Episode 101: How To Quit Being A Racist

    With all of the protests and uprising after the murder of George Floyd, I didn't want to go back to business as usual. In this episode, I hope to show you that we are all racist because we've been raised in a racist society and, once we can accept that, we can begin to remedy it. I hope to help shift your perspective on how to really examine your own thoughts and start making a change.
    This is in no way an education on being anti-racist. There are incredible educators that you should follow that have many resources like:
    Show Transcript:
    Hi friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so happy to have you. Here it is Monday, June 1st I don't typically record my episodes the day before I put them out, but we're not in typical times and I felt this was necessary. I know this is not the normal topic that I talk about on the podcast, but I realized that I have a platform to be heard and I should use it. I was actually asked by one of my audience members to make a podcast episode about how to quit being racist. And my initial reaction was, wow, that's not my place to teach. I'm not an anti-racist educator. There are many more qualified voices to talk about the things that you should do to work on your racism. And I will link to those in the show notes. But as I sat with it, I thought about this being the very problem, right?
    We're scared to say something wrong. We're scared to do something that might offend somebody. And so we stay silent and that has never been acceptable, but it is no longer acceptable to me and too many others. And so because this is my podcast and I didn't want to go on as if nothing is going on and put out an episode about Atomic Habits, which by the way, I know I owe you that episode and I will get that to you, I promise next week. But I did want to do an episode because I think that maybe I can provide a little bit of reframing and context that might help you understand this a little better or maybe make you think of things in a different way. So if you're thinking that you don't need this episode or if you're getting well defensive, then I encourage you to listen to it more than anybody else.
    And if you're getting annoyed by the fact that we're still talking about this stuff or why does it have to be in every sphere right now, I invite you to get curious about that and maybe think of the weight that black people have to walk around with when they don't get to escape it ever. The need to want to go back to what is normal and why don't go back to what is comfortable. It's a natural need. It's part of our hierarchy of needs. But it says something to our privilege because we have a normal that is comfortable and many don't have that. So I invite you to lean into that discomfort and that's actually what I'm going to be talking about a lot today, but so let's just jump in. I actually have some notes but I feel like I'm going to be all over the place, so just roll with me on this one.
    How to not be a racist. Let's start with the premise. The understanding that every single one of us is racist. Okay. I want to take the morality out of it for a second. If you are born and grew up and/or grew up in a white supremacist culture in a society that values white lives more than black and other lives, you have internalized racist messages. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you have, there is no discussion about that. There is no debate and if that triggers something in you, again, we'll talk about it. I want you to lean into that. I want to talk about that. So I'm going to give you an example. For instance, let's talk about women and misogyny in our culture, right? We all understand that women are taught from a very early age what the acceptable body type is or how women should act or whatnot, right?
    Whether we do it consciously or not, we internalize what beauty should mean, right? And so a lot of women end up having body image issues and eating disorders and all these things because they've internalized a message that was fed to them in various ways through media and all these other things, right? And most of us can understand that and we don't tend to get defensive because internalizing that message doesn't make you a good or a bad person. And so I think it's easier to understand that as an example, the same thing has happened with white supremacy and racism. Okay. Children, even if you're not doing it on purpose, even if you are a quote-unquote good person and your well-meaning, even from me let's say, and my children, I live in a predominantly white neighborhood. My kids go to a predominantly white school. My children who are now two and six see that everyone in our neighborhood is white and that the majority of people in their schools are white.
    And the people at our grocery stores are white. That sends them a message about who lives in certain neighborhoods, right? When kids see the media and they see the heroes, all of their superheroes are white and all of their princesses are white. It sends a message. It's not an explicit message, but it is implicit about what beauty is, what value is, who the hero is, right? And so we start internalizing this. If you've grown up in that culture, this is compounded over time. Right? And so you see in the media where black people are portrayed as thugs in lots of movies or in certain stereotypes, whenever you see any - Even in black victims, it's their mugshots shown. You know, I look back and I'm like, I grew up at a time where our entertainment, not ours, that we didn't watch it.
    I'm just saying on TV is a show about cops chasing down black people and arresting them. Right? And I mean, it's just absurd to think about the amount that we have taken in. So I just want to start at this baseline. We are all racist, every single one of us, and saying, that doesn't make you a bad person. Okay? Because you, your intentions, your conscious thoughts are to be kind to everyone to love everybody meet. You've also gotten those messages right, maybe from your parents or your church or whatever. And you embody that, you accept that, but you don't understand that all of these other implicit messages that you've been given also play a factor. So this came up recently with the situation with Amy Cooper in the park in New York City. If you're not aware of that story, I'm not really sure what you're paying attention to.
    But she was asked to put a leash on her dog by a black man. She became hysterical and started threatening him that I'm going to call the police and tell them that a black man is threatening me. And well, she did that and her, you know, it's a very disgusting video to watch. But the thing is, is Amy Cooper is a liberal Democrat, right? I guarantee you, if you asked Amy Cooper, she wouldn't think that she's racist before this incident. I'm hoping now she realizes that she is. But there are tons of people that have good intentions. But what she had internalized is that she knew she could weaponize that man's skin color against him. She understood that she could threaten to call the police and say it was a black man and that he would understand what that meant. And she understood what that meant, right?
    We all understood. We all understand because we all have heard that message over and over again. And so the reason I really want to make this is because I want you to understand that you have those triggers. You have those things in your mind because you've been fed them. It's not right or it's not wrong. But once you have implicitly taken it in over and over again, it creates certain neural pathways in your mind that, you know, we start valuing white as more beautiful. We start all these things. So Kara Loewentheil, who was on the podcast who is a master certified coach and has a podcast called Unf*ck Your Brain did an incredible all about this and it's episode one Oh two of her podcasts. She talks all about how to get started working on internal bias. And I'm going to try to give some of the tactics here.
    I mentioned in my last episode about my hundredth episode that I've recently started a coaching certification. I was planning on doing I episode about this later and I will and go more in detail, but I want to give you the model with which all of the coachings that I do now and the way that I have really worked on my own mind with everything, with my career, with everything is based on this model that there are circumstances in this world. There are facts and then we have thoughts about those facts and then our thoughts cause our own feelings and then our feelings cause our actions. So that's a very shortened version of the model that basically is based on cognitive-behavioral psychology and how everything works. And in car's episode and in this episode, what I want to talk to you about is that a lot of times our thoughts are not conscious, but we're talking about this implicit bias so you don't realize what you're thinking and how you can change that.
    A lot of times, even though your thoughts are what caused your feelings, the feelings are what give us insight. The feelings are what we can pay attention to so that we can then take the time to examine our own thoughts and say, what am I thinking to make me feel anxious, to make me feel frustrated, whatever. Why do I feel like this? And if we don't distract ourselves or numb ourselves or move on, we can get really curious about what is it that I'm thinking that leads to this feeling? And then I can work on those thoughts. And I think that if we can start at this point of accepting that we are all racist. And Carter talks about this a lot too. You know, until we can make this not a moral issue in the sense of not that racism isn't moral, but I'm saying accepting that it's not saying you're a good or bad person because what happens is we become so defensive at the thought that we could be, you know, we'd liken it to the KKK or somebody who is outright racist and we would never want to be associated with that because we value people because we truly care because we come from a good place.
    We don't want to admit that we would have anything in common or ever have a thought that is close to what a person like that would think. And so the minute the topic of privilege comes up or the topic of racism, we want to distance ourselves so much. But if we do that, then we can never do the work. We can never actually get to like maybe I do have these thoughts and how do I become part of the solution instead of staying part of the problem. And the only way to do that is to stop thinking. That is a moral statement on who you are and just accepting that you had just like black people have no choice. It's the skin there or born in. You have no choice into the skin you were born in and you had no choice as to the messages that you were fed from when you were a baby, but those messages fed to you.
    And so I invite you to get really curious about your feelings. So the next time, and right now is a great time because a lot of this stuff is coming up on social media. The next time you are feeling triggered to feel defensive, the next time you're getting outraged by something before reacting, take the time to stop and get curious. Get curious about your thoughts without judgment. Don't try to push them away because it's painful to realize, Oh, maybe I do think this. Maybe I do think something about black people because that's what I've been taught for so long. Because when you can get curious about it and when you can start realizing like, yeah, I have sort of been given this message that black people are X or black people are Y or whatever the message is, then you can decide to work on that thought.
    Then you can decide that that is not a thought I want to accept and I want to start doing specific anti-racist work and I want to be a part of the solution. So how do I work on my own thoughts instead of just, you know, the voting Democrat and donating here and there, how do I start becoming part of the change? And so I invite you to listen to Kara's episode and to start doing a lot of this thought work. And I think there are a lot of people that can help you with this. In the coaching industry, if you really want to go deeper on how you do change those thoughts, but the first step is accepting it so that you can start working on it. And like I said, I actually think feeling triggered is a really great, great tool for doing deep or work on yourself for realizing why do I feel triggered?
    Because let me give you an example. When we talk about systemic racism, again, it's not up for discussion like it's, I love it. Like people get gas lit and so we have to talk about whether our systems are racist. It is provable in a court of law. It is facts. There's study after study after study that black people are denied the same education, healthcare, safety or whatever, and the criminal justice system and every system that we have, right? They do studies where they apply for a job with the same resume, with just a black-sounding name versus a white-sounding name. And I guarantee you that that hiring person doesn't consider themselves racist. Okay. And they don't realize that they're having a thought when they see a black-sounding name. It's not an overt thing. And that's why it's so insidious is we have to get open to the fact that we can have this without realizing that we have it.
    But going back to the systemic portion of this and the fact that really it's overhauling every system that we have in this country. Again, it's interesting to me because I could give you the facts that you know, women are killed more by their partners than anybody else and that typically doesn't trigger anything in you to get defensive because you had no way, you know, identify as somebody that beats their wife or in no way want to defend that because you don't see yourself in that. But if I say that, you know, there's statistics that black people are not offered the same healthcare or that medical professionals tend to have this inherent bias against black people. If you're a doctor, let's say, you are inherently going to want to defend against that because you don't want to be seen in that. And that's where the problem lies.
    Because a lot of this stuff, like I said, it's facts. It's not like, I don't even know why we're discussing it. There is racism in all of these systems and if you find yourself feeling defensive and wanting to argue against it and wanting to prove that somehow that's not true, even though it is true, then you should get curious as to why you are trying to do that. That's the first step. The first step is getting curious and having a nonjudgmental overview of your own thoughts. You don't have to judge yourself. You don't have to be a bad person. If you have those thoughts, you have to understand that those thoughts came from somewhere else. You aren't born with them and if you're willing to do the work, it's okay to sit with uncomfortable feelings. Now that's the second thing I want to talk about is uncomfortable feelings.
    So I just told you in the model your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings create your actions. Now, what we do in our lives, all of us because we're not taught how to process feelings ever or really process our own thoughts, we are constantly trying to avoid negative feelings. Well, now we know this about ourselves in every area of our lives, right? As soon as something feels overwhelming or frustrating or hard, we numb ourselves with social media or food or alcohol or whatever. We distract ourselves. We suppress, we do all these things because we feel like it is so difficult to feel the feeling of sadness or frustration or anger or whatever the feeling is that we have and a really big tool to help in your life is to learn how to process feelings, is to learn how to let feelings in and have them right.
    And I started out this episode saying that aye at first resisted the idea of doing an episode at all about this because I thought, you know why I'm, who am I to talk about this? I don't have any skills in this and I don't really want to be a leading voice in this. And my podcast is not about this. But again, what that comes down to, and I think a lot of people have this feeling of like, I don't want to speak up because I don't want to say the wrong thing. And I get that because we've seen people be called out and it is embarrassing and it can be hurtful, but I want to offer to you that the worst thing that can happen is that you will feel a negative emotion. I checked in with myself and I realized I can put this episode out and I am certain that somebody will not like it and they will think that I did wrong and maybe they will tell me, I hope they will tell me and then I have to deal with that.
    I either have to deal with the emotion of feeling embarrassed and feeling shameful for doing something that I wasn't supposed to do, but it would give me the opportunity to learn, right? Like we talk a lot about this on this podcast that you can't think your way to the end of it, right? You have to just act and you have to pivot. And one thing that I'm committed to is just acting and learning. And so I am okay with being called out because I don't attach a meaning to it. I know that my intentions are good and I know that I will do wrong. And once I can accept that and know that I can feel shame or embarrassment and that's not going to kill me, I'll be fine. I'll move on and it will in fact give me a chance to grow. It will show me how to be a better ally.
    It will show me my blind spots that there's no way for me to know because there's a reason they're called blind spots, right? There's a way that somebody can say, Hey, you shouldn't have done it this way. You should do it this way. So that next time I remember, Hey, they were right. I should have done it this other way. That's the only way I can grow as an ally, as a person, right? As a human being. And so I invite you to do the same, I think in this, if you are committed to being anti-racist, because none of us are going to be not racist, we are all racist. We all have those messages so we can work to be anti-racist. And so if you're worried about the feeling that you will feel no, that you are strong enough to feel a negative feeling and be okay.
    No, that that is the key to change. And if you don't attach a meaning to it, if you don't take them as saying you are a bad person or you are whatever, not saveable, whatever the meaning you're attaching, then that opens you up to really being changed. You know, being a catalyst for change, really looking inwards to you for yourself. So that is what I want to talk about, about getting uncomfortable. I gotta quit being a racist is to evaluate your own thoughts truthfully, is to allow the uncomfortable feeling so that you can evaluate those thoughts, is to do the work to do those thoughts. Now there's tons of other steps. There are tons of other anti-racist educators that you should follow. Rachel Cargill is doing an incredible thing with the great unlearn. It's like $5 to $15 a month, whatever you want to pay.
    And it is all the resources that you can need to start learning how to be a better ally. You can educate yourself on the true history of this country. You can start realizing how problematic these systems have been for people of color. You can listen and you can learn. The other way is teaching your children from a very young age. I'm learning this myself is getting books that feature black and Brown children getting dolls that feature black and Brown children. Having discussions about why your neighborhood looks the way it does and their schools look the way it does and how the country actually works so that they understand. Do not teach them to be colorblind. That is ridiculous. There's no such thing. Children from three months old start showing preference for the caregivers, their caregivers, skin color. They see color. Stop acting as if they don't, but talk to them about it.
    Learn. There's tons of resources about how to talk to children about race. Stop skirting around the issue that makes it worse that that's how we all brought were brought up. That if we just say, “Love everyone like yourself”, it'll go away. It hasn't gone away, so there has to be another way. Right. What I plan to do for my antiracist work is educating myself. I put it Instagram story about making a plan right now, today's June 2nd, the beginning of June is great time. I do a book cup here. I'm going to continue that and obviously this is related to a job so it will keep being that, but I'm committing myself to reading one book about racism and this work every month. You can choose to do the same book today that you can read one every month. Ask your friends to join you.
    Create a book club out of it. You know you can do it within your own families so you can have open discussions, follow black people online. Check your feed today when you're scrolling through your Instagram, and I'm not just talking about black educators for anti-racism, you should definitely follow that, but if you're on Instagram and you're following food influencers and fitness influencers and motivational speakers and coaches and lifestyle and fashion, make sure that a good portion of them are also black and Brown. It is important to see people that don't look like you in your feeds. I am committing to featuring the voices of black and Brown people more on this podcast. I had always had that commitment and I realized I fell short of it and I can do much better to show stories of people who have quit and have gone on to create incredible things despite all their disadvantages.
    And I am committed more now than ever to do that. But more importantly, I am committed to working on my own thoughts. I am committed to not becoming defensive when somebody has a critique of me. I am committed to not attaching a story and being, you know, so attached to my own fragile view of myself that I cannot take criticism and learn to grow as a human. That's what I'm here for. I am committed to really dissecting my thoughts and my feelings and every situation and asking myself, why do I feel like this? Why is my thought that people shouldn't do X or people shouldn't do Y? I'm committed to doing this work because it is extremely important. And if you are feeling saddened, if you're feeling outraged, that's great. But that's the first step. I mean, if you're not feeling outraged, then you have a lot of soul searching to do.
    I don't know what else to tell you, but if you are feeling outraged and you really desperately wish things would change and you wish that there wouldn't be protests and riots and kneeling and whatever else is coming with this, then you have to change the system and you have to do this work on yourself. You have to teach your children, and if it doesn't feel like work, then you're not doing enough, right? It's not supposed to feel comfortable. Our comfort is what has got us into this, so I invite you all to come on this journey with me. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you have any, feel free to email me at Golia essence from a quitter and I promise you I'll be back next week with atomic habits by you guys. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at quitter podcast. I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.