In light of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, it seemed time to really think about how we will live, work, or govern as we go forward. The existing systems have been shown to lack equality for all and over the past four years have definitely not worked for the vast number of people. What I’ve read in Abby Wambach’s “Wolfpack”, listened to on Brené Brown’s podcast Dare to Lead with Joe Biden, and watched Resmaa Menakem’s interview with Tara Brach, all reinforced the idea that we must create new rules that protect and support all people.
Let’s start with the basics and better understand how the present system works. Marginalized populations shift and morph depending on the situation. If you examine the “Wheel of Privilege,” it demonstrates how we may be part of white privilege at one moment but for example, in an all-male environment, then white women become the marginalized population. This hierarchy includes many complexities that include gender, race, orientation, religion, and more. It’s important to know this is fluid depending on the situation and is a man-made creation that can be changed.
WOMEN CHANGE RULES
To change things, we must act collectively, support each other, and have champions from the privileged groups. The women’s soccer team has been fighting to receive equal pay in the workplace for several years now. They play more, win more, and have revenues that exceed the men’s national team but still earn substantially less. Abby Wambach, US Olympic champion, and her team have not given up.
With a daughter of immigrants and a woman of color being elected to the most senior office in our country, we have an opportunity to create a new set of rules for all women. Abby shared a look at the history of women’s roles and how stories demonstrate the inculcation of these norms into our society. Her example of “Little Red Riding Hood,” a story read to many little kids, describes how if we leave the “acceptable path” we will get eaten by the wolf. Abby says, “We must wander off the path and blaze a new one: together”. This is what Kamala Harris has done, and in her acceptance speech on Sunday, she did what so many other Black women have been done by blazing a new way, like Jada Pinkett Smith during her Red Table Talks, or Michelle Obama when she wrote, “Becoming. It’s what Abby calls women to do, create “New rules”, while reminding us to “Champion each other” by recognizing that it took 100s of trailblazing Black and white women for Kamala to achieve this accomplishment.
We can’t make change alone, and the rise of the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter, and the support of marriage equality laws, demonstrate how as a nation we can evolve. What stood out, for me in Biden’s acceptance speech, was his acknowledgment of the marginalized populations that came together to win the election and the focus on building and healing. He was very specific in recognizing the Black women that mobilized the vote and truly made a difference in the outcome, people like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, and LaTosha Brown who founded Black Votes Matter registered voters and brought the Black vote to support the Democratic ticket. The popular vote shows that 71,492,918 people supported Trump and 76,402,525 supported Biden. This means quite a number of Americans now feel disenfranchised and with the rhetoric from Trump continuing on conspiracy social networks, how do we bridge this gap? If you look at history and the successful results of these popular movements, it’s the coalition of all types of Americans that forces change. It’s the recognition that power-sharing, as described by Brené Brown is healthier, that it’s infinite and a more cohesive way to lead.
HEAL THE TRAUMA
Resmaa Menekem, an MSW, was interviewed by Krista Tipper (On Being) for NPR, by Tara Brach (yoga/meditation leader), and many others. We are reading his book, “My Grandmother’s Hands,” for my anti-racism seminar with LGW. After hearing the interview and reading the first four chapters with my study pod, I felt like this is it! Resmaa created a guide to healing trauma so we can heal as human beings and build communities of diversity and strength. These last 11 months of COVID have left much more space to be contemplative. I’ve received more requests for career coaching than ever before. We, as a human race, are thinking about what’s really important as the death toll in this country alone exceeds 250K.
I’ve listened/learned, I’ve protested, I’ve written letters to encourage voting, but how do we change the rules? How do we make real change happen? Menekem talks about trauma in white bodies, black bodies, and blue bodies. He has worked extensively with all three groups and while our trauma may be different, the ways to heal are similar. His book is revelational, in each chapter he asked you to pause, digest, do some exercises and really think. I’ve found that often even after I’ve completed an exercise, I go back and add more details that I remember. We all have trauma, some are personal, some is intergenerational, some we don’t even know exists. If we don’t identify and heal it, we can’t truly come together and cause positive lasting change for all.
RULES TO LIVE BY
Let’s make a new set of rules that are inclusive, that support respect, decency, and don’t cause harm. There are several quotes from Brené that have resonated lately, I’ve pasted them on my wall. They inspire me. I intended to do my best to not just break the rules, but come together with others who don’t look like me. Together, we can create a new set of expectations on how our workplaces, communities, and country can look.
- Resmaa Menakem’s book, My Grandmother’s Hands
- Abby Wambach’s book, Wolfpack
- Brené Brown podcasts, Dare to Lead, interviews with Abby Wambach on making news rules, and Joe Biden on power.