The Nondual Academic: On Racism, Inferiority and the Self

My research is about the subjective dimensions of racism and inequality. To wit, I’ve spent hundreds of hours interviewing blacks in the U.S. and France about their conceptualizations of ethnic and racial identity, their views on racial history (e.g. slavery and colonization) and their experiences with racism and discrimination. Some of this work has already been published in a variety of scholarly journals, including Ethnic and Racial Studies, the Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race and Poetics as well as chapters in several volumes. I’m currently writing a series of theoretical and empirical articles based on my interviews with French Caribbeans and African Americans as well as a book, which I plan on finishing this year.

On this blog, however, I have very rarely written about race. Partly this is so because I have endeavored to carve out space for the exploration of my spirituality and creativity, in a way that does not constantly foreground my professional life. And while my racial identity has continued to play an important role in how I understand my place in the world, I have also come to see very clearly that I am not defined by any of my identities, nor am I defined by any ideas (good, bad or otherwise) that I or anyone else has about those categories.

For a long time, I struggled with figuring out how to integrate my abiding concern with racial inequality, my interest in social justice and the continuing significance of my ethnoracial heritage with a spiritual path that was leading me further and further away from the confines of particularism. Over the past year, I reached out to many other people – including some other scholars of color – to discuss precisely this question. How do we integrate spiritual universalism with the realities of group-based conflict? How do I make sense of my experiences as a black woman when I am also coming to know and and understand that who I really am cannot be reduced to my skin tone, my ethnicity, my gender, my sexuality – or any aspect of my socialization? I knew that such preoccupations had drawn the interest of others before me, so I had no pretensions of re-inventing the wheel. Through my own meditations, readings and conversing with a variety of people – some black, some brown, some white – about these questions from Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Jewish perspectives, something approaching a coherent understanding has begun to reveal itself.

Of particular interest to me has been Thich Nhat Hanh’s lovely book “Together We Are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection” – a collection of essays that are explicitly about what it means to be a Buddhist and a person of color.

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I love that Thich Nhat Hanh – the well known Vietanamese Buddhist monk – has not avoided the issue of race of social justice in his work. Indeed, his major theological contribution is his concept of engaged Buddhism — a kind of practice that emphasizes our need to be involved in actively promoting social justice and compassion through the way we live our lives. It is a Buddhism that is conceived for living in the world – not just meditating in a cave (though, if you feel compelled to meditate in a cave, more power to you).

Anyway, I also love that he not only identifies as a person of color, but he has also organized retreats for other Buddhists of color to explore these issues. More recently I’ve also been intrigued by bell hooks. I’m currently reading her latest: “Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice”.

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I was informed that hooks describes herself as a “Christian Buddhist”, which (if true) very much resonates with my nondenominational nonduality. Mooji has also been highly influential in reconstructing my understanding of ethnoracial identity and the spiritual path. While he does not often talk about race explicitly, he is Jamaican and his emphasis on accepting one’s ethnic appartenance while also transcending it makes total and complete sense to me.

Over time, the boundaries between my spiritual work and my academic work have slowly eroded. This integration has happened naturally, as I’ve progressively contemplated the various dimensions of my own egoic identifications in the light of my experience with nondual truths in Hinduism and Buddhism. As my scholarship and spirituality increasingly inform each other, I now find myself ready and able to discuss and write about these topics holistically.

What has become clear to me in this time is that the pain of ethnic and racial exclusion is real and must be confronted. But in order to confront it, we must be courageous and brave enough to delve deeply and consciously into the experience of traumatic exclusion, denigration and devaluation. It is only through this sustained attention to the subjective dimensions of our own experiences with feelings of inferiority and superiority that we can begin to untangle the egoic web of delusions and misunderstandings that allow us to remain ignorant to our own unchanging perfection.

* * *

In the beginning, we were whole and we had no doubts about our wholeness.  We did not pop out of the womb wondering if we were good enough, pretty or handsome enough, smart enough or worthy of being alive.  We did not know anything about “good hair”, colorism or being inferior or superior to anyone else. We felt entitled to love and attention. All of spirituality is about returning to this original state of wholeness–our natural state of freedom.

Over time, through socialization, we began to learn about human difference and ideas about what those differences mean. We became exposed to rankings of inferiority and superiority.  As children, we may not have known that these ideas about difference and ideologies of human worth were arbitrary social constructions that vary across cultures and historical eras. We absorbed stereotypes and even developed metastereotypes – expectations about how we imagine others view “people like us”.

If we were lucky, we had parents or members of our community to teach us that all human beings are equal. And yet in everyday life, we are still confronted with a barrage of images telling us that not only are some human beings better than others, all human beings are flawed. Our media industrial complex produces inferiority complexes, constantly informing us that we are not enough. We must look a certain way, have a certain lifestyle, say the right things, gain particular markers of success and conform to the societal mold in order to be accepted. We are fundamentally unworthy – but we can feel a little better, be a little more popular, be a little more happy, if we just buy one more widget or read the latest issue of Oprah magazine.

And so it is that we unconsciously absorb the idea that we must do something to become someone else — someone better. Even if we reject the notion that there is something wrong with being black or brown or Chicana or a woman or gay or trans or working-class or disabled or short or fat, quite often we are only able to generate a kind of self-esteem crutch – a wish – a hope – that we are not inferior.  We may think that we have overcome our programming, only to boil with anger when someone says something mean about people like us.  We may believe that we have left negative ideas about our self worth behind, because we celebrate our identities.  But all it takes is exposure to a sexist or racist comment to remind us that some people think very poorly of us. And when that happens, the anger we feel might eclipse a pain we may have never acknowledged–the pain of fearing that the bigot, the chauvinist or the homophobe might be right.  Maybe there is something wrong with me. Maybe I am inferior. And even if we reject the idea that we are less than, we may nonetheless feel wounded by another human being’s searing rejection.

What I have learned is that racism, homophobia, sexism and all other ‘isms’ only sting when we buy into the fiction that our worth is determined by what other people think of us.

When we feel pain from being stereotyped or negatively viewed, it’s because we needlessly give our power away. And at any moment, we can choose to stop doing that.

People call racism “ignorance”, but all that matters about any ideology of human ranking is that it isn’t true. It’s a lie and it only works – it only hurts – if you choose to believe it.  If someone called you a polar bear, or a giraffe, would you feel hurt? You might find it perplexing, frustrating or amusing. But painful? Probably not – because you know it isn’t true.

We hurt when people think badly of us only in moments when we forget our intrinsic and inalienable worth. But the awesome thing is that even when we forget how worthy we are, we are still infinitely worthy.

Even our own doubt and feelings of inferiority cannot change the fact that we are always and inherently whole. When you remember who you really are, you transcend the sting of racism and other ‘isms’ because you recognize it for the bullshit it really is. It’s just a simple misunderstanding. You think I’m a polar bear. I am not a polar bear.

We sometimes give lip service to rejecting the ideology of racism – yet we are still hurt by it. We’re offended when someone makes a disparaging remark about our group. We are upset when we see unflattering images of people who look like us. We feel angry when someone says that we are less than, unworthy–inferior.

But as soon as you realize that you’re fundamentally whole, then you also understand that any “ism” that defines people as “less than” cannot be true.

Many people who belong to groups that have been historically oppressed have no idea that they think they’re inferior. That’s how racism works–not only do you not realize that your inferiority is untrue, you also fail to recognize the extent to which you’ve internalized this silly belief about your supposed inferiority.

Even people who understand that their “conditioning has been conditioned” nonetheless often find it difficult to step outside of their programming.

There is a difference between hoping to be whole – trying to prove that you’re whole – and knowing that you’re whole.  Returning to your natural state of wholeness is not an intellectual exercise. It’s not a matter of bolstering your self esteem. It’s not an idea that you can simply latch onto like a magical mantra: “I am whole. I am great. I am wonderful.”  No, it is something you must directly experience in the marrow of your bones. In this way, encountering your wholeness is a lot like encountering God. When you have experienced the Self beyond the egoic-self, the Consciousness that abides in and through you, this knowing becomes a certitude. It’s no longer a matter of faith. It’s your existential reality. With wholeness, as with God, we can’t simply talk about it. We must be about it. And the good news is that we are already It.  Becoming grounded in our Beingness – in what we already are – is the path to transcending the fiction of our inferiority. This is why meditation is so useful: it allows us to create moments of stillness in our lives so that we can directly experience our wholeness.  Meditation and conscious breathing allow us to know who we are beyond the mind, beyond thoughts, beyond conditioning.

Wholeness means understanding that you are not defined by what anyone thinks about you. And the incredible thing is that you’re not even defined by your own thoughts about yourself. When we are pained by another’s denigration, it is only because we slip into believing that our value depends on their approval. It doesn’t. We’re programmed to think we need social acceptance. That’s what thousands of years of evolution has produced. But biology is not destiny.

The pain of racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and ableism must first be acknowledged before it can be transcended. There are no shortcuts.  As long as we operate with faux-self esteem and false group pride, the wounds fester. The pain transmutes into stress, anxiety, fear and anger.

When we live mindfully, we pay attention to our thoughts and emotions. We notice the moment when we begin believing that we are inferior. We don’t feel bad about feeling inferior. We simply notice it. We observe. And in the witnessing itself, we realize the lie of inferiority cannot be true. We find freedom in the truth of our inherent worth.

Every human being, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or body type must confront their own self loathing. It is the universal human condition. You are taught to believe that there is something wrong with you. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to realize that this is a lie.

But basking in your beautiful wholeness requires deeply experiencing and accepting the part of you that feels inadequate, flawed and ugly. Most people are too afraid to closely examine the painful self loathing that lurks beneath the surface of their egoic personas. But the dirty little secret is that seeing your wounded self clearly is the gateway to healing.

Embrace, accept and acknowledge your wounded self with compassion. We embrace our wounds with non-judgment and love because we understand they stem from a misunderstanding–a kind of spiritual amnesia. There’s nothing wrong with feeling inferior. Of course you feel inferior at times. You have an ego. Welcome to planet Earth.

The point is to realize that this wounded ego–this lie of inferiority–does not define you. Could never define you. You are the Witness. You are Presence. You are beyond any idea, thought or construct. And the tragicomic, hilarious truth is that you have always been this whole, perfect Being. The beautiful thing is that the truth of who You really are doesn’t depend on your state of mind, your thoughts or your level of awareness.

Superiority is as much a fiction as inferiority.  Both complexes produce a hell of our own making. Whenever I see someone who thinks they are better than others, I know that in this particular moment, they don’t really love themselves. And they do not love themselves because they do not know themselves. To know the Self is to love the Self and to love the Self is to love all-there-is. When you move in love, you cannot feel inferior or superior to anyone else.

Love is the great equalizer.

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25 thoughts on “The Nondual Academic: On Racism, Inferiority and the Self

  1. This is really good. You and Francis, whom I mentioned in my last post, are really on the same wave-length. In case you’re interested, he accepts people he doesn’t know as his “friends” on Facebook.

  2. I just don’t understand what knowing you are a whole human being is going to do for the millions of black and brown people that are incarcerated or living with poverty/war that they had little or nothing to do with in creating. I believe and there is strong evidence for it that social policy can change peoples lives for the better. I also believe that in many ways it is a privilege to have the time to be able to practice the type of spirituality you state here. It is important to acknowledge that some structures are very difficult to resist. I do not believe this is a hopeless position, just one that acknowledges reality.

    • Ethan,

      You write: “I just don’t understand what knowing you are a whole human being is going to do for the millions of black and brown people that are incarcerated or living with poverty/war..”

      I confess that I do not understand how anyone familiar with the mechanisms of inequality could question why disadvantaged people need to understand – perhaps more than anyone else – that they are worthy, whole human beings. The sociological literature is very clear on this point: poor and working class individuals are socialized in ways that reproduce inequality. Part of that socialization is the leveling of aspirations. Children in poor neighborhoods attend under-resourced schools where they are conditioned and disciplined in ways that prepare them for low-wage labor. Not only this, but black and brown children in particular are often exposed to denigrating messages – either implicitly in the media, or explicitly by their own teachers and other authority figures – that tell them they are less than and unworthy. The social-psychological literature is equally clear: negative metastereotypes (believing that others view members of your group in negative ways) has real world effects on everything from self esteem to academic performance.

      Your comment suggests that producing public policy that reduces inequality and addressing the social-psychological and emotional wounds of oppression are diametrically opposed agendas. They are not. It is not an either/or scenario – both types of work should be done. One need look no further than Du Bois or Fanon, Patricia Hill Collins or bell hooks to grasp the importance of understanding and addressing the subjective dimensions oppression and inequality.

      As to whether it is a privilege to practice the kind of spirituality I talk about here — a spirituality grounded in stillness, quiet moments of meditation and reflection — of course it is. Does that mean meditation and emotional healing should remain the province of people who have the time and resources to study Buddhism or attend a retreat? Of course not.

      New research centers are emerging to study the links between mindfulness, stress reduction and inequality – including the effect of meditation on stereotype threat. New programs are popping up to provide spaces for people to learn about yoga and meditation in urban environments. Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman, has written a book on mindfulness and is working to introduce mindfulness practices and meditation in schools, including those in low-income neighborhoods.

      And last but not least, mindfulness prison educational programs are also popping up, including one started by Kenny Johnson, an African American formerly incarcerated man who has written an entire book (“The Last Hustle”) that answers your question about the power of helping poor, black and brown people realize their wholeness. Kenny is a practitioner of the same kind of spirituality I talk about here – nonduality.

      Part of the gift I have of teaching at a large state university is the fact that many of my students are the first people in their families to ever earn a college degree. They are a diverse group: in one class alone, I have students from nearly a dozen countries, students who are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, students from poor families in Albania, students from developing nations, students from the Caribbean. They are upwardly mobile, but they have had to endure extraordinarily difficult circumstances – and they come to me with stories of being excluded, denigrated, told that they cannot fulfill their dreams. I mentor students of color who confess that they doubt their own abilities – that they contend with feelings of inferiority because of their racial or ethnic background, or because they come from families where, even today, girls are told that they cannot be scientists, lawyers or educators. Part of my work with college students as well as the high school and middle school children I’ve mentored – is to clearly convey their inherent value, to nurture their dreams and aspirations even as I help them understand the social constraints with which they must contend. I’ve worked with low-income students who, at the age of 11 or 12, have already been in the juvenile system. They need resources to improve their life chances, yes, but they also need nurturing and attention from people in their communities to help them understand that they are worthy – that they are not defined by the low expectations others have of them – and that a better life is possible.

      Indeed: social policy can change people’s lives for the better. Is it enough? No. Can we work on multiple dimensions of inequality at the same time? Yes.

  3. Beautiful. Thank you for taking us along on this journey with you.

    As per the above comment, I struggle with the reality that I am a happy person in a terribly unjust world. However, I have come to realize that my being sad wouldn’t contribute anything against injustice. Perhaps if I allowed myself to feel all the suffering in the world, I would no longer be able to stand it and would feel more compelled to action. However, I am not sure that’s the best way either. So, I keep moving forward, doing what I can, while protecting my own happiness.

    • Hey Tanya! Great to read you here. You know, I interpreted Ethan’s comment as questioning the value of helping folks understand that they are worthy – I didn’t take it personally, as a question about the value of *my* understanding that *I* am worthy 🙂

      But yes, looking at it that way is an interesting twist. But I still find it to be an equally odd question. Is the world better served by my feeling broken, inferior, angry, resentful? Am I better equipped to address inequality by being miserable and unhappy? Can I inspire anyone to reach for their dreams if I am an evil, bitter person? People who lack self-love, who think poorly of themselves, who feel inferior and allow those feelings of inferiority to fester make very shitty activists. They can help bring about superficial change (e.g. moving the chairs around on the Titanic) but they are ill equipped to inspire positive transformation.

      I think in our culture, we’ve somehow gotten the idea that we can neglect our inner lives and focus on external change, as if the two are unrelated. When Gandhi talks about being the change we wish to see in the world, I take that literally. If we want a healthy world “out there”, we need a healthy world “in here” – in our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our relationships. How are you going to complain about racism or sexism when you hate yourself? How can you promote public policies to help the poor without also promoting compassion? How do you think we’re going to be able to convince others to care about strangers if we don’t practice that same kind of kindness and love in our everyday lives? How can we show up as inspirational, forces for good in our families, communities, places of work and worship, unless we take care of ourselves?

      So yes, I absolutely agree with you Tanya – the world does not benefit from your being unhappy. But I wonder about your point regarding action — don’t you feel that you *are* taking action to address issues of inequality? You’re already part of the change you wish to bring about. Aren’t you already transforming the world – as an educator, a parent, a mentor and whatever other role(s) you take on in your community?

      • I struggle with this. I do take action, more than many people. However, I do not think I am doing enough. I am not sure exactly what else I could be doing, but I know that what I am doing now is not enough to bring about the change I want to see in the world.

        I think society needs to be fundamentally reordered to create a world where the search for money and profit do not drive everything. I know people who have dedicated their lives to changing the world in these ways – building a revolutionary movement against capitalism. I am not ready to dedicate my life to that.

        I try not to be complacent and I work to change the lives of those around me and to whom I can speak directly.

        But, I know, deep down, that real change will require much more. By real change I mean mass-scale alleviation of suffering caused by the current system of global capitalism.

        The struggle against racism that you talk about is part of this. But, I also see racism as part of a world-view created to justify exploitation. Racism dehumanizes people and makes them seem less worthy to racists – making it easier for racists to ignore their suffering. Racism has evolved in its own ways, but the current order benefits too many people for it to be eliminated without mass-scale action.

        My current role is to push others to see the need for change through my writings. I will keep doing that but hope to one day take more drastic steps.

        • Hi Tanya. You bring up a sentiment that is very common among people who want to affect positive change – this notion that what we’re doing is not enough, that we must do more – and for good reason. It’s an interesting question from the perspective of nonduality or any other “present-moment-awareness” form of spirituality : If we believe that our personal well being is tied to our ability to remain grounded in the present moment (and I’m not sure if you agree with me on that, Tanya) – what do we do with all of that concern we have about the collective future?

          I share your conviction that more must be done, by all of us individually. But I also wonder if it is possible to go about the business of doing more for the collective good, for the collective future, without the angst, anger, anxiety and self-induced “I’m not doing enough” pressure that many people put on themselves. I’m not saying that your comment implied all of that emotional baggage, but I think it is very typical among activists, people involved in their communities, do-gooders in general. Righteous indignation, passion and strategizing for individual and collective action has its place, of course, but I still feel that we are best equipped to do good when we are grounded in the present moment – when we are anchored in clear-headed, conscious awareness. From this place of stillness and wellbeing, we are best positioned to be aware of the needs around us and able to serve in ways that are most helpful and effective. If we can do “the work” with equanimity and compassion, then everything we do and everyone we interact with can magnify the positive transformation we seek, because we discipline ourselves to embody that change in every moment, knowing that “one day” is always “now”. I know it may sound too idealistic, but I really believe that if there is mass-scale action to be done, then it will only bring about effective and durable change to the extent that it is carried out by people who are compassionate, loving and committed to dissolving group conflict and boundaries. Mass-scale action in the hands of egoic, selfish people will just bring more of the same – shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

          I also believe that whatever each of us needs to know about what we need to do any given point and time will be revealed. I used to feel like it was my job to figure out how to give back and make the world a better place. What I’ve come to understand in my own life is that I do not have to “figure it out” – I have to listen. I have to listen to the people in my life, in my community – I have to listen to my family, my friends, my mentors, my students, my colleagues, my spiritual teachers – but most of all, I have to listen to my intuition – to life. The important thing, I think, is to have 1) the intention of being a conduit of compassionate action and 2) the curiosity and inquisitiveness it takes to become aware of how you can best be an instrument for good in this moment and 3) the willingness to be courageous and actually do whatever it is you feel compelled to do.

      • I am not a social scientist, so this is from a lay person’s view. It is not an either or social solution to me. There is a meaningful place for politics, passion and personal agency as a response to our human condition.

        These problems we face here are human problems that we created or are heir to. We are all connected in some way to them. Affected on some level by them. But it could be that it is the meaningfulness we bring to and extract from life, notwithstanding circumstance, in the midst of chaos or calm, that leads us most directly to the threshold of personal triumph and salvation. You can not create enough laws to legislate character or self worth. Hope is not policy per se. But harnessing deep character, knowing your self worth, taking ownership of the property of hope is by virtue an unalienable right we must all as individuals and societies, cultivate to thrive.
        (xcuse spelling. On BB.)

        Bj

        • Thank you for your comments! Please know and understand that this blog is not primarily for “social scientists” – everyone’s voice and perspective is welcome here, no caveats required. And there is no such thing as a “lay person”. Everyone is an expert on the life that they’ve experienced.

          The idea that we can care about the subjective, emotional, spiritual well-being of people *and* be concerned with improving their objective life conditions is very important to me. Inequality is complex and trying to solve the external without attention to the internal is a lost cause.

  4. Anais Nin wrote about the need to take care of your internal life before you can truly contribute to the collective life. I highly recommend her book, “The Novel of the Future” it keeps me going when I get overwhelmed by what I think is expected of me out in the world.

    • Great – I think I have heard of her work. I wil look through my archives.

      My question here to anyone who would question Crystal using nondualism contemplative practices, or asking why an understanding of wholeness matters, I ask why not. How not. Would anyone question why think? Or why pray? Why speak? Or why walk. I would say that it may be when we are most challenged, perhap by all appearances even broken, or are violated or feel victimezed that is when we most need to understand wholeness. To grasp our ability to shape our own experience of life no matter if it has thrown everything at us but the proverbial kitchen sink. Wholeness is freedom of a higher sort that whether the length of our life is measured in years, days, hours or seconds, once understood no one or external thing can take it away.

      Policy too is critically important to say Healthcare. But it doesn’t negate selfcare, or even beg the question why it would be beneficial. When the quality of health or life is compromised or at risk, all necessary modalities of care, healing and treatment should be brought to bear. Even the Placebo Effect, which is gaining more acceptance in integrative Medicine, at its root is grounded in our own inate power or ability to heal.

      Yes We have a lot of problems to be fixed here in this world. Having a fractured perception of our wholeness, however, doesn’t in my mind serve us or anyone very well, no matter the ills of society or its structures. Yet conversely it can help impress upon humanity even if one life, one conscienceness, one heart, one soul, one forgotten child or adult at a time or all together what real sustainable ownership we have of our ‘destiny’ and ‘fate’, of personal power and possibility; how does that hurt the ‘Cause’?. I say instead, it can’t help but help to understand who you are and were born to be in the world.

      Cheers.
      Bj

      • What I find remarkable is that there is very little talk about what wholeness looks and feels like when it comes to ethnoracial relations. Actually, in my view, there is also very little honest and clear-headed discussion about ethnoracial wounds. Abstract terms like “racism” and “stereotypes” and “discrimination” do not capture the emotional and psychological toll that racial oppression takes, not only on the oppressed, but on the oppressors, who bind themselves to inhuman and idiotic ideologies of their own making. Identity politics that celebrate difference and multiculturalism represent one way of asserting the dignity of non-dominant groups, but still within the confines of egoic claims: “Black is beautiful”, for example, is a kind of identity posture that still links one’s sense of wholeness to an idea: “My collective identity is fantastic.” But as long as we link our sense of self worth to an egoic flag, then we are still vulnerable to the shifting tides of language, categories, symbols and meanings — if I think I’m beautiful because I assert that Black is beautiful, then my beauty is in question whenever someone questions the beauty of Blackness — or, worse, when I myself question the beauty of my own Blackness. But if I know my Self, my Being, my Presence beyond any idea, beyond any category, beyond an identity, then I know that regardless of who says what, when and to whom, I am that I am. I am not beautiful because Black is beautiful, I simply am. I am even better than beautiful – I am the f*cking Big Bang. And yes, I am the Big Bang manifesting as this black woman, but what is beautiful about me is not tied to anything that is particular about me – my blackness is part of my beauty, but it is not the source of it. The source is the Source.

    • Hi Kristin – warm thanks for the comment! You know, I’ve seen some really great quotes from Anais Nin, but the little I’ve read about her suggests that she was out of her mind. I’ve never read her stuff – maybe I should (?) In any case, I very much agree that we must take care of ourselves to be effective change agents. “Put your oxygen mask on first..”

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  6. I echo Tanya’s thoughts. This is beautiful and I feel like I have been able to follow your journey and grow with you. I share similar beliefs and study similar topics. As much as they both represent the whole me, I often feel like the two “souls” don’t blend. I mean, for me it makes sense, but I have found it hard to articulate it to others or for others to discount what I am saying as me being to “close to my work”. I haven’t read hooks latest book but it might become one of my summer reads.

    Thank you!

    • Hey lady – nice to read you off of Twitter – thanks for visiting the blog 😉 I’m glad that this resonated with you. Tell me more about what you mean by the two souls not blending?

      • Hmmmn, well I am a black-biracial woman, mother, sociologist, and Christian. I understand that those things make up the whole of me but I often find myself dropping one or more off dependent on context. I rarely talk about my spirituality with any of my mentors (the only one I do is someone who studies the Black Church). And especially as a sociologists concerned with social justice, equality, etc., it seems as though having a Christian identity can almost be look down upon. Now I don’t deny my faith or my walk but I think that its something I have tried to separate… which can’t be healthy. I also don’t talk too much about my life at home. I had a mentor complain about other students having lives outside of their work– but I am probably one of the students who spends the most time doing non-work because I am raising my son. This is not something I will negotiate but again, I find myself not talking about that identity either.

        Interestingly, I do talk about race with these people. But that is what I study so it seems easier/more fitting. But even so, my studies focus on mixed-race, individuals so I often try not to get to into that part of it because then I feel like I am talking about myself. And I have been warned about being “too close to my work.” (I loved that “Racing Research and Research Race book but must read hooks this summer).

        So I was just thinking about these struggles (and Du Bois on warring of souls) and about presenting myself on the market and realized your points about inferiority and the self were really important. When I think about it, me shielding myself has always an attempt to protect against rejection (or inferiority in my work role). I decided I need to work towards mending these parts that are thought were not blending so that no matter what I am doing and who I am around, I am always the whole me.

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