Happy 2020, Friends. I want to use this post to share a wonderful article about the Coronavirus. Learn about it and take precautions as you’re moving about large urban areas. This one can kill you, but it doesn’t have to!
I’m tired of workplace violence. I’m not just talking about bullets and bombs. I’m talking about physical aggression in the form of path-blocking and contemptuous stares. It’s the malicious, dehumanizing comments as I pass or when I step out of the room. It’s persistent and consistent disrespectful and unkind behaviors. It’s the willful taking of room in order to create scarcity and feelings of non-belonging in shared professional spaces. It’s a hostile racial climate orchestrated to marginalize. It’s aggressiveness with the end goal of dispossessing of employment and position. It’s thinly veiled abusive language that excludes, degrades and humiliates coworkers based on my gender and skin color. Come to think of it, this is all about bullets and bombs—the kinds that explode in the heart and mind leave people needlessly debilitated from a normal day at the office.
Causal violence harms because it attempts to annihilate and eviscerate the human spirit. Daily enactments of violence disconnect us from our highest selves. When we lose ourselves in the anonymity of numbers and algorithms, the resulting degradation making them permissible and tolerable. We have lost all need for personal, civic and social responsibilities requiring etiquette, good will and temperance, the fabric necessary to transform our thoughts before they become actions. These elements have combined and escalated the many ways we perpetuate violence in professionally shared social spaces.
La Nueva Obra
Now more than ever, we need a physical, spiritual and psychic prophylactic against workplace violence. We should be able to leave our homes and return in more or less the same state of health. The truth is otherwise. Incidences of harassment, direct assaults and numerous forms of mental and verbal abuse are systemic, and are eroding the mental and physical health of even the most vulnerable among us, causing a great economic gulf in society that is totally unnecessary. There are enough resources for all of us to thrive, and yet the gulch widens. It’s time to for a radical accountability that dismantles violence and oppression in the workplace. It’s on us to do it for ourselves.
We don’t get to choose our birth family, but as a transitional character working to understand and improve my psycho-social inheritance, I look to where I can strengthen the foundation of who I am. I’m long past the seductive intoxication of Impostor Syndrome—most of us survived college and grad school, and by the time we get to the office, we know where we belong, but then we encounter the barracks of the in crowd, who collude to haze black and Latina women out of the spaces we’ve rightfully earned . Enough is enough. But maybe there’s a part of this that really is about me. So let’s examine that, too.
According to a few trusted psychology studies from PsychologyToday.com and Havard HBR.org, the workplace seems to most closely replicate the family structure, and even if you’re from the lucky few without a dysfunctional childhood, you could work with people who bully, belittle, exclude and manipulate others as a routine part of their workday. That makes many vulnerable people subject to a proliferation of unhealthy professional behavior. It’s a lesson I’m still learning from my experiences teaching, running the office and writing in Silicone Valley. It’s time for a new status quo, one built on active professional kindness, authentic respectful communication and proactive training to unlearn the toxic behavior known to harm.
A former mental-health professional told me that people will often replicate their personal family culture in the workplace. Likely an unintentional consequence, we may carry familial habits into new spheres, such as the job market. Once in the professional space, the members of this work-life family varies tremendously. I’ve experienced violence, aggression and rudeness in the workplace. Let’s consider the contemporary alternatives to kindness in offices, college campuses and schools all over the country: contempt, violence and mass murder. It’s time to cultivate a consistent, daily professionalism and kindness in the workplace.
People from targeted groups, i.e., people of color, women, and people with disabilities are especially vulnerable to economic disenfranchisement—an extreme form of personal violence designed to attack on a spiritual-social-psychological that has strong evidence that it leads to depression, homelessness and unemployment that also results in loss of healthcare in addition to lost wages. Personal hero, Colin Kaepernick, stands for this new accountability: We witnessed him take a knee to protest the most important social-justice issue of our time—the killing of black people with impunity; he was economically disenfranchised in a very public and visible manner. Trump even demanded publicly, from our highest office, that the NFL fire any players who protested. This is an old standard of discrimination that reeks of Jim Crow. But if the NFL can change, we all can.
White men are not the only ones that need to take on the task of reforming the practices that reinforce violence and discrimination in the workplace. I’ll let Robin DiAngelo explain to white woman why you all don’t get a free pass. DiAngelo’s video about white privilege explains how easy it for us to miss our own reflection in the mirror. And neither do women of color, who may have internalized oppression, enact these same unhealthy behaviors. No one gets a pass.
So can we eradicate the toxic patterns that lead to stress-related illnesses, retaliatory violence in which the deeply-wounded individual returns to the sight of harm to enact revenge and economic hardship festering in toxic work environments? We’ve moved past the moments of permissiveness that have characterized the bad behavior seen in schools, offices and work spaces. Wake up to our own intent and impact. We have to interrupt toxic behavior when we see them. This new era demands that we each stay on our best behavior.
Who knows, you just could get on my list of heroes?
“Bruce Lee” by Anna Torbina
Living Artist Project
Hundreds of years after Deborah Sampson, a gender-bending Revolutionary War soldier, trod the earth, Jessie Serfilippi traverses Sampson’s exact footsteps around present-day New York State. By cinematically documenting Sampson’s life, Serfilippi finds self-agency in her own deliverance by a historical investigation that does not always align with desired outcomes about modern representations of sexuality in “Under the Cover of Breeches and Bayonet.”
In “Audacious Warrior: Ernestine Rose” Edissa Nicolás-Huntsman creatively envisions an unexpected intersection and overlap between herself, a 21st-century Black, Third-World Feminist with Caribbean roots, and Ernestine Rose, an audacious 19th-century ex-Jewish, European, freethinking Abolitionist. Through her activism, Rose established the groundwork for better-known Feminists such as Susan B. Anthony.
Available from Nauset Press on Amazon (ISBN-13: 978-0-9907154-4-3): https://amzn.to/2DWVGgE
ABC: Alana G., Contingent Worker: Line Cook; Alejandro, Global Security; Amel F., Reception Associate; Amy H., VP Global Learning and Development; Andrew N., Data Science; Andrew, Line Cook; Arthur F., Line Cook; BJ P., Graphic Design; Bahar Z., Data Science; Becca T., Data Science; Ben C., Global Security Executive Services; Brandy, Shuttle Driver; Buddy G., Contingent Worker: Graphic Design; Carlos, Bus Driver; Carmen, Data Science; Christina, Shuttle Driver; Christopher H., Logistics; Cindy C., Marketing Manager; Claire H., Data Science; Corey, Line Cook
D-I: Dana M., Technical Platform Manager; Daniela R., Global Security; David H., Data Science Manager; Deliah S., Front House Manager; Erica, Outsourced; Esmeralda H., Housekeeping; Ester, Housekeeping; Elma, Reception Associate; Fern D., Shuttle Driver; Gabby, Housekeeping; Hari S., Data Science; Heather, Data Science; Ivan, Housekeeping
JKL: Jason P., Software Engineer; Johana V., Front House; Joshua L., Help Desk Specialist; Juan Carlos P., Line Cook; Julia C., Data Science; Justin B., Data Science; Kamille V., Executive Assistant; Kedra G., Contingent Worker: Global Security; Krystal SJ, Data Science Manager; Leslie, Front House; Lisette, Front House
MNO: Manjyot S., Manager Tech Platforms; Marlon, Hospitality; Maria A., Housekeeping; Mark L., Strategic Partner Development; Marten; Martchel, Bus Driver; Mego T., Ergonomics; Miao Y., Data Science; Michael H., Help Desk Specialist; Michael S., Data Science; Mike V., Contingent Worker: Global Security; Miguel, Housekeeping; Mingnan L., Data Science; Nadine R., Operations Program Manager; Neha K., Tech Platforms Manager; Nica W., Contingent Worker: Housekeeping; Nicole G., Technical Platform Manager; Nicole, Employment Legal
P-Z: Rachel H., Marketing Manager;Rafael L., Global Security; Ray L., Global Security; Robert J., Director, Sales Compensation; Rodrigo C., Reception Associate; Roxana C., Front House; Ryan, Transportation support; Sandy, Data Science; Shawanda W., Sourcer; Sze Wai, Data Science; Tim G., Shuttle Driver; Warren K., Data Science; Yulia D., Marketing Manager; Yulia I., Contingent Worker: Data Engineer
If your vibe is deep relaxation, experience the cure that is literally in the award-winning waters of Desert Hot Springs, California. Fall in love with the simplicity and serenity of Palm Springs’ neighbor by booking a few days at El Morocco Inn and Spa, the oasis in the sandy plains, where visitors are tucked behind the walls of the sumptuous Arabian-inspired courtyard. The charming private enclosure allows guests to swim and soak away ailments without external intrusions—guests can’t see the outside world except for the sky. Renew and recharge in the adults-only environment in tranquility. El Morocco Inn and Spa lives up to its name with festive details like a plate of dates and dried fruit under a tagine cover, cool mint-lemonade on the ready and glimpses of ‘Rick’s Café Americain’ in its constant loop while you sip a glass sherry by the hearth.
El Morocco provides the serenity necessary to recover from the frenzy of urban living. Add one of their signature therapeutic massages to seal the deal and walk away in a state of perfection. They offer some of the best, expert massages that include olfactory, visual and physical stimulation at a delightfully modest price.
The solution to chronic aches and pains is here. ICE Recovery and Wellness, LA’s best-kept health and wellness secret is affordable and accessible. ICE Recovery and Wellness offers the latest technologies to repair muscles suffering from fatigue, spasms and repetitive-stress injuries the same way that professional athletes do—with state-of-the-art cryotherapy and adjustable pressure Normatec compression sleeves for arms and legs. Their elite, premium package is the same care that professional athletes get but with a homey feel that invites relaxation and healing. Located in Valencia, California, ICE Recovery and Wellness gives every client amazing star treatment. You’ll encounter a warm cordiality from the staff that lasts until you leave. Plus, at ICE everyone is family, which is awesome, because they remember your name, attend to your needs and welcome you in a professional manner. It’s the kind old-fashioned, attentive, personalized service I adore. ICE offers a range of packages, including a-la-carte and membership plans.
If you can’t make the trip south, get the rewards of retreat close to San Francisco. Indulge in a Rich Body Awareness class. Take a Saturday morning neuro-reprogramming feast in “Awareness Through Movement® Class” Feldenkrais classes offered at Kaiser in Daly City with Futaba Alizoti, affectionately called Taba. Rich Body Awareness sessions are a Feldenkrais buffet of information. Taba’s classes allow participants to slow down and listen to the body. Plus, benefit from Taba’s intuitive teaching style, which stems from her history in ballet and Aikido, modalities with uncompromising physical demands. “Our bodies are an expression of ourselves,” Taba explains; “It’s up to us to understand ourselves.
With one-on-one Functional Integration sessions, weekly classes and monthly workshops, clients choose the type Feldenkrais experience they want to learn from themselves. During a session, Taba may gentle guide you in the direction of least resistance, instructing your body to move as it was designed. Eyes closed, you’re invited to “Notice” and after a time of intense self-focus, to “Let that go” and that “if you’re not breathing, you’re working too hard.” This is not an exercise class, but a place to transform consciousness. The movements in Feldenkrais are small, paced to allow breath-awareness and re-connection with self. The information gained from within, ensure that “You become the authority of your own body.”
Join Taba’s Rich Body Awareness Feldenkrais ATM®Workshop for Cultivating Self-Care: “Growing Your Backbone” Sunday, June 17, 2018, 10am-1pm at 43 Parsons Street in San Francisco for $60. Space is limited. Reserve your spot.
I’m always looking for a way to strengthen my relationships with young people. More than anyone in society, children are vulnerable. They need love and support to thrive. They need to be listened to and heard to grow confident in their abilities. I work to give them everything they need. Everything I never had as a child—a protectress, an advocate, a joyful ally. I’m not afraid to be fierce for them, to stand up for their rights and defend them against unjust behavior. I would rather take the burden of pain on for myself than let them face a brutal world alone.
Too many children fall prey to the very people who are entrusted with their care. Whether these children are athletes, students or family, we owe them a debt if they have been harmed under our care. Predators get away with abuse because children fear that they won’t be listened to or heard, and that no one will intervene on their behalf. Sadly, there is endless evidence of predation against innocent children. The Me Too movement draws attention to the numerous examples of professional women encountering sexual abuse and harassment, or worse, in the workplace. Yet movements like Me Too should ideally harness the energy of visibility to prevent further attacks on women and children. This is an important moment in history to work toward accountability in our society. Without individual accountability, we cannot change the outcomes and experiences of women or children, which we are now the focus national attention. It is simply not enough to look backward. We must demand accountability in the present moment as much as we seek accountability for past deeds.
The problem of abuse is more real than some of us care to admit. Children train in school to survive lethal gun attacks. They make few decisions regarding their own futures, and like women, are seldom believed. In that context, the least we can do is let them know that adults hear and respect their needs, their wants and their wishes—that even their dreams are sacred. Children deserve to have physical, emotional and psychological support and protection, and not solely after the fact.
It is up to women like me to act up on the behalf of children, to make sure history does not repeat itself. It is up to adults—every teacher, parent, uncle and grandparent, who cares to take up the slack. We must listen to children before there is a problem. We must be a person that a child will turn to for help and support. We have to give them grounds for the courage to speak up and tell the truth. We have to interrupt the violence and abuse perpetrated on others and ourselves as children witness. We can model behavior as we protect the future generation. No one gets a pass. We are all accountable. You may be asking yourself, “Where do I start?”
We can start by simply reading a book that gives us real, practical tools for working with and listening to young people. Below you will find a few gems gleaned from Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Start here, and read their treasure to learn more about how to be an ally to young people.
The following are excerpts from How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
4 Ways to Help a Child with Their Feelings:
1. Listen quietly and attentively. 2. Acknowledge and accept their feelings with a word or sound. 3.Give their feelings a name. 4.Give them their wishes in fantasy form.
5 Steps to Engage a Child’s Cooperation:
1. Describe what you see or describe the problem. 2. Give information. 3. Say it with a word. 4. Describe what you feel. 5. Write a note.
6 Ways to Encourage Autonomy:
1. Let children make choices. 2. Show respect for a child’s struggle. 3. Don’t ask too many questions. 4. Don’t rush to answer questions. 5. Encourage them to use sources outside the home. (**Topic dependent. Use wisdom.) 6. Don’t take away hope.
Instead of Saying “N0”:
Give the facts. Accept their feelings. Describe the problem. Give yourself time to think.
Use Praise to Raise Self-Esteem:
Describe what you see without judgment. Describe your feelings in response to behavior. Sum up the child’s praiseworthy behavior in one word.
I am a woman of many heroes, men and women of character, substance and integrity. I admire and emulate them. It is in my nature to seek out traits such as fortitude and compassion in my community. My list of heroes is long and not limited by perimeters such as distance, time, gender or race, for although I idealize simple attributes; these principles are not easy to live by. My heroes are people whose actions demonstrate superior courage and discernment, people whose lives are exemplary because of their persistent vision to transform society for the better. When I experience difficulty, I look to my heroes for the strength required to endure and stand in the face of oppression and to carry on with my work. Today I honor Dr. Anita Hill, who rises into the foreground of my legion of inspiring soldiers.
Like many, I have been asked with whom I would dine given a choice. In the process of pursuing my formal education, I have written many essays on the topic. I have photos of my heroes around my home, reminders of my highest ideals. I draw courage from these immortal mortals. To me, even the dead ones are alive. But I have shaken her hand. I put my arm around the honorable and steadfast, Dr. Anita Hill, Esquire. Dr. Hill did not disappoint. She was everything I had imagined and witnessed beginning in 1991 when she faced the entire US Senate for the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. She testified about the former direct superior, who systematically sexually harassed her in the course of the workday.
This was a pivotal moment in women’s history. I was riveted to the TV, watching the testimony with millions of people. It was a formative experience to witness another highly intelligent black woman, stand in truth while powerful men attempted to revise, denounce and silence her. She was a courageous older sister, leading the way. For me, she was no less than a Joan of Arc. Her poise was monumental, her eloquence, sanguine. Dr. Hill, spoke of what other women have waited a decades to discuss. She demanded accountability, whether or not it was granted is irrelevant.
As movements like Black Lives Matter and Me Too gain momentum, it helps to recognize the warriors that have established a pathway to transforming society. There is strength in numbers. There is power in speaking when the world attempts to silence, to act when society coerces submission. Witness the lives of Audre Lorde, Dr. King and John Brown. They all knew this. Anita Hill knows it, still.
The legacy of people like Dr. Hill creates a bridge that reinforces and delineates the struggles of women and people of color in society. Their work illustrates that We are not alone. The reveal that we are not the first to endure, to resist or to speak truth to those with power and authority. When we work to create a just society, we walk in the footsteps of these giants.
Recognizing that Dr. Hill is capable of telling her own story, I share those of her ideas that address the ways in which we can harness the efforts of our predecessors to affect lasting change. According to Dr. Hill, by recognizing and always mentioning two or more factors like race, gender, age and class allows us to see the invisible intersectionality any issue. There are layered issues impacting an individual grappling with harassment, discrimination or systemic oppression. By acknowledging the overlapping nature of these experiences we begin to address the true work required to transform society into a just system in which all people can thrive. It is time, according to Hill, to modify our conversations about sex to include intent, consent and expectations. I agree, and I also see this as one of the biggest hurdles to change, since so many people are afraid to have candid conversations about their needs, desires and expectations in general. Women, in particular, often have difficulty negotiating salaries, speaking up in meetings and setting boundaries in their personal lives. We are simply not taught to assert ourselves in these ways.
Yet, we must engage in this reform work if we are to give our sons and daughters the tools they need to grow into accomplished and confident citizens. We must learn and teach each other that no one has the right to abuse another person, regardless of their legal status, educational level or gender. It matters little what form the abuse takes. We need to have a zero tolerance for abuse, for inflicting it on others, for allowing it to be enacted with impunity. We must hold uncompromising standards that permit all people to thrive—whether they are children, elders, women or under our direct supervision.
No one has the right to abuse another person.
Beyond being enamored with the image and ideal of Dr. Hill, she is actually a woman of true substance. Her personal achievements and education make her a paragon for anyone in need of a hero. It is no small feat to persist for a lifetime when men insist upon your silence—when society attempts to enforce a standard smallness and mediocrity. Anita Hill moves beyond these projections into the space of the warrior, where she stands as a paladin for truth and light. When I introduced myself to Dr. Anita Hill at Autodesk for the Level Playing Field Institute fundraiser, she admonished me to pay my gifts forward to the next generation. I assured her that I am. I have been. I will.
This is what it is like to meet one’s hero: She charges you with the highest expectations possible.
My first reason for wanting to loss weight this year is so obvious that I almost missed it. The truth is, I have so many important people in my life, so many goals, dreams and commitments that 25 is an easy mark. Realizing that truth is the very thing that brought me back to the foundation of the work to transform my life. I’ve decided to begin this journey in community, because I know that together, we can achieve anything. And, if along the way you want to join me for your own reasons, I’ll be here for you.
There is a picture on my desk taken when I was about six or seven. In the photograph, I have a fine row of tiny, white Tic Tac-sized baby teeth. This is my little girl, the exuberant indomitable inner child personified. I see her as both a historical obligation to correct the generational trauma I’ve inherited as a descendant of the black-Latina-African diaspora and a joyful ward under my protection. It is my prevailing duty to see and care for the precious child, to treasure her as my dearest child. This I do for my own healing and for that of future generations that will be transformed by this act of mindfulness.
In the moment captured in the photograph, I am happy, healthy and glowing. That is why I’m beginning my quest for health by retracing my steps, remembering what I’ve forgotten, and unearthing my buried treasures. I’ve come back to this particular innocent child to give her the life she deserves. She is my first reason for losing 25 pounds this year.
This thing inside me beats again
Size of a closed fist
I can’t control it.
Years of being buried under another’s name
tattoo across closed tricuspid valves.
See, he wants lazy phone calls and holding hands.
He wants sky gazing on a blanket.
He wants to ask me all the questions.
This Chicago kid with a chipped tooth smile.
Honey brown eyes, full lips…
He wants conversations about books.
He wants soft whispers.
He wants time.
I want to devour him and drown in this feeling.
Who knows if I’ll ever feel it again?
Woke up from a death like sleep.
Oh precious heart, I thought you perished in the fire.
Fleshy pink, so raw and open
No fresh dew softness
Band-Aid ripped off a cool scabbed wound.
Missing film around my heart.
I lean in.
He leans back.
Don’t turn me crazy with your silence.
You woke up
all my heart parts.