In this episode of Thanks for Sharing, Jackie Pack talks with psychologist and activist Regina Stone-Grover about increasing awareness and making safe spaces for underprivileged communities. We talk about intent vs. impact and how labels are both helpful and harmful.
TRANSCRIPT: Creating a Safe Space for Underrepresented Communities
Jackie Pack: Hi everyone, welcome to Thanks for Sharing. I’m your host, Jackie Pack. On today’s episode, we have a guest on. This is somebody that I connected on Facebook with probably like 6 months and we started talking about doing a podcast episode, and here we are doing it and so our guest today is Regina Stone-Grover, and she is in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. She has a Master’s in psychology, and she’s also an activist, has organized some of the women’s marches that have been happening, and I’ve been wanting to do an episode where we talked about… I think I’ve mentioned before on the podcast, I’m a white female, and I’m always interested to learn how I can be more sensitive, more informed, and more inclusive of people who are on the fringes or minority groups or whatever that looks like, so I’m really happy to have Regina on. That’s kind of what we started talking about doing a podcast about, and she’s going to talk about underrepresented communities, oppression, and violence that happens. So welcome, Regina.
Regina Stone-Grover : Thank you. Thank you. It’s awesome to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jackie Pack: I was going to say, when we first started briefly talking before I hit record, you were saying it was in your Master’s of Psychology program that you really started to understand more fully oppression and violence that happens in underrepresented communities. Do you want to say more about that?
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, so in my particular program, they made it a very important part to include the multi-cultural component and recognizing the fact that we have to widen our scope and look from a more diverse and more open-minded lens because what happens when everything becomes very normalized is we end up becoming almost… I don’t want to say programed, but we almost become very familiar with things that are not very… We get very familiar with the world that is familiar with us. Our environment becomes very appropriate for people who can walk on both legs or appropriate for people who don’t have a pregnancy stomach, and so when they looked at that from the race component, it was very apparent the way that things happen for people who don’t… who look differently from say somebody who historically gets an education in psychology, which often were and has been white males who…
Jackie Pack: Upper class males.
Regina Stone-Grover : Who often grow to being older white males.
Jackie Pack: I went to grad school probably 26 or so years ago, but I often have interns who are working on their master’s degree at my clinic that I supervise, and it does sound like that’s becoming much more of certain programs that people are getting educated in that discussion and education around multi-cultural, multi-diverse populations is something we have to understand.
Regina Stone-Grover : It is. It’s very interesting to think that we’ve had such a rich history of not realizing that, woah, not everybody walks on two legs. Not everybody… some people have families and they have to get around with kids, and so it’s great that these are components that are happening now, but it really is kind of… it’s very daunting that it took up until recently for people, for there to be questioning of some of these major exams, for example, the EPPP, which has a specific scope. It was written by certain people for certain people, and the effects of it because…
Jackie Pack: Will you just explain a minute? You said the triple-E? Right? Is that what you said?
Regina Stone-Grover : E-triple-P.
Jackie Pack: Yes, triple-P. Explain what that is.
Regina Stone-Grover : So the EPPP is the major exam to take for being a psychologist. All psychologists are expected to take it, and you have to pass at a certain level, and it’s kind of the equivalent of like an MCAT for psychologists.
Jackie Pack: Right, okay. So it’s a licensing exam basically that you have to prove that you’re up to par?
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes. Well, because the history of psychology is so male and so white, a lot of the questions are geared for people who come from elite, white backgrounds and they’re not geared for the communities that a lot of people get into… that people of color and people from underrepresented communities get into psychology to help. That you have this information, but this information is not going to serve you when serving these people, not anymore. It’s technically it’s obsolete. So when we’re thinking about things like that and thinking about the way that the rigor of going through and building the degree and getting an education that ultimately is going to open all these doorways and pathways, you also have to think about the fact that you have to understand this knowledge that’s not really useful. It’s not useful for impoverished families or people who are experiencing issues of oppression because those are completely different issues than what are being explored on this exam.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, okay. So you may learn it in your program, but it’s not necessarily going to show up on the test, or you may learn it and some people may get the license and never really apply what they’re learning?
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, or this particular aspect is the application is there but the community that it applies to is much smaller now than the communities that can now have this help, and so we see it in a lot of ways, a lot of government programs. One of the most interesting things for me is to see so many mental health workers in government programs, but a lot of times, people from different racial backgrounds may not be eligible for the programs that are available, so you have a smaller percentage of those people who are accessible through state work and county work; however, when you think of people of color and people from underrepresented communities who are going to work, most of the time, those are the jobs that they can get, so they end up working in communities where people are of privilege and they’re using their education to benefit communities that they never intended to serve.
Jackie Pack: Okay. Yeah, yeah. So is that being looked at? I mean, it’s like the programs are starting to look at multi-cultural populations and saying hey, they need services too, but it sounds like there’s still some systemic things that get in the way of that.
Regina Stone-Grover : Very much so. Very political. So what we see is, for example, the social work community has blown up and become very much aware of the fact that there are definitely barriers; however, what we’re also seeing is that there are more grandfathered-in people in a community such as psychology where they believe that they are gatekeepers and so they have issue and take issue with seeing women or people of color or people who are disabled crossing into their section of elitism just due to how they were trained and the way that training still continues to hold to very old, very restrictive thinking and norms.
Jackie Pack: Right, so some of the listeners may not be aware, but historically, typically even some of the fields like psychology is going to attract more white, upper-class males to that field, and they don’t really like females going to that field, people of color to that field, and they would think that you need to be more in the social work, which is kind of in the trenches so to speak, that’s what social work does. They’re above that.
Regina Stone-Grover : They hate that. Yes.
Jackie Pack: They don’t go to the trenches. That’s for other people to go to the trenches. So you’re talking about just kind of that barrier that those attitudes have for people crossing even into the psychology field and becoming psychologists.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, like the racial attitudes that are very much aggressive and even the sexist attitudes that are very aggressive toward… that even if a woman is in a PhD, does have a doctoral… is at a doctoral level that she recognizes that she still has limitations. There’s only so far you can go in this club.
Jackie Pack: Right, there was an article I read, I don’t know when, a while ago, that talked about how women with like a PhD are often referred to by their first name, whereas men who even maybe are a master’s level, they’re referred to as a doctor. Men are more likely to be referred to, especially white men are more likely to be referred to as doctor whether they have that designation or not, and females with that designation are still referred to by their first name.
Regina Stone-Grover : Wow. I actually had a professor who responded and who actually ended up sharing with the class that yep, that was exactly one of her experiences that when going through… years prior when going through and being introduced to people who were visiting the institution, yep it was Dr. this and Dr. that, and oh, that’s, you know, Betty or, you know, and it was just like wow, really? Because she was not seen at the same level. She did say that over time she had built a strong enough relationship, but that’s still common.
Jackie Pack: Right. Okay, so let’s talk for a minute about… you talked about like kind of this, the impact vs. the intent.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes.
Jackie Pack: So say more about that.
Regina Stone-Grover : Intention vs. impact is very important to recognize because at times, we have a tendency to kind of minimize people and in spaces where there is… things can be said or things can be done, and then when that is spoken of and saying, hey, what… you just did this, and you may know a fair amount about the impact vs. intent, but when it’s called to the carpet, ultimately the conversation is, oh that wasn’t my intention. I didn’t mean to do that. Here’s a need to have a preventative attitude as opposed to having a reactive attitude. Let’s be open to the fact that, you know, instead of saying or doing these hurtful things, let’s just not do them, and so I’m not sure how familiar you are with the conversation because it has been a growing conversation but it isn’t a very big conversation that I’ve noticed happening a lot. But it’s very powerful to kind of… my response is to humanize everyone. Can we just for a minute take a minute and think about the fact that as humans, we like to be safe in our spaces? We don’t want to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable just because we’re there. Yeah.
Jackie Pack: Or even to have that brought to your attention, right? I mean this is… I’ve had some colored friends, and I don’t necessarily go to maybe an event and count how many white people are there, but my friends of color will say, like I’m keenly aware of how many people of color are in the room, and that was something when we had that discussion, I was like, oh, I could totally see the privilege that I experienced in that, just assuming there are going to be people like me. Now I notice if I’m the only female in the room or female at the table, I definitely notice that, but the same thing’s going to happen with color, with sexual orientation. Those are things that they have to be… those groups have to be more aware of than the higher up you are in the privilege categories.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, and that’s kind of one of the biggest aspects is like eventually if we all just took the time and started peeling ourselves… kind of taking off our armor and recognizing everybody can wear a label. At some point, everyone’s going to have some sort of label or somebody’s going to be able to be placed in some category, so if we just walk into situations and realize there are differences, there are definite ways that we can learn from each other, let’s build on the humanity and grow towards becoming more aware of ourselves and each other. That eliminates any need to be aware of impact vs. intent. There’s no reason to kind of watch your tongue, and if something is said, you can also say, I’m human. I apologize. That wasn’t… I’m still learning how to navigate these waters. And be open when someone does say, hey, you said this, or hey, you did this, as opposed to just saying that wasn’t my intent. I’m being open.
Jackie Pack: Because your intent… you can hurt somebody when that is far from your intention to do so. Your intent doesn’t necessarily define how that is delivered or how that is received, so I think it’s important to if somebody says hey, I feel like that was a racist comment or I feel like that was an insensitive comment, or a sexist comment, to be able to say, you just said… I’m still learning to navigate these waters. If you’re really clueless as to how that is racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever, it’s ok to say, could you help me understand that? But you’ve… at that point, you’ve got to be willing to suspend your believe because you thought it was ok and it wasn’t. You’ve gotta be willing to get into their perspective to understand that or you’re gonna keep being offensive.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, and that’s also it’s ok… like we’ve adapted in this culture this need to say that it’s important to be the expert. It’s important to know, but what we have to recognize is we’re always learning because things are always changing, so it’s ok to say I’m still learning this or I just became aware of this. That’s a big part about learning differences and embracing differences. I don’t know what it’s like to be someone who is transgendered; however, in having a relationship with somebody or being in a space with somebody who is open about being transgendered, that’s a discussion that could be had.
Jackie Pack: Right. Yeah, and I think the more you’re open to… because I’ve had some people who will say, I’m open to learning, but based on their experiences, I don’t know that they really are because when people try to teach them, they just tend to argue back or point out why it’s not what the other person is saying, which continues to do the damage, so you also have to be open like you were saying and be willing to admit that you don’t know, acknowledge that maybe you’re uneducated in that field or that topic and be willing to learn and have somebody point something out to you.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, it’s not an attack. To be honest, there’s no need to attack someone who’s already come into a situation on a level, so it’s like so the minute that there’s a defense, then it’s like there’s a conversation and ability to move forward gets limited because now instead of acknowledging oh, I’m at fault, it’s automatically you’re attacking me…. the situation.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, I think that’s a tough one because some people feel attacked if somebody’s telling them that they’re wrong or that there’s another point of view. I think we also live in a culture right now where everybody kind of feels attacked and so that can be really difficult if somebody perceives you not agreeing with them as you attacking them, then that’s going to really limit growth and understanding.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, and this is the time when growth and understanding is so important. It’s a fragility and at this point, being fragile does nothing for anyone. It’s not moving anyone forward. It’s not helping anybody. It’s hurting everyone. So at this point, it’s up to people who are in the situation to be able to have some understanding to say I can’t be fragile right now. It doesn‘t do anything for my children or anyone moving forward to be fragile at this moment, and if there is a wound, think about why there’s a wound. What is behind the feelings that is creating a wound, as opposed to creating a bridge?
Jackie Pack: Yeah, I like that. I think that’s hard to practice, but we need to keep that in our minds as we navigate the waters that we’re in today.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, yes.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, ok, so let’s talk for a minute about you mentioned kind of recognizing different spaces, how spaces can shrink and when we’re putting everybody in these labels. You talked about how there’s a need for a label. I mean I always say a label is helpful until it isn’t. I mean sometimes labels, if I’m meeting somebody and I don’t know what they look like, it’s helpful for me to know they’re black, they’re a female, they’re… whatever that looks like, it’s helpful for me to know that. Beyond that, I don’t know that the label is super helpful because it doesn’t tell me who they are or how they are.
: How do we connect? That’s something that’s really important, too. I think
we have gotten very rigid about some of the more divisive labels such as
black as opposed to cultured or you know, abled or disabled as opposed to,
you know, open for challenge and willing to learn how to navigate. These
are all things that are awesome actually, and we’re encouraged to do them
every day of our lives. We’re encouraged to learn how to navigate. We’re
encouraged to overcome our obstacles. We’re encouraged to learn more about
difference and things… different foods and different areas’ dress, dance…
we are encouraged to do all of these things but when we put the flatter,
more rigid labels on them, the race labels or the gender… even gender has
become so something that really shouldn’t be as restrictive as it is, and
when we look at it in the other way that’s like, hey, you like can find out
that actually it’s really awesome to be in relationship with a person who
is transgendered or a person who is gender fluid because this allows a
different perspective of what life’s about. But we… and that opens up the
world for us, and we need to be more embracing of what an open world looks
like because we’re in a time when politically everything is so closed off,
and it’s mentally draining everyone. Make sense?
Jackie Pack: Right, right. I was talking online with somebody, another therapist who is in Colorado and is transgender, or gender… like non-binary, and she was saying, or they were saying actually, I sometimes mess that up still, but they were saying that it would be helpful even like me, my pronouns would be she and her, but that’s part of me belonging to a more privileged group when it comes to gender, and even me saying… like they were saying, when you’re starting your podcast if you were to say, “Hi, I’m Jackie. My pronouns are she/her”, it just opens up space. Even though yours belong to this majority, you’re acknowledging not everybody is that. Yours may be, but you take for granted that yours are the majority, and when you just say these are my pronouns, it helps those who have different pronouns to feel safe and say, oh these are my pronouns.
Regina Stone-Grover : That is a wonderful conversation and a great example because yes, being able to say she / her / they / he / him / they or just they / their opens up the whole aspect of being able to say okay, this person… this is still a person. And it also limits a lot of other aspects of things like dehumanizing people because they don’t want to stay in a particular structured gender expectation when that’s not who they are. So yes, being… and that’s also a great conversation to have to start to kind of break open the conversations of how to embrace connection.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, I think it’s a way, what I kind of took away, it’s a way for me to say you may be different than me and I’m ok with that, and so kind of I can say that up front and it communicates like a safe space. I’m open to differences, I’m open to somebody who has different pronouns.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, I think one of the most… when I really got shaken into realizing that my experience as a woman was in the majority and I was… I had been privileged, is when I was doing the vagina monologues, and one of the young women I was with was talking about how she doesn’t get a period and she didn’t have the regular experiences or regular even… have the common experiences that we know, and that’s when I realized not all women have these experiences. So to kind of try to put this almost this expectation, this expected label on people that they go through these things and we have these… we do have these shared experiences, but not everybody shares them the exact same way and we do need to open up the space for that. And the fact that we tend to be very hostile toward people who may be impoverished or we may be hostile toward people because they have to… because they have a disability, it limits us as well because it makes us see our world is very flat when really it’s very, very round and there’s a lot of really important figures within it.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, I like… I mean when you talk about living in a more open world, I was thinking I don’t know that we’ve ever done that as a species.
Regina Stone-Grover : Wow.
Jackie Pack: Do you think? I don’t think we have, right?
Regina Stone-Grover : I think in some cultures because what I believe has happened because in our modern times, we use technology, we use growth kind of as an excuse to get smaller and to see things smaller, but if you think about the way that other tribes and in tribal communities, indigenous communities have moved, they had people who were not considered a gender, and they had people who were not… they had ways of adapting for people who had specific needs…. Become a mother. There’s so much conversation about the village and how the village adapts to the children and all the time and energy that’s put into taking care of the children, but if you look at the spaces that we’re in now, spaces for families are very limited and it’s getting a little bit more difficult to get around as a family because yes, there’s a demographic geared toward it, but there’s a community made for single people who don’t have kids, so we have gotten away from a lot of the things that we have done that have empowered those changes.
Jackie Pack: No, you’re right. I think probably tribes and different things that kind of live independent kind of belong to themselves. I think they have mastered that, but as the world has gotten bigger, I think that’s where it becomes problematic and we don’t’ know how to blend, and we don’t know how to combine and appreciate differences.
Regina Stone-Grover : Well, it’s really funny because there’s so… since we’ve become so educated, we’ve actually had this perspective of the primal and the early ages, but then when taking the time to actually study and look, the primal and early ages really did have strong relationships with the human ability to learn, grow, transform, go from being one being to multiple beings through family. There’s just so much richness in earlier stages of living and civilization that we have worked so hard to deny relationship with, and that also goes to the root of the question as to why? What’s behind those? Is it because a lot of those earlier stages were browner? Is it because a lot of those earlier stages were not… did not use language the way that we use language now? What is the disconnection because we do kind of need to connect with a lot of those understandings and a lot of that structure of how we were able to embrace our changes?
Jackie Pack: I think that’s interesting. I was thinking just with the holidays, both of my… on my mom’s side, so my maternal grandparents, they were both Danish, and I was thinking like there are some Danish things that I’ve incorporated into our holidays, like foods and stuff like that, and my one daughter was asking me, did you learn this from your grandma? And I was like, no. I started thinking, she was like, well what from your heritage got passed down food-wise? And I was like, I don’t… I can’t think of anything. I couldn’t think of anything. And I was just like, that’s so weird. Did they give that up for what… for whatever we eat now? I don’t know, but I did start thinking about that over the holidays, just this disconnection from wherever my ancestors came from. I don’t have something that’s… my brother-in-law is Middle Eastern and so he brought some of his dishes from his family. His ancestors have been in the states for a while even, but he had that connection, and I don’t. I was just like, I don’t know what… I don’t know where that went in my family.
Regina Stone-Grover : You know, that’s a powerful statement because I was… I know over the holidays there are a lot of people who are like, I’m trying to survive the holidays. I’m trying to get through it. And a lot of that comes… and I think you brought up something that is very important because I think for me, my relationship with the holidays has come from a lot of hurt and pain, and so I’ve been trying to separate myself from a lot of that, and so it might be possible that that might also be our places where we have kind of disconnected from things. We might be disconnecting from some of the more negative things, but then in turn, we’re creating other things, so it’s like maybe we have to start looking at the root of things, but I do appreciate that perspective because that does widen it a lot.
Jackie Pack: Well and it makes me… We know now that immigration is difficult and for them to integrate into their new society is difficult, probably made more difficult than it needs to be, but it made me wonder. Obviously my ancestors immigrated to the United States at some point. I’m not Native American, so my ancestors immigrated, and it made me wonder, did they let go of that to make the immigration process more…
Regina Stone-Grover : Rigorous?
Jackie Pack: I don’t know. But you wonder what is the story there. I don’t know what the story is, but there’s probably a story.
Regina Stone-Grover : There is so much depth into that process, and I appreciate you for talking about that because I remember when I was in North Carolina, I was assisting with helping people… I was volunteering with the dem party, pulling together and what is it when you knock on the doors? I was knocking on doors for people.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, okay.
Regina Stone-Grover : It was interesting how many people I had come in contact with who were like, oh I can’t vote, but they were from Europe and there was no problem. They were not having any issues whatsoever, but then we looked… at the same time, there’s this huge campaign going on about people migrating and the dangers and it was just so interesting to… to some extent, I didn’t think anything about it until retrospect, but it was really interesting to just kind of knock on the doors of people who are openly like, oh yeah, I’m not from here. I can’t vote. I have citizenship elsewhere. And it’s like, wow, but because of where they’re from, they’re having a conversation about that.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, that is interesting. Yeah, I’ve done the door-knocking stuff as well, and it’s always interesting to have… I haven’t really had negative experiences. Some people were just like didn’t want to be bothered. I get that. But those were maybe the most negative where they were just kind of like leave me alone, take me off whatever list I’m on. But it’s always interesting to get out and talk to people that you would never otherwise wouldn’t talk about and to talk about something like voting that we believe is kind of this fundamental right in the United States and how much confusion there is around voting rights.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, yes. I think that was a very crucial moment for me again to be able to be in a place where I’m… I actually had a whole conversation with a woman who was like, oh I definitely feel… she had her very feelings about the things that were being said in the media and then for her to be like, oh, you know, she’s like, I can’t vote. I’ve been here and… she may have been on a visa, and the only thing I heard is how difficult it is to get a visa, and so for her to be like, oh yeah, I’m here… and it was just like, wow, so that process even within itself sounds like it’s very layered and it’s made much more intent for people depending on where they come from.
Jackie Pack: Or sometimes you see this floating around online, the test that they have to take to become a citizen. I don’t know that most citizens of the United States could pass that test. When I looked at that test, I was like, I have no idea about several of the questions, and just some of the process that people do have to go through to become citizens or like you said, even just to get a visa is pretty arduous and much more difficult maybe than it needs to be. Again, what is that about?
Regina Stone-Grover : What is that about? Because I mean, I’m familiar with… actually the interesting thing is it was grazed over in my education so simply that it was just one of those things that it was like, oh yeah, this is what happened. There was a migration throughout different parts of history, and a lot of people came, and then all of a sudden it’s this big issue that there’s migration but people are still migrating. When I grew up, people were constantly migrating. People constantly come and go, so for this to be made this big issue is not just confusing—it doesn’t make sense. It’s inconsistent. But it’s… I’m also… I also as I have gotten older have realized that it’s happening as well in other aspects, like in the medical community. Some of the biggest issues in the medical community are the fact that women in general across the board are not being listened to. The mortality rates of women who are given birth are actually increasing. Well then if you look at the black indigenous person of color community, that’s even larger than where it is in the communities of white women. So it’s like we also have an inconsistent standard of care for women in general and then for women who are of color who are going through the same thing. We all get pregnant, we all give birth, and for some reason the standard of care is just different.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, I read an article a couple of years ago and I bookmarked it, but it was talking about gender differences in the medical field, and they were saying that most male-specific procedures are reimbursed by insurance companies at a higher rate than females.
Regina Stone-Grover : Wow.
Jackie Pack: So most doctors are going to specialize in male care simply because they get paid more, which doesn’t make sense. The female body is a little bit more complicated than the male body, so they charge more for those procedures, but they get reimbursed less. It was just a fascinating… I had no idea the problems in the medical community. I mean, I get, I understand most things have been normed to white male heterosexuals.
Regina Stone-Grover : True, right.
Jackie Pack: Most assessments, most medical things, all of that has been normed to that, but just to kind of read some of the details was pretty eye-opening.
Regina Stone-Grover : I believe… it probably was a daunting read because it’s one of the most disappointing aspects of things because health care is something that is so important and it’s really a root. It’s really like a foundation for all pretty much every other aspect of care, and to know that the ball is being dropped for something as… and truthfully our bodies are a little bit more complex so shouldn’t the science start with a woman’s body and then learn how to kind of how to read…? And the fact that simple solutions are not being applied, it’s very frustrating.
Jackie Pack: Well, and I think it does then require more females to get into the medical field. It requires more females of color to get into the medical field because what we know is things don’t change until people are in those positions who care and will make it change.
Regina Stone-Grover : Well, and that also goes back to talking about the institutionalizing of the oppression and the violence because oftentimes there are people who are like, oh I’m going to get in here and I’m gonna change this, and then they go through the aspects and the hazing of the institution. A lot of us don’t really see it as hazing, but I remember when I was young and there was a discussion about the way that institutions work, and one of my mentors, our teacher, was like they break you down to build you back up the way that they want you to be. Well essentially that means that they deprogram… well they don’t deprogram you, but they break down your concept and understanding of the world to reinforce the way that they see the world, so when institutions are ran by people are people who are violent to people who are oppressed, that violence only gets taught and reinforced.
Jackie Pack: And say a little bit more about violence because I know… I mean, for some people, we think of violence and we think of physical, right? Hitting and all of that kind of stuff, but violence is not just a physical thing.
Regina Stone-Grover : It’s not.
Jackie Pack: There’s emotional and verbal violence, right?
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, violence is like expecting someone to… and you know, I’m really good at understanding this, but being able to break this down into the concept is a little bit tricky, so the aspect of the violence through oppression is the fact that people who are oppressed aren’t just expected to be oppressed. They’re expected to be ok with the fact that they’re oppressed, and the expectation is if you go into a situation where you are oppressed and expect to not be oppressed, you are wrong. So what we do with people and what we do to people and women in the medical care… and medical care is an excellent example of this because as women we go through these processes, our bodies change, and we need help, we need assistance with our health. Then we go into the position or we go into the situation and the healthcare provider is rude, they’re not listening, oftentimes they speak down and are condescending because… oh, and if you correct them, then they become fragile and offended an say, oh now you’re going to tell me how to do my job? As opposed to listening to you tell them how you feel. So it’s very violent because now not only are you in pain, but now you have to fight through your pain and explain to this person, actually I’m sick, and I’m trying to help you understand what’s happening so you can help me.
Jackie Pack: And it’s not in my head.
Regina Stone-Grover : Huh?
Jackie Pack: And it’s not in my head.
Regina Stone-Grover : Right.
Jackie Pack: I may not know exactly what’s going on, but I’m not making it up.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yeah, I’m not just pulling this out of the sky. And so it’s very frustrating and it… excuse me if you hear my husband and my daughter in the background. She’s two. But it’s very restrictive the way that we expect people who are oppressed to embrace and appreciate oppression as opposed to fight it or speak out against it.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, now I thought you did a great job breaking that down and explaining it. I often as a therapist when I’m working with clients and I bring up trauma, most of them are like, “Oh I haven’t experienced any trauma,” which just isn’t true, and maybe we’ll talk about abuse. I may say to them, “What you’re describing sounds like abuse”, and they’re like, “Oh no, it’s not abuse.” And I’m like, “Well how do you define abuse?” And they’ll give me whatever definition they have that means they were not abused, and I say, “My definition is abuse is anything less than nurturing.”
Regina Stone-Grover : Yeah, wow.
Jackie Pack: And they’re like, “Woah.”
Regina Stone-Grover : That’s everything.
Jackie Pack: If that’s the case… right. And I get that not all of it is reportable. Abuse happens on a continuum, violence happens on a continuum, and if you apply that to violence, anything less than nurturing, we’re quite violent with each other, especially… there’s a difference.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, that’s a beautiful perspective to put it in. I’m gonna have to adapt that because it’s important to remember… Right now we’re in this big aspect where everyone is embracing self-care. How do I take care of myself? And it’s so important because one of the things I’ve noticed is it’s not very well-defined for people. People don’t know how to define how I take care of myself, and like this is we’re so, as you have mentioned, we’re so violent towards each other, we don’t know how to properly approach how I make sure that I’m okay. I really do love that you’ve changed the scope, and kind of next to each other, it’s kind of mind-blowing.
Jackie Pack: Right. And sad. Just very sad.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yeah.
Jackie Pack: So one of the last things you had talked about wanting to cover is this being self-aware of our own humanity is what creates space for humans. I thought that was beautifully said, but can you expand on that and talk a little bit more about that?
Regina Stone-Grover : Well, that’s one of the biggest things that I think we segued really nicely into was recognizing and being able to define not just what’s nurturing, but you know, define how you are able to nurture yourself and how that works with other people in your community and in your collective because when we change our minds to say… instead of saying, here’s 1 million labels and I have to be careful because I can’t say this around that one or I can’t do this around that one, it opens up the space to say, wow, here’s a community, and how can we take care of each other, and how can we be mindful of each other? And so then you say, oh, you know what? There’s a seat in your way. Let me move that. Oh my goodness, you have five people with you. Let’s find a space for all of you. And it’s creating comfort and being welcoming and allowing people to feel welcomed and accepted in the space as opposed to feeling like they’re a burden to the space.
Jackie Pack: Yeah, which I love because I think we also need to start looking at community. How do we define community? Because right now sometimes we may define it as similar people, which has gotten us into some of the problems, and maybe we can expand that whole idea of community and see how big community can actually be and what does that look like? And then, like you beautifully described, then we’re caring for each other. Oh, you’re a family of five. You can’t live in a space for a single person. We need to address that. Rather than saying, you need to go find a different community, recognize that somebody different than us adds something to our community that we don’t have, and if we can accept that and make space for that, we all benefit.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yeah, and it also feels nice to know that you’re thinking about me, and it makes you feel good to know that I’m thinking about you and I’m willing to open up a space for you because that means that there’s different energy, there’s different opportunity in the world, and it can multiply and it can grow, and then instead of just me thinking about my children and how my children are going to grow, you’re thinking about my children and I’m thinking about your children and their grandchildren, and so we end up creating a collective and connections through that collective as opposed to continuing to kind of cut connections as they are already.
Jackie Pack: I love that. Anything you want to add before we wrap up?
Regina Stone-Grover : I would say that… I would honestly say that being more open to safe spaces starts with self-care, and self-care starts with self-awareness, so by taking the time to say, ok, this is me and this is who I am, but also stepping out and saying this is me and who I am where I’m at, and this is how people are affected by me, that creates not just a space for you and not just a space for the people who are close to you, but a space for anyone who engages or interacts with you.
Jackie Pack: I like that. I do think that the more a person connects with them and the beauty of them and knows how to care for that, the more one cares for themselves, it’s kind of this irony of the more we’re able to then care for somebody different than me or somewhat similar. We’re just more able to care and love others when we can do that for ourselves, and I think behind a lot of the violence and the oppression is really this lack of acceptance for self.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yes, yes. And that’s a scary thing. How much is… how angry at yourself do you have to be to do some of the things that people are doing?
Jackie Pack: To project that onto another person.
Regina Stone-Grover : Yeah, so it’s about kind of cutting it off and changing that as soon as possible. Let’s just immediately step into how can I… Yeah, that’s pretty much my thoughts.
Jackie Pack: I love that. Well thank you so much. I’m so glad we connected and got time to do this podcast episode.
Regina Stone-Grover : Same here.
Jackie Pack: Those who are starting off the new year, this is something to put into your goals or your vision for a new year.
Regina Stone-Grover : If you don’t mind me taking… it can be as easy and as simple as saying I’m going to wake up every morning and eat breakfast, and if you already wake up every morning and eat breakfast, looking at what you eat. Okay, I need to eat fruit, or I need to eat…
Jackie Pack: Or I was listening to a different podcast, and he said that’s great if you’re eating breakfast. Now try to do it when you sit down. You’re not in a car, you’re not walking somewhere quick, you’re not grabbing… sit down and eat breakfast.
Regina Stone-Grover : Being present. There’s so many ways.
Jackie Pack: Yes. I love that. Thank you so much for your time.
Regina Stone-Grover : Thank you.Jackie Pack:
At the end of this episode, I want to remind you that your story matters. Remember there’s something meaningful in every chapter. Don’t wait to share your story ‘til it’s finished. Until next time, Jackie.