Decolonizing the Mind for Liberation & Systems Change
5:00PM Jun 22, 2023
Sharon Hurley Hall
Dr. Lisa Galarneau
Hello, everybody, thank you so much for joining us today for this conversation on decolonizing the mind for liberation and systems change. We are just going to go ahead and jump right into this because it's going to be such a rich conversation and we are so blessed to have so many of y'all tuning in with us. And of course anybody who's going to catch this on our replay, so I am joined here today by my some of my favourite people in all of LinkedIn land, Dr. Lisa Rose Blanchette. AJ Singh and Sharon Hurley Hall are all in the house. And to just set the stage here a bit. So we got here, basically, because I have a recurring LinkedIn audio show on here called the FAFF FREE CAST. When I did the first ever episode, Sharon very kindly agreed to be my guest. And we were talking about cognitive dissonance, and how it shows up in ourselves in our systems in our society and kind of what are the impacts of those things. And during that event, LisaRose here asked an incredible question about what does cognitive dissonance have to do with the colonised mind how does it show up in that and that's the spark basically that lit the flame that got us here. So just to start us off and kind of set the stage we are going to first start out by introducing ourselves talking about what was that experience that initial experience for us where we realised that there was a there was like some intrinsically colonial mindsets that we were carrying around with ourselves without knowing and then we have a couple of things that we will be discussing and it will be a very rich conversation. But of course, the benefit of LinkedIn audio events Is it is it is not a podcast so y'all can join in and offer your thoughts and offer your reflections. So as we're speaking if anything comes up, please feel free to raise your hand and I will invite you up on stage to offer your piece. A little bit of housekeeping I try not to cut off any speaker midway you know if they're finishing a train of thought. So if you have to have your hand up just a tad longer than expected, please just bear with us. We see you and we appreciate you. All righty. So kick to kick us off with the introductions. LisaRose, are you there? Lovely to have you here.
Well, thank you and thank you for that delightful introduction and thank you, everyone for joining us. I'm just overwhelmed by this response. I have to say. I'm Lisa Rose Blanchette and I have been an education professional for over 35 years. And the reason that I asked the question that you were discussing in the introduction, Asmara, is because I was raised in a biracial household. My father was black, my mother was white. And my father believed he was white. And to the to the point where we were raised as children my brother and I to believe that we were also white and to the detriment of the black side of our personalities. So there was a lot of cognitive dissonance in my upbringing, because I would look in the mirror and I would not see a white person, but we were also embedded in our upbringing. We're all the negative stereotypes of black people and I don't have to go into those, I'm sure. But I carried those around with myself. So I didn't realise that until I became a teacher and I had to start confronting some of my internal racism and do a lot of work with that because one of the things as a teacher that you want to do, is you want to really want to treat every student with respect and dignity, kindness and equity. And I realised that I wasn't doing that. And I had to confront that painful reality within myself and start doing a lot of work with that. So I had to work on myself in order to be the best teacher for my students. And it was very painful to deal with this, even though I had been dealing with certain aspects of it. But because I was not only dealing with aspects of it that affected myself but affected my students. I really had to make that jump and start decolonizing my mind.
Yeah, that's incredible. And thank you so much for sharing that. And I think that that, that motivation behind wanting to explore that for yourself, for the benefit of your students is both beautiful and commendable. So thank you so much for that and for asking the question. Sharon, how are ya? Storm holding up okay.
Yeah, just about windy and rainy but I'm still here. Such a delight to be here with all of you and thank you everyone for joining. I'm Sharon Hurley Hall, co-founder of Mission Equality, author of I'm Tired of Racism, author of Exploring Shadeism , longtime writer, teacher, educator. And it's hard to think... I resonated a lot with what LisaRose said, because I grew up in the Caribbean. And there was still those attitudes, sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, which said that whiteness was the standard by which against which everything else was measured, which is a strange thing to think in a black majority country. And that does cause a certain amount of cognitive dissonance as discussed. But I suppose it's hard for me to pinpoint a time when I realised I had to decolonize my mind, but if I had to pick one, it was probably when I was working on the master's thesis that eventually turned into exploring shadeism, which was all about colorism and we touched it I touched a lot on funnel and this idea of, of double consciousness of perceiving how you're seeing out in the world with what you know yourself to be, and realising that the ideas that were often raised within formerly colonised countries continue to reinforce that colonised mindset. And so for me, that was probably the starting point, the genesis of a journey because I don't think that my mind is totally decolonized. Now, I think I keep on peeling layers and finding more things, more ideas about the world that I want to think differently about.
Yeah, and I think that speaks so powerfully, powerfully to this idea that like this is a journey were perpetually on. But just because that is true, doesn't mean that it's not incredibly vital that we get started and we remain undeterred by some of the roadblocks that we encounter on the way so thank you so much for sharing that as well. Sharon, AJ, how you doing?
Hi, I'm so happy to be here. I'm really excited. And it's it's impacting my ability to speak. So just just putting that out there. Because that happens. Sometimes she's difficult on an audio event, but so yeah. So I'm AJ My pronouns are They/Them. I'm decolonizing mind body health lead at Mission equality. I'm founder of Autistic Wayfinder. And I work at the intersection of Anti-racism and Neurodiversity or Mind-Body advocacy. Prior to that, have a number of years in people and culture and dei and so yeah..So growing up I mean, I'm South Asian. I've mixed heritage so my dad's Indian, my mom's English and white. So I grew up experiencing racism and also with a lot of internalised racism. And always felt out of place out of step so it kind of never really felt like I belonged. It felt it felt quite sometimes I felt like maybe I was an alien or something. Sometimes, I think I knew other children who kind of felt that as well that like it just sort of felt like I don't belong. And as as I got older, I sort of I mean, I was performing. I think a lot of us perform when we don't fit for whatever reason, and we perform to what fits or what we think is wanted. And I ended up in very much in the corporate capitalist world, in jobs that really, really sold us actually for a long time. And I kind of gravitated towards trying to change the system from within with with DEI and people and culture. But then, as I started to get to know kind of more aspects of myself, I realised that I was non binary, I realised that I was autistic. And I just seemed to be growing further and further away from the reality around me. And really, it wasn't, it was unravelling. And this kind of construct of whiteness and extractive capitalism that I've been performing for so long. You know, it kind of started to crumble. And there was a specific moment. A few years ago, there's a wooden in my house and every spring it's filled with bluebells and I had been really depressed really low. And I was walking there with my partner. And I said out loud, if I don't decolonize my life, I'm not going to make it. And it wasn't, it didn't feel dramatic, and it didn't, it just felt really factual. It felt it just felt like the truest thing I'd ever said. And I knew that I had to make changes. And that, you know, the decolonization of my mind had clearly already begun by that point, because it's what led me there. But, but that was, as I said, it was an unravelling. It was a chaotic thing. So, so I guess this realisation was the point that it became a practice. And then what I'm trying to do is cultivate it into you know, a way of a way of living in a way of a way of being
could I pick up on something that AJ said, Asmara? (Yeah, please, please!). Yes, the the cause of what really resonated with me there, AJ was that the decolonization had already started, and then you got intentional about it. And I feel like that's kind of what happened, for me is like, we're always things that I questioned. There were always things that I thought slightly differently about that didn't make sense to me. And, you know, over time, as I learned more, I started to have a language and a way to talk about those things. And now, it's, it's a very active process. of, you know, where does that thought come from? Where does that practice come from? Why do I do things in a particular way? Why do we all do things in a particular way? Is there a different way to do them? And, you know, if it comes out of a white supremacist, capitalist colonialist construct then there definitely has to be a better way. Let's go and find a better way. So yeah, thank you for for bringing that to the fore. That really resonated.
Well, Sharon, when when you said that, you know, and that whole alien comes to construct and just thinking about what are we holding ourselves accountable to and then, you know, I know that we had talked about maybe he's having some accountability partners because the work has been ongoing for I think, all of us in some capacity. But then it's it's having that conscious moment and I don't know that it's ever like for AJ..THEY had that conscious moment. For me it was an evolution. And I think it's it's going on this continuum. I know something's not right. No, and that's that alien feeling. I know something's not right. The cognitive dissonance of this feeling of not fitting things are not clicking. But then not having that that language to articulate this and what is not fitting and then learning and growing into it and realising that these constructs that have been imposed upon us are the pieces that are not fitting.
Yeah, exactly that Oh, my goodness, y'all just really cut my work out for me, don't you?! But that's, that's why I keep all y'all around, you know. And AJ, I just want to really thank you for the the vulnerability that and the strength that you just shared with us all and just, you know, holding space for that. And if, if some of you aren't familiar with AJ is writing like, please go check it out on Mission Equality's website. They have some of the most incredible insight that's articulated just so sublimely, honestly, is the word that comes to mind. So, yes, to all those things, and I think that that's a really excellent segue into what are some of those defunct mental models that we carry around that are part of the of the colonised mind because before we can decolonize we need to know what it is we are trying to depart from. And we had, you know, a really, really great conversation about this amongst ourselves prior to this event, and we noticed a couple of things kind of came up time and time again. So I'll I'll bring in, you know, one of the things that really resonated with me was this idea of dichotomies, and that's something that I would say is probably that kind of lever moment that kick off this whole thing for me, so it started very young. For me, I you know, also grew up south Asian, both my parents are Pakistani and I hadn't realised just how much colonialism and then the partition of trauma is embedded in the psyche of so many people and and we don't even notice it. It's like air. It's so pervasive. So my first experience of that was I was very, very young, probably six or seven years old. And.. I would like to play outside a lot. And when I was younger, and I was a toddler like I was born very fair skinned and then kind of elevated to this lovely toasted almond colour. And I remember when I my skin started getting darker there were Auntie's that would like come by the house and they would like have coffee or tea with my mom and then there would be all this conversation about like, oh, they are um, you know, Asmara she's, she's getting a little bit dark now, you know, and if she gets too dark who is going to marry her? I was six years old. Why are y'all worried about me getting married when I'm six? And I think that colorism plays into that, you know, internalised white supremacy plays into that all of those things play into that and I think that that's probably where it started for me. So I think that kind of Springboard around what are these defunct mental models that we carry around because of colonisation. So
Asmara, you see I'm muted anxious to jump in there because that that that colorism that is so embedded. You know, I clearly remember being quite young, seven, eight, and many people on the call on this event know my sister, Lisa, and you know, there's a significant difference in our skin shades. And, you know, for certain people of the older generation, she was the pretty one because of the colour of her, her skin the shade of her skin. Neither of us benefited from so called good hair, unfortunately. So you know that that took us down a little, you know, a few a few notches. And so there was always this, this idea of, of fear, fear or you weren't the better, the better. It was. And you know, I researched this a bit for my book on on shadism shades of being colorism. And it's this idea of, of the somatic norm, which is what is expected to you know, what is the what is the ideal within a given society? And in some societies, it might well be dark skinned, but in many societies, especially post colonial societies, it's about being light skinned. It's about having hair that's more European in texture. It's about having features that are more European associated with being European. And you know, which which is mind boggling when you're talking about South Asian communities, descendants of enslaved Africans and so on, you know. It's just hard to believe that we could buy into that. And yet it's embedded in our culture that it was, you know, this was a deliberate part of the colonial project that we've inherited, and it's one of the biggest bits of decolonizing I think that we still need to do.
Yeah, without a doubt, I mean, like, just just speaking specifically about, you know, the South Asian subcontinent because that's my personal experience. Like there is a product out there called Fair and Lovely and the equation of fair with lovely as if you can't possibly be lovely if you're not fair. Skin bleaching is a multi billion dollar industry globally. And that's not just the South Asian problem. You see it a lot in East Asia too. So like in South Korea, there's a lot of, you know, kind of worrying about how fair you are and there's that whole piece you we've seen previously around like, Okay, well, the colour of your skin was basically a function of how much labour you did. So the darker you were, the more you were out in the sun. And you know, the the less socio-economically privileged you are. And it's all just so incredibly embedded in that as well. So, um, AJ, I would love to hear from you too, about what are your thoughts about this mental model piece?
I have lots of thoughts. I'm with the colorism. I just I just wanted to you know, being South Asian but of mixed heritage. The colorism that I experienced in my family was was wild. Not not directed at me but but that I witnessed and actually from my Indian side, the compliments on my skin because I was lighter than them. And and knowing that my cousin's were using skin lightening creams. It's heartbreaking. And it's just it's so ingrained in South Asian culture and sort of saw that firsthand. But I mean in terms of these dichotomies, right? So, there's constructs that are all around us. I think there's a lot of binaries around us. There's a lot of things that we've been taught. It's either or, and we don't question them. We don't question them, but we're also not we're not encouraged to be critical thinkers, we're not encouraged to critically analyse things we might be in our homes, we might have parents or guardians or friends or, you know, people around us that are helping us to do that. But the school system doesn't doesn't encourage us to do that. And it just gets worse as you get older. You're you're just kind of squeezed into smaller and smaller boxes. And you also then have less time and space to, to to explore those things. I was kind of reflecting on the heteronormative way of living is that there's you know, there's two parents one of one is a man and one is a woman. And you go to work and you raise your children, you have children, you have to have children and then you go to work. And between doing that because two people shouldn't just be raising children on their own. We should have a community but that community been taken from us. So where's your time and your space to question things and change things you know, that get talking about what's been done deliberately. That's been done deliberately, you know, that there's a reason that they're trying to force people to keep having babies and, and to, you know, the heteronormative heteronormative agenda - everyone is always talking about the trans agenda - so I want to talk about that. And, you know, these are some of the things that I certainly didn't question for a long time. I was told I was woman, I was told I was a girl. I was told I was straight. And I just, you know, I believed it for a long time. Even though it wasn't true. It wasn't my truth. It didn't feel possible for that to be an alternative.
Could I jump in very quickly just to add to add on to what AJ said there,? Which is that there's often also a way to be a man or a woman. Right? You know, not that you can have multiple ways of expressing your your gender, your self, your identity. There's a box in the box seems to get smaller and smaller. I think AJ put it very well.
Yeah, definitely. And another thing that really sticks out to me is this idea of artificial urgency as an instrument of colonised mindset. This idea of like, okay, well, if we systemically deprive you of all of the basic necessities of just existence, then you will not have sufficient time and energy to actually process these things and call out the bullshit and see things for the veneer that is just over them. And that is all absolutely intentional. And that is categorically by design. And I think that all of those all of these things become intimately interrelated, because at first blush, you would think like, Oh, what is the link between colorism and you know, our current obsession with productivity? It's like, well, it has the same common denominator friends and it's that dysfunctional paradigm of, of white supremacy, of misogyny as well. That tries to really bash in this idea that oh, there's only two genders and there's only two ways to be a certain way. And it's just an absolute load of bollocks. So I think that and yes, I am casually profane...y'all can deal with it. Being sensitive about that. Try to think that a little bit of colonised mindset, too, yeah. And, um, but yeah, that really, really struck out to me a lot. LisaRose, did you have anything you want her to add in here? I'm dying to hear from you.
Yeah, I love that. You've brought up that whole idea of urgency, the artificial urgency, because I don't like to work with a sense of urgency. It causes stress, it causes this unnecessary feeling all these unnecessary feelings. And it actually just causes, you know, disease in our bodies. And I truly believe that right? But because that causes our stress responses, so why why do we have this what is this urgency that we are developing around when you think about the way that different cultures approach, work or life in general that are non European, non white, European. There's not that whole urgency to life because, you know, life has a specific rhythm. We don't have to necessarily fit into that rhythm, but then we're forced within this construct that you put out of, oh, we have this productivity mindset and we need to work 10 hours a day and we need to put in all of this other nonsense. That's why you have this burnout culture. That's why we're having all these people who don't want to work now. I don't know.. I don't feel like this is necessary at all.
Can I just jump in on that LisaRose this to that point around that we're not you know, life has a certain rhythm and you know, when our mind bodies have a certain rhythm. And we're not actually in alignment with them, and, you know, within kind of the neurodiversity space, that we pathologize everything. Not we're not we're doing that in this space... but you know, there's a part of the part of the colonised mind is pathologizing everything. Pathologizing things that are natural and normal, and you know, an example of that is what's termed as pathological demand avoidance, which I wrote about recently, which is supposedly a feature of, you know, autism and ADHD. And actually, it's people it's, it's, I mean, maybe we're more sensitive to that than then other people, but everyone has it because we're pushing against something that doesn't work for us doesn't make sense for us. And rather than pathologizing that that should be encouraged that should be explored and we should be helping people to figure out well, what does work for you? What do you need? And also, what am I missing out on? If I'm, you know, if you're someone who's trying to enforce that control, you're missing out on something too. So I just wanted to jump in with that.
Well said, AJ, it's that control and the need for control. And that goes back to being colonised and being enslaved. Right there.
Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, you know, if we could if we could only get past the need to control and let people...give people the space to articulate their needs, to have their needs met, to manage their time to manage their space to manage their mind-bodies. Wouldn't that be so much better a world for all of us? That sounds like the ultimate in decolonisation to me.
Oh, my God, and that would straight up solve a solid 95% of our problems by default. Because that's exactly the thing right? It's like as long as there is this... and I think that this this point about pathology - patholigization- words are something that are escaping me today. It's something I've thought about a lot too because I think about how never before in the history of our species have we been inundated with this much variety and complexity and our core, lizard brain that took millennia to develop is now having to contend with changes on time horizons that were completely unheard of, unimaginable in our evolutionary heritage. So it's like, yes, there is so much power in language. That is something that absolutely categorically cannot be denied. And sometimes yes, having the the label if you will, for lack of a better word, can help catalyse that community can help you find your people. And that's so crucial because that's exactly what colonisation takes away from us. If you look at like your standard coloniser oppressor handbook that is like literally option number one. Is isolate everyone from each other and from themselves because that's how people become easier to control. So coming together in these communities, however we approach them is so powerful, but absolutely I'm right with you AJ. There is a there is some pathologize ation there that is just a normal, measured of well, not even normal, because that's also colonised. So you see how pervasive this issue is even in our language. Is a understandable response to a world on fire.
And I just picking up on something you mentioned Asmara, the importance of language of rejecting labels that don't work for us and coming up with new ways to talk about the things. You know, it makes a difference. Whether you consider someone a minority or a person of the global majority. It makes a difference whether you describe someone as a slave or someone as an enslaved. Right, all of those, they seem like small things, but they're huge things, their mindset shifts, and they're part of decolonizing the mind, changing the language we use to put accountability and responsibility where it lies. And so I think that is definitely something that we can all do is be intentional about the language that we use as part of the process of decolonization.
Yeah, absolutely. And be willing to support and hold space for each other too, because, boy, howdy, are we going to make an absolute mess of it sometimes, and I think that being and this coming back again to that artificial urgency if we can cultivate patience with ourselves and with our community, not with the coloniser because they've they've had enough. Like we are done being patient with them to get their shit together to try to you know, cajole us into thinking that oh, you know, we're creating something better and it's gonna elevate everyone and it's gonna do all these things. It's like no, the purpose of a system is what it does. And if what it does is systematically disenfranchises people, it harms people by default. Please do not come to me and preach to me that oh, you know, we're going to we're going to do wellness initiatives, and we're going to do this and we're going to do that. It's like, No, that is all symptomatic solutions, and we're not here for that anymore. So I this is...
That sounds like a good lead in for you to talk about systems change, Asmara.
well. That's the that's the thing, because when we talk about systems change, there are leverage points that are available to us in which we can use to intervene in these systems. And by far, by far, the most impactful of those is transcending our paradigms. What are those mental models? What are those assumptions, those integrated learnings that we have adopted and we have infused into our lives, into our habits, into our communities? How can we first identify them so that we may overcome them so we may overwrite them and that is the absolute crux of literally all the work I do. I am, I say systems designer in my headline, but I really ought to change it to paradigm shifter because that's really what it's all about for me. You know, on the subject, I actually released a book yesterday called Paradigm Playground, so definitely check that out after we still live in capitalism. So you know that part of this colonised mind will persist. Um, but yeah, I think that this is actually a really excellent segue into Okay, now that we've coalesced around, what are some of those existing colonised mental models, the dichotomies, the sense of false urgency the this was kind of between the lines but like the hyper individualism, right, because the it's that is the very antithesis of community in many ways. And as at least as far as I have experienced it. And to then decolonize what are the things we need to explore?
I I'm ready to jump in. (Please do that!). Just to say that I think it starts with being open and curious and being willing to question everything that we took for granted. If we accept that if we accept as a foundation, that a lot of our ideas about the world come out of this colonised mindset that we're all raised with, and then we are willing to question them then that I think is the starting point. And then we go to look for other paradigms and other approaches to everything. Like for example, you know, we have a very in the West, we have a very linear concept of time, but that's not the case in every culture, right? There are all sorts of ways in which we could say, Well, is there another way? Is there another way that's more in harmony with other people with our communities, with our planet? And I think the willingness to question is a starting point, and the willingness to accept that you know, we might have been wrong about everything that we thought we knew. And once you could approach it with that sort of humility, I think, then you leave the door open to consider...Consider other ways better ways that are more in alignment with what you need with what your community needs was what the planet needs.
Yeah, I'll leave it. I think that was really beautiful starting point, because when you think about self transformation and I do believe that this needs to begin with self transformation, you acknowledge the problem, right? You acknowledge that something's wrong or something's not quite working. So then next step is you start looking for solution. Then my my part is, my next steps are also having that accountability partner, someone who's going to be honest and hold me to my newfound truth. So for example, I have a couple of people that one in particular, with whom I will go to and say so here's the situation, and I want to make sure that I have not reacted in a racist fashion that maybe I am upholding a more anti-racist point of view, because I know that she also upholds an anti racist point of view. And I will give her the rundown and I will ask her feedback. So I think that when we are moving in that systems change perspective, that we also need to have that piece going on so you go through kind of stages perhaps
Absolutely for everything that you've just said, LisaRose. I think that accounts having someone that can support you and compassionately hold you accountable, and for you to be able to do that for others. And I think the community... the community element is so important and it's also incredibly lonely and confusing. And depressing to have realisations alone. And and I think that can drive people to dark places. And I think sometimes that's how people end up manifesting in areas that end up harming other people because there isn't this accountability, this you know, the softness is important, but the accountability is also important. And sometimes I think, and I particularly seen this with kind of white, queer autistic spaces that there's a lot of softness and there's very little accountability. And I think that's an interesting thing. And I think that reflecting on that because we haven't because it's coming out of that individualist culture and not knowing how to build community, and not not having any understanding of how to do that. And that's something that needs to be reclaimed. If you're someone that's grown out without that sense of community, and needing to understand that accountability is an essential part of that.
Yeah, absolutely. I see we have a request from the audience. So I'm going to call up, Taylor. How are you? Doing? Come on up and come off mute for us. If you can.
Hi y'all. I hope you can hear me okay. (Yes!). Thank you. Yeah, thank you so much. This has been a fascinating conversation and as you're talking about like, like systematic change, and not just putting on band aids, so as someone who is white and has someone who holds a space of privilege, how do you find an accountability partner, without making it all about yourself? And like, how do you how do you continue to be anti-racist and hold space for an accountability partner?
So I'm actually going to do a shameless plug here because one thing that I have been playing with for a long time is Sharon and AJs organisation, Mission Equality. They have an incredible space called the Anti-Racist Leaders Association. And it's incredible and I shouldn't just let us say it Sharon, actually, but I'm just so jazzed about your work. I can't control myself sometimes. I really do apologise please, please take it away.
Oh, no, that's great. Asmara, thank you. Yes, we hold a space the anti racist Leaders Association, which has monthly Q&A and a monthly education session and it's where I'd be. We supported with a WhatsApp group with weekly discussion prompts and people can are urged to, to think about issues to go deeper and most importantly, to take action and report back on that action to be accountable. The accountability and action are a huge part of the work that we do. And we've definitely seen it make a tremendous difference to the way that people show up in public spaces. To the confidence that they have in talking about certain certain issues, even though I mean, Mission Equality is relatively new. We've been around for a year, but even before that, my co-founder Lea and I were working in this way with a previous group. So we've been doing this for a few years now and the you know, the results are, the results are amazing. And while I'm on the subject of Mission Equality, I just want to point out that we have I was talking earlier about doing being intentional about language. We have language guides that are free to download. And we're thinking...we're working on ways of decolonizing all the things starting within our own company. So you know, feel free to connect with me later if you want to talk about that. I've waited and shameless plug now
Oh, please i Let's shameless plug everything because that's part of decolonizing our minds to right call the colonised mind does not want us to own our power and our brilliance. So being able to do that absolutely is a crucial part of that and thank you for that wonderful question. And and allowing us to share a bit about that and now I'm going to call up. Dr. Lisa. I please. Could you say your last name for me? I do not want to butcher it. Oh, sure.
Yeah, well, it's a French Canadian name- it's Galarneu, but a lot of people just say Galorno. So that's fine. (Welcome. Thank you for joining us!). Thank you. Well, you know, I just stopped probably 15 minutes or so ago, but this whole area is very important to me for personal and career reasons. I've spent about 30 years in the tech industry, academia, I was in the military. I've worked in law enforcement. I've lived through times of great progress when it comes to decolonization and becoming more aware and becoming more warm and fuzzy as a culture. As a multicultural society. I'm also European and six tribes Native American. So I have ancestors going back to the early 1700s in America. So my family has lived through this that we have generational trauma. It's a long long story, but I wanted to stop by just to say that what we're finding very helpful right now is for people to be as reflective as possible about their own experiences, and to document as much as possible what's happening to them. And when I say that, I mean sort of The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, right? So the things that are working, but also issues specific issues we've we've faced because the the more light we can shine on these issues and the greater transparency and openness that we can encourage. It makes a huge difference. And as convening in spaces like this and hearing from one another, even sometimes about incredibly difficult topics. I'm a survivor of of sexual abuse, all kinds of horrible stuff. That frankly, no one wants to talk about, but I've had to go through a process of being willing to sort of come out about a lot of things that have happened to me personally and also things that I'm aware of. And I just want to encourage people to do that. I also want to encourage people that if you're experiencing issues at work, you know, please try to contact HR. I've heard a lot of stories recently about people of colour in particular, but also queer people, women, a lot of marginalised groups, getting a higher degree of harassment because of the political situation and everything. So that's pretty much it. I just wanted to also expressed my solidarity with all of you and it's been great to hear you and get to know you all a little bit.
Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us there. Somebody just come off mute in the speakers. Okay, where we're good and yeah, absolutely. Talk about it. As a way to release the control the holds that that censorship introduces into our mind. So yeah, thank you so much for sharing. Now, Rosie, come on up. Thank you for your patience with us and I will invite you up now and you can come off mute if you can. So I am...I have pressed allowed to speak like four times and it's just not it's just not having um, let's see. Let's see. I'm gonna I'm I'm very keen to hear from you. So please do bear with me. I'm going to try to invite the next person in line to see if it's a me-problem or if it's...Yeah, it looks like it's a it might be a me problem because I can't actually invite anybody to speak up. So if you will, just bear with me one second. I'm going to leave the event and I'll come right back but the rest of our lovely speakers will be here for you. And yeah, see you in a second.
[HR] is not always safe. And actually, I worked in IT for a number of years and I know that it can be actually one of the most unsafe places. So I think there's just we need to have a little bit of discernment around who is a safe place and who is someone that we can go to and and I think that's why help building communities is so important, because we can go and we can have those discussions with people we trust before we before we kind of take that kind of action.
Yeah, absolutely. You know what? That thought also did occur to me too, because so much of HR is sometimes just that instrument of upholding the status quo and Rosie I really, really do apologise but for some reason, I cannot permit folks to speak if any of my fellow panellists can try you all are indicated a speaker so maybe can you invite others up to speak at all?
It's not letting me do
That's a bloody shame.
That is a Oh...
Amina. We got oh sorry. Anima Hi, it worked. Oh, my goodness. I was freaking out... :p
I just come up to explain how it works on LinkedIn or do and then I'll go back down to the audience. It's not like clubhouse where hosts and anyone on the stage can invite people to speak. The only way we can get people onto the stage is ask them to click on the raise hand on the bottom right side of the phone. Or their computer there. And only you, Asmara, the host will see it. The other speakers will not see it. I know it sucks, because I've experienced this myself, but I'm just clarifying that so that you know why you can't pull anybody up either, so hosts can't invite people to speak. You really rely on people raising their hands and then you see them.
Yeah, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate the clarification. I will add I've done about nine of these events. So I am very, very much aware. So thank you so much. For sharing that information for anyone (Sorry for the mansplaining!). No, you are totally fine. You're totally fine.
Thanks for doing this. I'll move back down. Thank you.
Thank you shores. But now we know I can actually allow people up again. Rosie. Yay. Hallelujah. Thank you so much. For your patience. I'm sorry for that little snafu. So wonderful to have you.
Hi Asmara and all of you..I recognise many of your names so like Sharon, Lisa Rose, AJ really grateful for all of you and coming up in voicing what many people don't voice and Asmara. I'm not sure if it is you I've had I've had I've been able to join audio rooms before with no problem but all of a sudden in the last month the host can't bring me up for some reason. So I may have to follow up with LinkedIn. It might be something on my end, but it also now I'm on my phone. So apologise for any sound issues. I'm also Canadian, which is probably why I'm apologising so much. I just wanted to also thank you for validating my feelings. And I think that's part of the the colonisation is I mean now, the term gaslighting is out there..but I am as part of my work in corporate spaces and bringing trauma education to corporate spaces. I really want to start normalising some things that were like, well, that doesn't apply at work. Right. So the fact that it's not burnout, it's abuse, it's exploitation. Right? The fact that we are on our knees, trying to like still crawl through the mud, because we feel like we have no choice which is often true, especially if you're financially marginalised. And yeah, it's like, well, that's how it should be because it's work and I owe my my employer something because they're paying me. There's there's no amount of money that is worth our health. And yet, that is part of the colonisation and the oppression is that we genuinely don't because we can't, how else are we going to feed our families right? But what may be encouraging story I wanted to offer as well in terms of decolonization is from an indigenous leader that I just saw in person speaking on Tuesday night, because it's national indigenous history month here in Canada. And she comes from a nation that is matrilineal. So as close to to matriarchy, really, as I've encountered so far, and she didn't do this as part of her lesson, but this was an evening talk. So she had her two teenage preteen children with her in this it was in the basement of a library and she she was not the kind of teacher so she was kind of lecturing us or sharing about wampum belts, and her kids would occasionally pipe in because she would ask engagement questions like, Oh, does anyone know about this? Or have you ever heard about that? And her kids would say I have I have and she was off the hook. Of course you have. And so is this very interesting dynamic where her children were part of the presentation, essentially. And I'm sitting there kind of laughing along it was amusing. And in the back of my mind, my colonised internalised colonised mind was saying gosh, this is disruptive like why, you know, their children are, you know, they're they're inputting stuff into the lecture, but that's not what we're here for. Or it's kind of, you know, it's a little bit distracting, but as time went along, because this is also what I tried to advocate for is, why should this be considered so distracting? Why should this be so "unprofessional"? Imagine if matriarchy was what created corporate workspaces from the beginning of time? Would any mom want to create a daycare or leave their children behind? So they could go to work? Wouldn't it be normal to bring our children with us as we do whatever our our professions and our jobs would be? And then there wouldn't be this sense of oh my gosh, like why did they bring our children they couldn't you get a babysitter or something for the night. So it's an interesting checkpoint. For me mentally to be why am I bothered by this initially? And then because I'm all about changing our lenses and seeing how we could do work differently. Well, what's this is good. This is actually a good thing. And this is this is how I hope we can all start radically reimagining a different way of working where again, as women matriarch is just something opposite to what we've known. Why not, why not have kids at work? Why not bring pets and dogs? Why not have your stuffed animal at your desk? If you just had a disturbing conversation, you're feeling sad? And there's there's so many different ways we could be operating. So just thank you again for opening our minds to what's possible if we start decolonizing
Can I jump in just to say thanks for that, Rosie, and, you know, it reminded me you know, we only have meetings at Mission Equality. It's like, you know, we accept that people are hurting people. So you know, if kids come into the room or people need to go away to deal with something and come back that is just business as usual, in our company. And so, it's an example of what you were talking about. I just wanted to share it
Thank you, Sharon. I love that. I actually by the by the end, it was like you saw the relationship too right, with the mom and the kids and how much..I think at one point the kids were like hugging her and you know, it actually became more of a community feeling versus here's a teacher and we're the students so we have to learn from them. So yes, absolutely. I'm, it's great to hear your example to share and of how you could do this in an office as well. Not just in a you know, an event.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for for sharing that experience with us and enriching all of us by doing so, Rosie and thank you again for your patience. And I will say you know the Canadian thing aside, I think excessive apologising is also part of the colonised mind, because we're means that we were made to kind of shrink ourselves to fit into those ever smaller boxes as AJ was speaking of. All right now I'm going to invite up our Reshma. Welcome. Hi, can you hear me? Yes, we can. How you doing?
All right. Hi, thank you. This is a wonderful event. Sharon. It's so nice. To see you here. Just a few really quick things that I've sort of learned along my journey. I think, you know, perfection is one of the tenants of white supremacy really comes into play when people try to decolonize because I think we get so attached to not wanting to make mistakes. And I think people should give themselves the freedom that you know, aside from things we know to be wrong, like racial slurs and things like that and truly discriminatory language. We may step in it sometimes and that's okay. You know, as someone who's been in this space for a while now, I still catch myself having prejudiced thoughts. It happens a heck of a lot less now. And most critically, I'm able to question it right so it's as long as you're able to sit there interrupted and question it. That's the most important. I think secondly, the one thing I'll share as well. This is one of those, you know, seemingly opposing truths being true at the same time a both and not either, or, as you said, doing this work can be extremely isolating and depressing if it's not done in community. And so community is extremely important. And what is also true in my opinion, is that it means not the public, I think, you know, I understand the irony of saying this on a social media event, but one of the many things that social media has done to culture is this need to feel like we have to show off all these things and people feel the need to show off their journey of decolonization. I think it's really important to question yourself and question the motivations behind why you're sharing something. So is it that I really feel like me sharing this part of my journey is going to be helpful to others? Or is it my ego feeling like I want to show that I'm so good that I'm doing this and lastly, on that, note, that it's really hard work. I think people tend to come to events like this, sit through sessions, you know, and feel pat themselves on the back that they've done everything... you haven't. It's lifelong. It's never ending. And you have to put the work in people tend to want a quick fix. What's a movie I can watch? What's an argument I can go to and be solved. You won't be you need to read. You need to watch stuff. You need to talk to people. And if you're not willing to do that hard work well, you won't come to a place where you can eventually help change in a positive way. Anyways, thanks again for the event. It's, it's really great to see you all you
Thanks Reshma. Can I just add then you need to do something to put what you've read. I've learned and watched into action.
Absolutely, the actions is critical. Absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing that and lovely having you here and I will also add to that as well. Paying folks for their labour if they have expended energy in our quest to go on this lifelong journey of decolonizing because social media content is free to consume. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a price. So now I'm going to call up. [Identifyfing information omitted at audience member request]. Welcome. You come off mute for us.
I'm going to say that I would not call it racism, racism being the intersection of prejudice and power. And in many white majority spaces, people of the global majority don't have that power. So not racism, but possibly an awareness of the white gaze of that double consciousness that we talked about earlier. That awareness of how you're going to be perceived. And yeah, I think those might be some of the factors at play there. From my perspective, I don't know if anyone else has a view.
Well, I think he also touched on the idea of his trauma, and I don't think we can discount that at all. I believe that his approach has been trauma informed, and just being aware of what's going on, I think also helps to inform his approach in life
Yeah, thank you so much for for sharing that. It's it's not a easy thing to navigate and certainly, the traumas that we endure, we sometimes unknowingly end up perpetuating too and it's a it's those instances where we can recognise that within ourselves, and course correct. And coming back to that whole idea about a community that can keep us accountable. I think that that ends up being a big part of it, too. So thank you so much for sharing that I really, really appreciate you. So I did I do want to apologise to some of our listeners, because I think earlier when I was having the tech issue, there were some of you lovely folks that we're requesting to speak so I think who knew Ruthie you were you had your hand raised for quite some time. If you're still around, please do feel free to raise it again. Oh, here you are. Hello. Hey, I can you hear me? Yes, we can. Thank you so much for your patience. And I'm sorry for the delay.
Can I just say thank you so much for joining. It's 4am for you right so
Yeah, yeah. So glad to be here. Thanks. Um, yeah, I absolutely love a lot of this discussion. I can resonate with a lot of what you were talking about as hard as and also some amazing points from the speakers. But um, yeah, I just wanted to you give a bit of background into like, why I'm gonna ask this question, but, um, so basically, I'm like a social work student. I do that now on placement, nine to five. And then I have to work after that to you know, we've so there's often so little time to actually get into the space or have the space to do a lot of the work and luckily for me, my journey within decolonization really came with someone, you know, holding me accountable which came within my family. So my sibling has really helped me in this in this sense. Amazingly, I really appreciate them and then finding the time and doing the work, you know, the really hard work reading, looking at, listening to content on decolonizing through you useful, it really helped me and it helped me in my journey profoundly in you know. Seeking more safer spaces even for myself, realising my own colonisation and all that. But it's also really hard to find the time and I know that's exactly how the system is set up. And I was just wondering if within the current system that we have in I mean, I think absolutely pushing against these oppressive ideals that take up our time and moving towards a community where we have time to also do the work of decolonizing. You know, making that well for us just whilst we're like in it. How do you find the time to work outside all those you know, oppressive ways? Like for example, like when I'm there sometimes I do try and be critical within being present in those spaces, like in social work within the field, and there's actually one field called abolition social work because they believe that social work in and of itself cannot do the work to abolish systems of oppression, that it it's all about reform and working within them, which can only cause more harm. than good. So I was wondering just where how you work with finding the time with also coping with just being so stressed? Essentially.
I am. I think about this a lot and I think there's there's firstly anyone that has privilege and and their privilege allows them to access this more easily, myself included, I think that needs to be acknowledged. And we need to acknowledge that that it's, it's much easier for some people than others to even start on this journey. And I think that that needs to be noted, but one thing that I really working on his boundaries and I think and rejecting urgency, where it's safe, and where it's possible, because you can't you can't read everything and you can't listen to everything and you can't say no to everything that you want and need to say no to. So I think for me, it's about being very intentional and very deliberate with saying no, where you can and pushing back when you can and also being really connected. Learning to be connected to how you're going to show up and what your purposes in this space because again, you can't do everything for everyone. So what are you bringing? And really kind of figuring out what you're bringing and how you're going to do that and it's okay to niche down it's okay to be like, this is how I'm going to contribute and this is what I'm going to do that that you know... I think in that kind of saying no. is carving space for yourself. To figure out how you're going to show up
was such a beautiful answer. I don't even dare to add anything to it. Frankly. Thank you. Thank you so much for that and Niruruthi we really really appreciate you staying up so late, just for us. And I hope that when you do get to bed that it is restful, and that resting in that way will help you get the energy to set those boundaries and be able to carve out the time and the space to do these explorations. So thank you so much for that. Really, really wonderful question. Okay, wonderful. So now I'm actually seeing people raising their hands again, I do realise we've gone a little bit over and of course I appreciate that, um, you know, we're all juggling many, many things, but I of course want to hold a little bit of space, but we'll try to round this out in the next few minutes. Hi, Nora. Welcome.
Hey, Asmara. Can you hear me? (Yes, I can. How are you)?
I'm great. Good to talk to you again today. Since we talked earlier. I just wanted to say thank you, Sharon, for what you said earlier about being intentional about the language we use. Something that I kind of came to recently, I'm really into etymology, and I'm in marketing and writing as well. So words do matter a lot to me. And this notion... I'm in the United States, and this idea of a disadvantaged business enterprise, which both women owned businesses, WBE and minority owned businesses. Another word I don't like, as you mentioned, MBE fall under this disadvantaged designation. And so the US government if you're working on any governmental contracts will say that a portion of any contract needs to go to a disadvantaged business enterprise. And I wrote a post about this recently that like, I really don't like the word disadvantage, and I would prefer that we use the word under invested because I don't think that...like it. How do I..say this? It like denigrates the person who is the owner of that company then to say that you're less than a white man that owns a company, you know, like, you are disadvantaged in comparison to him and it's like, well, why?Why is my business any less than his, you know? So anyway, I'm starting a new community called underinvested because I want those of us who are in this designation to find each other and support each other because clearly the government isn't so I just wanted to say thank you, Sharon, because word choice has been on my mind a lot lately, relative to that concept.
So thanks, Nora. I think I saw that post and we had a brief discussion about you know, some of the language that we use the Mission Equality, we talk about white privileges and unearned advantage and the opposite of that is a deliberate disadvantage. So not just a disadvantage, but the fact that it was intentional and imposed.
Absolutely being able to articulate that problem properly and put the the onus of the accountability for where it belongs. So you know, they are under invested because somebody has chosen to make it that way. Yeah, oh my god, I swear we I could just keep on going but I'm going to now call up Nicole and invite her to come off of mute. And I think that probably she'll probably be our last reflection for this evening or afternoon, wherever you are in the world, or middle of the night as we've established for some. And if you have any further reflections or comments or anything of that sort, I do encourage you all to get in touch with us directly, connect with us. And let's keep this conversation going because it's so much bigger than what we can squeeze into an hour. Hi Nicole, welcome. Can you come off new for us?
LinkedIn live is just telling me to chill out because I've literally I over the you know, in this one week period, I've organised and hosted three events. It's just telling me to shut up at this point and chill out but I will not be deterred. So I cannot unmute you, Nicole, and if you can't unmute yourself, either. I would invite you to reach out to us I will hold on for a second just to see and then we'll wrap up. Alrighty, well, I do hope that we will be able to connect with you after this. Now. Just you know I've had a very strict policy of I'm not even going to attempt to summarise my events because they are impossible to summarise because it's just gem dropped, gem dropped, gem drop! But a lot of this, I think is an invitation to curiosity to questioning the assumptions that we hold and why we hold them and to really tapping into the power of community in the process of that. And recognising that things like perfectionism and artificial urgency and dimming our light and not wanting to you know, say how awesome we are with our full chest. All those things can come into play here. So I am going to default to some of my wonderful coal panel speakers if any of y'all want to give us some parting thoughts before we wrap up here.
I think you did such a great job summarising Asmara that I don't know that I have anything much to add. I think, you know, being curious and then taking action. I think that's what it's all about that time and recognising that it's a it's a lifelong journey.
Through it, I was going to share the lifelong journey part of it. So thank you, Sharon for sharing that. And kudos to Asmara, again for being our wonderful host and for AJ, they have added some wonderful well, just they've dropped wonderful knowledge for us. And again, our audience members who've contributed to this rich discussion. Thank you. Yeah,
Thank you all and in terms of ways that you can explore further Mission Equality has an excellent, excellent black paper that I encourage all of you to go check out and similarly AJ has written some incredible, incredible things just about this. How to decolonize our mindbodies and I that I definitely won't try to summarise because my goodness is that that's just even beyond my capabilities to do justice to that and the next 10 seconds,
a free newsletter mind bodies decolonized on substack Are you going with my shameless plug?
Yes, I love this. I love all of these. And you know what, in the spirit of decolonizing our language henceforth any anytime somebody talks about their work, we shan't call it a shameless plug. In fact, we will co create a new phrase as a community to replace shameless plug. How is that for action? A Okay, so then
I want to plug my upcoming book and it's for educators and anyone else who's interested in education and equity is the English learning or English acquisition space.
Wonderful. I personally
Right well, while we're plugging things. You've already plugged the black paper we've talked about the anti racist Leaders Association. I also invite people to check out our books of equality on Mission Equality's website. And that's my plug with my full chest.
Love it, love it, that there's so much plug we can just you know, there's some electricity flowing through these plugs today. Okay. Thank you all so much for joining us for being here. And as always, as I do, there will be a transcript available for this event. So you can go back and really percolate a little bit more on some of the stuff we've talked about. I know I certainly will. And please do share it widely with others. If for anyone who wasn't able to make it. And yes, accept our gratitude, were all spending you energy for your goals, your dreams, and for the never ending work that we are all too happy to do collectively. Thank you so much, everyone. See you around.