The analogy of "the Shark and the Ocean" comes from a poem written by spoken word artist Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre. Myhre's poem focuses on explaining racism, noting that the trauma of racism isn't like the shark, but rather its the entire ocean.
In other words, racism isn't just isolated pockets of danger. Racism is so pervasive that it surrounds us all the time. Every day and everywhere, we are swimming in it; and it profoundly impacts us in ways we don't easily appreciate.
Whew! expanded on this idea and uses the concept of the "Shark and the Ocean" to help clients develop a deeper understanding of all kinds of core identity issues, as well as the business environment their organizations must navigate to be successful.
The ocean that shapes the core identity of both individuals and organizations is comprised of all the facets of society (from systems, institutions and media to community and family) that influence who we are, what we do and what we dream.
We begin our work with clients by asking them to tell us their story? How they frame their personal narrative tells us not only about them, but about their ocean of influences. Clients narratives inevitably touch on the topic of core identity, which has a significant impact on all of us, often in ways we don't fully appreciate.
We all have a unique core identity profile, much of which is shaped by past and ongoing negative experiences associated with core identity factors (race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.). We can't just put these experiences in a box and separate them from our work. Core identity issues impact every aspect of our lives.
People have identities and narratives. So do organizations. The two usually are interrelated. You can't navigate the ocean that surrounds you or your company if you don't see and understand it. Whew's psychological approach to DEI helps clients do just that.