Natalie Haynes

Feb 14, 2023


How to Have Uncomfortable Conversations About Race and Get to a Place of Unconscious Awareness with Natalie Haynes


people, feel, person, race, conversation, black, important, therapist, feelings, awareness, white, natalie, talking, relationship, racial identity, lean, learn, piece, thought, process


Megan Swan, Natalie Haynes


Megan Swan 00:00

Welcome back to Energetically You where we talk about optimal wellness, abundant mindset and confident decision making. I'm your host Megan Swan, a wellness coach and consultant and the founder of Megan Swan Wellness and the Sustainable Integrated Wellness approach. I help high performance humans, leaders and modern companies thread more wellness into their lifestyle and company culture so it becomes a way of life and not a checkmark on their to do list. Today on the podcast, I am so excited to present Natalie Haynes. She is a corporate training consultant, educator speaker and psychotherapist Natalie works in a space where connection and belonging can be interrupted either within the relationship with ourselves or with others. Her passion is to teach people to remember who they are through experiential learning. Natalie has had a private practice for 14 years and became a therapist because she was a client and experienced how psychotherapy changed how she related to everything. In her work, Natalie engages others using her vulnerability, personal stories and experiences through which she found her own strengths. As a training consultant Natalie facilitates facilitates experiential workshops, online courses on mental health and inclusion and belonging. Her current program entitled The comfortable race conversation process, which leads individuals through an experiential process to learn how to have uncomfortable conversations about race with other races. This program has been included in the Government of Canada's 5030 challenge as a tool to support organizations to have more honest conversations about race. Wow, I'm so excited for this conversation. So let's dive in. Welcome, Natalie. I'm so excited for this conversation and opportunity to get to know you better. So let's just start with how are you what's new, give us a little intro on your day so far.

Natalie Haynes 02:17

My day so far, I'm actually wonderful because I spent the weekend teaching a group of students therapists how to have conversations about race, and it was a group of white students specifically. And the feedback was, are they left with words open and hopeful and having lots of possibility towards being able to enter into these conversations that are so important. So pretty great today.

Megan Swan 02:54

It must be so fulfilling. So when you bring a group like that together, is it intentional, that they're all white, or it just sort of happens depends on the activity or the container?

Natalie Haynes 03:09

Well, this specific this specific group was intentional, because they are so their students at the Gestalt Institute in Toronto. And they're, so the school is really looking at, you know, how are they supporting bipoc students. And so one of the things that they did was create a through, you know, through the students, you know, asking for support. So, they created a bipoc student, only sort of community group, and which went very well. And then the white students were like, Wait a second. We need we want to know, like, we, we want to know what to do. We want to know what we don't understand. We understand that there's something happening. And we don't know why we don't understand it. It's like you don't know what you don't know. Right? So, they so I am, I am a graduate of that school, and I am on the board right now. So I just I just did the program because I already do this in my other lap. So and for me, it's very important because as a therapist, I'm a psychotherapist and I do corporate consulting, not because consulting but facilitating teaching workshops, specifically around this topic. But I know as a therapist, no race being one of the skin color. Being one of our biggest organs is something that's In the room, and it's a part of us, and we have feelings and thoughts and emotions associated to it. And it's confusing because we are not allowed to talk about it. And it's hard because there's no, there aren't rooms, since there aren't a lot of rooms and spaces, I believe. People can say, this is what I'm walking around with, these are all the shifts I have Am I allowed to say this, I'm not allowed to say this. What happens if someone says this to me, and there's so much feelings that are underneath all of that, that make it such a loaded conversation, that you know, bring it back to a therapy situation, if, you know, if you're not able to lean into that with the client and missing a whole big part of them a whole big part of who they are, that they may not get to explore a need to. So for me, to be able to support specifically, this group of white students to be able to explore these conversations was, for me an honor. And because those are a group of those or group of people, that now have a different relationship, to the concept of race, and have maybe been able to unload all of those or not unload, because I'm not I didn't take it online, but able to, like allow it to have a different understanding of all those feelings. So they could just be like, Okay, I get it. And I can do this differently. And I don't have to walk around with all this shame and guilt and discomfort of not knowing. So, yeah, I feel like, it's really important to have and to have a white students is important, because like, when you have an all black students, when they're able to get together and not have to work around, do you understand where I'm coming from with this topic. Like just to be in a space where people get it, you know, it's the same like, the white student, they're like, we don't get it, and we're all in here not getting it. And I have to try so hard, you know, so

Megan Swan 07:25

our space in that context

Natalie Haynes 07:27

that way, and then when you're not working to try so hard, and you're not worried about, you don't have the stress and fear of what is about to be said, whether it's from yourself or someone else, you can relax and actually lean into it. Lean into whatever that is. What it looks like, like anything, you go into something stressed, you go into something tight. How do you even lean into that? Lean into whatever that is? You know, so, yeah, it wasn't an honor for me. Because they, Yeah, cuz we need more people that can talk about, right. Definitely.

Megan Swan 08:07

So how is it? I mean, is it always sort of sounds like, that's an ideal situation where everyone in the room was actively seeking out this experience, and, you know, very open to, you know, hopefully feeling more comfortable, more enlightened having some tools so they can move forward, and hopefully, you know, spread the same comfort in other circles. But I'm sure, sometimes you're going into groups that, you know, they've just been told they have to take this learning experience. And maybe they're not as open to what you have to say, there's

Natalie Haynes 08:46

always going to be people that aren't going to be that are not ready to do that. Yet. I've definitely had a few experiences like that where, you know, everybody's coming up this topic in different places, you have to be able to, I think that's the piece. That is how I see it. I don't think everybody sees it that way. But I'm not saying it's good or bad. I'm just saying that we all come to this topic with our own awareness and our own readiness, and our own ability to be able to ability but like, if, if, if there's something that's stopping us from learning about it, I don't think I don't see that as right or wrong. And I see that as, you know, what people are willing to quest to get curious to see what's stopping you right now. From being able to lean into this place. And it is for me, and like it's just so important from a human perspective, like human to human perspective, for people to be able to be where they are, because if they can, and they can have some support, because there might be something that's stopping them. You know, I don't know what that might be about. And I, you know, and I don't want to say at the white thing that people can't lean into it because, like, I'm sure there's some people that that's their ideology. And that's the way that, but that's not who I'm talking to, you know, I'm just talking to people who are like, I want to do something, and I don't know how to do this. And as soon as we start to lean into a topic, and I can already feel my shame coming up, then that's going to that might stop me, it might make me change the conversation, it might something could happen. That the way that I approach it, and I approach this with Aquinas, this is the, like, the theory that I've learned that I believe in, is that if I can allow myself or I can be with, get curious with somebody about what might be stopping them, they can go Oh, right. I'm imagining that that next step is going to mean that I'm a bad person. And no matter who and how we are, and what situation we're talking about, every single human has that feeling of shame that says, I am bad, and I am not worthy. And nobody wants to feel that. Nobody wants to feel that it doesn't matter what your skin color is. And, and nobody wants to go into a place where they're being slapped in the face best this i. And I'm, I don't want to do that to somebody because I wouldn't want that done to me. So the more that I can support people with where they are, then they have some room to be able to see, okay, what's the reason that I'm doing so what's the reason that, you know, I'm stopping the conversation. And then they can move forward. You know, if they choose, but the ground has to be like, feel stable. But our brains are actually wired to not put ourselves in places where there isn't safety. So this is like a physiological thing. This is a psychological thing. And I believe approaching these conversations with that in mind is really important. It's just so important.

Megan Swan 12:28

Well, it seems like you come at this with so much love and wisdom, I'd love to back up a little bit about, you know, sort of your transition, I can really resonate with the fact that you got into psychotherapy, because you had a great experience as a client and you were inspired. I don't know if you can go into a little bit more detail of you know, how you felt that it made you see everything differently.

Natalie Haynes 12:55

I yeah, I think psychotherapy saved my life. And I don't like in terms of how I saw myself. So I traveled I went when I was I went to my first therapist when I was about 2425. And I was talking to a colleague at work. I was on a buying team at Canadian Tire way back when Canadian Tire Corp. And my buying assistant was like, you know, maybe you should talk to somebody and I was like, I am not crazy. She's like, just call this person number two. And that was sort of the beginning. And all of a sudden I was I found I found a way to explain the way I thought about myself and all the feelings that I was experiencing. And I found a way, I found a way to put words to those feelings that I was feeling. And it just, to me automatically meant that I didn't have to be like this anymore. Because I just felt like there was just something inherently wrong with me. And so all of a sudden, I was like, Wait a second, like when I'm in my cubicle, like I don't work the entirety more, but I love all I love that company, I love my time there. But when I was at my cubicle, I'd have people coming and sit with me to talk all day. Like it was my forte. I was an even as a manager, like that was an I ended up going into management there. But it was, it was a you know, my my ability to go to be with people was, you know, that was easy. So I becoming a therapist was wonderful. So I went to the transformational arts college. And then after that I went to the Gestalt Institute of Toronto, which was for me. You know, both were great, but for me that just Dalton's Toronto was where I found I just learned about the whole thing from the inside out all the therapists from the inside out So just, it created a way for me to express myself that made sense to me. And to be able to be a guide for clients, or for people who are in that place to, basically to, to find self compassion and permission for all the parts of themselves. You know, it's like, how do you find like, it's like, owning all of you. So how that ended up, you know, coming to how did I end up doing these conversations about race? It was sort of serendipitous. I had a really difficult relationship with my race, my own, like, my identity, my racial identity. So and that was something that over the years and with, and through, you know, my therapy and through work, I really worked on, you know, what was my identity around race. And there was a workshop, that women that came into the workshop at the institute, when they lived Deborah Plummer, and she had the chief, she said, Chief Diversity Officer at university mass medical. And so her approach, which is not unique, but she puts us, in this theoretical perspective was looking and understanding of racial identity, and how it was developed. Because we, we don't only think about your aspects of identity, like gender, gender, expression, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, all of those different parts of you, you have thoughts, feelings, beliefs, there's a, there's a psychological relationship to those aspects of South race is one that for people of color, they've always had to contend with that, like, they've always had to be in relationship to it, because it's the thing, it's, you know, its identity, it's, it's seen. And for people that are white, you might not have ever had to think about it, it's like, so. So I think, but I think on a whole racial identity, and how we think about our race, and how we have what we have been told about our race and what we believe what's true about us, those those, it's almost like, it's all separate people. So people don't have the, I don't believe that people have the support to look at this aspect of stuff. And it's an essential part of who we are. It's an essential part of who we are. So as an example, when I was seven, I, that's when I learned that I was black. So my mom was like, you know, because when you're younger, you're just when you're a child, you're essentially like a blob of being emotion, like, and I had a birthday party, and I was asked my mom, if this one, my one friend was gonna come and she said that she might not come. And the reason why she might not come is because her parents don't want her to come here because we're black. And I was like, I'm black. What, like what you talking about. And I remember looking down at my skin color and noticing, like, oh, all of a sudden, this means something. So this might from something that was in my head wasn't aware. And now all of a sudden, it's in my awareness as a thing. And what this thing meant was, that I may not be acceptable, or liked, or wanted. And I didn't consciously know that, but I kind of in my body, England. And that develops, like, that was something that it made me not want to be black. It made me not. And that's an internalized racism. So that's sort of that's what I'm saying. It's like, the definition of, and that's what I thought media all about, you know, where, what was acceptable and who's acceptable and who's liked, who's not liked and all that. So the world is telling me this thing, and this message and story that I already had kind of come to myself and then I pushed it way down deep inside of myself, because how do I how do I be in a place where I don't like the thing that I am? Like, it was this deep shame. So, you know, when I say that therapy saved me, it allowed me to have you know, this, you know, come to some kind of awareness of what was this thing that I shoved did way down deep inside Right, what did I believe about myself? And once I came to terms with that, to say that wait a second, this isn't true. And what does black mean, for me that elements of my race is black society could mean XYZ. But my work allowed me to say my therapy allowed me to say black means that I am beautiful that my skin is, you know, looks like whatever. Like, there's, there's all these things that became internally important, and allowed me to inhabit that part of myself. If I hadn't done that, it would have shown up everywhere. It didn't show up everywhere. It showed me how I carried myself it showed me how hard it was, you know, easy it was to put myself out there. So coming to terms with that aspect of self, I believe, for every single person is important. And what it means in relationship to other people as well. Because I would say that that's my story. That's not everybody's story. But it's mine. And so for someone else, it might not be easy to be in a room where there's a whole, you know, a whole bunch of white people that are talking about, you know, what they're feeling. I would not say that, that would be the same for everybody. Because there's so much grief and loss at hearing people learn something for the first time that you've known your whole life. Like, it's a lot of grief, and it's a lot of loss. And I think that that's, those are hard feelings to feel. And I think that, you know, so it's just, there's just so much healing that's needed. Sure, all people. So many follow up questions First, do you mean, is it a given

Megan Swan 22:02

the internal racism is part of the black experience? Or it's really depends on the person?

Natalie Haynes 22:08

Yes, my sister was completely different. She, my sister had. And, you know, we had different experiences that growing up like the internet, because how you got one, I mean, every single person has a different relationship to that aspect itself, based on their individual experiences, what they've been told the story they heard. Right, it's like our psychology, it's like, think about self esteem. It's not a given that, you know, all men are confident. It's not a given that all women are, you know, all whatever that stereotype, you know, whatever the thing might be,

Megan Swan 22:53

and for you, in your personal experience, did you find that that internal shame manifested in other ways, as an I mean, like in some sort of physical stress or in your house health?

Natalie Haynes 23:11

I believe that that was a source, a big source of mine. And it I think it made me a people pleaser, I would have described myself as a chameleon, you know, way back when. Yeah. And really, because at the end of the day, humans are, we are relational, we want to be connected to each other. And we are always like, it is in our nature to be connected. We want to be thought, well, we want to be included, now to be seen. So if I inherently, if there was a place at the time, there was a place in me that didn't feel like I would be acceptable this way. So I had to, you know, change myself in some way. And it was like really unconscious, which was it, which is the interesting thing. So my awareness of that, that is what made it that's what allowed me to change and really take a look at like, how am I showing up in this moment? What am I doing and what's the good read? What was the reason I was doing it in the first place? So I could be like, I could have some compassion for how I got to this moment. Now. Like, we need that. Yeah. So in my work, I

Megan Swan 24:40

teach people you know, various health and wellness practices, and I think one of the ways that I do it differently is from the get go. I'm very clear that look, it's not like you're gonna learn this and then everything's gonna be fine. This, this ongoing, maybe not daily. The but like some sort of consistent practice that you're implementing, and you know, you're gonna backtrack once in a while, and then it'll, he'll remember Oh, right, I need to be focusing more on this. And, you know, there's an ebb and flow in that it's a process. It's a journey all this? And I'm guessing it's the same in your work.

Natalie Haynes 25:17

Yeah, it's exactly the same. It's what it's like, the philosophy of anti racism. Like, the, I think the thing with when it comes to this, you know, having come like, you know, when it comes to understanding, inclusion, and the like, all that stuff is like, you know, a lot of people are like, Okay, well, what do I say? What am I supposed to say? Well, you can't give somebody a list of things to say, you should memorize it. Like, you can say something to me. But that doesn't mean you can say something to them, I can say something to you. But that might not mean that could say something to someone else. You have to look at the person in front of you. And, you know, what, what? What do you experience with them? What feels like? How do you approach them? Otherwise, you're just putting people in another bucket? So like, when it comes to what you're sharing what your question is that, like, the goal really is to is to allow people to be unconsciously aware. Like, I don't know what I don't know. And all of a sudden, something might fly out of my mouth or a thought might come to my, you know, that comes in that? Oh, no, that is I am categorizing people right now. I've just put one on top of the other what what just happened? What made me do that. And if you can be in a place where you don't think you're a bad person, because that happened, then you could still explore that. But until you can be in a place where it's like, oh, you know, I've walked by a black man, and my body tightened. Or I saw a, you know, this white person said this, and all of a sudden, I could feel myself getting so tense, because I'm imagining they're about to say something. It's like, okay, wait a second. How did I get there in the first place? Oh, yeah. Because that's happened to me a ton of times before. But now my awareness, I noticed my reaction, I noticed what I'm thinking about it. And I can say, Hold on a second, is this happening now? Well, and if it is, now I'm like, now I'm aware. And now I can do something different. But if I'm aware, and it's loaded with shame, I'm just going to work so hard just to be right, just to do the right thing, just to be the right kind of person, just to be a good person again. And that might mean and what that means is I'm only focusing on trying to be a good person. And not actually being with what is required in the moment, like really noticing, what's my intention here? Because maybe you do need to be in a place where it's like, oh, shoot, I did think that. Yeah, I could see how I got here. Well, that's not who I am now. And I can do this. Now. It's like when you do, it's like when you're working on your confidence. And all of a sudden, you watch, you know, you feel yourself, do something. And you're like, how did I get there? Oh, yeah. Right. Because, you know, I had this conversation with this person, and it, you know, it, it triggered me in a way and all of a sudden, I walked into that meeting, and I couldn't speak. How did I get there? If I can, if I can say, but I'm not a bad person, because that happened, or I'm not, you know, I should just forget about it all, because I'm never going to be confident. But if I could say, oh, I could see how I got here. I could see how this thinking or this person said this and how you know, it, it made me stumble. Okay, well, I can, you know, process that. And now I can show up at the next meeting differently, because that's not who I am. So that the piece about, you know, understanding, like anti racism is understood as being in a place where it's like, it's a, it's a process and over time, it changes. So I went from being a person, a child, with this inherent belief about myself. to Now I'm in rooms talking about my relationship to the concept of race. It changes as we lean into these things, you know, what we're gonna have trouble becomes comfortable. Possible. I

Megan Swan 29:32

love everything that you're saying.

Natalie Haynes 29:36

So can you

Megan Swan 29:37

give us a little bit of insight? Do you feel like there's some sort of, you know, defusing the tension type exercises that are required at the beginning of these things, or maybe a different way of looking at my question is, is there something that really surprises people about how the process is versus what they think they're getting themselves into?

Natalie Haynes 30:00

Do you think that typically people, you know, might go to a session go to, you know, when they're wanting to learn about this topic, where, you know, maybe somebody's there, they're learning concepts, how I approach this is, I want every single person to look at how their identity has been created or developed in relation to race. So you're using yourself as the learning tool? Which is the internal work that's needed? I believe now? No, I really do believe, because everyone's like, you need to do your work, you need to do your internal work, and it's true. Every single person does. And that internal work is the, oh, how did I come to? You know, how did I? What how, what was my first memory of race? And how does that make me feel when I think about it? And in the conversations that I've had with people, you know, I can, you know, people have said, Oh, gosh, I feel so much shame, just remembering the story. It's just, it makes you want to take the story and bury it somewhere. But the problem is, is that it's not buried, it's actually in your body. That's why you feel it in the moment. Right? So being able to be with that, and with that, whatever that what is emerging, the physical, so like, somatic, emotional, and come to a new understanding of that with your current perspective, your adult eyes, you can transform that relationship to that memory. And it's like, oh, yeah, right. My dad was racist. And that made me feel really uncomfortable. And my adult eyes told me, tells me that that isn't me. But I worried that, you know, that that makes me a little bit racist, or whatever. Like it, we're going to say the wrong thing, because he did. You know, I could never show this part of myself, whatever it might be. Or my parents used to say this, and I, like, you know, somebody's like, I feel like really hot even telling you this, Natalie. Yeah. So now, what I didn't tell you, until you allow yourself to know, like, how did that inform how I see people? How did that inform and guide how my, what I believe about people? You know, do I look for other things that other than what I was told about people, then you might not even know that you believe those things. So that's why the internal work is necessary so that you know what you do. And you know, and you know, what you don't, and you can bring your current self to that same those same things and say, Okay, well, now what, you know, but you don't go there isn't something of flying out of your mouth, and you'll say something, or you might pass over someone, because of not be even be aware of it. Like, I always use the metaphor of like, you know, when you're getting a massage, and then the massage therapist, like, they find that not inside, and you're like, oh my gosh, that's when I was walking around, walking around with that not first. And then you work it out, and it's really painful. And then it's gone. You're like, oh, my gosh, I feel so much better. I have more access to all of myself.

Megan Swan 33:32

Hmm. So what do you say? I'm sure people ask, you know,

Natalie Haynes 33:39


Megan Swan 33:41

unconscious, accidentally, however you want to look at it comes out of your mouth, and you're in a situation where you in that moment feel shame and feel bad for a way that you approached it or saw it

Natalie Haynes 33:54

and what's the best thing to do? I always, I always ask people to go back to their intention. Like one, you have to acknowledge how, like, what that however, whatever was said, how that landed and believe someone's experience, whether you intended it or not. Like it's still landed. So, you know, that's first thing like and can you allow yourself to be with how you impacted that person? First and foremost. And that sucks. Because it feels bad. And, but it's more important because when someone it's like, you know, someone impacts you in a way I know if someone has impacted me in a way and you know, there's this there's a heartfelt like I didn't you know, I'm sorry, I missed you. I didn't that wasn't my intention. I like I my shoulders dropped a little bit. Yeah. I feel seen, I feel like what I experienced was validated. So that's the first thing is like being able to really honor someone's experience and to without really trying to fix without trying to fix it. That's hard to know. Don't fix it, you can ask the person, you know, you can say, here was my intention. I'm sorry. And you know, what can I do. But I think sometimes we try to be so quick with the apology that it doesn't really land. So we're gonna get it wrong. We're gonna get it wrong. Because we don't know all things, all people. And that's, that's, that's why I'm being able to be able to be with this emotional part of ourselves. And learn how to, I don't like to use the word tolerate, but like, just be with it allows you to be with other people. Also, it creates connection. Because if you're, if you're ready to fix it, because it feels bad, or you're ready to fix it, because you don't like feeling bad, then you're just more about fixing and not really about what the other person might be experiencing. Yeah,

Megan Swan 36:35

I mean, I think that resonates. You know, you know, when someone's apologizing, it's kind of like, ripping the band aid off quickly, so it doesn't hurt for them to recall. That doesn't really challenge.

Natalie Haynes 36:49

Yeah. Oh, great. The other piece, too, is I think that, you know, that's how we learn. You know, if I really allow myself to, to understand someone's experience, then I know that I might have been too quick or where I went wrong, or how I, you know, what was they looking at that I didn't see that person? And it's an a misstep, that you didn't learn where to step? So, it's, it's beneficial for both. It's a win win situation. I believe we live in a culture where it's hard to be wrong, someone? Yeah, I

Megan Swan 37:34

use a lot of storytelling to help.

Natalie Haynes 37:36

I do. Yeah, I do. And it's, I don't know, it's important for me, because I think it is to people telling, being able to tell stories, that when you feel that you feel those, you feel the feelings of those stories, that brings our humanity into the forefront. You know, and that's, I think that's at the end of the day, like, we're humans, that we're, you know, we're put into groups based on kind of how we look, period. And we have stories, according to all of that, and how we see each other and how we have seen each other and how the stories and all that stuff. So I think it's the stories that and the feelings that come up that make us the same. And we feel that when we tell our stories with each other, if we really hear and can allow ourselves to be with each other. Our discomfort gets in the way. Yeah.

Megan Swan 38:36

I love how you really started with that piece, you know, just how essential it is to be open to the work on to one, you know, sort of the mental intellectual piece, but then it's more an embodied emotional openness, to lean into that uncomfortable feeling of, of not knowing maybe shame around not knowing but also accepting that you've missed up in the past, we all have, and, you know, human interaction, whether it's specific around race, I'd say that's pretty universal as well. But you know, if you can just sort of get to that work in understanding that you've made someone unintentionally feel bad in the past and the way forward is really acknowledging that in a much deeper way.

Natalie Haynes 39:32

Yeah, and how did I get there? Yeah, I think that

Megan Swan 39:36

piece to the sort of unraveling the identity and, and to me, it was so interesting to have the perspective that that, you know, the racial identity is so personalized. Yeah.

Natalie Haynes 39:57

Yeah. Because how I like who I am as a black woman is, is my expression of being black in the world? You know, it's very unique. I have my husband's white. My children are, you know, if you saw them the right passing, you know, my father, my parents are Jamaican my father is we've got like, on both sides, because so many mixed nationalities. So my father left my house like Italian looking at, you know, Middle Eastern looking. And my mother's bought. And, you know, we've got, I've got nieces that are half Filipino, or a niece and nephew, they're half Filipino, got a nice chimney sweep that are black. And so my family looks like all nations. And I. So, you know, I think that's important. Because, you know, my son said to me, once, he's like, Well, you know, Can Black people be racist? I said, Listen, you know, based on this identity work, specifically, Beverly Daniel Tatum, she's like, you know, she asked, she asked a question in her book, but when my son said that said the same thing that she says in her book, I was like, Well, it kind of depends on the definition that you're using, you know, if someone's gonna judge you based on your skin color, then you know that prejudice, prejudice, surely races, I said, I would never want anybody to judge you based on your skin color, you know. And I will also say this, that, you know, that the fact that my son is, is looks white, when George Floyd was murdered, I, you know, all these women were talking about how their children were, in addition, they're scared for when the boys go out and what might happen. And, you know, and I remember in that moment, just saying that we're gonna have to worry about that. And then I was horrified at what I said, that I'm never going to have to worry about that. And that was deeply shameful. And I think that that's where I had a choice to say, because, I mean, there's women that look like me, and I have the advantage. Like the white advantage of not having to worry that my son might be stopped or COP and pre judged, because this thing, color, it's not fair. And at that point, I had a decision to me, what am I going to do with this privilege and awareness that I have, but a unique set of circumstances of who I am as a black woman in the world. So that's why I created my part to creating these workshops, a program and to be able to be able to be able to sit with people in their, in their feeling, I think is essentially important, all of this process. And, and to me, it doesn't matter what race you are, you have a feeling in relation to the concept of race, of course. And I know white people do, and I know that black people do also, you know,

Megan Swan 43:14

the powerful origin to this philosophy and the process that you've created in my lifetime. Seems like the point where you made like that people feel uncomfortable, and like, that's not your discomfort. Do you feel like it's shifting in that people are at least aware that this kind of uncomfortable, like accepting that, that you don't know what you don't know? That that's something that's that's on us, not

Natalie Haynes 43:45

on black people? To make them feel more comfortable? Yeah. I don't think it's on anybody. I think it's on each individual person, like I don't, if I'm sitting with a room of people, I don't feel uncomfortable. I feel quite solid. It is not mine. And I say that because I have a background as a therapist, if I'm seeing a client, it is not mine, I already thinks they're a horrible person, and they just have something that they're unaware of. I do not take on anybody's feelings. They are already whole, they've survived other they've survived. Now. They're just processing what it is that they've been through. It is not my job. Like, it's not my job. But if you are not aware of the different things that you are feeling, because we are human and relational and we can we pick up things that are in the space between people. There is the feeling of, you know, someone's sad or someone's whatever, it's like, I gotta take care of you. Well, my, my, my training and my history teacher, like, I don't do that, like I can just sit with you and you can be sad and not anything to do with me. But until you come into it until you can come to terms with your own emotions, your own feelings. On this grief loss, then I will be activated when someone else is activated. Like as a therapist, if I get activated in the room, I'm going to see my supervisor because I know something's wrong with me. It's not that. So that's why I can sit in a room. It's not my burden, not mine. And it's not any black person either. And it's, there's no transference of stuff. It's, that's, that's the problem. So it's like trying to fix a psychological problem, logically, but that won't work. Yes, everybody's got their own work around how they see race, how do you see another person that is, as a black person? How do you see white people, because if every white person is racist, then you're going to miss the person that's not, you know, or unaware of what they may have internalized that way. If you're a white person, thinking that, you know, every, every black person is going to be mad at you. Because you say something, you're going to miss the people that might not be that are like, I'm really open to this, I want to know that you have to check out who the person is. But people are so caught up in the feeling of feeling bad without even aware, being aware of it. You're so caught up in like, I don't want to go there. You won't. So yeah. Like your target is.

Megan Swan 46:30

So important.

Natalie Haynes 46:32

You're saying, so inspired.

Megan Swan 46:37

And I'm fascinated by

Natalie Haynes 46:40

sort of the similarities in, you know, just

Megan Swan 46:45

becoming a better human all around on all fronts, like this is a massive piece. And the process is very similar to all the other ways that we're all working on ourselves, right? So I guess to wrap up, is there something that you want to say or do say to the people that you can sense that they really lack this awareness? Like, they're really just kind of sitting in the like, fear of not wanting to say anything wrong?

Natalie Haynes 47:11

Yeah, I do. Take a step. lean into it. I mean, we are, you are with people all the time. And if you don't know what you don't know, you may be unintentionally hurting people that you love. And I mean, you know, I start with this group of people today that are, so we're so afraid that they were going to hurt me. They were so afraid. Like it was, there's so much emotion around that. I don't want people to be afraid. And this because you'll just not do it. Or you're just, you know, do it to not be wrong, and then you'll miss the person in front of you. Like, nothing will change. It's important. And not just to be with other people, but to be a full part of who you are. Like to really be able to own your race, as black people as white people. You know, like people are like, you know, my whiteness is gonna show up here. And I'm like, what? Like, I'm like, what does that mean for you? That's my question. What does that mean for you? Specifically? Are you going to pull out words that someone else says that? Or are they words that are true about you as a white person? Because you've explored it? Yeah, my definition of myself as a black person was not aligned with who I was when I grew up. Because I've done that work. And I've shed the other stuff. So Ivy was able to become more of who I am. And I want I think that everybody needs that. Perfect ending.

Megan Swan 49:01

What a beautiful conversation. Thank you. Well, I'll share all the ways that people can connect with you unless there's anything specifically you wanted to highlight.

Natalie Haynes 49:09

Yes, I run a program called the comfortable race conversation process where I have people come together and explore this topic. There's pre recorded videos, but there's six practice circles that where participants meet weekly and explore these topics, and experientially and somatically so that they can create a new awareness around or new relationship to their race, or racial identity, and with compassion and all this stuff. And then I don't exactly know when this is, but I think if people find, I'll be able to find this. So I'm in the process of creating like, almost like a shorter version of this, that people could listen to you You know, I guess stay tuned because those details will be as soon get on

Megan Swan 50:09

your list I'm getting on your list Well, thank you so much, Natalie, I so appreciate you. And thank you for taking the time and sharing your wisdom and just so much heart that you bring to this work. It's come through and yeah, I just appreciate you so deeply. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you and I hope that you enjoyed this conversation. I would be really appreciative if you feel so called to support the show by either subscribing to the show on your favorite podcast platform, leaving us a review and passing this episode or another favorite episode on to a friend. I hope you have a beautiful week wherever you are in the world. Sending you my

Natalie Haynes 51:11