Resilience: A Multicultural Perspective
An exciting new concept in primary prevention comes from the growing
body of research literature that shows some children from alcohol and
other drug abusing families appear to have naturally occurring
resilience and are less damaged by growing up in a dysfunctional home
than other children. This work seems to support the notion that
resilience can be taught and developed in the less resilient child,
adolescent or adult.
The work of Sybil and Steven Wolin in their book, The Resilient Self, as well as that of Dr. Jeannette Johnson at the University of Maryland, is truly ground breaking with regard to identifying and implementing protective factors based on the Seven Resiliencies: Insight, Independence, Relationship, Initiative, Creativity, Humor and Morality.
At the 1995 NACoA Conference in San Diego, I participated in a panel that looked at cross cultural issues for children of alcoholics. I chose to look at the Resilience concept from an African-American perspective. It occurred to me, in preparing for that talk, that the seven resiliencies bore some resemblence to "Seven Principles of Kwanzaa". This list was created by the philosopher and educator Dr. Mulana Kraenga as a celebration of African-American culture and heritage in 1966. Kwanzaa is a seven day celebration which begins on December 26th. Each day, a different one of the principles is discussed and venerated in many African-American homes. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa (which come from the Swahili Language spoken in East Africa) are:
The Seven Resiliencies are educational and individual in their focus. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are cultural, environmental and individual. Think of the work that can be done with African-American children, adolescents and adults from this powerful combination of multicultural perspectives!
Reference: The Resilient Self: How Survivors of Troubled Families Rise Above Adversity by Steven and Sybil Wolin. 1993 Villard Books. The Seven Days of Kwanzaa by Angela Shelf Medearis. 1994 Scholastic, Inc.
James H. Evans, M.S. is Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at San Diego City College.