Exploring Whiteness

shoreline

In 2016, I decided that something needed to change. As a coach, I needed to take a stand against white supremacy, and a stand for white healing, in service of reducing the harm white people perpetuate against black and brown people. Since then, through talking, listening, reading, researching, brainstorming, receiving coaching, writing, and thinking deeply about what I can offer, I’ve created a tiny, sweet thing: an eight-week coaching experience for white individuals who have had enough, but don’t know what to do next. It’s called Exploring Whiteness, and it’s an opportunity to do a deep dive into race, acting in solidarity, and your role as a white person in the struggle for racial justice, with the goal of taking meaningful action during and  beyond the eight weeks. Below, I’ve answered all of the questions I ask when I consider a new opportunity – even if this isn’t the right opportunity for you, I’d love to know what you think.

What can I offer you, as a coach?

  • A safe and confidential space to discuss race frankly and honestly.

  • Guiding questions designed to investigate your thoughts, feelings, needs, and values around acting in solidarity with black and brown people.

  • Resources (articles, videos, book recommendations) to spark critical thought and offer new perspectives on issues related to racial justice.

  • A chance to uncover and challenge your beliefs and implicit biases around race and oppression.

  • Accountability and support with taking concrete steps to deepen your solidarity with black and brown communities.

Why does this matter?

  • Black men are 7 times more likely to experience violence at the hands of police and self-appointed vigilantes than white men. In 2010, the median net worth for a white family was $134,000, but the median net worth for a Latino family was $14,000, and for a Black family it was $11,000. For the last 60 years, the unemployment rate for Black Americans is about twice as high as for white Americans. From 1934 through 1968, it was legal to discriminate against Black and Latino Americans who sought out home loans (a practice known as redlining). Currently, if you apply for a job with a white sounding name, you’re 50% more likely to get a callback for an interview than if you apply with a Black sounding name.

  • As white people, we hold racial privilege. One of the most powerful things we can do is to use that privilege to benefit those who do not hold it.

  • We are at an historic moment in history. Violence against black and brown people is being broadly exposed, and people of all races are standing up and saying that enough is enough. How white people respond in this moment will go down in history. I want to stand on the side of justice, and I want to stand there with you.

Who is this coaching opportunity a good fit for?

  • You’re a white-identified person who…

    …is floored by the violence you’re seeing in the news against black and brown people, and don’t know how to address it

    …is interested in learning about what it means to be an ally to black and brown communities

    …is a seasoned racial justice activist who wants to figure out what deepening your solidarity looks like

    …isn’t sure about your role in addressing racial justice, but you’re curious to learn more

    …is an educator or employer who wants to increase racial equity in your classroom, school, or workplace.

Who is this not a good fit for?

  • You believe that you cannot make an impact on racial injustice in your day-to-day life.

  • You don’t think that there is a racial justice problem in this country.

  • You don’t have the time or energy to commit to investing in coaching that will stretch you and ask you to dig deep.

  • You don’t want a partner to explore solidarity with, and hold you accountable to taking the action steps you identify.

What’s the structure of this coaching experience?

  • 8 weeks long

  • 1 hour per week, over the phone or in person, if you’re local to the Bay Area

  • One-on-one or small group (5 or fewer participants)

What topics will we cover?

I’ve outlined eight broader topics, ranging from identity, to beliefs, to forgiveness, each with guiding questions and accompanying resources. I’m confident that between what you naturally bring to the table as a client and what I’m offering in terms of topics, questions, and resources, we’ll have an incredibly rich, ongoing coaching dialogue. I’m also confident that you will take meaningful action during and beyond the time we work together.

What will I come away with after completing this program? What results can I expect?

  • Clarity on the impact of whiteness, both historically and currently, and what it means to act in solidarity with non-white people.

  • Increased awareness of your beliefs and implicit biases about race and oppression.

  • Greater confidence in speaking knowledgeably and clearly about issues of race and oppression with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

  • Concrete, doable action steps you can take to incorporate acting in solidarity into your everyday life – sustainably, for the long term.

  • A trove of resources to expand your racial justice toolkit and share with others.

What if I’m already taking a class on whiteness, solidarity, or something similar? Would this be a repeat of what I’m learning and experiencing there?

Yes and no. Currently, there are a number of courses being offered that focus on white identity, oppression, acting in solidarity, and related topics. I can’t overstate how glad I am that these exist, and that they’re being brought into our collective consciousness – I’ve taken one, too! Coaching is different than taking a class. It’s a chance to take a deeper, more personal dive into the information, questions, doubts, fears, and limiting beliefs you have about race and solidarity. Unlike a class, it’s focused entirely on your needs and goals for learning and growth: you get to set the syllabus and the pace. You also get to determine when and where this experience will take place (which is a lot easier to do when there are only a couple of schedules to account for!). While there may be an overlap in some of the content, the way in which you’ll engage with the content is radically different than a class or course, for the reasons shared above.

What makes you qualified to do this sort of thing?

That’s a really good question, and my answer depends on what you mean by “qualified”.

  • If education credentials hold value for you, I can tell you I have a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Ethnic Studies, and a master’s degree in Education, with a focus on Learning, Diversity, and Urban studies.

  • If professional experience means more to you, I can tell you that I worked for nonprofits and schools for over ten years, serving primarily black and brown communities alongside mostly white colleagues. In a previous nonprofit role, I combined coaching and case management in my work with black and brown youth for three years.

  • If you’d like to know about my experience as a coach, I can share that I’ve graduated from Leadership That Works’ Coaching for Transformation program, a nine-month coaching certification program that resulted in me becoming Certified Professional Coach.

  • Ultimately – and I would argue, most importantly – I’m a white woman who has witnessed the impacts of systemic racism on black and brown people whom I care about deeply, and I believe that white people are responsible for addressing this immensely important, life-or-death issue. I can’t, in good conscience, not do this work.

Okay, but let’s get real: how much does it cost?

Deep breath. Money is hard. I hold the complexity of wanting this work to be accessible to anyone who wants to engage with it, and the need to sustain myself financially so I can do this work at all. For one-on-one coaching, my current rate is $150 an hour, which means that 8 sessions normally cost $1,200. To me, this is a lot of money. I know that this might be a lot of money for you, too. For that reason, I’m choosing to offer a need-based scale of $800 – $1,200 for this coaching experience. If you and a small group of friends or colleagues want to engage in this experience as a small group (5 or fewer people), I’ll adjust each person’s individual price according to the number of people in the group. I want to honor your very real financial needs, my very real financial needs, and the value of this work for both of us, and for the community, at large. Ten percent of what you pay will be donated to racial justice efforts led by black and brown individuals or organizations – in fact, you’ll decide where your donation goes!

How do I sign up?

Message me directly at hello@alightcc.com if you’d like a sample coaching session, or if you have any questions that I haven’t addressed. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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