So Tell Me Something New: What about Systems Thinking?

So Tell Me Something New: What about Systems Thinking?
Dr. Jean Kennedy
Dr. Jean Kennedy
Dr. Jean Kennedy

By Jean Kennedy

As I reflected on our African-American month of celebrations, it was a little different this year. Along with spending it in the South, my radio shows helped to promote the viewing of Hidden Colors to our listening audience. Several groups got together to view the documentary Hidden Colors 1 and 2.

I was in “Hotlanta” viewing this documentary while several groups in Fresno were also viewing it. Rev. Floyd Harris, Jr., and a few other conscious ministers showed this documentary to their congregations. Because my radio show felt that this documentary would be life changing, we arranged to have Dr. Kaba Kamene, who was one of several individuals featured in this documentary. Dr. Varmah was a call-in guest from Florida sharing his wonderful works on spirituality and civilization. Joining us were Bro. Marcus Banks-Bay and Rev. Harris, both from Fresno.

As a certified organizational psychologist, and after watching Hidden Colors, I could not help thinking how “systems thinking and race” has affected generations of people from the diaspora. Despite many accomplishments, people of color still experience being treated as second-class citizens in the United States. That’s because systems thinking teaches people to have different understandings of race and to keep people confused about race. These systematic thought processes are embedded in our day-to-day activities.

Systems thinking has everyone involved in structural racialization outcomes, and no one is exempt. Structural racialization is where we focus our efforts to develop policies and procedures that end up supporting racial profiling. We have all heard stories of racial profiling, and it is still alive and well today. It’s also called social capital—How much is social capital worth to American institutions? Sadly, personal values influence institutional racism which, in turn, creates institutions of oppression.

Hidden Colors reveals the impact of racism on people. “Racism” is a personal racial intent toward another; this system of structural racialization promotes racism, and that’s not going away anytime soon. Racism is a deadly disease and a health pandemic in America.

Think about this: Did you know that race can have a lot to do with things without addressing race specifically? For example, an organization can invite you to become part of its establishment, but it’s more about “window dressing” or tokenism than truly embracing ethnic diversity. Next thing you know, you’re feeling “invisible.” In other words, implicit racial bias versus structural racialization equals power.

In this system of structural racialization, fairness is not power, power is more important than fairness. In fact, the Hidden Colors documentary says it far better than I can. It’s been life changing for me, and I can only imagine the changes taking place in the lives of others who viewed this documentary.

Malcolm X, said, “History makes the best research.” So the thing we call “White privilege” is a dangerous and powerful weapon used toward people from the diaspora. I challenge communities to challenge themselves to speak truth to power—no, not White power, not Black power, but people power.

Once you view Hidden Colors, you cannot and must not do “business as usual.” Hidden Colors tells us about “the truth” that has been hidden away systematically from all of us these many years. This documentary is a “must see” by all races and creeds. If you want to change your systems thinking and instead become a “change agent,” you will commit to viewing this documentary now and not wait until 2014 when African-American History Month rolls around again.

I invite you to continue to listen to Keeping It Real with Dr. Jean Kennedy and team on KFCF FM 88.1 Tuesdays at 9 p.m. (Pacific Time) and Real Talk with #1 Drs. (Blog Archives) on Internet radio (Blog Talk Radio). Also, did you know that professional African-American women programmers/radio hosts have been experiencing a move to discredit their presence on community/free speech radio stations (yes nationwide)? But don’t count us out for still we will rise.

Announcement: I will be hosting an upcoming radio show exclusively to discuss how sex offender laws are affecting our nation.


Dr. Jean Kennedy is an organizational psychologist consultant and a faculty instructor now residing in Atlanta, Ga. She continues to be a program host on KFCF and www.Blog Talk Radio (Real Talk with #1 Drs). Contact her at 559-270-1023 or


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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