Breaking Free from the chains of double consciousness
Oscar Wilde, the Irish dramatist, once said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
Occupying a minority status in any society, at any time in human civilization, has always required wearing a proverbial mask to ensure your basic survival, your invisibility was your saving grace.
Frantz Fanon conveyed this in his book Black Skin, White Mask, masks can be imbued with a double meaning, a barrier that at once empowers and disempowers – conceals and reveals. For many of us moving through spaces that we perceive as unsafe, the self-imposed invisibility may create a false perception of safety. Sadly, in the short term, wearing a mask may protect us from bodily harm, long-term, the mask does not ward off the lesions and wounds seared into the soul.
Fanon conveyed it well. Wearing a mask perpetuates a double consciousness that while appearing to serve as a protective shield, gradually disintegrates into the face, melting into the soul of the individual wearing it. The clear lines of where the mask begins and ends are no longer easily perceived.
While masks have been worn by various civilizations and cultures for collective self-expression and individual self-protection, they were always meant to be worn temporarily. For these tribal cultures, masks were worn during rituals, both to convey shifts in consciousness, for example, good or evil, to ward off evil spirits or even take on and become the embodiment of a spirit. Through the mask a person could be both disempowered and empowered, at once, stripping the self and subsequently absorbing the power of an “esprit” spirit to connect with a source greater than oneself.
However what happens when a person who has been wearing a mask for so long, truly believes the mask is good for them? What do you do when the mask is no longer an accessory but becomes a necessary coverup that must be worn daily? When the person wearing the mask deeply believes taking it off would cause more harm than wearing it?
Confidence & Trust – The Faces of Leadership The most powerful theme in leadership development in 2018 is TRUST. The world over, there is a lack of trust, especially between individuals and institutions, the workplace being ground zero, especially among younger workers, particularly women. If female managers don’t believe that their efforts will be acknowledged and refrain from pursuing new opportunities – it indicates a low level of trust in the organization. To change this reality, their perception must be altered through what is seen and believed.
Post hashtagmetoo, hashtagTimesUpNow, hashtagDrBlaseyFord and all the other hashtagwomensrights movements of the past 2 years – what have we learned, if anything, and what now? We had a wonderful time at Novocento Brickell having candid discussions about the three different dimensions of power – self, community and the institutions we interact with daily.
Innovation City Podcast Interview #006
My Full Innovation City interview at Venture Cafe Miami is LIVE on all digital platforms. If you are starting off as an entrepreneur or you are taking a LEAP to start a new venture or set out on a new life path, you will enjoy this interview. You can also subscribe to SLAM on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud. Thank you, Tyler Kelley and Venture Cafe Miami for such a great interview.
What is the price we pay when we choose to do nothing about a situation that slowly eats away at us?
These past weeks a parade of women have accused powerful men in leadership positions of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Across many industries heads are rolling so much so that it borders on the absurd. How can so many people be complicit in uplifting these predators, praising them and awarding them for their creativity? What have we been doing to allow these people this level of success? It is mind blowing that so many have put up with being abused, beat down and stepped on as a matter of course for the sake of their careers…
Can the veneer of success wash away the deep shame that comes with compromising yourself regularly? Where do we draw the line on the proverbial road to Athens? The road to conformity and self contortions that leave you barely recognizable, even to yourself.
I developed my work around the Heroine’s Leadership Journey so that women could find the courage to stand up for themselves. The very model is based on rebuilding female self-confidence, which is very much needed, now more than ever. “Fake it till you make it” is no longer enough! My coaching approach is especially crucial after years of working in toxic hyper-masculine professions that erode any sense of self, dignity and integrity that is required when you do nothing but compromise yourself on a regular basis.
As these sexual harassment stories surface, it is impossible for old memories not to resurface. I have dodged many bullets over the years, as a young woman who traveled extensively for work with consulting teams made up primarily of men, the boundaries were sometimes pushed by people who knew better and my cold hard stare rarely ever left anyone wondering what was permissible in my presence. We can all #dobetter. #metoo
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