Home Evolve It’s a Clusterf*!k – Hard Lessons About Racism, Love, and Learning at Danielle Laporte’s Expense

It’s a Clusterf*!k – Hard Lessons About Racism, Love, and Learning at Danielle Laporte’s Expense

by Confluence
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Where do I start? It’s a clusterf*!k. I sat on this for two days as I mulled it over in my head.

Danielle LaPorte on the one hand and the comment section on the other hand.

(Editor’s note: In case you don’t know who Danielle Laporte is or you haven’t gotten the 411 on how she stepped in it, you can get up-to-date on her Facebook page HERE.)

I had to go whip out notes from my Religious Education class in Seminary.


Let’s get some definitions going here:

Education – From the Greek Educare – Plato says it is to draw out the knowledge that is already in there. It is a formal practice. It is both teaching and informing. Informing is about putting in and educare is about drawing out.

Transformation: To create or shape a form. A set of habits and practices, a structure. Conversion is to change from one thing to another. Transformation is changing from one form to another which requires a paradigm shift. Not just enriching or solidifying the form but actually changing the form. Transformative education is painful. Change the whole arch not just the keystone habit. There has to be breaking or abandoning. It is disruptive.

Pedagogy: Greek word that means how do you get the learner from where they are to where they can learn. Pedagog was the slave of the aristocratic family who took the son to the teacher; Just like a school bus.

Epistemology: Knowledge and the study of knowledge and the theories of knowledge. How we know. We tend to have unconscious epistemological knowledge in place.  The academy values reading as a form of learning.

There are three modes of learning:

  1. The banking method aka Transmissive – transmitting information that I have that I want you to have. A radio transmission. Teaching as transmission of information. Teacher’s job is just to transmit, not to ensure that you have learned. Epistemology: Knowledge flows from the teacher to the student.
  2. Interpretive – Do you get it? Interpretive mode of teaching, the teacher is self-checking to make sure that the audience is getting it and how they are interpreting what is being said. Not just transmitting but the added intention that the audience understands what is being said. Language interpretation. If I am speaking English and you do not use English, that transmission is not understood. Epistemology: Knowledge happens back and forth between the teacher and the student.
  3. Constructive, creative, transformative, reflective – the concept here shifts. In this mode of teaching, I want to transmit something to you, but I want you to construct understanding in this teaching experience and exchange. Yet I do not know what the construction will look like. Epistemology: Knowledge happens during the exchange. It gets constructed in the teaching, learning exchange. The teacher learns in the experience also.

Why these definitions?

Beloveds, we are in amazing times. It is epic. Our great grands are going to be talking about us and what we did and how we behaved in these times. We are shaping culture. We are shaping the future. Stuff is going down and some of it is pretty, and some of it is not. We have got to tread with intentionality and caution.

Let’s talk.

My social location:

I am a Woman of Color (WOC) and I am not an African American even though my experiences overlap and parallel. I do not speak for African Americans. I speak only for one person and that is myself. I am an immigrant. I am mixed race. My mother was half Irish American and half Polish Jew. She married my father, a Yoruba man from Nigeria and they moved there where my mother lived for umpteen years. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and I came to this country when I was 16 years old and now I have lived here for umpteen years also. I come from great privilege. My parents were highly educated with my father being one of the first Nigerians to receive a PhD. I went to college at 16 (Goucher College) then Georgetown University Law School and much later, Emory University for a Master of Divinity. None of this is to brag but to tell you where I am coming from and also to own my privilege. As an immigrant, I can say, that it took me over 30 years of living in this country to begin to scratch the surface of understanding what “racism” is. I never got it. I still don’t believe that I have totally gotten it either. Some of it, but not all of it.

Something weird would happen and that vibe of “WTH?” would come up and I would dismiss it as someone’s ignorance or as sexism long before I would ever consider that anyone could be racist towards me. Some of it was naivete. Some of it was that I could not believe that someone could be so racist. I thought we lived in a post-racist society. However, and the story will not be told here, in the most epic manner possible, over a period of time, I came to realize that what many of my African American sisters and brothers say about racism in this country is unfortunately true.

One thing I want to point out with my social location is that I do not understand, on a visceral, body level what a friend referred to as, “the pain body” of being a descendant of a slave in this country. The stories were not passed down to me. I do not wake up every day and wonder what could happen to me today because of the color of my skin. I do not have brothers, cousins or neighbors who are in imminent threat of being gunned down by the police. If I do not get a job or a promotion, I do not immediately think my race had a factor in it. I really do not think about the color of my skin as I would have if I were born and raised in this country. And that is a privilege to not have been forced to deal with this.

What has this got to do with you:

Precious white humane human who may be reading this, if it took me a caramel colored Woman of color, who clearly identifies as black, to begin to see the fullness of the complexity of this thing called “racism” only after 30 plus years of living in this country, how much more you?

The first premise we have to start out with is that you have to accept that you do not know what you do not know.

Second, the learning is painful.

Third, you are not going to get it all right.

Fourth, you are still precious.

Fifth, you are going to keep at the learning and you are going to keep failing woefully at it and you are going to pick yourself up and you are going to do it again. Why? Because, you are a precious humane human.

Precious Women (peeps) of Color (including my African American sisters) humane humans, who may be reading this:

First, let us all go back up and read those definitions.

Second, how are we going to show up and share in the learning and teaching? We have a choice here.

Third, we are all working with a lot of stuff that does not serve us. Some of us are angry and rightfully so. Some of us feel that nothing is changing fast enough and rightfully so. Some of us have such deep grief and rightfully so. I am not knocking any of that.

However, I think there is a disconnect. If I sat you down for a coaching session, you would tell me about your amazing values and you would speak of love and justice as core values. Yet, when it is time to speak “Truth To Power,” we come from the anger and the vitriol.

Fourth, your life is worth the dignity that it has been deprived of culturally, historically and socially.

Fifth, considering that the greatness of this country was built on the backs of my African American brothers and sisters, you have a legacy to protect (since we are currently going to hell in a handbasket) and your dignity is what will end up saving this country. E.g., Sisters are the ones running for office, cleaning up the political landscape.

All of us:

I believe that our job is to create transformative learning experiences to shift the culture.

I believe we all have to be open to informing and educating – putting in and drawing out.

I believe we have to engage in transformative learning experiences. We have to change the form of what we are experiencing.

What I know for sure is that you cannot destroy something with the same energy that created it.

The point of slavery was this: Let us turn full human beings into systems of non-human machinery to produce dollars for us. We need more dollars. Horses cannot do it. Cows cannot do it. But if we treat humans that have a different skin color than us as animals, they will do what we need them to do for us to make money. These folks that came to this country as “oppressed people” turned around to “oppress others.” The energy that they received, they turned on other humans by turning them into slaves.

  • It was degrading.
  • It took away dignity.
  • It took away humaneness.
  • It was humiliating.
  • It was shameful.
  • It was wrong in every single sense of the word.

Yet, the only way it can be uprooted is with regard, dignity, humaneness, pride and, precious souls, Love.

I do not believe that the enduring impact of slavery can be undone with the same energy that created it in the first place. The energy of anger and shame and finger-pointing, and blaming is how you treat those that are less than you, that are not humane humans.

We don’t do that!

We are all better than that.

May all our teaching of others be constructive, creative, transformative, reflective where the teacher learns in the experience also.

You can never teach effectively without dignity. You can never truly have transformative teaching without love.

I believe that transformative learning experiences happen when we all truthfully look at our shadow side and hold our shadows with great care and love. You hold mine and I hold yours with respect, dignity and profound love that reminds us both that we are reflections of the Divine.

As an old proverb says, “My freedom is bound up in yours.” If the cost of my freedom is your destruction, then we have Mutually Assured Destruction. I want you alive, well and healthy. I hope you want the same for me too.


Iyabo is a Leadership Development Coach whose work focuses on the soul of the leader. She moves leaders from thriving careers into discovering, crafting and living into their life work. By helping successful people integrate spirituality into their leadership roles, they become more engaged with their work, expand the connection of their work to social justice issues and experience more satisfaction in their life work. Using the power of narrative and reflection, she helps leaders fine tune the sacred “work their souls must have” (Alice Walker).

Iyabo is located in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Goucher College (B.A.), Georgetown University Law School (J.D.) and Candler School of Theology at Emory University (M.Div.).

Iyabo’s home on the web is at http://www.coachiyabo.com


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