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Thank you for submitting your questions and being a part of this process. This work changes lives, communities, and oppressive societal structures.

Thank you for continuing to learn, integrate, and act. Thank you for sharing what you've learned, and for spreading the word for others who want to understand. 

Please share with your colleagues & friends about the community-wide Thrive in the New Paradigm event on July 18th! 100% of proceeds fund scholarships for The NEW Program: the 1st of its kind leadership coaching and healing program exclusively for black womxn.

And now ... the questions 🤗

“What are steps that I can take to make a difference in this world. How to navigate this challenging time without traumatizing myself. I’m a highly sensitive empath and I get blown away by strong emotions.”

👉 Boundaries 100%. Boundaries are insanely vital for us as empaths. That said, you may still experience feeling triggered. As it pertains to social and racial injustice, what’s happened IS traumatizing, empath or not. Black people are traumatized multiple times daily as we continue to be shown how people who look like us get hung, shot, suffocated, lit on fire, and murdered regularly---without remorse or recourse for the perpetrators---simply because those people look like us. It is traumatizing. This is why injustices must end. We have to take mental breaks from the news, and we must continue to take personal actions in each of the three steps we went over in the event to begin to make the difference that’s possible on a larger scale.

 

“What is the most benificial l way to bring race into sex and relationship courses?”

👉  Some great places to start: addressing power dynamics (inherent value places on certain demographics v. others), festishism of body parts and stereotyped ways of being in bed based on demographics, international beauty and body standards, and acknowledging differences in communication. I’ll be going into this much more deeply in the upcoming Leadership Liberated 8-week course.

 

“As White allies, when is it the right time for us to confront with very harsh words, and when is it time for us to acknowledge, and encourage? I’m specifically thinking of other colleagues and white folks who have committed to doing equity work and changes, but are doing it imperfectly.”

👉 I’m reading a likely bias here that suggests pointing out where someone could be an ally (or where their behavior is racist) is inherently “harsh.” There is always time to acknowledge and encourage. And everyone is doing the work imperfectly. Everyone. There is no such thing as perfectly doing the work. Just as there is no perfect leadership. We all get to grow. I perceive you to have a preferred communication style you like to use to connect with others. That’s a great place to start.

 

“How do I walk the line? When I ask questions of black people, I'm asking for free emotional labor, but when I don't I live in ignorance. When I talk about actions I'm taking, I'm "giving my resume" but I'm also asked to talk about what actions I'm taking. There are a lot of contradictory things white people are being told to do or not do and it's leaving me with my head spinning. And when I see some white people ask a question in genuine confusion, I see them get eviscerated.”

👉 The idea that a white person could possibly be “eviscerated” by someone’s verbal (or written/typed) reply to a question when black people are getting shot and killed for jogging in their own neighborhoods; murdered by suffocation while plenty of onlookers watched...and then have a videos of it circulated with zero respect for their humanity or any dignity; literally being hung in 2020. Let’s start by clarifying that no white person gets eviscerated (disemboweled) for asking a genuine question. They/you may meet anger, frustration, dismissal, etc … and that is not evisceration.   

You walk the line by never asking for free emotional labor. Ignorance is a choice in 2020. There are countless resources to get genuine answers to your questions. There are plenty of black people (myself included) educating people all over the internet. For deeper discussion, there are online groups, book clubs, coaching programs (like Leadership Liberated). Kudos for having attending this event; doing so is an example of walking the line. Keep researching & learning, keep internalizing & integrating, and keep taking action...especially when you’re met with resistance. Others’ anger does not disembowel you. Share what you’re doing yes -- not to impress black people or win them over but to normalize the work of becoming an ally. Share what you’re doing with your white friends. Black people want to know what you are doing as well, but not in order to praise you, thank you, or give you gold stars or cookies. (You may receive some anyway, and I for sure have reached out to thank people I’ve witnessed go above and beyond what I expected.) Generally speaking, we want to know what you are doing so we know if we can trust you, if you truly have our backs or if you’re all talk (or worse, no talk. #silenceisviolence).

 

“How can I be more welcoming and inclusive when POC are in my communities?”

👉 Thank you for asking! Ideally you’ve already made a stance clear to the people in your community where you stand on the current issues and way more importantly you take action in accordance with that stance -- name and reframe racist behavior or commentary when you see it, call yourself out when you mess up, name your stance again, continue to do the inner work to see your biases around cultures of color and likely therefore the POC in your community. For the love of all that is sacred, *do not tokenize* your POC. We’re not here to make your marketing look “diverse,” to check if you’re being “inclusive enough,” or to be the ones to provide certain laboring roles in live events or gatherings (yes it happens). I personally appreciate people reiterating in group gatherings their commitment to equity and inclusion, inviting feedback from any person (which means not just your POC, but allies as well), and owning that they won’t always get it right. Again, no one does. ❤️

 

“How to incorporate and implement my anti-racist, pro-social justice values into my healing biz. Also how to show up and take consistent action without being overwhelmed. My personal life is in upheaval and I'm running two businesses mostly by myself, so I'm already working 10+ hour days and don't get a lot of rest or down time. I struggle to juggle it all.”

👉  There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do. The 3 simple steps we talked about. Baby steps in each.

 

“How and when to talk about these issues in my professional and personal life in a way that doesn't cause harm and offers support. How to talk about these things in my business.”

👉  Personal recommendation: don’t talk about what you didn’t know or how you used to act (this is often where the harm starts to come into play). Focus on what you’re learning. This both invites others into the learning and highlights that which you want to affirm. Talk about your values and how this is very much related to biz. No matter what your business is, this has a place. Systemic oppression is everywhere (and in fact, is *quite* pervasive in the healing,  new age spirituality, & coaching world ... many of the business coaching models we are taught). 

 

“How do I have these conversations if I am speaking on someone else's platform. What do I do if someone broadens racism into other ism's? What do I do to bring it back?”

👉 It’s actually that simple - just bring it up / just go back. “Right now we’re talking about the rights of black people” is a default sentiment that I express, and I invite you to use your own words for this. You literally just name it, and continue with what you wanted to share. A less direct way (which is more likely what I’d personally do) is transition by taking whatever broad thing they said and going “and in the case of systemic racism -- the issue at hand right now -- [whatever you wanted to address] …” The more you involve yourself deeply with your understanding of the work, the easier it becomes to weave it in because your allyship / anti-racism work is woven into your life. This is also something I’ll be going into much more deeply around having conversations, language in marketing and business (I am a sociolinguist after all 🤗) during the upcoming Leadership Liberated 8 week course.

 

“How do you hold a safe conversation and community without tone policing?”

👉 Make space for all everyone’s truth. I go into this in community below, but regarding the tone policing part, I shared about this recently in this video. [Start at 44:50 - the relevant part for this question lasts ~3min]

“I teach qigong and we learn that anger is damaging to our organs. I was speaking with a friend who is also a qigong teacher. The way I think of it, the anger can be a catalyst for movement. IF we repress that, that’s not healthy for us either. I think if we’re running on reactive anger for awhile, that can be damaging to our systems and lead to burn-out or break-down. People can choose. What is your understanding?”

👉 Absolutely 100%! Channel your anger always. Anger and rage is soo unheahlthy to keep in your system. This is why it must be processed and released. Channeling your anger into your advocacy, art, allyship, your business, and/or whatever fuels you is an excellent way to take inspired action for your own health and for the betterment of all.

“How to start engaging with friends who won't acknowledge systemic oppression or that racism still exists.”

👉 Share examples, stories, notice their language / behavior and mention the opportunity for them to learn to do better (in alignment with whatever motivates them … making more money, experiencing better relationships, being in integrity with their stated values …. Being an ally relates to all of them).

 

“If we don't know what we don't know, how can we Google something not in our awareness until we have it brought up into our space?”

👉 This is why you go and follow black people online. Google what is in your awareness now. You seek it out. As you seek it out you undoubtedly learn more. You must seek out your own learning if you want to be an ally.

 

“I have close family members that are constantly posting on FB videos and pic of Black people engaging in violence or other negative behavior. I find these posts offensive because they are clearly biased and attempting to uphold a negative racial stereotype and I would love some ideas of how to respond.”

👉 You can respond with exactly this -- naming that they are actively perpetuating systemic racism and oppression through trying to reassert stereotypes of behavior (many of which are trauma responses to centuries systemic abuse) rather than understanding the system itself. Also the highly problematic implication that a few people’s behavior means that systemic murder, enslavement, imprisionment, etc are justified. (There’s also the opportunity to cite the countless acts of terrorism in the USA by white people with little exception, the outrageous behavior etc. Does those people represent your family members? I bet they also don’t think so.) Understanding the system is the goal. Reinforcing stereotypes does nothing other than try to skew people’s opinion away from moving toward a just and equitable system. This is white fragility and fear of “being overtaken” “losing power” etc at play. (You don’t need to name that last sentence to them, this is just important for me to point out here.)

 

“How to start engaging with friends who won't acknowledge systemic oppression or that racism still exists.”

👉 Share examples, stories, notice their language / behavior and mention the opportunity for them to learn to do better (in alignment with whatever motivates them … making more money, experiencing better relationships, being in integrity with their stated values …. Being an ally relates to all of them).

 

What is it that black people really want? What are our top 3 priorities?

👉 My take on this (knowing that I do not speak for all...though I do for many):
1. We want to feel safe: we don’t have to watch our backs and/or try to contort ourselves so that white people feel comfortable enough to not call the cops and so that cops don’t show up to harass and/or kill us. 2. We want to feel like our lives *truly* matter: in the eyes of the law, the friends who say they care but remain silent, in healthcare, in access to quality housing, in politics, in the kids’ education, in business, banking, loan opportunities ...you know, everywhere). We want to feel like we have an opportunity to live with the same potential that white people are given: we want to believe that it is possible to realize our dreams in the same way that people with ample privilege do.

Basically, we want to live our lives in peace. With equality.

 

“How do you build a community where everyone feels safe despite varying backgrounds, experiences, emotions, communication styles/skills and trauma history?”

👉 Short answer: You make it explicitly clear what kind of experiences people in your community have. You name the potential traumatic triggers that could come up based on what your community is about. You set -- and HOLD -- strong boundaries around what kind of communication is acceptable and not. If you choose to take an anti-racist stance, you state clearly what that means for how people are expect to show up in your community. You cannot control everyone’s trauma history or triggers. You can do your best to maintain safety, invite feedback on how your community members experience safety, and restore harm when it is caused. 

 

“What are some ways to keep a firm safe space for those doing DEI work in a fb group?” 

👉 Like the last question -- set the strong boundaries. It should be in the group rules, in the announcement tabs, in a document if need be, and it should be easy for folks to understand exactly where to go to understand all of them. You want to be as explicit as possible. You’ll want to name how you will handle any transgressions, especially given that people may be unaware they’re committing a transgression. Make the policies clear and precise. Make sure people are actively agreeing (especially if this is an older group with this as a new focus). If your space has both black people and white people, a “safe space for DEI work” means giving *priority*  to the voices of the marginalized-demographic identities in the group, everytime. 

 

“I wasn't the one who "took" the teachings, but I was taught a spirituality from India that has been watered down, and it influences my own teaching now. I never questioned it until now. I find great value in it and I can't imagine not using any of it. What would be an appropriate action for me? I've thought of donating a percentage of my income to something in India, but I have no idea what at the moment. Thank you for waking me up to this!”

👉 So glad to read this. Thank you for sharing. When you have elements from other cultures in your business, you always want to give credit to exactly who and where you are getting your resources. If you don’t know, now is a great time to find out. The beautiful part about this is that not only are you understanding the true roots of that which you enjoy and teach/work with, but you’re also deepening your appreciation + actually appearing more credible to your clients and students. 

There are many ways to reinvest your revenue made from a culture back into it. I for example have a leadership coaching and healing program for black womxn -- I have a sponsorship program that a number of coaches who’ve worked w/African spirituality, who have accepted black dollars in the past and caused harm to those clients, and/or who want marketing recognition (this sponsorship does come with media attention) are participating in. The one time sponsorship does not change practices of cultural appropriation, but it does allow for restorative justice in that they are supporting a program for black womxn to be empowered not through cultural appropriation but through the wisdom of their own ancestors. Donating a percentage of your revenue is also an excellent idea. It may be something in India, it could be an Indian organization the USA / your country; it could be investing in an Indian youth who is removed from that part of their culture to have an experience of India from someone Indian you know (or search and find) also doing the work. What I do not recommend is giving scholarships to POC in your programs without knowing how to hold safe equitable space for them. This is *so important.* If you are going to support POC with scholarships, grant them scholarships in programs with anti-racist leaders and/or people of cultures who can guide them with the understanding of their (generally speaking) lived experience and what they need for safety. I have so much more to say about this. This is something I’ll both be diving into in the 8-week Leadership Liberated program + sharing about in a half-day event on Social Impact in Businesses on Friday, July 24. Feel free to reply to the email for details.

 

“Is it “giving up” to unfriend people who are spewing racist views? Sometimes I don’t have the energy and I also want the to at least see a different way of living and thinking.”

👉  It’s always worth trying. I almost gave up by cancelling this Thrive in the New Paradigm event, and I’m beyond grateful I didn’t. So many expressed knowing what to do now, having life-changing experiences, and sharing what they’ve learned in their own communities. Now I’m hosting a similar Thrive in the New Paradigm event (a deeper dive this time) for the larger community on July 18. 

Before giving up, it’s always worth a try. Overtly racist views / behavior comes from ignorance.

“When [people] know better, [they] do better” -Maya Angelou

That said, there may be a time to let someone go. If I were in this situation, I’d rather unfollow so I don’t have to see their stuff and keep sharing mine so that if they were following me maybe they could catch a glimpse and learn. I also want to say that once you consistently take a strong stance on an issue while setting your boundaries of what you’ll engage with for how long, people often start to organize themselves accordingly. How to have courageous conversations around systemic racism (and other contentious topics) is something I’ll be coaching around in Leadership Liberated.

 

“I could use guidance around how to "pick my battles" - I am struggling with the balance between speaking up and actively being an ally and knowing how to handle the person in white supremacy denial. What do you do when they do not seem to "get it" nor want to.”

👉 A lot of people don’t want to get it. I say always try if there’s an opening to, because we never know the difference we can make by simply normalizing the idea of “getting it.” You don’t have to win them over right away … transformation of thought and being takes time. Saying what you can in the moment matters most (and is especially important if there is a person of marginalized identity around in the moment) -- normalize naming the act in the moment it happens to the person saying/doing it. Even if there’s no discussion about it. If there is discussion about it, try to steer clear of labeling someone (racist, ignorant, stupid, etc). Labeling the person doesn’t leave room for growth. Naming the behavior does.

Come back to read these questions as often as you'd like. If you share this learning with others, acknowledge where the learning came from. Practice citing your sources and not apprioriating information. Practice elevating marginalized people in your conversations and communities. Practice loving folks to the other side of the tension and emotions. Practice loving yourself through the courageous acts of allyship and the slip-ups where at some point, you cause harm to someone you're want to support. Keep learning, keep doing better. Keep going. The world needs you. We need you.

If you want to go deeper, and experience the long-term personal, professional, and communal ROI from the work of anti-racism and allyship in your relationships, life, and business, join the waitlist to learn about Leadership Liberated when the program doors open July 18th!

In the meantime, let's stay in touch. 🥳

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