I have continued with the theme of Internalised Racism offering a personal insight of how I recognise what it looks and feels like with this blog.
Miss Hit What is missed by projecting outward on to others, what we cannot stomach? We could benefit from further understanding ourselves. This point Dr Dwight Turner invites us to spend time with. Projective Identification (P. I. ) is a self protecting act, but the act cannot fully protect the persons who expel what they cannot tolerate in themselves onto others.
It creates in the object projected upon, a sense of fear and loathing. Deficits of self-worth, self-esteem, anxiety and low mood. Manifestations of the disdain are re-presented by the subjected upon persons internally/interiorly and to others who resemble or behave in similar ways to them.
Here my attempt is to match P.I. and Internalised Racism as cousins. In essence those who are treated by a nationally sanctioned power structure; unkindly, unfairly, with prejudice, do not have the power to represent their hurt to those who hurt them. The hurt people observe the hurt in themselves internalise it and project this hurt on to others who appear similar to them. Both Zed and Daniel offer useful interpretations in last week’s post.
Division An early experience I can remember that woke me up to what internalized racism is was being bullied at primary school by two Caribbean girls. I can’t exactly remember what these 2 girls repeatedly said to me. Something like ‘Smelly little African boy’. The resemblance was of a hatred that was borne as a result of my father – African. His genes a part of mine. This an undeniable truth. I could not make sense of their disowning of our joint cultural heritage and obvious visible similarity. My skin – brown like theirs. My mum was from the Caribbean too, so were we not the same? Not to them.
Power Over This experience of internalised racism was one I could not comprehend at the age of 6. The bullies dislike was a felt sense of wrongness. Mine. Possibly theirs too. I assume (now), that these two sisters felt a sense of power and a feeling of entitlement.
Brené Brown discusses the concept of power over, as opposed to power with, or power amongst. The Caribbean for me was well represented amongst my friends. Culturally, London and the UK of the late 70’s to mid 80’s, Caribbean influence was acknowledged and appeared valued.
Music, Slang, Fashion all influenced by children of migrants from the Caribbean. Bob Marley and other reggae stars were regularly heard on stereo systems across the estate I lived on. My world – Tottenham High Road and Wood Green felt like mini slices of Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, St Kitts, Dominica, the Grenadines. The homes we visited, the shops and grocery stores, the foods we ate were of mostly Caribbean and West African flavour and influence.
Norf My awareness of racial and cultural understandings arrived late, like the 243 bus to Wood Green , or the 321 to Seven Sisters. The raising awareness job is a lifelong one, but peaked when I moved out of London to Cambridgeshire in the mid 80’s. The North London Estate I grew up on was filled with newly arrived immigrants from a great collection of African, Caribbean, Asian and European countries. These two girls would sneer at me whenever our paths crossed at school or on the estate. They, whispering to each other and cutting their eyes in my direction as if their waspish looks could make me disappear. Their disapproval didn’t make sense to me but left an invisible mark. That of being disliked by others for a seemingly senseless and unknown reason. I became distrustful of persons who cast unkind and disparaging looks my way.
Resources Ursula Rucker performs Innocence Lost. The line that stands out is missed hit. The resonance is palpable as this poet intones an all too familiar story. The Roots woke me up to the power in poetry. Hana and Leila discuss in detail the insults that are thrown back and forth between Africans and African Americans. I thank Kimberly Cato of True Roots who passed on the Halton Voices video. Sameera discusses with guests what Internalised Racism is. The Stoop You Called Me African What? Diverse Perspectives conversations with Sameera Ali, Leena Sharma Seth, Mifrah Abid
Hidden by same race or similar cultural groups. Could be experienced as lateral violence. I will do my best to explore both terms and offer a few resources that look at the expriences of internalised racism in blogs to follow.
Internalised Racism Definition The upholding of a system such as White supremacy by racialized groups both unconsciously and consciously. It looks like in racial group dislike or hatred of peoples from similar racial backgrounds. looking to confirm one group being better than another group. It is Shadism/Colourism, Poor v Rich, Educated against Undereducated, Gender, Age, Sexual preference, Religious affiliation and denomination against other faiths and beliefs. Many of these points of sameness difference and otherness are well addressed by the book Mockingbird.
Group Discussion I was asked what my thoughts were in relation to internalized racism by Kimberley Cato. This question posed for the last group discussion for True Roots of the season. My thoughts on internalised racism in late May 2021 weren’t fully formed. Reading ‘Intersections Of Privilege And Otherness’ helped to begin formulating my understanding. I will share below what Dr Dwight Turner writes because it offers an understanding that is useful to how my mind has been able to make use of these earlier incisions to character development. I recognise that a discussion on this topic can be a sensitive experience to engage with. I will offer my experience as a base board from which to move beyond in later pieces of writing.
Resources Explained Jabari discusses his growing into an awareness of internalised racism in an accessible and personable way. Farah Nasser discusses with University of Toronto professor Girish Daswani, and communications professional, Gelek Badheytsang about internalized racism. The conversation highlights some of what the True Roots conversation spent time; evaluating, rueing and laughing at. What I enjoyed from the Living Colour interview was the unequivocal idea that internalised racism can be changed.
Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy, by Dr Dwight Turner.
Opening I wrote to my friend Banjo Aromolaran-Eaton that ‘Mockingbird is an outstanding reflexive undertaking. Dr Dwight Turner has done a difficult job of contending with Intersectionality and otherness brilliantly.’ Like wrestling with a thunder cloud. Every droplet of water examined and the electrical charge removed from most of the ion particles.
Indent When a good book lands, one might read it once, and think on what has been learned occasionally. With a book like Mockingbird the learning will be a consistent reminder of what work and stretching still lie ahead. As an adherent of life long learning, the idea of continually growing – a welcome challenge. The ‘once read and gone’ idea is past, in our age currently being lived. Information once read, understood and digested can now be actively applied. We can demand more from what we consume.
Unapologetic What Dr Turner does is turn the lens he is looking out at the world with, upon himself profoundly, unflinchingly, unapologetically. The book wilfully presents the discomfort of observing and feeling around challenging self concepts of identity. You might find yourself wincing in parts of the book that boldly delve way beneath the surface of safety. This is what makes Mockingbird stand out. Dr Turner does not turn away from the difficult. He in fact chooses to pause, point and move toward the unaligned (taking us with him), like an architect or builder snagging all fixtures that don’t sit right.
Beyond Bubbles A message for those looking for an Aladdin’s cave of treasure, we won’t find it at the end of our lane/road/village. We will have to leave our comfort zones and go in search of it. There will be trials, there will be miss steps and lost chances. We will experience failure and defeat. What we will also come across, are clues as to where the treasure is hiding. Getting forever closer and seemingly further lost. I am writing as though the book is a story. It sort of is. Mockingbird is an heuristic undertaking with many points of learning. Mockingbird is both excruciating and exquisite in how it presents us with both understanding and many moments of insight. It is the Sea at the End of the Lane! The point of interest for me is, when a writer writes about themselves in intimate detail as Dr Turner has, they invite us to look at ourselves too in just as brave a way.
Scythe My least favourite part of Mockingbird. The most challenging and at the same time best learning, came as Dr. Turner, focused his attention to Death of the other. It took me about a month to read this chapter. (A slow reader I am not!) It’s the apex part of the book. This chapter is the half mile Andy Dufresne has to crawl through to arrive outside of Shawshank as a smelly free man. Dr. Turner observes the many millions that have been classed as other and killed throughout history. In all honesty my heart sank at this point of the book. Death as a subject I had thought I had vanquished.
Death, I find is only over when our story inevitably ends. Mockingbird pulls no punches and everything is unearthed to be picked over and reviewed: Privilege encompasses us all he shares. This is a hard concept to bear witness to. There is death in acknowledging our experience of privilege, when believing that privilege belongs to everyone but us. How wrong was I?
Why Read Mockingbird Questions that arise from a position of confusion, outrage and a sense of powerlessness are addressed. The book does well to hold the paradox of being othered and yet also having power. ‘Intersections…’ provides a way to begin engaging with the unconscious for answers, as Dwight has and wilfully shares his findings. The aspect of battling with the barely conscious parts of ourselves sounds challenging, because it is. With Dr Turner as a guide, who continually shares his discoveries, the uncovering of hidden meanings, make questing in a psychological way appear painful yet appealing, and also ultimately freeing. There is bravery in Dwight being so open and vulnerable with us.
Flawed Without question there is difficulty in first understanding ones privilege within Western societies. Both Canada and the UK present a few preferred specific characteristic identities above others. As a Black male, grappling with the disabling effects of Relapsing Remitting MS, there are dynamics of feeling both disempowered, and yet held as powerful, whilst counselling to empower others. At times it can feel as though I/We are in the Minotaur’s labyrinth trying to make sense out of the complex multiple narratives held about Black and Brown bodies. If we include ableism, mental illness, gender, culture, race and class, we can begin to widen our lens and witness how Intersectionality encapsulates everyone. Post Trumpism, with Canada waking up to it’s residential school horror, of indigenous children’s remains being discovered in mass unmarked graves across Canada, post Britain’s exit from the European Union (I have refused the misnomer, for it was never fast and it was never easy), post the social reckoning that George Floyd’s murder awoke many people up to. Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy is a just and balanced and intrepid response. Intersections aims to support readers understand the paradox of the part held and the part we are to play at this critical multi-layered moment in world history.
We are all human animals making sense out of chaos.
Resources Explained The list below is extensive primarily because much of what Dr Dwight Turner has been involved with has been affirming and informative. The links to his Twitter, Website and the numerous interviews and discussions all offer insight into a psychotherapists expansive explorative and sometimes explosive understandings. Heuristic research initially I wanted to engage with for my Masters, but the subject of my topic to be researched wouldn’t fit into the model that Alice Shlegel shares. Alice’s explanation of Heuristic research further confirms my choice to use autoethnography. A Son’s Journey will be dissected further at a later point here. Ionized particles and them being contained in Thunder Clouds was a useful aside to examine the comparison of Intersectionality, power, race, psychotherapy and the heavy charge a mix like this offers. A thank you is extended to Kate Bowler who recommended that I read The Sea at The End of The Lane. Tim Ferris interviews Neil Gaiman about his process of writing. The line in Exhibit A by Jay Electronica in the 2nd or 3rd verse remains one of my favourite verses referencing struggle, redemption and winning against multiple odds. Shawshank was/is a life long great film. Morgan Freeman offers these words about his friend Andy at the end of the film. Morgan’s character intones how Andy lives on as a memory – whispering a promise of life after incarceration.
What I was interested in exploring over the next few blogs was Group. The TV/Youtube show, I have been mesmerised by recently. A few of my favourite characters are Dr Ezra, Stuart, Tilda and Manny. Each embodiment offers a different whole person experience that thoroughly captivates. I recognise them as parts of myself and as identities in my own life. Dynamic, rich, challenged, reserved, demonstrative and powerful.
Social animal There are many different types of group we can identify with. I won’t name all of the millions of different groups here as I am sure other blogs have written about Tribes too. As a member of the human animal species (thank you Celia for keeping this idea in my minds eye!), we are members of some groups and tribes. Other groups, we remain painfully aware of how outside we will remain.
Opposites Dr Dwight Turner, in his book Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy: Mockingbird, spends a glorious 130 pages discussing these gossamer embers in glorious person centred detail. Dr. Turner has written and explored the interesting paradox of intersectionality and privilege. Where belonging and the experiences of being othered are held painfully, balancing the act of being discriminated for one’s identity as well as being aware of privilege too. The book is masterful.
This blog is followed by 3 more on Group – Explored, Group – Challenges, Group – Ends
The resources listed in the following works involve groups that inform, explode and challenge notion of identity and belonging.
The 2nd idea that raced across the glittering night of my mind was about a kindergarten/ Nursery through to industry education programme. That was the same night that Reaching and Teritary Desistance also appeared.
My son the 8th Grader, asked “what is a paradox?” I carefully answered whilst listening to Brené Brown and President Barak Obama discussing the term. “A paradox is, the ability of holding two seemingly opposite ideas as equal and finding that they are interlinked.” I said. Paradoxes are also a challenge to fully conceptualise. They seem like odd truths or true lies.
Live fully with the knowledge that one day life will end. The final rule you need to remember is to ignore all the rules “What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw
I wondered what if education was to support graduans and those still attending Uni, College, School, Nursery/Kindergarten to have a larger appreciation and use of emotional literacy and emotional intelligence? Could there be beneficial outcomes for a person who is able to be aware of their emotional landscape alongside others and make use of what they find?
What is emotional literacy My understanding of emotional literacy is the ability to be able to know what one is feeling and be clear of how to make use of the feelings. Claude Steiner shares ideas here in reference to emotional literacy being different to emotional intelligence. I liked the idea of being able to feel and read the emotion first. Similar to when a person begins to learn to read letters/characters to be able to engage with the language of the culture.
What is emotional intelligence My understanding of emotional literacy is the ability to be aware of how you are feeling. In a clear way express how one is feeling with some level of awareness and control. Reflexively interpret the emotions of others you are in contact/communion with. Also come to an awareness of the feelings/emotions of others by reading social cues accurately. The podcast link with Andy McNab explores the idea a little further (see below).
Learning continues The understanding I have of emotional literacy and intelligence is largely influenced from my training as a counsellor and large life events that I have shared previously in earlier blogs. I recognise I have much more to learn, in relation to A.C.E.’s especially in relation to boundaries, stating what my needs are and making demands for what I want/don’t want. As a compassionate guide and someone who has not just survived a small t trauma, I am thriving on a number of levels and am leaning in to the discomfort finally. There is a sense of the small internal child stretching up towards a brighter warmer space.
Cheesy Having had a conversation with Anne Willoughby, who has an uncanny ability to skewer the last forgotten sizzling breaded halloumi at the back of the barbecue. Anne asked the ever important question. When are we were going to look down into that barely opened secret box, lightly labelled shame? She asked. Perhaps in not so many words. I believe she said “Why haven’t we had that conversation about…?” Before, when we ventured near this topic I had said I wouldn’t want to sully what our friendship had evolved into. A closer answer should have been that I was fearful of what might be uncovered when we go there. I think a small t trauma can colour and flavour everything in small ways, or like a red sock in a whites wash – change the colour of eveything. Emotional literacy I feel can help know up from down whilst moving through life.
Bravery Inhaling I centred on my courage (knowing I wanted to run as far from this conversation as I ever have) and leaned in. I have watched and listened to a few others who have been open about adverse childhood experiences they have experienced (A.C.E.), survived, and been able to thrive beyond. Lisa Nichols, Dax Shepard, Tim Ferris, Sonya Renee Taylor and Ray Christian have all recognised that it is not their shame or pain to carry. That the shame, guilt, secrecy and debilitating effects of the story belong to the hurt person(s) who hurt them. The earlier version of who they were then was merely collateral damage. A recogniseable by-passer invited into a soiled secret. A recipient of the unprocessed and misplaced looking for a secure vessel into and onto which they could transfer uncomfortable feeling and disordered information. I realise I have journeyed into a psychodynamic space on this topic. A sort of theoretical psychobabble. However by telling the story, to begin pulling up the murky contents and separate the self from the filth, a new healthy identity can be asserted.
Multiplicity The idea would be to encourage us all to continue to grow into being able to communicate the emotion one feels as they broil about inside of us. What would it be like to confidently in all moments with trusted others share that specific energy in motion? The aim would be to develop and foster understanding between and amongst and not be shouted down and misunderstood. Another aim could be to appreciate the many different ways of being with emotion. The move and growth in understanding neurodiversity, neuroplasticity, non gender binary for me has invited an awareness of difference and human expression in all of its wonderful and varied forms. Slowing down the need for conclusions. We are to remain curious.
Near to 9th The paradox at hand has much to do with the idea of youth being wasted on the young, being linked to an awareness of life for the living. And the young being aware that at some point it all changes regardless of protest or need! For my 8th grader the paradox for him, is about wanting to be out with friends, grow up, explore and be safe in relation to CoViD19, have all the power and privilege of an adult and none of the additional responsibilities that accompany an adult’s life role. Finding the middle space at this time, the in between knowing and not knowing, is hard.
I am excitedly wondering what our world would look like with sensitive and self aware emotionally literate stewardship? Reading Brené Brown’s dare to lead she wonders and shares the idea that emotional literacy is vital for all human life to begin walking courageously. Perhaps within a timeline that involves my children the illiterate paradox could be answered.
Perhaps the use of both explosive and hazardous expression would be understood in relation to personal and community impact. Individuation remains connected to and linked to many many more. A recognition that emotion also carries information that may want/need to be understood.
I feel that the commonality and experience of the individual linked to the experience of the community could be used to further communication, understanding and social and individual action. emotional intelligence and emotional literacy are linked with empathy and connection to others and to ourselves.
The move from London UK to Hamilton Ontario took place in February 2021, during the 2nd or 3rd global lockdown. We are finding our feet and settling in to life here, on this side of the Atlantic. My interest in story continues and in this piece of writing I am to share 1 of a few innovations.
A number of experiences are happening in a way I had not anticipated. I will carefully unfold each like an origami crane with a secret message. They range from being a panelist on True Roots mental health discussion conversations, supporting Health and Wellbeing Connectors, planning training for organisations that would like to work on making their work spaces Anti-Racist and being in communication and activism with the original Diversity Space team.
There was a life before the unlawful killing of Breonna Taylor, the pandemic of CoViD19, George Floyd’s video taped murder and the uncountable number of demonstrations that took place globally after their deaths that underlined how thoroughly incensed, we all were.
Swords Drawn That way of living (denial, superiority, indifference, ignorance of others suffering) has since passed. We are in a new time. The Gladiator – Brené Brown and her team have warned that this time is a dangerous one to be in. Her reasoning – an old way of being wants to hang on to what it has designed as belonging to it and that we all should put up and shut up! It will stop at nothing even it’s own destruction to maintain it’s power over and control and sense of right brained destiny. In my mind, things can not go back to a state of unknowing that we were all in before. Change is always upon us. Perhaps now we change and turn towards something worthwhile.
Black Lead The largest of the ideas I am looking to begin, is assisting Black, Asian and Indigenous Mental Health practitioners to coalesce and concentrate efforts to liberate the practice of Euro-Americentric psychology to become reflective of the communities that it may serve or support. Increasing the number of Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour to support marginalised communities manage with Anti Black Racism, Anti Indigenous Racism and Anti Asian Racism. Investigating older ideas of how communities have healed wounds collectively with little to no residue of the unresolved, science was spirit, spirit was science could be hope inspiring. The current methodology of psychology stigmatises and can create community distrust of mental health professionals. Not understanding nuances of presentation from culturally and ethnically diverse community members. I would like to be a member of a Black lead group of mental health professionals that include Psychiatry, Social Work, Psychology, Psychotherapy and those in training to regenerate a form of thought based and practical application to help/guidance/nurturing/story telling/trauma work/healing that incorporates every racial, ethnic, social and class group.
Like Us A similar organisation exists in the UK. I would be interested in supporting Canadian, American and Caribbean Black mental health professionals to link with BAATN in a partnership of collective interests to become the largest International organisation of Black, Asian and Indigenous Mental Health professionals globally. Think what the reach of a collective like that could be? Training, Podcasts, Guidance, Support, African, Asian Indigenous centred support for people who are calling out for mental health professionals that look like and originate from similar communities.
Artistic Dreams The idea arises as an accumulative effect of seeing a city (Bernin Zana) in the Marvel movie Black Panther, unsullied by African chattel Slavery and it’s twin cousin Colonialism. Other cumulative influences on this piece of writing are kwanda.co and the knowledge professionalism and right/might of the Black Panther Party as depicted in the film Judas and the Black Messiah. How does a 21 year old (Fred Hampton) command such determined and far reaching change? Movements like these, do so by inspiring and inviting all to look at old patterns – deign to dream of better ways of breathing and put in place new ways of living, effectively, powerfully. Comrades all. With a focused goal. The betterment of all by all.
For 1 The Euro-Americentric form of psychological/philosophical places a lot of importance on the individual in healing self first. Above everything and everyone else. I think that health is lost. Placing self first does not and cannot include the all of the family or the community. Outcomes are generally measured against individuals living well. Question? Where does the individual return after their experience with the psychologist/counsellor/psychiatrist? Home or to communities where helpful and healthy change are still often many horizons away.
Ubuntu The story of the western anthropologist who invited a group of children to race amongst themselves. The anthropologist was looking to understand the meaning of the term ubuntu in a country that represents the global south. The winner of the race would win the treats all for themselves. The anthropologist gave a signal to run for the treats and was amazed by what they saw next. Rather than a foot race with screaming laughing children zooming towards the sweets, the anthropologist took a step back as the children linked arms and hands and all ran together for the candy. When asked the reason for this significant change to the rules of the game. The children answered how can I enjoy, when I know that my sister/cousin/friend will not have? What if therapy looked similarly to the example these children have set?
What if the factors outside of the home are addressed and pulled into the formulation of support and healing? It would wonderfully complicate and slow the process down exponentially, but it would also be humane and lift not one but all ships in the harbour. Factors that impacted a person’s self esteem and sense of wellbeing, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, fight-flight-freeze response could be incorporated/supported by a community wide approach met by a community of professionals. I believe that a global community health paradigm shift could support all with a goal of healing being achieved by everyone. It is the essence of Ubuntu.
What Next The plan going forward will be to have conversations with a few members of the helping profession both here in Canada and in the UK in the coming weeks, to begin organising and designing a plan of implementing a change. This idea is one that for me is built on the many that came before. M. Angelou, Arike, DeGruy, Fanon, hooks, King Jnr, Lorde, Malcolm, McKenzie-Mavinga, Nkruma, Y. Davis. The idea is about building from below sea level – like a volcano.
I have enjoyed listening to a number of podcasts in the last few years. The blog below looks to share some of what I have gained from these audible gems during the lockdowns. These podcasts are packed with moving stories and open us up to feeling. Again. To start, I wanted to share why I turned my attention to listening…
I listen It’s because of those that came before. Uncle Gilly (Gilbert Drakes) was the orator, story-teller, the pork knocker, the originator, the historian. Whenever he would pass by our home in North London, it was about the joy he was able to spread. I can remember my aunts and mum giggling like school girls at another of his scandalous tales.
Balance There was a delight in how he and they saw the world. Immigrants from Guyana. Pain and struggle were mixed in to these tales too. But there was also a resilience of hoping and waiting for the children – to get what their hands had yet to grasp. Listening somehow flavoured and coloured, picture framing my memory. Everything was sepia hued and sunny and flavoured with coconut ice drops and golden syrup, fried plantain, roti, dhal-puri, cook-up-rice, fried dumplings, curried everything, mauby and ginger beer.
Loss Listening is something I have enjoyed for a very long time. Recently my family (C,C,P) asked questions from the ‘If Questions for the Soul’ by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell book and was asked, If I could only keep one of the 5 senses which one would I keep? My ability to hear would be the one I would be most sour about losing.
Divine Choosing So why this blog? Why now? Well I have been delighting in a few of these podcasts and a Netflix show during a prolonged lockdown experience. The shows below and links have offered me something so divine, I just had to share.
White Lies – Jim Reeb was a preacher that travelled to the deep South of Selma Alabama with two other white clergymen. This was after hearing Martin Luther King Jnr’s call to support the civil rights movement. A few days after his arrival in Selma, Jim Reeb was killed. Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley investigate this cold case. Why should we hold time for this story? Code Switch introduced this podcast to my always questioning and receptive ears. The story and investigations are carried out respectfully by the two reporters and deliver a highly crafted story that leaves me with a few more questions than answers. Such as: Why did it take so long for justice/the truth to be realised? How could a community of people double down on Jim Reeb’s death and claim innocence and carry on with life with little conscience? Does culpability and crime turn all who try to hide from justice, into guilty weakened criminals? Is it more complicated than that? Why listen – primarily because the two men are exhuming something so relevant to the time we are travelling through currently.
What’s Ray Saying – I was introduced to Ray Christian III from the Moth Podcast. Ray shared a poignant story of growing up, poor black and in the South (U.S.). He won a Moth story slam and appeared to leave a crowd speechless. A good story can do that, as well as thrill. A story can invite crickets to be heard – as all goes pin drop quiet. Ray Christian invites us to journey with him through a number of tough, life changing experiences. Enabling him to fashion a moment of learning for us the listener and for himself – the story teller. Why listen – Ray has a way of sharing his truth in a frank and honest way that stuns and shouts ‘put down what’s unnecessary. The barriers you hold are not going to work against these heartfelt stories!’
Unlocking Us – I have long been an admirer of Brené Brown’s work. This was after reading her manifesto for change within an organisational context in the book Daring Greatly in 2016. I was surprised and elated to hear that Brené Brown was going to be joining the podcast pantheon in 2019. Unlocking Us pulls no punches and has provided me insight to see how a concert hall invites and also leads an orchestra or choir to lift it’s roof. Because Brené has done and is continuing to do much of the heavy lifting of personal self enquiry, when she asks an exquisite and illuminating question, only the truth can be offered from her guests. The structure of the space created, invites it to be filled with honest open beauty. Why listen – the list of journey people interviewed on Unlocking Us are simply a star studded cast of world leaders of thought and are daring to be themselves vulnerable. No show has disappointed yet.
Suave – This man’s story is the pivot point of why I have missed working at a prison. David Luis Suave Gonzalez was classed a super predator, emotionally and educationally retarded, illiterate and sentenced to life in prison. He was 17 when the offence happened. Suave was shared on the Ear Hustle podcast. The crime he committed and is in full acceptance of, is discussed as well as the circumstances of Suave’s life. If we were to widen the lens and take in environmental factors and a number of systems we would recognise that his choices were limited due to the oppressive violence of poverty. Why listen – in as little as 3 episodes the full character of Suave is revealed and I notice the teen and man he still is. A tough exterior, poised, articulate and deftly funny and incredibly vulnerable. Knowing him fully is what we are invited to do.
Serial Season 3 The Cleveland justice system. An unjust system or a criminal system of justice? Sarah Koenig presents on this wide searching season on the hunt for stories that present the justice system in Cleveland in all its gory detail. S3S does not disappoint as what takes precedence is an idea a colleague shared a few years ago, Gandhi is said to have said that the worst form of violence is poverty. What continues to be portrayed are a number of poor choices, that lead to poor outcomes for individuals, communities and a city involved with a few epidemics: drugs, guns, murder, poverty, education and a city being mismanaged. Why listen – This season is high art in as raw and as open a way that an artist can depict a crumbling system of mistakes. Serial season 3 simply delivers.
School Colors from Brooklyn Deep – Mark Winston Griffith and Max Freedman look into the changing experiences of a school in Brooklyn, New York. The spoken line of ‘whenever Black people have something good, it’s always taken away from us…’ resonates strongly from the opening intro for me. The lament from the singing choir leader’s falsetto during the intro, let’s me know this is going to be hard listening but worthwhile too. Why listen – the story telling is phenomenal. The sound design brings you in to touch – where each character is speaking from. We the listener understand and share their perspective. School colors is as insightful as You the Netflix show.
Resistance – follows the rise of protests in America and elsewhere after the murder of George Floyd. Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jnr follows activists and leaders into the uncivil war of activism. Saidu shows the world that the unlawful killing of Black and Brown and Trans people matters. This podcast was found whilst I tuned in to This American Life podcast. Everyone is involved in changing the landscape, whether they want to recognise it or not, and the young people who are out there within the resistance are saying it’s enough and it has got to stop! Now! Why listen – The event of George Floyd’s murder being caught on camera and then shared around the world had a tectonic effect on a large number of people. The protests that came after were iconic. It simply makes sense to remain aware of how resistance will continue to inform and shape all global societies.
Nice White Parents – Chana Joffe Walt investigates a curious event of a school in, again, New York marching towards equality for its students and taking a number of wrong turns to achieve a school centred idea of reform. This was early C19 June 2020 Lockdown listening. The hours whiled away. What do the parents have to do with it? Well, the money/investment/resources follow a specific group of interested parents in relation to this school and how they feel these resources should be used. Nice White Parents podcast presents a story on repeat. Power-over is generally problem fueled. Some appear to not want to learn this difficult truth. Power with, yields unimaginable returns for the many. Many who have come before have said voluminously the same. Why listen – because the arc of these stories, scratch at an impregnable one way glass that looks out on success, education and the misnomer of all attaining their dreams.
Dare to Lead – Brené Brown’s book on what makes a good leader is called ‘dare to lead’. I am yet to read it as the book is on order at my local library. I am however devouring her second podcast series. The guests she interviews are encouraging, daring, inspiring globally renowned leaders and invite us to think about ourselves in new ways. The stories told are deeply touching and have made me listen to a few episodes more than once. It is one thing to have questions about what a good leader is and how they behave, it is another to hear *inspirators offer their pearls of wisdom that are immediately accessible and with only one cost – time. Why listen – there is a treasure trove filled with useful informative life changing advice in every episode.
Canine Intervention Netflix Jas Leverette is simply a watchable engaging and deeply thoughtful and remorseful man. The story about his first dog… I thoroughly enjoyed the community, friendship and opportunities Jas is able to share with those who may not be offered a second chance at life, within his company. Jas offers the viewer a hugely inspiring cast of characters that invite empathy and compassion in equal measure. My wife who has a fear of dogs watched a number of episodes with me, it’s that good. Canine Intervention is a show that looks at a young man’s skill at working with dogs, not just that, as well as how he trains people how to care and look after the dogs they live with.
Jas is in his element training, discussing and supporting owners to understand and completely revise their approach to make space for their dogs in their lives so that they, the owners are trusted to lead. What I enjoy about Jas is his sense of play, his commitment to his family and the joy he has at his craft. Wanting to help the many who may have fallen into unhelpful habits with their dogs, learn something new about themselves and how to live well with the newest member of their family. Why watch – the stories themselves are complete packages of healing, growth and restoration. I look forward to season 2!
Answers So why do I listen? Too so much? For so long? Too so many? If a story is an invitation to journey with, to see and experience like another does. If a story is like an invisible tie that binds us all, to earlier simpler times, where moths fly, then I am always in a place of learning and teaching and sharing and growing and all in good time saying goodbye. For each of us has a heroine’s story to tell, with a beginning, a middle and a fateful ending.
Beginning Initially the idea of reading ‘It’s Not Always Depression’ was approached with some resistance. I was asked to review the book by Dionne and Victoria of The Counsellors Café Magazine. Here is my review a few years too late, but ties in with my earlier writing on Shame.
Depression as a topic can be viewed as an uncomfortable and difficult concept to investigate. In fact I was actively avoiding the topic. Choosing to dive right in I discovered that with guidance depression may not be the root cause of an individuals story. Hilary Jacobs Hendel has written a wonderful book that explores and explains emotion. In an accelerated way Hilary is able to discuss the effect of trapped emotions and their impact toward the person they reside within.
Internal ‘It’s Not Always Depression’ combines story-telling and science (neuropsychology and neuroscience) in a way that is compelling to read. Whilst reading the book we are able to exhume ones’ experience of the self and our internal family systems (IFS) and examine encounters we had at earlier times of our lives.
Big T and little t Hilary Jacobs Hendel is able to use her work as a psychotherapist to share the experiences her clients travel through to arrive at a better understanding of themselves and ultimately their story. We meet women and men that have had challenging experiences at different times in their lives. Hilary explains that these events can be viewed as big T and little t traumas. Big T traumas frame an event as overwhelmingly significant and life changing. Little t trauma shares the idea of accumulative experiences that lead to cognitive defences being set up by clients to be able to manage daily – dangers and discomforts.
Transition For me, prejudice in all forms and racism in particular are mis-labelled as little t traumas. I feel that all forms of oppression are potentially big T traumas. Oppression discrimination and racism viscerally affect the persons viewed as other and directly affect the way’s in which these persons live or don’t get to live. Remember Breonna Taylor, Jean Charles De Menezes, Mark Duggan, Pyriscience shares a list of BIPOC deaths in Canada.
Core I.d. By the middle of my reading ‘It’s Not Always’, I became aware of an awakening in me and was surprised as I thought I had buried certain memories. I came to recognise my core emotions of: fear, anger, sadness disgust and shame. I caught sight of myself as a child and a large T trauma that had happened for me at the age of 7. Moving through the change triangle I witnessed core feelings and thoughts that inhibited the core feeling – ideas of I shouldn’t feel this way any longer, perhaps I deserved what had happened, I didn’t understand why this thing was happening to me at that time and no one would have believed me if I were to tell. Using the change triangle I identified and accepted the feeling of shame. A disquieting emotion. I recognised the defences I had put up to protect myself and kindly understood how they had protected me but that they were not necessary any longer.
Collaborate Clients and therapists could read this book either together or individually as it offers a wealth of knowledge and understanding about the human experience. Hilary Jacobs Hendel explains the use of AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy) and her involvement with Diana Fosha’s work.
Accelerate Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s writing is accessible and informs how a therapist using AEDP and the Change Triangle, can support a client gain insight and create change that is transformational. The book offers readers chance to ask important questions about emotions and identify experiences of small t or large T traumas. From recognising the trapped pain of earlier experiences, readers are invited to begin working to reclaim and rewire the memory and release associated emotions. Using the change triangle supports dynamic change and acceptance of a newer reclaimed identity.
Daring Greatly The invitation Hilary shares with us is to live in an openhearted state as often as we can and of being our Authentic Selves as much as we dare.
Question What is it about this seemingly dirty and soiled word that has many recoiling as though struck? As though a memory from a distant past has returned like a forgotten thrown smelly damp sock, and hit dead centre – on the forehead?
Douse Shame Brené Brown has discussed, as a thing that can be lessened by bringing it out into the light. It’s power is removed by our tongues movement, in sharing with trusted others how, why, when and with whom the event happened. Give the shame experience no-where to hide. Shame cannot survive out in the light. Empathy, Compassion and receiving love and understanding will make shame shrivel and die!
Triangle Hilary Jacobs Handel has written about an open-hearted state we can all arrive at, if we follow the steps in her book ‘It’s Not Always Depression’. This great book looks at the change triangle and how a person using Hilary’s model with support can blow past depression and anxiety to become a functioning person accepting past hurts and living.
Dance Kimberley Cato has mentioned that when we get through to the other side of this thing (mental wellbeing and finding mental health) and have done most of the heavy lifting with the process of healing we get to dance in sunshine. I like to think of dancing joyously in whatever the weather.
Design Joshua Isaac Smith has shared that once we really get moving, and let go of our trauma, pain and shame. We find ourselves at peace. It is here that we move beyond the story and begin writing and designing a script we want to live inside of.
During So how do we get there? It sounds like a space that is too good to be true. After being involved with therapy for over 10 years as a counsellor/coach/consultant I have seen much of the before, lots of the during and some amazing aftereffects of working through past pains with clients.
I shared with a group of interested attendees and a panel of mental health professionals some of my ideas on shame. The event hosted by Kimberly Cato for True Roots Counselling Services was the 2nd in a series she has hosted discussing Black Mental Health concerns for the African Diaspora living in Canada and in the Americas.
Contact Kimberly for more information about the next MH awareness discussion. The conversations are informative and illuminating inviting attendees to realise, we are no longer alone!
I wanted to revisit the story of invisible wounds that are carried with us into adulthood. To look somemore at where Jill’s story ends and how and why Mos Def’s story begins. The reason: Psychological concepts live in us and are always present. Love Rains offers not just insight but also understanding.
Jill Scott Now me non clairvoyant and in love, Made the coochie easy and the obvious invisible. The rain was falling, And I couldn’t see the season changing, And the vibe slipping off its axis. Our beautiful melody became wildly staccato. The…rain…was..falling…and…I…could not…see..that…I..was…to…be Plowed… And sown and fertilised, and left to drown in his sunny afternoon, Cumulus clouds, 84 degrees,
Wide open, wide, loose like bowels after collard greens. The mistake was made, love slipped from my lips, Dripped down my chin and landed in his lap, And Us became nu. Now me non clairvoyant and in love Made me the fool You were never true If you didn’t want me, ah, you should have let me know All you did was make a mockery of Something so Incredible, beautiful I honestly did love you So
Immature What then? Both hurt, but for two differing reasons. What follows is time healing and recovering from that pain of loss. Until it is met again and perhaps both can learn how to survive the intimacy and complications that romantic love can bring. For some, men can be less emotionally aware, less in tune with body-mind-emotion connections. Men can feel that shame and fear are the same and do not spend time investigating to understand their differences. Until an adulting experience happens. They are met by circumstances that force change. Then they do. Then they can. Then they will. Willingly facing the denial of their first hurts and begin the process of healing.
Throne Making Mos Def’s piece blew me away when I first heard it. It still does. No poem before or after had ever exalted and re-set the Black woman so perfectly, I wanted to possess and inhabit these words and the intention behind them, to make right the many centuries of wrong hurt blame shame and pain. This too is my shame. In a word I am sorry for the wrongs that I and my ken have brought to you. I want to make peace with you: Queen.
Mos Def: I stretched my arms towards the sky like blades of tall grass. The sun beat between my shoulders like carnival drums. I sat still in hopes that it would help my wings to grow, So that I could really be fly. And then she arrived, Like day break inside a railway tunnel, Like the new moon, like a diamond in the mines, like high noon to a drunkard, sudden. She made my heart beat in a now/now time signature. Her skinny canvas for ultraviolet brushstrokes; She was the sun’s painting. She was a deep cognac color; Her eyes sparkled like lights along the new city. Her lips pursed as if her breath was too sweet and full for her mouth to hold. I said, “you are the beautiful, distress of mathematics.” I said, “For you, I would peel open the clouds like new fruit; Give you lightning and thunder as a dowry. I would make the sky shed all of its stars like rain, I would clasp the constellations across your waist and I would make the heavens your cape, And they would be pleased to cover you. They would be pleased to cover you, May I please cover you? Please”
Heady For me there is little in the way that speaks of adoration and reverie to honour or emits love much better than this. The poem can be interpreted as if to say I am sorry – and somehow yet, still more.
That an idyll can be obtained and brought about between Women and Men in this tale. ‘I see you, have loved you, am in love with you. With you, greater than I could ever be without you. And for that, I will share all that I am and more with you.’ That’s what I interpret in Mos Def’s verse.
The story in the remix offers a safe turn around to what is a well-known and pre-destined ending to love: Loss. Defeat. Endings.
As a result of the Kaemotherapy counselling offer, a number of Black women have been accessing my free workshops on 21st century mental health. I’ll write up my findings about the workshops soon.
Supporting Black women and men have become primary targets for my therapeutic support. There is great work to be completed and I am glad to have found a role that leads to overall wellbeing and health for more people. Resources Goddesses of the Roundtable Healing The Father Wound Brené Brown Unlocking Us Podcast Ask Me Anything Tony Porter T.E.D. Talk A Call To Men