Diversity Lecture Series: Consuela Ward “On Healing Black Girl Pain”

>>Good evening. I hope you are enjoying
this wonderful day. What a gift,
right? I am Domingo
Hernandez-Gomez, and on behalf of the Bob
and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and
Inclusion, I am pleased to
welcome you tonight to our 22nd Annual
Diversity Lecture Series. We are very honored to
have Dr. Consuela Ward as a speaker
tonight. I’d like to acknowledge
Miss Deb Bailey. Please stand. She’s a member of our
Board of Trustees. Our Board works very
hard for our collage and continues to
support our equity and inclusion
initiatives. The lecture series
would not be possible without the generous
support of our sponsors. Our Diversity Champion
Sponsor is Steelcase. Our Diversity
Advocate Sponsor is GRCC Social Sciences
Department. Our Diversity Partners are
Fountain Street Church, Meijer,
Spectrum Health, and Blue Cross and
Blue Shield of Michigan. Please take a moment
to see a complete list of our diversity
supporters in your program. We are very grateful for
these friends and supporters. If you’d like to
make a donation tonight, there are envelopes on
the information table. I’d like to thank our
GRCC Diversity Team for the continued commitment
and special thanks to the Center for Equity
and Inclusion staff and all the volunteers
supporting us tonight. After the lecture, we’d
appreciate if you could take some time to complete
the evaluation. Your feedback and suggestions
are very, very valuable to us. Please include
your email address if you’d like to receive
information of upcoming lectures and other Center
activities. If you are interested
in Dr. Ward’s book, she will be available for a
book-signing after the lecture. We are only accepting
cash and checks tonight, and will be located
by the main entrance. To introduce our speaker, I’d
like to welcome Jessie Jones. She is the Community Relations
Manager at Spectrum Health. Thanks.>>Good evening, good evening,
good evening! I almost want to be outside,
it’s so beautiful, right, but we’re here. We’re here– again, as he said,
my name is Jessie Jones, and I manage community
relations for Spectrum Health, and we’re a proud sponsor of
Grand Rapids Community College and the Diversity
Lecture Series. And our mission
at Spectrum Health is to improve the health of
the communities that we serve. And to effectively do this,
we are working hard to build a diverse workforce
and inclusive culture and equitable
practices. We believe it is the
right thing to do. It’s an imperative and creates
value for our organization and the community,
as a whole. Dr. Consuela Ward has
approximately 20 years of experience as a speaker,
a facilitator, consultant,
trainer, and coach on diversity
issues and inclusion. Dr. Ward is a founder
and President of The Montage
Group LLC, a diversity and inclusion
consulting firm. She has served colleges
and universities, school systems, corporations,
professional conferences, youth groups, and
community groups. Dr. Ward has touched
thousands of lives by creating opportunities
for complicated and uncomfortable conversations
in a safe space around diversity, inclusion,
equity, and privilege. She unpacks
complex issues related to systemic
discrimination and marginalization. Abolition and women’s rights
activist, Sojourner Truth, once said, “Truth is powerful,
and it prevails.” Dr. Ward is a truth-teller,
a visionary, an activist,
a healer. She possesses a gift and
ability to educate, empower, and
engage audiences, so I’m really looking
forward to tonight. She is passionate
about helping others negotiate the diverse
world that we live in. Like I said, she’s
a truth-teller, and tonight we have the
wonderful opportunity to hear Dr. Ward
speak truth to power. So ladies and gentlemen, help
me give a Grand Rapids welcome to Dr. Consuela Ward. (applause)>>Good evening,
Grand Rapids!>>(audience) Good evening.
>>Oh, that was weak– come on. Good evening,
Grand Rapids!>>(audience)
Good evening!>>All right, I like
that a lot better. We’re going to
turn this on. So first thing I want to
say is thank you so much to Chris Arnold
and Domingo for inviting me
out here tonight. I appreciate all
of the sponsors. Give them a round
of applause, please. (applause) Because I know
without sponsors, you wouldn’t have
lecture series like this, and I’m big on
education and learning, just learning
new things. So tonight, put your
seat belts on, okay? I want to open first of all
by talking a little bit about my book… and every time I speak,
I talk about the book, and that is because
it is my story. And I am a huge proponent on
people telling their stories. So for those of you who
haven’t read it yet, it’s actually
my dissertation. So here’s
the story. The chair of my dissertation
committee was a Chinese woman. And I said to her, “Dr. Hua,
I want to want to write “diversity and inclusion
curriculum for STEM majors”– STEM being science, technology,
engineering, and math. Personally, I still
count on my fingers, so I don’t know a whole
lot about that area, but I do know who created
science and math, and the people who
operate in those fields need to know who
created those areas. And so, that’s why I
really wanted to be able to get my fingers
into that curriculum. But she said,
“No, no, no. “You need to
tell your story, “because if black women,
one day, want your stories “to be part of the curriculum,
part of the classics, “then you’ve got to
write your story.” Here’s for all of you,
especially you young people– if you don’t
write your story, somebody else will write
it from their perspective. And if nobody writes your story,
you never even existed. So I wrote
my story. And so, because it had
to have an academic feel, I started looking at the
education that I received in both black churches
and white schools and how that
shaped my identity as a black woman
in the South. (exhaling)
Right? So when I was writing, I
noticed that a lot of stuff started coming up for me,
and it was very painful. And I learned that
stuff, that pain, was something I got from my mama
because she was messed up. She got it from her mama
because she was messed up. And all of that
intergenerational trauma was passed down and still
materializing in my walk. So I needed to break that cycle,
but I had to understand what was at the foundation
of it in order to break it. That took more
reflection, so what I saw was that it was
patriarchy, white supremacy, and they were all
cosigned by religion. (sighing)
So then I had to unpack to see what the black church
did to me and my folks. And what I saw was that
it both– it enslaved us and saved us at
the same time. So I had to go to, you know,
therapy, after all of that. So that’s my story. I hope you enjoy it
when you read it. My goal is for you to be
able to connect with it, as I was able to connect
back to my roots, and I will start actually with
connecting back to our roots. So you know, we have
a new president. And last year in
November, when he won, there was a counsel of
praying grandmothers– I call ’em “praying
grandmothers.” They call themselves the
“International Alliance “of Indigenous
Grandmothers.” Right, so these
are grandmothers who represent all
areas of the globe, and indigenous– specifically,
indigenous areas. And they were asked
the question, “Well, what do we do now that
President Trump is President?” And they wrote a letter
in response to that. I’m going to read you
this letter for a reason. They said, “First, let
us explain some things. “You have elected
not a man but a moy. “He is a boy in an
old man’s body. “Moys are a combination
of a man and a boy, “but mostly boy. “They are large and
have loud voices “so people mistake
them for men, “but they
are not men. “A man thinks of
the common good “while a moy has not
learned to think of anyone “but himself. “He’s not fully developed,
and he’s still a child. “The time you
are living in “is called the Age of
Destruction,” they said. “The Kali Yuga. “This is the
lowest point. “At this time, evil rises to
the surface to be destroyed. “This dark age takes place
just before the arrival “of the incoming
Golden Age. “So today, what you’re
watching is an out-of-balance “yang energy, “and it’s creating destruction
all over the planet. “This,” they said,
“is the Kali Yuga. “Your country has
just elected a moy “to be its
next president. “Russia as well as Syria
already are run by moys, “while Africa is
overrun by them. “The Philippines even
is run by a moy. “And so are several
other countries. “So is it any wonder that
the world is lurching “from crisis
to crisis. “This is what is
happening on earth now. “And because it is, you must
learn to cope with this energy. “You can’t
reason with it “because it’s entirely
destructive. “Instead, you must hold
steady within yourself “and observe its wild behavior
from a position of power. “If you can do that,
it will not feed on you. “Your steadiness will help
contain its rapacious energy, “and it will not be able to
do as much damage otherwise. “Call on us,” they said,
“call on the net of light “and hold
sacred space. “Be mindful of
who you are. “You are a great
being here on earth “to occupy the steady place
in an unsteady world. “You can do this. “You are not weak, and
you are not helpless.” So I chose
to read this not because I’m a huge
Hillary Clinton fan. Frankly– this is my own
personal political perspective– I think her platform was
going to be as harmful to black people as just
about every other president, either in action,
lack of action, or slowness
to action. However, I am clear she lost
because she was a woman. Which suggests an
over-representation of masculine energy
in the world, which has left us unbalanced
and sick as a society. But we’re not dead. These praying
grandmothers have spoken and said that this is not
the time to be afraid. Lean into the memories
of your ancestors, they’re encouraging, and they’re reminding
us that they’re there. So, you know,
we’re in this time where we think currency
is only money, but currency is actually
transferred energy and it manifests in several
ways other than money. Your health
is currency. Your gifts
are currency. And your time
is currency. The currency of the
divine feminine energy is so powerful that
it has caused wars. And when feminine
energy is mistreated, nature is
imbalanced. Let’s make a
comparison real quick. We’re going to compare feminine
reproductive energy in nature to the feminine reproductive
energy in a woman. We are going to
take this tree. If a tree is nurtured, we
pay attention to this tree. We demonstrate
respect for this tree. We refrain from
polluting her. She’ll shade you from
the rays of the sun. She’ll bear sweet fruit
that can satisfy both your hunger
and your thirst. She’ll even
filter the air so that you can
breathe clean air. But when nature
is mistreated, when culture conspires
to mistreat her, it causes natural disasters
and global warming… like here in
Michigan today. So, in women… in women, it comes
out as depression and early menopause, like mood swings,
hot flashes, and tears, in menopause,
that come too early. They look like
natural disasters, like when your
mama’s mad. She looks like a tornado or a
hurricane or a tsunami, right? Somebody said, “Amen.”
(audience laughing) And in natural disaster,
who profits? Some men profit. And the way they profit is that
they buy up the torn-up land from emotional owners,
fix it up, and resell it at extremely
high prices, or they build on it
and charge high prices for others
to use it. In women, we act out as if,
again, we are the hurricanes, tornadoes,
and tsunamis, and some of us build up
negative energy so much that it has nowhere else to go
so it coagulates into fibroids and other issues because
there is nowhere else to go. Women are having hysterectomies
at record numbers, which is an
expensive surgery. You might find it interesting
that the word “hysterectomy” comes from the
Middles Ages, when men thought that
taking out a women’s uterus would calm her hysteria
from being too emotional, so they called it
a “hysterectomy,” because it thought
it would shut them up. It didn’t shut up my mama.
(audience laughing) I don’t know
about yours. We are an imbalanced world
when the laws and mores of a culture are centered
on the desires of men. And in order to get
back in balance, the feminine requires a
reverence for her work in reproducing
all life and less focus on the
minutes of pleasure that men get
out of it. I believe that the
foundation of our social ill is directly related to
the devaluation of women, nature, and the divine
feminine across the globe. Women– you know, we operated
in seasons, like nature. Men don’t
have as many, so that’s why they don’t
shift as much as we do. Imagine– especially
for the young folks– imagine years ago how different
you are in your thinking and what you value as important
changes in just a few years. For those of you
who are students, let’s say you’re
20 years old. Five years ago,
you were 15. Think about how different
you are in just five years. And you will continue
to grow at that rate for a long,
long time, so what’s good
for you at 15 is not good
for you at 20. And what’s good
for you at 20 will not be good for you
at 40– er, at 40 or 50. So be careful and cautious of
making lifetime commitments that… when you don’t
even know who you are. There’s a season to grind,
there’s a season to reap. There’s a season
to be strong, and there’s a season
to be vulnerable. There’s a season to mother
and a season to be mothered. And all of you women have
the spirit to mother. And I’m not talking
about birthing a human. I mean giving birth
to your gifts. You see, there’s a difference
between being a woman, being female, and embodying
the feminine. Being female simply means that
you were born with a vagina. Being a woman
is taught. And this is cultural, so what it
means to be a woman will change, depending on where
you live in the world, regionally, nationally,
or tribally, and it could
also change depending on your
social location or the century
you live in. Embodying the divine feminine–
that’s different. That has everything to
do with your energy… and you cannot measure it,
because you can’t see it, you can’t touch it. It just is. And it’s expressed differently,
depending, again, on your social location,
your region, your country, your tribe, and the
decade by which you live. Now, everybody has different
degrees of masculine and feminine energy
inside of them, and they may even appear
fluid from time to time. So to say that one
may resonate more doesn’t imply the
other has no role. It’s just what
keeps us balanced, so we honor
them both. You have divine energy,
even if you cannot or choose not to birth a
child in the physical world. You are giving birth to
and nurturing someone or something in
the spiritual, and those praying grandmothers,
they know this. Sometimes, you even
have to mother yourself. Birthing–
it’s painful. Went through
it twice. It’s a very
laborious process, but honor
the labor of what you
are birthing because it has the
propensity to feed nations. The goal of mothering
is not to move people from dependence
to independence. The goal is
interdependence. Some of us claim to
be independent women because we have to be,
given our situation. But that’s only indicative
of the imbalance of society where we’re supposed
to rely on each other. Some of you may have received
some of the worst mothering from your
biological mother. Many of you were fortunate
to receive mothering from other women. Some of you may have even
done your best mothering to people who were
not your children. But if any of
this is you, you will have to be able
to position yourself to forgive whenever
you’re ready. And if you do this, it will
open your spiritual pores to receive what’s
there for you. Get her story. Get your
grandmothers’ stories. And if you can, get your
great-grandmothers’ stories. Local the
intergenerational trauma so that you can begin
the cycle of healing, and then look for the lessons
that they taught you, even though you didn’t realize
you learned anything from them. Some of your spirits
are so big that it couldn’t even be
contained within your family or your
relationship. Some of you, your
city or your country. And so, you were born
a child of the universe and it makes you
crave exploration and global
citizenship, so you never even had a
chance in your family. These types of people, you know,
they can’t stay put. They need different types of
energies to survive and thrive. Some of you were
born into a family that you don’t feel
like you fit in because your gifts
clash with other gifts of people in
the family. Maybe one of you
has a warrior spirit. The other has a
peaceful spirit. Y’all not going to do too
well in the same household. So one of you
may have to leave to be able to get
your gift nurtured. Find the places where you
are appreciated and valued. I’ve often been asked how
I began my process of healing from the intergenerational
trauma that I received. And my answer is that
I learned to remember how to have one foot
in the spiritual world and another foot in the
physical world at all times. This is the path of those
praying grandmothers who came
before us. So my talks resonate
heavily about healing through connection to
spirit, to community, and the
divine feminine. What cuts us off from
listening to spirit is the consumption
of distractions, whether it’s
excessive television, excessive social media,
or excessive things. A sign that lets you know
that you’re connected to spirit is when a part of the
community where you are, there is an extreme love
for both children and the elderly
and nature. Something else that
connects us to our spirit. Y’all ready? Is your hair.>>(audience member)
Yeah, yeah.>>Your hair is antennae–
antennae, right? And it helps us to
discern the tail wind of other’s peoples’ energy
when we encounter them. But if we process
it with chemicals, it damages that
communication. So, now, you know,
I honor my foremother, Madam CJ Walker, for
her accomplishment of being the first
female millionaire in our country–
I do. But I also question
the applicability of how products emerging
from her creativity continue to shame
black women into hating our strong,
versatile, naturally kinky hair and straightening it to mimic
the tame straight hair of those with the
cultural capital to define what
is beautiful. Some of us won’t even leave the
house without straight edges. (scattered laughing) My truth is that I didn’t
even know my own hair until I was
40 years old. And at first, I wore it
as a statement of protest, because my Vice President
was trippin’. And so, I walked
into the office, and she says, “Oh, my,
is everything okay?” Didn’t even make
the connection. But after while, it became
more of a search for identity, and there is where I found that
they were energy receptors. Native American
people know this well, when their colonizers
chopped off their hair. So this also means that you can’t let just
anybody do your hair because they can transfer
negative intentions to you by touching
your hair. Can’t let everybody
touch your hair. For the last few years
when I hear women compliment me on my
hair, they say, “Oh, my head’s not
shaped for that. “I could never
do that.” “But it looks so
good on you.” But what I hear, what I hear
them saying without words is, “I’m still
too wounded. “I’m not patient enough to
learn and care for something “I was taught
to dismiss,” or, “I was not confident enough
to be my authentic self, “and the brothers won’t see me
if I wear my natural hair.” First of all… you will attract a partner
at the same level of emotional healing
or sickness as you are, so consider this before you’re
even looking for a brother. Before I left home
to go to college, a lot of the elders in
my community reminded me not to forget
where I came from. And today, it has a different
kind of meaning for me. You know, as I intentionally
look back… to look ahead. What they really meant was,
“Don’t forget the tradition “that provides fire
to your life.” That is the interworking
of community, the role of the ancestors,
and the spirits in nature. Indigenous people
across the globe– it don’t matter
where they are, the Americas,
Africa, the East, they believe a few
different things in common. That you choose your path
before you get here. So your job is to tap back
into your inner spirit to find out your purpose
and align yourself with experiences
that nurture that, so that you wind up
with a body of work that has breadth and
that you can be proud of. Striving to be normal
is a low bar anyway. Great ideas are a waste
of the human experience without organization
and follow-through. So when you don’t
walk in your purpose, when you don’t nurture
and use your gifts, then blockage manifests
inside of you, because that energy has
nowhere else to go, and it builds up
and it shows up physically, mentally,
emotionally, and spiritually. Women today are going
through a great transition. For thousands of years,
we were told that we weren’t emotionally
intelligent enough to be a leader, but
we birthed leaders. For thousands of years,
our pictures were removed from the cosmos and replaced
with masculine figures. We were conditioned to think
that we were a man’s helpmate rather than the concept
of being equally necessary for humanity. The stories… the stories have
even been removed from our history
and our holy books. They even hid the fact that
El Shaddai had many breasts intended to feed
the whole world. I’ve heard it said that men
are “naturally visual,” heh. But that just excuses their
inability to connect to it. Let me share
something. So babies are
visually stimulated, which is why we surround
them with bright colors. And every time they encounter
something bright and shiny, they will respond
physically. However, as a
child matures, it’s able to acknowledge
a bright-colored object as bright and colored,
before reacting physically. It knows to
investigate the object and find out if it’s
harmful or helpful. Men are visual because society
allows them to be visual by not requiring them to
develop the mental muscles necessary to investigate a
connection beyond the physical. And if he does,
he’s an anomaly. To live in an overly-represented
masculine world is to only recognize
the physical. To define stories
in linear terms and to measure
everything centered off of a
masculine standard. It’s no wonder
why so many women struggle with the
word “worthiness.” We can’t truly
value another women if we don’t
value ourselves. But you– let me
tell you, women– you were even worthy even
before you birthed yourself into this realm, and if you want to
test out that theory, try to read some history
and take women out of it. Nobody would
be here. I wrote a poem at the
very beginning of my book. It’s entitled “A Cut
That Won’t Heal.” And it talks about how
difficult it is being a woman. The cut that won’t
heal is that split between the lips
of her vagina, and it’s like being
born with a burden. Older women taught us how to
be obligated over love to men. They taught us how to take care
of everybody but ourselves. We’re even praised
for being superwomen because we’re able to put
up with so much stuff. They call us “good women”
or “virtuous women,” but today, I do not wear
that badge of glory of being a
“strong black woman.” Not because
I’m not strong, but because I don’t want
to give off the impression that it’s okay to
ignore the oppression of black women’s face and
glorify us for our ability to handle
the struggle. Instead, I give my
body permission to feel what comes
up right now. I give my body permission to
release pain in a timely manner, even if it makes somebody
else uncomfortable. Religion gives us hope that
we can survive that servitude but it would not allow us to
escape it except through death. This affects
all women. Red, yellow,
black, brown. But we’ve
all felt it, if we’ve, you know, been
physically or mentally raped. We feel it with the
dirty looks from men who undress us with their
eyes for their own pleasure. Then, how do we go back
and heal this in ourselves? My first suggestion is
to find your community. And in that community, there
are three kinds of people that you need in your life,
as a kind of mothering. You need a mentor, which
is a form of mothering. This is somebody who’s
been where you are. You need a friend. This is somebody whose
on your same level. This friend– this is not
who you go to for advice because they
don’t know either, that’s why they’re
on your level. (audience laughing) And then, you need
to find someone– and they’ll
usually find you– someone who looks up
to you for mentoring. That is the
cycle of it. I call it,
in my book, the “underground
railroad of freedom” and passing it on. For some under-represented
populations, it can be empowering
to find a mentor of your same
identity group. That could be based off
your race, your gender, your sexual orientation, your
profession, or your ability, but it doesn’t
have to be. It can be somebody
that you seek because of their
accomplishments, but when you find a mentor,
invite them to lunch at least once
a quarter. Pick their brains. If it’s somebody that
you don’t have access to, read their biography or
research them on social media. Now– and also finding
your community. This is really important,
and I learned this as an undergraduate student
at Florida State University. You need to service a
support center– or system– for each other. Equity and Inclusion
Centers are so important. When I worked for
one as a director, I had a student to come
and tell me one day, “Dr. Ward, this is the only
place on this entire campus “that I feel like
I am at home. “Thank you.” So you all say hello
to each other when you pass each other
by on campus, you know? Acknowledge that
you see them, and I mean really,
really see them. This the kind of elaborate
system of greeting among people of color,
especially in the diaspora, that are heavily rooted
in West African traditions that crossed over that big
river a few centuries ago. And if you don’t believe me,
go home and walk by grandma or auntie and
not speak. “Oh, you
can’t speak?” Yeah, that’s going
to be a problem. But in all seriousness,
we cannot lose this. We have to see each
other and stay connected. But then, choose
your friends wisely. Assess who is on your
Board of Directors and who influences your
choices and decisions because you are like
the five people you spend the majority
of your time with. Think about that– you
might need to cut somebody after today.
(audience laughing) And when you speak about
somebody else in your community, filter what you say
in these three things. It is true? Is it kind? And is it
necessary? And if it’s not
all three of those, there’s no need
for you to say it. And in learning how
to care for yourself, again, honor the difficulty
and the labor on your journey, because it’s in the labor
that you find the expectation of growth in
your future. And remember, there
are no mistakes. There’s nothing that you
can do that is a mistake. Everything you do
is a lesson. Life in itself is a
series of experiences that are supposed to
teach you something, to help you remember
who you are. So when you approach
an experience, whether it’s
good or bad, approach it as, “What am I
supposed to learn from this?” Instead of, “Why is this
always happening to me?” Don’t be that dude. All right, and trust me, if
you shy away from trying to learn the lesson, oh, that
test is going to keep coming, and it’s going to repeat over
and over until you get it, and the longer
it takes, the more force it
will come back at you. In fact, it is this
resistance of the lesson that causes
distress. I live in metro Atlanta where
it is the second worst traffic in the entire
country. So people sit in parking lots
on an interstate called 285 and 75, stressed
out every day, and they can’t do
anything about it. So when you just accept
what you cannot change, you’ll be a
lot happier. And here’s the thing–
once you learn that lesson, that’s when the
test will end. You need to be able
to assess and develop your emotional
intelligence, as well. Locate your
triggers. Locate who those
triggers are, right? Who’s keeping you from elevating
or walking in your purpose? Sometimes,
it’s you. Sometimes, it’s the
environment that’s sick. And if that’s the case,
if you are to heal and reemerge yourself back
in that cesspool of mess, you’re going
to relapse. You might lose friends
and loved ones on your evolution
of consciousness, but that’s okay, because you
can’t take everybody with you. The air is thin
up there anyway. Everybody can’t handle
that with their lungs. The higher you elevate, the less
people you are going to see, so be prepared
for that. And understand that it is
the richness in the journey that is much more important
than the destination. And recognize your
emotional bullies. Remind yourself
that you are worthy because people will
treat you at the level you feel
you deserve. You might not let
them beat you– “Child, I
would neva’!” You know, that’s
some of y’all. But you might let them control
who you see and where you go. So don’t waste your time
with underdeveloped people. But let them have the
space to tell their truth as they know it,
because like you, their truth may have looked
different 5, 10 years ago, and will probably look
even more different in another 5 or
10 years from now because we’re all
a work in progress. Sometimes, we have
difficulty in moving forward because there is someone
or several someones that we have not forgiven,
including ourselves. Forgiveness is like letting
yourself out of prison, and if you’re spending
any kind of mental or emotional energy
on grievances, hurts, or negative incidences,
and you can’t let go of it, it clogs your spiritual
pores toward healing and it will block
you from your peace. So be clear– forgiving
is not the same thing as holding people
accountable. Hold them
accountable. Sometimes, you might even to
love them from a distance. But forgiving is for
your benefit, not theirs. You can begin by creating
a forgiveness journal. We talked about that a
little bit this morning. When I wrote my forgiveness
journal a few years ago, I first started by
writing down the names of everyone who I
thought did me wrong, ever,
since birth. I wrote down 41 names
when I got tired. I was like,
“Ugh, good God! “That’s a lot
of blockage.” And that last name,
that 41st name, that was me. When you cannot forgive,
your heart turns hard. And love cannot live
in a hard place. Another path
toward self-care and creating the
experiences we want is being intentional
about your self-talk because it’s
powerful. Your subconscious never sleeps
and it believes what you say, so when you tell yourself,
“Oh, my gosh, I’m so broke,” yeah, you gonna be broke,
because you believe that. When you say, “Oh, man,
I’m so stupid,” well, you just might be
showing up as stupid. So if you will believe that
you are broke or stupid, why not tell yourself,
“I trust the process of life “with no fear, because
I’m aware that everything “is in divine order,
working for my benefit.” You will believe
that, too. This is the kind of ritual
that’s called “affirmations.” And when we say these daily,
you believe what you say. And it becomes
a reality. You call it
into your life. So when you say, “I welcome
unexpected income in my life.” You say that everyday
and see won’t it comes in some kind of
unexpected way. Now, I encourage you– because
this is powerful stuff– use your power for good, because
if you start cursing people, that’s gonna come
back on you, too. (audience chuckling) Meditation is another great
way to take care of yourself. It’s how you connect
with your energy source and align
yourself with it. It’s not the same
thing as prayer. Prayer is that
one-on-one connection or line of communication
with whomever you identify with source,
if anyone. Meditation is the
process of being still so that you can
recalibrate yourself, and so that you can
hear the direction. The key to meditating
is breathing, being mindful
of your breath. This is why women in labor
have breathing coaches because when we work so much,
we forget to breathe. Being conscious of your breath
allows you to appreciate the journey rather than
focus on the labor. Now, there’s several other
ways that I recommend that you can raise
your vibration and clear
negative energy. We talked a little bit this
morning about some of these. You can burn sage. I tell women all the time,
you keep sage in your house like you would keep
salt and pepper because it will push out
that negative energy all day. I was a child that just
turned 17, and 15 was hard. And so, we
saged regularly. (audience laughing) You can burn
essential oils. You can even say
your affirmations, record them, and play them while
you’re away from your home and let that energy
be in there. You can keep crystals
in your house. Keep fresh flowers and
plants in your house because they help
with the air, right? And they keep life
in your house. Declutter. The more you clutter,
the more you’re clogging up your stuff,
your pores. You can keep journals,
a gratitude journal, intention journal, and
forgiveness journals. And exercise, because your body
was not meant to be sedentary. I recommend for people to
get massages regularly, and don’t consider
them an “extra.” This is necessary. A lot of times, what women
do is we start out– this is ground zero. We start out
way down here, and so when we get our
massage or our “extra,” we barely getting back
to ground zero. That’s not where
you want to be. You want to
get a massage so that you can get
above ground zero. But if you’re always
working in a deficit, it’s going to take away
from your effectiveness. Limit processed foods. I know it’s hard. People can put intentions
in your food, as well, but whatever you eat
is either medicine… heh…
or it’s poison. There’s really
no in between. Take a trip
somewhere. Sit in nature– in fact,
energy is the strongest near oceans and rivers
and mountains and forests. Just kind of sit
there and meditate. So all of these rituals
produce energy, and energy is
intelligent. So you’ve got to be
intentional of what energy that you are inviting,
entertaining, or creating. These rituals help you to
slow down and invoke spirit, so they can see
what you cannot see. And they’ll also help you
negotiate the longest journey you’ll ever have, and that is the space between
your mind and your heart. Music is ritual. In fact, sound is a
natural opener of doorways between the physical world
and the spiritual world. Dance is ritual. Crying is a
healing ritual. So I’m going to leave
you with a final thought as I prepare
to close. In following some
of these things, I want you to be prepared
to hear from other people who claim to know you, if you
haven’t heard this already. “You changed. “You not like
you used to be.” Right… right? Take that as
a compliment, because you supposed
to change. If you not changing, you
staying where you always were, then you’re dead. So it’s called
“growth.” Imagine– you know, I’m
getting back in the gym again. I struggle with this from
time to time, getting old, and things don’t work
like they used to. So get in the gym and when you
haven’t been there in a while, it hurts for
awhile, right? And again, you want
to honor that labor because you gotta
go through it in order to get to the
other side of finding sexy, where I’m
trying to be. So there’s
this child. It’s a child who saw her
mother cut the edges off of the roast before
she put it in the freezer. And so, the child
asked her mother, “Mama, why do you cut the edges
off the edge of the roast “before you put it
in the freezer?” And her mother said,
“Hmm, I don’t know. “That’s what my
mama always did.” So the little girl went
and asked her grandmother. She said grandma, “Why
you always cut the edges “off the roast before you
put it in the freezer?” And she said, “Oh,
chil’, I don’t know. “I always did it because
my mama did it.” And so, the young girl
was very fortunate to have her
great-grandmother around. So she went to her great
grandmother and said, “G-mama, why you always cut
the edges off the roast “before you put it
in the freezer?” And she said, “Oh,
chil’, that’s easy. “When I was growing up,
the freezer was so small, “that’s the only way you
could get it in there.” (audience laughing) So the purpose of
that is to recognize that laws change,
traditions evolve, and only universal
truth remains constant. We have to be careful what
we celebrate, protect, and revere as cultural
or traditional because the tradition may
no longer be applicable. So may the prayers
of the grandmothers invoke a discerning
spirit in you tonight and may your
thoughts and actions lean toward alignment
of your destiny. Ash’e, and
thank you. (applause) Now, I was told that we’re
going to go toward questions and answers… and I think there are
microphones up front, if you want to
ask a question. Feel free to
get in an isle. I see you–
he’s coming. (laughing) He’s coming from all
the way in the back. Good evening.>>I just wondered if you
ever heard of the chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,
rhythm of the universe? Nam-myoho-renge-kyo…
>>Yes, yes, yes, yes I have. That is exactly how it sounds–
absolutely, thank you. Yes, ma’am–
yes, beautiful?>>I just wanted to say
thank you for coming.>>You are welcome.
>>I have a question for you about the act of
forgiveness, especially when you talk about
intergenerational trauma. So when it is someone who
is close to you or what-not, how do you start
that process? How do you say that crying
is the healing process but when you’re beyond tears,
and you just kind of feel like, “Okay, I need to
start moving on,” how do you go forward–
I’d like your advice.>>So some of it depends
on your situation. So you may need to separate
yourself from that situation. And it doesn’t
have to be nasty. It may want to feel like you
may want to be nasty about it because it make
you feel better, but separate yourself for awhile
until you’re strong enough to go back there. I’ve talked to many
women who would ask me about, “I’m going back
home on holidays,” because holidays are so hard
for them to go home to. And I recommend,
“Don’t go.” Why would you do
anything that is emotionally
unsafe for you? You’re putting yourself
in harm– don’t go. When you’re
strong, go. But when I say “when
you’re strong,” remember, many of us starting
out at a deficit. You can’t even be
at ground zero. You need to
be up here, so that you have some
kind of… collateral. You go home when
you’re here. And you can call them up and
ask them for their story. You ain’t even
gotta be there. It’s cool if you can be because
I believe in the pheromones going back and fourth–
that’s real. But yeah, get
their stories. Because when you learn
that your mother is a woman before she was ever a mother,
it changes your perspective.>>Thank you.
>>You’re quite welcome. Okay… Chris?>>Any one else? Wanna break– no? Any more
questions? Okay.>>Thank you, queen.
>>Hey, gorgeous.>>My question is what
makes it so specific about black girl pain
instead of just woman pain?>>Oh, that was easy. Hold on– we
gonna add to it! So I teach
a class. I teach a class actually
on diversity, equity, and inclusion, specifically
for education majors at Kennesaw State University–
I teach twice a week. And I am passionate about
teaching this class because 84% of the teachers
in our country are white people. And ain’t nothing wrong
with being white… however, when just about
all of our children are hearing this story
from one perspective, that’s a problem. So that’s why– that’s
what motivates me to teach that class. And when I get that question,
what I share with them is that if you go back to
the slave plantation, right? There were some white women
that were being abused. Some of them were upset
because their husbands were– they called it “cheating
on them” with the slaves. They didn’t call
it “rape,” right? “Cheating.” But then, you have
a slave woman, right? They’re both women. She was being bred
to have more children that sometimes she
couldn’t keep, right? And if she thought she was
going to love a person, that person,
you know– the Master would come and ruin
all of that by raping her. So we have two different
experiences of women– it’s called
“intersectionality.” Big word, right? So yes, while they both
have very similar themes, the experience is
often not the same, so let’s fast-forward a little
bit to suffrage, right? Black men actually got the right
to vote before white women, as if there really should have
been some kind of competition. However, when black men
got the right to vote, black women would not vote
because she was a woman. When white– if white women
hadn’t got the chance to vote first, black women still would
not have been able to vote because she
was black. So let’s move up now
to the ’60s and ’70s. We’re talking about
the women’s movement, where you had white women
who were sitting at home, wanting to go to work
and wanting fair pay, which they
should have had, but you had women of color who
have been working for free for centuries,
right? So it’s
different. When you talk about
intergenerational trauma, everybody might
experience it, but it doesn’t mean you
experience it the same. If you have not
heard this term, I highly recommend
you look up “Post Traumatic Slave
Syndrome” by Dr. Joy DeGruy. And that will
explain all of that and how slavery still
impacts us today. And it doesn’t just
impact black people. It impacts white
people, too, right? Just– it– we experience
it differently. For some white people,
what it did for them is make them lose
their humanity. How can you go to
church as a Christian, a good person,
Sunday morning, and then go and lynch a person
in the afternoon, right? What does that do
to you, cognitively? It creates dissonance,
discomfort, so what we do with
cognitive dissonance is we either rename,
relabel, or redefine what we’re doing or
who we’re doing it to in order to make you
comfortable with doing it. So we said that they
weren’t even people. How does this
resonate today? We still have the
electoral college. That had everything
to do with slavery. And not just slavery but slaves being counted
as three-fifths of a person. Where else in
our country– where else do we
have an election where it is not
the popular vote? Why do we need somebody
to vote for us today? It doesn’t happen
any place else. Did I answer your question?
>>Thank you.>>You’re quite welcome. (applause)>>I just wanted to
say (indistinct). My question for you is how do
we as men, we as black men, (indistinct) black
women in our lives (indistinct).>>I am not a man, so I
can’t tell you what to do. And I’m being my
authentic self, so when I even have–
sometimes, white people ask me, “Well, what
should I do?” “Go inside
yourself, right? “And find your
own humanity “and don’t rely on me to
tell you what that is.” That’s one– now,
there are some steps. First of all, you need
to heal yourself, right? And go through
that process, because– and this
is for anybody– before you can understand
how you relate to the world, you gotta understand
who you are. So if you don’t
understand that, you’ll never be able
to mistreat them. You know, I’m
clear about this. Whatever privilege you have,
whether it’s male privilege, whether it’s white privilege,
whatever privilege you have, I don’t think it should be
anything that you’re ashamed of or feel
guilty about, because it’s useless,
feeling guilty. What are you doing
with that privilege to help leverage equity
for other people? So young man, when you see
another woman being mistreated by another brother,
say something. Even if it’s not going
to do any good for you, say something
anyway. You know, I think silence puts
you on the side of the oppressor not matter what. Speak up.>>Thank you.
>>You are quite welcome. (applause)>>Thank you
for coming. I just wanted you to
elaborate a little bit on how religion enslaved us
and saved us at the same time.>>Mmm-hmm. Mmm! So…
(clearing throat) it saved us a few
different ways. First of all… if we did not convert
to Christianity, they would
kill us. That was one way
it saved us. Another way that
it helped save us is that when you look at
the spiritual practices of people in
West Africa, those practices
didn’t die, but what they did was they
hid them in Christianity, and we even practice a lot of
them today without context. You go to the Caribbean,
you go to Cuba, you go to South America,
the black folks there, they black because you
know those cruise ships, they landed a few
different places. Well, their colonizers
were Spanish who were largely
Catholic. So to stay alive, and still
connect with their ancestors and their spiritual
practices, they would hide
their deities inside of one of
the Catholic deities. So when they got white folks
thinking they praying to Saint Barbara, they
really praying to Oshun.>>(indistinct).
>>You understand? So when you look at
even some of the rituals in the black
church here, you won’t see it unless
you know what to look for, but this is something
that I’ve been reading and studying lately, and
I think it’s my next book… is how to locate those
things in our churches and in our ways
of being. Now, it’s being
celebrated because they ain’t
killing us anymore with it, but it had to change
over time, you know? So because we had to change it
in order for it to survive. So that’s one way
that it saved us. How did it
enslave us? Some of us forgot
the context and really believed the
inferiority that it taught us. When you go to
black churches, particularly in
the United States– it’s real big to be pastor,
reverend doctor, right? Those titles were huge
because, in society, you weren’t going to get
no title except for “boy.” Did I answer
your question? Very good. (applause)>>Thank you to
Dr. Consuela Ward for her wonderful
lecture tonight. One more round of applause.
(applause)>>Thank you very much.

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