I am committed to addressing and changing injustice in our communities. This commitment was directly and indirectly addressed and encouraged by my parents. Whether it was my participation in a race unity float built by my father or overhearing my mother directly tell people in her family they were not welcome in her home if they used bigoted language. As a teen, in the 1980s and 1990s, I participated in race unity conferences and studied the subject with peers from a variety of backgrounds. This intentional work continues today.
In my Ph.D. studies, I chose a specialty track that focused on social justice and community service and won a research award for my presentation on navigating multicultural issues in the counselor-client relationship. The topic of my dissertation research focused on working with clients from different religious backgrounds, which is often a source of implicit bias.
While the work continues, it has evolved drastically over the years. It’s gone from idealistic/intellectual to making space for exploration of deeply embedded biases including internalized misogyny. Also, I’ve had blind spots to that which hasn’t been in my direct experience. Also, to that which my false beliefs protected me from experiencing without even being aware of that protection. I’ve fumbled. I’ve been humbled. I’ve had to unlearn to make space for new information.
Today, I continue to choose to increase my emotional regulation skills soI can go deeper into my journey of understanding how injustice and oppression shape us as individuals and communities. Yet, understanding isn’t enough.
We don’t think beyond our own discomfort. It’s one thing to study and memorize statistics, it’s another to hear and feel people’s stories, and to feel connected to them. This empathy process truly requires emotional regulation. I am committed to listening. I am committed to feeling how intersectionality shapes our experiences of self, other, and the world.
I truly believe that society and its structures need healing. Oftentimes, individual people (usually the marginalized) carry the labels of a sick society. Most of our dysfunctional behaviors serve an effort to adapt to broken systems — whether they be families or communities. Most people are doing their best to belong in a world designed on/with/for disconnection.
Ironically, I couldn’t have taken this journey without tremendous “self-care.” I have a love-hate relationship with that term. On the surface, self-care looks like feeling good. The reality, for me, is that self-care is about tending to ourselves in ways that support disruption. Self-care expands our capacities to tolerate the messiness that comes with disrupting the norms and stepping into unknowns so we are willing to make way for something better.
We’ve all adapted to this broken system. Some of our adaptations are rewarded (workaholism, for example). Other adaptations are labeled, vilified, etc.
I do this work to help create a healthy society that embeds within every individual the deeply resonating truth of our worth, value, and wonder.