The conversation surrounding racism in this country has seen an escalation towards new levels of awareness among people of all races. But for some, it may feel that they are perceived as being racist even when they’re not trying to be. What’s a person to do? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen, Tana Amen, and pastor Miles McPherson talk about what one person can do to help effect a positive change.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using Brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information visit brainmdhealth.com. Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. We're talking about racism and the brain and Pastor McPherson's new book, "The Third Option: hope for a racially divided nation." You can get it on Amazon or at milesmcpherson.com. The Rock. How do they learn about the Rock?
Pastor Miles McPherson: Sdrock.com.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sdrock.com.
Tana Amen: For San Diego.
Pastor Miles McPherson: San Diego Rock dot com. They can watch services live.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's amazing. I had the blessing of being able to speak at the services with Pastor McPherson a couple of weeks ago. Let's get really practical. All of us are affected by racism. What is it I can do as an individual to combat it in my life and in my work?
Tana Amen: Yeah, I'd like to see it community-wide. I know it starts with you, but then how do we extend it?
Pastor Miles McPherson: Step number one is accept that I can be offensive without being a racist. One of the ways to look at "Third Option" is if you ask someone if they're a racist, they'll say no. Some will say yes, but the reality is, a third option, is we're all biased, and we all have less than neutral opinions about things, which is human. I need to learn about that. I need to accept that that's true and ask friends about my blind spots. One of the probably most practical things you can do is when you have a conversation with someone, every time you talk to a human, you're having a race conversation. I'm looking at you right now and I'm guessing what I think you are.
Tana Amen: Right. I like it.
Pastor Miles McPherson: A race conversation shouldn't be viewed as a race confrontation. It should be viewed as a race consultation. In other words, when I meet you, I should want to learn about you. When you tell me you're Lebanese, okay, now I want to know. You told me about something, you hinted to what you are, and I've been thinking, ever since you said something about your background, that I want to know what that is.
Tana Amen: Right.
Pastor Miles McPherson: I should want to learn about you and allow you to self disclose, versus me impose on you my assumptions, because my assumptions come from my social narrative, my flawed view, my genetics. It's wrong. It's incomplete at best. If I, every time I see someone, or even if I see someone on television that I may never meet, let me listen to what they're saying and believe them, and not call them a liar.
Tana Amen: Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Or judge them as bad.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Exactly. Judge them as bad before I have a chance ... You know, the NFL kneeling situation. Everybody has an opinion. They shouldn't kneel. They should kneel. I think let's step back, and a third option is to consider this.
Tana Amen: Why?
Pastor Miles McPherson: If I was laying in the street and you were driving down the street, the first thing I would hope you would say is, "Why are you in the middle of the street?"
Pastor Miles McPherson: Not, "Get up, because I've got to get to work." The guys in the NFL are 20 something year olds making a lot of money, that could lose their job the next day and not get paid, some of them. They are risking a lot. Why? Why?
Tana Amen: Would they do that?
Pastor Miles McPherson: Why would they do that? Now, you may in the end say, "I don't agree with them kneeling." Before you say that, ask yourself why. These guys are not criminals. They're not knuckleheads. These guys, they've worked hard. I was one of them. I know them personally. They are intelligent guys who are working in communities, who are giving lots of money away, and they have pain. If they're really people like me, how can I honor them as a human? If that's a human, I know what it would take for me to risk everything. Would you risk that much money and that career? The careers are going to be not long anyway, no matter what you do, so they have a short period of time to make money.
I think having conversations with people, giving people a chance to self disclose their pain, their burden, their dreams, before we impose our assumptions on them. If we just did that, and you went around and met people ... Go to the mall. Meet somebody. Don't just say, "That's a Black person. That's a White person. That's White privilege. That's Black this. That's Hispanic. That's an immigrant." Spend time to listen to their story and put yourself in your shoes.
There was a lady, when I was writing this book, she told me, "Why can't you just get over it?" I said, "You need to be the other." She's a very good friend of mine still, to this day. I said, "You need to go to some place where you're the only White person." In this book, I challenged six White people to do that and to answer certain questions about their experience, what they felt like when I asked them, what they felt like when they went there. How they were treated. What did they think was going to happen to them? They all had great experiences, and nothing they feared happened. I don't think any of them told me that what they feared had ever happened.
Tana Amen: That's an interesting point. Their fears had never actually happened.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Never happened.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's so often true for my patients who have panic disorders, and say, come up with all these negative thoughts [inaudible 00:05:53]. They come up with all these awful, terrible things that's going to happen that mostly never happens.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Exactly. Exactly. We can honor people by putting ourself in their shoes, learning about what they really are. We can honor ourself and our ability to love self-sacrificially and change, by listening to our thoughts. What am I thinking about them? Where did I get that information? Why do I think that? I don't even know this person. I don't know why that person's angry. I was talking to a guy the other day, and his grandfather was killed by the Klu Klux Klan. His great great grandfather was a slave. Can you imagine having that history? He's a man of God. We have to give people a chance to self disclose to us what they feel and educate us. They should be also gracious to let you educate them.
Tana Amen: I actually really like that. That's very interesting.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If we look at me, I don't have to label myself as a racist, but I am racially biased.
Pastor Miles McPherson: All of us are.
Dr. Daniel Amen: All of us.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Everyone.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Just own it.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Own it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Right? John 8:32. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Dr. Daniel Amen: For you, it's, "I need to know about you," as opposed to label you, which is to lump you with all of the Mexicans I've ever known and go, "You're this way," to actually know you, not just the color of you.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Exactly.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We can put this together.
Tana Amen: Yeah. This is a little bit different, but I just want to sort of bring together through a story. I told you earlier I'm judgmental. I also take a lot of self defense classes. I was attacked when I was 15 walking to high school. It was really interesting. I was taking a self defense class, and the guy leading it, he was a police officer, and it was a lot of cops in this class. He was asking, "What does your idea of a criminal look like? What does your idea of a perpetrator look like? What does your idea ..."
He was going around the room and I'm sort of confused by the whole way that people are answering. I'm like, "Okay, it must be based on their experience, obviously." That's where it comes from, right, a question like that? When they got to me, I'm like, "It's a big White guy in a suit." Literally everyone turned around and looked at me. I'm like, "That's who attacked me." I wasn't expecting it. Because I wasn't expecting it and because we have an idea of what someone looks like, whether it's a criminal or a perpetrator or the bad guy or the whoever in your life, I got attacked by someone who didn't look like that.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Right. Right.
Tana Amen: It was a big wake up call for me. When he asked that question, I'm like, "Why are they even thinking that?" To this day, I'm always looking behind me. It's an interesting concept, isn't it, that they all had this idea, and for me it's a big White guy in a suit.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Right. What you see on television and the frequency with which you see people who commit crimes on television doesn't match the facts.
Pastor Miles McPherson: Media's shaping what you should think people, criminals look like, which is a whole other story.
Tana Amen: Which is sort of ridiculous, because that's why I got attacked, because I was thinking, "That's what they look like. They don't look like that guy," and I walked right by him.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and the media attempts to shape so much of what we think, and we have to be very careful about that. The media is after clicks and advertising dollars.
Tana Amen: They want to trade in fear.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Whatever they can sensationalize, they will, and we begin to think the sensationalism is normal, when it's abnormal. Stay with us. When we come back, we're going to talk about such a practical topic. We're going to talk about how to kill Pastor Miles McPherson's ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts.
Pastor Miles McPherson: I've got them.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Our conversation when I was at the Rock a few weeks ago. Stay with us. Thank you for listening to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review, and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of the Brain Warrior's Way and the Brain Warrior's Way cookbook we give away every month.