition, the coping strategies identified may be seen as valuable agents of resiliency for future generations of Aboriginal youth. Copyright © 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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