Episode 33

Jenna Arnold: Raising Our Hands


July 22nd, 2020

47 mins 53 secs

Your Host

About this Episode

Jenna Arnold was first mentioned to me by a dear friend over ten years ago. She called me one night soon after meeting Jenna in New York City. “This woman is a force of nature and you HAVE to meet her!" I recall her saying.

Fast forward, and while I have been following her on social media for several years, I recently noticed that she was publishing an important book about race. I asked for a copy, devoured it, and felt deeply excited about its content. I loved it because Jenna doesn’t try to simplify or dumb down what’s happening in the world and why. In it, she calls out middle-class white women to recognize where we unconsciously keep the systems of oppression in place and why. She further argues that if we were to awaken to our power and our willingness to be with difficult truths, we could quite literally change the future for all human beings. Jenna asserts that white women benefit from the very systems that oppress us, and we use our voting power to keep these systems in place because we won’t face where we have been complicit in the oppression of ourselves and others, and where our inaction has determined the current trajectory of this country. This is such an important book, and a powerful conversation- please listen in- I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Jenna Arnold is the author of Raising Our Hands, an educator, social entrepreneur, activist, and mother who lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Jenna was one of the National Organizers of the Women’s March in 2017 and Oprah named her as one of her “100 Awakened Leaders who are using their voice and talent to elevate humanity." For her work as the co-founder of ORGANIZE—an organization focused on ending the waitlist for organ transplants in the US, Jenna was named one of Inc Magazine's "20 Most Disruptive Innovators" and the New York Times called it one of "the biggest ideas in social change." Jenna created the hit TV show on MTV, 'Exiled!' which took spoiled American teenagers to live with indigenous cultures around the world, and while at the United Nations, Jenna created multi-platform programming for MTV and Showtime with A-list celebrities like Jay-Z and Angelina Jolie. Jenna sits on the board of the Sesame Workshop Leadership Council and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her first book, Raising Our Hands, is about how white women can stop avoiding hard conversations, start accepting responsibility, and find their place on the new frontlines (published June 2020).

  • Jenna Arnold's grandmother was one of 90 who contracted COVID-19 in her nursing home and is only one of two who survived.
  • Mindset is so powerful and important when it comes to what we are facing in the world at the moment.
  • All oars in the water - we all need to put our oars in, and row in the same direction.
  • The title of Raising Our Hands was so difficult to get to, and yet, so obvious. It symbolizes the way Jenna wants white women to remember that we all need to raise our hands and be counted when it comes to being antiracist and volunteering ourselves for hard conversations, truths, and paradoxes. "I’m guilty, but I’m also willing to learn." That the constant contradictions of who we are, the raising our hand emoji is a great way for us to relate to all the ways in which we need to make ourselves available to be with the truth of what is, in all of it’s complexity.
  • We need to learn how to allow paradoxes to stand together and hold “the sacred AND."
  • There is a genocide in this country that we do not talk about.
  • Abraham Lincoln is the victor and therefore he got to tell the story however he wanted. We have to be careful throughout history of who gets to tell the story.
  • When marginalized people are systematically abused, ignored, enslaved, and destroyed, they don’t get to tell a story anyone is willing to hear because it’s not a story of “victory,” yet these are the voices that need to be centered when it comes to telling history.
  • Middle class and above American white women need to sit down and be quiet AND stand up and roar.
  • Middle class white American women have to say, "I’m willing to show up and be messy and imperfect."
  • We spend more money on our prisons than our schools.
  • The data related to the demographics of white women was not adding up to the psychology of American white women in the voting booths.
  • Jenna formed listening circles of women around the country and for four years she asked them questions to have conversations that would give her insight into this paradox that had white women voting for someone that wasn’t aligned with their values.
  • Our systems are broken, not our humanity.
  • There are 480 sources in the book Raising Our Hands - the information Jenna included is well researched.
  • There are billions of dollars lost in wages to the gender pay gap.
  • There are exactly zero pronouns referencing “her” or “she” in the Constitution.
  • What we have to be willing to be with is the ALL of this big mess. We have to be willing to see what’s not working and see how we have been complicit in allowing it to happen.
  • We have to be willing to see that we have been the direct beneficiary of things that have been built off the backs of others.
  • We have a desperation of qualifying ourselves instead of realizing that no matter what we have biases, and we have to move out of the binary and back into “the grace of grey."
  • Perfectionism is the achilles heel of the country and white women are responsible for holding it up AND, we might not have known how bad the disease of perfectionism is, but it’s getting in the way of us making change happen.
  • “There is blood on the hands of voters who voted Trump into office.”
  • The founding fathers hated each other, they did not get along and they purposefully excluded women because they were too powerful.
  • This isn’t going to be easy but we all need to put our oars in the water and row in the same direction. We need to be willing to be with hard truths and use our voices and our voting power to change the status quo that’s currently killing all of us.
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