You know, in every field I've worked in, from research, to education, to environmental activism, to editing, and small business ownership, I have faced a continual low-level racism. I have seen very Asian or darker skinned women in leadership roles or those of authority.
I have been rejected and seen my own parents rejected from bonuses, raises, and promotions. I once spent an entire month putting together lesson plans for an advanced Biology class only to be pushed aside by the football coach/black teacher with 1 more year seniority, to claim these classes and for me to be sent packing to work with the 'stupid' kids of low economic background and many learning and other disabilities, and low English proficiency. While that gave me an opportunity to really do good work with marginalized students and give them the tools to rise above their programming, it was demoralizing and no one, not one member of staff stood beside me. I was criticized for openly crying. Showing for ONCE, that I'm not a 'strong' woman.
In fact, my own brother told me I only got the job as a teacher, not because of my passion, education and talent, but because of the color of my skin and the box ticking exercise for diversity by the school district. What a slap in the face! As a veteran in the classroom, 8 years at various levels, and years of tutoring and helping out fellow classmates, that was such a vicious attack. Where can I run, when those come from the colleagues at work and within my own family?
Did I not deserve a chance? Or just because I'm darker skinned, and the daughter of immigrants, I should be denied? Or because I'm a woman, I should be in a less than position?
Yet instead of complaining, I took to teaching my marginalized and ignored students and treated them with RESPECT. I listened. I made interesting lessons. I got them to realize their power. I got them to speak up, to teach, to tap into their own genius. They, for the first time, had a teacher telling them they were not stupid, but in fact, they lived in an unfair system. That I cared about them. That they could succeed.
No matter what field I have gone into, that passion of mine, for integrity and equality and kindness has remained. I try, to remain optimistic, yet seek truth. I have courageously got out of bed and faced the world, where I am not seen as a whole person. In a world, where minorities are considered less than, 'other', and a person to be ignored and attacked.
I have even, like many minorities and marginalized, faced that mistreatment even within the safe spaces, or within the communities of color or ethnicities.
Even, or especially, in the world of personal development and small business ownership, I am marginalized, silenced, ignored, looked over and talked over routinely. When I ask, if it's because of race, I am denied or ignored.
I have watched my husband being attacked and ignored because of his disability, even by his so-called family and colleagues.
I have watched close friends (you know who you are) face ridicule because of health concerns and conditions at their work place and even ignored and denied by healthcare workers.
I have seen my gay friends undergoing a constant barrage of attacks and microaggressions to the point they feel unsafe and unloved.
I have seen women, treated as unfairly, even in their own homes.
I have seen kids undergoing severe abuse, neglect and manipulation by those meant to protect them.
I have seen the poor and disadvantaged barely keeping it together, wondering where they will get money to continue.
I have seen white women, holding minority women and transwomen at a distance while further their own causes. It frankly makes me sick. Where's the solidarity?
THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE! I have had enough and I'm doing something about it.
When we don't speak of this, we create shame and silence and secrets. When we shine a light on these areas, we have a chance to recover ourselves, stand in our power, release the shame and rewrite our scripts and our lives. When we have these discussions that are difficult, it brings us together not further apart.
Oh, no, you're not crazy.
It's almost impossible, if you have spent any time in traditional schooling, watching any form of media, or lived in our society to come out without unconscious biases and indoctrinated to uphold or rail against the system. In fact, it is practically impossible. Here are a few chosen ones for your purview.
Silence breeds shame and begets more silence.
It is essential that you find reassurance that you are not crazy, your response is a natural reaction to an unfair situation. I’m here to reassure you, that you are not crazy. You are in fact as well adjusted as you can possibly be under the circumstances.
It's like walking through a one-way door, you'll never be the same. You won't ever heal to the place before your indoctrination and programming. That is impossible -- to unsee the seen. However, you'll be able to heal the pain, as well as stand in your power, stand in your truth, stand in the world in a new way.
Photo Credit: Frank Mckenna
Men can mansplain, be aggressive, interrupt, belittle, talk over, insult, be crass, or ask a pointed question yet he is considered direct, assertive, decisive, even an effective communicator.
Women may speak up and are considered pushy, aggressive, unladylike, rude, or even bi!@hy.
This type of double standard, of which there are countless examples, permanently keeps some people in the less than position. Make no mistake, it is a purpose-built system to give greater advantage to some but not all. This is the heart of the systematic oppression that has given us sexism, racism, ageism, discrimination, homophobia, xenophobia, elitism and so on. Stereotypes, discriminatory laws and policies, ethnocentrism, self-justifications, social norms and rationale reinforce these systems.
It eclipses our inner power and inner truth.
Now, I have said we are slaves within this system, it's often subtle so we don't recognize it. I have also said we are unconscious victims of it. That does not mean we have no power or we are stuck. Yes, I use polarized language because as a researcher, an educator, an editor, a rhetor, a partner, a parent, and a scientist I have seen, explored and even unwittingly indoctrinated others. I use these words because it gets people to wake up, because it is a part of the truth. But in truth we are also heros and heroines, warriors and lovers, and creators and storytellers.
But my message has never been about fear or disempowerment, in fact, I have stood for empowerment, inspiration, courage, and liberation my entire life. It means that to actually create real lasting change, once we become aware of the programming, we can choose our next steps. We choose if we want to keep repeating the same patterns or leave them behind in order to create something new and fulfill our calling. But that part is completely up to you.
Systemic oppression resides within our histories, our attitudes, our beliefs, our actions, our perceptions, our language, our environment and most damaging of all it is stored within our DNA and epigenome. As long as one member of the human race is oppressed, we all are oppressed. Even when we were all free of oppression, it would still have an impact, a challenge to rise above. We can rise above what is. We can take directorship of our life.
The eclipse need not be permanent.
Because I am a warrior who will not settle for the status quo. But now with eyes wide open I empower individuals to rise above their programming, control their epigenetics, and fulfill their highest potential.
Why are we unsatisfied?
Let’s look at a few factors. First, the amount of stress from living day to day is increasing, from job pressures, money worries and the ever-present dissatisfaction, especially in the free nations of the world. Oliver James, author of Affluenza, calls out a key component of the source of this dissatisfaction: ‘advanced capitalism makes money out of misery and dissatisfaction, as if were encouraging us to fill up the psychic void with material goods.’
He goes a step further by blatantly stating, "I contend that most emotional distress is best understood as a rational response to sick societies."
Let that sink in.
Emotional distress in response to a sick society.
He calls this phenomenon ‘Affluenza’ a type of selfish capitalism that is nobly in English-speaking countries whose citizens that are heavily invested in their levels of success—ie fame, wealth, comparison, and the ‘rat race.' We’ve lost touch with our own feelings and the doubts, fears and insecurities we feel have been co-opted by corporate interests and in maintaining hierarchies that keep us stuck.
How has this happened?
Namely, a society has more than it needs yet advertisers convince them they need more. And with each subsequent generation the anxiety and depression increases.
If we look at this problem with the lens of epigenetics, it is not a personal defect within our DNA, but an opportunity to empower our liberation. Epigenetics is a new science where the paradigm of living above your genes. Each subsequent generation receives DNA with certain set of tendencies and potentialities within it. One such negative might be the tendency for depression. Yet it won’t come to pass unless that specific sequence of genetic material is triggered, often by stress. While we don’t have control on the actual sequence, our daily life choices, actions, beliefs, thoughts and feeling have an impact on how those are expressed.
As a result of poorer quality food, more stressful lives, less connected within relationships, and of course less meaning in work-a-day lives, is impacting our epigenome and genome, both as individuals and our society at large.
Are you programmed for dissatisfaction?
Perhaps you are genetically prone dissatisfaction, however we have a capacity for being programmed. Our brains, especially in the formative years of birth to the age of 7, we are learning how to live in the world and pick up programming from our environment and role models. Even after the age of 7, we can easily be programmed when advertising and media plays on our fears and insecurities.
For instance, as Oliver James mentions, we are saturated media as it is, “barely concealed advertisements for classes of product.” Even, and especially, education, as "little better than a systematic method for spreading the virus.”
In his book, Richard Brodie shows how the Virus of the Mind are passed on and ‘infect’ us, especially regarding finding meaning. We have memes in society that program us. Memetics, the studies viruses of the mind and how we transmit ideas between individuals, pervades how we think. This type of programming has become insidious and virtually undetectable.
Memes about meaning
In his recent essay, ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,’ David Graeber, makes a few points that are crucial to this discussion. First, that we live in a society where many of us realize that our work is fruitless and meaningless. More and more of the world’s population is making this realization and it leads to the emotional distress that Oliver James mentioned. Some cope well, changing to more meaningful careers and lives, or finding meaning in their work. Yet, most unfortunately do not adapt instead turning to nihilistic tendencies, searching for a panacea, or accepting the status quo. It’s the lives of quiet desperation that Henry David Thoreau was referring to in Walden.
The meme here is what TV shows and education teach, that we live in lives that are not our own and live through the bullshit. We live for our weekends, our vacations, and those few precious moments: graduation, an award ceremony, the raise, the wedding, birthdays and anniversaries. We’re not meant to find meaning every day. Instead we get sucked into the drama or fear of the latest news or media offerings. Until our own death, we simply exist and suffer.
The second crucial point that Gaeber makes is that while those that pursue more meaningful work, i.e. auto workers or teachers, ‘should’ make less money and be inconvenienced because their work actually matters to the world at large. In his words, ‘yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way…to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work.’
The prevailing meme: we’re told that doing purposeful work that serves a cause greater than ourselves, that it is perfectly acceptable to be paid less or treated poorly, because that’s the price you pay for doing good work. I personally find this appalling. These are only 2 of the memes that are in play.
Why do many of work in jobs or careers that do not challenge this status quo? I believe it is because we depend on the money and the powers that be keep the economic, educational, and financial systems to keep us in this dependency. The system keeps playing on our fears and dissatisfaction and instead of solving the root cause, it’s easy to seek for a panacea or a pill that can suppress these feelings.
What causes lack of meaning?
While a depression is a coping mechanism by the mind and body after a stressful situation. Behind lack of meaning and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness is complex. It can have many causes, including biochemical or hormonal imbalances.
Step 1: Trigger. Something we perceived as something negative happens, often we don’t remember the source looking back. It’s often very subtle.
Step 2 Response. We have a response or reaction to the negative event or situation.
Step 3: Habit. We continually rehearse this response, it becomes a bad habit. We become addicted to the bad habit and ‘see’ the trigger everywhere and repeat the response, even though the response may be ineffectual.
We see life, an advertisement, hear about someone’s life and we are triggered all over again. This is how a short term negative becomes the new cage for living one's life.
What you need to do instead?
The truth is we need to go inward.
The real courage, is understanding how pervasive the system does manipulate our actions and that we, are truly empowered individuals to take control of our own lives.
The best way for us to move forward is to take our empowerment into our own hands. Liberation is the best solution. Once you become liberated, turn around and help those ready to leap forward as well. True liberation then, is not from the oppression of a job, but the oppressive memes that live within our own heads.
Over to you
Notice how these memes and feelings of dissatisfaction show up in your life. If you’re stuck in a situation that brings you unhappiness, notice what specifically is upsetting you. Once you begin to see patterns consider the following:
1. Is there more clarity you need? If so, what?
2. How can you feel more empowered?
3. What memes effect you more than others? How can you talk back to these memes/fears?
4. How much autonomy, purpose and mastery do you feel in your life and career? Are there things you can do to increase these feelings?
5. Do you know what your priorities are? Use the Wheel of Wellness I have created as a free gift to help you to figure that out.
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