JENNIFER BALLERINI

Therapist Blog

Civil Rights & Discrimination

21-Day Anti-Racist Challenge

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Over my 42 years of life in this country, I have breathed in racism every day. Like a noxious cloud around me, racism has been slowly poisoning me and my fellow countrymen every day of my life, every day of this country's existence. As I sit with that painful truth, as I sit with America's 400+ year, slow-motion holocaust of Black and Indigenous people, it feels clear that changing the system, changing the environment has to begin with each of us.

As a patriot who loves my broken, complicated country, and longs to have real "liberty and justice for all," I can think of no better way to celebrate the month of America's birth by committing to Eddie Moore's 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. As we light fireworks, put out flags, and celebrate with barbecue, let's also keep working toward a "more perfect union." Please join me in spending this July becoming a little more mindful, a little more humble, a little more compassionate, and a little more filled with the revolutionary spirit that fueled America's birth.

How to Be a Better Ally

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This is a really powerful article on being a better white ally to people of color. I appreciate it because it matches my experience as a relationship expert. Both in the absolute necessity of undoing the aloneness of our fellow Americans who are traumatized and suffering, and in the clarity that using shame to "call out" racism will likely shut people down and keep them from learning. While we want to avoid "tone policing" marginalized groups, we who are privileged need to speak up in a way that cultivates understanding and openness. As satisfying as it might be to lash out at your racist aunt or co-worker, you're not doing the work of opening minds and changing behaviors. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "You have little persuasive power over people who can feel your contempt." Staying regulated, curious, empathic, and humble in the face of racist speech is a much more effective approach—not unlike "deep canvassing." This article clearly and eloquently outlines the work white people have in communicating with fellow white people about racism…and I see no reason it couldn't apply to allies in tackling sexism, homophobia, or any other civil rights issue.

Standing Together

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Like most Americans, I've felt saddened and appalled by the senseless death of George Floyd — and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, and… I've appreciated the courage of the peaceful protestors who are speaking up against systemic racism and violence perpetrated by bad cops. I felt so touched yesterday to see caring police in Queens and Oakland kneeling with peaceful protestors, cops standing in solidarity with protestors in New Jersey, Flint's sheriff walking with Michigan protestors, the police chief in Atlanta validating the outrage and horror of her community.

This has been an especially hard time for the Black community, being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, job losses, and several horrifying acts of racism that have been captured on video and shared with the world. As Will Smith said, "Racism is not getting worse. It's getting filmed." If you're Black and struggling with feelings of anger, sadness, and overwhelm, please check out this article on self-care in the midst of tragedy. (For a general refresher on self-care, please visit this link from earlier this year.)

If you're white and struggling with your own feelings of distress, please take the opportunity to check out some of the antiracist resources below. We are all stressed and tired and longing to get back to normal. But this part of "normal" has to change, and it's up to us to change it. The time has come for white people to step up and actively work to undo the systemic racism that has been with our cherished country from the beginning. As Brene Brown just wrote, "The system is not broken. It was built this way."

- Choose from the 75 things white people can do for racial equality

- Explore resources for talking to your kids about race and racism

- Donate to Campaign Zero (providing policy solutions to end police brutality) or the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

- Help make therapy accessible for Black women and girls by donating to The Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund or support women in STEM through Black Girls Code

- Read White Fragility or So You Want to Talk About Race to educate yourself

Taking action will not only help your community, it will help you. In stressful times, research shows that the people who find ways to help and be empowered are those who demonstrate the most emotional resilience and resistance to depression or PTSD.

May you stay safe, be well, and act in integrity with a loving heart. We are in this together.

Widening the Scope of Love

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Happy MLK day! In the spirit of honoring this American hero, I'd like to encourage you all today to do two things:

One, to take a moment to reflect and be grateful for the many privileges and protections we enjoy today thanks to the moral clarity, eloquence, and courage of our human rights heroes. We talk a lot in therapy about practicing gratitude — research tells us it's one of the best ways to improve our felt sense of well-being and reduce depression and anxiety — and as Americans, we have much to be grateful for. The right to free speech, freedom of religion, representative government, ending slavery and segregation, extending voting rights to women, same-sex marriage, etc. These freedoms are a precious inheritance, a gift that, as with Dr. King, often came at the cost of human lives. Let's take a moment to thank the many men and women who labored and sacrificed for us to enjoy these freedoms today.

Two, take a moment to reflect on how we can continue Dr. King's work and leave an even more just and kind world behind for our children and grandchildren. In EFT, we talk so much about attachment and security. And as our love and safety grows within our couple bond, we naturally find ourselves wanting to widen the scope of our love — thinking of ways to repair with family members, grow closer with friends, and nurture our world as a whole. As we continue on our journey toward equality and civil rights in this beautiful, diverse, raucous nation of ours, please think today about what we can do for our fellow citizens so that, in this American family, we all feel safe, accepted, and know we are not alone. In our country, as in our relationships, let's work toward "a more perfect union." With all our many differences, let's strive to hold each other tight.

And with all that said, I'd like to share with you this beautiful video on this couple's journey together. Enjoy!

Be a Man

This clip explores the toxic pressures on men to hide their feelings and how we (still!!) give boys and men the sense that they must be completely invulnerable in order to be masculine. This seems to be a key reason so many men shut down and withdraw with their partners, out of the fear that they'll be seen as weak or unattractive if they share their vulnerable feelings and needs with their loved ones.