What Else Didn’t I Know?
By Wendy Wood
Many, many, years ago, I found myself in a drug store looking for a band-aid for my boyfriend. For the first time in my life, “flesh color” did not denote the color of skin I was trying to match. My mind was blown that I had never noticed this before. I purchased the non-matching bandage and left that drug store, changed and, as it turns out, changing.
The question I asked myself, as I walked to my car, was this: What else didn’t I know?
I would find out what I didn’t know, as well as what I did know that did not apply to all people, as my boyfriend became my husband and, in time, we became parents.
We all have different lived experiences, come from different places and we cannot help but bring those frames to our lives. As a coach with Canary Coaches, I not only bring all my history and experiences, but I try to recognize my own bias and separate that when I coach. I am proud to admit I have grown and still have more growing to do.
Here are some of the many “epiphanies” I had:
- It is up to each individual to check one’s own biases.
- It is up to each individual to get educated and informed about other people’s experiences.
- This is hard to do. One must remain open, curious, and ready to let go of defenses.
- This is a process.
- One must have a personal investment in wanting a change from convention and norm to something new, to something we have never experienced.
- Power shifts will have to happen; this will be difficult for a great many people. White privilege is real.
- Kindness, respect, and an openness, will mightily help this process, for everybody.
- We can build this together. We can create something new.
- We can learn, grow, challenge convention, envision something not yet here but, perhaps, on its way to being here; we can make mistakes and try again. And again.
- We can challenge ourselves to become our better selves; and, with our better selves, we can serve in our many capacities in a new, mindful, and, intentional way.
I must say that racism is stressful! This is good to keep in mind as we coach our many, and varied, members. And we now know that stress directly impacts health and well-being. Thus, as we work to minimize the impact of racism we not only improve quality of life and make it more manageable but we improve health. Working as a coach I strive to support not just the optimal biomarkers like weight, but this greater improvement in making life more manageable, more enjoyable.
We don’t know the details of the lives we coach. What we do know is that support and understanding are crucial in being able to provide top-notch care.