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Week Two: Listening to the "other"

This week we listen to stories. Deep listening is an act of love and respect in which we set down our own judgments and feelings, and step into the world of another.  Imagine this week as a road trip: we’re all hopping into a big metaphorical bus together, traveling from our homes into the bodies, hearts, and minds of others. As you listen this week, try to also hear what is not said. Listen for the emotions beneath the words. Listen for the pain, fear, anger, shame, and joy. Notice when you want to respond with an explanation or a story of your own. Notice when you want to defend yourself or challenge the other’s experience. Notice what happens in your body as you listen to the stories. 

As a reminder, in Woman Within we believe that each person has their own answers - we are not here to give you a prescribed view on these issues. Our intention is to offer ideas and encourage you to stretch beyond what you already know and explore new territory, finding what you believe along the way.  Please follow the journey in order. It has been created with intention. 


“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” (Jimi Hendrix)



Daily reflections:

  • What are some ways in which you define other people through just one lens? How could you broaden your view to see them in all of who they are?

  • Have you ever felt pity for someone because of what you see on the surface? Have you wondered what other stories lie within them?

  • Think about times in your life when you were surprised that someone did something unexpected. As you reflect upon this, ask yourself, did you have a "single story" about them already programmed in your head?

  • How can listening to people who you disagree with make you stronger?



Daily reflections:

  • What have you learned about how it feels to be a young Black person in the world?

  • If you have children, have they ever questioned their beauty and value on the basis of the color of their skin? How would you talk to your child if this were the case?

  • Have you ever felt afraid that your children/family members were in danger because of the color of their skin or how they look? If not, how do you think that might influence your daily life?

  • How young were you when you learned about race?  Did your parents ever talk to you about race? What did they say? If you have children, have you ever talked to them about race? How old were your children when you had this conversation for the first time?



Daily reflections:

  • Think of times when you had to leave behind something about your heritage, or family traditions, just to be able to fit into a group. How did that feel? Or have you never had to do that?

  • In each of these stories, the culture and wisdom of the indigenous community has been broken, primarily by force. Imagine losing your home/culture/language against your will. What do you notice in your body as you contemplate this happening? What do you imagine might be the impact on the individual, family and community of losing these aspects of themselves?

  • What do you think is your responsibility in healing the past? Do you have a responsibility?



Daily reflections:

  • Have you ever wondered if you are "white/black/brown enough," or American* enough" [*replace with your home country]? What does that feel like? Have you ever considered this same question about others?

  • Compare the experiences of all these different people. What are some of the similarities you see?

  • Have you ever noticed someone who appears to not be "assimilated" into the culture of your country? How does that feel? What does being assimilated into the culture mean to you? What are the costs to society when different cultures are forced to assimilate into the majority's culture?

  • As you listen to the stories, is your understanding of “race” shifting or evolving? If so in what way?

DAY 10

Daily reflections:

  • If you could choose to have a conversation with one of the groups shown this week, which one would you choose and why? What would you want to ask them? What would you want to learn from them?

  • What part of your story or your ancestors story would you want to be known by the people around you?

  • How can you help amplify people’s voices and stories?  

  • What do you notice in your body as this week comes to a close? What are you feeling?

© Woman Within International 2020