Systems Centered Language

Meag-gan O'Reilly, Ph.D.
9 min readJun 5, 2020

Speaking Truth to Power during COVID-19 to confront racism.

Emerging Rage

As a Black woman and typically the token in the space, the role of facilitating professional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trainings typically falls to me. For the first time in my life, I am a participant in the space. My learning from the seats instead of the stage has been profound. As a participant under the tutelage of another Black woman, I am uncovering my own internalized oppression, fragility, and ingrained white supremacy values. The most illuminating part thus far has been my anger. A feeling that I tell my clients is natural and yields deep learning, yet for myself, is stunted for fear of validating the “angry Black woman stereotype” and suffering the social and professional consequences. Nevertheless, for the past few months on Wednesdays from 12:30–1:30 I have become a very angry Black woman! I am experiencing first-hand how necessary anger is.

I am angry at the continual dismissal of the humanity of Black people.

I am angry at the energy and fervor put into maintaining the interlocking systems that oppress us.

I am angry at the brutality of capitalism that is still thriving off our backs.

I am angry that things have not changed.

I attended the conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones when she visited Stanford’s campus in early February of 2020 back when we could still gather in large groups. Listening to her Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 podcast has me in a state of grateful rage. I am becoming increasingly conscious of the through-line between slavery and oppressive practices, both overt and subtle, that still exist today. For the first time, I quote Baldwin out of the raw experience and not out of intellectualized knowledge.

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

-James Baldwin

Language is One Link in the Chain

Meag-gan O'Reilly, Ph.D.

CEO of Inherent Value Psychology INC.| Stanford Psychologist & Adjunct Faculty| DEI Consultant|