Getting to Yes, And

Dolly Chugh: A More Just Future


Dolly Chugh

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Kelly welcomes back Dolly Chugh, a social scientist at NYU's Stern School of Business. They discuss her new book, "A More Just Future: Psychological Tools for Reckoning with Our Past and Driving Social Change."

You have this lovely metaphor about “dressing for the weather” as a way in which we can more safely examine something like our nation’s past transgressions.

“Our relationship with the past is like time travel. We need to dress for that trip as well as dress for the weather and the forecast. We seem to assume it's always going to be sunny and seventy degrees, or whatever your version of perfect weather is, that's what it's going to be and we only dress for that. But what we should assume is that there will always be a little bit of inclement weather. There will be something that isn't quite the romantic version of history we expected. There will be something that makes us feel crummy about our family. There will be something that contradicts what we always thought was true. And now we have this belief grief around that there's going to be something that we're in shame that we didn't know, and we have this belief grief. So, dressing for the weather means preparing for those emotions and that storm that we're going to encounter, so that we can stay with it. We can continue the trip.”

You talk about the need to separate guilt from shame when you discover injustice in the past.

“It’s the difference between whether I'm viewing that thing I did as bad or viewing me as bad. That’s guilt versus shame and the research says that when I feel guilt I move towards action. So, in the case of July 4th, it might be like, well, wait, I can listen to a podcast that helps me understand this distinction between July 4th and Juneteenth, for example. Or, you know, let me go tell someone else. Maybe I'm not the only one who somehow just fell for the narrative without really thinking it through.”

So, after you finished writing this book, how do you feel now?

“It is amazing what it would take to decolonize my brain. So, I think that's what I realized is that I've written a book that kind of positions me as farther along on this journey than I think I am. I think I know what tools I need, but I don't even think I've started a journey. Well, I suspect the journey doesn't end. It never ends.”

Photo credit: Jeannie Ashton

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