“Rumination is when sometimes thoughts get stuck. For example, the thoughts are stuck in the past. Say that this is a traumatic experience. But this is what’s coming up for this person is another traumatic experience they’ve had.” – Dr Debra Jenkins
I was privileged to chat with Debi Jenkins about racial trauma during this time.
Debra (Debi) Jenkins, PhD is an award-winning life coach, author, national and international presenter, facilitator, and educator with expertise in developmental, liberation, and transformational psychology within the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her business, Share the Flame LLC’s opportunities were birthed out of over 23 years of unsolicited recommendations and requests from people and organizations for consulting, coaching, and speaking!
She shares, “As I continued on my journey, my hobby of over 23 years began to grow, tremendously, as more people and organizations came my way. I began to consider that maybe this was more than a passionate hobby rather a much needed business to serve needs on personal, professional, and organizational levels. So, in 2017, I established what was already known as Share the Flame as an LLC.”
Clientele refer to Dr. Debi’s whole life approach as enlightening, refreshing and innovative! Dr. Debi powerfully and meaningfully engages with individuals and groups to insight, ignite and inspire growth, development, and change! In addition to Dr. Debi being the founder of Share the Flame LLC, she has experience in leadership and education with degrees in Education and Administration (AAS: Early Childhood Education & PhD: Higher Education Administration), Human Development (BA: Developmental Education & MA: Bicultural Development) and an MS in Psychology. Visit the rest of her story at www.shareflame.com
Dr Debi Jenkins Podcast
KEY / SEGMENTS
Mazarine Treyz: Host
Dr. Debra Jenkins: Share the Flame LLC, Founder
- 00:01:07.740 –> What are you noticing in this time of BLM protests?
- 00:02:51.330 –> What happens when people do not feel safe?
- 00:04:08.580 –> Goal of Trauma Informed Care
- 00:07:08.940 –> Feeling safe with the medical profession
- 00:08:28.470 –> What is a Reflective Practitioner?
- 00:10:43.680 –> Trauma Informed Care for understanding what’s going on
- 00:11:52.800 –> Strategies for gauging where you’re at
- 00:17:35.220 –> Programs Dr. Debra offers
- 00:20:53.700 –> Trauma in the body
- 00:23:47.430 –> Healing in the Corporate World
- 00:29:02.520 –> Fitting in Self Care
- 00:30:34.170 –> You Need a Village
- 00:32:57.810 –> Having Children in Your Life
- 00:34:47.040 –> I Love My Kind of Brown
- 00:38:40.890 –> What is Racial Trauma?
- 00:42:34.200 –> Racialized categories and development
- 00:44:24.630 –> Conformity, Dissonance, Immersion, Emersion, Internalization & Integrative Awareness
00:00:02.639 –> 00:00:15.059
Mazarine Treyz: Welcome everybody to the Name It! Podcast. I’m your host Mazarine Treyz and today I have the pleasure and privilege of speaking with Dr. Debra Jenkins, who is the owner and founder of Share the Flame LLC. She is a DEI corporate and academia consultant and a coach for historically resilient women and a speaker. Clientele referred to her whole life approach as enlightening refreshing and innovative.
00:00:30.810 –> 00:00:37.140
Mazarine Treyz: They say that Dr. Debi powerfully and meaningfully engages with individuals and groups to inspire and Ignite growth, development and change. In addition to being the founder of Share The Flame, she’s experienced in leadership and education with degrees in Education Administration, Human Development, a BA in Developmental Education and a master’s in Bicultural Development and an MS in Psychology. To learn more about her visit ShareFlame.com. So, thank you so much, Dr. Debi.
00:01:04.110 –> 00:01:04.860
Debra Jenkins: You’re welcome.
00:01:05.550 –> 00:01:06.870
Debra Jenkins: I’m excited to be here.
00:01:07.740 What are you noticing in this time of BLM protests and civil unrest?
Mazarine Treyz: Well, you know, I’m excited to have you. Because one of the things that I know that you’re an expert in is trauma informed care and racial trauma and we are in not only a global pandemic, but also a time of great massive unrest. With the murders of George Floyd, with the murders of Breonna Taylor, with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and many other people, I wanted to ask you, what are you seeing right now? And what are you noticing?
00:01:39.870 –> 00:01:47.310
Debra Jenkins: I’m noticing that especially amongst people of color, I’m going to rein it in to African Americans, because of the very people you named and that those lived experiences tap closer into the periphery of those lives. I’m going to focus there. But, one of the things I’m noticing, especially in my clientele is more of a reach out of all women, but specifically African American women because they’re feeling a lot of trauma during this time.
00:02:19.200 –> 00:02:34.920
Debra Jenkins: One of the things that I’m noticing mostly is that because coming out of COVID into all of this has made them hypersensitive to what’s going on. And because of that their day to day tools that they’re used to using are not as effective for them. So, they’re reaching out for additional tools that they could use just to make it through the day for some people.
00:02:51.330 What happens when people do not feel safe?
Mazarine Treyz: Wow. So, thinking about those tools. I wanted to ask you, because I’m not an expert on this, what happens when people do not feel safe?
00:03:07.530 –> 00:03:17.160
Debra Jenkins: Well, you know, so many different things come up because a lot of responses to safety, have to do with who the person is. Their personality has to do with their lived experiences because how they’ve responded to not feeling safe in the past determines the tools they bring forward to who they are today as adults.
00:03:29.100 –> 00:03:42.570
Debra Jenkins: When I say lived experiences, it’s also connected to the traumas they’ve experienced in their childhood or in their adolescence or young development. I mean, young adulthood development, and so most of the time for most, “I’m not feeling safe” means that you’re not feeling secure in the context of how you’re perceiving harm. So you’re looking at harm being something that you’re unable to control. You don’t feel like you can manage it. So, you usually feel unsafe in that moment.
00:04:08.580 What’s the Goal of Trauma Informed Care?
Mazarine Treyz: When I looked up trauma informed care, it looked like what the goal of it was, was to try to get people out of their limbic brain, which is the fight or flight, or freeze response, and into their prefrontal cortex, by making them feel safe. Is that kind of what you understand?
00:04:26.580 –> 00:04:33.450
Debra Jenkins: You know, the interesting thing about trauma informed care is that in 2001, I think it was Roger Fallon or Maxine Harris, they brought that to the attention of mental health in the sense of how to not retraumatize your clientele. And so, they were talking about service delivery and skill sets necessary for mental health practitioners, so that they’re able to be sensitive to the needs of their clients.
00:05:08.940 –> 00:05:16.680
Debra Jenkins: One of the things that aligns with the racial trauma is reflective practitioners, that’s something that’s not really…there’s not a lot of reflective practitioners, especially here in the northwest for people to be able to access them and have a really reflective talk without having to over explain themselves because they’re of a different group.
00:05:38.310 –> 00:05:50.250
Debra Jenkins: There’s a lot of conversation they don’t need to have because the person has a shared lived experience as they do so, they don’t have to go into a lot of things. Not to make the assumption that all African Americans live the same, but that their experiences are common enough to where there’s some things we don’t need to know. They don’t have to over explain themselves, but we do need to know what happened.
00:06:06.990 –> 00:06:10.470
Debra Jenkins: In the clinical sense, people are asked more about “what happened in your past”, you know, “what were some of the experiences that you think are contributing to your trauma today”.
00:06:20.490 –> 00:06:43.200
Debra Jenkins: My role as a developmental strategist and life coach is that I can take those goals that come out of the office with the clinician and I can actually help them manage those and implement those so that they’re able to do next step life goals in alignment with the experience they’ve had with their therapist. So, I’m the therapist and I tend to work hand in hand. Sometimes my husband is a Clinical Practitioner and so because of that, and working alongside together early in our careers, I kind of have an idea of how to support a therapist and their client.
00:07:08.940 Feeling safe with the medical profession
Debra Jenkins: For next steps. So, that’s a big question because knowing how safe you are and knowing how to respond to trauma informed care depends on how safe you feel with the medical profession. A lot of African Americans don’t trust therapists and they don’t trust the medical profession. There’s a lot of negative history in with the use of African American bodies for science purposes, without their permission. A lot of times without anesthesia as an anesthetic. A lot of pain, a lot of harm.
00:07:59.850 –> 00:08:02.280
Debra Jenkins: Also, not receiving adequate care even today. And then for some they don’t have medical care at all. So, accessing a professional is very difficult for them because they don’t have the funds, nor do they have the resources to be able to seek out a Reflective Practitioner. They don’t know where to go to get one.
00:08:28.470 What is a Reflective Practitioner?
Mazarine Treyz: Yeah, so the term Reflective Practitioner is new for me. Could you explain a little bit for our listeners in case it’s new to them too?
00:08:36.630 –> 00:08:43.140
Debra Jenkins: Sure! A Reflective Practitioner is somebody who has a close lived experience to your own, or you’re part of the same ethnic group, or a part of the same racial identity developmental stage or experience. And so, you’re trusting them more because you can feel comfortable because you know that they can relate to you.
00:09:09.330 –> 00:09:11.400
Debra Jenkins: I was on another webinar, and it was wonderful because I was with a doctor who is trying to align barber and beauty shops with practitioners so that people can receive services simultaneously. I thought that was a brilliant idea because that’s the role in the community of the pastor of the hair care professional. They told their business to them! They would talk to them if they felt stress, they would say, when they came into the shop, “oh, it’s been such a week”, and then they would just talk to them about it.
00:10:01.320 –> 00:10:13.290
Debra Jenkins: I find that to be an example of how reflective practitioners can also be culturally responsive because they’re within the neighborhoods of the people, or there where the people tend to go. So that’s what I mean by that.
00:10:17.430 –> 00:10:20.070
Mazarine Treyz: Thank you. That’s really helpful. I really appreciate that. That so useful. And I do have some other questions here. I’m just going to quickly. Look at that. Basically, during COVID 19 and during these protests, I’ve had a hard time thinking. And I’ve not felt safe. And if that’s true for a listener as well, just know that you’re not alone.
00:10:43.680 Trauma Informed Care for understanding what’s going on
Mazarine Treyz: And now, trauma informed care can help you understand what’s going on with you and so one of the things that I understand that trauma informed care can help you understand is how to organize what’s happening and see things.
00:11:09.210 –> 00:11:09.870
Debra Jenkins: Well, there’s a real bridge between clinical and developmental so I can respond to this one. When we’re looking at organizing thoughts you’re thinking about usually when a person’s thoughts are moving. Sometimes rumination is a part of that. And what rumination is, is when sometimes thoughts get stuck. Or, for example, the thoughts are stuck in the past. Say that this is a traumatic experience. But this what’s coming up for this person is another traumatic experience they’ve had.
00:11:52.800 Strategies for gauging where you’re at
Debra Jenkins: They’re spending a lot of time focused on another negative experience in the past or they’re spending a lot of time and anxiety or stress or anger or frustration, they’re spending a lot of time in a space and they’re having a difficult time transitioning from it. So, in the opportunity to gauge. I would say gauge where they’re at, they would need to do some things. And so these are some strategies that are helpful. One is to distract yourself from what you’re currently doing. What else can you be doing?
00:12:37.200 –> 00:12:47.040
Debra Jenkins: One person that I had as a client loved comedies. So, a distraction was to turn on a comedy show and it’s like, great. Do that and it got her out of her sadness. It pulled her out of that space.
00:12:55.350 –> 00:13:04.980
Debra Jenkins: Another thing to do is to write it down. What are the thoughts you’re having? You could write them down because then you can start seeing if these thoughts have patterns to them. And if they do have patterns to them, you want to watch those patterns to see if it’s something that you’re going to need to discuss with your coach or need to discuss with your therapist. So, keeping a record of that is very good.
00:13:18.900 –> 00:13:21.240
Debra Jenkins: Another thing to consider is the opportunity to schedule the rumination. So, if you’re going to have those thoughts and you can’t get focused, then use an egg timer. I always tell people to use an egg timer. I have a lot of people struggling because they’re not used to working from home at all. And then they have all of these distractions around them; laundry dishes, all these things, (that) they would never see if they went into the office. So, I tell them (to) spend the majority of the hour on the work from your job. But give yourself 15 minutes of that out and set the egg timer and then focus on those other things. Because if they don’t plan it, what’s going to happen is as they’re working, they’re going to get distracted, they’re going to be like, “I’ve got to get up and get this done”.
00:14:21.480 –> 00:14:36.720
Debra Jenkins: They’re going to be like, I’ve got to help the kids with homeschool. You know, they’re thinking about all the different things they have to do. And so, when you plan it out and plan in time for downtime, where you’re not responsible to do anything but just to breathe or just to relax, that’s a great way to help with distraction. To be able to schedule some distraction in there, purposefully.
00:14:51.720 –> 00:14:55.140
Debra Jenkins: I’ve got five minutes. My mind can go wherever it wants to go five minutes. Timer went off time to get back. So, it’s not that it works for everybody, you know, but there are different strategies that could work for different people. But that’s one that works really well, is scheduling it. Another thing is to connect to someone else. Make a phone call to someone, talk through what you’re experiencing. Sometimes that best friend is great to be able to have that conversation with. If you need to call your coach, call your coach. I’ve had people go, “I need to talk to you”, well you know that that happens. I can’t do anything else, because I’ve gotta respond to this.
00:15:39.510 –> 00:15:49.470
Debra Jenkins: That is really helpful for people to distract them from their current thinking because now they could talk about other things, or that person can guide them into other topics of conversation.
00:15:52.890 –> 00:16:02.550
Debra Jenkins: That’s another way to do it. Also having visuals around. Have something that can turn your thinking to something else. Pictures of a great time you had. So if you’re frustrated because you’re inside a lot and you happen to be in a person who nature helps them think their best. And you can’t get out to it, say you’re in an apartment or something. And there’s nothing natural around there.
00:16:28.050 –> 00:16:29.130
Debra Jenkins: So what I would say for that person, is that they actually have those natural looking pictures around whether you print them off the computer or whatever or you have some photographs from a time you took a hike or something. Put that around you because then you’re able to look at the nature and not only the nature, but yourself in it. And so, you can visualize yourself being present in there. That’s an important thing to do too.
00:16:55.770 –> 00:17:01.590
Mazarine Treyz: I love all of these tools you’re giving us in this moment to help us come back to center.
00:17:01.890 –> 00:17:03.930
Debra Jenkins: Yeah. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
00:17:04.620 –> 00:17:10.710
Mazarine Treyz: It is, and you’re so good. Also, I follow you on LinkedIn and I hope everybody who’s listening will follow you on LinkedIn as well. You share so many resources every week for people on how they can feel better and what you’re thinking about and what you’re working on, and I’m so grateful to you for sharing. On this podcast, we wanted to talk about mental health for a long time and I’m really glad you’re the first person we’re having just diving into that just a little bit.
00:17:35.220 Programs Dr. Debra offers
Mazarine Treyz: I appreciate you so much and I don’t want to over-clinicize what’s happening right now, I’m just, I think for a lot of folks that are used to operating at a very high level or even people that are dealing with illness right now, and seeing family members get sick or die. It’s just really hard to keep it together. So I hope people listening know that what they’re going through is normal and if they are Black women who would like a coach in learning how to process now, what is going on in addition to the therapist, that they can come to you at ShareFlame.com.
00:18:26.100 –> 00:18:30.030
Debra Jenkins: Absolutely. In fact, on ShareFlame.com I have an opportunity for them to have a discovery session so they could click on there and schedule, but they can fill out a questionnaire that basically supplies me with information so I know how to support them in that conversation. And we can determine the type of fit we are together to see if I can really support them best, or if I have a resource or a reference for them to go to instead.
00:18:58.650 –> 00:19:07.830
Debra Jenkins: I have a program and it’s called WOCHNLEAD but I don’t have it listed on there on purpose because after that discovery session I determine who should be in WOCHNLEAD and who should not. WOCHNLEAD is WOC, which is women of color. There’s an H thrown in there, that’s for healing. The N is for navigation. The L is for leadership. Then the E is for exploration. Then Affirmation and Development. And what I do is I walk them through those acronyms.
00:19:32.190 –> 00:19:41.430
Debra Jenkins: After I do some assessments. I walk them through acronyms that we can apply all of those things to their life. So it looks different for every woman. But they go through all of that process, they go through the healing. They go through learning how to navigate and for women of color that’s really important because a lot of them work in environments that don’t nurture them as women of color, they don’t nurture the souls of women of color, they leave them isolated.
00:20:05.160 –> 00:20:17.250
Debra Jenkins: And they’re having to go through what they’re going through without supportive other people, even virtually, things like that are happening. Rarely are people doing check ins, saying, “how are you”, “how is your day going?”, because this is probably impacting you way more than me.
00:20:25.680 –> 00:20:33.420
Debra Jenkins: “What can we do to support you?”. “What can we do to serve you?”. That’s not really happening. But at the same time, it’s not happening for many reasons. One is because when we talk about trauma and trauma impacting bodies, it doesn’t just impact bodies of people of color or women of color, black women. It also impacts white bodies. It just does it differently.
00:20:53.700 Trauma in the body
Debra Jenkins: And in this heightened environment, Resmaa Menakem wrote My Grandma’s Hands. It’s a beautiful book where he talks about how trauma resides in the body, and I’m going to talk about that too, hopefully today. But, trauma resides in the body, more than anything else.
00:21:17.310 –> 00:21:29.820
Debra Jenkins: So, I know that clinically, especially with talk therapy and psychotherapy, there’s a focus on the frontal lobe and the executive functioning of the brain. However, cognitive work isn’t really where if it lands, it doesn’t really land there it lands more in the body. When trauma occurs and so what’s not happening for women of color and their environment is somebody (being) there to be able to help them process that. One of the things that Share The Flame does is we work with corporate women. Women in academia to support them. For example, I’m working with women of color who are going through a tenure process, no one else like them, is there in the institution or on their Tenure Committee.
00:22:11.910 –> 00:22:25.080
Debra Jenkins: To help them to be able to talk through things, the frustrations of the day, Instead of going and saying what you want to say to that person, you can call me and say what you feel like saying to them, and say it to me. The same thing with corporate America because women are feeling isolated because the majority of executives are men.
00:22:34.470 –> 00:22:48.810
Debra Jenkins: Even if there are Black men in the environment doesn’t mean they’re going to identify with that Black woman. So they’re able to call me, we’re able to have conversations again so that they can feel as if somebody has their back, somebody is there to support them.
00:22:51.750 –> 00:22:59.010
Debra Jenkins: That program has been very successful for women of color, they have found it to be very helpful specifically black women too, in their environments, whether they’re working remotely or if they’re working within an office setting.
00:23:06.570 –> 00:23:20.010
Mazarine Treyz: You know, I really appreciate you bringing up Resmaa’s book My GrandMother’s Hands- because I have yet to read it and I’m really looking forward to it. I did listen to an interview with him called Listen to The Rage Listen to The Silence from the On Being podcast which we will list in the resources for this talk today, and one of the things he said was, when you’re in a group of people that are all not like you, you can just get so full of rage, because your experience isn’t being centered or valued or even validated.
00:23:47.430 Healing in the Corporate World
Debra Jenkins: Exactly, exactly. Or its being exoticized, otherized, exploited, tokenized. All those things are happening in that space, and that’s a lot to put on a person and they also have to come ready to do the work. It’s very difficult. And then sometimes people’s questions are so intrusive.
00:24:18.870 –> 00:24:26.640
Debra Jenkins: Oh, your hair. Oh, you sound so articulate, just like I wasn’t hired for my articulation. But the very fact that stands out for people in a room. And here’s the thing to tie this into Resmaa’s book he talks about white bodies, white supremacy bodies and black bodies and blue bodies. Those are police officers. So he’s saying that blue bodies and white bodies kind of think the same.
00:25:00.810 –> 00:25:17.460
Debra Jenkins: When a black person walks in the room with all white bodies, the white bodies have an expectation of subservience of the person of color. If you’re a strong black woman coming into the room. they don’t know how to handle that. That becomes very intimidating and no matter what you do, it’s going to be interpreted as aggression.
00:25:27.750 –> 00:25:34.020
Debra Jenkins: You’ll seem like you can say something very direct, just to the point. And they’re like, “oh, so cold” and it’s hard to prepare to come in. But one of the things I say to women of color is: You have to create your environment there. You have to create your environment at your job, you have to create it at home, but you definitely need to create it there. I tell people that my office if people came to my office at my day job where I’m a professor. People always say how warm it is and how comforting it is and how soothing it is. But what they don’t know is that its that way purposefully. I have affirmations around my space. The lighting is purposeful. I do that so that I can kind of cocoon myself and nurture myself. So, when I leave that space. I leave as a butterfly going into these meetings.
00:26:36.270 –> 00:26:51.270
Debra Jenkins: I come into the meetings empowered because I’ve given myself my time to myself. It’s real important for them, although some offices are very open like you have some corporate offices where everybody’s in a cubicle. Then find some way to be able to relieve your thoughts. If you have a journal there in your drawer. One person said, “oils calmed me down, but I can’t take them into work because of the sensitivity of other people who can’t have smells”. I told them to take a napkin, to take a handkerchief actually, and to put some oil on the handkerchief, (and) stick it in her drawer.
00:27:23.850 –> 00:27:32.820
Debra Jenkins: That way, she can open her drawer take her handkerchief put it to her face and be able to inhale and smell that scent that helps to calm her. So there’s various strategies you can use that won’t necessarily impact other people in your environment and you’re still getting your needs met. Your affirmations, you know, you can put them strategically in your space but finding ways to nurture yourself and your day is essential and for each person that’s different, but that’s something that I help women to work on.
00:28:01.440 –> 00:28:16.980
Mazarine Treyz: I love that Debi. To go back to the Listen to The Rage Listen to The Silence piece a little bit; I experienced rage myself when I was a minority in Korea for a year and I never understood where that came from. And now I do. And I’m just so grateful to you for recommending him to me, to help me understand this idea of coming from this dominant culture, having my experience centered as a white woman my entire life. And then going there feeling completely marginalized even though they still have white supremacy there too.
00:28:39.690 –> 00:28:43.230
Mazarine Treyz: Yes, capitalism, all that stuff. Seeing the silence of people just not acknowledging my experience in my culture, I can imagine growing up here every day as a Black person having that silencing be very tough to deal with.
00:29:02.520 Fitting in Self Care
Debra Jenkins: And not only the silencing but the silencing is happening in the job, on the job. You can also experience racial trauma by how people treat you. Literally there’s some people that deliberately target Black women on the job and mistreat them deliberately to make them feel uncomfortable. And that’s not even including the gaslighting and the micro aggressions that they can experience as well.
00:29:35.760 –> 00:29:50.760
Debra Jenkins: That’s a lot. And then when you’re on your way home, wondering if you’re going to get stopped by the police. Will you make it home? It’s a question that we ask ourselves, are we going to make it home. And then once you get home, you have all of that of your whole day (then) you get home and then it’s like, now I have to give to my family.
00:30:02.490 –> 00:30:14.700
Debra Jenkins: How do I do all of that? How do I make myself available to my family? When do I get to restore myself? So I tried to give them strategies for being able to while they’re in the car on the way home. To nurture themselves so that when they get into their home, they’re able to give and support. Also being transparent with your children, teaching them how to do self-care and I call it radical individual and collective self-care.
00:30:34.170 You Need a Village
Debra Jenkins: You need a village. I have a village of women who are my friends. They’re from various cultures, not all of them are just within the African American culture, but they are women that will sustain me, hold me up, support me. They are my tribe and I call them that, because of the fact that not taking the word from Native Americans, because Africans have tribes too.
00:31:02.940 –> 00:31:16.080
Debra Jenkins: Recognizing the connection of a community, the importance of women being able to have their own village. That’s essential. In fact, WOCHN Lead is also a part of that where sometimes a group of women will come to me all at once and they’re friends already so we don’t have to do any trust building or anything like that, and they come to me and they work through the WOCHN Lead process as a group together, but they’re able to support each other. They have tools now to be able to support each other in their jobs, what they’re doing.
00:31:46.650 –> 00:31:53.910
Debra Jenkins: Being able to have the hard conversations and be able to support, sometimes they go and get one another’s children to help each other out. They’re doing all of these creative things and not to say that, and I don’t want the stereotype of the single Black mom because that’s not all of them are not that at all, but the very fact they have a village to support them in addition to their partner or in addition to the family members, they have this kinship bond is what we call it. It’s a cousin-matty’s-daddy-sister’s people.
00:32:17.040 –> 00:32:20.880
Debra Jenkins: They’re not your relative, you did a DNA test. Nope, not your cousin. But they are your cousin, because they’re that close to you, you need a group of cousin cousin-matty’s-daddy-sister’s people. then you need to have an elder community. I have a community of elders who are women who are older, who have gone through things that I’m going through now who can give me their testimonies and their stories and allow their stories to penetrate my spirit so that I can move forward. I can keep going because I know that they’re in their 80s or they’re in their late 70s, but yet they’re able to encourage me
00:32:57.810 ] Having Children in Your Life
Debra Jenkins: So making sure that you have that. Also, children in your life. Because they are a trip. That is where some of the best laughter comes. I remember going to see my grandbaby once and I had driven all the way because they live more north than I do. And I’m driving, I’m exhausted. I get there. And so, I sit down on the couch and my grandbaby comes, and she kicks her shoes off and she’s like, “whoo. Whoo, I tired”. I was like, “Are you tired?”. “Yes, I’m tired” okay, we’ll just sit here like this for a minute.
00:33:42.030 –> 00:33:46.200
Debra Jenkins: I just busted out laughing. I was like, “this is so cute”. So that just having them in your life can bring so much joy and I have women in my group who don’t have children. I tell them go volunteer somewhere with children. Go volunteer somewhere where you can give of yourself. Because sometimes if you’re so focused on you. You never get out of you.
00:34:09.360 –> 00:34:28.890
Debra Jenkins: Everything seems larger because you know it’s, “oh my world, my life”, but when you have a chance to focus on giving to someone else, your problems look this big once you start seeing what other people are going through. So being involved in your community is big.
00:34:30.480 Children’s Book
Mazarine Treyz: If I could interrupt you for five seconds: Speaking of kids. I didn’t mention to people that you have a children’s book. I would love to tell people about!
00:34:47.040 I Love My Kind of Brown
Debra Jenkins: Okay, so this is the children’s book and it’s called. I Love My Kind of Brown. This book came about during a time when Disney decided to make a brown skin Little Mermaid. That didn’t go too well. Socially that didn’t go too well. And a lot of young African American little girls were experiencing trauma behind that. They were concerned about their color, friends were saying things. I shared this story with another person in a podcast, but I will share it with you because I think it’s very fitting here.
00:35:41.790 –> 00:35:50.280 Racial healing – for Parents
Debra Jenkins: But I tell African American parents; this is a part of racial healing. Racial healing has many steps to it, but one of the steps is: know your history. That’s really essential. So little children shouldn’t be going to preschool without knowing they’re African American if they’re African American. They need to know that.
00:36:02.550 –> 00:36:15.660
Debra Jenkins: My daughter was four, and she was playing with someone else. And she came in the house. She couldn’t even… she’s four she couldn’t pronounce it, but she slams the door open and she says, “I’m African American”.
00:36:16.920 –> 00:36:17.610
Debra Jenkins: And I was like, “Okay. Yes, you are. Why you so angry?”. I’m thinking, “what is going on here?” She had a doll (and was) dragging her doll in the house, and then she slams her bedroom door. I go in there after. And I’m like, “are you okay, Christina?”. And she’s like, and I’ll show you a picture of Christina cuz she was the illustrator of the book actually now, but
she said, “Jessica said that my doll is dirty and that she didn’t want to touch my doll because my doll was dirty” and she said, “but my doll looks like me and I’m an African American and I like me and I like my doll”, you know, just basically affirming that and it’s so important that young children have that affirmation, especially around skin color. So, this book creatively teaches them about affirming their skin color, but also while learning secondary and primary colors so it’s a book from the heart. So, I’m going to show you this picture here.
00:37:28.200 –> 00:37:31.830
Debra Jenkins: This is me and Christina 27 years ago.
00:37:32.010 –> 00:37:32.970
Mazarine Treyz: Oh look at her!
00:37:35.220 –> 00:37:38.040
Debra Jenkins: This was at the time of the African American experience. And then this is Christina now. It just really is an awesome book that really shares that experience for them. And it’s all based around my nickname as a child, which is sugar puddin’.
00:38:05.160 –> 00:38:07.410
Debra Jenkins: The whole series is called Sugar Puddin’s People. I’m starting to write the second one now and by November we should have everything all done and ready to go so that
00:38:17.790 –> 00:38:19.890
Mazarine Treyz: Wow. I love that. So, we started talking about resiliency, but I don’t want to give short shrift to racial trauma, which we were also going to talk about just a little
00:38:31.290 –> 00:38:35.340
Debra Jenkins: And they go hand in hand because resiliency is a part of responding to racial trauma.
00:38:40.890 –> 00:38:45.930. What is Racial Trauma?
Mazarine Treyz: So, for people who don’t know what that is. I think we do have a lot of people who don’t know, I didn’t know. Dr Erlanger Turner defined racial trauma as: experiencing psychological symptoms such as anxiety, hypervigilance to threat, or lack of hopelessness for your future as a result of repeated exposure to racism or discrimination. Is there anything you’d like to add to that definition?
00:39:08.850 –> 00:39:09.540
Debra Jenkins: Yes, I would, I would like to add the portion about triggers because that’s not mentioned in there and triggers are something that women of color experience all the time because of their day to day lived experiences, since they were children, that are brought to their current adulthood lives. Even if they had a racialized experience as a child, for example, when I was in the sixth grade yeah, that’s when I was bussed out to a school that was predominantly white. Because instead of giving our schools textbooks and materials they decided to just stop our school at a certain age and bus us all out.
00:39:56.130 –> 00:40:11.190
Debra Jenkins: Which caused a lot of trauma, because we had to wake up two hours earlier, we were sleepy. We’re tired by the time we got there, because they had to drive way out far beyond our neighborhoods. And then we had to do the same thing coming back home. And then when you get home. You got your homework; you’ve got all this stuff to do. It was a very traumatic experience also because when we got there, they didn’t want us there. So they had signs. They were like, “we don’t want you here. Go back home”.
00:40:27.690 –> 00:40:39.120
Debra Jenkins: Just really traumatic times. One teacher thought I had made up all my homework, that I had lied about it because she said, “there’s no way you could turn in something this good”. And so those were the kinds of racialized experiences I had there. You go to high school, you have the same kind of racialized experiences. Then you’re entering the workforce when you’re a teenager, and you start having experiences with people you’re working with. When I was doing that Roots came out. So that was a whole national conversation and being mistreated on the job because people didn’t want to believe that it was real and that slavery was real.
00:41:15.780 –> 00:41:24.030
Debra Jenkins: And saying, “I hope you don’t think you’re going to get off, just because of a movie about slaves”, you know, things like that. Just a bunch of mistreatment and things like that. So, you add those to what’s happening today with police brutality and murder happening. Not everybody’s watching it, though. You know, sometimes it’s just a dinner table conversation. With COVID a lot of people are all inside spending a lot of time together. So maybe one relative saw it but nobody else saw it, but yet that one relative shared share the information with someone else.
00:41:54.600 –> 00:42:06.840
Debra Jenkins: They’re sharing it with someone else. And it’s being shared. Then when they go on social media, they’re seeing, you know, additional information. It’s re-traumatizing them for sure. But the important thing is the tools. The good thing about having everybody closed in together is that they haven’t gone out, so they can hug each other. They can really encourage each other through this, have conversations. I’ve heard a lot of families talk about they’ve had the hardest conversations, they’ve ever had.
00:42:34.200 –> 00:42:45.780 Racialized categories and development
Debra Jenkins: They’ve argued over many different things, but it all depends again on the family because racial identity development plays a role in the kind of conversations your family will have. When we’re born, we’re born being provided with a racialized I category. So they give that to you before you leave the hospital, it’s on your birth certificate, but that doesn’t say how you’ve come into your whiteness, for you, or how I came into my blackness, for me. Or where my parents were developmentally in their blackness. None of that is identified on there. It’s just white, Caucasian and at my time, it was negro.
00:43:25.740 –> 00:43:26.820
Debra Jenkins: Whew…transition from that. There are some families and some individuals who are racially as Black people in a space of conformity, where they really believe that white people do everything right. That’s why they have what they have is because of how they act or how they dress or how they speak. And so, they try to emulate that thinking, “if I do this, I will have what they have”. But they realized that doesn’t work all the time, but sometimes it does work extremely well for them as a survival strategy. And the reason why is because white people feel safer with people who act and look more like them. And what I mean by that is if you dress like them. If you speak like them. If whatever you’re doing, makes them feel very comfortable in the space, you’re maintaining white comfort at the expense of your own black identity development. Then there’s dissonance.
00:44:24.630 –> 00:44:31.620. Dissonance, Immersion, Emersion, Internalization & Integrative Awareness
Debra Jenkins: Dissonance is where the person isn’t sure if they’ve experienced a racialized experience. It’s like Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and he was arrested for driving a Mercedes and he kept saying, “well, they must have pulled me over for a reason, it must have been because I was driving too slow”. And he said that his dad and his dads like “I used to think that too son”. He was trying to tell him, “no, it’s because you’re black”. So that’s dissonance. And then there’s immersion where the person realizes now, there’s some social injustice, but their response to it is a little more frustrated because of the fact they’re realizing: “What is going on, and “it’s okay with the world that this is going on?!”.
00:45:16.740 –> 00:45:29.940
Debra Jenkins: They basically are in a space of, “you know what, not only am I upset about this, but I only want to be around my people. I don’t even want to be around anybody else but my people”. So, when they go to work. They don’t like white people. They just don’t want to be around them. Then there are those in emersion where they realize this is power privilege and inequity. This is a system. This is strategic. I filled out a bank application, Susie did too and got the loan, my credits better than Susie’s we’re at the same bank, how come Susie got the loan and I didn’t? They’re starting to piece those things together.
00:45:56.280 –> 00:45:59.430
Debra Jenkins: And so, they’re trying to find answers for that. But they’re still frustrated. Then there’s internalization and this is a great space because this space, you start not only thinking about yourself, like myself as a black woman, but I start thinking about myself as a black woman. My class status. I start taking into consideration all of the areas of social capital, all of me that is me and the intersections of that and how that plays out in a day in a week and a month, a year.
00:46:27.810 –> 00:46:44.100
Debra Jenkins: And then the last one is integrative awareness, where you are building up relationships with people in other groups. You are secure in your identity, you’re clear about who you are, you’re clear about not sacrificing yourself, not allowing people to tokenize you, otherize you, victimize you to humanize you none of that is being allowed because you’re clear on who you are, and at the same time you’re able to make strides for change. Systemic Change.
00:46:54.990 –> 00:47:10.320
Debra Jenkins: You’re actually working to dismantle racism, but you’re doing it in alignment with other people from other groups. So, depending on where all that fits also plays a role in how people respond to triggers. So if you can imagine, a person in conformity is going to not respond the same way as a person who is in immersion like, “I’m tired of white people”, they’re going to respond to them like “I don’t think so”. I feel sorry for white women who are doing these maladaptive behaviors today. I don’t want to call them what everybody else is calling them: Karen’s. I’m just saying, I don’t want to give you a title and name. I just want to say that behavior is not okay because you don’t know developmentally who you’re coming up against.
00:47:48.240 –> 00:47:52.140
Debra Jenkins: You’re coming up against somebody in conformity, you might get away with that. If you come up with somebody in integrative awareness, you might get away with that because they’re like, “I don’t have time for this”. Or, in my own experience. I’ll tell you this really fast. I was in a post office.
And that’s when I had long braids years ago and this white woman, I can feel a tug on my hair and I turned around and she’s touching my hair like she had it.
She didn’t pull it out, but she’s holding in exploring in there and I turned to her and I touched her hair.
This is her response: she says to me, “what are you doing?” and I said, “well I’m touching your hair”. She goes “who gave you permission to touch my hair?”
And I said, “but you just touched my hair and you didn’t have permission to touch my hair” and she said,
“well, I was complimenting you”. And I said, “well, I’m complimenting you”.
And I said, “it looks like neither one of us likes the compliment”. So, in integrative awareness, I can respond to that kind of person.
00:49:00.930 –> 00:49:07.560
Debra Jenkins: Because I have strategies and tools. But when a person’s in immersion. They might turn around a pop her “just don’t be touching my hair”. You just don’t know who you’re going to run up against. So, my advice to women who are not women of color. Just mind your business, don’t do that. Step back in mind your business, because you don’t know who you will get that day. Then my advice to women of color for their experiences is to recognize your identity development, know your history. Know what your triggers are and work with those. Work with people in your family so that you can rehearse the counter narrative to the behavior that may come up for you based on your identity development.
00:49:49.440 –> 00:49:54.420
Mazarine Treyz: Wow, that is so powerful. Thank you so, so much. We are out of time, unfortunately. But I’m very, very grateful to you, and I feel like everything you just said in the last 10 minutes could be like the subject of a whole webinar, or course. I feel like there’s so much to unpack there and I really want to keep going. And I’m sorry we’re out of time. I guess we’re just going to have to have you back on for another session.
00:50:15.600 –> 00:50:16.590
Debra Jenkins: I would love to.
00:50:17.430 –> 00:50:29.400
Mazarine Treyz: Well, thank you for blessing us with your wisdom and your research knowledge and your experience with other women and coaching them. So, where can people get in touch with you, Debi, if they want to learn more.
00:50:29.790 –> 00:50:40.890
Debra Jenkins: I would say go to my website at www.shareflame.com and if you go to my services page, it shows various ways you can get in touch with me.
Resources for the show:
Dr Debra (Debi) Jenkins, PhD website, Share the Flame
Resmaa Menakem interview: Notice the Rage, Notice the Silence On Being podcast
Resmaa Menakem book: My Grandmother’s Hands
Franchon Franchees HealingYourAlmond.com