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Things to Think About Podcast Transcript

How Ayesha Learned to Thrive. CW Violent Imagery

CW: Violence: 4 Tarot Cards illustrated by Kimishka Naidoo. The first is the 10 of Knives and shows a brown-skinned woman in a white dress pierced by knives all down the front of her body. Nine of baskets: an elegant Black man in a tuxedo and a Black woman in a green evening gown surrounded by suitcases and a nice car in the background.  Mother of Knives: A brown-skinned woman in a black dress holding a knife and surrounded by various targets.  Six of baskets: two Black bringing in baskets of strawberries in a field.  There are six baskets.

Intro: Pounding bass note and a stirring fanfare of horns. Welcome to another edition of Things to Think about. Here's Stacy. The horns continue with a keyboard note held.

Stacy Casson 0:02

Hey! Welcome everyone to the "Things To Think About" Podcast. I'm Stacy Casson, your host, also known as The Clarity Concierge. I help people to get unstuck by asking powerful questions, and I am so excited to welcome our guest today. I have the amazing Sharon Hurley Hall. Her pronouns are she/her. She's an educator and anti-racism activist, the co-founder of Mission Equality, and they are a company that is building on a foundation of equality, anti racism and humanity. She's a former journalist, but never a former writer. Sharon is the author of "I'm Tired of Racism: True Stories of Existing While Black." If you haven't read it, go get it. It's, It's a wonderful book. I'm working through it. I'm not done yet. It's one you have to sit with. She's the Founder and Curator-in-Chief of Sharon's Anti-Racism newsletter, where she's on a mission to fight racism one article at a time. Again, if you're not on that newsletter, for a modest fee, you can get her wisdom right into your inbox. Welcome, Sharon to the program.

Sharon Hurley Hall 1:13

Thank you, Stacy. It's, I'm absolutely delighted to be here today.

Stacy Casson 1:20

Awesome. Well, I'm delighted to have you. So, my audience, how we work as always is we co-create a story together answering the question that is in my guest's field. And Sharon is one of the predominant warriors for the anti-racist, pro-human movement. And we were talking about how embedded white supremacist culture is in everything and how we all feel discomfort about interrogating it. And so then in her company, and in her life, we were talking about, "What are we working towards And what does that look like?" So the question that we are exploring today is "What does a thriving life look like after we have solved these problems?" And as we always do, I have laid out four cards. Today we are working from the Black Tarot, it is An Ancestral Awakening Deck and Guidebook by Nyasha Williams, we also use the Spiritual AF deck, that is Spiritual AF: 99 Inspirational Cards for People Who Effing [F*cking] Need Some Inspiration. And that is by Roxan [Roxan McDonald] I never remember her last name, I'll put it for sure in the program notes, but I know her name is Roxan she's on Instagram as Spiritual AF. And we pulled two cards from there to kind of narrow down the topic, which was "Self-care Isn't Selfish." And "You Can't Heal a Wound by Saying It's Not There." So racism exists, white supremacy exists, misogyny exists, and our first card, we have the 10 of knives. And I'll give a trigger warning for when you look at these in the program notes. It's a pretty brutal card. And there is a woman, she is wearing a white dress, she is thrown back and all of these knives are stabbing her. And that's our that's our heroine. Do you want to give her a name? Sharon?

Sharon Hurley Hall 3:23

That is a question I wasn't expecting. Let's call her Ayesha. Okay, and you'll have to give me how you think of spelling that. So, Ayesha is pretty has definitely hit rock bottom in this situation. She is being stabbed by knives. And Sharon and I were discussing, like while this picture is gruesome. This is really the reality for a lot of women, especially in corporate spaces out there that they are being stabbed by all the words and what can you share the article that you wrote about this, again, if people want to reference that?

Sharon Hurley Hall 4:01

Yes, I wrote an article about racism

Sharon Hurley Hall 4:05

and I it was called "Paper Cuts Still Make You Bleed." It's about all the little microaggressions and incidents of racism and the toll they take over time. And in a way it's almost as though Ayesha has gotten to the point where she's had so many of those assaults and invalidations and aggressions that you know, it's really just

Sharon Hurley Hall 4:29

taken her taken her away from from from her life. You know. It shows how difficult it is to survive those things, you know?

Stacy Casson 4:42

Exactly. So we're starting out from a pretty desolate, dark place. I don't like the word dark, because I think it has overt racial racial undertones to it. But she's in a very negative space. How about we use

Sharon Hurley Hall 4:59

It's very gloomy. It's very gloomy. The outlook is not positive at this at the moment.

Stacy Casson 5:04

But in the background, you see that little kind of orange light way in the distance.

Sharon Hurley Hall 5:12

Which suggests that there's a glimmer of hope for Ayesha, even in this in this horrible place that she's currently in.

Stacy Casson 5:20


Sharon Hurley Hall 5:21

There is there is a light coming there's there's something that can be done. There's something that can be done to salvage the situation. There's something that can be done to make things better.

Stacy Casson 5:32

Exactly. So we're kind of exploring what does life a thriving like life look like for Ayesha? So let's go ahead and look at the next card. So this is the nine of baskets. And this is a fun card. There is a couple next to this really stylish swanky car, and they are surrounded by luggage. They are dressed really elegant, eloquently [I meant elegantly]. There is a man in a tuxedo, and a woman in this beautiful evening gown. So I like to think that in the depths of despair, this is what comes to mind for me and I'd love to hear what comes to mind for you, Ayesha was given a vision of what can my life look like. And that's the challenge of how do I move from this to that glimmer of hope, where I am thriving, I am abundant? My life has love or relationships. I'm in community with other people. What does that look like? And what comes to mind for you, Sharon, when you take a look at this one?

Sharon Hurley Hall 6:38

In a way you took the words straight out of my mouth, Stacy because it is that that vision of that vision of thriving that vision of not, you know, freedom from financial worry. Having the luxuries having you know, being fully fully realized in yourself. Having that world where you your your right to thrive, is recognized as a right that everybody should have and be able to benefit from, to live in an in an equal world where everybody has that has that right that capability where their needs are met, where everything that is needed for them to have that wonderful and abundant life is provided. And so this is definitely the vision, the vision of what that life could be, you know, you know, Ayesha, you know, no longer suffering.

Sharon Hurley Hall 7:33

And, you know, with all the things that make her life wonderful around her.

Stacy Casson 7:40

Yeah. And what comes to mind is, I think a lot of times the obstacle that we face in creating this new world, is people don't have a vision. I come from the church and the church background, and people don't have to. But one of the the scriptures that stand out to me is "my people perish from a lack of knowledge." And that is part of what keeps people in chains is knowledge of how to move forward. But also, I take it as we don't have a vision. And when you're trying to create something. The hardest part is when you're unclear. It that's what people are dithering back and forth. Like, should I do this, shouldn't I do this? But the vision is not clear. And this card was reversed. So that is the challenge for Ayesha, she's in this place of just utter despair, and she wants something better. So I think read that.

Sharon Hurley Hall 8:34

Yeah, I think I think a lot of us have that challenge. Something we talk about a lot at Mission equality. It's like, how do you create a whole vision for what this could look like? What are the things that have to change in order to realize this vision? How do we bring those into being?

Sharon Hurley Hall 8:52

And so, you know, that's part of the reason that we put out our Black Papers and say, okay, here is a vision, here is a vision. It's not the only vision. This is our vision, right? It's not the only vision. Maybe in looking at this vision, you'll be able to think, Oh, well, I think here's how I think the world could work better for me. Or for people like me, maybe I have my own vision, or maybe I use this as a starting point. Right?

Sharon Hurley Hall 9:20

For what a thriving world could look like for all of us. What is a world where, you know, greed and capitalism are not seen as the be all and end all? Well, what is a world where human thriving is seen as the highest goal. What does that look like? What does that look like in our lives, in our communities, in our companies in our businesses? What does that look like when we have leaders who have that as as their, their North Star in a sense in all ways and so that is, you know, that those are the questions that we ask and in part, some of what we try to do is to hold that vision and you know, we have we have

Sharon Hurley Hall 10:00

Have an idea to collect, connect with like minded people and companies and get a group of people all working together and saying, "Okay, this, this is how we do things slightly differently." We're not saying we have all the answers, because many of us have never, I've never seen what equality and action looks like.

Sharon Hurley Hall 10:20

And you know, so we have to create it, we have to have a vision, we have to try things. Sometimes we have to fail, and we have to get up and we have to try again.

Stacy Casson 10:27

I have a friend, Sara June, and we talk about how sometimes that ideological purity gets in the way of community moving forward. The other thing I'm thinking of with this card is the idea of gratitude. There's a lot of gratitude practices, and some of it is being thankful for the things that haven't come yet. But in my journaling practice, I'm honestly grateful for things that trigger me. I am grateful for the pain from my own instances in therapy, it's "let the pain inform you". So even though Ayesha's is in such a horrible place, that is information that she can use, even if it's just I want the opposite of this, that that pain that we encounter can inform us on how to move forward. Where are the wounds that we need to treat and heal. If you have a diagnosis of cancer, where is it? Has it spread? Has it metastasized? And white supremacy is kind of a cancer in our culture. It has definitely metastasized. So we want to be very specific with how we want to treat this. So

Sharon Hurley Hall 11:43

Yes,how do we identify it? How do we see where it's working? And you know, many of us, as you know, as you said, at the start, we feel severe discomfort.

Sharon Hurley Hall 11:53

With this idea of how prevalent it is, in many of our cultures, in many of our practices in many of the ways that we approach things, you know, the the constant quest for productivity, the constant quest for growing profits, the constant

Sharon Hurley Hall 12:12

dismissal of people's needs in favor of profits, right? And what if, what if we what if we did it differently? What if we, you know, we allowed both people and companies to thrive without either one thriving at the expense of the other? What if we, you know, allowed people to meet their needs? You know,

Sharon Hurley Hall 12:35

I'll talk a little bit about life inside Mission Equality, because we have a tiny oasis, which shows what some of the possibilities can be. You know, where, you know, we, we don't have a hierarchy per se, where people are on the same pay scale, but they get, you know,

Sharon Hurley Hall 12:55

it's according to their contribution. So, you know, I work 10 hours, you work 15 hours, but, you know, same same basic pay scale. And where there is, you know, we consider that there's a value exchange, where, you know, people will work on particular projects, but at the same time, the company provides a space where, where people can thrive a space where there's flexibility, where we have a no rush culture, right? We have a no rush culture. And so, when people have we recognize from the start that life happens, you know, people have kids and responsibilities. And so we try to build that into, you know, that knowledge into everything that we do. So you know, so it's in our company, it's okay to say, look, you know, I have this family thing happening, and I'm not going to be able to be there today, or, you know, I'm feeling horrible, I'm not in a good place. You know, in our, in our weekly team update, we have a, you know, a line, the first line is people who might need a little more space and grace this week. No questions asked. No need to reveal anything, we put their names and people say, Okay, let's, you know, let's be a little kinder, a little extra kind to that person this week. And so there are little things like that, that you do that say, Well, yeah, this can be different. And it was interesting in you know, one of my colleagues, I remember said that, one of the things that they never worried about in our team and you know, we're very tiny team, admittedly, but they say they didn't worry about experiencing harm, at work from from, from their colleagues, because of the way that it was all set up. And I was thinking, Well, why can't we do that more widely?

Stacy Casson 14:34

Exactly. Why can't we do that more wide, and that's part of the dream and the vision here. The other piece.

Sharon Hurley Hall 14:41


Stacy Casson 14:41

about your culture is when you talk about your company, I'm like oh so we could take naps.

Stacy Casson 14:49

Be (giggles) I need to take a nap. That will be lovely. So let's move into the things that we don't know, the unknown unknowns into making this beautiful vision a reality.

Stacy Casson 15:01

And the next card we have is the mother of knives. And there is a woman in a black dress, she is holding a knife, and behind her all kinds of targets. And I'm sure that while we have this amazing vision, it definitely is disruptive to the status quo. And even though we're singing peace and love and Kumbaya, that is an attack on the current system. So what comes to mind for you, when you look at this card as far as the unknown unknowns? And where are the opportunities that we have to,

Stacy Casson 15:43

to protect the vision and to ensure we're making the best possible vision and outcomes?

Sharon Hurley Hall 15:50

You know, I see this as Ayesha beginning a phase of recovery, and taking a little bit of control. And, you know, the targets are with establishing what might be possible for her. Right, and what might be possible for all of us in, in changing things, you know, each of those targets represents an area where we might need to change our, our thinking, shift the paradigms that we're operating from, right.

Sharon Hurley Hall 16:24

You know, I talked before about, you know, often often

Sharon Hurley Hall 16:31

profit is put ahead of people and, and planet. You know, I don't know any other species that is so happy to destroy its habitat, in the name of making money. Right, that,

Stacy Casson 16:43


Sharon Hurley Hall 16:44

That seems like that is, that is such a lose-lose proposition, you know, but yet, it's something that has happened for for decades and centuries, and even now, that we can see how things are going that we have the knowledge, you know, people are still, you know, it's like, yes, let's agree that the, you know, the planet is warming, and we have to cut down on, you know, fossil fuels, but let's still leave a little gap where we can still use fossil fuels, you know, and that's not all of us, you know, everybody's not going to

Sharon Hurley Hall 17:18

everybody's not going to sign up to this agreement, because we still want to make money from oil. You know.

Stacy Casson 17:24


Sharon Hurley Hall 17:24

And so, I think I think some of the unknown unknowns are, you know, the behavior of actual people in this quest to create that.

Sharon Hurley Hall 17:38

more equal world, you know, Stacy, you know, you and I, and many others, many others, you know, we

Sharon Hurley Hall 17:44

we know what direction we want to travel in. Many people are working towards it in their own spaces, in their own ways, in their own spheres. But then there's also the pushback from the other side. And it's like, what, what, what would make a difference to those people in order for them to get it? That's like the great unknown. And sometimes you you stumble upon it, and sometimes you feel like it's completely hopeless, though, you know, I'm not one for giving up.

Stacy Casson 18:11

No, we have that glimmer of hope. Ayesha has the glimmer of hope.

Sharon Hurley Hall 18:15


Stacy Casson 18:16

The thing that comes to mind for me when we talk about knives, and in the traditional deck is swords. It is about thoughts. It is about and it's sort of like cutting to the heart of the matter. And so when I look at this mother of knives, I'm getting this vibe that Ayesha is not playing, she is not putting up with it anymore. She is not a victim. If you give her an aggression, she will respond. Not necessarily in kind, because if we're trying to build a new world, it just might be "what you said was really hurtful. I don't know what your intention was, but here's how it impacted me." So it is kind of speaking our truth and not to people please, not centering the feelings of the oppressor.

Stacy Casson 19:04

Elizabeth wrote a brilliant article about no access and so did Ashani, hang on we get the names.

Sharon Hurley Hall 19:15

I think

Stacy Casson 19:15

beautiful one on it. Elizabeth Silleck about the abusers and Ashani, the same way: Access Denied. Anyway.

Sharon Hurley Hall 19:24

Yes. And I think there's a there's definitely a strength in that that image that card the mother of knives and inner strength. Yeah, no, maybe she's drawing on in order to recover from all of those hurts that we saw in the first card, in order to come you know, you know,

Sharon Hurley Hall 19:44

to cut through to cut through some of some of that pain and to come out on the other side. And of course, it's necessarily as easy as that. Because these things leave [my] long lasting scars and not all of them are

Sharon Hurley Hall 19:59

on the outside.

Stacy Casson 20:01

Exactly, you know, and Ashani Mfuko, was the other lady, I don't like to just give first names. But you know, I see some parallels Sharon, between all these injuries that Ayesha has suffered and the fact that there's all these targets, so I'm kind of envisioning, like Mission Impossible style or Minority Report, wherer you put up all the things like on a, on a board, like on a visual visual board, and the targets have different sizes, and, and different marks. So it's kind of like, where when you think of triage, what is the wound that we really need to address first? To treat that wound first? And then how do we transform that to what is the next vision? So here is what it looks like now, How does that transform into something else? So if the wound is how someone speaks to you, how do we flip that around and transform it? How do we model non-violent communication, for example, in this vision.

Sharon Hurley Hall 21:02

So of course, you know, you, you know, I'm a little bit of a sci fi buff, and I'm dating myself, but there used to be a show when I was a kid called the time tunnel, that those targets those circular targets, that was that was the vision, the visual that they use, as people walked through the tunnel. Ah, right. So in a way, you know, there's also the possibility of several different futures,

Sharon Hurley Hall 21:27

not just the vision, but several different visions, and that Ayesha, and we all, could step through, depending on what we choose to do next.

Stacy Casson 21:36

I love that. It's kind of like, I don't remember the character's name, but the one that can see all the futures because I don't want to promote movies, but so

Sharon Hurley Hall 21:45

Oh I know the one you mean, yeah.

Stacy Casson 21:47

It's a cape. I can't remember. Which is so sad

Sharon Hurley Hall 21:50

Doctor Strange

Stacy Casson 21:50

Doctor Strange, right. So Ayesha, in her in her time of need in the desert is pulling up this Doctor Strange or Time Tunnel things. And she is assessing all of the possibilities of her life and choose where she wants to walk into. What. Walking into her power. I hope

Stacy Casson 22:11

This, I'm so excited.

Stacy Casson 22:15

And so finally, what is the next step, and this card are two little children in a field, they are walking with baskets of strawberries, and once again, there is this idea of abundance. These baskets are full, the fields look healthy, the children are able to do this themselves. I'm getting like a feeling of independence, self direction, and community because they're not doing this alone. What comes to mind for you on our next step to making this a re?

Sharon Hurley Hall 22:49

Well, that is that is, you know, it's so it's so pertinent, Stacy, because of course, we don't solve these problems alone. We can't. We have to solve them in community, we have to work together. And when we work together, then, you know, considering the tremendous brain power we have at our disposal, what if we chose to use it for good to help people thrive? Then ours thriving is ours. And so I think and, you know, there's... what also comes to mind that, you know, younger people think very differently about the state of the world and the possibilities, and you know, the tools they have at their disposal. And you know, what, you know, some of the things that that we might have accepted, but they don't accept at all. And I mean, I know that's not across the board. But you know, I have a 21 year old. And you know, as I've come into, into contact with quite a few young people over the years, and they, they definitely have

Sharon Hurley Hall 23:49

a different attitude to what is an acceptable trade off in order for them to live the lives that they live, they want to live, right?

Stacy Casson 23:59


Sharon Hurley Hall 24:00

And in many cases, that does not include pillaging the planet.

Stacy Casson 24:05


Sharon Hurley Hall 24:07

You know, so I think I think of this as an as another possibility of you know, if we get our act together, right, if we get to that world where we're, we have achieved true equality, then everyone from the youngest right up can thrive and have what they need.

Stacy Casson 24:25

Yeah, the other thing I noticed in this picture is the fields go on for forever. It looks like they seem limitless, and I don't see fences and boundaries. And a lot of times... we were watching this show about a community called The Garden is it a cult or a commune? And there was definitely some conflict or misalignment between the members of the group that were pacifists and new people coming in that's like, oh, we need security and we need to be armed and guns

Stacy Casson 24:59

As in things, and I think that is also a form of patriarchal thinking. Because why do people fight when there's scarcity? I think even in nature, if there's communities like, don't quote me, because I don't remember what random place on the on the internet, I found this, but I think it was a group of we'll call them chimpanzees. And some chimpanzees lived in a valley that was very rich in fruit and water, everything was in abundance, and they had a relatively peaceful society, there was another group that lived in a kind of harsher climate, and this community had more instances of violence. So I think this vision of if everyone's needs are met, why would we need violence?

Sharon Hurley Hall 25:00

Exactly, exactly. Why would we? And, you know, what has violence led to, you know, if we, if we look at the history of the world,

Sharon Hurley Hall 25:58

you know, yes, there are things that could be considered progress. But you know, there's, you know, war and death and hatred and xenophobia, and you know, all the isms. And you think, well,

Sharon Hurley Hall 26:11

is that what we really need? Is that how we want to go forward? Is that what makes sense for us as a species?

Sharon Hurley Hall 26:20

Because I don't think it does, to do what we've done that has led us to this place.

Stacy Casson 26:24

Yeah. So I think maybe the next step for Ayesha is to find that community and support system. And I also like to think of it as in the nine of baskets, it looks like Ayesha found a literal partner, and perhaps these are their offspring,

Stacy Casson 26:43

the next generation, and it's something that we want to build a lasting future,

Sharon Hurley Hall 26:49

and the next generation has a better experience than Ayesha had at the start.

Stacy Casson 26:55

Yes, I think that's a beautiful story. So for my audience, if you need someone to help guide your vision to the next generation, I highly recommend you get in touch with Sharon and see how Mission Equality can help your organization move forward and create something sustainable and lasting. If you need baby steps in getting a vision please reach out to me we can do exactly what Sharon I did together and co-create your new story. That's why i'm The Clarity Concierge we get to the heart of the matter. And in our show notes, I will list all of the links on how you can get a hold of Sharon. So I think Ayesha is going to make it and have the happy ending. What do you think Sharon?

Sharon Hurley Hall 27:39

I think so. I think that I think you should story definitely ended happily. And you know, even going on to the next generation. So that's that's, given with how it started. That is a pretty nice ending.

Stacy Casson 27:52

I love it. Okay, so thank you all for joining. I will see you same bad time same bad channel sometime in the future, and have a great day.

Transcribed by

Closing: Closing jazzy keyboard and thrumming bass. I hope you enjoyed today's segment. Tell a friend. See you next time. Music fades. "


  • Anti-racism and self-care with Sharon Hurley Hall. 0:0
  • Racism, microaggressions, and hope for thriving. 3:23
  • Creating a more equal world through vision and action. 7:04
  • Workplace culture and productivity. 10:30
  • Vision, unknowns, and recovery. 14:49
  • Finding abundance and community in a post-scarcity world. 21:49