The Reach Group

I have been thinking a lot lately about how the stigma of mental illness and problems that people face on a daily basis. Some of these problems are ones that we have no control over but support is needed to address how we react to problems of multiple consciousness. I’ve been inspired to do this by things I have experienced over the past several months.

  1. Supporting a long distance friend online through problems they are facing.
  2. Exploring the idea of W.E.B. Dubois’ Double Consciousness and it’s expansion into Multiple Consciousness in a Sociology course I am taking.
  3. My own mental health problems, My desire to talk to and help other people like me.
  4. My progress in self realization and self acceptance through properly addressing my mental health. (Which happened very rapidly and suddenly.)
  5. My interest in peer-support for people who suffer from addiction problems. Peer support works and everyone with a problem can benefit from it but not everyone fits into the mold of what these groups entail.
  6. The witnessing of how much progress can be made when there is a voice for people especially on social media. One big voice can connect with many people. This may or may not be part of The Reach Group but it has inspired me either way.
  7. My own experience with a men’s therapy group that I have participated in for several weeks as of today’s date.

That is a lot. And yes, these are all things that I have directly experienced within the past 4-5 months. Why have these things happened so quickly? I don’t know. What I do know is that by taking these things in so quickly it’s made me want to explore the idea of putting a purpose behind it.

There are very few support groups available for people who don’t necessarily fit into the idea of alcoholics, trauma survivors, over eaters, or whatever labeled problem that warrants 12-step based recovery groups.

Ideally, this is for the people who go to work day to day, live their lives and don’t know how to manage their emotions the way they want. They shield themselves from others, they feel down on themselves, and they feel the pressures placed on by gender expectations or society.

I don’t have a fully fleshed out plan but I would like to start my own group and tentatively, I am calling it The Reach Group. TRG will not be a 12 Step Based program but I might define some steps to help identify problems and how to get their solution into order. I would also like to have a basic text for this group as well.

In addition to the things above, I also want this group to be modern beyond what typical peer support groups are. I want it to have in person meetings as a group would normally have and I also want an online element to it also that is not public social media. We are not anonymous but we are confidential and I want a private space for people to meet online. I have started setting up the online element by way of a discord server and it will be used to host online meetings, general support and chat, voice conversations and help coordinate in person group meetings.

We will have principles, we will have set values, and these values and principles will be flexible so that they reflect what is currently needed at any given time. We are not set in stone. We are not rigid. We will have a sponsorship element.

As mentioned in my list above, peer support works. It is incredible to be able to talk freely and understand when you know people who face the same types of problems that you face. There are various support groups provided by community health organizations world wide and of course there are 12-step based programs that address mental health issues outside of addiction. These types of groups are not for everyone. Even so, peer support groups are few and far between in my area and I intend to develop something that is accessible to many people.

I will continue to develop this idea in a separate blog so that I can actually define what we are doing, what the group is about, and how we will help one another. The Reach Group MOV Blog

Transgender In The Workplace

Transgender people especially have a difficult time in regard to the way they are perceived by others and face discrimination just as any other minority group faces.

In the workplace, transgender people experience high levels of discrimination and are often overlooked for employment.

Over 52% of transgender people have experienced discrimination at their jobs. I would not be surprised if race minorities and women face the same level of discrimination but also consider the fact that there are far less transgender men and women than there are of other groups. They can at least lean on each other. A black man might be able to find another black man and they have an understanding of each other. Women may be able to reach out to another woman at the work place and talk about their problems. For the transgender person, it is extremely lonely in the work environment.

I Was Only Joking!

Jeez, don’t be so sensitive. It’s only a joke! This article from Vice details a long line of sexist comments from economist, Stephen Moore who is nominated to serve as Governor of the Federal Board by President Trump. Moore was also an adviser on Trump’s campaign and previously in the wildly successful Herman Cain campaign in 2012.

The marginalization of women has set our society back incredibly. I hope that we are moving forward in our attitudes about women. I believe that the more women are able to communicate without fear and the more strong female leaders that we have in our country, the stronger women as a whole will be and our world will benefit as a result.

Barriers

From Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on barriers to Women and Loving by Audrey Lorde’s “Sister Outsider”.

Lorde defines:

Racism: The belief in the internet superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance.

Sexism: The belief in the inherent superiority of one sex and thereby the right to dominance.

Heterosexism: The belief in the inherent superiority of one pattern of loving and thereby its right to dominance.

Homophobia: The fear of feelings of love for members of one’s own sex and therefore the hatred of those feelings in others.

Lorde’s essay that follows is brilliant and I’ve mentioned before that her voice is an excellent one to hear. I really like these definitions she lays out for us and want to talk about defining things.

My previous post is essentially about dissecting what racism means so that people cannot avoid the thought that they are racist. If the dissection is forced, then they will will less able to avoid the conscious thought that they are racist individuals. So what I think that it can stand that the forms of sexism and homophobia can be dissected down just like racism is.

Eventually, if people are educated about what racism, sexism, homophobia really are and all the ways that they seep through our society then perhaps one day we can finally simplify them down to what they really are which is hatred.

Dissecting Racism

Lorde writes in her essay “The Uses Of Anger: Women Responding To Racism”, that “Women responding to racism means women responding to anger; the anger of exclusion, of unquestioned privilege, of racial distortions, of silence, ill-use, stereotyping, defensiveness, misnaming, betrayal, and co-optation.”

This is an important quote from Lorde. Racism is important to understand and it’s not easy to dissect it down to all of what it entails. Without dissection, it is easier for people to dismiss racism and be able to easily (although wrongly) reject any idea that they are racist. When racism is only described by it’s own term, people will think of whatever they think the worst is. Ku Klux Klan, pure and unrelenting hatred, slavery, and so forth. They are left to continue thinking of themselves as right and good because they aren’t burning crosses in someone’s yard and can continue sticking to what their own view of racism is. When racism is discussed in a general sense, many of those people can disregard their unquestioned privilege.

The Absence Of Harshness

In part of her essay, “Eye To Eye”, Audrey Lorde writes about her experiences as a young Black child. In one example, she has undergone a fairly invasive eye examination for a three-year-old. She is hurting, tired, scared, and she wants her mother.

Lorde recalls a voice that she heard as a result of her “peculiar” eyes being examined. “From the looks of her, she is probably simple too.” The doctors all laugh. One pats her on the cheek and sends her out.

Lorde states in her essay, “I am grateful for the absence of harshness.”

I imagine that just about anyone who has a feature about them that can be perceived by others as a problem can relate to this. The feelings of not being accepted, not being loved, condescended upon, and merely tolerated is a powerful oppression that occurs. I think this oppression is sometimes intentional but sometimes it is not.

I think that unintentional oppression comes from a place of miseducation and ignorance. It’s easy to look at the person walking across the bridge at 11:30 in the morning and say “That person ought to go get a job.” It’s easy to give them $5 and send them on their way. But what if we began to understand them? What if we learned they have a disability. Perhaps that disability comes from a traumatic life that others can’t imagine in their own worst nightmares? We tolerate people getting off the bus who are talking to themselves wearing headphones but we certainly don’t go out of our way to engage them.

We do not help them, we simply spare them the harshness.

The Eyes Of Others

There are many problems of double consciousness as DuBois describes but the nature of it largely entails the requirement of looking at your life through the eyes of others. The elements of our lives that make us different, special, unique are often viewed as problems for others and we in turn train ourselves to believe “I am a problem.”