Archive for May 2018

Black Feminism: Smacked by Intersectionality ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

May 29, 2018
Black Feminism: Smacked by Intersectionality
 By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Crossing bustling streets in Pakistan and Indonesia was like Han Solo navigating through the Hoth asteroid field: I never knew what might hit me and from what direction.

First of all, their citizens drive on the opposite side of the road. I grew up in the U.S. and conditioned to drive on the right—they drive on the left. Easy to forget when facing the churning labyrinth; you look LEFT instead of RIGHT, step into the street, and you’re a grease spot. Next, BIG always won. Everything scattered for lorries as their aggressive drivers pushed and bullied their way through the fracas (nationals learned this from their former European colonizers—white skinned, i.e., privileged, they pushed and bullied their way to the front).

And VIPs. Anyone in a car larger than a small Toyota assumed they fit that category.

And absolutely no one paid any attention to traffic lights or the brave policeman standing in the middle of the intersection on a reinforced concrete pillar directing traffic. In many cities, oxen carts, horse-drawn wagons, and donkeys vied for space along with the busses, lorries, cars, bicycles, and people.

Ain’t I Woman? Sojourner Truth, 1851

Lawyer and civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw (Note 1) first coined intersectionality in 1989.  Imagine an intersection, she says (preferably the one I just described) and that traffic flows through it from all four directions. Imagine standing in the middle of that intersection (sans concrete pillar). Danger can hit you from any side.

That’s the black woman’s experience, she said.

A classic example that Crenshaw uses to illustrate intersectionality is the 1976 case of Degraffenreid vs. General Motors.  Five African American women sued car manufacturer General Motors for racial and gender discrimination. But the courts found that women in general weren’t discriminated against when it came to jobs as secretaries, and the fact that GM employed African American factory workers disproved racial discrimination.

It ignored the fact that the sheer majority of secretaries were white women, and factory workers were all men. So the black women lost—they lost to the white women for office jobs and black men for factory work. Pain hit them through the cumulative impact of both gender AND race.

Webster’s only added intersectionality a year ago and says it’s used to refer to the complex and cumulative way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.

The key here is “complex and cumulative way that the different forms of discrimination combine and overlap.”  Antidiscrimination laws, feminist theories, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor. Crenshaw, who is black, writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”

Since its inception, intersectionality has expanded to include discrimination faced by anyone who identifies with the multiple social, biological, and cultural groups that are not favored in a patriarchal, capitalist, white supremacist society (Notes 2 & 3).

White women can’t claim the title of an “intersectional feminist: we don’t experience misogynoir

It’s also referred to as “misogynoir” in black feminist and womanist (Note 4) circles. Misogynoir is defined as the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward black women. What black women face is different also from the racism an Asian or Hispanic may face because of that added danger of anti-blackness. Whenever blackness is added to that treacherous intersection—or asteroid field—of oppression, threat increases.

Can white women call themselves intersectional feminists? The word was created by a black woman to define black women’s experience. Just as you reading this cannot relate to my harrowing street-crossing misadventures unless you’ve been there, I as a white woman cannot related to the black woman’s experiences: I do not experience misogynoir. By claiming the title I obliterate the issue of anti-blackness.

Therefore, unless you are a black woman or a black non-binary person, the answer is no.

But we can call our feminism intersectional and we can speak about intersectionality.

“Black mothers & babies: a life-or-death crisis” (Note 5)

Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants: 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies. This is a racial gap greater than it was in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery. Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues than white women—moms in Mexico have a greater chance of surviving. The United States now ranks 32nd out of the 35 wealthiest nations in infant mortality. In addition, we are one of 13 countries in the world where maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago. These rates are largely driven by the deaths of black babies and mothers.

And infants born to college-educated black parents are twice as likely to die as infants born to similarly educated white parents—so it isn’t only poverty and lack of attention to healthcare.

Evidence suggests that these deaths are stress-related, the daily and cumulative anxieties and dis-eases associated with standing in the middle of that intersection.

 Begging the status quo to let diversity into the game

My granddaughter told me about a smart, black classmate in her high school who wears a t-shirt that says “Feminism is Cancer.” This young lady must be a fan of conservative author and speaker Christina Sommers, a white woman who is considered an equity feminist, which is an off-shoot of classical liberal feminism. Sommers believes that the role of feminism is to insure that the right against coercive interference is not infringed—regardless of race, gender, ability or anything else that impinges on privilege.

In a perfect world I can agree with that. But until we as a society raise healthy children by focusing on what their interests and abilities are vs. their gender and color, we need feminism. As long as those statistics quoted above remain high, we need feminism. As long as the white Sean Spicers of the world believe they’re entitled to tell black women how to act, we need feminism. As long as male politicians continue to feel entitled to legislate women’s healthcare, we need feminism. Sommers wants us begging the status quo to let in diversity, to let us play.

If your interest is piqued by anything in this blog, check out the resources listed below. Follow Awesomely Luvvie . Read Bell Hooks. Listen to how Franchesca Ramsey uses humor to describe how intersectionality plays out in daily life,

Whatever you experience, don’t push it away but stay with it, welcoming this wisdom of transforming power and energy. And practice mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn taught (Note 7):

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,

in the present moment,

and nonjudgmentally,

to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.


Notes & Sources:

1.) Kimberlé Crenshaw Explains The Power Of Intersectional Feminism In 1 Minute. April 11, 2017.
2.) Intersectionality as Theory and Practice. Myra Marx Ferree. February 21, 2018. Sage Journals.
3.) Kylie Cheung. March 8, 2018. Https://Dailytrojan.Com/2018/03/08/Uterus-International-Womens-Day-Remember-Intersectionality/
4.) Womanist, definition: A movement and theory that is a response specifically to the oppression of black women.
5.) Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies are in a Life-or-Death Crisis. Linda Villarosa. New York Times. April 11, 2018.
6.) Breaking Up with Intersectional Feminism. Tamela J. Gordon. April 26, 2018. Medium.
7.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon. The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness.


About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her People House “tribe” and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships, Part 1 ll Dorothy Wallis

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships
Part 1: Energizing the Love Bond
By Dorothy Wallis

     Typically, when couples enter counseling, they have built up a pressure cooker of issues that have created an atmosphere of resentment and distrust resulting in blame, misunderstanding, and unhappiness. Energetically, their wounded heart is stuck in a cesspool of hurt, anger and despair.  It is difficult to see a way out yet usually at least one of them has a hope that things can improve.

     It is common to look at your partner as the source of the problem.  “If only you would change, everything would be alright.” People often bring their partner into counseling believing that the therapist will help their partner “see the light” and change.  Placing the burden of discord on your partner is a recipe for disappointment.  Growth is an internal and complex process that is part of each one’s development and soul’s journey.  Transforming a relationship back into harmony is a dual responsibility.  Each person brings their signature of energies and blends them with their partner to form an interconnected synergy that is the blueprint of their relationship.  Within this alchemical union each person is responsible for their own choices and behavior.  Movement in the relationship occurs when one person becomes aware and conscious of how their energy contributes to the disharmony, re-establishes a caring presence and releases the old paradigm while opening to new possibilities.

     Every relationship is a joining of character styles and personalities that create a unique dynamic.  When two people interact their similarities are highlighted and feel good endorphins flow.  Initially, when you fall in love you are showered with a rush of positive emotions, which dampens noticing the problematic and annoying differences.  The differences that you do notice are often experienced as endearing, interesting, and curiously attractive.  These same differences may “rear up” later as annoying, offensive, repulsive, and even harmful as the “blinded by love” initial fantasy stage subsides.

Relationship Dynamic

     These troublesome differences can activate the part of the ego that protects and defends your safety, values, integrity, identity, ways of being and doing things.  Another way to say it is, you are “triggered.”  A relationship is a dynamic system and every relationship goes through periods of harmony and disharmony.  This dynamic is “a force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.”  The change that is stimulated can produce growth or not.  Relationships offer a “fast track” opportunity to observe your ego in action.  The drama of tussling in tandem with your partner or loved one ignites your childhood wounds bringing them to the surface to be seen and resolved.  The challenges and discord in relationship are opportunities for growth promoting resilience, development of maturity, expanding consciousness and strengthening the bonds of love. 

Just as in any other part of life, there is a natural ebb and flow of amicability and disruption.

     In a relationship, the dynamic of discord is characterized by the stance or force each individual supplies when their ego is activated.  When these forces are pushing against one another it creates an escalation of conflict.  You are in a battle with one another.  This battle has nothing to do with resolving the conflict or finding a solution.  It can leave you embittered, resentful, angry, hurt, and scared.  These are the times when you close off, see no way towards reconciliation, and may want to “throw in the towel” and leave.

      Being able to weather these disruptions while learning healthier skills changes your biology.  It increases the capacity of your pre-frontal cortex to down regulate and calm your egoic reactions, which improves your ability to self-regulate.  You grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  A healthy conscious dynamic promotes healing the divide and repairing the rupture.  As a culture and world, we have not been taught how to return to harmony in ourselves or in relationship with others.

Creation of the Love Bond

     Imagine the relationship system as a triangle or trinity with two people as two points linked together with their energies radiating out to form a third energetic union, which is the body of the relationship.  It is an actual energetic form.  For some, this body is known as marriage.  Since we are talking about All relationships united in the bond of love, let’s call it the Love Bond.  Now, imagine the Love Bond relationship as the fulcrum of a scale balanced by the energy of each partner.  When there is an equal amount of positive loving energy given into the Love Bond by both individuals, there is balance and harmony.  Partners are receiving the benefits of love being radiated back to them. 

The relationship is in a state of healthy equilibrium.

     All natural systems move towards homeostasis.  So it is a natural function to stay in balance.  This balance may mean one person is adding more energy into the relationship than another.  There are times in all relationships when this is necessary.  Usually, there is never an absolute equal amount of energy focused into the relationship by each individual.  When you are attuned to the health of your relationship, there is a loving willingness to give more of your energy when your partner cannot.

     Problems arise in normal relationships when one person consistently adds less energy and attention or when one person adds too much negative or distressing energy.  The scale becomes unbalanced because the Love Bond bank of vitality and positive energy supply is depleted and cannot radiate energy back.  Physically, you may be aware of feeling drained of energy.  Emotionally, you may feel hurt, sad, resentful, overwhelmed, angry, or some other afflictive emotion.  Mentally, you may observe behaviors, attitudes or values not congruent with your own or sense a lack of attention and energy to your relationship from your partner.  When this happens one person will attempt to correct the imbalance by changing their input of energy into the Love Bond, to put it back into balance.

Finding Balance

     There are two basic strategies taken to get the relationship back on track.  You will either put more energy into the Love Bond or you will remove some of your energy from the Love Bond.  When you add your energy, you are focusing more of your attention on the relationship.  When you remove your energy, you are containing your energy by withdrawing your focus and attention.  You can do this in either a positive way from the heart or in a detrimental way from the ego.  In order to bring vitality and health back into the Love Bond, there must be an increase in positive uplifting energy and a decrease in negative harmful energy.

      The Love Bond is the intimate connection between two people.  It includes mutual respect, understanding, trust, affection, sensuality, sexuality, listening, interpersonal sharing, empathy, compassion, appreciation, care and attention.

     Over time, people tend to take their relationships for granted.  It is normal for the intensity of new love to calm down.  The realities of everyday life call your attention.  You need to attend to the practicalities of shelter, finances, work, children, household chores, extended family, social life and the multitudes of responsibilities required for living.  Besides the practicalities taking up a lot of time and energy, often negotiating these responsibilities leads to disagreements.  Resentment builds when partners feel the responsibilities are not shared equally.  Resentment kills the Love Bond.  Loving energy drains out and the intimate side of life is left for last or not at all.

Caring Presence

      Besides having realistic discussions and expectations about these responsibilities, it is important to approach your interactions with attention to the Love Bond.  What kind of energy am I giving to my partner?  What is my intention when I bring up an issue?  Is it to resolve differences or to blame?  Is my contribution creating harmony or disharmony?  Am I giving my attention to the Love Bond or has my attention become focused only on the practicalities of the relationship or my own personal needs?  Am I depositing loving energy into the Love Bond or am I withdrawing more than I am giving?

     You energize the Love Bond with caring presence.  This means being thoughtful.  Think about the attention you gave your partner when you first fell in love?  You thought about them pretty much continually.  Okay, you can step it down from that much attention but if your Love Bond is feeling depleted then you need to step it up.  Find out what actions feel loving to your partner.  Don’t assume that you know.  Perhaps, they just want you to listen, or give them a hug, or for you to take out the garbage.  Take the 5 Love Languages quiz and share your results with your partner and have them do the same.

     Your relationship is a creation and in order for it to thrive, you must be present and pay attention to it.  Fill your Love Bond up with vitality.  Feed it with positive caring energy.  Show gratitude for the small things your partner does for you.  Each day, make it a point to say words of appreciation and support to your partner.  Look into their eyes and really see.  Doing so opens a pathway into the heart, yours and your partners.

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. and

3 Traits All Confident People Have ll Kate Heartsong

3 Traits All Confident People Have by Kate Heartsong

You probably have noticed people at your work place, in social situations and at family events who just seem to carry themselves with a positive and upbeat attitude. Maybe they’re the ones who seem to have everything going right for them.  When they walk in the room, they carry themselves with a certain air of confidence.  It seems that they make friends easily and they’re just that type of person you want to be around!  Ah, it’s that certain air of energy people are drawn to.  Well, these are people who have high self-confidence.

I remember many years ago in my twenties and my teen years when I didn’t feel confident. Back then, I had low self-esteem. I didn’t feel I deserve good things. And I also had people walk all over me easily.   On an unconscious level, I allowed them to.  I didn’t know how to deal with that.

Thankfully I came to realize that I needed to change how I felt about myself, and to build by self-confidence.  Over the years, I took various personal development workshops, got into psychotherapy for the childhood trauma I experienced, read many uplifting and life changing books and practiced many different tools (many of which I share with my clients, audiences and my readers).  As a result of my dedicated personal growth work, I am now quite confident in myself and I feel good about the person I am, the gifts and skills I offer my clients and audiences, and my friends and family, and I’m happy.  You see, it’s possible to change into a more positive and confident person.  I’m living proof!  This is exactly why I’m so passionate about doing the confidence-building coaching and teaching work that I do.

So, for our article this month, here are three traits confident people have.   You cancultivate these traits for yourself over time, by your willingness to be consistent in using confidence-building tools you learn, in practicing feeling good about yourself, reading uplifting books, perhaps talking to a professional counselor or psychotherapist, and by being kind and supportive of yourself!

  • They believe in themselves. Confident people know the gifts and skills they offer and they know themselves well; they recognize the good they offer and realize their self-worth.  This creates a stronger belief in themselves.  Confident people believing in themselves is not being egotistical because they ALSO see the good and the value in everyone else.
  • They use positive self-talk. Confident people use positive language when talking to themselves instead of beating themselves up.  Have you noticed a confident, upbeat person walking into the room?  You can bet they appreciate themselves and use positive self-talk.
  • They surround themselves with positive, uplifting situations, events and people. Like attracts like.  We facilitate more positive attitude when we do positive things like watch happy movies and minimize negative news or people.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!

Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth