Why Shame Isn't a Tool in the Antiracist Toolkit

Uncategorized Jan 25, 2021

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” Brene Brown. 

“You should be ashamed of yourself.” 

“Shame on you.”

Shame is a powerful emotion. And for the antiracist a wholly unproductive one. 

What do I mean by shame?  Shame is the emotion that comes from of looking inward and judging ourselves harshly. It frequently has it's roots in things that were said to us by others - often in childhood. We can feel shame about things that we can't control.  But the most defining characteristic of shame is that is says to us we are wrong

Shame and guilt are not the same thing. Guilt is an emotion that arises when we feel that we've done something wrong. Guilt is when our thoughts or actions are out of alignment with our beliefs and values.

Guilt says to us that we did something wrong. Shame says that we are wrong. 

And here’s the thing - behavioral psychology...

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Lessons from A Birmingham Jail

Uncategorized Jan 18, 2021

This morning, I re-read Dr. King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Each time I read it, I find some new learning in it.  (If you haven’t set aside time to read it yet, I encourage you to do that this MLK day. You can read the full text here) 

With this reading, I found myself drawn to the last two pages of his letter.  I was struck by three ways in which Dr. King simultaneously defended his position powerfully and sought to persuade his adversaries. Today, as we honor him, I want to share with you the three lessons I took from this reading of his letter and how we might apply them to our modern struggle. 

Lesson 1:  Lean into criticism and use your detractor’s words to reframe the argument. 

Dr. King’s letter was originally written on the margins of a newspaper. 

Following King and Abernathy’s direct action in Birmingham, white faith leaders of eight Southern congregations penned an open letter ito the...

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This is not a joke. It’s time to challenge the comfort of white supremacists.

Uncategorized Jan 10, 2021

I once told a joke about race on national television.  

I was seventeen. It was 1994 and I was representing the state of Alabama as Alabama’s Junior Miss.  This probably won’t shock you, but Alabama had never had a Black junior miss before. I was it, and as you can imagine, there were a fair number of folks who were a little uncomfortable.  

They weren’t unhappy with it. Or angry. The truth was, they just didn’t know what to make of me, how I’d be different, or what the year would hold.

“I walked into a Denny’s the other day,” I said, smiling to the camera.  “And the waitress said, 'I’m sorry, we don’t serve Black people here. And I said, ‘Good, ‘cause I don’t eat ‘em.’”

Well, the audience laughed, thank God. Because the only thing worse than making a joke about race on national television is having no one laugh at the joke you told about race on national...

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15 Things Black Women Know About Hair Care That Everyone Should Know

black women hair care Oct 20, 2020

HAIR. It's a challenge for women everywhere.  But for black women living in a world defined by white beauty standards, hair is a challenge from the get go.  From our first perms and presses to braids and natural hair, getting to know our hair is a journey – one that we take with our mothers and sisters.  Along the way we learn and share a lot.  And it occurs to me the we don’t always share it with our non-black friends even though most of them would benefit from what we’ve learned.  So, here it is. The secrets that everyone should know. 

1.  You have to get to know YOUR hair. 

Black hair is widely various.  When we are young, our mothers get to know our unique hair type.  Even within the same family or the same curl pattern, a different hair care regimen can be required.  But so many other women I know don’t really KNOW their hair.  Yes, you know if your...

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Understanding the Black Family with Cultural Humility

Uncategorized Sep 09, 2020
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