This episode is the last in our current season. It's also been a difficult one to make.
Like all our shows, it tries to strike a cautiously hopeful tone, because I do believe that each and every one of us can make positive changes that will make our lives happier. But this episode isn't just about how to be happy in your own life. It's about the need to fight injustice and the structures around us that prevent whole groups of people from living happy lives. And that means that this episode touches on some tough issues, things like racism and homophobia, as well as stories about hate crimes.
We started work on this episode before the killing of George Floyd and all the important conversations about antiblack violence that have followed. But I hope you'll still find important evidence based tips on how you can personally fight injustice, including tips that I hope will be especially useful for listeners who are not themselves members of marginalized groups and who want to learn how they can help.
It was Sunday, June 12, 2016, right in the middle of Pride Month. More than 300 people had gathered at a Latin event at Pulse, a gay dance club in Orlando, Florida. And just before closing time, a gunman walked in and opened fire. Forty nine people were murdered and another 53 were wounded in just a run on carrying something over there on the corner.
It was one of the deadliest mass shootings on U.S. soil and one of the most vicious attacks on LGBTQ people anywhere in the world. It left the global community reeling after the Pulse Attack. I went into work and I didn't think anyone mentioned it at all. Obviously, I was not in a good place. My mental health had taken a real turn that day, has had so many queer people and no one said anything.
James Barr is a comedian and podcast or living in London like lots of queer people on the Monday morning after the police shooting. James didn't get outpourings of sympathy from his co-workers. No one asked how he was doing, and no one even spoke out about the tragedy.
And it wasn't until seven p.m. that night I went to my improv comedy rehearsal. And as I walked in, my friend Amanda said, Are you OK? And gave me a hug out of nowhere. And it really struck me because I was like, wow, no one has asked me that all day today. You're the only person that realized I might be affected by that or that something had even happened. Everyone else was just completely oblivious.
Those co-workers probably weren't intending to cause James harm. Most of them would probably say they believed in gay rights and if asked directly that they were appalled by the pulse attack. But despite all these good intentions, their silence that day sent a different message.
That's really triggering because you feel alone. It takes you back to being. At your mom's house, when you realized you're gay and you can't tell anyone and you're like 13 and you said they're like, oh my God, I'm on my own and no one else is gay.
If you're a straight CIS gender person like me listening to James, you may remember not being sure what to say when you heard about the tragedy. You may have known that you needed to say something, but you weren't sure what or how.
Unfortunately, none of these good intentions matter to James at the time that day, any comment, however awkward, would have been better than silence, because at least then I know they see me now.
I'm guessing that every person listening to this podcast right now thinks of themselves as a good person, someone who's committed to justice and exclusivity, and that you probably agree that society would be a happier place if all people are treated equally, no matter what their sexual, gender, racial, religious or ethnic identity. But as James a story reveals, lots of us fail to act on these feelings not because we're bad people, but often because we're not sure how.
If we really want our societies to be happier, we need to actively counter the bigotry and violence that affects so many identities on a near daily basis, but changing the deep seated structures that cause all this injustice is going to take an all hands on deck approach, which raises an important psychological question why do well-intentioned people who believe in justice often do nothing? Are there lies of the mind that prevent good people from speaking up and taking action? And if so, how can we deal with these dumb parts of our psychology so that we can create a happier and more just world?
Our minds are constantly telling us what to do to be happy, but what if our minds are wrong? What if our minds are lying to us, leading us away from O'Rielly make us happy.
The good news is that understanding the science of the mind can point us all back in the right direction. You're listening to the Happiness Lab with Dr. Larry Sanders. A lot of people, myself included, believe in diversity, believe in inclusion, believe in equity, like there is no doubt those are sincere beliefs. Those beliefs, however, do not in any way change systems or structures or biases. All they do is just sit as beliefs.
This is Dolly Chug and NYU professor and author of The Person You Mean to Be How Good People Fight by us to go from believing something to building something, to go from the belief to the action.
We have to build some skills. We need some tools.
Dolly argues that each of us need to go from being a believer to becoming what she calls a builder, someone who takes an active role. Dolly's builder idea is similar to what historian and American University professor Ebrahim Kendi has called becoming an anti-racist. The idea is that it's not enough to simply not believe in bigoted stuff or not be racist ourselves. We need to honestly confront all the assumptions we've internalized simply by growing up in an unjust society. The problem, though, is that our lying minds make it super hard to see all the structural inequalities around us, especially if we're lucky enough not to experience that oppression directly.
When little kids play with those, spy ink pens by pens where they write, you don't see anything. And then there's a little blue ultraviolet type light and then you can see what's written. You've got to do that much work to see the systemic stuff unless you're experiencing it directly. And sometimes even when you're experiencing it directly, you don't see it. But you have got to do the work of finding the ultraviolet light, shining it and actively looking for it.
Dolly has had to shine that same light on her own biases as a story says Gender Woman of Indian descent. She knows what it's like to experience discrimination based on her ethnicity. But she also recognizes that her sexuality, race, able bodied status and education level have given her a whole host of amazing privileges. Writing the person you mean to be was her way of coming to terms with all her own injustice blind spots. One of the reasons I love books so much is because she's super honest about the fact that she's not perfect and that she too needs to put in work to become a builder.
I'm risk averse and I always want to say the right thing and I don't want to hurt someone's feelings. I don't love conflicts like all these things will pull me into doing less, not more.
Ironically enough, this urge to be seen as not being prejudiced can make us do stuff that's pretty much the opposite.
We are less likely to reach out because we think we might say the wrong thing. We are less likely to take an action or to call a legislator or to introduce ourselves to a neighbour or to try to say someone's name who we don't know how to pronounce.
There's even work suggesting that our worries about seeming prejudice take up a lot of mental bandwidth. My colleague at Yale, Jennifer Richardson, and Princeton psychologist Nicole Shelton, had white subjects chat about a controversial issue with either a white or black stranger. Afterwards, participants did a tough attentional task known as the Stroop test, in which you read the names of colors as quickly as you can. Despite the words being printed in the wrong colored font. It's actually pretty hard to read blooey when it's printed in yellow.
But Richardson and Shelton found that white subjects did significantly worse on that Stroop test after talking to a black person. The researchers concluded that subjects left these interracial interactions feeling more cognitively and emotionally drained than if they'd chatted with someone of the same race and later work from Richardson's lab shows that white subjects have an even more pronounced performance dip when they're reminded to try and not seem racist during the interaction. Our minds go through a whole host of mental gymnastics when our self-image is a decent person is threatened.
It's what psychologists call motivated reasoning, and the process of motivated reasoning can sometimes get so extreme that we even lie to ourselves and reinvent our past.
Let's do a little quiz, shall we? I want you to rate how much you agree with the following statement from one I strongly disagree to seven, I strongly agree. How much do you agree with the statement? My life has been full of hardships.
Got your answer. Great. No, wait. Actually, I forgot. I wanted to remind you of something. Before you answer the question, please remember that most social scientists agree that even today white Americans enjoy many privileges that black Americans do not. White Americans are advantaged in the domains of academics, housing, health care, jobs and more compared to black Americans.
All right. Back to the question from one I strongly disagree to seven, strongly agree. How much do you agree with the statement? My life has been full of hardships. Psychologist Taylor Phillips and Brian Lowry posed the same question to a group of white participants with half the subjects, first hearing that statement about race that I just read to you, you probably think that once white subjects were reminded of the greater obstacles that people of color face, that they'd be less likely to claim that their own life had been filled with hardships.
But in fact, Phillips and Lowery found the exact opposite pattern. On average, white people said their life was significantly harder when they were reminded of their racial privilege. Phillips and Lowery came up with a rather catchy name for the striking example of motivated reasoning borrowing from the musical Annie. They called it the hard knock life effect.
It's the hard knock life for us is that Einstein applied for. Stand by when we think about all the unseen gifts we get just from existing as a non marginalized person, when we realize that all the bad stuff in our life would probably be worse if we weren't white or straight or cis gendered or able bodied or middle class, that can make us feel kind of bad, like we got some benefit that wasn't really fair, even if we didn't intend to.
Rather than experience all this discomfort, our minds try to cook the facts. We search our memory banks for the kinds of hardships that might make our own lives look less easy and therefore less privileged relative to a marginalized person. Despite writing an entire book on fighting injustice, Dolly is the first to admit that it's easy to fall under the sway of motivated reasoning rationally. Dolly knows that she's had a whole host of life experiences that other people weren't lucky enough to have.
When I say I have privilege. It's not that I haven't worked super hard for things. It's not that I haven't had some really serious challenges in my life. And yet if someone says to me, like you just went to fancy schools will hold on.
You know, I can feel my blood boiling in that moment, that that is an example of what it looks like to deny privilege.
But Dolly has found that there is a way to stop all the mental gymnastics that lead decent people down. This not so good path. The solution involves dropping the fiction that were good people in the first place.
I've been on this campaign to get people to let go of being a good person and strive instead to be a goodish person. We'll learn what it means to be good ish when the happiness lab returns in a moment. I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling like I need a summer vacation from cooking when the heat rises, I'm often looking for ways to eat healthier, but with a little less work. And that's why I've been skipping out on meal prep and keeping things easy with daily harvest.
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Hi, welcome, welcome along lessness and what's funny, I just think that's a really weird thing to say, it's kind of creepy.
Listeners James Barr and Dan Hudson are the duo behind the award winning LGBTQ podcast, A Gay and a non gay.
Should we kind of explain what this is? Dan Dad's girlfriend is my is one of my best friends, but also Dan's girlfriend. So it's kind of awkward because we're not really friends, are we?
Are we not? I mean, this is news to me, I thought. No, no, we're not. What do you mean, ready? Before its launch in 2015, most of James's friends were women or gay men. Dan, who is the show's title suggests is a non gay, wasn't the sort of person that James usually hung out with.
I wasn't really interested in guys unless I was going to have their number in my phone and obviously Dan was not likely to be in my phone. Dan loves metal music and he can be quite angry sometimes. He's got a beard. Not that that's not gay, but I think I'm quite firm.
And Dan's very masculine because of their different identities and experiences, working together on the podcast, bridging a whole host of tricky issues.
At the beginning, I really didn't want to be there. Why do I want to talk to a straight guy? Why do I have to sit here and educate someone and explain what it's like just ordering a drink at the bar and being terrified that the barman will know I'm gay? Why do I have to tell him, like, how scary it is to hold hands with a boyfriend walking down the street? And I just I guess I felt like. Happy in my bubble of gay friends, and when I sat down with Diane and I had to explain all the things that I've never really said out loud before, it it was it was exhausting.
Part of the exhaustion comes from the fact that their podcast doesn't shy away from controversial topics.
This is so personal. Awful. Awful. This podcast is not affiliated with any other thing that Dad and I do in our other lives.
Most of their episodes are not safe for work because no aspect of James's gay sex life is off limits. Often in the position of asking the clueless question that many straight people have, answering what a douche was was pretty awkward.
So Dan and I spent a long time talking about the ins and outs of of anal cleaning and how that works. And it's just being so confused by the entire thing.
Like you do what podcasting conversations like these have turned James and Dan into LGBTQ champions and unlikely friends. Their shared laughter has given them the trust needed to talk about even more sensitive topics, things like HIV, the unique mental health challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, and the injustice and violence against queer people that straight cis gender people often don't see.
If I'm honest, I feel glad that we have had all those conversations because it will hopefully educate other people listening so that they don't have to have the same conversations.
Dan admits that he hadn't thought much about LGBTQ issues before starting the podcast. His learning curve has been steep.
We called it a gay and a nongay because we had to call it something. You hated the title, didn't you?
Because you didn't want to be. We didn't want to be marginalized as a non gay person, which was hysterical to me because why should I have to be a gay person? And now I think I'm proud of being a gay male than I ever have. And then you're kind of I mean, proud would be the wrong word because we're going down a straight pride territory. But you are happy to call yourself a non gay.
Yeah, well, I mean, it is what it is, isn't it? Like, I that is what I am.
Since co hosting this podcast, dance had to navigate a lot of the moral identity threat that comes from recognizing his nongay privilege. But unlike other straight people, Deanne's had to deal with all that discomfort with thousands of people listening.
Dan's been amazing. He's he's taken a lot of that on board.
And maybe and I think you've helped me just realize this now may be the way Dan is a good allies, because he's awkward. He's awkward about asking these questions. He's awkward about learning and speaking up for gay people. He feels awkward. And maybe as an ally for any marginalized community, you're meant to just feel a bit awkward to kind of understand it and make sure you're saying and doing the right things.
James is on to something important here, because the science suggests that the path to becoming a better ally often involves embracing just the awkwardness. It comes from accepting that you're probably going to screw up. As Psychologist explains, it's not a matter of if a non marginalized person is going to do or say something dumb.
But when we are going to screw up, period, we are.
And when we mess up, we need to immediately own the harm we've caused.
First of all, I am sorry. It's not I am sorry if you were offended. Sorry if I hurt your feelings. I'm sorry if you took it that way. Those are all not what we want to say it is. I am sorry. I have done harm. I have messed up. I am going to do better.
I am going to learn that commitment to learn from our mistakes and do better in the future is the first step to accepting that we're not a good person yet. That's why Dollie wants us to strive instead to be good ish people and by good ish.
I'm not saying it's like not quite good enough or a lower standard than good. I'm actually arguing it's quite opposite. It's a it's a higher standard because as someone who never assumes they're good, it's that I'm always looking for ways in which I could learn or where my blind spots are or where I could notice something I might have missed or a different perspective.
It's obvious that making silly mistakes is necessary for learning almost anything in life, but we're often super resistant to believing that we can improve something that renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has called having a fixed mindset. Dulli thinks this rigid, fixed mindset thinking is even more pronounced in cases that involve our moral identities.
I'm a good person or I'm not. There's no work in progress in there. And what we know from the mindset research is that when you're in a fixed mindset and you make a mistake, your brain activation actually goes down. You actually withdraw attention from the mistake. Why this? There's no point looking mistake. You're fixed. You're not going to grow.
To become better allies. We all need to switch to a different mindset.
The growth mindset is the one where, of course, we still care deeply about doing the right thing and being a good person. But we acknowledge that it's going to take lots of work and mistakes to get there.
People with a growth mindset are willing to embrace harder and harder learning challenges. They even devote more neural resources. Paying attention to their mistakes, why? Because a mistake means I have an opportunity to get better, I'm mortified, but I can get better. The idea is to own it, to say it and to act on it.
Carol Dweck, along with her Stanford colleague Jamil Zacky, have shown that our mindsets can have a significant impact on how we approach hard identity challenges. They found that white participants with a growth mindset spent more time actually listening to a black person describe personal challenges than white subjects with a fixed mindset. The good news is that it's pretty easy to develop a growth mindset. It can be as easy as reminding yourself that you can change with a simple three letter word.
Yet, as in, I'm not a good person yet, but I can be if I put in some work. The simple act of reminding ourselves we can change can have a huge effect on our willingness to engage with tough racial situations on our own mistakes when they inevitably come up and put in the work to make amends and do better in the future. A growth mindset can also help us break through the discomfort that often comes with stepping in as an ally to fight the injustice around us.
Something Nongay Podcast's Dan Hudson had to learn firsthand.
So I wrote an article for the Metro newspaper, which is the British equivalent of like USA Today to fatwahs. James's idea that he said you should write an article about what it's like being an ally to the LGBT community. And I was like, well, what if I'm not one like who's deciding that I am prepping?
The article was a tremendous amount of work for Dan, and he spent the entire time fighting to keep that old fixed mindset at bay.
God, I really want to get this right and make the point correctly. And the easiest things that I can't do this this is just like too, too difficult.
In the end, Dan was able to see the difficulty as a way to learn rather than a reason to run away. The result was a powerful article entitled I'm a White Middle Class CIS straight male, and this is how I learned to be an LGBTQ plus ally. It was one of the first times Dan had publicly applied the word ally to himself.
It's it's a tricky words because. James refers to me as an ally, and that's great. It's one of those words that I think if you're going to declare yourself as one, you've really got to be like manning the barricades. You've really got to be fighting for that cause all day and every day. And I'm not sure that I necessarily am on that or maybe should be, I think.
And I might be wrong. Then call me out. That's because you're a straight cis white guy with all the privilege. So to you, having to stand up for anything feels may be insincere because it's not his cause. But here's where the article started. I was fed up of constantly having to stand up for gay people all the time, and I just felt like maybe it was time a straight person did it because there's only so much. Gay noise we can make and sometimes straight people are just going to ignore that yet again, James is right here.
Not only is it morally wrong to always leave marginalized groups with the burden of speaking out, but the science shows it's often more effective for a non marginalized person to point out bigotry.
We absolutely, when we're not from the targeted group, have more influence and standing than we assume. We don't feel that way in the moment, but the data is really convincing.
One study found that white people who called someone out for using a racist stereotype are judged less negatively than a black person who does exactly the same thing, using exactly the same words and tone. The same study found that the offender feels more guilty and is more likely to apologize if a white person steps in. Another study showed white participants videos in which a white or black person called someone out for a racist comment, participants were more persuaded by the argument and thought the interaction was less rude when a white person was the one doing the calling out.
Dolly's book christened this phenomenon ordinary privilege, we're not speaking instead of them, we're not centering ourselves over them. This is not about our feelings when the mic comes to us, because it might come to us a little more easily. We amplify what they were saying. We pass it back. We create the space for them to be heard and then step aside. Oh, OK. Are you nervous? Am I? Yeah, Dan has gotten better at knowing when to use his ordinary privilege, like the time the duo were making a show for the BBC.
I'm openly going into a room where a man is going to judge me for being gay and I don't want to be judged for being gay.
And I'll warn you, the memory of this incident still makes Dan so angry that he can't help a curse. But I'll let James set the scene.
We did a documentary about gay conversion therapy, and we both sat there in front of this guy that performs this pseudoscience on people. And that was really tough.
I want to talk about your journey and how how you came to this. I wanted to move away from the homosexual feelings I experienced. What did you want to stop those feelings if you don't? I was not comfortable with them. I got more annoyed by the gay conversion guy than James did. I was livid that this man could come out of this shit, basically, and that plenty of impressionable people from across the UK would fall for it.
It was amazing, having done that, to take over the mic and shout this guy down and tell him he's wrong from a kind of non emotional.
Place, because obviously for me to do that is a lot more raw than can come at it differently, the conversations James and Dan have had about the importance of being an ally have changed both of them and have helped them step into social justice issues beyond the domain of queer rights. Being white in the summer of twenty twenty has given both of them an ordinary privilege that they can use to speak out against antiblack violence.
Dan and I both went to the Black Lives Matter protest in London and I really felt we needed to be there because you can be nervous and uncomfortable and think it's not your issue, it's not your plight, but, as a gay person, I know that I need allies, and so I wanted to be there as an ally and that was a banner that said it all like use your white privilege to end white privilege.
And I think if I've learned anything throughout Black Lives Matter, it's that silence equals death and that we need to stand up and say something. And we're meant to feel uncomfortable. Right.
If we want to live in a society that's safe and fair for all people, then each and every one of us needs to embrace a bit more discomfort. Marginalized groups, of course, don't really have a choice about this. They're forced to be uncomfortable all the time. But the research shows that individuals from non marginalized identities need to embrace their fair share, too. If we're ever going to build the kind of world we want to live in. When we return from the break, we all see the power of this discomfort embracing approach.
We'll talk to a straight white ally who spent the last 70 years feeling actively uncomfortable in the fight for racial justice. We'll see that embracing the discomfort that comes with this work beyond simply being the right thing to do can also prove an unexpected path to finding purpose and achieving happiness, the happiness lab will be right back. We all shop online a lot, and we've all seen that promo code for old taunting us at the checkout. But thanks to honey, manually searching for coupon codes is a thing of the past.
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I was five years old, being raised in a town called Yonkers, New York, and looked outside my bedroom window one afternoon and saw my father's image swinging from a tree with people under the tree picketing.
Richard Lapchick was introduced to the discomfort that comes from being a white ally very early on in life. The crowd was hanging in effigy of his dad. Some reports say they even set fire to it.
I had no idea what it was about except that they were angry.
Richard's father, Joe Lapchick, was head coach of the New York Knicks. He had just signed Nat Sweetwater Clifton, one of the first African-American players in the NBA, to say that his signing was wildly unpopular in 1950 would be an understatement.
And for several years after that, I'd pick up the extension phone in our house. My dad not knowing I was listening and it was racial epithets.
After racial epithets being hurled at him before coaching for the Knicks, Joe was a superstar in his own right. In the nineteen twenties, he played center for the fabled original Celtics. Back then, basketball was segregated, but Joe's team chose to play games against the New York Rens, the best African-American team of the day.
There were race riots that took place during the game. People stormed the court to attack the players. The Celtics and the Reds literally took the court with knives packed in their socks to fend for themselves, defend themselves if they were attacked by angry fans.
As the two teams traveled the country, Richard's dad saw the racism that the Reds faced almost daily. The Celtics stayed in fancy hotels that the Reds weren't allowed to enter. The Celtics could be whatever they wanted, but the Reds would rarely get served. There were even several occasions when white cashiers refused to pump gas for the Rens bus. Joe decided he wanted to do something more than just play on the court alongside the Rens. So he developed an opening game tradition that drew even more fire from the fans.
My dad and his opposing senators in Cooper would not shake hands like people do at sporting events normally, but would actually embrace each other and sometimes kiss each other because they wanted fans in those stands to understand that this game was about more than a great Hall of Fame basketball game. It was about what their vision was that America could someday become as a team.
Richard seems set on a career on the court, just like his dad.
I wanted nothing more than to be an NBA player. I was six feet tall in the eighth grade and one of the tallest players in the city and I was heavily recruited.
Richard was accepted into a prestigious basketball camp. It was there that he saw the racism his father had witnessed a generation before was still being directed at players of color.
There were five other white guys and a black guy at the camp, and one of the white guys was throwing the N-word at the black guy for the first three days.
And so I finally challenged and the kid knocked Richard out cold. But as the science of ordinary privilege might suggest, Richard thinks his challenge did at least help to prevent further racist incidents. He also developed a lifelong friendship with the black player. He helped a man who would later become the basketball legend we know today, as Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a 15 year old white kid.
I suddenly had a young African-American lens with which I could see racism in America and what it was doing to communities of color. And I decided as a 15 year old that I would spend the rest of my life working in the area of civil rights.
Richard is now a professor, author and human rights activist, someone the NCAA recently christened the racial conscience of sports. He campaigned for years in support of the anti-apartheid movement and worked to ban South African teams from participating in international sports.
I thought maybe for the first time in my life I'd done something worthwhile. It was working late in my college office. There was a knock on the door at ten forty five and I just assumed it was the campus security. But when I opened the door instead, it was two men wearing stocking masks.
The men beat Richard unconscious, causing extensive kidney and liver damage, as well as a hernia and a concussion. They also carved the N-word into his stomach with a pair of scissors laying in the hospital that night. I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life using the sports platform to address what I thought at that time was just going to be racism. But all social justice issues. I felt that if the people had gone to the lengths to try to stop my father twenty eight years before and to the length they'd just gone to try to stop me that night, that they must have felt we were having an impact on race relations in the United States that they didn't want to see.
Even though the beatings stiffened Richard's resolve, he never allowed the ordeal to undermine the humility that he argues all allies need to maintain in the fight for justice.
At the time of the attack, people said to me, well, now you must understand what it's like to be black. And I said, I don't understand what it's like to be black. At any given point, I could have walked away from the civil rights movement and just rejoined that white middle class with all the privileges that we have and not faced with a person of color faces every day when they go out of their house.
This is one of the reasons Richard is so passionate that more allies need to step up, especially when it comes to the fight against antiblack violence.
Everybody can't be on the front lines, but everybody's got to get off the sidelines. You've got to get involved in some way. It might be picking whatever the issue is you want to be part of. Read about it, study it, understand it, find an organization that's doing something about it, volunteer for it, and maybe then you might become emboldened after that to do more, but at least get involved with something. And we've had hundreds of years of oppression in the United States that have created what we're dealing with now.
And it's going to take some time and strong struggle and effort on the part of everybody to address those issues.
But even after reading and listening and volunteering, don't be tempted to get a little performative and show off what a good person you are to be a better ally. We need to reframe from the so-called cookie seeking behavior. As activists refer to it, reward seeking doesn't help. And worse, it can yet again create more emotional labor for the group you're allegedly trying to help. This has to be a selfless act. I mean, it can be a rewarding act for, you know, everything that I've been involved with, I feel incredibly rewarded by.
But I didn't get involved to get rewarded. And I think that that's what people need to understand. And I think most people get it when you hear it in those terms.
Simply put, allies, it's not about you. Caring about justice means you've got to be willing to do the work without a cookie at the end from the group you're trying to help. But this doesn't mean allyship was without its sweet rewards. The good news, as Richard has seen firsthand, is that putting in all this hard work is worth it in the end, not just for fixing society, but also for our own personal sense of meaning and well-being.
I have an incredibly happy life, there were definitely moments in my life that were difficult to get through, but those moments all made me stronger in the end, and being stronger makes me happier.
As we discussed so often in the happiness lab, doing good for others makes us feel good, often in profound and long lasting ways. We don't even realize doing good for the world also provides us with greater emotional resilience, which I saw firsthand talking to Richard, because despite all the anger and division we've seen in 20/20, Richard is brimming with hope.
I remember in 1977, I was in Luanda, Zambia, with the person who was my mentor. His name was Jorge Hauser, and he had founded the anti-apartheid movement, anticolonial movement in the United States. And I said, George, do you think that Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, what was then Rhodesia and South Africa will be free in our lifetime? And he said, Rich, I feel something's different. I feel that there's going to be change.
Less than 20 years later, Richard stood on the steps of the Union Building in South Africa and watched Nelson Mandela sworn in as president.
If that man who had been a political prisoner in the most racist system of government on the face of the Earth in the second half of the 20th century could become its president, that anything and everything is possible if we put our mind to it.
As I said at the top of the show, making this episode has been particularly tough for me. I'm a biracial woman, but I'm also white passing. And that means I'm often in the unique position of seeing some of the antiblack racism that my friends and colleagues experience all the time while simultaneously having the realization that my skin color protects me from most of it. I don't always realize the incredible privilege that comes with all that and the responsibility I have to be an ally to all identities that are facing injustice.
While working on this episode, I spent the entire time worried if I'm using the right language or if I'm choosing the right guests, or if I've done the best job I could in raising these issues. None of this was fun or comfortable, but it's exactly the sort of discomfort that marginalized people and those that don't have my skin privilege go through all the time. They don't get to avoid it. And so, honestly, neither should I. Plus, the science of allyship suggests that all the discomfort I'm experiencing will ultimately make me happier because it's necessary for becoming the anti-racist builder that I really want to be.
It's also worth validating that all this is really hard, but there's no time like the present. If each of us is willing to intentionally take on a bit more discomfort to do our part to fight systems of injustice, then we might be able to build a world that brings genuine happiness to all people. Thanks so much for joining me for the second season of The Happiness Lab.. I hope it's taught you new tips you can use to make yourself and our world a little bit happier.
The Happiness Lab is Coreign and produced by Ryan Dilli, our original music was composed by Zachary Silver with additional scoring, mixing and mastering by Evan Viola and also help with production. Joseph Fridmann checked our facts and our editing was done by Sophie Greenmarket in special thanks to McLibel Kali Migliori Heather Fain, Julia Berten, Maggie Taylor, Maia Karnig, Jacob Weisberg and my agent Ben Davis. The Happiness Lab is brought to you by Pushkin Industries and me Doctor Laurie Santo's.