Bianca Laureano on Social Justice Education – Smart Sex, Smart Love

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On this week’s episode, Joe chats about Social Justice Education with Bianca I Laureano. Bianca is an award-winning educator, curriculum writer, and sexologist. She is a founding member of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN) and The LatiNegrxs Project.

Together, they discuss why racial justice is an important topic in the sexuality field, and why intersectionality is so important for us to understand. “It’s not about being right, it’s about being understood,” says Bianca.

Connect with Bianca I Laureano:
Website | Facebook

Speaker 1: hello and welcome back to my listeners and hello to all my new listeners. I hope you’re enjoying the shows as much as I’m enjoying doing them and meeting all these very interesting people. Today I’ll be meeting with and talking with Bianca Laureano on social justice education. Um, I, Bianca is an award winning educator curriculum writer and sexologist. She’s a founding member of woman of color sexual health network and the lots of Negroes pop project currently residing in Oakland, California. Bianca is an sect certified sexuality educator and supervisor. We’ll be discussing why racial justice is an important topic in the sexuality field and why intersectionality is important for us to understand. Welcome Bianca.

Speaker 4: Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: It’s so glad. I’m glad to have you here. I think before we start, I think we need to let people know what a sect is. Would you want to say it or do you want me to,

Speaker 4: um, I’ll do it and then you can probably add a little to it. But APAC is a membership organization and the United States sports, sexuality professionals, specifically educators, counselors and therapists and they offer certification to people in the U S as well as mentorship and supervision for emerging professionals. Right,

Speaker 1: exactly. So it’s American association of sex educators, counselors and therapists. Dot org is what it is. So people, I won’t put it on the website. I just want to tell you, first of all, I’m so happy that you agreed to come on the show because [inaudible] and just even for me, I’m going to, I absolutely am committed to coming to your stuff. You write on the listserv so people don’t know, we’re part of this a sector organization, they have a listserv, thousands of therapists are on it. And you began writing in about social justice education and the things that are missing in the field. And we’re going to talk about all that today. But for whatever reason, the way you say it though, things that you said, I was so able to hear you and I want to hear you. And sometimes when people are on these listservs or even in my talks, I do, when people try to explain these things to me that they have an edge, they’re angry, they’re, uh, they make me bad. They tell me I’m wrong. I mean there’s so much and I’m like, hold on, I’m so open to all this, but I, I can’t, I want to hear you, but I can’t hear that and you’re nothing like that. So I just want to say how much I appreciate that.

Speaker 4: Well, thank you so much. Yeah. And I think that anger and that rage is totally real for everyone. Um, six periods, but also that reaction and the different types of work can really start to blossom. So I feel like the rage and the anger is really valid and we understand that it turns people off and it gets people scared and frustrated and angry. Um, so yeah, I totally hear you though. It’s really important to speak on those different ways of communicating. I mean, listservs are totally new to

Speaker 1: yes and it, and it’s not like I’m not one of the people in my early years of being gay, being angry at people that didn’t understand it and you know, so I totally get it. But like I’m like, then, so anyways, so that’s why I’m glad you’re here. Could we start with, um, why is racial justice an important topic in the field of sexuality?

Speaker 4: Sure. So racial justice is important because it’s part of human rights, it’s part of the human experience. And we live in the United States, which very much has a racialized history that’s rooted in allowing certain people more benefits and power than others. And it really is the DC with ideation approach that impacts all of us negatively no matter how much power we might have in a particular situation. But it really has trained us and groomed us to not treat each other as human. And I think that’s one of the issues and challenges that the sexuality seal has and that we’re really combating and trying to unlearn it. And sometimes it’s a really hard place to be in when you’ve been trained for the past 40 years and a particular way can really feel, um, very shocking and very upsetting. Um, but also I think there’s a point of understanding what’s been omitted and who’s been erased.

Speaker 4: And is that really the holistic approach and really a fair understanding of what’s happening for people, experiences if their sexuality was their experiences. Um, and it’s really also about having like a full understanding of other human beings. And so when I think about racial justice, I think about justice for all of us. Um, not just for people of color. It really is about understanding how race has impacted all of us and what are the ways that we can build together to make a sexual field that is so much more open and supporting and affirming of people who have different experiences.

Speaker 1: So what do you do? Thank you. That was great. So what do you do? Like, I feel like the word privilege has gotten pathologized now. Like I was at a, I was on, I was traveling, I was at a bar drinking, you know, and this guy, next week we started talking. I tell them what I do and I started talking about privilege and he was a white, straight male. And he was like, uh, I don’t want, Oh, you’re one of those, right? So what do you and I, and I tried to say to him, even I, I never, ever, ever, ever thought I’d ever have to look at anything about privilege for me because I’m sexual abuse survivor. I’m gay, I was bullied, I was humiliated, but I’m white and I’m male and I’m cisgender and I get it. But it was really hard for me to get, I tried to say all that to him and he just like, you know, kept drinking more. So what do you do?

Speaker 4: No, I think it’s a really important conversation to have. And this is a really good example of how as a humanizing framework that’s rooted in white supremacy, which is what I call the systems that we’re embedded in that values and privileges certain people over others. It hurts all of us, not just the people who are also gaining power, but those people who are hurt and harmed and not having a place to interrogate that and speak about it in a way that it’s important to them and their own journey and process to healing and recovery. So I think that’s really important. Like white supremacy is traumatic for everyone and it doesn’t really benefit all of us in the same way. Um, and therefore it doesn’t benefit any of us unfortunately. So I think one of the things that I’ve done is, um, being more cautious about the language that I’m using.

Speaker 4: And so, you know, I stopped saying racism when I didn’t mean racism. I really lacked a white supremacist structure and what that looks like in means. And I’ve also stopped using the word privilege so much. And so she’s power. I think power is something that we all have and it shifts and it changes in the context. So you and I are teaching a training and a training space. You have a lot of power as the trainers and the Rome that are helping other people. But when we leave that space and we get on like, I don’t know, the subway, those subways, conductors don’t care who we are. We have a different sense of power. Um, in that context. And I think it’s important to understand how power shifts and changes because those are the ways that people are really wanting to connect with language differently. But it’s definitely shifted the ways I use my link.

Speaker 1: Oh, I’m going to do it now to see. This is why I want to learn from you to instead of talk about privilege power, because I have actually learned about how I’ve had power. I didn’t know I had power. I feel powerless, you know, I feel so I’m coming from a marginalized place, but in certain settings I do have power and I’m older now and I, you know, maybe had more money now than people that are listening to me and my talks. So I have to remember all of that and I’m not, I’m not thinking about, I’m still Joey chord who is struggling through trying to get life as a gay kid. You know what I mean?

Speaker 4: [inaudible] right, exactly. And it’s also really important for us to understand how to talk about how power we young people because their power will also shift and change as well. And that’s one of the reasons why I really love working with young people, but also now I’m working with the adults who are supporting those young people directly because oftentimes we just don’t have that opportunity. I think this is why we find challenges in helping schools create disciplinary actions. Um, if that’s the best term, uh, for people’s lives. And like consent violation or what does it look like if we really want to honor body autonomy for our students, but we also have a dress code, right? So those are some of the complications that I think come up and you know, don’t can have that conversation in a different way. But when we talk about other people’s body, it’s like young people and children. That’s a conversation that I think is really difficult for some people. And to offer the power or recognize the power that many people have. I think that’s also a struggle for a lot of parents as well. So I think power’s a really important piece to consider. And it’s something that we just haven’t always discussed and the way that we need to.

Speaker 1: No. And it needs to be surfaced like you’re doing and making it O overt. And you’re talking about bodily autonomy. I know that’s one of your specialties. How does it relate to reproductive and justice disability justice?

Speaker 4: Yeah. So you know, a lot of the justice framework that has been emerging over the past 20 to 30 years are still doing new. So disability justice was coined about 10 years ago. Um, and the framework was offered to us. I had to do with the justice activists, uh, who are not academics, you know, who are really the people living their lives, fighting to survive, um, as able people and to have the body of honey that they desire. Um, and so it really is this approach of being able to follow the lead of those most impacted. And that’s a lot of what the justice framework offer us as well. So disability justice is deeply rooted in body mind connections. Um, and then reproductive justice is very much rooted in a conversation about sexual rights, women’s rights, but really what are the rights that every person has that we get to choose what happens to our body?

Speaker 4: And those are the core pieces of reproductive justice. And that’s exactly what’s in conversation with disability justice, where people are saying we should have a right to decide when someone touches us, whether it’s a medical provider or a partner. What we do when we have experienced the pregnancy, we should have all of our options available to us, but also deeper things such as our school needs to be significantly better. OB should have access to sex therapists if our child, you know, is talking about being non binary and he’s coming out to have the expertise around that. They, these are the things that um, connect with those justice frameworks is also access to the resources that can support people that also affirm the experiences that people are having and remind them that they’re not completely out of the ordinary. I that there is support and care available and they’ll just, some of the pieces around justice, I think a lot of people don’t fully understand when they’re resisting a justice framework is that it’s not just a single issue approach where it only helps one particular group of people.

Speaker 4: But justice is really about freedom for everyone and people being able to say, this is my body, this is what’s happening. I’m going to ask for what I need and what I want. And that being the point where we can start. Um, and I think a lot of sexuality professionals, if not all of them completely agree with that approach where we get to the side what happens to us. Um, and yet we get a little bit of, I’m uncomfortable when we start to put adjectives like racial or disability or reproductive justice term and at the end of the day all of those justice frameworks and they all are in conversation with us with each other. So just like you at the bar, let’s just framework, go to the bar and we have drinks mean, you know, get the happy hour specials. But they’re also focused in a particular lens as well. But they definitely are collaborating and communicating with each other in a way that I think is really important for sexuality professionals to understand because it’s not this big bad, we’re going to blame people approach. It really is about sustainability. What does it mean to recognize that you have power and then to offer the power to other people so that you’re not the only one holding it. Like those are some really specific kinds of practices that are important for us to understand. We lose so much, it means that we’re sharing.

Speaker 1: I love what you’re saying. So let me just say, because I agree with everything. And so some people may say, okay, from a macro level she’s making a lot of sense at, but how do you, when people don’t take it in or see or don’t want it or fight or some, like that white guy might’ve said to me, uh, he did say to me, you know, why am I the marginalized guy or an I? And if I could just say this when I on the listserv, watch people who maybe challenge what you’re saying, not you necessarily, but what you’re saying or you don’t agree. And I’m like, Oh no, you know, in my head I’m thinking, I have no idea how people are going to respond. This is like not good. And you’re thinking when you wrote, I guess I’m asking how do you do it so well? Because when you do write back and you do say what you say, it’s neutralized. It’s measured, but you, but, but it also pushes back in a way that is an, I don’t know, it’s just, I don’t, I don’t have the words, do you know what you do? What is it you do

Speaker 4: right thing my sharing, because I definitely like in my twenties and early thirties was definitely filled with rage and upset and frustrated and really had a different approach. And I think as I’ve evolved in the field and as I’ve really been able to reflect and think about what works and what does it, um, I’ve been able to modify my approach. And I think what that has helped me do is, you know, take a deep breath and say to myself, [inaudible] as human beings. And it’s not about, um, it’s not about being right. It’s about being understood. And so for me, what I want to engage with people, I don’t want them like five. Yeah, you’re right. Like, that’s not what I want. Instead I desire that people can hear what I’m thinking and choose, use that information the best way that they can. Everybody’s ready to have these conversation.

Speaker 4: They just aren’t. And that’s the reality. And it’s always been that way. And not everybody is ready. And I think that’s okay. Everybody has their own process, but there’s also a huge community that ASAP specifically, for example, I have not been able to reach. Those are communities of color. Those are working poor communities. Those are people with disabilities. It’s a huge community of people and it’s not just one type of person. And I think if we really want to be an inclusive and you know, represents the field and accurate way, what we need to do is we examine in power and approach him. Um, I think that that’s what he’s doing currently and for the past several years, um, and change doesn’t happen instantly. So that’s another thing that I remember after my myself is that change can look very small. It’s, I was like doing this podcast with Joe.

Speaker 4: It’s almost like having someone, you know, we talked to me and want to have a call. It can look like so many different things. Um, and not everybody comes to their awareness or their understanding in the same way. I think those people who are resisting, um, or who question are also still curious. And that’s one of the reasons why I responded the way that I do because I wanna make sure that people stay curious, um, because it’s important. And also those individuals who, um, also challenge, they also helped me make the message though I spend a lot stronger. And so I value them in a way that they might not even imagine. Um, but I also see them as human beings because I’m still committed to my own personal personal ethics and values and not, um, following through with the way that I’ve been taught and how to treat white man or how I’ve been taught to find electrical suspicious, right?

Speaker 4: Like that’s, that’s my own stuff that I’m working on. Right? And so if I’m working on that, what does it look like in action? And I really want that to be something that people can say, Oh yeah, I know Bianca. And this is why I understand how to do, and this is why I think she might be someone that I can reach out to. I can cite what I can ask about and those are the things that I care about. Um, and I recognize no being a soundcheck, every woman of color sexual health network. That was a really, that was a really challenging time 11 years ago. I’m not, one of my approaches, um, that we collected, we decided that we would use is that I would be the person who would be the voice that was facing really difficult games that would come off very harshly or sting a little bit.

Speaker 4: But I was off for the lightest of all of the founders. I also had all of the degrees that, you know, people, our community value. I had the experiences. So I walked to the school versus having, you know, a master’s of public health. I have this sexuality degree, right? So we were able to strategically use the privileges that we have to be able to send a message. And what that did was it made people see me like, Oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve been seeing some really hard stuff, but I can hear her in a way that I probably couldn’t hear the directors Guild members of the collective. What that ended up doing was allowed his darker skin members to have more opportunities where people are like, I don’t know that I could talk to the over, but over there is Marianna and Trina, I’m going to go reach out to them.

Speaker 4: And so it really was a strategic use of colorism because a part of a white supremacist framework, we’re colorism people were fighter skin, um, are able to access different types of power in a different way. Um, you know, James watt, we talked a little bit about this in the podcast with me, Yvonne. So those are some of the strategic uses of the power that we have that we’ve really implemented and made a little bit of change. But that’s not who I am all of the time. So I totally recognize that. Like, over the past 11 years, there was this particular, um, view of me as a person who did this work and now, you know, step down as the ACLU found just to do different work. And yeah, now I’m able to still recover it and say, this is who I am. This is what I want to do. And I realize that, you know, being able to do justice work, it has to include white people. Like there’s no way that it can. So, um, so yeah, that’s what I was committed to.

Speaker 1: It’s so mature, it’s so’s reasonable and, and so, so tell me specifically how you do it. So people, one of the things I know you do, and I always forget the third word, and I shouldn’t because I’m an ASAP and I’m a supervisor too, but the sexist sexual assessment, a, sorry, sex assessment reassessment or re.

Speaker 4: So I would say the VSA,

Speaker 1: sexual attitude reassessment always screwed up. All right, so what it is, it’s like a weekend where people come in and they are exposed to different sexual acts. They all films discussions of, of fetishes and kinks and older people. And younger people and what we were not doing enough historically and maybe even now still is included inclusive of people of color. Isn’t that correct?

Speaker 4: Absolutely. Yeah. When I took my SAR 11 years ago now it was the ACE XR and I was just the Holy God, I was so disappointed because I never saw myself and there were never opportunities for me to talk about what does it mean to be a black Latina Porter again from you know, a territory or a colony of the United States. There was never that space to really talk about what my experience is as a sexual being was how I was chained and raised. Um, and also just the trauma of not ever being able to see myself affirmed in those types of types of chains. And so you have no means that there are significantly more people of color that are in the field, is reflective in our membership board. And also knowing that there are racially white people who get it and are also working with communities of color, but who are also like, I need this training.

Speaker 4: I thought for about seven years. About what to be done differently in the fire. And I decided to be guided by the justice frameworks that we have right now. So I embedded a reproductive justice framework as well as the disability justice framework into the SAR that actually, and I think sharing that openly is really important. Um, because I don’t think a lot of people know how to set up a thought. And the reality is I want people to understand that there’s a theory, there’s a framework, there’s a methodology that guides me into training and supporting learning adult learners. And that’s really important to me so that people know that I’m not just pulling this up from things that I think that are best. I’m really trying to divide it by the information that we’ve been provided. And so what does that look like? What looks like we’re going to have a moment in the side where we’re going to learn some American sign language by these two queer men of color, right?

Speaker 4: And that’s what we’re going to do. It’s going to be a silent activity. We’re going to learn some term and sexuality field and that’s going to be part of our changing. So for me it isn’t always about [inaudible] support. Um, and try to like shock you and said, I want people to really sit with themselves and think about, okay, I don’t want to always this associate as a therapist, she’s working with clients. Instead, I want people to be clear about what’s happening in their bodies when they hear things about childhood sexual abuse. Do they have the capacity to understand, Oh, my face is flushing red, my palms are sweating, or you know, what, what’s happening to you physiologically? Um, and how can we talk through that so that when a client does demonstrate, I want to talk about those things, how can we be prepared already and knowing ourselves and being clear about what our values are and how they might impact

Speaker 1: wow

Speaker 4: for doing that. And so a lot of people don’t seek, but that’s a far because it doesn’t have like the pouring, there’d be things or like the fetish conversation. But instead the fetish conversations are about why are we so interested in consuming, for example, bodies of color in a particular way, but not consuming white bodies in the same way. And so it’s a larger conversation around sexuality consumption, but also about who are we as providers and caregivers in this field. Um, so that’s what am I purchase?

Speaker 1: Yeah. Well, and just because I should have said this in the beginning, so people don’t know who are listening. So if you’re going to become a sex therapist in the United States, you have to go through a SAR because we, they want you desensitize and educated and aware. Um, like most therapists are not. So non-sex therapists don’t get this kind of information and they may go to a class, they may go to a one day workshop, but this is an intensive sort of flooding of things that you’re going to be exposed to. Um, and what, what is it like 20 hours or more?

Speaker 4: Yeah, so ideally it would be that right now Asex offers continuing education units that range from 10 to equal for this far. So I’ve done a ring, I’ve done 10 hours, I did 18 hours. I’m currently falling in the middle at about 15. So yeah, it’s a really intensive two days pants. Um, jam packed. It’s exhaustive. Um, but I think it really is an important piece to allow people to bring their full mind and body into a learning space and to also remind them that they can do whatever they need to do to stay present at this time. I think that kind of permission with our bodies and our minds is really important when we’re trying to do this work because sometimes we’re not given those opportunities as the professionals. Um, we offer them to our clients but not to ourselves.

Speaker 1: Yes. What else would you say? Would you add to this that I haven’t asked or I didn’t bring up?

Speaker 4: Um, that this is not going away. And so the reality that our steel is emerging is going to happen whether we like it or not, that change is a guarantee. And that if you really are invested in our legacy as individuals and our feel that it’s important to imagine what collaboration looks like. And so when I do supervision, I really encourage people, what is your, you know, community collaboration, philosophy, how are you going to choose who you want to work with? How do you choose how you’re gonna charge them? What does that look like? Um, and those are really important pieces I think for all of us to imagine and consider. Um, I’m not, you know, we’ve inherited a world that was totally different than when we were chained 1520 plus years ago. I, myself included, this is not the world we’ll treat. We just segmented.

Speaker 1: No, it’s so different. And I’ll tell you, I’m, I’m a, I’m going to be 57 next month and I’ve noticed I’m watching reruns of things I watched as a, as a younger person. And there would be like an episode where people of color were, we’re in it for one of the episodes of the 20 seasons. Right? And then we had the 80s where we had the Cosby shows who we had one black family and family matters may be. And then, but like, and then now we have black Ash, which is great, but it’s really, it’s more than that. Now you see in commercials, interracial is an interracial reality. Can you say that? Are interracial couples or people or the characters are more and more diverse? It’s, it’s over. We’re not going to have a completely one, um, shows that are predominantly white anymore. When do you agree? Oh,

Speaker 4: absolutely, absolutely. And it hasn’t ever been like that, you know, for a very long time where the history of the century is that rape was very much a part of capitalism and you know, the 17th century. And so we do have people who look like me because that’s a legacy that has been a part of this community and it’s an art to me, but the country, that’s a reality and we can’t ignore that reality because if we do, then we’re really not doing, in my opinion, a full and fair reflection of what’s possible in our work. Um, so yeah, we just don’t have the luxury of only communicating with one type of people anymore. And I think that it was a luxury for some of us at a point in time and now it’s a little bit of a learning curve and growing and a growing pain for many people.

Speaker 4: And I think that those are the, what can we learn from the case, right? Like what does the edge teach us? You learn the thesis and that’s a really hard case to get to and also to be able to reflect upon. But I think it’s so important. Um, and I, that we do a lot of hard work quietly. And so that’s one of the things that I really appreciate about justice work is that we don’t constantly have to be talking to each other or engaging in something. We can’t really be quiet with our thoughts because that’s an important thing that we do to really get to where we want to be. Um, I think a lot of sex therapists, um, value that quiet time as well because we see it and how it works, um, with our clients and action. So yeah, this wasn’t going anywhere. I think, you know, people don’t have to die right into it, but a lot of people are already writing for, for more and they want to know how can I do the work that I do better. And that’s one thing that I really hope to help people in finding and discovering for themselves.

Speaker 1: Well, and you’re already doing it. You did it for me and I just see you as one of the leaders and I’m so glad you are one because you, like I said, you’re reasonable. You’re measured, you’re smart, you’ve got a lot to say. You’ve got a lot of experience, you’ve done a lot of your own personal work. I mean, it takes, I think it takes all of that to be good out there. And, and I feel like you got it. Um, what, where can people find you? I want people to be able to find you. How do they do that on [inaudible]?

Speaker 4: Yeah, I’m totally accessible. I’m on Twitter as Latino sexuality, which is all one word. I’m also on mine. I have my personal West site, which is [inaudible] dot com and I also have a website where I do trainings and offer courses around justice framework and that that ante up PD, a. N, T, E, T, V. um, Antioch EUP PD, that poem. Um, and yes, it’s a poster for you, but I love the idea that we have to go all in with what we have to be able to really follow through with a justice and a freedom that we all want it. We have to really put all of ourselves into the work, should really have the outcome that we’re desiring. So that’s what those two find me. I’m totally accessible. We’ll reach out. I’d love to hear from folks.

Speaker 1: So glad you agreed to be on my show. Thank you very much, Bianca.

Speaker 4: Thanks Joe.

Speaker 1: All right, see you.

Speaker 4: Bye.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of smart sex smart love. I’m dr Joel court and you can find me on Joe that’s J O E K O R See you next time.

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