Racism Antiracism and Coaching

I’ve had a personal epiphany since June 17, 2020 and it is truly shocking to me. I never knew that having white skin automatically meant that I was part of systemic racism.

I’ve never asked myself questions like, “What does it mean to be white skinned?” Or “How would my life be different if I was born black skinned, brown skinned, or multiracial?

As someone who has been in the “people development” business for 22 years, how could I be so blind? I don’t have an understanding of my whiteness (race) and how it really impacts people of color.

As soon as I answered those questions for myself, a crack opened up in my consciousness that hadn’t previously been seen before by me. I benefit enormously by the color of my skin.

Let me repeat that: I benefit enormously in society because my skin color is white.

I offer this article for all white people, and especially to my fellow “people developers” who are coaches, wherever you live in the world. I live (as an American citizen) in the United States, and was born Australia, where I participated in racist thoughts and non-action toward Aboriginal human rights. It’s time to know better, in order to do better.

Once I had my epiphany about my white skinned privilege, I started having conversations with my (white) coaching and mentor coaching clients. And I found that many are also having the same epiphany I had.

This article shares with you some of the resources I’m engaged with myself, along with resources from my clients, and peers.

This isn’t easy work for me to do and I’m not easily absorbing all I read. It’s going to take time, repetition, study, and intention on my part.

I hope you take this opportunity to:

1) become fully educated as a white person, to what having white skin really means to people of color.

2) with that education, to take action toward ending systemic racism, which is hugely embedded in every society that has white governance.

 

Here’s what created my “epiphany” moment:

I’m a white American-Australian female in my latter part of life stage. Through the recent and ongoing publicized brutal deaths of black people at the hands of police and authorities, I finally challenged myself to really open my mind to my blind spots about racism, and white elitism.

For me, the realizations all started after watching Jimmy Fallon interview Robin DiAngelo on June 17, 2020. DiAngelo is the author of “White Fragility: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism”

This 6 minute interview made it so clear to me that it’s time to invest in my education about racism, and antiracism.

Here is the interview on YouTube called, “Dr. Robin DiAngelo wants white people to stop saying they’re not racist.”

My reaction was Wow! I need to get educated on this. I then started reading her book, “White Fragility” which is mind-opening for me.

While written in an easy to read style, I don’t find it easy to absorb fully. DiAngelo is speaking to me from being white, and why we the white “race” come from the belief we are superior to other races. I want to change that narrative, starting with myself.

I encourage you to read with an open mind and heart, and determine for yourself what shift in attitude, beliefs and then actions you might engage with.

Here is DiAngelo’s website:

Robin has a downloadable “Reading Guide” to accompany the book which you can access here:

 

Here’s what else I’m personally engaged with to develop my white racial literacy:

I’ve enrolled in and begin later today, (July 10, 2020) a 7 session program called, “Leading Inclusively: developing your interpersonal competency.”

This is co-led by Vernice Jones, and Akasha. I’ve already had an in depth “Growth Edge” Interview conducted by Vernice on Wednesday that was very revealing about my race identity. 

I’ve identified in that interview as American-Australian, as that embraces both of my cultural references that influence my intercultural and inter-racial biases, beliefs, and experiences. I’m so ready to learn what I really am blind to about my own knowledge of white supremacy, white systemic racism, and white racism. With the intent to be “walking the talk” of change in how I move forward in the world, including the types of clients I attract to work with from here on.

 

Here are other resources I’m engaged with, or my clients and colleagues are:

The book, “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi

Also his new book, “Antiracist Baby” for every parent to read to their kids.

Brene Brown interviewing Ibram X. Kendi in her podcast

 

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies – on Amazon

 

Gideon Culman podcast interview with Akasha
This was revealing to me about coach training led by white people, from the perspective of a person of color. This is an interview with two coaches who are friends and colleagues, of different skin color.

Here’s what (white) Gideon writes about this podcast,

“Akasha and I have known each other for seven years. We had wanted to have a conversation that would address racism. But how to get beyond punditry and make an actual difference? I invited Akasha to hold me accountable for racism I had perpetrated against him, promising that I would neither defend nor explain.”

Here’s the podcast

 

Facebook Group, S.O.A.R. which is “Students of Anti-Racism.”

Here’s the link to that Facebook Group (and you have to be ready to “do the work” to be approved for membership)

 

Embodied Racism Resources

Resmaa Menakem – Podcast: Notice the rage notice the silence

Cultural Somatics Institute – courses on racialized trauma

TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie: The danger of a single story

 

So many white people are resistant to systemic change because they realize they will lose some special status or privileges. We need to confront bullies, and those who want to keep things (being white privilege) the same.

 

Yesterday, my husband Michael Stratford, posted this on his Facebook feed:

“Today someone called me a racist in another thread. I responded, “Yes, I am. I was born white in a system that favors whiteness, that I am benefiting and have benefited from either consciously or unconsciously. Ergo I am inherently racist.

However, that birthing does not inform my actions now. Except in places I haven’t yet seen. I’m am choosing to learn. I am choosing to uncover what’s hidden. And I am choosing to dismantle as much of that as I can. That’s what I can do and going forward., now that I’m unafraid of the label and can own the truth of my circumstances.”

Thank you Michael, and so many other white skinned people, for taking a stand for change.

 

Video reminder: All that we share – connected

In this 4 minute, 23 second video, the point of how we are interconnected is powerfully made.

 

Action…

We have a hugely significant election in the United States coming up in November, and this is one place we can make our voices heard. Get to know your local candidates, including health care leaders who are racist, police and other elected government representatives who are acting in white racist ways. Vote for people of color, and white people who have a track record of breaking down racial and social barriers of all kinds.

And most of all, for each of us white skinned people, to do the hard work of looking at ourselves, at our own inner “system” of conscious and unconscious beliefs, biases, and habitual responses that are racist. And to begin the challenging work of seeing ourselves in our racism, to then be able to shift to conscious actions and decisions that demonstrate we are changing. And that change is coming.

 

In closing…

As a coach, I don’t yet know what it means to be white racist. How does that affect my coaching? What am I saying that could be perceived as racist?

These are questions I’m in the very early process of self-inquiry about, and offer the same self-inquiry to my white-skinned coaching colleagues.

Written by Carly Anderson

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Comments

  1. Ed Modell  July 12, 2020

    Hi Carly-This is a wonderful piece that you wrote AND it really turned me off when I got to the end and saw it was an advertisement for your mentoring groups. Too bad.
    Ed Modell, ICF Past President

    reply
    • Carly Anderson  July 12, 2020

      Hi Ed – I’m glad you enjoyed my blog article. AND I’m so sorry you spoiled it by saying that I’m not allowed to promote my Mentoring Programs, after I’ve written an article that is from my heart. This has been my blog article format for 6 years or so, that I put my mentoring programs and product information at the end of the article. If you are turned off, I understand, and would prefer you go elsewhere for your learning. Carly

      PS. In some ways, you have demonstrated some of the principles of my article, from a different perspective. You have attempted to shame me for my blog article format, including using positional power of saying you are an ICF Past President. I invite you to look at why you thought this was okay to do. Carly

      reply
      • Gerrie Dresser  July 13, 2020

        Carly, I totally agree with your message and applaud your speaking your truth. Thank you for your transparency, thoughtfulness, and personal sharing on racism issues that is a core element of us all moving forward..
        Gerrie Dresser, PCC

        reply
        • Carly Anderson  July 13, 2020

          Thank you Gerrie, for your kind comment. This is the most vulnerable sharing I’ve done in a blog article post in over 6 years, or ever. I’ve had other life events that I could have written publicly about, but chose not to, including near death about 3 years ago. I felt I needed the energy to heal and get back to living. But this systemic racism and white supremcy thinking will only stop if we all speak up and speak out. Even as a white-skinned woman, it’s a vulnerable thing to do.

          Warmly, Carly

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      • Deborah Huisken  July 16, 2020

        Carly, I wonder if you’ve heard the issues people of color have with the corporatization of Black Lives Matter? I’m sorry, but I completely agree with Ed. I have no issue with you using your blog to build your business. I do have an issue with you using this issue – and the backs of black people who have already been used to build the structures us white people are currently benefiting from – to build your business. And if this makes you angry or defensive, go back and listen to the clip you put up on White Fragility, then maybe the longer version (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ey4jgoxeU), then maybe explore Belonging at Work… Keep exploring. There is further for you — as for all of us — to go.

        reply
        • Carly Anderson  July 18, 2020

          Deborah, thank you for your comments. This is a long response as I really thought about my blind spots after your comments, before I responded here. Also, it was my birthday yesterday and I was out of office.

          As I revealed at the beginning of my July 10 article (above), I was only 3 weeks in (and now only 4 weeks in) to my awareness and beginning exploration of racism, white racism, etc.

          I appreciate the way you expressed your thoughts. You “took my hand and brought me along” with your respectful way of communicating to me, and yet in a direct way.

          I now realize my 100 or so past blog articles, all formatted the same way as this one. Well this is blog article is completely different material/content and shares my personal journey and “Coaching Mindset” and really my “Human Mindset.”

          After 22 years so far in coaching, coach training, mentoring coaches, assessing coaches for credentials. My desire is to write articles that give back to coaches, through my experience personally and professionally. And yes, if you like what I write, then at the end is information about my mentoring programs, and a bio about me that has other product links too.

          I’ve never considered the relationship between racism and making money off of that cause (Black Lives Matter for example). I’m so brand new to any of this, I don’t know what I don’t know. No excuses, just the truth of me being at the beginnings of this personal journey of discovery.

          As a result of your post Deborah, I’ve removed the information at the bottom of this blog post about my mentoring programs, and also the Coaches Rising summit information I was promoting (without any prompt or payment from CR) because it could be seen as also profiting from racism.

          Given you referenced Ed’s comments, what is light and day for me between how you expressed your comments and Eds way of expressing himself.

          Deborah, you educated me on my blind spots with respectful language, which I expect from professionally trained (senior) coaches. We are trained in communication skills. I expect us to be role models of that communication. So thank you.

          Ed, on the other hand, berated me instead of educate me. I don’t know Ed other than by name, and looked at his website and he has credibility in this field as an experienced diversity trainer/coach. This from his bio page, “He has a particular interest in multicultural work environments and dealing with cross-cultural and diversity issues.”

          He missed the moment to educate me, and instead asserted a superior moral position (which meant I was inferior morally to him). The analogy I’ll use is you wouldn’t say to a 3 – 4 week old baby, “I can’t believe you’re not walking yet. Too bad.”

          Secondly, what made me really angry was that Ed used a title that infers positional power to support his moral superiority over me. By association with the ICF, by choosing to sign his comment with “ICF Past President,” he is asserting in some way that is important and could even assert that ICF is validating his personal opinions of me. I dug deeper and Ed was President in 2011. It’s now 2020. That he’s still so identified with that position as a way to assert power is worrisome to me and I wonder where else he is using that long past position to strengthen his (moral) superiority over others….

          That Ed used “ICF Past President” at all for his personal opinion, to me is 100% inappropriate and abuse of a (past) position of power.

          I give a large amount of volunteer hours to ICF Global Projects, without pay, as I’m passionate about the professionalism of coaches, and the ICF represents us professional coaches. Eds inclusion of “ICF Past President” is unprofessional conduct.

          Imagine instead Ed had written something like this to me, “Carly, I applaud you for beginning your self-inquiry into racism. As a long time diversity trainer/coach, I have this to offer you. Are you aware that by including your (usual) mentoring program, services and product offerings at the bottom of an article on racism, you are seen by Black Lives Matter as profiting off that movement? As such, I recommend you delete that information from the end of your wonderful article. Ed.”

          My response would have been, “Oh my gosh Ed, Thank you so much for pointing out something that I didn’t yet know about. I’m so new to this exploration and really appreciate your helping me see/know this. I’ll remove that information from the blog article immediately.”

          Huge, huge opportunity missed by Ed to demonstrate professionalism, understanding where I’m at in my understanding of all things to do with racism, compared to his vast knowledge and experience.

          Thank you again Deborah for helping me get to this point of clarity. There is so much for me to learn, as you say, and I’ll keep going. Thank you for the 83 minute video link too; it’s now on my list of 15 – 20 other resources, books, videos. I am taking this process as the speed I can digest.

          With Appreciation, Carly

          reply
      • Ed Modell  July 17, 2020

        Carly-
        I want to apologize to you. You are right that I used my positional privilege and it is not ok for me to do that, ever.. Thank you for calling e on it. Your blog is wonderful.
        Ed

        reply
        • Carly Anderson  July 18, 2020

          Ed, apology noted.

          You missed the opportunity to educate me and instead berated me for my lack of knowledge.

          I don’t know you other than by name, and looked at your website and you have credibility in this field as an experienced diversity trainer/coach. This from your bio page, “He has a particular interest in multicultural work environments and dealing with cross-cultural and diversity issues.”

          You missed the moment to educate me, and instead asserted a superior moral position (which meant I was inferior morally to you). The analogy I’ll use is you wouldn’t say to a 3 – 4 week old baby, “I can’t believe you’re not walking yet. Too bad.”

          As I wrote in response to the comment from Deborah in this thread of comments, which I encourage you to read as she mentions you, and I then respond. I’ll write some of those comments here:

          “Secondly, what made me really angry was that Ed used a title that infers positional power to support his moral superiority over me. By association with the ICF, by choosing to sign his comment with “ICF Past President,” he is asserting in some way that is important and could even assert that ICF is validating his personal opinions of me. I dug deeper and Ed was President in 2011. It’s now 2020. That he’s still so identified with that position as a way to assert power is worrisome to me and I wonder where else he is using that long past position to strengthen his (moral) superiority over others….

          That Ed used “ICF Past President” at all for his personal opinion, to me is 100% inappropriate and abuse of a (past) position of power.

          I give a large amount of volunteer hours to ICF Global Projects, without pay, as I’m passionate about the professionalism of coaches, and the ICF represents us professional coaches. Eds inclusion of “ICF Past President” is unprofessional conduct.

          Imagine instead Ed had written something like this to me, “Carly, I applaud you for beginning your self-inquiry into racism. As a long time diversity trainer/coach, I have this to offer you. Are you aware that by including your (usual) mentoring program, services and product offerings at the bottom of an article on racism, you are seen by Black Lives Matter as profiting off that movement? As such, I recommend you delete that information from the end of your wonderful article. Ed.”

          My response would have been, “Oh my gosh Ed, Thank you so much for pointing out something that I didn’t yet know about. I’m so new to this exploration and really appreciate your helping me see/know this. I’ll remove that information from the blog article immediately.”

          Huge, huge opportunity missed by Ed to demonstrate professionalism, understanding where I’m at in my understanding of all things to do with racism, compared to his vast knowledge and experience.”

          Carly

          reply
  2. Deborah Huisken  July 20, 2020

    This is sensitive for all of us, Carly — well done you for reviewing and learning. And thank you for your appreciation of my approach — from your response, I feel I have achieved my goal, and appreciate your acknowledging that.

    And, as you and I both know, I subsequently approached you off-line, because I realized after I wrote that I might have been being a bit hypocritical, as I have been including my own thoughts and musings about this situation in a newsletter format, which could equally be seen to be doing what I suggested you might be doing. My newsletter goes out and is gone, so I can’t change what’s been done; I can, now, review and readdress going forward, which I will do. We are learning together.

    And, may I also enquire whether you have reached out to Ed with your concerns directly? Perhaps he would benefit from receiving from you what you wanted from him — a bit of education on his impact. We are such mirrors for each other, we humans…and these are challenging times, putting us all on edge. May we all continue to step further into our magnificence, even as we are getting up after a stumble…

    warm regards,

    D

    reply
    • Carly Anderson  July 20, 2020

      Deborah, thank you for your role modeling of honesty. That you didn’t just keep your finding private, that you published publicly that you also did the same thing with your newsletter.

      I appreciate your thought about Ed, and will sit with that thought right now.

      Carly

      reply

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