Is Racism a feeling?

Rs: please don’t give your answers now, but simply listen to some of the questions:
 What do you think of this statement (“racism is a feeling”)?
 Do you view it as true and accurate, or false and inaccurate?
 What are your reasons for believing the statement to be true?
 What are your reasons for believing the statement to be false?
 As I said the phrase “racism is a feeling,” did you notice any shifts in your body?
 Were there places of tension, compression or release that you felt in your body sensations?
 A key part in this exercise is to listening discriminatively—this doesn’t mean you listen for a way to gain information to use to discriminate against someone.

Discriminative, in Bear’s definition: Listening is listening to someone’s heart/reading between the lines; but you listen for both emotions and words contained in the other’s communication. In this kind of listening, we can engage our own empathic compassion for self & others, as we listen.

Pay careful attention to feeling words found in a person’s statements, innuendos, & general conversation; these may be combined for one’s content, and insures that we really understand what the person is saying, especially those that are easily misunderstood or have any kind of speech disability.

Do you think adapting the phrase “Racism is a feeling” would be a helpful term to use in anti-racism training? How about “Racism has many feelings? Think of your own, and try it out?”

Our goal here is to try to come to a common understanding on the statement, Racism is a feeling. Another way of getting at this is to take a very quick overview look at Brain Chemistry, since it’s relevant for understanding this phrase. I hope it’s also relevant in our everyday lives, too.

Human Development

When someone, such as growing children in this culture, or someone who is a citizen of another nation, the Neo Cortex (NC) in the frontal lobe of the brain; for many people their NC doesn’t fully develop until around eighteen years of age. The NC plays the role of language formation, so when language is in the formation phase in youth, the role of the NC is different than when one is older.

In the formative years of human development, a child may not have the capacity for human language, because it has to develop over a process of time.

However, all types of non-verbal communication are occurring all the time. The child is exposed to many brief, or in some cases longer, non-verbal messages, that are imprinted on one’s psyche or unconscious—facial looks, smiles, mean looks, “be quiet” messages, ridicule & bashing by adults, positive non-verbal & reciprocal positive regard statements, punishing looks through non-verbal communication, unspoken non-verbal cues with underlying family or hidden messages, expressions of joy, grief, sadness, anger, depression, acting-out behaviors, etc.

The brain somehow stores these messages, and as the brain continues growing, there are more and more of the unconscious emergences and possible emergencies; there is, of course, a parallel-running, language acquisition and comprehension function of the NC.

More unconscious data arises to manifest itself in conscious ways and ordinary experiences. An individual’s self-reflective and intentional application of new learnings appears to cement certain feelings onto a template of everyday living.

The caveat here is that our emotions may, in fact, need re-booting, customizing, and opportunities that lead to personal expression of feelings and/or thoughts. What this also points to is the need to blend both cognitive thoughts with effective feelings for effective communication.

If this process is somehow neglected, skipped, or is somehow incomplete, and doesn’t happen, it’s easy for a human to get lost in past trauma, stuck in anger or resentment, and lose the purpose for which she’s participating in the first place. Ending consequences may be seen by some medical authorities as resistant, using the diagnosis of PTSD.

There is a growing feeling that therapist, consumers & others, concerning PTSD to be a newly emerging notion, that PTSD is no dream—and it’s not a fake–it’s real and VA doctors are certainly aware that PTSD harms soldiers & families. They understand, as do most professionals in the health care field, that you can’t fool human nature, environmental hazards, or medical technology and personnel.

A major field that we need to understand a little about, in order to consider: racism is a constellation of many feelings is that of cognitive-behavior theory. Essentially, researchers and practioners in this field theorize that all feelings/emotions naturally flow from cognitions or thoughts in our brains. There is a causal relationship to our cognitions and emotions. For example, a person’s Belief System is formed from cognitions; cognitions may include interpreted facts, assumptions, stereotypical thinking, inferences, opinions, biases, etc.

Cognitions trigger our emotional infrastructure and catalyzes us to get ready to feel various emotions coming up into our conscious field. A metaphor would be that emotions are our quality control system. Their mental basis is rooted in one’s cognitive schema. Emotions that come up for air are signs for us to take note of so we can take whatever appropriate action needed as a result of emotional intelligence, and either let it go, sit with it a while, dismiss it, deny it, or merely observe the feeling.

A major field that we need to understand more about, in order to consider: racism is a constellation of many feelings and thoughts, and the province of our rational, thought sides are those of cognitive-behavior theory.

Essentially, researchers and practioners in this field theorize that all feelings/emotions naturally flow from cognitions or thoughts in our brains. There is a causal relationship to our cognitions and emotions.

For example, a person’s Belief System is formed from cognitions; cognitions may include interpreted facts, assumptions, stereotypical thinking, inferences, opinions, biases, etc.

Yet cognitions trigger our emotional infrastructure and catalyze us to get ready to feel various emotions coming up into our conscious field. A metaphor would be that emotions are our quality control system. Their mental basis is rooted in one’s cognitive schema. Emotions that come up for air are signs for us to take note of so we can take whatever appropriate action needed as a result of our emotional intelligence, and either let it go, sit with it a while, dismiss it, deny it, or merely observe the feeling.

Here’s another suggestion: what if our phrase read “Racism is a storage area for multi-colored feelings.” If we use this as our premise we might ask “What colors could we give to the various emotions in the constellation of racism?”

Try attaching colors for the different attributes of Racism, and discuss why you chose the colors you did.

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