SooJin and Hannah mix it up in this episode - featuring co-host, Hannah Carney - to launch a four-part series on What White People Are Doing. This series is in response to a question posed by previous guest Marjorie Grevious (from episode 19). Hannah opens the conversation by sharing personal stories, grappling out loud with some of the nuance that she is navigating, and providing a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes for white people who are committed to antiracism. She shows up honestly with offerings of grace and vulnerability. Her story highlights the healing nature of antiracism and the tremendous benefits of engaging in the more difficult aspects of the work.
Note: Some profanity is sprinkled throughout this episode.
Headspace - meditation app
Lisa Harris & Co - narrative therapy (for people who identify as women)
All About Love by bell hooks
1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
E23: What White People Are Doing (Part 1 of 4)
Co-hosts: SooJin Pate and Hannah Carney
Guest: Hannah Carney
Intro (music by Mike Myth Productions):
SooJin: Welcome to the Antiracist Parenting Podcast, where we're working to create an antiracist world for ourselves, our children, and future generations to come.
Hannah: We are Hannah Carney and SooJin Pate. And we're coming to you not as experts but as parents who want to share our missteps and successes in raising antiracist children. Thank you for being on this journey with us, as we work together to build a community of antiracist parents who are raising a generation of antiracist kids.
SooJin: Welcome to episode 23. Before we get started, I have a short announcement to make. Dr. Anne Phibbs is a new patron of the podcast.
Hannah: Thank you, Anne!
SooJin: Yes. Thank you so much for your support Anne, and both Hannah and I, we worked with Anne at her company, Strategic Diversity Initiatives. It's actually how we met.
Hannah: Yes, yes.
SooJin: And as a thank you, we asked Anne if there was anything that she wanted to uplift on our podcast, she said that she'd like you all to know about the upcoming allyship certificate series that begins this month in March. And the first workshop is on disability and that's taking place on March 7th with Linda Wolford. And I have attended this workshop, and I can't recommend it enough. I've learned so much from Linda. Isn't she amazing, Hannah?
Hannah: Amazing, absolutely amazing.
SooJin: Such an incredible teacher. And funny. Yeah, she brings so much joy, and wisdom, but also humor to this work. And I just love her energy so much. So really recommend that you sign up for that workshop. Other workshops in the series address implicit bias, LGBTQ identities, and sizeism, and I'll be conducting a workshop on advancing racial equity in April.
SooJin: Yeah. And the great thing is that all of these sessions are over Zoom, so anybody can join and we'll include the registration info in our show notes.
SooJin: Okay. So on with our show, I am excited for this episode. It is an episode that has been a long time coming, and I'm super excited that this day has finally arrived. Hannah Carney, the cohost that you all have come to know and love is our very special guest today. As you know, she was on hiatus for the first half of our season and is back to fill us in on what's been going on in her life and the work that she's been doing based on the things she's been learning through our podcast.
In addition, she's our first guest, as we kick off a new four-part series on what white people are doing to divest from whiteness and white supremacy and invest in antiracism. And this series is an answer to the question that Marjorie Grevious from episode 19 posted to us. And I'm just going to read a little bit of the transcript from that episode to remind listeners of what she said.
So this is Marjorie: I've always wanted to know what white people are doing. I mean, because you know, we out here doing the heavy lifting, so I really want to know how are you raising your children to treat mine as equals as human beings, having an equal experience? What are you doing, watching, reading, saying, talking about around your dinner table at night? Like, what is that conversation about and how are you talking about people who are different than you? How are you talking about people who are different than you and how are you continuously wrestling with your place in American society as part of the privilege class? It is what it is. What are you going to do with your privilege? What are you doing with your privilege? How are you going to use it to benefit others? You can't give it away. You can't take it off. It is what it is. So what are you doing with it? That's what I always want to know.
So before we address those questions with Hannah, we'll first do our accountability checking.
Hannah: So I had made the commitment last episode to meditate on who I am and what world I want to live in. And just as I was looking through the meditation app this week, I realized that I have actually meditated for over 365 days in a row. And so, yeah, so I, um, I feel like so much has changed in this last year and I'm so grateful to Headspace and the practice of meditation in general. And I feel like I really have become so much more clear on my purpose around my unwavering commitment to a future that is anti-racist, that is multiracial, that is peaceful, that includes everyone. And I also feel so strongly that I am an antiracist white parent. That is what feels so good to me in terms of how I identify and what I care about.
SooJin: Can I just say that I love how you're claiming that identity? Like, I mean, you said it and I got tingles down my spine because honestly, I don't think I've ever heard a white person say that, like I am an antiracist white parent.
SooJin: I mean, like, I think that must be why I got tingles because like I've never heard it said, oh, wow, it's extraordinary, but it's also sad, isn't it?
Hannah: Yes, it is. Yes it is. Anyways, I feel good about my accountability and I feel like I've come a long ways and I'm so excited to share more about it as we continue on after our check-in.
SooJin: Yeah. Awesome. Okay. So I made the commitment from our last episode with Veronica Chambers to embrace this new awareness that I gained. And that is to perceive love as the conduit of the truth that I'm trying to pass on. And since I've made that commitment, I've been asking myself this question more frequently, how can I say this with love? How can I say this in a way that makes the listener know that I care for them and in posing these questions to myself, I noticed that the edges of certain conversations have softened. I also noticed that when I feel tired or when I feel pressed for time, I don't take the time to ask these questions. And instead I'm short, curt, and dismissive because I'm trying to be “efficient” or I'm trying to save time, but here's the thing. It doesn't save time because I end up having to go back to the person and apologize for hurting their feelings or for escalating an already tense situation. So, I've learned that taking shortcuts in this context can actually lead to harm, um, because I'm not being intentional and deliberate about how I want to say things, because you know, I'm just kind of spouting off at the mouth because I'm trying to save time.
Hannah: Yes, I know that feeling.
SooJin: And I wanted to bring up another thing that happened to me that helped to put into perspective, the different ways in which speaking with love can look and play out. So I believe in dream work and by dream work, I mean that, I believe that dreaming while we're asleep can be a productive space to work out our fears, our insecurities, etc. And my first published essay came to me during a dream. I actually wrote the entire article in this dream so that when I woke up the words just like poured out of me.
Hannah: Now I have the tingles!
SooJin: And I also remember at five years old using dreams as a pathway to reconnect with my umma and my birth family. So I guess I've always kind of known intuitively the power of dreams. And come to find out many Indigenous communities all around the world - so in Africa and Asia and the Americas -also have this belief about the powerful and transformative work of dream work. So dreaming has become a very powerful mode of healing and I'm able to work shit out. So for example, dream work helped me to forgive my adoptive mother. I wasn't ready to forgive her when she was alive. So dreamwork gave me the opportunity for us to meet in the spiritual realm and say what I needed to say so that all could be forgiven and dream work helped me to come to terms with the various hurts that took place in my childhood and high school. Um, so I'm telling you dreaming is powerful stuff. Like you can get a lot of work done in your sleep!
Okay. So. I promise this is connected to my commitment. Okay. So bear with me for a few more minutes longer. Okay. So a few days ago I had a dream where I was literally screaming at my adoptive father. I was quoting Malcolm X to him yelling, “It's because of you that I grew up hating myself. Malcolm X was right. White people are the greatest hate teachers in the world. You are one of the greatest hate teachers in the world. You taught me to hate myself. You teach people of color to hate themselves. You are a teacher of hate.” And I just kept saying that over and over again, “you are a teacher of hate” until I literally ran out of breath. As I was stopping to catch my breath to my utter surprise, my adoptive father spoke back and said to me, “You're right. I need to be better. I need to do better.” I was so shocked by his response because that has not been his response in the pass. Um, I was so shocked by his response and gasping for air that I literally startled myself awake and I woke up with my heart just pounding, beating against my chest, trying to catch my breath. Like that's how much energy I was expending in my dream.
Yeah. Okay. So now this is where I'm going to tie this back into my accountability check-in. I realized that to speak with love doesn't always mean that you have to be calm and gentle all the time. On the contrary, you can speak with love in the midst of rage and anger. In this case, I said what I needed to say in the way I needed to say it. To claim love for my own self. And my response was in direct proportion to the harm that was done to me. So in that sense, it was an appropriate response. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that, I learned that sometimes speaking with love means speaking your truth with your whole self so that the other person can feel the weight and significance of your truth. That's what I learned from the dream.
And I felt like Audre Lorde was inserting herself into my dream, reminding me of how good and useful and productive anger is when we tap into it in an attempt to heal ourselves.
SooJin: Since having that dream, I felt a softness towards my adoptive father, who is a diehard Trump supporter, that I've never felt before. And that softness is forgiveness. Like I forgive him. And I don't need him to apologize in “real life” for me to forgive him, given the healing that took place in the dream. And the dream also left me feeling more hopeful that racist, white people can change because I'm not going to lie, I've been struggling with feelings of doubt and hopelessness working with racist, white people given that they sound antiracist. So they say all the right things, but they act racist. But the dream was kind of a remedy of sorts because I do feel more hopeful about the possibility of white people changing.
Hannah: That is incredible.
SooJin: Okay. Onto our intention for today.
Hannah: Yes. So I don't have like an official one, but I feel like personally, I really want to be really honest about what I've been going through. And, I think that so often we don't really have a sense of like, what does it actually look like? Or what are people actually doing? And so I'm not saying my way is the right way or the only way or anything like that, but I just wanted to share a little bit more in depth about where my journey has taken me and just provide sort of like practical application areas, hopefully, or stories or examples anyway. Uh, if it can be of help, that's the main thing, but I just feel like, we need more white people to talk more about the harder parts of this work, I think. And so I think that's my intention is just to like put myself out there.
SooJin: Oh, I wish more people had that intention to put themselves out there. Okay, so by way of answering Marjorie's questions, what are white people doing? Um, another way of saying that is what have you been doing Hannah during your time away from the podcast?
Hannah: Yeah. So I'm trying to think about where to start, because I feel like, you know, thinking back through some of the episodes, like at the end of season one, we did like our Sankofa episode. And in that episode, I kind of shared a little bit more about some work that I was doing with like my mom and my sister, my brother about like meeting and how we had...
SooJin: the family meetings.
Hannah: Yeah. Like, you know, started to kind of introduce these harder conversations into our quarterly meetings. And, you know, that was really great. And we had made a lot of progress and at the same time, what was like coming up for me was something that was like related to trauma. And at that point in my journey, I was just like, I feel like I need to learn more about trauma because something's like off here, but I don't really have the language. I don't know anything like, so I had, then in July, August timeframe had started to see a therapist, like for myself, an individual therapist who had a background in trauma. And so at that point I started to learn a little bit more about what trauma is, how it shows up and starting to really like understand a little bit more about like my family dynamics of like growing up. And I was doing this work kind of by telling my family, you know, I'm doing this therapy process. I'm going to kind of step away from sort of our normal family activities for awhile while I just sort of get some perspective and figure stuff out because I don't know, like I don't have the language, the tools to explain it. I just like need to do this because I just am like struggling. And so, in addition to the individual therapy, I started doing narrative therapy with a narrative therapy coach, which was really helpful because she helped me lay out like a life timeline. So like going back and like filling in like all of the things that I can sort of remember about events and people and places and like, you know, things that were really positive and things that were really hard and like just really kind of plotting out just as much as I possibly could remember. And then going back and then digging deeper back into that. And so that process was really helpful.
And I want to pause here for a second because I think another really important piece that, um, I don't know if I've really mentioned this with the appropriate amount of weight in previous episodes, but SooJin you and I went on a walk back in June of last year at Bde Maka Ska, which is a lake in the Twin Cities that we walked around that day. And it was this point where I'm like, you know, don't have these tools, don't have the language. I'm like, something's going on. I had applied to law school. I had gotten into law school and I was like, I don't know if I should really be going to law school. And you were like, so gracious and helped me sort of think through the decision. And I think what was so profound about that walk for me is that it was really maybe the first time in my life that I felt truly seen. Um, and like, you know, I was like, what 38? And I had never felt that before. And it was so. Beautiful. And it was so simple because you basically were saying like, what do you want to do? You know, like, what do you want to do with your life? And I had just said, you know, I have this vision of like being a writer, which is like, I never have told anybody about that. I'm like, self-conscious of it, honestly, because always in my life it was like, my dreams were stupid and like that isn't realistic.
And so I just really wanted to say that because that made such an enormous difference in my trajectory of saying, okay, now I actually know what it feels like to be seen, to feel like I can do things, you know, like I can go after my dreams. And so as I started to move forward and like work on the trauma and, like one of my kids was struggling with like, now I understand it as like, you know, his nervous system was dysregulated. And he was showing that in some aggressive ways at times and sometimes was doing destructive things. And so, my spouse and I, John, like, we were like, oh, we need to ge therapy for him. And when we started talking to a family therapist, she was like looking at me and John and being like, well, actually we need to start with like the two of you.
And so I stopped going to my individual therapist and John and I started engaging in marriage counseling. And this was like right around, like the beginning of the school year. And this is like, when things were like so hard. We're not totally out of the hard period, but like John and I were like, not in agreement about schooling. And like the kids had started back at school in the fall and they were not pleased, like not loving school, hating it, like with a passion. And I was like in this realm of learning about unschooling and self-directed learning and you know, just other ways that people, like raise their children and how they develop their learning and education and all of these things. And so I was in this mindset of like, well, if we're listening to our children and they're telling us this is terrible, like there are all these other options out there to consider to try and, you know, and we can go back to school if they don't work. Like it's not like school won't be an option or something. And so that was like my thinking, but that was just really a sore spot in our marriage. And John was just really pressing me to like keep them in school. And so, you know, we've had so many conversations and, I think underlying all of it is this, um, kind of sense that when I say I'm an antiracist white parent, like I really am committed and I take that responsibility seriously. Like I try so hard to not, you know, like post stuff on social media to be like, look at this like nice thing I did for those poor people, that kind of thing. Um, and I really try to figure out like, how am I contributing to this unequal society?
Like, what are the things like if you were to just look at my life, like all areas - finances, how I interact with people, who are my friends, what conversations I'm having. What would the honest assessment be of how antiracist am I? And I have done so much work to change. Who are my friends? Who's in my network? Who do I trust? What conversations are we having? But like, you know, there's more to be done always. And so I feel like for John and I it's like a lot of the work up until now has really kind of been like, oh, that's my work - that's Hannah's work. And now it's starting to be like, well, now, John, you actually have to do things like if we're a united partnership here and committed to this work and want to raise socially conscious kids, like we have to be doing it and we have to be doing it together. And so I feel like some of my struggle has just been around like, feeling that maybe this, that isn't what he really wants to do. And so then it puts me in this position of like, well, how do I live my values around antiracist parenting and have this commitment to my marriage, which I also take very seriously.
And so, yeah, it's really tricky. But through - the marriage counseling has been tremendously helpful on the whole, there have been areas that have been harder to deal with. And I'll also add that, like, when I started taking a break, you know, I'll say like a break, but I was in communication with my family the whole time. I never was like, don't talk to me, but it was much less and I was like, sending as many updates as I could, because I just didn't know what I was doing. Anyways, so as I was, sort of like taking this step back, if you will, John’s sort of his initial response was to like join forces with my family. Like, he was like, whoa, what are you doing? Where are you going? This is not okay. And so even just in seeing the various reactions from my family around like saying, I’ve got to figure out this trauma thing and I got to like, understand. It's not just about like my personal childhood wounds. It's also about like societal wounds and the pieces around patriarchy and racism and white supremacy and like, you know, the systemic pieces. And so that's what I think makes it so complicated because we have these family dynamics, we all have like different understandings around the societal pieces and the individual pieces as well. And so I've been trying so hard to navigate each step in a way that's like, I honor and build up my self-trust. So like, checking in with me and like, how do I feel about this? Like where are the areas I need to make changes and take responsibility? How am I then interacting with people in a way that is, compassionate, but honest and, ultimately figuring out like, I am just a person that if I know something is perpetuating harm systemically, I just can't be like, oh, well that's someone else's problem or something. I just have this inner desire or motivation or something where I'm just like, that will not work out for me like. I can't just knowingly not care or something like that. I don't know how to explain it. Exactly.
SooJin: Well, first of all, that's incredible. I know at the time when you made the decision to not go to law school, you didn't realize that in letting law school go, you were deciding to choose the path of healing. You didn't know that at the time, but, in saying no to law school, like it freed you up and gave you this time and space so that you could focus and learn more about the trauma that you experienced and how that trauma is playing out and showing up in your life as an adult, and working on our trauma like that is, that is some deep, deep scary shit.
Hannah: Yeah, totally.
SooJin: And so I just want to first applaud you for being so courageous and brave and making that leap. I know that’s a huge risk to take, and it's also a huge commitment because once you start, you can't really turn back, you know? Um, I mean you can, but, you chose not to turn back and to keep excavating heal yourself. Um, so I was curious, I'm assuming it has changed and shifted your relationships with your family, with your husband, because like when you are healing yourself, you change yourself. And so you're not showing up in the same ways that you used to show up, which like threatens the existing family dynamics, right? Or the partner dynamic. So I'm just curious, like, what are the ways which, because you changed, it's changing the dynamics in your family?
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah. So the first thing that comes to mind when you say that is, um, and I think we've talked about this before, but Prentis Hemphill talks about the definition of boundary, which is the distance at which I can love you and also love myself. I come back to that a lot because I feel like so often I have been conditioned into this, you know, do anything for family and family has a right to anything and everything. And, like you have to tell everything, you have to share everything, even if it's dysfunctional and not healthy, like you just do it.
And so my approach with my family, like my sister, mom, brother, like kind of that part of my family, has really been like when we get together or when I choose to be involved with family activities, that it is a genuine, like I missed you and I want to be here versus, oh, I got to do that. And that's kind of like where it had been going. And that doesn't feel good to anyone to have it be like, oh, like I don't really want to be here, but I feel like I should, or a have to or something. And so, it's obviously complicated because my sister has cancer and she has gotten rid of it three times and now it's back and it's actually metastasized to her lung. And so it makes her long-term prospects of survival, just much more uncertain. And that is so awful, like fucking terrible. And it's just like, it sucks. And so on the one hand I'm like, you know, my conditioning would be like, oh, I'm just going to drop everything and do whatever for you.
And at the same time, I'm like, how can I be a genuine, loving supporting sister and hold on to like my own health and the work that I've been doing around healing and not just sort of like dip back into those old patterns of losing myself in all of it. And so, yeah, it's really tricky and it is changing the dynamics. And I think my family has anger towards me and confusion and, I do have intentions of like, moving that work along with them, like perhaps getting some kind of a facilitator or professional help to help us sort through some issues so that we can build those healthy relationships. I'm just not ready for that right now. Like I need to continue to focus on me and my spouse and my kids right now. Like that has to be the top priority for me to like, get through this. And so, um, yeah. So that's how it's changed those relationships
With John it's been really interesting. At first, we were just like going at it with each other, like, it was just like, I just felt like you don't understand me. Like you don't trust me. Like you are just like saying no to everything. And so, that was a lot of like those initial, arguments and, as we've gone through the therapy, like a major, major break through for me, and I would say for both of us. Really around like the mindfulness and like staying emotionally regulated. I didn't realize that if we, as humans are not like in a state of emotional regulation, we literally cannot relate to other people and then we cannot reason. Like, we're just like our bodies are too on guard to like really get anywhere. And so that has been a huge change.
One of my kids was making drawings of like, which animals we were. And so, he was drawing like, a kangaroo for his brother who jumps around a lot. And I was considered the sloth. And at first I was kind of offended cause like, I go to like the cardinal sin, cause I don't have a job right now. And I'm like, you know, like just slacking over here. And so there, so I thought it was, I dunno, something like that. And he was like, oh, no, you're a sloth because you are so calm and slow. And I was just like, my heart just like melted. I was like, how validating that, like, I actually have calmed down to like sloth pace.
SooJin: What a compliment!
Hannah: I love that, because that's intentional.
SooJin: Yeah. Yeah.
Hannah: So, yeah. So I just loved that. And he drew John as a black bear, which is so fitting because black bears are like very attentive and industrious and very protective and stuff. And so anyway,
SooJin: That's so cool that your children are seeing the changes. They can not only see, but feel the changes.
Hannah: Yeah, totally. And that is opening up some room to like, not only for them to be like, oh, I could do that too, but to see that, we're really working through some hard things and we're intentional and we tell them what we're doing and why we're doing it. And so they don't always respond in a way, like, yeah, got it. Good job, mama. They get it. They know, you know? And so, that's been a huge change. And then so John and I are like, we are figuring this out and you had mentioned this dream that you had about the interaction with your adoptive father and as you were talking, it just was so interesting because like some of my childhood issues come out of like, not being seen and not being understood and that kind of thing.
And that's why it was so powerful for you to have had that impact on me. And so I think what I had been feeling in this process was like, kind of reverting back to childhood of when my parents would just be like, No, no, no. Or like not see me or not understand me and just be like, I know what's best, you just do this.
And I was feeling like that was coming from John too. Like, it was like, no, I know what's best for the family. You just stick with the program basically was like the messaging and it's coming - I mean, from both my childhood family and John, this is coming from a place of love and genuine care and concern and like all of those things.
And yet I was just like, I just felt so trapped by that. And so I had this conversation with John pretty recently, where I basically kind of like you and your dream. I was like, I feel like you're my parent and I'm a kid and you're saying no, do what I'm telling you to do. And you know, there's no other options.
Else you're out on the street, you know, like that kind of thing. And I just basically said to him, like, the difference is, is like now I'm an adult and I can leave. Like, I don't want to - like I want our marriage to work. That's my wish. And prayer and hope is like that we will work through this. And I do have hope about that. But like in this conversation, I was - maybe to even prove to myself like that, I was like, I am not stuck here.
SooJin: You're not trapped.
Hannah: I can make a different choice here. And I was like, you were saying, like, I was expecting him to meet that with like, oh, you're not grateful. I haven't done anything for you, all that kind of thinking like, which is like what my parents have done and has come up sort of in our relationship. I wouldn't say that's like the general rule, but sometimes I get that feeling. And he does a lot, like I'm not discrediting that, like he does a lot and I am not working and he works. And so our livelihood depends on him and that needs to be acknowledged. Definitely. Um, but anyway, he met me with such compassion and vulnerability and I was like totally thrown off. Like, I was just like, oh shit. And so it was like, in that moment, I felt like it was going to be okay. Like we're going to be okay. And like, I don't know, like something in my body just like, knew that I can live my values and be in this marriage and we're gonna do it together somehow. And it's not clear exactly, but the commitment is there. It just makes me think of bell hooks’ work. You had mentioned the book All About Love. I have read a couple other books of hers, but not all of them, so one of the things early on in our therapy that came up was that Hannah basically got this version that's like tainted love or whatever from childhood.
And, you know, that's reenacting in various ways and that stuff I got to work on or whatever, but that somehow, like John learned love and I was like, you know, it just doesn't add up. Like, it's not like his family dynamic, his childhood family dynamics. Like they were different of course. But like, we have kind of similar sort of issues if you will. And so that like stumped me and I was like, how could that be? How could he have this pure love? And I have the tainted love. And I was just like, well, no shit of course, like everywhere he goes in society validates him, you know, like, and that was just my thinking.
I was just like, of course he feels love or whatever. And then I read this bell hooks’ book All About Love. And I was like, oh, this is actually like research. Like men actually do feel more love than women. And, you know, she talks about men and women specifically in the book. Um, so bell hooks is saying men sort of like have this general sense of being loved more so than women. And women tend to feel more lacking in love. But men also have this tendency to sort of like expect it without having to sort of extend themselves.
And so I was like, starting to see that kind of come up this idea that like, well, you have to accept me how I am and love me unconditionally, etc. So like on the one hand, it's like, yeah, of course, like, I think we need to accept ourselves and our partners and things and like meet them where they're at and all that and love them and stuff.
And I also feel like if you are a person in a relationship, like there has to be a willingness to want to grow and learn. I mean, we're changing, right? I'm intentionally trying to change and that's very explicit. And so like I can accept someone, where they are - John or anyone else relationship wise, and if you're just like, but I'm going to stay the same and not really do anything else, to grow or learn or, awaken and whatnot. Like that really, isn't sort of a place where I feel comfortable planting the seed of love. Like I want there to be, some reciprocation in this and I think too, like, so John and I we both play sort of a helper role in our families. Like we're this steady stable, couple that help out. If you will. And as I was starting this therapy journey, I was kind of breaking off from that because I was like, now I need help. And you know, that kind of leaves a lot of pressure on him, but for me, it's like, if he's going to stick with the program, right. Like, I'm the helper, I don't have needs. I'm just doing this, whatever, like, that doesn't feel good to me to have to be like, while I'm out here, like being a mess, talking about stuff that is really hard and he's just like, I'm fine. I'm good. You know, like that's not like an actual honest answer and be like, I want to have a relationship where we can have a full range of emotions. And then I get that, like his conditioning as a man doesn't really allow or encourage sharing or being vulnerable and whatever. And so we got to work on that piece, but, yeah, I just really think through like, the love and the justice, within our relationship with, in how we interact in our community and our families, and there's so many pieces to it and it's, you know, constantly changing and we're changing. So I feel like I'm like, you know, in the weeds a lot, but I feel very confident that this is where I need to be. Like, this is my work and I'm in it. And I feel good about like, when I make mistakes, I'm like, okay. Yep. That didn't work out or that didn't feel good now I'm gonna try something else or make amends or whatever, but I just keep going. And so, yeah.
SooJin: What would you say some of the challenges or obstacles or perhaps resistance you've been facing from others, since you've made this explicit commitment to be antiracist and to like start living those values out?
Hannah: I think that as far as my mom and my sister and my brother, like, I think they're like, just go do whatever you want to do basically. But like, one of my boundaries is that I don't really care what your views are on really anything, but what's really important to me is that we can come together and have dialogue and try to like better understand each other around really hard topics.
And so that was like one of the reasons why those meetings with my family was so huge in my life is because we were starting to do that. I think though, like at this point, I really wonder because on the one hand I feel like my family will do it because I'm asking them to do it, but there really isn't any genuine want to engage in it. Like, sort of self-motivated. And so I guess I'm kind of at this moment, just like, since I'm focused on, you know, John and our kids and myself at the moment, I'm not thinking through all of that necessarily, but I think I'm going to have to kind of come to terms with how am I going to approach that.
But I really do think that we will have to have you know that conversation about like our family history and like the dynamics and some of the underlying things, because I think if we can sort through some of that, then the conversations about race and other stuff, like won't bring up those defenses so quickly because we'll just have a lot more awareness around like why we're having like, and just be able to like monitor our bodies in a more constructive way. So that's kind of how I'm thinking about that. Um, it's changed the dynamics with John, but he is a trooper. He's so committed I mean, he's still here. Like I think that, that says a lot for his commitment to our marriage and his character. And, we've grown closer in a lot of ways and I am hopeful. I also think we both, he and I can acknowledge that, like he really does benefit from this society. And so how much is he willing to reckon with that and, myself included, but he even more so.
SooJin: So what has surprised you on your journey? Like as you think back to all of the work you've been doing and all of the shifts that have transpired given the work that you're doing, what has surprised you about the journey?
Hannah: Well, one of the main things that has been surprising is like, for so long, I have felt like, oh yeah, I know a lot about social justice and equity and whatever. And the awareness that I have, , experienced in this last year has expanded my lens so exponentially. And so I feel like, just basically the surprise of like, I actually don't really know much, you know, not, not that I want to discount the fact that I've learned a lot, but just that there's so much to it. And I feel like I never was connected with like the spiritual dimension of it until now.
And that has like opened up such a source of inner strength and confidence and, um, Yeah. I mean, I don't even know if I have the words for it, but I feel like there has just been a shift from like, oh, let me do this. Let me do this. Let me do this to like, actually like feeling like I am like connected with myself and the universe and like all living beings and things and, getting a better handle on like interdependence and like what that means, because when you come from a family that has like zero boundaries and is being conditioned in our society as it is. And like normalizing dysfunction, like, yeah, you gotta kind of figure out and teach your body about like, what is healthy and what actually is nourishing, and, what is peace within? So yeah, I would say the spiritual part of the journey probably is the most surprising to me. And just the awareness, like I was saying before, like literally knowing what it feels like to feel seen yeah, that changed me, like, so fundamentally.
SooJin: So what is keeping you going? Like despite the difficulties, the challenges, I'm curious. What keeps you going and wanting to persist in this work?
Hannah: Well, there definitely is something inside me that I can't describe that is just like will not stop. Um, and so that is some kind of internal motivation, but as I said in the beginning, like as an antiracist white parent, like my kids keep me going and not just like my kids, like, I think about all children and future generations of children. Whether you think about it as your legacy or whatever, like, no matter what we're passing something on. Right. And so what do I want to pass on? And so I am just contributing everything I possibly can in every moment of my life to a future that is centered in love and justice.
And so, my kids like talking to them about what I'm doing, like taking responsibility for the trauma and the wounds that I need to heal, so that, that doesn't come out sideways with them. And then just building our community and showing them by modeling, you know, like if I want them to have friends of color, well, I better have friends of color. And if I want them to understand different perspectives, then I need to be understanding different perspectives, and valuing that, not seeing it as like – wouldn’t that be nice or a volunteer project, but something that's really central to our lives. Because, you know, they are white boys.
Like they will be white men or white adults depending on their gender identity as they grow. And they have a responsibility too, so it's like, I need to be modeling. Like, what does it mean to be accountable? What does it mean to learn and take responsibility? And so that's what keeps me going.
SooJin: Um, beautiful. So my last question for you is what advice do you have for people who are interested in making a similar commitment and starting this journey to be antiracist?
Hannah: Well, I would say having some kind of mindfulness or meditation practice. I would even say a prayer practice could work too, depending on what makes sense in your context. Um, because yeah, I think that having that inner source of strength is really important to develop because like I have, and I believe most people will be challenged at almost every step of the way, because you know, we're going against the grain of, you know, how you were saying the efficiency people are just like, no, just keep it moving. And we're like, whoa, no stop. We're going the other way. And so, yeah. I think that would be, a big one. And I think too, like, I feel like for me, and maybe this is an internal barrier, but I have this picture of how this work should look and like, I want to do , the work, the messy work perfectly.
And so I'm like, so kind of like letting go of any notion of what it should look like or whatever, and like really just be okay with however it actually looks because, I mean, I was looking back at my journal entries and I wouldn't even write my true feelings. Like I would write an edited version of my feelings in my journal, because I was like, well, this is like the cute packaged version of like what I was going through. And now my journal entries that are like F this I hate this, or like, or isn't this amazing or whatever, like it’s all over, it's not just negative stuff, but the more we can just be really honest with ourselves. I think that's helpful because then we can like really just take a look out what is, and then, just knowing we could always choose to do something different. Like, you know, like we don't have to keep it that way. We can just be like, this is how it is, you know, what feels good? What feels like not so good about it and go from there.
And also I would be happy to talk to anyone about this at any time, because it's really hard. You know, maybe I tend to focus on like the challenges and things and like some of the harder things, which was part of my intention, but like my self-love my self-trust my self-confidence my purpose in the world have been so clarified through this process. And like that has never existed in my life.
Hannah: And so I will just say, there are real benefits to the work. You know, when we think about maybe the connotation of like social justice and everything is like in many ways that maybe it feels very negative, cause we're like dealing with really big problems, which we are, but like when you're in the work and when you're doing the work and healing I don't know. I just feel like there are so, many reasons to be hopeful. And there are so many ways to find joy and to live healthier lives, not just for ourselves, but for our whole world. And so I just, I don't know, that just came to mind.
SooJin: Hearing you talk about the benefits. It makes me think about like what we've been saying on this podcast for some time, and that is that antiracist work is humanizing. Like when I think about white people doing this work, I think about like, how are you using your privilege to open up space or redistributing power and resources and stuff like that.
But based on your story, like sure. It can look like that. And I'm sure it involves that for sure. But your story is showing that it's so much more, it's so much more that like it truly is. A pathway towards healing your whole self, and that if you didn't make this commitment to antiracism, you would not have entered into this space of trauma work right. I mean, is that true?
Hannah: Yeah. I don't see how, I mean, it's so easy to not do it. I think just sort of going with the program.
SooJin: So in making this commitment for social justice, it actually led you on the path to heal family trauma, heal generational trauma, and also help you to find your purpose which is like, wow that is pretty fucking incredible.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, and I think too, like, going back to the parenting piece, if I can help my kids stay whole as themselves and stay connected to themselves. Like they will be able to go out into the world and shine and be themselves. And, you know how we say hurt people, hurt people, but healed people, heal people. If I can keep my kids in a state of like understanding healing process so that as they grow, they're spreading healing like that is, I mean, that's so motivating.
SooJin: That really is.
Hannah: So yeah.
SooJin: That's really, really beautiful. Okay. Is there anything that you'd like to promote, an organization, a project, an issue that you'd like to lift up?
Hannah: So , within our podcast and our website, we're going to have a blog and I am going to be the writer for the blog. So this is a big step, my first big step in becoming a writer. And, um, so I haven't published any of the posts yet, but they are coming. And so I'm going to put that out into the universe and that will be, part of my commitment, but once they're ready we'll share it out, but I just want to promote the fact that that's coming.
SooJin: . So exciting!
Hannah: Yes. Yes.
SooJin: Okay. And can you share a little bit about what the blogs are going to be about?
Hannah: Yeah. So kind of like building on the series of like what white people are doing. I mean, I've listened to so many different workshops, trainings, and personal stories and experiences from friends and colleagues and other activists. And I just feel very strongly that we, like I, as a white person, have to be carrying a heavier load in the work. And I feel like white people in general need to. And I also know that there's a lot of confusion about like, well what do I do? Or what does this actually look like in practice? Or what are the applications or what tools can we use? And so this blog is going to be dedicated with the target audience, primarily of white folks. And just offering like really tangible tools and examples of like things we can do to like up our capacity so that we can be carrying the heavier load that we need to be carrying.
SooJin: Hmm. Snaps. Love it. Okay. So onto our lightning round, fill in the blank antiracist parenting or caretaking is...
Hannah: True love.
SooJin: I heart that so much! Oh, wow. Okay. What's one thing your boys did to make you smile?
Hannah: Oh my goodness. Well, I will say this. So Anthony is eight and Matteo is six and this week Matteo came to us and he was like, I really need to have my own room now. Like I need my own space.
SooJin: at six?
Hannah: At six. And so I'm like, this is maybe like, as part of the result of the pandemic and then just like too much time together. But the thing that's amazing about it is he told us a need, like he explained a need, like he was like here's what's happening. I need this. And yesterday morning, the kids and I moved his bed into another area of the house and set up his little stuff, his Legos and everything. And, last night he slept in his space and Anthony now has his own space in their old bedroom together. And it was amazing.
SooJin: Wow. I love children so much because they really are examples of wholeness. You sharing that story reminds me of how I like every day I would just be in awe of my daughter Sxela, even like, as a baby and then as a toddler. Because she had no problem asking for what she needed, zero problem. And witnessing her helped me to be more comfortable and to be more confident asking for what I need. And now I have no problems. But honestly, like it was Sxela, it was following her lead. Like she was my teacher in helping me to be clear about what I needed and then to ask for it with confidence.
So, yeah. Oh, I love that. That's beautiful. And that's why I'm like at six, like, wow, cool. So cool that he like, has that awareness, and awareness to like identify what the issue is.
Hannah: Yeah, he wrote it out. Like he was like, I need a bed, a chair, a desk. It was like, it was so sweet. And then at the bottom he goes “without Anthony.” And he's like, I like him and all, but I need my own space.
SooJin: Oh my gosh. I'm so glad you shared this story on our episode so that it is recorded and archived forever. Fantastic. Fantastic. Okay. What are you reading right now?
Hannah: So this is actually a really good segue because the next three guests in our series are from my extended family. So they are aunts and cousins of mine. And, this group, this extended family group has been meeting monthly for a little over a year now, we call it the McGrath Race Talks and we'll get way more into that when the guests come. But one of my cousins on our most recent call had asked, hey, would anyone be interested in doing a book study on the 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones. And so I just got it and started reading that and I have listened to the podcast episodes. And I, know about the book, but I've never actually read it, cover to cover. So I'm really excited for that.
SooJin: Oh, okay. What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Hannah: So every day I write on a white board in our kitchen and it's like our weekly schedule and everything. And I write this acronym, R W R S M S. And it stands for read, write, run, shower, meditate, and sing. And so those six things thing. So, yeah, I don't know if I told you this, SooJin. I'm taking singing lessons.
Hannah: I mean, it's not for like any, like, I'm not trying to...
SooJin: It’ for joy.
Hannah: Totally. And for healing actually like connecting mind and body and building confidence and stuff like that, but it's really cool. And my teacher's awesome. And so I, you know, practice. Um, so yeah, so I do those six things every day. I try to do all six of those things and that is really a self-care regimen in and of itself.
SooJin: I admire you so much. That is a robust self-care practice. And it's every day, that is incredible. Wow. Oh, gosh, I'm so inspired by you. It's making me think about like, what acronyms can I come up with? Okay. Finally, what question would you like? Antiracist parenting podcast to answer in a future episode?
Hannah: Oh, goodness, I think this is coming to mind because it's top of mind for me right now, but maybe like, how are parents interacting with their kids’ school situation? And exploring that more.
SooJin: That's great. Okay, anything else you'd like to share before we say goodbye?
Hannah: Just thank you. Yeah. I'm so grateful for you. I'm so grateful to our listeners, and I'm really excited for the other three guests in our series from my extended family and, the blog and everything that we've accomplished so far with the podcast. I just really feel like the people who have reached out to us and the guests we've had on the show, really validate and express how important this is. Like the nuance that we talk about and just even having a space to really like dig into some of these parenting issues that we come across as we're building our antiracist practice. And so, yeah. Gratitude.
SooJin: Well, right back at you, I'm so grateful, that you decided to partner with me on this journey and it's been so incredible to watch and witness your exponential growth. Like you are a totally different person. You're like Hannah 4.0. like, there's just been so many shifts and transformations and it's been such a gift for me to be able to, witness you. Um, you're inspirational. You really are. So thank you, Hannah.
Hannah: Well, thank you. You are a model and like carving the path.
SooJin: We're both carving new paths for ourselves and for our families and for our world.
SooJin: Okay. So Hannah, it sounds like the commitment that you're going to be making is writing and publishing those posts for our blog. And I'm really inspired by that practice that you shared with us. And so my commitment is going to be to come up with an acronym for myself regarding self-care. So we'll see what that looks like.
Well, thank you so much to our listeners for joining us today. And we look forward to having you listen in as we end our season two with family members from Hannah. Take care of everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in.
SooJin: We just want to say thank you for joining us today. You can find more information about us and past episodes on our website antiracistparentingpodcast.com. A big shout out to Mike Myth Productions for the intro and outro music.
Hannah: This work requires us to challenge ourselves and take care of ourselves. Be well.
SooJin: Be antiracist.