SooJin and Hannah round out this 4-part series by talking with Hannah’s cousin, Laura Holsen. Laura reflects on how she used to notice interracial couples and wonder what that experience must be like. Then she fell in love with and married someone from a different racial background! Laura’s relationship with her spouse, Sunny, has greatly shifted her awareness around privilege and motivates her to do more within her spheres of influence. In her role as a clinical neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital - Harvard Medical School, Laura is actively learning about and implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We discuss how the field of psychiatry has a long way to go to become antiracist. Ultimately, this conversation inspires us to reconnect with our personal histories and respective ancestral healing practices in order to expand the ways in which we remedy illness, address trauma, and repair harm.
Gather - documentary film on Netflix
This Land is Their Land by David Silverman
Mass General Brigham - United Against Racism: https://www.massgeneralbrigham.org/who-we-are/united-against-racism
Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones: https://www.msm.edu/about_us/FacultyDirectory/CommunityHealthPreventiveMedicine/CamaraJones/index.php
Dr. Tamarra James-Todd: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/tamarra-james-todd/
National Institutes of Health DEI strategic plan: https://diversity.nih.gov/about-us/strategic-plan
E26: What White People Are Doing (Part 4 of 4)
Co-hosts: SooJin Pate and Hannah Carney
Guest: Laura Holsen
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 26. Today we are wrapping up our four-part series on what white people are doing to share the load, to share the burden of combating racism and white supremacy with Laura. Holsen our final guest. Before we bring her in, it's time for accountability check-in so, Hannah, would you like to get us started?
Hannah: Yes. So I had made the commitment to look at kind of our financial picture and figure out a plan or a way to be more strategic and antiracist in like sort of how we as a family approach money, spend money, use money, all of those things. So I will say that SooJin - the two podcast episodes (I read the transcripts) with Edgar Villanueva and with Konda Mason from last episode were so tremendously helpful.
SooJin: Oh good.
Hannah: So I learned so much through that and that helped kind of clarify. And so I made like this list of resources and places I was like pulling in information about like reparations, and like what white people can do, and like how to dismantle white supremacy. So I have kind of this list of resources. And then from that I have started kind of outlining questions for John and I to go through. So for example, like, what are our values? What are our priorities? How did we get this money to begin with? Like, where does this money come from? Both historical, but even like through our work and like the types of companies we've worked for, etc.
And so just kind of taking a look at how we've gotten to where we are now, and then looking at, being more transparent about, you know, for example, we have some money invested and we have moved some of it into more “socially responsible” funds, but like, where are these investments going? Like, what are the companies that make up these portfolios and just being more transparent. And, you know, as I was learning is that it's really, really hard to avoid investing in things that are like not helpful basically. But also being more transparent and doing the best that we can, thinking about where are we banking, where do we shop? Like, who do we hire when we need professional services and like really going through kind of what that looks like and where are we able to make some changes and then having like a longer-term plan. And also how much are we giving away into the community. And so anyways, my plan right now is to take all of this, and then once I talk to John and have a little bit more solidified is put it into my next blog post. And so then everyone can see this process and all the resources and everything. And hopefully that will be helpful.
SooJin: Oh my gosh. That's tremendous, Hannah. Wow. My goodness. You really got on that commitment. Your follow through on that was so fast and look at all that you've done. Wow. That is incredible. And I love that you are planning to share out your process. And your conclusions and stuff like that, so that we can also learn and replicate the model that you set for us. So thank you so much. I can't wait for that blog post.
Hannah: Yeah. It's been on my mind for a long time. And so now I feel like I have the actual doing it part. Yeah. So this is a good time to do it.
SooJin: Good. Good. Okay. So I had made the commitment to change my relationship to fear so that it's not about not feeling fear, but instead to acknowledge it, to gain insight from it, and to not let it prevent us from doing the right thing. And, I feel like I've gotten to a place in my life where I'm pretty comfortable with fear. I don't mind marinating in my fear, you know, to investigate it, to see like what shape it takes. And how it resides in my body. Um, but I actually gained more insight into this concept of fear this week after an encounter with a white male student.
So like many women of color, I encounter white people who are constantly questioning and challenging my intelligence and my knowledge. And as a professor within the classroom, this shows up usually within the context of white students and primarily white male students challenging me in the classroom about what I'm saying or the terminology that I'm using, or challenging me about a grade. I'm not going to go into the details of what happened with this particular student, but suffice it to say a white male student confronted me about a grade after I clearly laid out the rubric and explained how he got the grade he did based on that rubric. And despite my continued attempts to explain, he kept confronting me about it. He would not let it go. He refused to accept my explanation and basically told me that I was wrong and that I didn't know what I was talking about. So anyway, what I learned from this encounter that I didn't realize before was that a lot of my fear around confrontations like this is rooted in my fear of saying the wrong thing, because I'm afraid of how he might interpret what I'm saying or I'm afraid of hurting his feelings, even though he's clearly in the wrong, or I'm afraid of saying something that might escalate the situation and the common denominator around all those fears is that my fear is rooted in trying to control and manage all of these external conditions that are actually outside of my control.
No matter what I say or how I say it, I can't control how he's going to react, how he's going to respond or how he's going to take things. So in the midst of all this energy, that's being diverted to him and his feelings, right. Who's looking out for me, right? Nobody not even my own self, because I'm thinking about him and his feelings. Yeah. So no wonder I left the conversation feeling shitty about myself. I left that conversation full of regrets, not about what I said, but about all the things I didn't say, because I was trying to control and manage his response to me. I did not speak my truth and that's what I regret. And actually, do you know what? I do that a lot. I prioritize the comfort of white people, even when they're being antagonist towards me. And who pays for that at whose expense? The answer is me. It's always at my expense. So I guess my big takeaway from that confrontation was this. That not every confrontation has to be turned into a teachable moment. Sometimes the thing that I need most in that situation is to simply take care of myself, to look out for me, especially in the midst of racist and sexist dynamics that are playing out. And in this case, looking out for myself would have been to stand firm in my knowledge and say whatever I needed to say to return back to him, the sexist, racist energy that he was bringing into this space.
And, you know, for someone who is always trying to teach and educate and to make the best out of a situation, I need to give myself permission to attend to my needs in the moment, instead of taking care of the more privileged other. And so I guess what I'm trying to say is - what I learned about fear this week is this, if I thought less about him and more about me and what I needed, I wouldn't have been afraid. All of those fears would have not even manifested because all of those fears were about him and you know what I need to say and how I should say things so that he doesn't take things the wrong way. And that's what led to my fear. But if I focused on what I needed to say, you know, what it would look like and what it would feel like to tend to my needs in that moment, in the midst of this racist, sexist assault against me, then I would not have been afraid at all because I know who I am. I know my truth. And so that's what I should have been focused on instead. And that is, I guess I'm thankful, I guess I'm thankful that this happened to me so that I know in the future to give myself permission to tend to myself in those moments of confrontation.
Hannah: Awesome. Wow. SooJin as you were talking, it made me think of power dynamics, because you had talked about your dream work in the first episode of this series and how you were in a kind of interaction with your adoptive father. And so if you think about like a parent-child relationship, like the child doesn't have the power, but in a professor-student relationship. The professor has the power, but in this culture, it's still like the racism, sexism, all of these, you know, oppressive systems sort of take precedent even over like power dynamics, in a classroom, for this example. And so, anyway, it's just interesting to see that. I mean in both instances, like the remedy is to be grounded in self.
SooJin: Yeah. Yep, yep. It is. And, I'm very mindful of that, right? About the power dynamics. I'm mindful of power dynamics always, but you know, the fact that I am a professor and he's a student, but it is like a consistent, repeated pattern that it's only the white students and particularly white male students who challenge me.
And what I really wanted to say to him is that - so his major is in finance. And what I really wanted to say to him was if your finance professor told you that the reason why you lost points on this project is because you misapplied key, fundamental concepts in finance. Like, you clearly do not understand because you misapplied them in this project. Would you be talking to him like this? Would you be challenging him like this? Would you be telling him that - no, you're wrong. I disagree with you. Like it's not relative. There is a clear right and wrong answer here, you know, it's not about, well, your interpretation is this. And my interpretation is this. No, it's not about interpretation. It's a clear right or wrong answer. And the fact that he refused, refused to actually learn from me and to humble himself and be like, actually you're right. I don't know what I'm talking about because I didn't do the readings. Like it was very clear. He did not do the readings. It was like complete and utter refusal. And that is not about professor-student, you know, the power dynamic. That is all about the fact that he's white and he's male and I am Asian and female. That's what all that is about, because I know he would not do that to his white male professor of finance. So, okay. Well, let's move on to our intention.
Hannah: So I had come up with the intention to sit with big emotions without judging them as good or bad.
SooJin: I need to sit with that one because. I'm in a lot of big emotions here right now. Yeah. No, I don't feel bad about my big emotions at all. Okay. Okay, great. Thank you. Okay, so Laura, I want to invite you into the space. Thank you for being with us today. Could you please share with our listeners who you are, where you come from and what you do?
Laura: Thank you SooJin and Hannah for inviting me. I'm Laura Holsen and I'm really honored to be here today. I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but I was born and raised in Moline, Illinois and spent much of my life in the Midwest and have been here for about 15 years. I'm a wife, and a mother, and a daughter, and all the other things. But in my work life, I am a clinical neuroscientist. I work at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School as an associate professor of psychiatry. And I do work in how we understand the brain in different eating disorders and mental health disorders as well. I'm the mother of two daughters. My husband is Indian, and he is an educator at the local high school in Cambridge. He teaches chemistry and that's who I am. I guess my upbringing, so I'm one of five children of my parents. They were pretty progressive people. I think they were both in the Peace Corps like Hannah's parents were - similar to Delia my aunt - were peace activists. Um, so I kind of grew up in a house where my mom would go to rallies against war and things like that. And, they were very involved in peace and justice and Catholic church-based efforts to address hunger in the world. And my mother taught English as a Second Language to immigrants, mostly from Latin and Central America. And so that's sort of the background of what I will say is that it, you know, it was a largely white neighborhood. So our exposure was mostly to white people. But there was a pretty sizeable population of individuals from Latin and Central America in our community. That's sort of, I guess my upbringing and I'll maybe get to this later. But I had an opportunity within the last year and a half maybe to be part of a training, which really made me think about the different intersectionality aspects of where I come from. And I think again, relevant to what we're going to talk about. Sort of my earliest exposure to thinking about the privileges that I have was probably from my sister Kate who's the youngest of my siblings and has Down syndrome. And so it's sort of exposure to ability and disability. And so I've lived in that world since Kate was born. That's informed kind of my career trajectory. I kind of got into that world and wanted to study that. And so that's kind of my background.
SooJin: I didn't realize you're a fellow educator, and you come from a family of educators and you are a family of educators. That's great. So as you know, this series is in response to the questions that Marjorie had posed regarding what are white people doing to fight racism in their spheres of influence. So what have you been doing? What conversations have you been having? How have you been sharing the load so that the work of antiracism doesn't just fall on the shoulders of people of color?
Laura: Yeah. So it's such a good question. And the short answer is probably not enough. But you asked me to talk about it, so I'll tell you what I can. I would say that probably the most effortful work that I've done has been in the last couple years. I met my husband about 11 years ago and fell in love. My husband – Sunny - is from India. He was raised in a family in Uttar Pradesh, which is in the north part of India. So I think part of my understanding of diversity and otherness has come from being married to someone who is a person of color. With that said, it doesn't mean that automatically you marry someone and you become antiracist. I want to put that out there, but it certainly has been a real learning experience to see his perspective, to understand what it is like for him to be in this world. And it has made me at the same time, understand my own privileges. And what's interesting is, you know, Cambridge and the Boston area it's a pretty diverse area. And I would see couples who are interracial and I was kind of wondering, what would it be like to be one of those couples? And then I was one of them! And it has been really interesting. I feel really lucky because Sunny's family accepted me with open arms and are incredibly loving. And as I've gotten to understand the history of India and colonialism and more deeply understanding the tragedies and injustices and horrific things that happened to the Indian people and how that has informed his trajectory and his family's experience of the world, and then to see what it was like for him to decide to come to the U.S. His two brothers who also came to the U.S. - to see how it has been like for them in terms of differences in how they adjusted to the culture and assimilated and had differential experiences in terms of ties to their own culture and their language - has been really interesting and challenging in many ways. I think we've both come to terms in a challenging way to the fact that we haven't raised our daughters to speak Hindi. When we entered our marriage, we didn't have a clear understanding about what was important in that way. And we see Sunny's brother who has raised his daughter to speak Hindi and be very involved in the Hindi school where they live in New Jersey. We didn't prioritize that, and I am partly to blame for that. And you can't go back in time. And so it's very sad, and I feel a lot of guilt that I wasn't more attuned to that need to prioritize that. And my daughters are very eager to learn Hindi - they're six and nine now. And so that's an ongoing conversation that we have and continues to be something that we have to contend with.
Anyway, so that has been really interesting and a real growing experience for me. And I continue, as I said, I'm still on the journey. I have also seen his experiences of microaggressions in his work life and him being challenged and trying to understand how best to help him through that. That's one aspect that plays a huge role I think in terms of when I walk outside, and I have my daughters with me and Sunny isn't with me, how do people view me? I think about that a lot versus when we are together as a family. And what is that experience like for him and other people who are of color versus me? I will never know that I understand that I will never know what that experience is, but I think about a lot. I think the other thing that I have started getting really interested in, living in the part of the country that I do, is the understanding of colonialism and its effect on Native peoples. How colonization has been taught in our schools. The completely incorrect history that has been taught. The books, and the education of our teachers, and the curricula that is supported by our schools, are just hugely disservice and just completely wrong. Abjectly wrong. In Massachusetts, there's no longer a Columbus day. It is an Indigenous people's day. And being so close to where the white settlers had their first “Thanksgiving” and I'm using air quotes, which I realized don't translate to sound, I started really trying to understand that history and how it’s just completely incredulous. I just can't understand how people thought they could just come here and take over our land because God said so.
I'm still in that space of learning about it and breaking down the history that I was brought up with. And trying to understand what can I do to further break it down and in whatever way repair and, you know, I don't think you can ever make up for what has been done. But I really try to think about what would it be like if we never came here, you know, I mean, what have we taken away from the people whose land this was? I think about that a lot. The other thing that I wanted to mention is, for better or for worse, ended up in a career where it's really stressful and it's a lot more of my life than I wish it were. And so within the context of the time that I have my opportunity for activism and being involved is less than I wish that it were, but what I have understood more is how I can work it into my work life. And the way that I try to do that is brought about partly because other institutional policies have changed in the wake of the Floyd murder. I think people are finally trying to do something about it and that has opened opportunities in my work life to grow and to contribute. And so within the department of psychiatry at Brigham, they had this diversity and equity training. It was through a group called Visions, Inc. where we would meet maybe two or three hours every couple of months. We would break up into smaller groups and talk about these things. It really allowed people to connect in vulnerable ways and talk about these things in a forum that wasn't otherwise available, to try to bring awareness of white privilege and how one's background informs their experiences and their ability to relate to others or to hear others and how that plays out in work settings and in power dynamics.
The other part of this that I do feel excited about because I feel like I can actually do something and I have worked on this is with regards to the doors of privilege that lead to being able to have careers in the biomedical field and academic medicine. So I've tried to prioritize outreach and opportunities for people. in the diversity realm. So making sure that I am cognizant of who I hire and giving outreach to people who might not otherwise have access to the same opportunities. There's a lot of privilege out there and social capital that leads to why there are certain people in power, and all the way down the line, so when I look at resumes for research assistants, there's a whole pile of people who are white and privileged and probably would be great. Then we need to recognize that a resume is only reflective of the opportunities people have had to get to wherever, and it's not enough to just say, well, I'm going to choose people based on X, Y, and Z. But to really think about, well, maybe somebody's had multiple jobs that might not be, because they had to work because they had to earn money, because they didn't have the same opportunities. Versus other people who, you know, maybe they were able to work for free for a summer because their parents or their family could support them. And, I think that's really critical to make sure that people from diverse backgrounds, people of color have the same opportunities to train and move forward in their career trajectories. I'm going to stop talking now.
SooJin: So you have two children who are mixed race, and I was just wondering, given our focus on parenting, what kind of conversations are you having with them regarding race, racism, like who they are in the world, how they will be perceived by others? Either fortifying their sense of identity and who they are, equipping them with how to deal with the racism and sexism that they will face, if they haven't already? So yeah. What kind of conversations are you having with your children around this topic?
Laura: Yeah, we talk about it a fair amount. When Sunny and I were deciding where to settle, we wanted to be in a community that reflected great diversity. We chose Cambridge, based on knowing that it is relatively diverse. Now there's still a lot of issues from Cambridge with equity. And we've seen that mostly from the school perspective, both with Sunny as an educator and just with our daughters in the school system. But they are in a pretty diverse school. They're in a dual-immersion program for Portuguese speakers. So they have grown-up so far in a place where the students around them reflect the community and then many of them are biracial. And we made that choice deliberately. They go to the King Open School in Cambridge, which has as one of its pillars to include social justice. So they come home with projects about a diverse range of topics. And it's really part of the curriculum, which I love about the school. And at the same time, they ask a question. They're like, well, so is my skin more like mama’s or is it more like papa's? So we talk about these things and if you saw them and Hannah did recently see them, they're somewhere in between Sunny and I, but if you didn't know that Sunny was their dad, you would think they're white.
But it's interesting because they know their dad is a person of color and that I'm not. I think they think of themselves as people who have this background, but so far they haven't experienced anything that they've relayed to us that suggests any prejudice. But as you said, it's probably a matter of time. Right? And so we talk about it. We talk about privilege a lot. We talked about the fact that some people don't have the same things as we do, and that we should feel fortunate for that. And that there are people out there in the world who might view your dad or other people differently and how that is not okay. And try to teach them the history of slavery and of the atrocities that are racially-based. I don't know how we're doing. I hope we're doing okay. I guess time will tell.
SooJin: So do you have any advice for white people who are tuning in, who are thinking about this, are feeling on the fence or hesitant about taking up this burden of racism and white supremacy and doing something about it, what advice might you have for them?
Laura: I guess to kind of start by being aware of your background and the privileges that have come with it. Whatever form they take. So they can be privileges associated with gender, with socioeconomic status, with ability level, with access to things like healthcare and other things, because I think it's really hard to start understanding how other people experience them until you understand where you come from. Right. So I think that's really important and I'm still learning a lot, and recognizing ways in which I've benefited just because I have white skin. And I will continue to do that. And that's challenging to confront, I think. Because it, speaking of big emotions, it does bring up really big emotions to know that I have, in my past somewhere and continue to this day, a racist past and a colonialist past, which have directly allowed me the privileges that I have today. If I wasn't like able to think about where I come from first, I think it would be harder for me to understand how it is for people who have other experiences. I don't know if that's very good advice, but that's where I come from.
SooJin: Okay, great. Thanks. Hannah, do you have any other questions?
Hannah: I guess maybe more of a comment. You were talking about access to your career field and it just made me think of, you know, on the one hand - yes, people of color need to have access and be able to follow career trajectories. And then it also made me think of the way that the field of like psychiatry in particular has been built in terms of just even how data is collected and everything. So on the one hand it's like, yes for the individual and the career trajectory, but also for the field to have a more accurate view of the field itself in a way. So I don't know. I guess that just came to mind as you were talking.
Laura: It's huge. No, you're absolutely right. It's really awful to think about how poor the field has been at trying to represent the diversity of people in this country and their experiences. We have a lot of ground to make up. I think there are some good initiatives out there. So there's a three-day symposium coming up that is sponsored by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, which is about how structural racism and neuroscience intersect, the history of that. And I think it's probably the first one they've done, but sort of like, where are we at? Where do we have to go? Because that whole history is its own thing. Mass General Brigham is sponsoring a symposia on how lack of diversity in research is impactful on how we interpret data. We have a long way to go there. Some people are doing amazing work in this. I have a colleague, Tamarra James-Todd, who's at the School of Public Health who does work on environmental exposures and racial disparities. She's an epidemiologist. She's done incredible work tracking how products that are marketed to people of color expose them to endocrine disruptors and how that has implications for pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. That's just one example, but she does amazing work. It's huge. It's this own huge thing. And we all have to do the work to address it and to make sure that we are first of all paying attention to it. Second of all, doing our part to make sure that the people that we involve in research and the way that we outreach to people in communities of color is informed by the history of biomedical research and things like prejudice and really bad behavior on the part of researchers and doctors in taking advantage where they shouldn't have. And that has had huge implications, which is a whole other topic but you're absolutely right.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, and I appreciate you thinking about, what can I control? Kind of getting back to this control piece of like, you know, where am I able to make the most impact in my life with where I'm coming from? So, yeah, I appreciate that because it's so overwhelming. I mean, if we really sit back and think about every intricacy of how racism and oppression are built into our society and how to undo that. So anyways I appreciate that. And also, like you were saying, the emotions that come up when we start to face ourselves, that's a big piece for all of us to be aware of that. Like figuring out, I've benefited from my ancestors who have enslaved people and that I've been complicit or unaware or I've contributed and continue to right? It's not like it's done - and that is hard to deal with. And so I just appreciate you bringing that up because it's part of the process. And also we need to be sitting in here with all this and to keep doing everything in our power to change it.
Laura: Absolutely. And, I have to credit my husband again because he challenges me. So when he learned about the Trail of Tears, for example, he gets so emotional about it. It's in a way where I'm like, well of course, but I didn't have an appreciation for what that meant. And so he kind of challenges me by his own response to what white people have done in the name of manifest destiny or whatever awful things that are used to justify atrocities. And so I feel fortunate that I have that because I wonder if I hadn't met him and hadn’t had his perspective, where would I be? I wonder sort of where would I be and how unaware and closed off from that journey would I be? It’s kind of frightening to think about, it's emotional to think about - where I could be and also how much I have to grow.
Hannah: So should we move to the lightning round? Okay. Before we do that, is there any organization, initiative, or anything that you would like to lift up, Laura, before we do the questions?
Laura: Yeah, they probably tend on the more academic side. That's mostly where I live. The work of Camara Phyllis Jones. She is at Morehouse School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins. She does really amazing work in the science and practice of antiracism and she was the one who helped put together our institution’s broader training in diversity and equity. She does it through storytelling, ways of thinking about structural racism and how they play out in terms of health outcomes and access to healthcare. And I mentioned my colleague, Tamarra James-Todd, who does really amazing work. I also want to just mention the NIH strategic plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion. If there happened to be any listeners who are interested in this or know someone who was interested in training opportunities that would be of benefit. So that's what I would mention.
Hannah: Cool. Yeah. If you could send me those links, that would be great. Cool. Okay. So the lightning round, as you know, is just kind of fill in the blank. Just whatever comes to mind. So antiracist parenting or caretaking is...
Laura: So necessary, just absolutely necessary.
Hannah: What’s one thing your kids did to make you smile?
Laura: So my younger daughter, Seersha, is going to turn seven soon and she really wants to have a birthday party that includes a piñata, and she wants to have a theme for her birthday party because her older sister, Divya, told her she has to have a theme. And she came up with penguins and silk wings, which probably doesn't mean anything to anyone except that she's obsessed with this book series called Wings of Fire. And apparently silk wings are one of the types of wings of fire. And you know, she's just super imaginative and they both are, and it just makes me smile to think of their creativity and where they're at.
Hannah: Yeah, thanks. Cool. What are you reading right now?
Laura: I am reading this book that I think I've mentioned to you but it's called This Land is Their Land: Wampanoag Indians from a Colony and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving. It’s just a really in-depth account of the history of colonial new England. It's a fascinating history and I'm only part way through, but I recommend - it's really eye opening and tragic, but really good to know about.
Hannah: Thank you. What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Laura: That is a great question. And I have been really inspired hearing about the I think SooJin’s “SPACE DJ” and I forgot your acronym, Hannah, something really cool about meditation and singing. I don't have an acronym, but I try to go running, which hurts my knees, but it brings me joy in other ways. And of late, I’m trying to not get as stressed about work, so trying to kind of let things go and run more.
Hannah: Cool. Okay. What is a question you would like Antiracist Parenting Podcast to explore in a future episode?
Laura: I guess I'm curious about how some of these initiatives at other businesses or companies or institutions to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion, how they're playing out - what are the early indicators of the outcomes in terms of reflecting a diverse population. I'm curious about that.
Hannah: Cool. Thank you. Well, is there anything else before we say goodbye to you?
Laura: I just want to thank you for this opportunity. I think what you guys are doing is incredible. I don't know how you do it, but I'm really grateful. And I think I probably speak for many people who listen to your podcast, that it's such an amazing resource. You bring in such a diverse array of guests and perspectives that are so important. And I just thank you for that work.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, thank you for listening and for joining us today.
SooJin: Okay. So what'd you think, what's coming up for you?
Hannah: Yeah, well, so one of the things that is standing out for me is Laura and Sunny's intention around sort of normalizing kind of a mixed-race identity and picking a neighborhood and schools where kids have biracial identities. So I thought that was really an interesting piece that I hadn't thought about before. And also, it caught my attention just because I'm thinking about my kid's school is that the school that her kids are at like kind of explicitly call out a commitment to social justice, where I don't feel like a lot of mission statements of elementary schools, but even K-12 in general, have that kind of express commitment and are making that a core part of like who they are as a school. And so, those are some of the things that are bubbling up to the top for me in this moment.
SooJin: Yeah. I really appreciated the comment and I guess the observation that you were making, just in terms of repairing the racism within like the field of psychology and mental health. That it's not just about like bodies and representation, which she was kind of getting at, but other aspects of the system that also need to be repaired like that the industry itself in terms of how they approach healing, remedying, and addressing white supremacy and racism. And so anyway, the comment that you made in the conversation that unfolded, it reminded me of this film it's called Gather on Netflix.
Hannah: Oh, I haven't seen it.
SooJin: Oh my gosh, I can't recommend it enough. Anyway, in that film it talks about various Native communities in the U.S. and how getting back in touch with Indigenous epistemology, getting in touch with their Native culture, which requires getting back in touch with land and with their primary food source, depending on where they lived, that that was the thing that healed drug addiction, alcoholism, diabetes. Like the film showed that tapping into Indigenous ways of life for these Native communities ushered in healing, repairing, and restoring, and remedying trauma that was produced by centuries of genocidal policies against them.
And so what would psychology, what would the mental health field look like if it centered epistemologies that weren't European, right? Right. Thinking about healing in a different way that isn't just about talk therapy and that isn't just about like chemicals, you know, medication, drugs, like that's not where the solution lies. The solution lies in actually reclaiming that connection to our culture, reclaiming that connection to the thing that is source.
Hannah: Yeah, totally. And just to kind of further what you're saying is that when we look at these fields, like the ways in which the processes are set up and the outcomes are produced, it's like, who is prioritized? How can we say this is health and wellbeing for all when it's such a narrow way and if you just break down kind of like the how - how things are being done, and who, yeah.
SooJin: Yeah, yeah. I love that. The how and the who, because, so in this film it talked about like how these young people and adults who are battling, different types of trauma, how learning to be in relationship with the salmon in the rivers that is their homeland, how working to restore the livelihoods and creating an environment of life of survival and sustainability for Buffalo, so that they can restore that population, how getting back in touch with Native food sources in Arizona, for example - that that is what led to their healing, not talk therapy, not AA meetings. That is not what led to healing. And it just made me realize how that kind of healing is sustainable, because it doesn't necessarily require having money or having healthcare insurance and access to prescription medication or to doctors who are specialized, you know, in this particular practice. So yeah, I feel like the conversation that you opened up just from that simple observation is making me think about like we need to change systems like in a sense of not reform or additive, but like starting from scratch by starting from scratch, it's not that we have to bring anything new, but reclaiming the old, I guess, is what I'm trying to say.
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and the word that keeps coming up as you're talking for me is like detached. Like we're not attached to ourselves, our histories and like, and just even reconnecting in those ways. And I think about like for white people we are also detached from ourselves and from our own ancestral histories, back to Europe or wherever. And I personally believe that that detachment, it manifests in a lot of these very harmful ways and kind of like going down these paths of not taking into account different ways of being in the world and also just not being able to draw on our own ancestral knowledge.
So anyways, I was just thinking about that as you were talking And, and as far as what are white people doing? And Laura did mention this, and maybe I'm like, now just like linking it together. But like, if we look at our own story and we look at our own history, like those are the ways that we can get reconnected to our roots. And then in doing that work, it helps us to be more open to realizing that we're all connected and that we all are in this shared experience. And when we're so detached, we're so narrow, we're so like, I just gotta survive this. And there really isn't room for consideration of really anyone else. I don't know. That's what's coming up.
SooJin: Yeah. And, I think what's coming up for me in regards to making a commitment from this conversation is that I know very little about the Indigenous practices of my people, like of Koreans. I know very little. So I want to do some research. Yeah, that's going to be my commitment – to investigate and explore. What are the healing practices of my people, you know, prior to Chinese colonization? Japanese colonization? U.S. colonization? Getting back to the root and reattaching myself to those roots.
Hannah: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's cool. So I'm inclined to be like, I want to do that too, but I'm just thinking about everything I have coming up with moving to California. That's going to take me some time and some effort. So I'm not going to make that commitment at this point. Although I'll put it on like the bookshelf for like, I will get to it.
My family's moving to California the Los Angeles area. And one of the things that I'm thinking about right now as we come into summer and my kids and I are going to do kind of like this experimental unschooling/homeschooling. And I'm thinking about, you know, when we move, what will school look like and really wanting to kind of figure out this social justice piece within the school realm. I don't even know what my commitment is at this moment, but I'm really thinking through just like this educational piece for school for my kids. And what does school look like both the summer and then with the move and how I can be involved in advocating for change and being more active in that realm?
SooJin: I think that's a huge commitment. Yeah. Kind of thinking through, I guess what I'm hearing you say is given this move, like you have a choice on where you land and what I'm hearing you say is how can I make sure that where I land is in alignment with my values?
Hannah: Yes. Okay. Thank you. That's what it is. Okay. So on the next episode, I will report back on kind of that reflection and some of the things that I'm putting into motion around like the education of my kids both this summer and then for whatever fall might look like.
SooJin: Yeah. Yeah. That's, really exciting. Just want to say thank you for helping to shape this series for sharing your whole process of the McGrath Race Talks with folks, for allowing us to meet and spend time and learn from your family who are engaged in this work. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your family with us. This year, like it's been this whole year 2022 has been the McGrath family. Yeah. So thank you for that.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, thanks for having us. And, I really do hope that the stories we've shared through the series are helpful. And that we've kind of even within our family given some different perspectives of experiences and things that you can do and think about as you're going along your own journey.
SooJin: Yeah. And I also think that part of our goal, like we were intentional about showing kind of the range and the different stages that people might be at like either from very early to kind of intermediate to a little further down the line. And so, like we were purposeful in bringing in people who were at different stages, because that's reflective of our listeners who are tuning in and are different stages of their consciousness and awareness and development. So yeah, I just wanted to put that out there too.
Hannah: Yeah. Well, and also Delia and Margaret and Laura are so brave, I mean, like for me, it took me a long time to even be able to like, say - okay, I'm going to like tell somebody. Especially like publicly on a podcast or in a blog that like - here's something I'm doing - because I'm embarrassed most of the time. I'm like, oh my gosh, I've hardly done anything.
And so for all three of these family members to come on and just like, you know, say what they're up to and what they're trying and where they are in their journeys. I just so appreciate the bravery that's involved with that.
SooJin: Well on that note, thank you for tuning in, and we hope that you have a wonderful rest of your month. Take care.
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.