Whole / Self Liberation is a resource for integrating personal growth and social justice, acknowledging the connections between personal liberation and social liberation.
Social change can’t happen without inner change, and our inner change affects social change.
Their mission is to create spaces that cultivate healing, connection, growth, and understanding in service of collective well-being… Because we aren’t meant to do the work of dismantling, unlearning, relearning, and growing in isolation.
IN THIS EPISODE:
– What is Whole / Self Liberation
– How it came to be
– Why it exists at the personal growth-social justice intersection
– Goals + intentions for this work
– How do we reach more people with this work?
The transcription for this episode is available on our blog: http://www.unfuckyourselfshow.com/s1e6-andrea-ranae-and-ca…/
Unfuck Yourself Show Season One Episode Six
Whole / Self Liberation with Andréa Ranae and Cameron Airen
Jess: Welcome to episode 6 of Unfuck Yourself, the show about reclaiming you. I’m Jess.
Sydney: I’m Sydney and today we have Andrea and Cameron. They are here to talk about their movement, their program, their world domination strategy which is called Whole Self Liberation. I am going to let them introduce themselves as I do every week as I cannot do these folks justice. We will start with you, Andrea.
Andrea: Hey friends. I’m Andrea. I am coach and facilitator and student of Black women– a queer person, a fat person. I’m also co-founder of Whole Self.
Cameron: Hey, I’m Cameron. You can call me Cam. I am a feminist consultant and I help people incorporate a feminist lens into their work and everyday life and unlearn gender expectations and norms. I have a podcast called Real Feminist Stories. I am the other co-founder of Whole Self Liberation.
WHOLE / SELF LIBERATION WITH ANDREA RENAE AND CAMERON AIREN
Sydney: Do you want to tell us– one or both of you– what Whole Self is, how it came about, what we need to know about it for folks who are listening who might not have heard about it. How would you explain it to them if they were 5?
Cameron: That is tough. I will let you start that.
Jess: That’s tough. Hand it off.
Andrea: So, the question is what is Whole Self? Whole Self– we are always in the process of cultivating as an educational resource that primarily focuses of internalized oppression– the messages and the ways of being that we internalize and absorb and take on as we are growing up and living in the society that we are in. Just unpacking and learning, healing those toxic/ harmful beliefs about those identities about ourselves and other people that keep us from being our whole self. We are doing workshops and putting out content and working on bringing people to do this work of doing the inner work of social change.
Cam: Just to be clear– the tough part was how to explain it to a 5-year-old.
Jess: That was actually going to be my next question. I know that the majority of people at least currently who and watching and listening run in similar circles as all 4 of us so like there is this base line form of knowledge there– I hope there is– to what we are talking about. For someone who’s just really starting to realize or wake up to how society has completely screwed us up– have you found a way to easily tell them what this is or is it one of those things that someone needs a base line to get?
Cam: I think right now someone needs a baseline but as we progress, I think we are going to get much better at explaining it to people who are totally new to the integration of personal growth and social justice– both of those worlds but have some kind of interest in both of those worlds. This actually came up for me when I was talking to someone a few months ago– just a stranger I had met an event. I was telling her about Whole Self. I said it was integrating personal growth and social justice. She just looked at me like what are you talking about. I’m like do you what I said? She was like, “It’s really vague.”
It is vague. It does require some knowledge about what both of those things are. What I did with her was that I brought it back to [inaudible]. I was like, “You know how all these women here–how society has told all these women that they are not as good as men and they can’t really do the same things men can do in this course and that is holding you back from being who you are and your full self. It was a very simple bringing it back to the moment of where you are at and what you are doing. Something easily relatable.
Jess: I know you guys have partnered up on some other stuff– where did the idea come from? Where did the baby come from? Where did it start?
Andrea: You want to tell that story, Cameron?
Cam: It started a year ago when I wanted to start a feminist retreat that was about personal growth, self-care, and social change. Andrea and I were already getting to know each other through a Mastermind group we were both in. We met on Twitter originally a year and a half ago. She knew that I wanted to create this retreat because it was something I was talking about in the Mastermind group and I knew I wanted to co-create it with a woman of color. I didn’t know who it was going to be but I did think whoever they were I hadn’t met them yet.
It was kind of searching out there like who was it going to be and putting out fillers. I thought there was a woman that I was like ‘Maybe it is her?’ and I had proposed this idea to her and she wasn’t totally interested. I said, “Well, that’s not it.” Whoever it is– it’s must click. It should click right away. I thought about it and I was like ‘Who do I really want to lead this retreat with?’ Andrea kept popping up in my mind because we were both so interested in these integrations of personal growth and social justice. I didn’t know many people who were interested in that integration. I loved Andrea and I felt like we have a great connection.
I was like “Alright, I’m going to ask her.” I was super scared because I was like, “I don’t want to put all this pressure on her to say yes if she really doesn’t want to do. I want her to be able to say no.” I told her that I want to lead this with you but please say no if it is a no because I do not want to lead with someone who is just saying yes just because they want to please me.
Right away, she was like ‘Of course.’ I was not expecting that. I was expecting her to think about it for a while and let it marinate but no she was like ‘Yeah, of course.’ I was shocked. Then it turned into something so much bigger which we are doing in the retreat but it turned into Whole Self.
Andrea: I remember getting that text and was like, “Yeah. Okay.” We’ve have talked every week about Whole Self since for a year. We just launched in June. We did a lot of talk and theorizing and just getting to know each other better, getting to know ourselves better and understanding things that we believe about how social change and personal growth go together.
Jess: If you had to choose one goal of this work you are doing, what would you say that goal is? One sentence, one goal. Just to add a little tough to it.
Andrea: It’s hard to say in not jargon terms but I think the overarching goal of everything is liberation but I don’t like saying that liberation is a goal because it’s not —
Sydney: A necessity.
Andrea: But the intention is liberation for all people, of all people especially people who hold marginalized entities. I think our number one goal is to support that– to support the unlearning and shifting and dismantling of oppressive, harmful, toxic systems in our society and move us into more freeing and liberating ways of being. It’s hard to say.
Cam: You said it perfectly.
Jess: It didn’t seem like it was hard. You said it perfect.
Cam: Do you want me to answer as well or is–
Jess: Do you have more?
Cam: No, not really. I would agree 100 percent with that.
Andrea: Your final answer?
Cam: That’s my final answer. I could add more but that is really the essence of what Whole Self is.
“HOW DO WE GET BLANK FACE TO GO AWAY?”
Sydney: How do we get something like Whole Self and Staci’s “Unraveled”– to be honest, this show here and Desiree’s work– we all run in these circles and this show has been a nice conglomeration of all these people who are totally badass doing this work but how do we get people who aren’t us to consume it? When you were saying it was hard to explain it– you were at the Ninja Warrior event and you were saying it was a combination of personal growth and social justice and everyone was just blank faced– how do we get blank face to go away?
How do we start to define these terms– personal growth, social justice, liberation– in words that people can understand and readily consume so they know what you are saying once they are aware? We have these two camps of people. We have us at varying degrees of awareness and then we have the rest of the world. In all reality, we have something that clicked with me that hasn’t clicked with me before until you said that Cameron.
Our entire circle of friends is people who are doing this work and we are a very small portion of people on this planet. I might be mind blown for the rest of the episode because I just realized the circle I am running with and that this isn’t a mainstream idea. Holy shit, for one. That’s crazy to me. Second, how do we change that?
This work is what changes that but how do we get people from blank faced–not understanding social justice or personal growth are– to being able to realize something that they desperately need. What you guys are offering– this is shit that people need. How do we get that out there?
That might be a rhetorical question but if you have thoughts about that– feel free to answer it as if it is a real question. I’m sorting this out in my brain live in real time right now and it is blowing my mind especially with the overlap. My newsfeed– there are two people out of the thousands of people I am connected with that have reached out and seen the stuff we are posting and are curious about it. It’s not even like my entire feed is social justice. The algorithm is so fucked. It’s either no one sees my shit or no one has the balls to like it. How is that a thing?
I post about my fucking sandwich and people go apeshit about it but when I say, ‘Let’s not shoot black people anymore’ and people are radio silent. This is all coming but how do we start defining these terms so we can make sure people understand the work that all of us are doing both collectively and individually. How do we do that?
Cam: I think that is the question of our work. We should constantly be in that question because yes, we are in a bubble– the 4 of us– and a lot of the people that we follow or follow us on social media and even within the bubble there is a lot of work to be done. That’s why it is okay for now that most of the people drawn to us have awareness of both personal growth and social justice because there is always work to be done.
I very much want our work to be accessible to people and to be reachable to people who have no idea what this is– they don’t know that they need it. I think there is also two things going on. There’s two groups of people that we want to draw in– the personal growth people who are into Brene Brown, Louise Hey or mostly white personal growth leaders– Tony Robbins even that.
Jess: Can we please call them in?
Sydney: I’m going to edit out that face I made.
Cam: There is also the social justice world, the activist world that is like ‘Feminism’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Indigenous Rights.’ But there is very few people in the integration of these two things. We are trying to reach people in both of these worlds and wake them up to that integration– doing the inner work and the outer work. That is what needs to be done. All of us doing this work need to be in constant question of what are the words we can use to draw people in who are totally new to these things. I think that anyone that is interested in this must be open because whenever you are doing inner work, you should be open to growth. If you are not, this is not for you. It is not going to be reached.
Andrea: I think that with Whole Self, we are primarily focusing on people that already know about personal growth or social justice but aren’t integrating the two. For the people that aren’t in either camp, I do believe and see that a majority of people know that they have goals, they have dreams, they have ways they want to grow or heal. They might not have the language that occurs in the personal growth world. They might not know about mindset or limiting beliefs but they want to be a better person.
There are also people that know that there are issues in the world, know that there are things happening that shouldn’t be happening, even if they don’t have the full extent or they believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore, whatever. But they know that there are problems but for all of those people which is the masses it is a matter of language, even in both circles: personal growth and social justice we have this common language which isn’t accessible unless you have been indoctrinated into it.
Or if you read a bunch of books or went to school or spent a lot of time of Tumblr. That’s where I learned a lot of things. I think it is language that is the barrier and that’s why I was saying it is so hard to put it into words that is common language that is not jargon or just in this bubble that we are all in. If we can attach people’s everyday experiences to the language we are using or what we are just talking about even if we are not using the language, then that can bridge some things.
Jess: This is so interesting to me. I’m not going to derail it into the 20 thousand thoughts that I have right now– this mainstreaming is something that I think about a lot and I try to make sure when I am talking that I am not using the right words all the time. There are people who still think Feminist is a dirty word. If me using that word turns them off from the word Go, then I’m like ‘Okay, that is not the best way to reach that person.’
How can I reach that person if we talk about the things we care about in feminism without putting that label on it that makes people go ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk about…’? I think we need both. I don’t think we can bring everything without labels. This is very interesting to me in my own work and how I look at the world– how we mainstream things and make sure that we are not sticking in our liberal elite bubbles that we are in and accused of being in. This is not where I thought the conversation would go but I am very interested.
Cam: It is a very interesting question. Accessibility is huge and I think we are in this liberal elite bubble. I do not have any Facebook friends that voted for Trump.
Jess: I just find some every day. I’m not sure how they haven’t unfriended me yet.
Cam: I’m not sure either. Maybe your posts, I don’t know why they are there. That is great in a way. Maybe they are just needed somehow.
Jess: Which is why I don’t unfriend.
Cam: I’ve had to look at the conscious decisions I have made around who do I want to be around and who do I not and people who share my similar beliefs. Even within our liberal bubbles, we don’t all have the same beliefs. I think about accessibility all the time. No easy answers.
Andrea: I am very much in the mind that I want to put my energy towards the people that are willing to listen, that are open and looking to learn instead of trying to convince people although I do that sometimes. I try to not get in the space of trying to convince people of my humanity or why they should care about this or listen better. All of those have should’s in them. I am not trying to should people. That’s energy I don’t have and I don’t want to use in that way. I don’t unfriend people– I unfollow people.
Sydney: Yeah, I unfollow people like it’s my job.
Andrea: I don’t unfriend people either but a lot of people have unfriended me. I let them– if they don’t want to listen to me, then they can go.
Sydney: Okay, Jess, how do we completely bring that back around since I completely derailed–
Jess: No, it’s totally fine.
Sydney: Take my brain where you would like it to go.
Jess: All the directions. Accessibility is what this boils down to. I think that’s really important for all of us in our individual work and the work we are doing as two duos. I think it is also important when we talk about accessibility, we are saying that it is not just financial accessibility but there are all of these other pieces part of this accessibility puzzle that are just as important or even sometimes just as important than the financial piece. I think that is the core of what we circled into.
ACCESSIBILITY AND ACADEMIA
Cam: I’ll just say about accessibility– both Andrea and I come from academia and one of the big things in academia is that it is not accessible. All of those jargon terms and believe me I love some many of them– there are a lot of things that I love about academia but then it is very inaccessible. You are reading these things and having these conversations and you are like, “How is this helping anyone? What change is this actually bringing?” I think it is because it is– those of us who are there that have the resources to be there– it’s like okay we are being changed by it. That gives us the tools to go out and use them to create other change.
That’s why I decided not to get a PhD because I want to be more accessible to people. I didn’t want to be in that institution and I wanted to have my own freedom and flexibility to– that’s where coaching and consulting can be more accessible to people. You can bring those tools of academia into coaching and consulting and be a teacher. We are teachers– Andrea and I are very much teachers, coaches, whatever you want to call it. We are a combination because we are teaching and we are also coaching and helping people go inward and heal these beliefs and feelings they have got from oppression. I think that taking this work outside of academia for me makes it more accessible. We still charge for it.
Jess: But not a first-born child.
Cam: We have freebies. We have blogs. We have free webinars that we don’t charge for. We still have to make a living at the end of the day.
Jess: We still live in capitalism.
Jess: Sydney, do you want to lead us into the question round?
Sydney: Yeah. Our first question is what are you currently working with in your current life that you are Unfucking?
Cam: I love that.
Sydney: Whoever is ready can go first. Andrea or Cameron.
Andrea: It’s a hard one. I am currently unfucking a lot. It is hard to name one thing. I’ve been doing a lot of introspection and learning and unlearning around ableism and classism and where all those things show up in my life. Also in the way that I have internalized beliefs about body size and the color of my skin. I have been thinking a lot about power lately– all the time– and where power shows up in my life and where people defer their power to me and where I defer my power to people. Those are some of the things I am thinking about right now.
Sydney: How about you, Cam?
Cam: SO much as well. I think two things that come to mind– I recently came across a blog called ‘Healing from Whiteness’ and I have been learning a lot more about whiteness and how it was constructed and how it really shows up as the air we breathe and noticing that in my everyday life even more. Also, men.
Cam: I want to work with more men and reach more men and it is very challenging at the same time. They require a lot more work. They require emotional labor that I am not sure that I am willing to put in but I am testing the waters and seeing more how about how men are affected by the patriarchy and gender conditioning. Trying to find accessible ways to reach men about that. Problem is, not a lot of men follow me– that has to change.
Sydney: Do you want to start tweeting about sports– gets some more dudes.
Cam: Yeah, actually. Ninja Warrior brings some of that.
Sydney: I remember you posted about that–I was like ‘Yeah, there might be something to this. Take those stereotypes and break them down.’
Cam: You know what’s funny? Last Monday, during American Ninja Warrior, Trump came on and interrupted it with his talking about Afghanistan. We knew this ahead of time– they put out a warning. A lot of people didn’t know it– a lot of the fans were pissed. It was really interesting to see how many of the fans were so upset about this. I was finding some joy about this.
I was like, “Let’s see how many fans are really upset about this.” I did gain some followers from that and one man in particular who is totally in love with Ninja Warrior is now liking my social justice tweets and my tweets about how gender and race are constructs but they are constructs that matter. You never know.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Sydney: Very cool. So, the remaining of our questions is just rapid-fire type. First thing that comes to mind. First question: What or who are you reading right now and it doesn’t have to be a book you hold in your hand. It could be someone that is writing online, could be people that are doing slam poetry, whatever you are into. Who are you reading right now that is resonating with you?
Andrea: Bell Hooks and Adrian Marie Brown.
Cam: I’m still reading Roxane Gaye’s ‘Hunger’. It’s so good. Also, Toysmith.
Sydney: I’ve heard of her. I’ve heard of this Toy guy you mentioned.
Cam: That sounds familiar to you. Toysmith. Got some great prose.
Sydney: I think I liked a thing or two she has written recently.
Cam: I always like her posts– they are always spot on.
Jess: We love Toy. About our next question, what things do you enjoy?
Sydney: Really? Fun fact that I didn’t know.
Andrea: Don’t ask me to sing though.
Jess: Yeah, always.
Sydney: Need more of that in my life. What scares you?
Andrea: White people.
Jess: I was waiting for it.
Sydney: Thank you for not being like “That new ‘It’ movie.” Oh yes, also clowns.
Cam: We are scary.
Andrea: Well, I mean white supremacy gone unchecked is what is most scary to me at the moment.
Jess: Which is white people. I can own that.
Cam: What scares me? Capitalism that no one will invest me.
Jess: That is like another episode. I feel like we can do a whole episode on that.
Andrea: One of the things that popped up for me too for the other question about what I am unfucking is also valuing myself but also not attaching money to it.
Sydney: Yes! Fuck. Isn’t that the truth? Jesus Christ.
Jess: Unfucking capitalism. Unfucking white people.
Sydney: Oh man, it never ends.
Jess: What words of wisdom do you each want to put out into the world: Would you give to your younger self or do you want to take that question?
Andrea: I think that power isn’t inherently bad and that we all have it and we all choose to use it in certain ways and the majority of people in powerful positions have chosen to use it in bad ways. But that doesn’t mean that it is bad to have power– or you need to move away from having power.
Jess: That’s amazing.
Cam: Yeah, that’s a big one. I always say trust yourself and your intuition.
Sydney: Thank you for that reminder.
Cam: Especially for people who are raised as girls because we are taught to trust the authority outside of ourselves.
Sydney: I am shaking that truth out of my leg.
Cam: Yes, let’s shake it out.
Sydney: Fuck. Things I cognitively know but like sometimes when you hear it from a different voice you are like, “Gahh, you are so right. This truth is so heavy.” Fuck, man. All of things are landing in really dramatic ways for me today. Thanks for being here.
Jess & Cam: Happy Monday.
Cam: That’s what Mondays are for.
Jess: Thank you both for being here. We really appreciate you coming and been chatting with us, even though we went in a totally different direction than any of us were planning or expecting. I really enjoyed it– I hope you did too.
Andrea & Cam: Oh, yes. Thank you for having us.
Sydney: Where can people find you individually and then together as Whole Self?
Andrea: My website is andrearanae.com and all of my social medias are andrearanaej .
Cam: My website now is realfeministstories.com but it is going to be cameronairen.com but the other link will still work as well. I am all over social media at cameronairen.
Sydney: Again, together as Whole Self, where are you focusing your attention for the social media stuff? Where should we be following you?
Andrea: Mostly Instagram. It is wholeselfliberation on Instagram but we are also on Twitter and Facebook but we are mostly focusing on Instagram. Our website is wholeselfliberation.com
Cam: Check it out! We have a new blog and we have some other new things there. Go to our website.
Jess: Next week, we have Hannah, right?
Sydney: Think so. I hope so. I’ll give that a look. Correct. I already knew how to skydive when I met Hannah but Hannah was one of my skydiving coaches when I was on my first 4-way team and she taught me how to navigate my way through a sport that is dominated by men so we will be talking about that. She is a stuntwoman in Hollywood in addition to a world champion skydiver so we will be talking about what it is like to be a woman in her entire life– in a male-dominated world– generally all things run by white men. We will have a nice time with that next week.
Cam: I will be definitely tuning in to that.
Sydney: Well, we put out episodes every Tuesday unless there is some kind of world event that makes us not record for two weeks in a row. Pending current events that stop us from recording. Thank you for being here. We love you. We are excited to get more people into your program so the rest of us can make some good changes because there are a lot of scary white folks who share this face who need some love and attention. We will figure out how to give it to them without giving up ourselves. With that, I am done recording. Bye.
Jess: That is a wrap.