Jihan McDonald is a facilitator, counselor, writer and educator from Oakland, CA.
Currently completing a Masters in Social Transformation, Jihan derives deep pleasure from the meaning of words, the reading of books, the dancing of feelings, and the naming of squirrels.
Jihan greatly dislikes inequity & close-toed shoes.
Trigger Translation Journals are tools for gaining insight into what’s bothering you about a particular situation, person or idea. Every journal is handmade. The Somatic version includes a body map that will help you translate your body’s dis-stress messages. Journals can be purchased HERE.
This month’s life hack really is a sweet one. Seriously, Honey actually does everything it promises to do! Honey automatically finds coupon codes for the site you’re shopping at and applies them to your order when you check out.
I saved $43 actual dollars on an order yesterday; not tokens or Honeysuckles or some such nonsense (though they do have something called HoneyGold which is some such nonsense) , but $43 real dollars that stayed in my bank account. Its a browser add on that currently works for desktop versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera.
In the legacy of truth tellers, freedom fighters & great leaders who’ve inspired masses of youth & marginalized peoples to claim power, this music video is a call to uplift Bernie Sanders & stand for a future to believe in!
One of Bernie Sanders’ policies is to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving it up to the states to decide how to manage its use and sale. We are utilizing this event to highlight this aspect of his policies, the value of cannabis to treat serious medical conditions, and the rights of citizens to use cannabis safely and responsibly without fear of criminal prosecution.
Au Lounge 2430 Broadway, Oakland, California 94612
Bay Localize is marking 10 years as an organization building equitable and resilient communities in the Bay Area and beyond, and it’s celebration time! Join us for a delicious buffet brunch complete with a House Kombucha mimosa bar!
Spend the afternoon enjoying: Live Entertainment; Earth Skills; Workshops; Fun, hands on resilience-building projects; Children’s activities for our next generation leaders.
Join Walker’s Legacy in Oakland as we kick off the chapter with a dynamic evening filled with art, conversation and inspiration. Walker’s Legacy is a growing global women in business collective founded to establish networks of empowerment and access for women of color in business;the organization now represents more than nineteen cities across the nation and a network of more than 13,000 women of color in business.
The Oakland Dance Festival creates a diverse and dynamic interaction between the people who attend, generating dialogue promoting cross-cultural understanding and respect for others. By uniting people through dance, we look forward to bringing the diverse cultures of Oakland and the greater Bay Area together, leaving them feeling not just entertained, but also informed and energized.
Breaking the Silence Town Hall Oakland creates the space for local decision makers to listen to the challenges and daily experiences of *girls and women of color in our community. By elevating their unique experiences and centering their leadership, we aim to creatively and collectively identify opportunities for intervention.
February 27th, 2016, was a powerful day of action and restoration as *girls and women of color spoke across a range of issues including displacement, education, interpersonal and inter-communal violence, and criminalization.
As a member of the Advisory Committee I created the Integration & Wellness Team, in collaboration with Lotus Liberation, to provide emotional support for Testifiers, Commissioners, and the Public during the event; a phenomena unique to Oakland within the national town hall series. There were 12 trained Integrators, all women of color, on-site providing support Testifier support before, during and after their panels, as well as holding the larger container for any necessary grief processing as it came up.
*Girls and women of color is an inclusive term reflecting all those who were assigned and/or identify as female.
There are many things that we take for granted as simply the way the world is. One of the keys to a true liberation is understanding the fallacy of this belief. The world is the way it is because people made it that way.
From the design of our education system to the design of the toaster you pulled breakfast from this morning, someone else made decisions about how all of these things work and we usually simply do what we can with the decisions they’ve made.
Language is different yet also falls within this dynamic. It is no coincidence that the word black is used to denote only the most negative of things and circumstances in the English language. While the word itself is neutral our usage of it is anything but.
This is called coded language, words and phrases we use to illustrate meanings that are not explicit in the words themselves. Its how when a tea party politician mentions “welfare queens” you know they mean a large black woman; no, they never said the words large, black or woman but anyone with a reasonable knowledge of reality knows that this is exactly the image they intended to conjure.
While this may seem somewhat inane its not. Studies show that even with regards to race, people respond more positively to people of African descent who label themselves as African-American rather than Black. When primed with the various words, people are more likely to find an African-American more kind, educated & easier to relate to than a Black person, despite them being the exact same person.
As I have mentioned in other places, being Black is a distinct reality than being Negro, being Indigenous a distinct reality than being Indian, and being queer a distinct reality from being “funny”.
While much of what I look at focuses on what’s happening in this country specifically, I feel it is also crucial to understand this country in context. Unfortunately, our context is regularly skewed by politicians, busyness people, the media and anyone who is prioritizing profits over people.
One of the legacies of Europe’s colonial streak is the redlining of the entire globe to ensure that some places stay flush with resources while others chronically struggle. Ironically it is the places often bereft of natural abundance which are now flush while places where Nature abounds are systematically impoverished.
All of us do this on a micro-level when we engage in conversations defining the world as West, East and mostly fail to even remember we can also go South and North.
In the geographical world of European colonialism, there is no North and no South, only the West and the East as civilization, and humanity, by definition culture does not exist below the equator (a reflection of some sexual repression perhaps…).
We hear often of Eastern philosophy and thinking and little, if anything, about the wisdom of Kemet, Kush or even the Moors, rulers of a multi-cultural Spain for over 400 years. And how are they talked about when they are mentioned?
Our conditioning tells us that Europe is the Center of the World so despite the fact that it lies in the geographical North it becomes the fulcrum around which all world events swing. Much can be healed in our relationship to the planet by shifting this perception of how she is made.
What do you think of when you think of the West? Most of us think of Europe and the Americas. We think of Socrates, and the Alamo, Zeus, Homer, the Renaissance, we think of the cultural lineage that defines our society.
Ironically, since so many of those enslaved and brought to this country came from West Africa, how many of us call to mind drums, Ogun, and camels as part of our lineage? If we do bring these things to mind they are often encountered as examples of otherness, things from outside of the place we live and come from.
What about even the concept of aloha? Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands were colonized, heck Hawaii is part of the United States! Even so, the culture of its people still doesn’t make it into the cultural fold of belonging. And you can forget about the Inuits.
What is even more telling is how even the cultures that do get included do not get equitable representation as being a part of this “West” we speak of. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas are also not who we’re talking about when we talk about people in the “West”. Again, how many images of acorn mash, the Sun dance, and the medicine wheel come to mind when you conjure the “West”?
When I bring to mind the “West”, especially as it is casually used in context, I think of mainly the material resources at our disposal through a combination of colonial manipulation tactics and the natural resources from countries relatively near the equator; I think of the mindset of Industry.
Industry is what makes a product more important than the process required to create it and although Industry has many ideological forefathers, with the most direct being the conceptual separation of human beings from all other forms of Nature, the simplest way to fully understand it is as the prioritization of economic, material benefit over all other forms of benefit.
What’s interesting about this is that the Industrial mindset, that of prioritizing products over processes, sprung up in tandem with a massive shift in culture that has gotten progressively more dysfunctional, greedy and violent. Agriculture, animal husbandry and crafts as the focus of human activity came into prominence around 10,000 years ago though humans as we think of ourselves came to being around 200,000 years ago.
So the hippies got something else right, this state of excessive competition and drive towards material gain isn’t our natural state, but it is what defines the West as a state of mind far more than any geographical area on a map.
If you visit the State Department’s website you will see that only the “Americas” are included in a description of the Western Hemisphere which is factually inaccurate.
The Western hemisphere, as defined by the Prime Meridian, of the globe is comprised of these lands masses as well as: Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, most of Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso and a bit of Algeria. Oceania, Iceland, Greenland, Portugal, France, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, a bit of Russia and most of the United Kingdom are also a part of this area although Italy, Germany, Holland, Greece, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland do not make the cut.
This colonization of the geographical mind plays an important part in keeping our perspective shaped the way those who actually benefit from Industry like it so they can continue to benefit from it.
What is called for in these transformative times, more than many other things like ever more products, is accuracy, the simple precision of knowing what we’re talking about and knowing when we’re talking about it. The way our language has been shaped for us often makes this more difficult than we think, and far more difficult than it really needs to be.
I think all of us agreeing on the four quadrants thing as a reasonable way to understand the shape of our world to be fair. Cardinal directions, how we orient ourselves from the core of the planet outward by its magnetic lines, are an important aspect of many Indigenous cultures and serve as easy, universal grounding points for reality.
To reconnect to this universal understanding of where we are in the world and in our relationship to it we must align ourselves with what we really know, and underneath it all we know the “West” is misleading; just like we know undocumented immigrants means Latinos and not Estonians, and that when tea partiers are talking about ineffective government they’re talking about Obama as opposed to the fuckery we call Congress, but I digress.
We do ourselves no favors by living with a false sense of inclusion, an intentional misreading of the words we use. To truly live in the West we must live with Taema and Tilafaiga, Sedna, Estsantlehi, Maui, Freyr, Mami Wata, Efua, and Guruhi as well as Hercules, Bacchus, Venus, Apollo and the rest.
We must eat corn, tomato, cous cous, acorn, potato, blood pudding, peanut, cassava, dandelion, okra, pineapple and pine nut. This is the least of what we must do. Whatever geographical lines exist to orient our minds, the people who now live in the West are from all over the world and we do ourselves equally few favors pretending they don’t belong here as equal citizens of this planet.
As with our individual selves, our larger self, this society, cannot truly welcome those who travel into its reaches until we first understand who we are, and to do that we must first understand where we are on and in this world.
There is a focus that comes from the notions of White Supremacy that is notoriously difficult to eradicate from our thoughts, actions, values and the institutions we build from them.
When we talk about “privilege” and insist on White people recognizing it, in some ways we are doing the work of furthering notions of White Supremacy. In my work I do not use the word privilege to teach about the dynamics of oppression; it masks a huge host of cultural assumptions that do not serve true liberation from oppression.
What is a privilege? Who decides what is a privilege and what isn’t?
Privilege implies that the ways of Whiteness are, that the culture and living of it is, in fact actually better than that of other people’s, and that it is therefore a privilege to be living in accordance with the culture of Whiteness.
Privilege gives a sense of the nebulous, it leads you to ask, “How did I receive these privileges? Where did they come from?”
I talk about White Priority because priority makes it clear that what we’re dealing with is the result of human choice. Priority asks, “Why am I prioritized?” Understanding why you receive that prioritization clarifies how it is that you have come to be having this living, social experience.
Do White people need awareness of “White Privilege”, per se, or do White people need to be aware of Black & Brown Oppression? How are those questions different, how are those conversations different?
What I hear often is that White people know they’re treated differently; consciously, silently, there is awareness that their lives and the ways they live them in alignment with status quo cultural values receive more care than those who don’t look like them, who don’t live like them.
There may be White people reading this, saying to themselves, “But wait, I’ve always wanted to be [pick a non-White cultural group] because they have such great food/hair/clothes/music/language/are so beautiful, etc.! Being White is so boring!”
Imagine this scenario: you’ve just been stopped by the police for not making a full stop at a stoplight; the cop in your window clearly hasn’t been having a great day; would you rather be in a sari/dashiki/with cornrows/be listening to music that isn’t in English in this scenario than have Taylor Swift on blast in standard business casual?
The likely feeling of pause after reading those words is exactly the point; you had to think about it because its not about how you feel or what you like, its about how they, the cop, feels that matters in this moment, its how they feel that will determine the outcome.
Walking with this awareness 24/7 is what its like to live in the world without having your particular cultural reality supported and prioritized for access to resources, just one of which is safety; and there are publicly funded officials to do so.
Police are paid by, and for, through a system that prioritizes Whiteness. That pause after questioning the scenario is the place in your awareness you just haven’t given words to yet, haven’t been allowed to say, for whatever reason, “Yes; this is true. However I feel about the world does not define the way it functions and it functions with more care for me than for my non-White companions.”
Social privilege is the experience of having the expressions, values, beliefs and practices of your culture protected and given prioritized access to resources like housing, employment, material resources, financial stability, health care, functional & effective education, institutional advocacy & support, and yes, safety (or its concept at least, whether or not safety is actually a functional delusional for anyone is another thought piece).
Understanding this also allows for the delving into complexity necessary to actually address the illness of social oppression. Talking about who and what gets prioritized and why points to the intersections of social identity that any of us can easily see in our lives.
Identities as managers or ceo’s counting for more than our identities as artists or philosophists, though we may be both; we know which one will help us more in the traffic stop, or at court, or in a job interview for a corporation with the access to resources to actually add to our 401k.
So rather than asking yourself about your privileges, ask yourself about your priorities; who and what is receiving yours and why?
We Take Care! is a program that teaches essential information and skills for kids to be able to take care of their bodies, hearts and minds in the long-term of their lives. WTC! uses an experiential and organic system to facilitate young people’s connection with the Nature that lives within and around them.
We Take Care! is a necessary response to the Industrial, culturally driven separation from the planetary life system to which we owe not only our existence but our continued survival. The health & sustainability of the planet, and especially people’s place upon it, depends upon their being people with the skills and capacities required for wholistic living and environmental maintenance; We Take Care! provides children with these skills and capacities by sharing cultural practices that create healthy relationships with the world.
Culture can be most simply defined as the way we live our lives. More specifically it is the way we relate to ourselves, other people, non-human animals and the larger environmental forces with which we are interdependent. It is deeper than food, it is what is considered food in the first place; deeper than our styles of dress or the words we say it is what feels good next to our skin and the meaning contained in the forming of the words themselves.
Health cannot be isolated to the physical body and by learning about the lives of plants, children are able to make connections between what the plants need to survive and thrive and what they need to do the same. Adaptation has always been the biological advantage of humanity and for thousands of years now this adaptability has been most efficiently inherited through culture. Culture is the mechanism by which we learn what our ancestors already knew about what does & doesn’t work to sustain life. By engaging specific cultural practices throughout We Take Care!, children learn important principles like: choosing environments with care, identifying what’s harmful and what what’s beneficial, knowing what resources are needed to survive in that environment and the importance of taking care of ourselves so we can take care of our larger communities. These are the basic principles of life that any living being needs to know to survive and thrive.
“When we took a walk to the planter (@ MLK & Harmon) we saw a lot of trash. We complained about picking up leaves before. Now we see our garden is nice because we did that; if we didn’t it would be dirty & gross.” – Maiza, 9
Life counseling sessions last for 90 minutes each, unless otherwise arranged. Sessions are focused on internal storytelling, decoding environmental messages, healing environmental & inter-generational trauma, building external & internal resources, nonviolent communication, learning tools for self-care & learning tools for sustaining a liberated self.
If it is seen as being beneficial, personal sessions may involve other people. This is never done without the informed consent of all people potentially involved.
This is for organizations or other collectives of people who need a mediator to navigate difficult issues in the interpersonal environment. Having an observer with no conflict of interest can be a great asset in getting to the core of the issue & creating a practical solution.