Mental Health, Workplace Inclusion

3 Actionable Ways Nina Simone Teaches Us About Intersectional Inclusion


There are few artists as iconic and influential as Nina Simone. A classically trained pianist, Simone turned to singing to express her frustration with the state of the world around her.

In this post I will be exploring 3 actionable ways you can implement intersectional inclusion with through the feminine archetype of Nina Simone.

Through Nina’s music, she tackled race, sexism, and classism issues with a deep understanding that these forms of oppression are interconnected. In doing so, she created a powerful legacy that continues to inspire people today.

Simone’s passion for social justice was born out of her own experiences as a black woman living in America. She once said, “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.” This deeply held belief led her to use her art as a tool for change. Simone’s music spoke to the pain and suffering of black people in America, but it also offered hope for a better future. In songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Young, Gifted, and Black,” she proclaimed the power and beauty of blackness despite the violence and discrimination that black people faced on a daily basis.

Simone’s commitment to intersectional inclusion was evident in both her music and her personal life. She was an active supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and used her platform to amplify the voices of other marginalized groups. She was also vocal about her own bi-sexuality, which was rare for a woman of color in the 1960s. By speaking her truth, Simone inspired others to do the same.

How Ninas voice could have gone unheard

Intersectional inclusion is the recognition and inclusion of people who identify with multiple marginalized groups. It is an acknowledgement that people cannot be reduced to a single identity, and that everyone experiences the world in a unique way.

Intersectional inclusion is important because it ensures that everyone has a voice and a seat at the table. It also helps to create a more just and equitable world, as it challenges systems of oppression that marginalize certain groups of people.

Deemed “difficult” to work with because she spoke her truth Nina Simone used her influence to create protest music.

Have you ever been deemed difficult?

I remember when a colleague called me aggressive,

I even corrected him and said, you mean passionate

This white cis, middle class male looked me in the eye and said no….aggressive

This caused me to sit seething in my ego soup for hours

Why did being labelled aggressive trigger me?

Well, firstly, you don’t call a black woman aggressive

When it comes to anti-racist work, which intersectional inclusion includes, one of the most important things to remember is that words matter.

The language we use shapes the way we think about and interact with the world around us. For instance, let’s take the word “aggressive.”

When used to describe a black woman, it carries a very different meaning than when used to describe a white woman. For a black woman, “aggressive” is often seen as a synonym for “angry” or “hostile.” In other words, it’s a way of dismissing her experiences and invalidating her emotions.

On the other hand, when a woman who isn’t black is described as “aggressive,” it’s usually seen as a positive trait – a sign of strength and determination. This double standard is just one example of how racism manifests itself in our everyday lives.

Aggressive is not a word that should be used to describe a black woman – or any woman, for that matter. It is loaded with negative connotations and only serves to further oppression.

By taking care of our words, we can help to challenge these harmful stereotypes and create a more just and equitable world for everyone.

And secondly, it hurt my feelings

Yes my rejection RSD came in and tried to hijack me

I imagined myself choke-slamming him like I was a WWE wrestler whilst trying not to cry at the same time

And in that moment I felt I was being silenced

So I had to reprogram every story that mislabeled me aggressive so that I could never be triggered by the word again…

How does the feminine archetype, Nina Simone & intersectional inclusion fit in?

The feminine archetype is often associated with qualities like nurturing, compassion, and empathy.

However, it is important to remember that femininity exists on a spectrum, and not all women conform to traditional gender roles. In addition, the feminine archetype often excludes women who do not fit the mould of a traditional woman, such as trans women and non-binary people. This is why intersectionality is so important when considering the feminine archetype.

Intersectional inclusion recognises that everyone experiences the world in different ways and that no one fits perfectly into any one category. By including all women in the feminine archetype, we can create a more inclusive definition of femininity that allows everyone to feel like they belong.

Nina Simone experienced a litany of abuse from her husband that was both immediately traumatic, as well as the cause and intensity of her long-time mental health. She lived with an undiagnosed bipolar condition that was only exacerbated by her husband’s abuse, which resulted in PTSD. Compounded with being raised in the Jim Crow south and coming into adulthood in an era of intense white supremacist violence, lynching and segregation, Simone inherited an environment that facilitated the deterioration of her mental health.

It is well-known that Nina Simone was one of the most influential and iconic feminist musicians of our time. woven into her soulful voice and melodies are messages of empowerment, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity. in this post, we will explore some of the different archetypal energies that were at play in her music

What archetype does Nina Simone embody?

The first archetype we see manifested in Nina Simone’s music is the Mother energy. This can be heard in songs like “Wild is the Wind” and “Feeling Good”, which exude a calming, nurturing quality. The Mother is all about unconditional love, protection, and care-taking. We see this energy also in Simone’s activism; she was a vocal advocate for civil rights, using her platform to raise awareness about the inequality and injustices faced by Black Americans

The second feminine archetype we see is the Warrior. The Warrior is courageous, bold, and tenacious. This energy is present in songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”. In these songs, Simone speaks truth to power with lyrics that are unapologetic and unafraid. The Warrior energy is also present in her willingness to stand up against discrimination and fight for what she believed in, even when it meant putting her own safety at risk

Last but not least, we see the Lover archetype at play in Nina Simone’s music. The Lover is passionate, sensual, and poetic. This can be heard in songs like “Love Me or Leave Me” and “I Loves You Porgy”. The Lover embraces all of life’s experiences – both the light and the dark – with an open heart. We see this kind of vulnerability and openness in Simone’s songwriting, which often deals with themes of love, loss, heartbreak, and longing.

Actionable Way #1

“You’ve got to learn, baby, before you can grow

You’ve got to know what living is all about

You’ve got to hold on to what you believe in

And never let go”

-Nina Simone, “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black”

Simone’s lyrics spoke to the unique experiences of black women, and she helped to bring these experiences to the mainstream. She urged her listeners to never give up on their dreams and fight for what they believe in. This message is still relevant today, as we continue to fight for intersectional inclusion in all aspects of society.

Actionable Way #2

We must take a stand against racism, sexism, and classism”

-Nina Simone

Simone was an outspoken advocate for civil rights and social justice, and she believed that we must work together to fight all forms of discrimination. This message is as important today as it was when she first said it. We must continue to fight for intersectional inclusion in all aspects of society.

Actionable Way #3

“I’ll never be free, I’ll never be content

As long as there are people who are oppressed”

-Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam”

Simone’s music reflected her commitment to fighting for social justice. She believed that no one could be truly free as long as there were people who were oppressed. This message is still relevant today, as we continue to fight for intersectional inclusion in all aspects of society.

We must continue to work together to create a more just and inclusive society for all.

There is no transformation from information without implementation so…

Let’s tap into the wisdom of Nina Simone so that we can speak our truth to articulate our form of own self-expression.

3 Steps to embodying Nina Simone’s feminine energy

Step 1: Watch the video below from the place of being an observer. Your Observer, otherwise known as the witness, the wise, quiet, soulful voice, has the ability to teach, tame, and support your ruthless ego. When invited in, it says, “Hey, you’re doing that thing again”.

Step 2 :

Answer the following questions

  • In what spaces are you not sharing what you really want to share?
  • How can you create a psychologically safe space internally and externally to start to share?
  • When you’ve been mislabeled, are there any wounds that need to be turned into scars and healed?

Step 3:

What tool would help to support you in doing this work?

I’ve shared a few examples of how Nina Simone used different archetypal energies to create her powerful music.

What other archetypes can you hear in her songs?

Which ones resonate with you the most?

What came up when you were journalling using Nina’s Stars track?

We invite you to spend some time exploring these energies further through her music.

This is part of doing our own shadow work

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I believe in a world where we all get to be celebrated not just tolerated

Where you get to belong without having to fit in

Remember to be celebrated, not just tolerated

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