Simran Jeet Singh:
Hi everyone. Welcome. Thank you for joining us today for our program, Anti-Racism as Spiritual Practice. It’s the first episode of our new season, and I’m so excited for what we have in store for you. It’s a real gift to be with you all. And I’m hopeful as always that our sessions prove fruitful to you and offer some practical guidance in a world that feels overwhelming and exhausting and difficult to navigate.
Our vision is to offer two things that we believe the world needs badly right now. First, we want to offer you insight into what racism looks and feels like in its various forms. And that’s why each of our sessions we’ll begin with listening, where we have insightful guests share their stories and their experiences with us.
Our goal here is to step into the shoes of those who by virtue of their unique identities have experiences and perspectives that are different from our own. This approach draws from James Baldwin’s incisive words: if I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.
The other thing we hope to do here is to receive guidance from our expert guests on how to move from just understanding racism and actually taking action. And I don’t just mean this in the superficial way of saying, so what can we do about it? What I really want us to do is dig deep with sincerity and vulnerability and challenge the racist ideas embedded within all of us. That’s what I mean by Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice. We’re not just here to point our fingers at the people around us and tell them they’re wrong. There’s enough finger pointing going on, and it’s not really serving anyone. Instead, we’re here to make meaningful change with the understanding from our diverse wisdom traditions that change starts from within.
So, thank you all for being here and thank you all for being on this journey with me. Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that I’m currently sitting on the traditional land of the Lenape, the Indigenous nation that made their homes here, raised their kids here and buried their dead here. We’re grateful for the Lenape people for stewarding this land over the centuries.
And now I’d like to introduce our guest for today. Lance Allred is the first legally deaf player in NBA history. He is an inspirational speaker. He’s an author, a TEDx star of a program called, What is your Polygamy? He’s a Mexican-American and he’s the author of five different books. His first: the autobiography, Long Shot: the Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon kid and His Journey to the NBA, and his more recent book, most recent book is, The New Alpha Male: How to Win the Game When the Rules are Changing. And that’s with Sounds True Publishers. And we will get to some of what he discusses in that book.
But before we do, I just want to welcome you Lance and say, thank you for joining us. Thanks for being here with us and how’s everything going on your end?
Well, Simran, thank you for having me. This is a very exciting conversation for me to have, because as I told you earlier, usually people just won’t talk about basketball or the self-development stuff, which I deeply dive into, but for us to have a much more philosophical, spiritual, religious discussion, that’s a treat for me because I can talk about this all day. And also, I just want to tip my hat. I have very strong relations with Native American Indigenous cultures from Montana to Utah, from the Salish, to the Nez Perce, to the Utes, to the Lakota.
So, thank you for acknowledging that as well. So, I’m very grateful to be here. I appreciate that.
And I would love to just start out by having you tell us a little bit about your background, where were you born and raised? What was your childhood like and how did all that shape the person who you’ve become today?
Boy, yeah. This, let’s try to sum this up in a nutshell. The reason why I have hearing loss, 80% hearing loss, is the RH factor or the recess factor. And mother’s a negative blood type. I was a positive. And when you’re born and raised in a polygamous commune in rural Montana, fundamentalist, Mormonism, they don’t think about those kinds of things. It’s just, Jesus is coming. Pray and work hard, and the Second Coming is going to happen. We’ll be exalted cause we’re God’s chosen people.
So, grew up in a very fringe society in the outskirts where police government oppression is very much in my family fractal system. And my grandfather, who was a founder of our commune was arrested for practicing polygamy in the 1940s. And the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, but in order for Utah to gain statehood, they outlawed polygamy in the 1890s, 1896. And so therefore mainstream Mormonism has shunned polygamy. They’ve outlawed it just so they can have state rights. And so therefore I grew up as an outlaw.
On the fringes very much though, with martyrdom deeply embedded into my DNA structure, with my grandfather being assassinated four years before I was born, by the, by a rival polygamous leader. So, he was arrested and he was killed. All the trademarks to fit the martyrdom archetype are definitely in my family system. And there were no amenities to learn sign language.
So, I had, being the only deaf kid within a hundred miles in rural Montana, I had to be driven to speech therapy, being at speech therapy three times a week, fitted with the giant hearing aids as a kid, analog. Thank God for digital hearing aids now, that you can actually hear the distinction between foreground and background noise. And also, when I was 16, I got my first set of digital that I finally started to hear the diction in the front of the mouth, because I always thought it was like, you know, how deaf people talk like this? We talk in the back of our mouths, cause you feel that reverberation in the back of your skull. So, you feel like you’re making a sound. And when I got the digital, I finally started to hear the diction in the front, and there’s a Catch 22 because, you can talk like a deaf person, and everyone thinks you’re an idiot, or you can speak this way and everyone thinks you’re an ass when you don’t respond to them.
And especially now with COVID with a face mask, oh man, Simran, anxiety is spiked high. Whenever I go to the grocery store, people want to stop and talk to me and I’m just like beelining, not even blinders on, because trying to have a conversation, I can’t read their lips. It’s a nightmare.
And that was a challenge as a kid. But luckily I, I had, you know, my 400 first cousins in the commune. So, you have the constant blood buzz and that’s addicting you. You’re all committed to something greater than yourself, whether it’s actually true or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that you are being validated in your immediate choices by people around you are saying, yes, our faith, our logic, is sound. When you, and I know logic is not necessarily sound. Anyone can logic themselves to believe. What we’re striving for and what you’re striving for is reason and rational. Are you able to be reasonable with other people’s logic?
But I grew up in a culture that it was very extreme that, we were God’s elite and I had never seen a Black person until I was eight years old in person. And the, we had stories. I was impressed as a kid that, you know, in the great holy war before the existence, Jehovah versus Lucifer, that it was declared by the second leader of Mormonism Brigham Young that God made Black people Black, because they had chosen not to take sides in the great holy war. So therefore, they were kind of on probation. And so, it was impressed upon me as a kid, by a Sunday school teacher and other factors that God who made me deaf as a form of punishment for being unfaithful in the preexistence. And luckily, he only sent me down here as a deaf person, not as a Black person.
So I was raised in a very xenophobic, frankly almost white supremacist culture, that we were God’s chosen elite people and everyone else was beneath us. And when you are living on the fringes like that, as outlaws, you were setting the government up to help you fulfill your self-fulfilling prophecies: that the government is going to come after us because we’re so special, so we’ll keep breaking the rules, and eventually the government will come after us. It only confirms the narrative that we are a special, that people want to come directly after us. And so it becomes this nasty, circular logic, circular reasoning that it’s very difficult to get out of.
And when I was 13, the thing that broke the back for my parents and their faith, my parents became public school teachers. When I was one year old, my father broke his leg twice in the same year, building homes for free in our polygamist commune. And he wasn’t getting a lot of help from the Law of Consecration, the community, the community pot, community money, and sort of says, fine. I’m going to go put my family on welfare and go back to school. And he did that, putting all five of his kids on welfare, graduating first in his class from the University of Montana and became a schoolteacher. And then started taking those kids out of the commune to a public school. And education, as anyone knows, education is the most dangerous weapon to radicalism. And that allow my parents to slowly begin to broaden their horizons and begin to ask tougher questions.
And my father was being groomed to be the heir to the Allred Group. When he, when he was in that position, he was a right-hand man to his uncle. And so when I was 13, my father had discovered as several of our leaders, so-called prophets, have been sexually abusing their kids for years, and there was also money laundering. And my father blew the whistle. And you think everyone would say, Oh wait, what’s going on here?
That eventually my, we became public enemy number one, because how dare we shatter the paradigm? How dare we shatter the narrative that most people I learned at a young age cannot cut their losses, that they will keep investing in, doubling down, doubling down because as Mark Twain said, and I’m paraphrasing, far easier to fool someone, then they convinced them they had been fooled.
And I, as I’ve gotten older, my respect for my parents has only increased. That I’m now turning 40 next week. And when my father was 40, that’s when he blew the whistle and left. That he was able to cut his losses, 40 years of his life invested in his father’s dream. That is very difficult to do. Most people cannot and they will continue to stay in because they want to believe that all the years meant something.
But here’s the thing. When you’re starting over, you’re not necessarily starting over from scratch. You’re starting over with experience. So, it was never like a zero gain. And from that time, we had to go into hiding. The FBI came and got us out of our home. And we were in hiding for about six months. And I grew that time from five 10 to six four. I never played basketball. My, I was a writer as a kid. With my hearing and speech, my parents encouraged me to read and write as a way to express myself. And so, I was that kid winning writing awards in elementary school not the athlete.
And so, when we broke away from polygamy group, five 10 and six four, settled in downtown Salt Lake City, kind of hiding in plain sight in a very liberal urban part of Utah, which is the most dense mixed demographic part of Utah. Utah itself, very red, but downtown Salt Lake, it was a very blue, Democrat. And that allowed us to just kind of hide in plain sight. No one knew who we were. And, or, or of our background. And that’s when I was walking down the hall, eighth grade, new school, the basketball coach sees me and says, Hey, you’re tall, come play basketball.
I’m like, I don’t have any friends. This is a good way to make friends. And I don’t have to really worry about communicating with anybody, right? And because I was still so self-conscious in my speech. And little did I know that team sports require extreme amounts of communication.
And my first game as a basketball player, I was ejected because I thought I was ignoring him. And people were already saying, yeah, no, he can’t do this. But I was very stubborn and persistent, and I had to learn to play basketball in a very different way. Now keeping my head on a swivel, being the one to always be communicating, taking a lot of hard hits on screens that I couldn’t see coming, I couldn’t hear it coming when my teammates told me. But learning to just really be expanding my peripheral vision so I could see all the court at the same time, never hard focusing on anything, soft, focusing, seeing everything and playing it like a game of chess.
And through lots of ups and downs playing two years at University of Utah, then Weaver State University. I got my scholarship to University of Utah from my high school coach, woke up for three, three years every morning at 5:00 AM, practice before school. That’s how important it was to me.
And it was a beautiful segue leaving all of my cousins and then segue into, into a team culture where again, you just belong. And so, therefore, they have your back. And so, it allowed me to continue to kind of hide into a system, into a culture. As I began to expand my social skills, emotional intelligence skills, I was very slow to the game. Because again, when you have all your cousins and you’re elite, you don’t have to worry about social skills because everyone else is inferior to you. So you’re emotionally stunted. Which is what racism is: emotionally stunted. And I don’t say that with conceit or arrogance. I say that with experience, looking back on my own arc of my life, looking back to see how stunted I was.
Didn’t make the NBA until I was 27 years old, that’s seven years longer than the average rookie. Playing overseas, playing in the minor league. People kind of just dis — I wasn’t on anyone’s radar through many different situations and circumstances. And how fortunate it is for me, a deaf polygamous kid from Montana, that the United States Constitution allowed me to go and live the life I’ve wanted to live, that allowed me to go play basketball on every continent around the world, making friends from so many different depth and demographics, cultural, cultures, belief, structures, and systems , races, ethnicities — that basketball has afforded me this massive lens of which to view, on which to view the human condition. And so, I’m eternally grateful for it.
Yeah, I appreciate it. I appreciate that storytelling. And then you woven in so much in terms of what you’ve experienced, but also how you’ve processed those unique experiences. You know, I think one of the most powerful things I’ve learned through my own experiences is. If I, if I can just help people walk in my shoes for a minute, if I can just have them be in my skin then the conversation totally changes, and people see me differently and they see themselves differently.
And I think that’s really powerful. So, thank you for taking us on that journey with you. I want to take us back to your, your childhood, moving to Utah, for a minute and say, you know, this is, this is a moment where you’re being challenged to see the world in a new way. And you’re a young kid. You’re, you haven’t seen Black people before, as you mentioned. You have this, you’ve grown up with this sense that you’re better than everyone. Both of those two things, I think they’re, they’re extreme versions of what America is.
And they’re the challenge that we’re all, we’re all sort of grappling with. And so, what, what does that look like for you? What’s the process of going from this place where you’re somebody who thinks you are superior because of your skin color and you’ve never encountered this, to turning into somebody who embraces that difference?
This is where you look back on life and have a lot of gratitude for how much life has kicked your ass, that it’s forced you, cold serve sometimes, a dish of humility that you keep learning with each heartbreak — and heartbreak is our greatest teacher — that the more you learn in life, the more you learn how little you know. And looking at the snow globe world that I was raised in, that was so tiny and they were just a couple of thousand of us unaware just how big the world is.
I have been fortunate enough to have who — I say this without sadness — but I didn’t really have the quintessential childhood.
So, what actually happened, there were two headquarters of the Allred religious group, one in Montana, one in Utah. Growing up in Montana for my first seven, eight years was blissful because again, we were in the wilderness. And right there, against the most undeveloped stretch of wilderness in the economy of the United States, the Montana-Idaho border there. And it was heaven for a kid, but then my father got into a power struggle, not that he wanted it, with another leader in that headquarter in Montana and we had to move to Utah where we attended the main headquarters of the Allred group.
And so, at the age of seven, I left this blissful wilderness paradise as a child and moved to Salt Lake City — a city where there’s, you know, we would say the devil and the temptations and all sorts of evils. And then it’s also, our enemy is to mainstream Mormon church because they are directly oppressing us.
So, we’re hiding in, right there in the middle, but the reason why my grandfather’s sect was so successful, and why he was killed, was because he was the wealthiest. He didn’t believe in go, living in like, chain-link communes, living the agrarian style. My grandfather was very modern, that he had all of us go work in the mainstream world, make your money and bring it back. So we were not agrarian polygamy . Polygamy works in the agrarian system, cause you have free labor and your children when you’re living on the farm, but in a modern world, it’s just not sustainable. But my grandfather, to adapt, had us all working and therefore that’s why we were very successful, and we were modern. We were hiding in plain sight.
And we would go recruit at ward houses in the main, more mainstream, Mormon church, hear people asking questions that weren’t being answered. Because there’s a lot of gaslighting from Mormon, mainstream Mormonism, because they don’t fully acknowledge the history of polygamy. So, a lot of people are shocked when they learn that, and these polygamist groups are there to then jump on it and build new recruits. And so, we moved to Utah, at the age of seven, eight, in first, second grade there, the Allred name was still very synonymous with polygamy in the part that we moved to.
So therefore, I was, biggest kid in the school as a second-grader, talk funny, had big, giant hearing aids, and I was a polygamous kid. Everyone knew it. So, I was a huge target of bullying and developed suicidal depression as a second-grader. It was traumatic leaving Montana and then coming to Utah, and at the same time, too, my father was checked into suicide watch because he had invested all this time into Montana, only to leave it. He loved it too. And come here and the disenchantment is now, were starting to come with his belief structure.
Then at the age of seven, eight, having that much of a shift transition, if you want to use the word traumatic — sometimes our work is thrown around too much — it forced me to grow up very quickly. That having that experience, and then only six years later to fully leave the Allred group entirely, goes to the point I’m making that I did not have a long childhood. That I was forced to grow up pretty quickly.
And also living in between worlds, not fully signing, not fully speaking, but learning to kind of straddle the middle of a world that I don’t really belong to, but a world that’s trying to make me conform to it, the mainstream world, and I’ve been doing my best to go as fast as I can. That you’re an outlier. And the more and more I tried to fit in, as I kept investing time in basketball or writing, the more and more I became an outlier. It was just nasty oxymoron that I just couldn’t quite grapple. And so, I was a very somber kid actually.
That’s where the writing, writing poetry, the broodiness kicked in as an elementary kid. And so, with those experiences of being made to know that I am different with my hearing, that I don’t quite fit in, that I don’t quite belong, that because of my family name, I don’t quite belong, already pushed me on the fringes of privilege, so to speak. And already at a young age, that forced me to have a great deal of compassion.
Since I couldn’t hear and whatnot, I’ve always been attuned to body language, watching people’s bodies. And so whether it’s watching an animal that dies, killing a — crying when I had to kill my first fish after I had caught it, it’s just those things that my body has responded to, to try to fit into this world, that’s allowed me a little by little to continue to force my perspective and my cup of compassion to expand through a lot of hard knocks that I would say with the immediate physical challenges, the speech and the hearing loss, forcing me to already have a much more gentle view of the world, much more other view, not so much of a selfish view, but a more selfless view seeing how other people and their bodies are responding to pain.
And then the, the trauma of having to go into hiding when there were death threats and seeing your loved ones, your cousins and your family, completely disown you over religious choice. And it wasn’t really a religious choice. It was a truth choice. And when your faith is rattled from truth, there’s a problem.
And with that, and then going into basketball, having incredible mentors — my high school coach, never, he loved me, but he was stern, and he held me accountable. Teaching me that accountability is the first principle of perseverance and accountability — without accountability, spirituality, without accountability is not spirituality at all. That if you, if you are quick to blame the devil or say, God is punishing you, or you’re a martyr and other people are directly trying to come at you, you are not taking ownership of your own eternal progression in this life. And I learned that from my coach. He didn’t talk about it that way, but understanding when you take full ownership of your failures and his shortcomings, you can take true ownership of your success and your growth.
And having my coach, high school coach, continually challenge me, and being forced out of my comfort zone to learn to communicate, to always be uncomfortable and read lips all day long, and then playing college and playing basketball with my first Black teammates and seeing them hassled, haggled by mall security police officers when we’re out of town visiting, assuming that they’re shoplifting because they’re Black, almost every time one of them would get pulled over and searched, but I was right next to him. They didn’t bother to search me. I’m like, that’s kind of messed up. It’s kind of unfair. And I love my teammate cause we’ve spilled blood, sweat, and tears together. We’re invested in each other and we have a bond, and this is someone that I trust and respect treated so shallowly, superficially, one-dimensionally, because of the color of his skin, it was incredibly eye-opening.
And then when you go overseas, these people that you love, these friends that you make from different parts of the world, from different cultures. For me to even be able to say, Oh, I love them, but too bad they’re not the same religion as me, so they can’t go to heaven. How arrogant is that? To think that this person is given to me unconditionally, loving me unconditionally, and I’m saying I’m loving him, unconditionally, but somewhere in the back of my mind, there’s some software programming from my culture that says, but, but because he’s not of the same faith, God won’t reward him as much as me. That is the epitome of hubris. And whenever there is hubris as all the Greek tragedies show us, you are ripe for a fall. And I operate with, why would I ever, ever believe that I am an exception to a moral story?
Yeah, lots to think about there. And I think there’s a, there’s a lot of resonance in what you say. And I think part of it has to do with, you know, our stories are incredibly different, right? Like your, your upbringing is entirely different from mine and I’m learning from it, and I’m, you know, my eyes are wide open because a lot of what you’re describing is so foreign to me.
And at the same time, some of those lessons, they seem, they seem right in line with what I’ve experienced. And when I was reading your, your new book, there there’s a, there’s a passage from the forward from Rick Buker who’s one of my favorite sports writers of all time. There’s a passage that I just wanted to share. It really stuck out to me. But I, I want people who are watching to get a taste of what you’re describing about the kinds of insights that come with being marginalized. And so here’s, here’s the paragraph that stuck out.
It says, “those who grow up on the fringes of society, or don’t easily identify with a certain group or belief system or heritage and seek to connect with others in a meaningful way, have little choice but to look outside of themselves and their particular and most likely peculiar circumstances. Their senses are inherently heightened to see, hear and feel what their fellow person is doing, because it’s the only way they’re going to find common ground. Their uniqueness means that every relationship requires them to reach out and find the touchstone shared with that particular person. That’s true for every relationship, but most of us find the path leveled and groomed to some extent by similarities in how we look or talk or what we do.”
So, yeah, he goes on to describe how you’ve done this in your life. But as you were describing this, I just remembered that passage from Rick. And I wanted to just ask you, does that, does that ring right to you? Right? Like there were multiple identities. You’ve touched on a few of them. You’re also Mexican-American.
That’s a funny story. Yeah. So, my grandfather was born in the Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. And so, a team down there found this out and they gave me, they expedited my citizenship being a grandson of a naturalized, I mean, of a natural-born Mexican citizen. So yeah, I’m completely Anglo, Germanic Anglo, but yeah, because my grandfather was born in a colony there, I have Mexican citizenship.
Got it. Oh, got it. Okay. Got it. That’s great. Well, yeah.
But Rick’s a beautiful writer, isn’t it? Rick’s it’s a very talented writer.
He’s a great writer. And I think what he says there, the reason it sticks out is it just it’s, it speaks to so much of what you’re describing that because, you know, and I think this is true for me, and I think this is true for a lot of us. When you have been on the other side of marginalization, of being othered, of being dehumanized, you become more sensitive to it. You’re, you’re more inclined to see that happening to other people, whether it’s on the same basis of identity marginalization or not.
And so, I wonder for you, what has that meant in terms of your willingness to stand up for people who are, who are different from you?
No, I have no problem getting myself in trouble when speaking on behalf of other people who are not being respected, heard or seen, it’s always hard to do it for yourself, as you know, but it’s very easy to do it for others.
Yeah. We see a lot of — with America going through a transition right now and people, when they say make America great again, you have to ask a question: well, which America you’re talking about? Cause 1950s, Cold War era America, or Reagan 1980s, Reagan America is very different from 1890s America. So, people are trying to hold on to a system.
And naturally, evolution, all systems fade, all systems die. And with that, you see a lot of men who look like me, white American men who were taught to be successful in a Cold War-era system that is now dying. And it’s scary and behaving very poorly right now, being very crude and callous and othering and marginalizing anyone who does not protect their system, that they inevitably, as, you know, whatever you fear most just comes true naturally. And you only expedite the process.
And I’m going to expand on this in two different ways, but number one, you have men that are refusing to adapt. And as you read about, and you’ve gotten there in the book, that what made Jordan, Tim Duncan, Malone the greats that they are, it wasn’t because they were stubborn and bull-headed all the time, no, they had to learn to adapt, to continually evolve their skill sets in the game of basketball. Every season, they developed something new that they can bring so that the other teams trying to scout them didn’t know what was going to come next. If all you know how to do with dribble with your right hand and shoot with your right hand, you’re very easy to guard. If you want to shoot the ball every time you touch it, you’re very easy to guard. You just want to pass it, very easy, to guard, very predictable.
And in our American system of hyper-masculinity, white patriarchy, we have become very predictable and one-dimensional and it became a machine of, Hey, if you just look like I do, show up, pay your dues, you’re going to be successful. That worked for the seventies and eighties, but even from the nineties, from the tech boom, as we became an Internet computer world, we began to become a global world.
And yet we had this, this dichotomy or just backwards thinking of people saying, Hey, I want to be able to shop at Walmart and save money, but everything I buy from Walmart that’s imported from China is a token of an exported job. But then I want to be able to say, make America great again and save our jobs. They can’t see, they want it both ways and that’s not how economics work, but that’s, it’s very easy to blame immigrants and people of other color, because it does not force you to sit here and look into your culture and look into your system.
I don’t talk about people’s politics or religions really. What I go at is our culture. Our culture is our biggest blind spot. Our culture is a software operating system, like a Mac or Linux or a Microsoft that’s operating into our hard, hard drive that is our brain. And that gives us our values, our algorithms, with how, which we process the world.
And so, we have people now saying, Wait, okay, my computer’s getting outdated, but no, I want everyone to go back to desktop because that’s what I invested everything in. I want evolution to stop. And never once has that evolution said, Oh my gosh, are you uncomfortable? Are you feeling, sir, let’s stop and rewind this a little bit.
Never once in all my years of playing basketball when the refs came out in the second half and started calling the game differently, which they do, did I throw a temper tantrum and say, well, I did throw a temper tantrum quite a bit every now and then, but never once did the ref ever say, Oh, I’m sorry, Lance, your feelings hurt? Let’s go back. Let’s start calling it the way the first quarter. Oh, by the way, we’ll take that foul off the stat sheet too.
No. But that’s what a lot of people are doing right now, failing to learn the lessons that you have, all these sports fanatics that love sports, football, basketball, but they’re failing to learn the lesson that the athlete is teaching us — that we adapt. We are not in control. We are perseverant enough to have the humility and presence enough to adapt to whatever the game is throwing us in that moment. And if I do not adapt, I will become irrelevant and Coach would put me on the bench and I will not be getting any more playing time.
And that’s what’s happening right now — that you have a lot of helicopter parents, so to speak, screaming that their child is special and so they shouldn’t have to put in the work, they shouldn’t have to adapt, that what their parents taught them is what goes, so therefore Coach should have to adapt to us, that really the game should adapt to them, but that’s not how it works.
And so, we have a choice, Simran, to push back against a lot of men and women who are very frightened that the old Reaganomics American system, the Cold War era is dying. That if it’s not dead, if it’s not dead, it is dying. And they want it to go back to that way, cause that’s how they were raised and it made them believe they were safe because things made sense. We had a caste system and privilege, in any relationship, whether it’s macro cultural relationships between ethnicity or personal relationship, whenever someone has had the lion’s share of power and that one in the minority is the spouse, the husband and wife is in the minority and this is something they want to shift the power to have it be equal, rarely does that relationship survive. Rarely does it would ever do it.
I’ve seen very few married couples that are able to readjust that power dynamic. It’s not pretty and it’s painful and it leads to heartbreak because it forces us if we’re brave enough to sit and actually begin to ask, my stories were driving me to, do I know my stories to be true? Stories of happily ever after, what is marriage? My culture says, this is marriage. And does that mean, does that mean, is that necessarily true? Because my culture says this is a marriage. This is what marriage is supposed to look like. Does not mean that is actually true?
No, and here’s what — I hope everyone has that kind of heartbreak because heartbreak is our greatest teacher. It forces us to get out of our blinders and really even begin to adjust our culture, adjust our lens, on our culture because a lot of our religious beliefs, a lot of our political ideologies comes from our culture and we never take the time to ask if our culture is actually true.
Because every culture I played in playing basketball for 10 years around the world, everyone and their mother thinks their values are their best values. And so, if everyone’s saying that, then it’s a wash. It negates each other. So, are you brave enough to actually look at all these cultures and say, well, how do any of them know they actually have absolute truth? They don’t. And so, as you’re stepping into that very scary space, because culture and stories allow us comfort. Stories and cultural structures give us boundaries and like any baby, when you swaddle it in a cloth, when it knows what its boundaries are, it’s comfortable.
But we’re not born to be caged within our comfort zone. And so, the challenge is, as you’re stepping into this unknown, where it’s no longer a black and white thinking, black and white is a very childish way to view the world because it keeps things simple. They’re the bad guy. We’re the good guy. “Oh, they don’t like President Trump? They must all be lizard people and child pedophiles, eating and torturing children.”
That is what people do to let them stay safe in their belief structure that, Hey, here’s how I’m making sense of the world, rather than being brave enough to say maybe I don’t know anything at all. And as people, or as life is forcing people into that grinder, that meat grinder of identity of, who am I now as I’m losing these value systems? We can laugh at them and shame them and say, Oh, well now you know what it feels like to be a woman. Now you know what it feels like to be a minority. But as you know, never once in the history of the world, has shaming ever brought about true systemic change, never once.
Compassion, patience, and meeting people where they’re at and being able to say, I see where you’re at and it’s scary and it’s okay to be scared. And it takes a team effort and we’re all in this together. And I got your back. Instead we have because of a social politicized world, a lot of laughing, mocking, rubbing it in, poor losing and poor winning, when people’s, when someone’s side wins, rather than being able to actually walk the talk.
And if you say we’re a Christian nation, which we’re really not, we were founded by Deists — Jefferson, Washington, you know what that belief structure is — but Christianity has been common, it has common, been commandeered to be the backbone of what the United States is. It’s not. There’s still people wanting to say they’re Christian, but behaving far from the beatitudes. Very far from it. They’re still claiming they’re a Christian, because in their American world, Christ was white, looks just like me, and he wants his independence to be able to live life of his own free agency. Never wants him to beatitudes did Christ talk about anything like that. But we as humans project God to look like us so we can even begin to process and understand, what the hell is this universe, even? Otherwise, our minds would just blow up.
Yeah, I, I’m with you in all of this and, and loving the mix of, of metaphors and religious references and sports. It’s like my nerd dream come true. So, appreciate that. I want to ask you something, I’m getting a question from an audience member, and I think it’s right in line with where you started going at the end of the last question, I think you could take us somewhere really productive.
And what she wants to know, this is coming from Claire, she says, I’m wondering if you could talk about the alt-right groups shape, how the alt-right group shaped your views of gender and women and how you may have had to unlearn that. And so, I think, I think what you’re talking about here in terms of –
What was that last part? How you made it back to what?
And how you may have had to unlearn them.
Oh, unlearn it.
Okay. Yeah. So, I think, I think it’s right in line with what you were talking about before. It might be a nice specific example.
Claire, great question.
Normally you see misogyny, that women are objects to be pawned off, kind of like an old feudal system of power. Like I grew up basically in a Game of Thrones system, that you have families vying for power, to have their father or son to be next in line, to be called up to the Quorum of the 12. Very political and God was everywhere, 24/7. There was no separation of church and state in my upbringing. And so, the one thing that pushes me left of center, I told everyone, is separation of church and state. Because when people keep saying they want the integration of church and state, they have no idea how slippery of a slope that is and how quickly it gets out of control with nepotism, among many other issues that come up.
And so, here’s the weird thing that happened for me and my family, however. That my mother was not raised in polygamy. Her grandmother brought my mother and her three younger sisters into polygamy and my grandfather, my grandmother went through a divorce with my maternal grandfather and my mother was 16. My father was 20. And they were basically placed in an arranged marriage. However, my mother and her mother and sisters were very strong vocal women who immediately came in and began making people uncomfortable with how quick they were to express their opinion. And there was a lot of work and effort by other men and those empowered to suppress, shame, squash.
And there’s a lot of stories about it, I talk about it quite a bit in the first book, Long Shot. With that, I would say my family over-corrected. My immediate family, that my mother and father, I was the youngest of my mother’s five children. I have three older sisters, then my brothers, two years older than me, than me. So, the two boys are the youngest. That my father and mother made sure that my sisters were given room to speak, to be seen, to let them know just how truly wonderful, beautiful, special they are, all the whole thing. Rightfully so. That they then did not spend a lot of time on me and my brother.
That it was my father, when his second wife left right when I was born — so, I grew up in a monogamous home and my father could never fully ascend to his place because he was monogamous. You had to be polygamous to have that key, so to speak. That my father dealt with a lot of blowback when the second wife left, a lot of shaming that I know, know my father well enough that he’d definitely over — he definitely then, to combat that, he then began, he placed my mother on a pedestal and my mother’s remarkable woman, but was his narrative became, I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world, the most perfect woman in the world. Why would I need anyone else?
Sure. It sounds like a fairy tale dream, but now my mother became this paragon of virtue that I never saw my parents have an argument. I did not know how to have a disagreement with a significant other. It was my father gave my mother everything she asked for and to my mother’s credit, she was consistent.
Now imagine my lack of skill set. When I come into a relationship and all I know how to do is give her everything she wants, and yet she’s still frustrated and angry and I don’t have anything, all I know how to do that is stone wall. And it became a thing that my father repeated many, many times — women don’t need to have the priesthood because they’re already so spiritual and they are inherently more spiritual, more pure than us men.
So as a reaction against a heavily patriarchal misogynistic world, I was taught at a young age that women were inherently better than me. So, I had to do something superhuman to earn their love. That their love cannot be unconditional, that their love had to be conditional. I had to be better than everybody else, not just the kids, my age, but the other men, the grown man, cause we’re all, we’re all eligible, cause it’s polygamy. And so with that came a very arrested development, I would say, sense of self when it came to my dynamic with women and learning how to have healthy relationships with women as peers, as equals. Because there was, in a heavily misogynistic, and my parents over-corrected when really we need the middle, through the middle.
And Percival is the one who found the Holy Grail and Percival in Old French means through the middle. And we live in this polarized world, either, or, but as a basketball player, you learn when you’re in the zone, you’re not thinking, you’re not analyzing, you’re in your body and your heart, where you’re not even thinking if you have to go right or left, but because you have made the commitment of being able to score with your right hand or your left hand. You’re able to adapt and flow with it. And you’re always able to have the balance through the middle. That is something that I had to learn through the game of basketball that I was not inherently taught in my childhood in relationships with women.
So, I had both extremes as a baseboard and learning the hard way through relationships and a divorce of how to have a healthy relationship as a good man. Not a nice guy. My father taught me to be a nice guy. And by nature, nice guys are the most dishonest people in the world because we never tell you exactly what we want. We never tell you exactly what we’re thinking. We’re hoping that if we just play along long enough, like the movies tell us to and give you everything you want, you’ll magically read our minds and give us what we want. So that’s actually very manipulative. Whereas a good guy, I’ve learned the hard way to state my needs, state my standards, not my expectations. Expectations are a projection of a story of a perceived lack. A standard is a reflection of your own worth.
And so, learning how to set those, even if people are upset, if they want to think I’m an asshole. Pardon my language for a minute. That’s okay. But at least people know where I stand and I’m not playing games with them or trying to manipulate them. So, lots of hard lessons learned, that that dichotomy of patriarchy and feminism in my immediate structures set me on a crash course of some hard knocks, for sure, when it came to healthy relationships.
I appreciate that. And I want to ask you one more question before we wrap up. It picks up on where, where you just left off, but, you know, I just, I just read the book, The New Alpha Male, this is my Post-It to prove it. And one of the things I’m really interested in, in you explaining for folks who are listening is, I found it fascinating, what do you mean by the new alpha male? What, give us a little preview of what your book is about.
So, it’s almost a tongue in check, back handed slap in the face of the concept of alpha. When people say, Oh, he’s alpha, he’s bravado. He doesn’t apologize. He’s a tough guy — but here’s the thing. Anyone can puff their chest. That’s not hard to do. I can act like a tough guy and walk around looking for confrontation and acting like you don’t scare me because I’m so tough. That’s really just a very shallow veneer of fear that you’re afraid of rejection, that you’re afraid of intimacy, that you have the story, if you’re not the toughest guy, the most beautiful woman won’t choose you. It’s a very outdated mode of alpha.
And so, when people say alpha is like, well, actually an alpha by nature is someone who was brave enough to do the things that are scary. To lead. And so, what is something that’s scary to do? Be vulnerable. Fully articulate your fears and what is driving those fears and concerns. Unafraid that people shame you a laugh at you, as scary as that may be. Are you able to have compassion for someone else when we’ve been taught, oh no, you got to step on their throat when they’re down, but actually compassion, as I was taught, you know, compassion makes us a doormat — no, compassion protects you. Compassion forces you to get out of yourself, which is hard to do because we want to make it all about us, but it forces us to get out of her head, realizing everyone else has, most of the world, 90% of the world operates from fear, not from trust.
So, when you see that people are operating from fear, you have compassion and you can meet them where they’re at. And that is a very hard thing to do, to give compassion and grace to people, especially someone who has wronged you consciously or unconsciously.
If you’re able to see they’re operating from fear of abandonment, which is usually our driving fear, that is very hard to do. And so, by nature, that is alpha. And I have seven other principals. So, you have the accountability. Integrity is one of them. Integrity is to me, are you the same person in every room that you walk into?
Are you integrated integrity, integration, all archetypes, that is your psyche. Yeah, I may not cuss as freely in front of my grandmother as I would my friends, but I’ll still express myself and articulate my opinion. I don’t care who is in the room, whether they have money or don’t have money. But my parents taught me this by how they treated others in the Allred group. And that’s why they were loved. It became a threat to people in power. Because they never treated people as less than them. Integrity is to treat everyone the same, no matter what room you’re in.
And then there’s compassion. And then there’s discomfort. Are you able to step into the unknown? Alphas are like, Oh, you know what? I’m an American, we’re God’s greatest country. Why should I have to travel around the world? The rest of the world is inferior to us. No, that’s someone who says, I’m actually really scared and intimidated by the world and it’s scary out there, and I don’t want to have to develop new social skills to expand my horizons.
That’s hard to do. Therefore, it’s alpha. Acceptance. Are you able to understand, Hey, if I miss those last five shots, cause that’s where it was supposed to happen, why? Because that’s what happened. It doesn’t mean you’re not having accountability. Wallowing in self-pity and guilt is not accountability.
That’s actually deflection from accountability. Accountability, and acceptance is saying, this is the situation. This is what is, and now with a clear head, I can see what are my resources around me to move on, to correct this. And so, acceptance is being able to allow what is. As a basketball player, if I’m focused on that horrible foul the ref called, I’m no longer in the game.
And that’s what a lot of people do. Oh, well, I’m stubborn. I’m strong. No. Stubbornness is the inability to adapt. Perseverance is the ability to adapt. So that’s the difference between them. And you have a lot of people glorifying stubbornness thinking it’s perseverance. It’s not, they’re the exact opposite.
Again, any animal that has survived extinction are the ones that have the ability to adapt. You just, it’s essential. And then they have the self-actualization. Are you brave enough as you go through this heartbreak and transformation of your cultural identities, are you brave enough to begin to say, I decide for myself my metrics of success? Not my culture, not my family, not my community. I decide.
And my metric of success is clarity. Clarity. Am I able to see all the games and stories that people are still playing with each other, and most importantly with themselves, and even me with myself? Say I’m unconsciously, still playing an old story that’s driving me today. I have an operating from fear today cause I’m thinking like a polygamous kid again today and from a place of lack and scarcity that I have to do something on the fringes, kind of outlaw-ish or whatever. Like I have, the only way I’m going to make money is through cryptocurrency, even though it was kind of shady. But as a polygamist, you’re thinking, well, that’s the only way I can learn the hard way that’s scarcity thinking.
And that is me again, stepping into clarity and checking myself and understanding, okay, which archetype is at the wheel? We all have many archetypes. The Greek mythologies are not fairy tales. They are parables of the archetypes within us all. The Saturn Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto. They’re all archetypes that we all possess. And are we the victim today? Are we the prostitute, the saboteurs or the child? Most people are in survival mode and survival mode, the four archetypes are victim, prostitute, saboteur, and child. And that’s what most people, adults and children are operating from. Are you then in self-actualization able to say, I choose the magician. I choose the lover. I choose the poet. And which archetype do you call forth that day to utilize as a resource?
Cause you yourself, your body, yourself are your greatest resource in this world. And we’ve been taught to be so codependent and think that, I’m not enough. I need someone out there to complete me. And that’s just a myth. And the last one is gratitude and forgiveness. We don’t forgive when people say, Oh, forgive. Because you know, you’re only hurting yourself, you know?
Like, there’s that quote that, Oh, when you hold onto a grudge, you’re not poisoning them, you’re poisoning yourself. Yeah, I get it. But that’s still a low frequency forgiveness. Cause you’re still holding onto a story that someone wronged you.
When you’re able to move into the greater whole consciousness, there’s three levels of consciousness, personal tribal, and greater hope. When you move into the greater whole, you’re able to see every encounter in your life as beautifully shown up in it’s perfect time to help you grow and gain your own self-awareness of your own reflection. As you are a human or just a reflection to the universe of the human condition. And you’re able to see all those heartbreaks and all the great loves and losses, and be able to have gratitude as you forgive, as you say, thank you for the path that you set me on and who I have come to know myself to be through this journey. So, there’s actually gratitude as you learn to forgive.
Yeah. Yeah. And if you want more, more than what Lance has already given us, this is the book, The New Alpha Male, it’s available everywhere. It’s fantastic. I learned a lot from it and I learned a lot from this conversation Lance. So, thank you for taking out time to spend with us. We’re really grateful.
Well, thank you for the great questions and thank you for the work you’re doing. Again, you’re doing it in a heart-centered way, through the middle and then learning, helping people to understand while we have our religions, reason is being able to see everyone from their religious foundation and understand that the heart of it all, 90% of us, if not more, just trying to live good, decent lives, the best we know how with the information and resources we have. And so, for you to begin to have this conversation, raising awareness of if you’re truly spiritual, you could not begin to even allow the process that somehow God would then make inferior species to you, and so it just defies logic. And so just the work you’re doing is essential and so timely Simran. So, thank you as well.
Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it. And for all of you who have joined us today, thanks for being with us. This is a very special program. It’s the launch of our second season for Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice, and we’ll see you next week and in the weeks to follow.
Thank you all and take care.