Episode 1: Introducing The Power Shift: Decolonising Development.

About this episode:

In this first episode of ‘The Power Shift: Decolonising Development’ co-hosts Charmaine McCaulay, Director of Kokoro Therapy and lead facilitator of the ground-breaking ‘Racism in Real Time’ training programme, and Prof Kate Bird, Senior Research Associate, ODI and Director of The Development Hub, talk about what drew them to work together on the decolonisation agenda.

Charmaine outlines the process used in the Racism in Real Time training programme to enable white and BIPOC folks to communicate as equals. She outlines how decolonising the self is key to a process of organisational or institutional decolonising and how it is the foundation of decolonising development.

Charmaine also talks about how hierarchies of structural power and privilege are layered to create intersecting inequality – with race, class and gender locking together to create oppression and inequality. Her person-centred approach provides interesting insights into where practical steps to decolonisation can begin – and she suggests that the first thing that everyone interested in progressive change can do, is to breathe.

Episode 1: Full Transcript

The Power Shift: Decolonising Development

Episode 1

Introducing The Power Shift: Decolonising Development. Charmaine McCaulay in conversation.

Kate Bird: [00:00:00] Hello. I’m Professor Kate Bird, co-host of ‘The Power Shift: Decolonising Development’, and I’m speaking today to Charmaine McCaulay. I would like to speak to her about her work with Kokoro Therapy, leading the groundbreaking training program, uh, ‘Racism in Real Time’. Now in this episode, Charmaine outline. The central ideas behind ‘Racism in Real Time’.

And so in a way, this is step one in a process of decolonisation whereby we decolonise ourselves. We work on ourselves as part of the process of decolonisation, and Charmaine talks about how this is a very necessary first step before we step into institutional reform, organisational change, and shifting power [00:01:00] from the Global North or the minority world to the Global South or majority world.

Charmaine also talks about how systemic structure, And inequalities are based on hierarchies of power and privilege where race, gender, and class intersect placing White establishment men at the very top and everyone else in gradations. Below that, she talks about how these privileged, uh, groups and classes are protected by institutions in our society.

For example, the police education services. And politics and how when you are privileged as a group, although you may not feel privileged as an individual, you are able to dictate from that place of privilege. So the work that Charmaine is doing is about recognising that power and privilege and beginning to do the work, to strip out the [00:02:00] tropes, the stresses, the the racism in interracial and racialised.

Interactions and she identifies in this podcast episode why that is a very necessary first step in decolonising development.

Hi, Charmaine. It’s really nice to, um, have the chance to speak to you again. Um, what I would like to do, uh, first of all, is hear about, uh, your groundbreaking training program, ‘Racism in Real Time’. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Okay? 

Yeah. Well, thank you Kate. It’s lovely to be with you today. Yeah. So let me just give you, Very quick behind the scenes of how I came up with racism in real time is because I’ve really been interested in racism, diversity, equity, feminism, and all those things that I need to be interested in and, um, in order for me to better understand the situation, I took a lot of [00:03:00] courses over the years and I would often feel really let down that I was missing.

So, because it was really intellectualised in terms of, I was very proficient in understanding what white supremacy was. I could give you the definition of white fragility and and so forth. But what I couldn’t do was that when I was in a racialised situation, I would feel lost. I would feel shut down.

I couldn’t figure out a way of getting out from that. And so I decided that I would make a course where someone like me would go to, and so basically what makes my course very different than most people is because I include the body. So I don’t give you a lot of definitions. I’m not asking you for you to think yourself through a situation.

What happens is I’ve divided up two groups. There’s one group for White folks for 10 weeks, and then there’s one group for Black and Brown and mixed race people. And the reason I did that, it’s just from personal experienced that whenever I was in any kind of training and there were White [00:04:00] people there inadvertently I would feel silenced, uh, inadvertently I would feel attacked. I would feel othered and really negated. And so I thought what would happen if I separated out the two? And also conversely, the, um, the White folks too, they would say that whenever they were Black and Brown folks too, they would feel silence. They would feel awkward and feel like, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what, I don’t know. My next question. So they would shut down. So you have two sides that are shutting down and, and there wasn’t very much meeting going on. So what I’ve done is I have one group for White folks, one group for, for Black and Brown, and I have to say it really, really, really is extraordinary that in a matter of 10 weeks, both groups come through and the transformation is real. The transformation lasts. 

So just to give you a really very quick one for the, um, for the White folks. So White folks will come in, they’re terrified that they’re gonna say the wrong thing. They’re terrified that they’re gonna [00:05:00] upset me. And And they do. And they will come and they attack because that’s what they know how to do. They don’t know how to see me. They don’t know how to respond to my living body. And what I mean by that is generally in a racialised situation, the concept is for White people to win, White people need to know that they’re on top. And that really says you have to make sure that I don’t speak. You have to make sure that my power is negated.

Now, a lot of this is unconscious. Many White people aren’t actually aware of this. Some of them are. So what we do is we start from the place of ignorance. That, that you don’t know. And like any good therapy, any good situation, you have to bring yourself to the fore. So what happens in the 10 weeks is the White people start to realise just what they’re doing in the room. Not their thoughts, but their body response. 

So sometimes for many of us, when we’re in a difficult situation, one of the first things that we do [00:06:00] is we stop breathing. And when we stop breathing, we use that as a highlight that something has just happened in you. What is that for you? Or some people they dissociate, some people they can’t breathe. Some people don’t feel a tightening in the stomach. 

So we really focus on the body’s response to what’s going on. And oftentimes the body response is much faster, much more immediate than the thinking process. 

And so after 10 weeks, with different subject matters for the Whites. I’m only talking about Whites right now. They get much better attuned to when they are actually upset. Sometimes they don’t even know that they’re upset. They don’t even know that they’re stressed. They don’t even know that there’s fear. So as soon as you start to recognise, you can then sit for a minute and go, what am I actually upset about? And so you, so, so the speed with which you might wanna say and take up the other person slows down. 

Kate Bird: Ah, so you’re slowing everything down. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes. 

Kate Bird: That people [00:07:00] can actually engage their thinking brains and, and, and engage, 

Charmaine McCaulay: I would say engage more with their bodies because, and the reason I say that is because most people can engage with their thinking brain and your thinking brain. What happens? There can be a distortion. So for example, you might be fearful, but your brain goes, you’re not, you’re not in fear. You’re all right. You’re okay. You’re good to go, and, and you cut off really what’s actually happening down below. So the whole thing is, is to engage both. It’s not to have the brain or the body, it’s, it’s to have them both working.

Kate Bird: Okay. Okay. I, I thought that what you were saying was that people were feeling fearful mm-hmm. and they were going into fight flight mode and, and they were actually. Without engaging their brains and thinking, so I don’t know. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Well, while they’re speaking, without recognising that they’re actually much more afraid than they really are. So they discount the shame. They [00:08:00] discount the fear and go, yeah, I’m good to go. But all the muscles are very tight. Everything is tense, but they’re cut off and they can’t feel really what’s happening All. So that’s basically what it is here, right? Mm-hmm. . Okay. Does that make sense? 

Kate Bird: It does make sense. It sounds fascinating.

Yeah. But what, what I’d like to know next is, is how does your understanding of racism in the UK and Canada, in the Global North influence your thinking about decolonisation and the decolonisation agenda? What, what’s the link for you?

Charmaine McCaulay: So for me, I go back to what I know, and that’s on my body psychotherapist.

So how you. How you feel about yourself is going to be about the things that you produce. So what I’m saying, um, first you have to decolonise yourself. Okay? Right. If you don’t decolonise yourself and you don’t know that you’ve been colonised, then whatever plans you have are going to be [00:09:00] from that perception, okay?

You can only produce what you know how to do. So if you are not aware that your body and the way that you come into a room is already colonised and you don’t know that you’re gonna be colonising another Black and Brown body, you’re not aware of that. So for me, I often will ask, well have you decolonised yourself first.

Kate Bird: Okay? 

Charmaine McCaulay: Right. So if you’ve worked on yourself, and you can see that, for example, you’re in a room, I’m talking about a White person. I say a White person in a room with all Black folks. Right, and you don’t know that already. You’ve got a fear response going on and you’re already deciding how you’re gonna be with this Black person, and it’s gonna be from a colonial perspective, “I’m up. You are down. I am right. You’re wrong. The development and my theories are going to be better than yours. My science will be better than your science”. And if you’re not even [00:10:00] aware of how you hold that right thought is energy in a way that is going to be in your body. It’s gonna be when you walk into a room. 

Kate Bird: Yeah.

Charmaine McCaulay: So if you are not even aware of what your whiteness actually represents, not only to you, but to the other people in a room, you’ve already under a colonial perspectives, colonialism says “White is right. We don’t ever have to think about what we are doing. We know what we have to do”. So white becomes invisible. 

Kate Bird: Okay.

Charmaine McCaulay: Right. So first you have to understand your own internal sense of your whiteness. 

Kate Bird: So, so it is almost like white is the default. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Absolutely. 

Kate Bird: And, and anything other than white is both inferior and benchmarked against the greatness of whiteness. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Always. 

Kate Bird: Okay. 

Charmaine McCaulay: And white is not usually looked at in that way. It’s neutral. It’s the neutral position that that many White people walk into the world. 

Kate Bird: It’s, and everyone else is the other. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Exactly. So if you haven’t done the internal work to even recognise that that’s what you’re doing. So that’s where my work comes in [00:11:00] about decolonising. 

Kate Bird: Okay. This is really interesting.

I I, I’d like to ask you a follow up question then. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Okay. 

Kate Bird: So, so you’ve expressed that really clearly and how, how whiteness is a benchmark and, and everyone else is the other. And that’s a kind of hierarchy with white at the top and everyone else in grades below. 

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. That’s right. 

Kate Bird: So you’ve got that, and then you’ve got gender, and then you’ve got class and they all overlaying each other all time.

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. That’s right. 

Kate Bird: So you’ve got, you’ve got this kind of systemic, uh, systemic set of structures 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: And inequalities. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: with educated white. 

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. 

Kate Bird: Middle. Intelligentsia? 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes. 

Kate Bird: Or, um, I don’t know. Capital owning men at the top. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: and in grades all the way down. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: to wherever.

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. 

Kate Bird: Okay. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. So basically 

Kate Bird: Intersecting. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Intersecting. 

So basically if you are the White male, and we use that [00:12:00] because in a White country, they, they be benchmark. So what happens is for the White male is that you have all the institutions behind you. Lined up, right, which makes what you do okay means you never, you’ve, you’ve got the police, you’ve got education, you’ve got health, you’ve got politics, you’ve got science.

Everything says 

Kate Bird: well, and all the other institutions with everything. 

Charmaine McCaulay: It’s not the individual, per se, is that you’re the individual, but you’ve got all this long history to say that you get to show up in the way you want to and can because the authority has given you that and you get to dictate from that place.

Kate Bird: Okay. Yeah, no, I’ve got it. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Okay. 

Kate Bird: Right. So when people are talking about intersecting inequality, that’s really what they’re talking about. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Exactly. 

Kate Bird: Right. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Exactly. 

Kate Bird: Okay. So. I mean, I talk about intersecting inequality, but it’s interesting to hear about it from your perspective. Yeah. Cause I think, I think you put a different, uh, you have a different lens [00:13:00] that you’re, you’re shining on this.

It’s interesting. Um, so you, you talk about, about bodies mm-hmm. , and I know that your work looks at how, uh, racially charged interactions impact on people’s bodies. I was wondering if you could tell our listeners and viewers a little bit more about that. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. So whether. You’re White, mixed raced, or Black. Whenever you’re in a racially charged situation, um, you’re always impacted and sometimes you’re not even aware of it. So I’ll just give you one, a really good example. So, doesn’t really matter for one person when they’re in a racially charged, um, situation. One of the things I’ve talked about is that your, your breathing stops.

Kate Bird: Right, 

Charmaine McCaulay: Right. So your, your diaphragm collapses in and of itself. One of the things that happens is then the spine is no longer elongated. You actually can’t take a breath in, so the spine curls down. You can see [00:14:00] some people who wanna dissociate or whether you can almost go into yourself like this. And if you think about what’s it like for you to speak from a position where your head is down and you cannot look?

What that could be. We could be saying that would be a shame response and that can happen to anybody. So if you’re in a shame response, trying to talk, whatever you say is gonna be minimal and your body to yourself has already become othered. Whereas the spine really is there if, if the spine is erect enough, the spine is true north, and it gives you your sense of direction, it gives you your sense of where you are in the room.

But if it’s crumbled, if you think about your body and it’s crumpled, you’re, you’re like this. So if you go back to your thoughts, you can’t think, you can’t see straight, you don’t know where you need to. So that’s one of the massive impacts on our body when we’re in a racialized situation. And even when we come out of a racialized situation, let’s say we go home, you will [00:15:00] feel that in your body.

Some people get massive headaches, some people their eyes hurt, some people they have, um, gut responses, right? It’s cramping and, and some people have really tense shoulders. So that’s an immediate response. For anybody. When you’re in a racialized situation, it takes you out, which in a way, it takes out your humanity.

Like I had said before, if you can stay in the heart and you have the heart open, the more I’m open this way, the less I’m gonna see you as an attack, the less I’m gonna see you as the other, right? Because the more this is open, the greater it expands, the greater the breath. The more I’m able to breathe, the more relaxed I am.

Kate Bird: Okay. Okay. So you are a relaxed person, meeting another relaxed person, and you can actually meet as individuals, as people and and communicate as such? 

Charmaine McCaulay: You can unless there’s a racial wounding that goes on. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. Yeah, 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. And so when the racial, 

Kate Bird: so you take that outta the equation, then you’re meeting [00:16:00] a person. Meeting a person, right? That’s right. A Black person meeting a White person or whatever. 

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. Or, or let’s say there’s less othering. 

Kate Bird: Yeah, 

Charmaine McCaulay: There’s a lot less. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: So it’s not just simply being relaxed. Sometimes we can be relaxed and we can be in the head. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m saying like the whole body is relaxed and open for a sharing, and then when the sharing happens, then something else can happen. And you and I, you can be you. I can be me, but we come together together on whatever we wanna discuss. 

Kate Bird: Right. Right. So, so, yeah. And then great things can happen. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Absolutely abs. And it doesn’t mean that we will see eye to eye. That’s not what it says. It means that we will be equal in our understanding. We’ll be what you wanna present. I’ll be able to hear what you wanna say, right? The way you wanna hear, 

Kate Bird: Right, right right. Rather than ‘listening for’, you’re ‘listening to’. 

Charmaine McCaulay: [00:17:00] I’m listening with you. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah, exactly. 

Kate Bird: You’re not imposing in that situation. You’re not, you’re not bringing all your baggage and slamming it down on the table and rooting through the baggage to find out what you expect someone to say. You’re actually listening. 

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. 

Kate Bird: Listening really listening’s what they’re bringing 

Charmaine McCaulay: And it’s, and it’s a whole body thing. 

Kate Bird: Okay. 

Charmaine McCaulay: I’m not jumping up into my head trying to not hear you, trying to guess your answers. There’s much more of an incredible flow. It’s like, oh, so this is what she’s saying. Okay, let me think about that. Let me feel that. 

Kate Bird: Okay. 

Charmaine McCaulay: And then you’re doing that with me too, so there’s much more of a mutuality. 

Kate Bird: Okay. I can see how that would make a massive difference in, uh, working in international teams. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Absolutely. And that’s from the ground up, right? 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: If you have. If you have that basis, then it would be extraordinary that you can bring any, almost any idea, and I will sit with you. It doesn’t mean it’s going to work, but then we can sit and we can [00:18:00] work together on that idea. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: I’m not gonna trash it. 

Kate Bird: Absolutely. We can bring. Our expert knowledge, we can bring exactly whatever it is that we’re bringing to the situation. We can bring all of that rather than, rather than just a tiny portion of it.

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. 

Kate Bird: We can bring our best selves. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Exactly. And that would be the decolonisation. 

Kate Bird: Okay, then. Okay, so in a, in a, in a separate conversation, we’ve talked about how, if that was to happen, yes, we would be able to have such effective teams, we would. We would be bringing the expertise of the whole team.

Charmaine McCaulay: We would rock. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: We, we would be like soaring. Okay. So a lot of these conflicts that we have, like when we go back to the one that you were just talking about, that, you know, the, the, the, the way that knowledge is extracted and the way that knowledge is going to be used, it would’ve been that you would’ve been able to sit down with teams and listen, I need to go back and talk to the people that I’ve got these lovely stories from.

And there would’ve been an opening that the sharing would’ve been magnificent. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. [00:19:00] And someone somewhere would’ve been willing to pay for that. 

Charmaine McCaulay: And that would be the, and that would be, 

Kate Bird: It would be an expectation. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Exactly. 

Kate Bird: That that’s how the work is done. 

Charmaine McCaulay: That’s right. 

Kate Bird: Okay. So, um, Charmaine, you’ve talked quite a lot about, um, the body.

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: and you’ve talked about how people are transformed by your course ‘Racism in Real Time’. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: I wonder if you could tell our listeners and viewers a little bit about why you think personal transformation is a necessary starting point for working in decolonisation. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Well, you are what you eat. No, and, and I, and I, and I really do mean that, I mean, I think of myself too in that the more that I can decolonise myself, the more that I can bring myself just as I am, it means the starting point.

And I think I go back to the beginning. Uh, it means then my capacity to hear you. [00:20:00] My capacity to hear things that might not, I’m like, hmm, I would be much more open. So that’s why I really do stress, if you can work on yourself first and I know something goes, oh, that’s just so American I don’t wanna work on myself, right. There’s a lot of stuff like, but the more you can understand what it is that makes you angry. Right. What is it that, that you cannot listen to somebody else’s voice? And let me say I’ve been there too. The more you can understand your reactions when you go into shame, the more you can understand why are you fearful of this person standing in front of you? Right? Why? What, what is happening in you? There are, there are real reasons and the body is one way to get there. And if you can work on that, like you said before, can you imagine? Can you imagine. What we could do together, cause I can’t do it by myself. And so if you’re at the table in decolonising development and every [00:21:00] person there has really worked on themselves and understands what the triggers are, we’re less likely to blame the ‘it was you, Barb. I don’t like the way you look and that’s why I’m gonna put you down’. 

Kate Bird: Right. 

Charmaine McCaulay: It’s like you start to own your, your own internal misgivings above somebody else. You’re less likely to go and attack and negate another person’s response. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. I mean, I, I I wonder also if it’s, if we’ve worked on ourselves 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: Um, and, and recognised what’s in us that needs to change. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes. 

Kate Bird: That, um, that perhaps this all goes beyond words, that we are not just talking about doing a ‘find and replace’ and a document, and we’ll take this word out and we’ll put that word in instead, but it will actually mean that the way that we behave in our day to day lives and in our professional lives shifts and changes because something deep in us has changed.

Charmaine McCaulay: You’ve said it brilliantly. Yeah. It’s not just copy and paste. Yeah. It’s like it does. [00:22:00] Fundamentally, we are the ones who making the changes and who want to, right? 

Kate Bird: So it’s actually doing a click, it’s, it’s changing something in our minds that changes is something about the way we look at the world. That change is something that, the way that we, we behave, we act, we plan, we collaborate, we do.

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. So it’s a, for me, I, you know, I would say it’s the whole body-mind. I don’t see a separation because if there’s something in the gut changes, my brain and my thoughts will automatically change. Always like that. 

Kate Bird: Yeah. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. 

Kate Bird: Okay. That’s fascinating. Charmaine, thank you so much for sharing your insights. Uh, I’ve been very interested to hear more about your course racism in real time, and I’ve been very interested to hear things from your perspective.

Okay. So Charmaine, um, I shared with you earlier today, um, some headlines that I’d seen in the Daily Mail. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Oh yeah.

Kate Bird: And um, I went into a cafe [00:23:00] and there was a Daily Mail on the, on the table and I picked it up cause I so rarely see a physical paper these days. And I, um, I started reading it and I had to put it down.

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm.

Kate Bird: Um, but I thought it was so relevant to the work that we’re doing. I sent you, uh, a link to the online version Yes. Uh, today. And I just wonder. What you thought about the headlines and um, what you thought about the article, which was kind of expressing the decolonisation agenda as being ‘woke’ and, uh, kind of engaged in the ‘culture wars’ and, uh, coming from the ideological hard left.

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah, I read it and I didn’t think about it.

Yeah. And um, which was very different from yours, which, which is just an interesting thing. I think that it didn’t really grab me much. It was rather stale. And the reason I thought about, I think my response was like, as a Black woman, [00:24:00] I’m constantly bombarded with those kinds of statements. And I think I learned which ones are important, which ones are not.

And this one is, again, it would be othering, me putting down Black, putting down Black people we’re not worthy to even decolonise anything and that we’re hard left. Um, and I think the only time that that article would’ve really got me, and I would’ve been really upset if somebody had died. Then I probably would’ve gotten really emotionally engaged.

But I think for me, um, it, it’s very common. It’s, it’s a, it’s very common trope to read headlines where Black and Brown people are no good. Um, and where we’re ‘woke’, I mean, I’m, I mean, right now United States are talking about the Critical Race Theory, and we have to get rid of that. Right. So it’s like, yeah, okay. Is this, is this the best you can do Daily Mail. Like, come on, let’s get going here. So I guess, you [00:25:00] know, like what you were saying is a way to divide up people, but I also see like those people who are going to move towards that were divided anyway. 

Kate Bird: Okay. 

Charmaine McCaulay: And so I’ll just keep doing my work with you and it will, it will pass. It will pass and somebody else will take up the gauntlet to say that the work that you and I are invested, invested in doing is just no good, but really don’t make no difference to me. 

Kate Bird: Okay. That’s, that’s, that’s a strong and robust response, a healthy response. And, uh, I think it’s interesting that, that our responses were so different because I, I, I was fizzing with rage. I mean, I had to put the newspaper down several times. I just like, oh my goodness. And you were just like, yada, yada, ya ya. I don’t care. Okay. Okay. So that, that, that’s interesting. Yeah. And. So Charmaine, I’d like, I’d like to, uh, thank you for sharing your insights and I feel I’ve learned a lot about, uh, a lot more than I knew before [00:26:00] about your, your course, um, your training programme, ‘Racism in Real Time’, and it’s been very interesting. Uh, hearing your insights. It’s been a lot of fun talking to you. It always is. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes. 

Kate Bird: And I’m really looking forward to, um, to working with you on this podcast. I think, I think you, you bring, you bring so much to this debate and it’s, and it’s always such a pleasure. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: Before we say goodbye to our listeners and viewers 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes.

Kate Bird: I wonder if you could identify one practical thing 

Charmaine McCaulay: Mm-hmm. 

Kate Bird: that they can do 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yes. 

Kate Bird: Or change. In order to contribute positively to the process of decolonisation. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Well, the one thing is breathe. 

Kate Bird: Breathe? 

Charmaine McCaulay: Yeah. When you’re stuck, the one of the things that will alert you that something’s not going on right, is breathing.

That’s when everything gets constricted. So if you can, and I know for a lot of people it’s really difficult to breathe when you’re in a conflicted situation, but I would say that was probably the most [00:27:00] important thing. If you can keep breathing, keep breathing, and then other things will will happen. Because as soon as you stop breathing, your body’s effectively shutting down and you’re getting smaller.

And then the next possible step could be dissociation or the feeling of shame. I mean, if you can keep breathing and breathing and, and open back up, I would say that’s the one thing to practice moment by moment. If it’s possible. 

Kate Bird: Thank you, Charmaine. I, I love what you bring to this ’cause it’s so different to what I’m saying, as an academic and an intellectual, I’m, I’m there completely stuck in my head most of the time. And you’re telling people to breathe, I think that’s lovely. Yeah. Um, so I hope our listeners and viewers can take that forwards in their lives and, uh, if in doubt, breathe. Uh, and it’s amazing what can happen if you do. 

Charmaine McCaulay: It’s, I’m breathing now. Looks like me and you we’re just breathing and we’re just rocking on.

Kate Bird: Okay. Thank you, Charmaine. 

Charmaine McCaulay: Thank you Katie. 


This weeks guest:

Charmaine McCaulay is a Senior Associate at The Development Hub.

She is the founder and Director of Kokoro Therapy, a company specialising in anti-racism training, therapy, mentoring and coaching. Charmaine has over 25 years of experience as a trainer and expert in addressing racism. She has partnered with Kate Bird from The Development Hub to launch this podcast in decolonising development called ‘The Power Shift: Decolonising Development’ and is co-creating a training programme in decolonising development, which will launch in 2023.

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