Deconstructing Language – What are we actually talking about ?

Since the election, social media stimulation provides countless articles, opinions, tweets, Facebook and other conversations regarding race. The conversation is steeped with facts, myths, and strong preferences that the past served all Americans. What immediately comes to mind when I hear references to the good-ole-days is a Norman Rockwell painting of six-year-old Rudy Bridges being escorted to school with U.S. Marshalls. I see a time when human rights of African-American children were violated within a system that continues to preach different standards of social justice for one group people while perpetuating systems of oppression for other groups. Often the conversations, articles, and opinions are interwoven with individual lived experiences that exhibit a narrow space of history. What I find disheartening is the need to be right with little regard to the origin of the information shared to the boarder audience.

The 21st-century technological advancement provided a platform to research information from endless spaces. The challenge is identifying the source and authenticity of the resources. Naturally, if you Google resources to support hatred, you will locate many websites, articles, and people that feel the same justification for hatred. The opposite applies as well. In the middle is the opportunity to review numerous resources to gain insight from different perspectives to expand one’s understanding beyond generationally limited experiences.

Monday and Tuesday, I encountered an incredible journey with two sister friends of mind. One is African-American, and the other is Caucasian. We spoke openly about the social expectations surrounding personal worth. How standards of beauty served as conflicting in all of our lives and how today, we seek other social measurements that speak to our commitment to contributing to a different world for younger women. Our conversation around racism and sexism magnified the influences of standards placed upon us with discomfort and conformity that left few opinions for individual preferences. We talked about the trauma experiences that trigger responses to life events long passed and highlighted how time does not heal all wounds, especially keeping things a secret.

Of course, the conversation included highlights of the election and how our roles may become elevated within the community to ensure all voices are heard. Our sister bonding gave me a deeper space of gratitude and the actual meaning of building bridges with people that offer different perspectives, which expanded the limitations of my lived experiences. We discussed the patronizing undercurrent between African-Americans and Whites exploring the affects and trauma that continues to create division and harm on both sides and how that reality of this shared trauma is rarely explored. Thomas Sowell in Economic Facts and Fallacies referenced the concept of all or nothing as the “composition” the understanding that if something serves one group, then it must serve all groups without regard to cultural differences. In essence, the United States and the American Dream once forced the illusion of oneness identifying social standards to live by, while identifying different standards based on race and used cultural differences to discriminate and disenfranchise.

As some welcome, while others adjust to the president-elect are we clear about what will serve us individually and collectively. Do we know what we are actually talking about?adichie-nowisthetimetotalkaboutwhatweareactuallytalkingabout-1200

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Seriously?

This is the time to listen, learn, and stand for nurturing change.

NIOT Princeton

NPR’s This American Life asked Sara Bareilles (composer & lyricist for Broadway’s “Waitress”) to imagine what President Obama might be thinking about the current election and Donald Trump, but can’t say publicly. Leslie Odom, Jr., recently of Hamilton fame, performs the song.

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Neutralizing Coded Language

        Last week, I posted an observation surrounding coded language and received a comment and question about “neutralizing coded language” to “shift language either by changing the words associated or negative connotation.” I must share that I pondered the question carefully. I contemplated the meaning of neutralizing, then tolerance two descriptions often referenced as necessary for moving the conversation around race. My immediate response highlighted the importance of knowing the actual history. I then examined what learning the real history meant to me.

As an African-American taught in the United States, the material provided in public school classrooms in New Jersey influenced an assimilation of a dominant ideology supported by the distorted story behind the inception of the United States that remains steeped with s/heroes that promoted whiteness. In the 8th grade Ted Baker, an African-American male teacher, assigned to teach Black History at Junior 3 opened my eyes to the world I previously was unaware. From that moment, I sought information and text that highlighted African captives enslaved experiences in the United States and other countries. During my early years, locating text was challenging; however, since has become abundant in context and content.

The largest shift in exploring the real history is the actual study of whiteness as a phenomenon worthy of researching. The framing of a dominant ideology embedded in white supremacy that perpetuated white privilege highlighted the lived experiences that people of color endured. The African-American experience up to that point was met with blame and denial, just pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Grasping the origin is necessary to unravel the myths before identifying oppressive coded language used to create cognitive dissonance around differences.

First, take the time to search for the old messages received about race. Racism is taught, not inherited; therefore, facing one’s conscious and unconscious mind requires having an honest conversation about how this mindset serves you, your sense of self-worth, self-value, your identity, and your sense of belonging? I framed this inquiry as a self-reflective exercise because it will help reveal the foundation to your automatic reaction.

For example, R. J. McGee, an anthropology professor at Texas State University, announced to his class “Modern humans did evolve in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago, meaning all non-Africans are descended from people in African between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.” White students walked out of his class. Ask yourself, why was Professor McGee’s comment threatening? What disrupted the dominant ideology of the American Dream?

The second recommendation for decoding language is expanding one’s knowledge beyond the standard history books and education provided in American public schools, universities, and religion. In my work, I witness the depths of implicit racial bias (unconscious judgments/behaviors accumulated about racial differences) and the influence of individual and systemic institutions (schools, churches, organizations, and social media) to embed further confirmation bias (reinforce racist beliefs). To understand racism, one must grasp how discrimination and marginalization fuels the web of systems to oppress groups of people.

If you would like to share your journey with others, seek out organizations that support self-learning such as NiOT or others. Finally, I want to thank you for reading my heart thoughts and welcome you to return next Monday as I continue to unfold decoding language.

Peace and Blessings,

Simona L. Brickers

Affective Leadership Language Practitioner

The White Beauty Ideal As Science

The White Beauty Ideal as Science

Chapter 5 Beyond Black and White Discussion Group  served its own personal challenges within a social structure that speaks to convince all ethnicities that white skin is preferred. This topic escapes no one, instead it infects the mere grasping that one self is important in all ways that we emerged because we are precious from a higher source. Reflection draws on the foundation Chapter 4 provided understanding that sexual slaves serviced the wealthy as precious purchases, things to own. How powerful the only depiction of prostitution features women of color as loose and easy: perpetuating lies⎯wrongly escaping the truth that the creation of selling sex initiated with white slave women by white men. So, here we are taking this early prosperous sex trade and shifting the focus to establish pride and status by featuring naked women as precious and worthy of permanence through the arts.

The art world of memorializing whiteness became the savior of white womanhood providing a platform of sexual freedoms and acceptability. Contrary to biblical standards of women’s behavior⎯what a conflict reality, yet acceptable or permutable curving white fragility and innocence within a space where no such characteristics existed. These women were socialites with an agenda to be desired by many. Perhaps, this speaks to the need for white supremacy and privilege⎯the deeper need to escape one’s history through distortion to erase the legacy established an effort to shed karma. WOW! I did not see this coming… Let’s remain mindful that the white men establishing white beauty were gay males with admiration for young gay boys. There is a story within that reality in its self, so the shift to include white women seems rational because what would white society do without them? Cast them out was not an option because white women remained critical for serving as birthing tools to bring son’s into the world.
Yes, I’ve taken the position of allowing you to think or perhaps, opening myself to all my pondering while reading Nell’s insightful glimpse researched seeking a deeper perspective that allows for reflective expansion instead of quoting the book, you have that already. Let’s continue to explore the complexities of the current social infrastructure and the action of teaching self-hatred through the media both print and televised. Large bodies for spewing fears that non-white people are the enemy whereas over this last five weeks, I concluded that the enemy lies within each one of us that buy into the propaganda of feeding into social depiction go division. Below are my questions, but one that burns inside for an answer above all others is to ask oneself: Are you separated from God? If so, why? And if not, how do you know you are connected to God?

So, my questions are did you find yourself emerging within any aspect of this chapter?

If so, please share where you showed up? Admiring young hard body boys? Desiring naked women? Was there a moment when you realized the fascination of nakedness with a new fondness such as pornography, grasping where the concept was incepted and infected… Again, where did you arrive in the story – I dare you to share…

Indeed, I fell asleep too early exhausted, but my mind did not leave Chapter 5

Religion verses Spirituality!

Faith & Spirituality

Faith & Spirituality

Religion?

Religious practices remain at the cornerstone of belief to many people for many reasons, some personal, while others are generationally handed down by parent to child continuing the line of faith.  Some, each a point, question his or her belief, asking questions about God and are dissatisfied with the answers set out to explore for self a better understanding of God, the church, and religious practices.

Yes, God is reduced to the understanding of the practices and procedures outlined and encouraged by churches, mosques, synagogues, halls, temples, etc…  The traditional authentication of ritual and rites of passage through baptism, bar mitzvah, ablution ceremonies, Aksharaaabhyasam, and confirmation as well as caring for other members at least that is the premise of belonging to a religious family or community.

The question becomes – Does the religious infrastructure represent God?  

Since our first understanding and association with God is with some collective gathering is it safe to say that the presence of God must exist within the church or at least some strong aspect of church practices.  In many religious sermons God is referenced as being among the congregation sharing space in the very moment of participation.  The question becomes is this the only time that God is present?  During service or is our collective presence summonsing God that we are here in this place.  Church practices and rituals differ from church-to-church and religion-to-religion as do the name of God.  God for the purposes of this blog is a universal  presence connecting all human beings, life itself, breath, and the state of believing.  Some references: Jesus, Allah, Christ, Yahweh, Messiah, Krishna, Jehovah-Jireh, Buddha, e.g., please feel free to include any excluded.  Is religion different than spirituality?

Discovering Self

In a world where everything is placed inside a category indescribable by gender, age, education, race, and economics – how ever do we get along?  Using words – definitions used to describe differences rather than similarities hardens us to withhold from one another.  What can be done to strengthen and shorten the gapped bridge between people?