Kerone was born in Jamaica, raised in Brooklyn, NYC, and has been living in Stockholm for 6 years. Kerone, like many of us, is someone that has given a lot of thought to Belonging. Through his words and his Art, he is able to communicate wholeheartedly, in a way that very few of us can.
However, can all relate to the emotions that his work evokes.
Kerone is has been a creative person who was born in Kingston, Jamaica.
Immigrated to New York City (Jamaica Queens) when he was 10 years old
Where/when does Kerone belong?
Kerone belongs in the present, but it was never that way
Throughout his life, he never felt like he truly belongs.
He found his belonging in Stockholm – when walking to the supermarket
The disillusionment of not fitting into ideals as a child immigrant.
Life lesson: When you immigrate to a place, you can be anyone you want to be.
Q: What’s it like being back in Sweden, compared to being black in New York?
In Sweden, racism is more subtle. The only time race and other forms of discrimination are talked about is at the extremes. Upon explicit forms of racism and discrimination, Swedes tend to say “Well, I’m not like that, we are not THAT racist”. They are quick to point at these extreme examples and claim the higher road without acknowledging that they might act on their bias or engage in other forms of exclusion.
Instead, racism is subtle.
Kerone came to the realization that racism is their problem, not his. There is little he can do to change others’ opinions, other than just living his truth and living his life.
Why it is important for him to bring to the surface the issue of slavery and other traumatic events of the past.
How did he get started with Spoken Word?
Keron discovered Spoken Word in 2003, however, he would not find his voice until he came to Stockholm. He started writing following a painful breakup. Today he writes on many topics including family, society, and relationships.
What happens when you don’t feel as you belong?
How he found his own belonging. Why belonging is much bigger than what anyone else thinks or does to you.
The importance of realizing that you are on your own journey, charting your own path.
Do you have any tips or practices for healthy belonging?
A self-proclaimed “Urban Monk”, Chris is unapologetically living a life where he strives to make sure his behaviors are in accordance with his values.
He is one of the people leaders at Telia, one of the largest telecoms with 21000 employees across the globe. He holds many roles and responsibilities, including employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, and promoting self-leadership.
Chris sits on the boards of many companies and is very involved in many initiatives concerning the environment, technology, and issues around racial and gender inclusivity. You can check out his meditation and well-being initiative here: regenerativemonks.com/
He is someone that leads by example and is on a mission to helping people live their most authentic selves.
So at this point, you may be wondering why I invited an Urban Monk to be on a podcast about belonging?!
Chris is someone that belongs to himself first and foremost. He understands that in order to inspire and help others, we must first live our own truths.
Chris is not one for excuses. And in this podcast, he challenges us to stop lying to ourselves and to start the journey to our authentic selves.
Welcome to our second episode of Create Belonging. This is my interview with Howard Ross, author of “Our Search for Belonging: How Our Need to Connect is Tearing Us Apart”
Howard Ross is a lifelong social justice advocate and is considered one of the world’s seminal thought leaders on identifying and addressing unconscious bias. He authored and co-authored many books on diversity and inclusion, including, Our Search for Belonging: How Our Need to Connect is Tearing Us Apart, which won the 2019 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Social Change and Social Justice.
Howard’s writings have been published by the Harvard Business Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Fast Company Magazine, Diversity Women Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine and dozens of other publications. Howard has served on numerous not-for-profits boards, including the Diversity Advisory Board of the Human Rights Campaign, the board of directors of the Dignity and Respect Campaign, and the board of the directors for the National Women’s Mentoring Network.
Howard has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Operation Understanding Award for Community Service; the 2012 Winds of Change Award from the Forum on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion; the 2013 Diversity Peer Award from Diversity Women Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst Award from Uptown Professional Magazine; the 2014 Catalyst for Change Award from Wake Forest University; the 2015 Trendsetter in HR by SHRM Magazine; and the 2016 Leadership in Diversity Award by the World Human Resources Development Conference in Mumbai, India. He was also named an Honorary Medicine Man by the Eastern Cherokee Reservation in N.C., and given Medicine Holder designation by the Pawnee Nation.
Question (Q): “The essential dilemma of my life is between my deep desire to belong, and my suspicion of belonging.” What does this quote by Jhumpa Lahari mean?
Answer (A): – We are encoded to belong as a human imperative for survival
Yet in modern times we are taught to be independent, and we focus on being individualistic.
For this reason we tend to go towards the groups where we have a lot in common with, so that we are able to express our individuality within the group.
Q: Udarta is the name of your current organisation, where does the name come from?
A: The name is a Hindi word roughly translated as “Generosity and Kindness”. More than half the work we do at Udarta is pro-bono and charitable.
Q: Where did you get started to work for a more equitable and fair society?
His origins in activism is a result of his family’s history, with his parents being the fleeing worn-torn eastern Europe for the united states and he considers social justice work a “family business”, with over 35 years experience working in this field.
Q: How has exclusion and discrimination evolved over the decades? What has changed in the last decades?
A: History repeats itself, and MLK jr. said “The arch of history bends towards Justice”. So society has improved over the long history. However more recently, things have been changing quickly. – The role of new media in cultivating more tribal belonging
The shift in politics from an “issue orientation” to a “identity orientation”.
The role of fear, and how people retrieve to their “tribes”.
Tribal belonging is more clearly defined and fear of being excluded causes us to act “against others that are outside out tribe”
We shift from an “issue orientation” to an “identity orientation”.
Othering is a lot easier when we are reduced to our tribes
Daniel Goldman, father of emotional intelligence and the amygdala hijack. Fear gets in the way of rationality, causing people to act in their subconscious bias that keeps safe.
How fear makes things Personal, Persistent, and Permanent
Q: Why did you use 3 fictional characters to explain your points?
Create Belonging is a call to action. We live in a world where traditional definitions and assumptions of belonging no longer apply. Technology and globalisation have connected societies more than ever. And yet, loneliness, isolation, and depression are considered commonplace in much of the world.
Create is the imperative tense of to create, commanding action and urgency. In today’s fast paced, ever-changing world, we need to create new models, definitions, and structures that serve our goals and enable a more Equitable, Just, and Inclusive society. To create does not necessarily mean to construct anew, or to build something radically different. To create implies that we already have the raw materials, models, and concepts that can serve us. To create implies observation, curiosity, generosity, and action.
Belonging is the focal point of this project. Belonging is analogous to belongingness, a fundamental human need. It refers to our inherent need to form bonds and feel accepted within a group. Humanity would not be here today without our ability to form bonds and depend on each other.
So Create Belonging is what this podcast aims to do. To create belonging in the world is to make it more inclusive. An inclusive world is one where individuals can find a feeling of belonging and are not limited by arbitrary norms.