Owning Your ‘Ics’ and ‘Ists’

Owning Your ‘Ics’ and ‘Ists’ February 20, 2020

Woman standing on beach, wearing white garment. She looks up to the sky with eyes closed.
Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash

Did you know that you can be gay and have homophobic beliefs?  Did you know you can be a Person of Color with racist beliefs?

Did you know that you can be a woman who is a flagrant misogynist?

Whether you are younger or older, you can be a card-carrying ageist.

Do not get me started with the intersections of these identities and deeply internalized beliefs around gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, class, ability, age, and nationality.

Everyone has ics and ists.


The funny-not-funny part about this aspect of human inner life is that often, we can see with almost perfect vision other people’s ics and ists.

As you read the opening statements, you might have experienced some form of emotional response such as anger, offense, relief, annoyance, fear, grief, or gratitude. Your emotional response has a connected story or stories to the idea of recognizing that you have ics and ists, too.

It is almost like, “I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.” Except, in this case, we are venturing into a not so yummy land flowing with milk and honey or whatever you need to make a decent batch of ice cream. Our inner resistance often screams at the thought of looking in the reflective mirror at our own ics and ists.

I mentioned fear as a response. There exists an underlying fear that taking ownership of our ics and ists cannot co-exist with intentional work to remedy these constructs. When different individuals use universal ideas as a reason, albeit excuse, to minimize or ignore the critical impact of structures and cultural norms built around ics and ists, they help reinforce this fear.

If we own our ics and ists, does that mean that we can no longer challenge the ics and ists that exist in our world beyond our individual lives?

No, no, and no.

However, we have narrowly framed our ways of thinking and talking about our ics and ists as a saint versus sinner, “winner takes all” fight for social leverage and power.

In these kinds of battles, where is the room for anyone to self-reflect? In these power struggles, self-reflection within one’s identity group(s)  is often viewed as weak or traitorous,  for the goal is to annihilate the opponents by calling out and identifying as many of their ics and ists as much as possible.

How often do I—How often do you take time to look at your inner war of words? The inner ics and ists, that have shaped us and that we live out in the yuckiest, God-forsaken, un-ice creamy (Yes, I made it a word) ways, are residing just below the surface or unconsciously scripting our lives.

Owning your ics and ists does not give permission for oppression. It means that you do the work of advocating for goodness in the world with a bit more integrity—a bit more love.

Isn’t this what the world needs right now, anyway?

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