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I would like a conversation that includes class and racial experiences related to shame.In particular owning/admitting privilege and how to

I am not bringing up this topic to shame anyone or make anyone feel guilty. Brene Brown did mention how having privilege makes one feel guilty and maybe ashamed. When I have asked someone of a higher class to talk about class as privilege I am often met with anger and defensiveness and although I am not the one with that particular privilege I often times am made to feel guilty for bringing it up. I have white skin privilege and know I have done the same to people of color in the past.I am beginning to see that there is a triad to be built here maybe we need to add denial into this discussion of shame and vulnerability.Or how does shame,guilt and denial keep us from connecting with one another?

  • Apr 14 2012: Unfortunately I don't have time to do this right now as I just received word that I need to start looking for a new home when my lease expires so I'm too busy right now. I'm sorry.Hopefully after I find a home I can re-engage.
  • Apr 8 2012: Life involves struggles for anyone, so people (naturally) do not readily think they 'have it easy'.

    I think the best way to uncover a person's view of privilege is to have them comment on people they perceive to be MORE privileged than they are.

    ...then take what they said about the differences between a more privileged person and them and apply it to the differences between a less privileged person and them.

    Their own opinions might surprise them in the new context. ;)
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    Apr 5 2012: I had to smile because as I came to the end of your intro, I thought shame guilt and denial keep us from killing each other. I have been trying to figure this out for some time. Brene did introduce many interesting aspects of shame but it seems to be an individual shame. So, many people who work with individuals and address shame, send those same individuals back out into the society or group they identify with that continues to be shamed by a larger/ruling/desired society. So then what?

    It is an interesting question because there is this value in many western societies that almost sanctifies autonomy, the individual. Many times to the lesser understanding of how that individual fits with the other individuals around them. So if someone addresses shame with an individual, they are still returning that individual to a shamed family, or a shamed culture etc. It is very interesting.]

    About White Guilt. Do not underestimate that shame. It is a shame that sometimes addresses disparities but very often not effectively. But that shame is just as painful as the shame of any other sub-group and people who experience that shame will move to alleviate the symptom. I do not think empathy is the answer here once again because this is not an individual problem. I really doubt you will find empathy from an oppressed group for the oppressor for instance. Laughter if you're lucky, but not empathy.

    I have personally found many individuals who will freely discuss white guilt. However, the stigma is out there and they are very clear that they are only discussing the phenomena from an individual perspective. They have also experienced the anger and defensiveness this discussion precipitates.
    I will be very interested in where this discussion goes.
  • Apr 4 2012: Simon,if it wasn't so ludicrous it would be funny.And that is what happens when white people "try" not to be racist.Heaven forbid they go to the people that would know.I know of one Asian American female performer named Slanty Eyed Mama. Maybe she isn't registered?I'm glad you're fighting this.I guess white skin privilege still gives people the belief that they/we can hold onto ownership/power.I don't exclude myself from this because I am Caucasian and I have white skin privilege. I am mindful and that's what I can do. I still mess up.

    Mary M. WoW! That's a yucky experience. You know that saying about "assumptions" it's the "ass" in assumptions that grabbed my attention as to that womyn's ass-umptions. These things are hurtful but as you pointed out, you were more embarrassed for her. I think that takes a lot of strength and knowing, owning your own value.

    Sandy-Yes I agree that acknowledging privilege puts people in fear of having to give it up. I think I'm edging over to the guilt scenario. I remember in the early 70's during the second wave of feminism and being in a community of radical lesbian feminists when white wimin were being pushed by wimin of color to take on racism. One of the "outs" we continually saw was white wimin starting to cry when confronted. Was there a gentler way to do this? Was there a way to lessen the burden of being a womyn of color, a Black womyn, in particular? When we got hip to understanding that the crying was a manipulation by use of guilt, I think we got a little further along.

    How to not shove this under the rug and still talk about the shame, guilt and denial and have empathy with one another?

    I am Jewish, from a poverty class background and a lesbian. One of my stories was that a W.A.S.P. womyn said to me that she didn't "know that Jewish people had that affliction." I think that was a two-fer.

    RH- Yes and I'd like to know more about you.
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      Apr 4 2012: Hi Lena,
      "How to not shove this under the rug and still talk about the shame, guilt and denial and have empathy with one another?"

      That's such a great question! I believe that as a starting point we need to bring compassion to all parties to the conversation. That's not so easy when we're operating from the highly-reactive parts of our brain/nervous system, so we need to have some patience with ourselves as we learn to do that...

      One of the reasons I'm participating in as many of these 'post-Brene Brown' discussions it that I think BB has started a conversation that's been started before, but that eventually fades into the background and is then forgotten...partly because shame is indeed a painful topic, and also because it is a more complex issue than even BB lets on.

      I started a thread which you can find on the BB page, called "Deepening the conversation." It hasn't gotten as much action as I'd like, but I still hope people discover it.

      I think the greatest hope for us as a species is that we discover all the great relatively new information that's out there about how we humans actually develop neurologically and emotionally. I believe that a lot of what's been out there up to now hasn't been very helpful, but I see the potential for that changing. But it will require a willingness to seek out and understand new concepts, and to practice applying them in our everyday lives...

      More about that later! In the meantime I hope you'll check out some of the other discussions and find food for thought...
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    Apr 3 2012: I see shame as related to race as a reflection of our pain buried deep inside. The pain of our histories, our ancestral agonies, our wars, our cultural decimations, our legacy of racism that has been built up over the centuries which is buried deep within our bones and has been given to us through the generations. Even old religious text has referred to 'them' vs 'us'. It was always 'those people' and we are the righteous. Just in the last century we were debating whether some 'races' were human. To me, our shame is a feeling of powerlessness, of being victimized by this legacy, as we watch it continue, and are confronted by it, through ignorance and a self-serving corruption of power today. Until we purge this beast from our beings - all of us - we will never reach the harmony and unity we seek. Arguably the greatest modern statement of this is from Dr. King: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." May we all live to see the day.
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    Apr 3 2012: What a great question: so much to say.

    I just got off discussing racial experiences while chasing a rabbit in another talk on children and eating.

    As an immigrant, like Simon, I have been exposed to alot of shameful experiences.

    I was so affected by the treatment I received when young in S. Florida, that I spent most of my young adult years hating my own's language, music, people, art, .....etc

    I have changed quite a bit since then, I am now almost a grandma......but I will say this: I feel shame everytime I see people of my native country treating others, of their same country with racial slurs based on the part of the country they are from. Humans are something else.....why the feelings of superiority? I don't understand it myself.

    We are all just the same....and our differences make us unique.

    I will contribute one experience I had while spending a few weeks in Tennessee visiting friends a few years back when I was single.

    One of my friends had a window cleaning business up there and asked a few of us to help her. We jumped at the chance. I had never done domestic work for someone else. I don't shy away from work too easily....and I love new experiences.

    Well, as we were cleaning, the lady of the house struck up a conversation with us. She then realized I was Latin. Well, she then went on to say how MY people needed help, and how MY people had done alot to get ahead, and what great english I spoke, and how excellent that I had learned it, and good for me that I was washing windows, and on and on and on.......I just allowed her to say all that she fancied.

    What she didn't know, and what I didn't bother to tell her, is that I had already lived in four countries, had a college degree, and was just doing my friend a favor. The lady's cook, an african-american, was busy cooking and throwing looks my way, a sheepish grin on her face....

    I felt shame, not for me, but for the ignorance of some people.

    I will never forget the experience.
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      Apr 4 2012: What an incredible story.

      I'm actually an Asian American; my parents were born in China and Taiwan but I grew up in San Diego, CA. When I was younger, it used to annoy me when people would ask "Where are you from?" or "Where did ou learn English?" There's this expectation that people who look Asian are assumed to be foreigners and when I tell them that I grew up in CA, it's almost as if they don't believe me.

      I will say that now things are pretty different. However, it's still an odd experience in the music industry since there is so little exposure on Asian Americans in the entertainment world.
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        Apr 4 2012: I will share my favorite quote with you:

        "We all belong to the same race........human"

        Thank you for your reply Simon.
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    Apr 3 2012: Hi Lena,
    I'm glad you pointed out that brief comment that Brene made about how talking about privilege means talking about shame. I totally agree, and I'd all but forgotten her comment. To do it justice would require a whole other TED Talk.
    But short of that, we can all try to talk honestly about the effects of privilege and the denial of privilege. LIke you've experienced already, a whole lot of privileged white people are very uncomfortable with the conversation. I think you've been courageous to even try to talk about it...

    I'm white too. Can't help it. But I've always tried to be conscious of the automatic privilege conferred by just being white, and have done my best to avoid cashing in on it, so to speak. But I've had experiences in my life that have reminded me, kind of 'after the fact,' that even when I don't intend it or seek it out or want it, I still get the privilege...

    And I don't think the privilege thing is just about skin color either. I grew up in poverty so I think it's a class issue as well. But in the U.S. many folks would like to believe that: 1) we're now a color-blind society, and: 2) we don't have classes here... Both ideas are denials of reality, IMHO.

    It's an edgy conversation, but I'm convinced we need to have it if we're ever going to grow past it to become a more just society. Because shame guilt and denial do keep us from connecting with one another.

    One of my favorite writers on shame describes it as 'that which breaks the interpersonal bridge' between people. Shame is a very powerful negative experience that we mostly haven't been taught how to tolerate, so we often run from it as fast as we can.

    I think part of the difficulty of acknowledging privilege is the unconscious fear that to do so will mean losing the privilege, We seem to have great difficulty believing that a more egalitarian and equal society is even possible. Does any of this resonate with you?
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    Apr 2 2012: Hi Lena,

    I'd like to offer a very real experience of how this concept of shame/privilege has affected me (and many other minorities) here in the United States.

    The quick version: I manage and perform in an all-Asian American band called The Slants that works to empower communities of color through re-appropriation, addressing stereotypes, and creating discussions around race. We perform/speak at schools, Asian festivals around the world, and have even gone into state prisons to perform and talk to white supremacy groups hurting other people of color behind bars. When we filed for a trademark on our name though, the U.S Trademark Office denied our application, saying our name was offensive to people of Asian descent. Despite giving them evidence such as multiple examples of other Asians using the term "slant" in a positive, self-referential manner, lifelong Asian activists writing in support, and doing a national survey which showed that the overwhelming majority of Asian Americans in the U.S supported our use, the Office continued its denial. No people of color were involved in the decision at all.

    The full story can be read here:

    It seems to me that the idea of "shame" over our own country's spotted history in terms of dealing with race overpowered reason by creating disservice to the very groups they said they were protecting. Multiple other communities of color were rejected for the same reason (can't trademark "disparaging" terms). However, the Trademark office protects terms like "Kracker" (referring to whites), "Redneck," and "white trash," even if they're being used in ways other than self-pride/empowerment.

    Strange indeed!
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      Apr 3 2012: Hi Simon,
      Thanks for including the link to the article about your band! I'm going to read it tomorrow (gotta hit the sack soon) when I'll have more neurons awake to do the job with...

      My first take is that it sounds like a great, bold, and worthwhile project. Your reference to this country's 'spotted history in terms of dealing with race' was put a lot more diplomatically than I'd have said it...

      more later!
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      Apr 3 2012: Good morning, Simon...
      What the....? I read the article about your band's trying to trademark your name. The government's response is just...well, lame, IMHO.

      Listened to your songs too - I like. I drive up to Portland & Seattle from No. CA a few times a year. I'm hoping the next time I come through there your band will have a gig so I can see you guys live.

      Here's a couple of ideas just off the top of my about trademarking: "The Band Formerly Known as The Slants" (stealing a page from Prince). Or maybe: "Slant_: The Band That Dare Not State It's Name?"...or "Slantz".... well, you've probably thought of all these already...

      Anyway, much success to you guys. Simon, I hope to hear more of your thoughts here...
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        Apr 3 2012: Hi Sandy,

        We're kind of in a long line of groups who've been dealing with this issue. For us, it became something much bigger than just protecting our band's name; if we win the trademark, we'll ultimately have the opportunity to turn the tide for all minority groups that want to re-appropriate terms. It's been an interesting few years and we're still fighting it!

        If you don't come up here, I'm sure we'll be down there in the near future. We tour quite a bit so we're all over the place :)
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          Apr 4 2012: Hey Simon,
          I see your point about your case being a groundbreaking one, with positive results for a lot of folks. It sounds like you haven't given up the fight, to which I say, right on!

          Let me know if you guys ever play in the Medford/Ashland area, or maybe Redding...those are the closest places to Mt. Shasta (where I live) that would have a venue your band might play in. We used to have a cool little music venue here that attracted bands from here & there, but alas, it went bankrupt...
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        Apr 4 2012: We have been planning to play in Medford at Johnny B's for some time now...the last time we scheduled a show, we were snowed in. But perhaps this summer when we come down the coast for our tour...