Unpacking the Language ad Story of Racism: Declaring A New Vison
Racism is a story. In American history, the story began in language with someone possessing wealth and power declaring “my skin color is better than yours.” “I can control you.” “I have power over you.” It’s a story that has been perpetuated over the generations. It is a story that divides and compartmentalizes the human experience into skin color; the story being that one skin color has value over another. By telling the story over and over again in subtle and blatant ways, the story has invaded our cultural and moral psyche and has caused systemic inequities and violence.
It’s a story that has come to the forefront of late through protest and the retelling of this history and, is causing new declarations to be made and new futures to be created. The declaration of “I am working to bring about social justice legislation” or ‘I am working to end racism” creates a new future and new conversations and stories. In order to deconstruct the story, we need to engage in conversations and examine how racism came to be and how we can bring about change moving forward. If we care enough about ending racism, we will declare new messages for how we will be.
On a deeper level and as a white woman who has experienced sexism, I’m concerned about what happens when we let the story define us and we may become unknowingly complicit in the story. I am concerned about “los loros” the parrots that sit on our shoulder and that allows us to tell ourselves the stories of limitation. “No, I would never stand a chance of getting that promotion.” After all, no woman or Latina has ever held that position.” It is when we tell ourselves this story, that we allow racism or any other “ism” to win.
Several authors (Seiler, 2003, Brothers, 2005, Dua (2016) have mentioned the importance of language to bringing into being new actions, new possibilities, and new futures. If we can’t see possibilities or actions or new ways of being, then we are limiting the creation of our lives. Our words become embodied and we then accept the story as fact. So, it is important to ask “what judgments am I making about my future and what I choose to create? And, how do I embody these words? Perhaps, I limit my ability to be seen by not speaking up in meetings because I limit myself with a judgment that “I have nothing to add.” We need to catch ourselves in these judgments and stories, first and foremost. Ask: How is this limiting my possibilities and what can I do instead?”
So a new declaration might become, “I believe in myself with the power to create a strong vision that will propel me and us all forward as human beings.”
As I was writing this article, I found this Shirley Chisholm quote that can be crafted into a strong individual declaration: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
Jewel Ray Chaudhuri, Ph.D. helps professional women so caught up in their work that they’ve lost themselves and struggle to find balance at home and in their lives. Jewel’s mission is to support empowered women in being be strong, confident leaders in all aspects of their lives and especially in times of uncertainty and not knowing. She is trained as an ontological coach and works with an individual’s language, emotion, and body movement to create new futures. She also designs and facilitates workshops on such topics as worklife balance, a woman’s power and leadership. For a free leadership and life session, please visit Jewel’s website: https://www.jewelraychaudhuri.com and click on click here to schedule…. or email Jewel at firstname.lastname@example.org.