... on deep listening ...
As a Black, queer woman, I must admit that I become a bit anxious when I think about the topic of “deep listening” in primarily white contexts. Historically, this invitation to deep listening almost always comes back to issues of racism and other interlocking systems of oppression. Without fail, I become both the group expert in diversity and the repository for fear, anxiety, and white guilt. It’s exhausting. The emotional labor needed to be in these spaces often goes unrecognized, uncompensated, and unappreciated. Yet, people will privately offer their gratitude for their growth not realizing their growing pains have been etched into my invisible Black flesh. Yet, I must keep showing up. Our survival and existence depends on it. Deep Listening.
When we consider “deep listening”, I invite you to listen beyond what is said. Listen with your body. Listen with your heart. Listen with your soul. Engage in appreciative inquiry. How can you create a container for someone to openly share without fear of being silenced?
If we open ourselves to listen deeply and truly connect with the stories of others, we should be compelled into action. Perhaps this action is setting a firm date for another cup of coffee. Perhaps this action is providing connections and resources. Or perhaps this action will lead us to moments of silence, prayer, or uncontrollable laughter.
I invite you to listen to the ways that community and society context is impacting the one who is sharing. I invite you to listen to the impacts of generational trauma. I invite you to listen to the ways that communities have been impacted by mass incarceration. I invite you to listen to the one who may not be able to speak ways you understand; I ask you to listen to their heart.