In this episode, we have a guest speaker Milagros Phillips. Milagros Phillips is a keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, author, and certified coach. She designs strategic learning programs for organizations seeking to enhance their Diversity Equity..
See show notes: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e124-the-impact-of-intergenerational-and-historical-racial-trauma-with-milagros-phillips-cptsd-and-trauma-healing-coach/#show-notes
In this episode, we have a guest speaker Milagros Phillips.
Milagros Phillips is a keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, author, and certified coach. She designs strategic learning programs for organizations seeking to enhance their Diversity Equity & Inclusion initiatives through race literacy. Her programs use history, science, research, and storytelling to create compelling, life-transforming experiences.
This conversation is so impactful and profound because you look at the impact of intergenerational and historical racial trauma on the existence of mankind and the time that we live. It's impossible not to face the truth of the reality that we have to be so much more awake in this conversation— looking at an understanding of my own lineage and the history of trauma that I've had in my life. One of the most profound conversations I've ever had about the reality of the impact of generational trauma from a perspective that is far beyond anything I've ever been able to navigate myself around. This is going to be one of the episodes that we will remember forever!
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Learn more about Milagros Phillips at https://www.milagrosphillips.com/
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Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. Super excited to be back with another episode with my guest Milagros Phillips, who is a keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, author, and certified coach and she designs Strategic Learning programs for organizations that are seeking to enhance their diversity equity and inclusion initiatives through race literacy. Milagros, my friend, how are you today? What is going on in your world?
Milagros: I have wonderful, and I'm so happy to be on this call with you today. I've been waiting for weeks for us to have this conversation with your audience. This is such an important topic and it's so top of mind and top of the heart for people right now. So yeah, I'm excited to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Michael: Absolutely, my pleasure! And I'm excited to have this conversation. I think it's incredibly important especially not only in the consideration of the times that we live in but in the reality that now we have access to more information than any time in history. You know what, we'll get into this and we'll dive into deep but before we do, can you tell us a little bit about your background, your history, and your journey to where you are today?
Milagros: Sure! So I had been living in the US. I was born in the Dominican Republic of practical racer because I was 10 years old, when I came to the US and my mother was an American citizen, my mother, my grandmother didn't speak any Spanish, she only spoke English, Spanish is my first language, and so we had moved to the US when I was ten and three years in, they kill Martin Luther and I was devastated, I literally locked myself in the bathroom to cry and I really tell people that was the day that I have headed my life's calling because I literally like I heard a voice when I was in the bathroom and said that you were to continue this work. I didn't know what that meant, I'm 13 years old. Somebody just killed Dr. King for doing the work that he was doing and I'm like 30, there's no way in the world, never going to do race work, like forget it, you know, and so I spent most of my life avoiding doing that work, but at some point, you know, it's called the calling because it keeps calling you until you say yes and at some point, I finally did say yes. I was doing diversity work, but in organizations, I would always end up talking about race or somebody would bring up race in which, of course, is so important to the diversity conversation in organizations. And so I would take them down this deep rabbit hole, right? And I eventually just said, yes, and it's been an incredible journey and I'm so grateful that I decided to take my wrap my life in this route.
Michael: Yeah, that's very powerful. And, I think that often when we have a calling, we can ignore it and it tends to be that thing that keeps us awake at night, whether positive or negative, you know, I look at my own experience of now being in the position, I am coaching thousands and thousands of trauma survivors around the world, having our podcast, having a book, all these things, it all came because I like listening to that calling. I want to go deep into the conversation about race today. But before I do that, I think out of just my own pure curiosity. What is it that led you to that moment of choosing to step further into this, you know, I think often as human beings, we tend to negotiate with ourselves and we go, you know, somebody else will do it, I don't have to or--, you know, it'll figure itself out, but I think the difference between success and failure in life is truly about taking action. So I would just love to know and your experience, you're facing especially, this critical world, impacting topic, how you face the fear about that to be willing to step into it?
Milagros: Yeah. When I was around 12 years old, I remember, I lived in New York City and I remember my parents let me go downtown by myself. And one of the first things that I did, which is look back and I think that's kind of a strange thing for a twelve-year-old to do. One of the first things I did was I went to the UN and back then there were these benches that you can sit in front of and I remember sitting there and tearing up because you had all these people going in and out of there. And I'm this little kid and I'm thinking those people are my family from all over the world and they're here to make peace. Like I remember thinking that, right? just sitting there.
So then fast forward next year, Dr. King has killed and then I'm decided not to do this thing. So, you know, I had done all of what we call the right things in the world. I went to school. I got an education. I got married. I had three children. Like, I did all the stuff that, the world told me I was supposed to do right? Yet my life didn't seem to work, not the way that I thought my life should work, right? And so I started doing a lot of personal, just personal work, just really looking at my life and really deciphering it, being very reflective and doing a lot of learning to do energy work, and learning to be a Reiki master, but even before I came into doing those kinds of things, I remember while I was still doing personal work, a friend of mine, got me a ticket to go see Tony Robbins, it was in the 80s here, it was fairly new, you know, but there were a thousand people in that audience and I remember sitting there and listening to him and thinking I need to be doing this, but I need to be doing this around the issue of race. And so, in other words, I need to be speaking to thousands of people about this topic because it's so important and fast forward again, I did nothing, you know, I just remember thinking at the moment, but did nothing, right?
And then I went back to school to get a second degree, and I had to take a diversity course and in doing research to write my thesis. What I found was information that I had never seen before. I found things that I didn't know about that suddenly started to put my life in perspective and I always tell people that, I had done enough personal work that, at one point I was healthy enough to realize that I needed healing, you know what I mean? Like it was so the personal work, just really led me to the reality that something's off here and it isn't what I think it is and so I started digging and it's led to my realization that I really needed to do race work and so if you can imagine in the 90s trying to do race work in organizations, like nobody was buying it and I got to tell you that before George Floyd was murdered by Shogun even up to that point, people were still resisting, they're still resistance now, but it isn't as it was before, you know, but I've watched this cycle, go up and down at every time we start to do the race work and it starts to take off in the country, something else happens in people's attention goes and they go right to that and they focus on that they forget about race.
And in fact, right now, I just spent the last year plus doing weekly programs on race literacy to really help the community, first of all, deal with the trauma, look at the various ways in which race impacts, and so on and so forth. Right now, my biggest challenge is keeping people awake, because even right now, people say go, okay, that happened yesterday and it's like no, it's here today, you just not seeing what's happening to black men and women and brown men and women and indigenous men and women on TV every day because something else to taking up the airwaves, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening and trying to keep people alive and awake to that reality is one of the biggest challenges.
Michael: Yeah, I mean, it's funny because I sit here and I go, I resonate with that in such an intense way, you know, childhood trauma is the biggest elephant in the room of mental health care. It's swept under the rug and being in this position where I am, you know, one of the few people who are willing to have these incredibly difficult conversations, like the deeper we get into it, it's like, oh that next thing happens at next thing happens, there are so many different places I want to go here at this conversation with you. I think about first and foremost the acknowledgment of your experience with Tony Robbins in the 80s, that’s to me is incredible. I've actually had the privilege of studying and learning under Tony myself and even just this past Sunday was in a six-hour, seminar of his, that was supposed to be like an hour and a half long and just walking away from that and asking myself the question of, am I doing everything in my power, am I doing everything in my power to change the narrative about these conversations and ultimately looking at it and going, you know, there's a fine line between self-destruction, to save the world and trying to do the things that we're capable of doing and it's really fascinating when you get, so introspective than this. You mentioned something that as you said it, I thought to myself, I understand the impact of it, but I don't understand the emotion to it. And that's the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. And the reason I say that is because, I feel like I'm a bit of a historian in that, I've studied a lot of American History. One of the books that I started reading in high school that people thought I was insane for reading was Howard Zinn's, a people's History of the United States, and that being just kind of like this catalyst for me to step into learning about American society and the truth behind it.
And so much of the experience in my opinion of what it is to be an American especially around racist has been for lack of a better term whitewashed so that we feel a little bit safer and coddled. What I'm curious about in this, and the reason I'm bringing this up is we look at and I've heard you talk about the things that we've left out of history and I think that we're in this place we're now more than ever people go. Yeah. Martin Luther King and he were murdered and Malcolm X, and yeah, he was murdered, and they did this, this and this, but I go. I don't know that people fully understand the impact of that history. I got goosebumps just saying this of the historical impact of specifically those two moments and then the murder of the majority of the Black Panthers during that movement and looking at this and going this is silencing and now we live in a time and place where, you know, you were Martin Luther King on your T-shirt, but you don't understand the impacts. So I know that was a bit heady and wordy, but I'd love to know your thoughts about that in consideration of the things that we're leaving out of History.
Milagros: Yeah. Sure. So, for me, that day, I'd only been in the country for about three years, right? And I remember when I was about eight years old, a little girl, from across the street, came to stay with her grandmother for the summer, she came from New York City and when I was still in the Dominican Republic, right? And I was so excited to talk to her because I said, my family is going to be moving to New York. Can you tell me what that's like? And this little eight-year-old child said to me, you're not going to like it there, they don't like people that look like you, this is a little eight-year-old, right? And I said to her, why? Like I didn't understand, you know, for obvious reasons, right? And, so, now fast forward, right? I'm living in the US and I'm seeing some of the things that go on, right? And I lived in a neighborhood in New York City, where it was one of those neighborhoods where there, people were on drugs. I mean, you know that was how people sit cited, it was the reality of where I lived in the neighborhood, right? And so when this happened, what came back to me was what that child had said, which is basically, you're not safe there. You won't be safe there. Now, I didn't process it consciously as such at that point in time. Okay, it was just sort of like wow! This is something that didn't feel right and so I was really emotional about that, I had a father who used to leave at 4 o'clock in the morning to go to work every day, and he didn't come home until seven o'clock at night because he worked so far away because it was the only place that he could get a job, right? So, I'm scared for my father, had five brothers, I have nephews, you know what I mean? Like that hit me at that moment, but I didn't intend, I wasn't aware of how I internalized that trauma until I started doing a two-day intensive that I've been doing since 2001, so I'm starting in 2001 and during one of those sessions, this African-American gentleman shared his remembrance of when Emmett Till got killed in the 1950s and how that impacted his life and he began to sob. And at that moment, as I listen to him, I suddenly realized his words just hit me, he said he was 67 at the time, just funny because that's my age now. He was 67 and he said; ‘I have spent an entire lifetime in this country and ever since that day that Emmett Till was killed I have never felt safe.’
And what hit me at that moment was, oh, my God! From the moment that Dr. King got killed, I never again felt safe because something awakened in my consciousness of where I was living.
Now, that doesn't mean that there wasn't really know there's colorism and all that in the Dominican Republic and we could get into that because that's a whole another story, but I didn't feel unsafe in probably because I was a child and my parents were very protective, right? And also, I was the youngest, right? So I had all these siblings who were way older than myself and so it's a sense of safety in my life, but I became really conscious in my body at that moment that I had lived, a lifetime, and I had never felt safe. And so, the impact of the killing of Dr. King is something that we've never really unpacked in terms as we talked about it as a historical thing and we talked about the impact that he made in his life, but his black and brown people we have never really unpacked the trauma of just that one piece of history and that to talk about all the other stuff, and we can get into all the trauma and how it gets passed down, generationally and epigenetically, and so on and so forth, but just that one piece. Just that one piece that we have never unpacked the impact of that trauma on our mind, body, spirit, and emotions and what went out that day. I do remember when we heard the news, my father said, I don't want to use the word, right? But he said damn it, thank God him, and he was so upset.
And so at that moment, not only did I as a child have my own trauma and impact but also my father's trauma and impact as he received what had just happened at that moment and how he had theories and opened the talks about its theories about what had just happened, you know, so I'm absorbing all of this stuff and what I realized even as you ask the question is we've never really impacted that.
Michael: Yeah. I mean that's incredibly powerful and when I think about what you just said, I can't help but think there are people at that moment who celebrated that, and there are people at that moment who mourned that experience and that moment and many of these moments and many of the things that have happened throughout the course of history. And I do want to go in and talk about this idea of the impact of intergenerational and historical trauma. I'm biracial, black and white Irish in Nigerian, and with my family's lineage on either side, you can look at and measure these tremendous amounts of the impact of trauma.
And one of the things I experienced growing up is I live, not only in the HUD housing and government-subsidized housing in the Ghettos and HUD of where I grew up. But also in like, for lack of a better term, the white trash areas, and I've been called both white trash and black trash, which is a really interesting juxtaposition when you think about it as a biracial kid growing up in America and filling very much so lost within the experience of understanding and trying to navigate race and that to me is not unique, right? I think that holds true for many people that's regardless of whether I think you're black white or multiracial or monthly culture. Well, I think that there's something to that. I remember being nine years old and my grandmother, who is an old white lady from a town in Tennessee, you've never heard of was vehemently racist. And so now, imagine that me growing up in this home. She actually adopted me and being faced with these tremendous cultural value and moral juxtapositions and discovering one night that we had a copy of Hitler's book – Mein Kampf in our home and thinking to myself, this is really fascinating to me because on this one hand, I have this woman who is taking care of me, but on the other hand, I recognize that every time that she has an opportunity, she's going to defame someone of another race and really coming to this place in my life where I said, that's not about her actually, right? It's actually about her history and that allowed me to know as an adult and having words and being able to make meaning of those experiences. Looking at and go! Oh! that's definitely historical, that's intergenerational, that's so much of all the experiences leading up to the moment of our DNA, of our ancestors of humanity, all the way back to Adam's Rib, if you will and looking at it and going, ah, that makes sense. I think for context because I've been able to make meaning of that, there are people listening right now and they're probably, I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. I would love if you would just dive in and talk about, not only the impact of the Intergenerational and historical trauma but also like if you can define those things for us.
Milagros: Sure. Yeah. So, I want to start with, I'd like to go like to the Fourteen hundred in Europe, right? If we're going to talk history and race, right? So, you know, prior to colonization, which is something that we never talked about real and they certainly don't need to school. Prior to colonization the Europeans and the Africans had a long-standing history of trade and diplomacy. So in the Fourteen hundreds when the Vatican and the pope gave permission to the principal chablè to go and Conquer Vanquish colonize, and enslave the African, the West African coast and turned that into law. What happened was that from that moment on the world was changed, the world was changed, and what we also never talked about and talk about trauma right? Was that, if you look back into the 1410 Europe, they had already institutionalized Crime, and Punishment and had been for all over the world. They had been institutionalized the crime and Punishment in Europe was very specific and if you look at the population of Europe, it was really divided into two groups, they were the wealthy and the nobility and then there were the poor people among the poor people, there were enslaved people. Slavery is a perpetual institution, there were people who were indentured – indentured is an institution, you can buy a way out of, and then they were just the general workers and servants, who worked in the homes of these, these people.
When you think about the weather in Europe, right? You have about three months to grow your food. And you look out into the world in nine months out of the year, there isn't even a leaf on the tree. So, your perception, when you look out into the world as one of scarcity, there's not enough, there's never enough. Is there going to be enough food to last us until we can grow some more and harvest and so on and so forth, right?
And now here they are sailing down this Coast in a place where food is plentiful because you have to remember that the place is all the places that were colonized around the world, for the most part, were around the Equator, the band room which is warm weather, there's plenty of gold, silver, lots of food, right? And so all of a sudden you go from not enough to wow! there's plenty and let me siphon it and bring it to the people up here because now I have all these people that can do all this work of those people were doing. So we never talked about that. We never talked about the first people that came to this country and how many of them were white slaves, the first slaves in the Continental USA with white people. Somebody wrote a wonderful book in the 1990s, it was called they were white and they were slaves. So, again, little pieces of History will crumbs, right? That is left for us to figure this stuff out.
So, you have a people with a consciousness of lack that is now going forth and settling the world and siphoning the wealth from all these amazing countries that were wealthy because you don't colonize anyplace, where there's nothing. Don't give me you colonized, because they were poor and they had enough if people colonize for nothing. Okay, people colonize, because there's something there that they want, right? But, let's go back and look at some of the histories of Europe at that time point. So they would hang somebody for stealing a piece of bread. They would hang lots of people week in this country, call it, lynching, but that's what they were doing over there. Okay, they were linking their own people. They were cutting people's heads off because they disagreed with the monarchy of the papacy. They were, I mean Crime and Punishment were horrific. You also had a populist that because they only had three months to grow their food because they lived in lap consciousness. There was a lot of malnutrition, when people are malnutrition, they can't even think straight. Okay, we know that now from research, right? Sanitation was virtually non-existent. So there were a lot of diseases that people were very sick and sickly and they had a very short life span because again, not good nutrition and sanitation and it was pretty horrific. And then to top that off, if you were not Catholic at that point I'm going to be very specific about that because that was very specific at the time, you could just get your head cut off just because they didn't agree with your religion, which meant that the Jews, the Islam's, the Hindus all those people were in danger because you could be killed for not having the right religion. So we're talking about a pretty horrific place to live and so people were desperate to get out of there.
And so when they decreed this attic which changed the world is called the doctrine of discovery. What they did was they opened up the world for Europe to colonize and they were given permission to do so not just colonized but colonize, enslave, or perpetual slavery, to anyone who was not Catholic, it was also for the Europeans to deed themselves the land that these because was considered Terra Nova which means that you know, human beings don't exist on that land even though the natives were their own, native Africans, native died and you know people all over the world who were living in these places, they were not considered human and so they came in and they took over the land, the doctor is very specific, the land, the waterways, and the people and their possessions.
So now you have all these European countries, the French, the Dutch, the all of them, the English, all of them colonizing all over the world and how they did it was the same way that they had controlled their own people for hundreds of years, which was traumatized, to destabilize, to control because you have the papacy, which is, you know, relatively a few people compared to the populace, right? And you have the monarchy relatively few people compared to the populace, and the monarchy and the papacy were always at odds, with each other, trying to decide who actually had the right to rule over the people, right? But here is something that now joins the monarchy and the papacy which is this Doctrine which is quote-unquote God-given permission to go ahead and colonize the world and take it, take over all these places. And consider that the people who are there are not human. So that opened up, what we now know, as the colonization of the world.
Once you colonize a people, you don't just colonize their land and their waterways, but you also colonize their spirit, their emotions, and their ways of being. So, the first thing you do again, all of these things, traumatized people, you take away their language, you take away their possessions, you take away their DNA’s, you take away their ways of worshipping, you just rip them off a lot of the things that are part of their Humanity. And, so what we have is a group of traumatized people, traumatizing the rest of the world and spreading the violence, like butter all over the world.
And so over a hundred years, this has been happening, right? So, from 1400 to the 1500 s, where they have taken over all these various places in Africa, and places in North America and South America but it was slight because this was kind of far, Africa was a little bit closer, and you had people who look different. Their hair texture was different, their skin color was different and obviously, there was ignorance, a lack of understanding that these people have brown skin because nature is a marvel of technology and in that brown skin, which is known as melanin helps to protect them from the harsh sun that shines on them because they live in warm climates.
These people that lived in warm climates saw the world differently from people who saw the world through the eyes of lack. They saw the world as a world of abundance because you figure, there's food everywhere all the time and because the papaya is not growing, the mangoes are growing, some things always growing. So people were well nourished, they also had wariness of ruling through, you notice all their buildings were around because it was, the rule by consensus and the elders were held as those who had the experience to rule the rest of the tribes, right?
So, their perception of the world in the way that they did, the world was completely different but now you have these people who are coming in with their horses and their swords and their guns taking over. These people didn't have those same kinds of weapons to defend themselves. And so, it was violence, which causes trauma to destabilize to control and you have to figure the people who are coming, are traumatized people, traumatized people, traumatized others, we know this now, right? And so they well they did was repeated with had worked for them. They were able to control the European people through violence, you know, I mean, you don't have to hang the whole town, you just hang a couple of people and then you parade their bodies around town and you do well, and then, you figure also that these spectacles, these were public spectacles in Europe, right? These punishment spectacles because you needed to traumatize the entire Village, the entire town, right? And so, you only have to show a few people, right? And now, the whole town is traumatized, they all destabilize, so now you can control them. It's very easy to control people when they're traumatized, right? And so that worked well, so they had a formula and it was a formula they had used throughout Europe, they use that formula of you know, give me your firstborn male, so that I can go get the grain over there from that Village because they got more than we got and we don't have enough because remember conscious is a flag, right? We don't have enough, so let's go get what they got over there and bring it over here so we can survive the winter, right? And so give me your firstborn and then when I come back and I bring you the grain, here's what I need. I need for you to give me five percent, everybody gives me five percent to pay me for going over there, to get the crane, right? So you come back, you bring the grain, people happy they give you 5%. And now you have three things, you have an army because you got all their firstborn that you can now go rape and pillage and kill and do whatever you need to do to bring that grain, back to your people can survive, right? And so you got an army, you got wealth because everybody just gave you some of their grain, right?
So you got grain, you got wealth and you got a formula. And now all you have to do is repeat that formula over and over and over again and you repeat that formula all over the world and you can take whatever they have and you can bring it back home. And when you bring it back home people will hail you as a hero for what you just did. Not keeping a consciousness that what they just did over there, it's going to affect your family over here because trauma gets passed down for generations and you cannot traumatize another human being without you – yourself being compromised and your lineage, that means your children, your grandchildren or great-grandchildren great-great-grandchildren. So now what we're dealing with is a world of traumatized people who ain't never been healed, never been here. Okay, and then you look and then you on top of that, the trauma of slavery in and of itself and what was done there. And now you've got, I mean, this stuff is huge and you know people go and good news with slaves were set free a long time ago. Yeah, but nobody gave a little put pink slip and go get you some counseling for all the trauma you and your lineage have been through, right? And so there's that. There are all the European people who showed up in this country because they were traumatized over there. Ain't nobody come over here just because they would be taking a vacation on the Carnival Cruise. The people came over on the Mayflower, got on that May 12 because it was horrific over there and some of them were completely uneducated and they thought the world was flat, but they were willing to take a chance of falling off the edge of the Earth to find somewhere else because where they left was so horrific.
And we forget that, when we see people coming over to the border, we forget that are, their ancestors I will say, came over here, because it was pretty horrific over there. And they are bearing their trauma, right? And then you took, so it's kind of a mess, but it's not hopeless, it's not hopeless.
When people become conscious, they then start making different choices that allow them to heal and allows them to transform.
Human beings were built to be able to take trauma. We were building because we were built to be resilient but that resilient gets truncated if we don't understand what it is, that we're healing. Does that make sense?
So it isn't just, oh, let's heal the trauma. It is what trauma are you healing? Because you need different things, so, for instance. If you're a black and brown person, the trauma that you carry is different from a European person. So, in other words, Black and brown people living in what was at one point called the new world internalized the violence as Stockholm syndrome, which means that you take on the characteristics of your enslaver, or your kidnapper, right? Colorism, like all of these things, that what we as brown people and black and brown people have to heal, the taking of our lands, which affects our ability to own and like that because this stuff affects different things, right? White people, what they need to heal is they need to heal from the violence that they never even accepted happened to them, or that they are not conscious happened to them or that they built a story over to make them feel like we're the good people of the world, you know what I mean? And yet there's this internalized violence that is not your fault, but you're still responsible for healing.
So this, my work really is about this isn't about shaming, blaming or any of that stuff because at this point, we are all suffering from a similar disease. We have all been caught from cut from the same cloth at this point because it's been handed down from so many generations.
So, I always tell people racism is not your fault, but it is still your responsibility to heal it and let us remember that racism as it is defined by a lot of us who do this work, which is really it's prejudiced plus power to keep it simple. Racism is a problem for people of color, it is not the problem of people of color and we cannot heal racism, what we can do is, we can heal our own Stockholm syndrome and all the stuff that we and all of the survival tactics that allowed us to be able to live in a culture that is not accepting of us and that uses us, as the scapegoat for everything. So, we absorb that and our children absorb that and all of those kinds of things, white people, absorb supremacy, and even the nicest little white lady who is sweet in her heart, still absorb that and the reason they absorb that is that's what's in the environment. It's not about whether you're a good person or a bad person, it's about you absorbed this stuff because we live in the environment where it exists and so, therefore, you absorb it, but once you become conscious, you can make different choices. I know that's a really long answer to your short question.
Michael: No. I love that answer in it and it hits so home for me because I think often I wrote a quote myself recently, and I said, healing trauma is like walking over garbage in your front yard, it's still your front yard. You know, when so I think that's a huge part of it and in this, I hear this idea about racial literacy kind of being the precursor and the catalyst to oppression and tyranny and because we are so either ill-informed or misinformed or disinformed were in this place where we can't even have this conversation.
And I think one of the most difficult things that I've sat with over the course of really the last two years and looking at the way, the black lives matter movement has taken almost this corporatization has made me realize something really interesting about the experience of being a person of color, of being biracial in America, of having a background filled with all kinds of different levels of racism. And it feels to me like this idea about waking needs to actually shift into being awake and I think that there's a part of me that I don't like the idea about the woke movement because people aren't seeing the forest for the trees and for the sake of time, and I know you are very busy, but I'd love if you could talk to this and see if that resonates with you in any way, because all I hear is people saying, let's be woke, let's be woke and all I'm ever wanting to say is like, let's be awake, let's talk about like actually do something. It's not enough to hold a sign in the street. The parades stop, the marches are over. Are you really awake? Because I don't know if that's true. I mean that fires me up because I've stood and watched white supremacy and growing up in Indiana not that far from the Klu Klux Clan and seeing my uncle and my family members tattoo with Nazi Insignia, but then on the other side, being witnessed to racism in all spectrums and all scopes of the imagination, I sit here and I go, I don't think you guys really get it still.
Milagros: Yeah. One of the things, my goal that really grades at me is how we take words and we just parrot them, right? So for instance, it used to be diversity, then it was diversity and inclusion. Now is diversity, inclusion, and Equity, now is diversity inclusion equity and access, like we just keep adding words and then people just parrot that without understanding like, when I talk to organizations about equity, they think is equality, it's like, no, that's not what it is. Let's break this down, equity is about fairness and justice, which means that it's not just about the rising of the tide which lifts all boats. If you have a dingy and somebody else has a cruiser, those are two completely different books. And so, one of them, if there's a storm we would stand a better chance of surviving than the other, that's equality. You raise the water equally and everybody rises. But Equity is about doing the right thing for those who have the dinghy so that they took and have a cruiser or something, a bigger boat, which we have stopped them from having, right? And so, that is what equity actually is.
So people love to repeat things and to parrot things and so this is the whole woke thing. The walk is about yesterday. I need you awake today. I mean for you to be awake today to what is happening today, to what you're feeling, to what comes up for you. So what happens to you when you walk into a restaurant and they still sit you in the back? Even in 2021, you know what I'm saying? Like when you know that you need to go for that interview and you're not so sure that they're going to like the way you look because of the way you wear your hair, like if you're still worried about the future, you're still in it, right? If you're a white person, that goes well, I don't want to say anything because I don't want to say the wrong thing, you're in it. Do you know what I'm saying? Like you haven't escaped anything.
So I need for you to be awake today on this very day to what is happening inside of you. What is your reaction to what you're hearing on the news about race and racism? And what's happened today? What is your reaction to you're not hearing anything about race? What you think it just went away because no, they're not talking about it on the news anymore. You know, that's not a reality, right? And so I need for you to stay awake because from an awakened place you can do something. See a lot of what's happened and what I've seen and I see over and over and over again is everybody wants to solve racism in their heads and they want to solve racism from the inter personal perspective. Don't say the wrong thing, be politically correct. Racism is institutional systemic, internalized, personal and interpersonal. So because we live under the institution, which is institutionalized means law, and then we set up systems to support those laws and then we internalize what is in our environment, right? Which are the laws and the institutions, and then it becomes part of our personality because now we mix our personality with all the stuff that we've learned over time and it becomes intertwine and now we're having an interaction with somebody who doesn't look like us and we don't realize that we just trigger their stress response.
It's a nose fight flight or paralysis. So, we need to do when we are racing literate. We are more awake. We are more aware and we're abler because when you're awake and you're aware, you have more access to the totality of you. You're able to stand more in your power, as a human being and when you see something wrong, you're able to speak up even when you're scared. And so you're also able to notice the feelings that come up inside of you as you try to do something or as you hear something like you, so you're not asleep to yourself, you're awake as a human, you're awake a vibrant awake human being you may not like what you see, but at least you're seeing it. You may not like what you feel, but at least you're feeling it. Does that make sense? Like being woken about yesterday, being awake is about today and I need to believe me, I've been doing this work for 35 years, I'm exhausted, I need for people to freaking wake up and stay awake, because woke people are asleep today, they're asleep today. I need for you to be awake every single day of the year, every day of the year, 24/7 I need for you to be awake. That doesn't mean you're talking about race or be necessarily conscious awake, 24/7, but when it does show up, you show up, because you're awake and you realize I'm feeling something I don't like what I'm feeling or this is uncomfortable or whatever it is, you can be with it, human beings are incredibly powerful. That people have been sold this idea that white people are fragile and this is like you're not fragile, you just don't like dealing with stuff, you know, different from anybody else, none of us dealing with, how do you think it feels to deal with the micro microaggressions that black and brown people have to deal with all the time, it is uncomfortable, okay? But we don't have a choice, the fact that you have a choice means that you have a responsibility.
So it's about all of us working together, waking up as a human family. And for me, this work is about bringing all the members of the human family is about remembering, right? Remembering being bringing all the members of the human family to be a human family, to be awake to the fact that we are here because we are here to love each other to learn from one another, to grow together, I mean the talent that gets wasted yearly is incredible and it's telling that we could all be benefiting from. If we wake up and stay awake and do whatever, we can to make a difference because we can all make a difference.
I don't care how old you are from the two-year-old to the 92-year-old. We can all make a difference around this and to think that we can hide from this stuff is ridiculous, it's everywhere, it's everywhere!
So for me, I'm with you, Michael. I want people to stay awake, to stay awake even to the discomfort to stay awake, a name it, name it, this doesn't feel right, you know like we need to just really need to stay awake. We really do.
Michael: I love that. That's so profound. I mean, we could literally do this for another three hours. I feel like we're just getting started. You know, I have a huge amount of appreciation for you coming on and sharing this because this hits home for me in a really intensive way. It's something I'm always exploring, discovering, identifying, understanding, being trying my best to be awake around because I look at my life and I go statistically, I should be dead or in jail from my zip code, I should be dead or in jail and yet here I am. And so much of that is predicated on this idea that I said; ‘Let me learn, let me be literate to all the things and always trying to be literate to all the things.’ Before I ask you, my last question, can you tell everyone where they can find out more about you?
Milagros: Sure they can visit my website, which is milagrosphillips.com and they are courses there and programs and all kinds of things they can learn from they can also purchase, I have published three books with my latest book is called “cracking the healer's code” a prescription for healing racism and finding wholeness and it's a book that uses History Science storytelling and it just a tapestry of different things to help people wake up and stay awake and every chapter has questions for you to ask yourself and then the second part of the book is “The healing process and their 13 layers to the healing process,” and it's a universal process that you can heal, you can use to heal a family, a community, and individual, or a world. And so you can find that book on Amazon and in various stores around the country. I'm really easy to find. If you have questions, you can also send an email to info at milagrosphillips.com
Michael: Amazing! We'll put all that information in the show notes. My last question for you, my friend is what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Milagros: Oh my goodness. I love that question. To me to be unbroken, is to realize that no matter what happens in your life, no matter where you go, where you've been in, what you have done there is something inside of you, that's greater than anything you could possibly do, and I'm talking, I don't care what it is, there was something inside of you, that's greater than that and that is what keeps us whole, and it makes us Unbroken.
Michael: Beautifully said, my friend. Thank you so much for being here.
Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
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My friends, Be Unbroken.
-I'll see you.
Affectionately Known as the Race Healer
Milagros Phillips is a keynote speaker, TEDx presenter, author, and certified coach. She designs strategic learning programs for organizations seeking to enhance their Diversity Equity & Inclusion initiatives through race literacy. Her programs use history, science, research, and storytelling to create compelling, life-transforming experiences. For more than 35 years Milagros has consulted, designed, and facilitated programs across many industries. She is an artist, a Reiki Master and Teacher, a Sound Therapist, Teacher of A Course in Miracles, and the creator of Race Demystified, a compassionate approach to healing from racial conditioning.