Search

Coach of Color - why we need Black coaches

Years ago, my department head said in a team meeting that an important system change could not be implemented because the manual effort would be too great. He said, "Well, we can't hire some n***ers to do that ..." and went silent. He realized that I, a Black person was sitting in the meeting, and he laughed out loud. I was speechless. My colleagues did not react.


There are moments in life when we just need support. I often felt that way. If no one stands up for me in situations where I have obviously been racially discriminated against, then I at least want to talk to people about it later. I need people to comfort me, see my pain, and build me up. Unfortunately, though, the exact opposite happens, and I hear phrases like, "I'm really against racism, but...", "My son has curls too and he gets his hair grabbed", "It's only well-intentioned to want to know where you're from...", and "If you always think people look at you funny, I'm sure it'll become a reality for you eventually." My experiences of discrimination are minimized, put into perspective, or dismissed as "non-mean-spirited." (that is called gaslighting).


This especially hurts me as a Black person. It makes me feel not heard, not seen, or not understood. There have even been times when I thought that I was just imagining that certain situations were bad. However, conversations with other Black people confirmed that I am not alone in my pain and trauma. In the meantime, there are numerous books that describe exactly those scenes that have accompanied me in my everyday life for as long as I can remember. (Saad, Layla F., 2020, Me And White Supremacy and Oluo Ijeoma, 2018, So you want to talk about race).


As much as I am a proponent of diversity and diverse perspectives: People sometimes just need safe(r) spaces in which they are accepted and understood as they are without prejudice. As a coach who guides people through change, I've often asked myself if it's important for me to resemble my clients. Personally, I don't think it's necessarily important if I work professionally as a coach. Nevertheless, it makes a difference if I must explain or even justify myself in a coaching conversation. This circumstance makes it almost impossible to build a trusting basis for an appreciative relationship and thus effectively come to a solution. It is not without reason that there are executive, leadership and business coaches who specialize in specific industries and speak the same language as their clients.


In addition to all the experts, that's why there's me. As a queer woman of color, I know experiences of discrimination as I stand at a crossroads where sexism, racism as well as queerphobia can hit me - sometimes from all three directions at the same time (intersectionality) I strive for gender-equal and inclusive language and am open to people from all 'walks of life'. Even though I am privileged myself, I have a large portion of empathy in my heart for people with different social or cultural backgrounds as well as for people with disabilities.


And yes, my clients are also white, male, and heterosexual. They all share the desire for more tolerance, they all see colors and stand up for equality in their own way.


Black people, BIPoC and LGBTQIA people, however, find a particularly safe place with me and are accepted as they are.