I am Jill Osur, founder of Teneral Wine Cellars, a woman-owned and run wine company. Join me as I have conversations with trailblazing women who are transforming the world with grit and grace.
Grab a glass and let’s enjoy some amazing wine together.
Chill with Jill Featuring Brenda Wade
Jill Osur (JO) Hi, welcome to Chill with Jill. Today I have the pleasure and privilege of sitting with my dear friend, mentor and sister, Dr. Brenda Wade. Brenda is America’s love doctor. She is a holistic psychologist. She’s all about body, mind emotion and spirit. Brenda, thank you for being here today.
Brenda Wade (BW) Thank you Jill. It’s my pleasure. What could be better than sitting here with you in a beautiful garden, sipping some delicious Teneral wine.
JO The definition of Teneral comes from transformation -- transforming the world with grit and grace. Always Being. Always Becoming.
Our country is going through what is hopefully is a good transformation. But as with all transformations, there is pain, challenge and struggle. I started this company during COVID. Then Black Lives Matter happened. Because we had a diversity of investors, employees and customers, with the murder of George Floyd, I thought it was important to stand up, speak out and shoulder up about how wrong it was. I got a lot of heat for that. The backlash was shocking.
Now is a time to listen, learn and recognize even my own biases I grew up with, as a privileged white woman. I want to talk about this with you, because you are so attuned to what’s happening. You are often called to go on television to talk about the trauma of these tragedies. This is a time when our country needs healing. How do we approach that, when you have peaceful protestors, but some people are inciting violence? How do we get through all of this? How do I learn from this, so that my friends and I become better allies?
BW As a psychologist and an African-American woman, I think what’s most important is that we seek to understand. The core of what I teach is that we are here to develop heart power. The twelve powers of the heart include: poise, balance, self-control, love, wisdom, truth, compassion, understanding and forgiveness.
What do I need to do to exercise heart power? Do I need to deepen my understanding of what white privilege is? Do I need to deepen my understanding of what it means to be an African American in this country, or LatinX? We know there is a link between African American and people of Latin American culture living in the U.S.
It is very important to understand what racism is. Most people say they are not racist. But we all are. It was sprinkled on our cereal every morning and flashed through every image we saw on certain boxes, on cartoons, on television, in the history books and textbooks, in what teachers taught. Everything.
We have a lot of history here.
I found an early picture of people coming from Europe, landing in New York harbor. These immigrants were fleeing pogroms in Russia, where Jewish people were being murdered, fleeing the famine in Ireland, where the Catholic Celtic speaking Irish were being starved to death. England created the famine. They pumped tons of food out of Ireland and gave it to the cattle.
What is racism? These are human beings. How do we have compassion?
In the 1600s African people were brought to this country. The earliest pictures I could find showed they had no clothing. They were chained together. This was a dramatic difference from the immigrants coming from Europe 200 years later. It was not that they did not suffer terribly. But the strength of the family was there. They came with their children, with bundles of clothing, as intact families who could later send for their relatives.
For 200 years, African people were brought here -- no families, no children, no spouses, no ability to send for their relatives. Every day they worked, from sun up to sun down, with nothing to show for it.
To justify using human beings this way, the enslavers had to de-humanize them. To say they are not people, they don’t have feelings or the same needs and desires that we do. They don’t have the same families and children. All of this becomes part of the psyche. Because if you lie to people long enough, they believe it’s the truth.
The people who were enslaved drank the poison their enslavers created. This is what people don’t know. It’s important to understand from history why the brutal, crushing treatment got worse over time.
The African slaves in Jamaica, Haiti and the Islands staged 450 documented armed insurrections. They burned down plantations, killed the enslavers. But they could not defeat each other. Ultimately it was a standoff. The Africans created free communities in the mountainous interior. To this day there are direct descendants of these African people called Maroons living in the Jamaican high lands.
What we’ve got are images of frightening black people who could rise and rebel. This created the necessity to crush their spirit. William (Willie) Lynch was a Jamaican plantation owner. He wrote a letter, now in the Library of Congress, a source for “lynching.” In his letter Willie Lynch said don’t ever let them think they can keep their families. Sell off their wives and children. Separate them. Brutalize them. Terrorize them. It’s all in his letter. You can read it in my second book, What Mama Couldn't Tell Us About Love: Healing the Emotional Legacy of Racism by Celebrating Our Light .
Unless you live in the South, we’ve forgotten this story -- the brutality, the lynching -- until modern day police lynching. Recently there was a shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin of a young black father. He was shot seven times, in front of his small child. I had no idea Kenosha had such a terrible history of racism.
What we’ve got is an opportunity, if you’re African American, to tap into that heart power of compassion and forgiveness. If you’re a white person and an ally, tap into that same heart power – compassion, forgiveness and understanding. But all of it must lead to action. Because none are free unless all are free.
Now I will reveal my metaphysical side. It combines science, psychology and spirituality. As a spiritual teacher, the integration point is understanding the holographic field. Your energy and mine are connected. If one part of the energy field is being suppressed, we are all losing energy -- reflected in the lights, gifts and talents of those people.
We can’t afford to be what I call “raisin hearted,”where your heart is like a dried up little raisin, because you have not been watering it with your love, wisdom and truth. You need to put some water in there. How can I grow? How can I claim what is mine at the expense of someone else? There is enough for all of us to share.
Anyone who is white in this country is enjoying the fruits of my ancestors’ labor. Go to the website of Black inventors. Thousands of inventions were discovered by African Americans -- plasma, fast drying paint – not to mention the culture itself.
It is very hard to confront racism. Many of my white friends say, “I am not racist.” But the truth is you’ve been drinking the Kool Aid, along with everyone else. You haven’t awakened yet. It’s hard to awaken; it is painful.
After the racial violence, I had one white person call me and say the most appropriate things. She asked, “How are you? This must be hard for you. I can’t imagine how you are feeling. I want to apologize for my racism. I am working on it. “ That person was your daughter. She was the only person who said something Incredibly heartwarming, healing, and totally appropriate.
JO I talk with her every day; follow her social feed. I have a lot of apologizing to do. I’ll be vulnerable here and say there was a time when I said I don’t see color. From my heart’s perspective, I love all people. And I want to treat people equally. But I realize now I was missing color. I need to see to see color, that you’ve had a different experience than I have. When we appreciate different voices, we are going to be a different place. Read Ibram X. Kendy’s book How to be An Antiracist .
We should not say we are not racist.
BW We are all racist. Even Black people. We have been drinking the poison for so long, we don’t realize it has seeped in. One of the things I want to bring up is, as a psychologist, what has the experience of African Americans led to, in terms of mental, emotional and physical health. Black people have escalated rates of chronic illnesses – hypertension, depression, diabetes, heart disease. It is a result of living with the constant pressure of systemic racism.
I had to teach my children, not what to do if the police stop you, but when they stop you. My gently raised daughters who went to private school were on their way to a wedding, dressed to the nines, driving a new car. They were pulled over and asked for ID. I taught them to always keep their hands on the dashboard. Because if you move too fast, and the police think you are reaching for something, they will shoot you.
I told them to say “Officer, my driver’s license is in my purse, in the back seat. Do you want to get my purse, or do you want me to get it?” If you reach inside your purse, keep one hand on the dashboard and slowly pull out the license.
The incident ended with the officer asking, “Do either of you have a warrant out for your arrest? Are you on probation or parole?” My elder daughter was seething inside, but she took a deep breath and said “Officer, we have never been involved with the law. Would you like to run a background check on us?”
They got to the wedding – they were the only Black kids there. When they described what happened, their friends said the police had also stopped them. When my daughters pressed as to whether they were ever asked about being on probation or parole, or whether there’s a warrant out for their arrest, they said no. This is the projection.
The experience for my children and me was one of hurt, rage, fear, anxiety. What if this had gone badly? I also had to teach my stepsons what do when, not if, you are pulled over by the police. I taught my kids never to go into a department store with a coat on, or carrying a bag – only take your wallet. So, when security is tailing you they can see you have no place to steal anything.
This projection is what leads to 20% more anxiety and depression; it’s chronic. This is what makes you sick. All of this comes back to how do we treat this anxiety? How do we treat the depression?
I want anyone who is a person of color, particularly if your ancestors were brought here and turned into the “boogie men,” the official bad people, to know it’s chronic. Depression and anxiety are part of it. We need to engage in a healing process. For anyone who wants to engage with me, contact me at love@.wade.com . I will give you a free eBook and a free teleseminar to heal. Anyone who is a white ally can also get the book and do the training.
The beautiful thing about the brain is, just as we were taught the lies and were systematically programmed, we can un-program ourselves. It takes time, energy, and applied attention. But we can un-program our brains.
JO That is so powerful, Brenda. We all need to do the work. White people like myself need to do a lot of work.
BW Bless you for being “woke” enough to say that.
JO I know if we have a diversity of experiences and voices we will have better companies. We’ll have a better planet, a better world. How do we start to change some of the systemic issues? How do we change police departments? How do we have more equity?
My industry does not have a lot of equity and it’s one of my personal missions to change that. There are 0.1% Black wine makers – that’s men and women combined. There are only 10% female winemakers. That’s another issue for me that’s unacceptable. My company will be far more successful if I have diversity of experiences and voices. I want my business to be a model for other companies, to see how successful we will become, because we have that kind of diversity and equity.
I see the divisiveness in this country, particularly when we talk about defunding the police. I saw what Trevor Noah said about needing perfection, when you’re an airline pilot. You can’t have bad airline pilots. Somehow we’re mixing up this conversation – we also can’t have bad police officers.
BW - It’s a complex issue related to training. In England police officers get two years of training. In America, they are not as well trained as they should be. They get a maximum of 3-6 months. I think we can change that. I have worked with the police and with the Fire Department. When a consent decree was passed 20 years ago In San Francisco, I was brought in to help un-learn racism.
My mentor created the field of humanistic psychology. As a humanist, the most important thing for me is that police are human beings. Any officer prone to violence 90% of the time grew up with it. Extended training must be done. We need to do a better job helping officers to do the inner work, as a key part of their training, so they have a large pool of experience to draw from.
JO Are we asking officers to do too much?
BW Yes, I think we are asking officers to do too much. Here in the Bay area we have what we call the Black and Whites. These are officers trained in psychological and psychiatric care. An officer rushing into a situation, where someone is having a hard time because they are mentally disturbed, may not know what to do instead of shooting them. This has happened all over the country. Then you add racial bias to the mix.
There was a white guy, clearly mentally disturbed, who was waving a gun. The police did not shoot and managed to disarm him.
Poor training does not account for racial bias. The officers bring their own racist projections. All of this can be transformed, but it requires excellent training that includes body, emotions, mind and spirit.
The “gut brain” fires first before the “head brain.” I teach people the ten-second rule. Give yourself ten seconds to ask, “What would I be doing if this person was white?” Would I be sending this kid out of the classroom? Because that’s what happens to black and brown boys. White kids are kept in the classroom. The parents are called. Black kids are expelled. It has happened in my own family. We know that Black people are treated differently, wherever they go. It’s across the board. It’s not just police officers. It’s educators, doctors, people in hospitals.
JO Clearly when you are a teacher the ten-second rule applies, because you have those ten seconds. But when you are a police officer, what we hear is that it’s instantaneous.
BW It is instantaneous. So, what do you do -- shoot someone in the back who is unarmed? Do you kill an unarmed black woman, in her bed sleeping? Breanna Taylor was naked and asleep in her bed. They shot her – what was it – 22 times? She was alive for five minutes after that. This is horrifying. Do we need to come in and unleash bullets on someone when we don’t know what’s going on?
Take the ten seconds to assess whether it is a high-risk situation.
JO And the person they were looking for was already in custody. Clearly now we are talking about more systemic issues. With the Breanna Taylor ruling,
there is rage. It’s justifiable that people are angry.
BW It is unbelievable that she died and no one was responsible.
JO The only gentleman who was responsible got a slap on the hand for shooting into the neighbor’s apartment.
BW Remember that anger and hurt go hand in hand. People only look at the anger, not what’s behind it. It’s hurt, it’s pain. I’ve lived with this through all the generations of my family. It is so painful to see it again, that literally Breanna’s life did not matter. It did not matter that she was 21 years old, that she had just finished her EMT training. The contributions and the dreams she had to contribute did not matter. Because her skin was brown.
JO How do you stay hopeful at a time like this?
BW I am the Queen of Hope. I believe in being positive. I believe in hard work. My sleeves rolled up. I am on the ground. I have carefully chosen the organizations to which I give my time and energy. I want my voice to be heard. I do antiracist training for any organization that asks me. A typical training is not deep enough. We have got to get to where the subconscious reservoir of learning is, unlearn that behavior and learn something new. The best training is experiential. It is not about talking at someone, because the brain does not uptake information when it’s in one ear and out the other.
We must have a fully embodied experience. That’s what changes the dynamic and that’s how police must be trained. It’s the only thing that is going to help. You’d have to check my number here, but I think Black women are 70% more likely to die. Serena Williams almost died in childbirth, because the medical professionals would not listen to her.
Our system has an infection. We need to take the medicine, which means working on the racism. I grew up in this country. My family grew up in this country. I am infected and I’ve got to take the medicine, too.
JO For all the women listening out there, for all the women of color, how do they stay hopeful?
BW My way of taking care of myself during this time is to let myself cry. I have shed a lot of tears in my own life. I started recognizing things for what they truly are. The struggles I knew were racist now fit into other racist struggles across generations. We must grieve, feel the sadness, feel the pain. We must talk about it. We also must allow our allies in.
We need safe, private spaces to have deep conversations. Where we don’t have to worry whether there is someone in the room who won’t get it because they are not in touch with their racism. I think above all it’s turning to the resources to which African Americans have always turned – spiritual resources.
Whatever spiritual path you choose, this is a time to double down, triple down. Unfortunately, during COVID we can’t gather. Get on those online zoom meetings, training, services. Practice meditating.
One of the verses that a lot of people know: let the meditation of my heart be acceptable. Meditation is medicine. It allows us to download all the stressful moments, recalibrate and re-load the brain with things that make us feel good, like Oxytocin and Serotonin. These also help bring up your estrogen levels, if you’re in a female body, or testosterone, if you are male. I want everyone to learn to take that deep breath, drop into the present, and be all of this.
I fully and firmly believe there is a power greater than us at work.
This is a time of awakening around the world. I am watching Belarus, Russia, what’s happening in Latvia and Poland. In the UK people are marching for racial justice. Dictators are being overthrown on the African continent. Around the world people are saying we’ve had enough oppression and suppression. We are stepping into a new awareness that will make us all healthier. I believe that will make the world and the earth healthier, too.
JO Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. Because this is a conversation that more people need to have. There are resources out there for allies like myself who want to help. Our job is to listen more. I don’t want to hear one more person say racism doesn’t happen. It’s not our place to say that, because it clearly happens. That’s when we need to see the color and understand experiences are different from ours. At Teneral Cellars I am committed to hiring women of color and make sure they get to leadership positions, or hire them directly into leadership. I know my business will be better for that.
BW Speaking as a scientist, everything vibrates at a specific frequency. We’ve measured states of consciousness. Dr. David Hawkins started measuring emotional states. The lowest calibrating state is shame. It measures close to zero. Right above shame is guilt. Then there are all the other things that suppress our energy and make us sick with depression and anxiety. Above the line is courage. Have the courage to look at what’s going on and ask how I can learn from it, how can I help. That takes courage. The rest of it is gravy, good stuff like love, enlightenment and joy.
JO I certainly hope that all the women watching this have the courage to stand up, speak up and shoulder up. There is no question that if the women in the world come together, not only will we rule the world, it will also be a better place.
BW We must be 50/50 men and women leadership. My hero is Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Here’s a toast to women bringing our heart centered power to everything that we do. Let’s toast to that with a nice sip of delicious wine from Teneral Cellars.
JO Cheers to you, my friend. Thanks so much for joining us today. I am so grateful.
BW It’s my pleasure. Blessings, blessings.