When I first started anti-racism coaching, I did what most anti-racism coaches, consultants, and educators do: I taught performative allyship.
I would come to coaching sessions and not understand why even though I pointed out how my white client acted in a racist way, they still couldn’t figure out how to stop acting in racist ways.
I felt guilty, because they came to me for help, and I couldn’t help them. My social work values and ethics really started to kick in, too. As social workers, our ethics demand that we discover ways to create solutions to societal problems.
I also noticed that I started to get emotionally triggered with a few of my clients who were in denial of their racist behaviors. This was a symptom of racial trauma and I knew that it was probably blinding me to find solutions (that work) to address their racist behaviors. This was both a rude awakening (cognitive dissonance) and also very motivating for me to resolve my racial trauma.
As I was healing from my racial trauma, which meant getting in touch with my emotional pain and letting it go, I started to see anti-racism from a radically different lens. I realized that racism is a type of criminal psychology rooted in narcissism. I realized that in order for white people to stop their racist behaviors, they need rehabilitation and reform instead of punishment. This model parallels the same model that is taught within the criminal justice system: that punishment does not reform criminal behavior. I started to wonder if anyone else had seen anti-racism the way I did, but to this day, few anti-racism educators do.
I started to realize that most anti-racism content is written by (POC) who haven’t processed their racial trauma and by white people who haven’t considered rehabilitation and reform. I believe we anti-racism professionals have gotten away with it for so long, because no one ever taught us that we needed to get healing before we started this work. I believe none of us realized the level of personal healing that would need to be done in order to help heal others.
I reached out to my fellow anti-racism professionals about this and most of them turned a blind eye and continued on their merry way. They didn’t stop for one moment to think about how their own racial trauma could affect their work as professionals. In fact, most were quite offended that I had even suggested or entertained this idea. I realized, in the end, that they were in denial as I had been previously.
There was a part of me that felt overwhelmed and was having doubts about my future as an anti-racism professional. I thought to myself “It seems like I am the only one who seems to be able to see this. How will I be able to help white people who are so used to being taught performative allyship and punishment? Are they even ready to let go of performative allyship or the desire to be punished? I’m not famous, like the influencers, will they even learn to trust me?”
I hired Annie Schuessler as my business coach, and we worked through a lot of my issues of imposter syndrome and insecurity in order to speak my truth.
After I unpacked and overcame my my deep-rooted fear of being socially rejected, a rebel, and outsider to anti-racism, I took the plunge and created my first anti-racism coaching program.
I decided to call it the Racist Signature Method. I called it this, because each of my white clients reacted to racial triggers in either denial, intellectualizing, saviorism, perfectionism, projection, rejecting their whiteness, or in a form of anti-racism leadership in a combination (pattern) of 42 different ways.
Each white client of mine had their own unique story of how and why they reacted in racist ways and it was always rooted in trauma. I started to realize that their unresolved trauma prevented them from learning how to stop acting in racist ways. They had been accused of being racist for acting out in “white fragility”, “white tears”, and “white centering”, but the reality, is that they needed a safe place to explore their racist behaviors and how it was connected to unresolved trauma in a rehabilitative environment.
White people are often told that they do not deserve to have a safe place, because they have created unsafe spaces for people of color (POC) their entire lives. The truth, though, is that unless white people learn to explore their whiteness, their feelings, their traumas, and their racist behaviors in a rehabilitative (safe) environment, then they’re going to continue to act out in racist ways.
Showing compassion to white people in the midst of their deeply unresolved guilt and shame meant I was going to be accused by mainstream anti-racism professionals of “colorism” and of not being in solidarity with them. I knew they would see me as someone who betrayed my own people, but in the end, I felt that it was more important to do what was right than to avoid conflict and be a part of the “good ol’ girls” anti-racism club.
I experienced being bullied by my fellow (POC) who were more popular and mainstream, but in the end, I never let this stop me from speaking the truth about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to anti-racism work.
I knew that this work needed to come out, because it wasn’t about me. It was about helping humanity end interracial violence.
I teach anti-racism without shame and with loving compassion for my fellow human beings. We all have things we are ashamed of, and it is in those dark nights of the soul, that we convince ourselves that we do not deserve love or compassion.
I reform the perpetrators of racism to learn to love themselves so that they can learn to love people of color (POC) authentically, and in so doing, love all of humanity on the deepest of levels.