Squirrel Dialogues 18: Shame, Guilt, and Showing Up

Squirrel and I talk about shame, guilt, and showing up for racial justice. Featuring Rage Rabbit and Worry Fox.  Recorded with love on Coast Salish land.

See Also
Episode 10 on doing and nondoing, for those of us who feel overwhelmed presently. Also Episode 7 on judgement.

More Squirrel Dialogues. On YouTube. On Facebook.

Show notes below the vid.

Show Notes

So I’m not sure I have this one right. I created this video to help allies of people of color navigate feelings of shame regarding their complicity in racial injustice. Because, as I say in the video, I carry shame regarding my failure to show up for my BIPOC neighbors over the past years.

This video feels like a bit of a tightrope act and I’m not sure if I fell off. It’s my perspective. I’m sure I have blind spots. Please comment or contact me if you’d like to weigh in.

On Shame
I do strongly believe that shame is a harmful human emotion that has basically no redeeming value. I’m drawing primarily on the work of shame & vulnerability researcher Brené Brown for this. For her research on shame, I’d suggest her book Daring Greatly. Or you can try her TED Talk on shame. TED talk:

She also addresses the common argument in favor of shame, “What about ostracizing or shunning people who badly misbehave?” in this interview with Tim Ferriss. If you want to hear the specific discussion, listen in around 20:00.

I think guilt is a better model for those of us who have done wrong and would like to make it right, to be redeemed. I really think amends, reparations, and reconciliation, are an essential part of the answer to white supremacy in America. I suspect shame gets in the way of that work. And as Brené mentions, high levels of felt shame are correlated with severely anti-social behavior, like violence and abuse.

Embodied Racial Trauma
Holy crap please listen to therapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem discuss racial trauma and how it exists in our bodies (On Being/Krista Tippett).

I hope this is helpful in the conversation around racial justice. And the work ahead.

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