How are we really expressing solidarity, “allinthistogether”? How do we balance our desire to live in peace with acting in solidarity when we see injustice, bias, racism and resulting suffering, including deaths? How do we deal with our own broken hearts, fears, challenges to hope, including gun related deaths? (Since 1968, more Americans have died from guns-murders, suicides and accidents-than in all the wars in US history) How can we respectfully live out “#weareallinthistogether”?

I felt tender, even “shakey” as we started the live video to explore these questions.

1. I recognize the need to pause and give ourselves permission to experience our emotions as well as looking at the path forward and how we can contribute to positive change. Not only to experience our emotions, but to give ourselves time and energy to heal, to renew, to restore balance. Grieving takes a lot of energy. Anger is an aspect of grief that can also drive us towards positive change. We can claim hope that our world is breaking open rather than falling apart.

2. Coming together in solidarity increases shared power and decreases the energy drain of intense emotions as well as the strain of trying to go it alone. I truly appreciate community to explore these questions with, to process our reactions, renew and plan our path forward, including determining “what is mine to do?”.

Notice in this image the woman is wearing 3-D glasses, not a blindfold. Our view of cultural groups (political, ethnic, race, gender, generation, region, tribe, educational and socioeconomic level, religion, appearance, sexual orientation, etc) is filtered through the biases we all have, conscious and unconscious. If we put on someone else’s glasses, we see things differently. It takes a strong self-identity to be able to try on different viewpoints without fear of losing our own and what that might mean to us.

3. That’s why cultural intelligence, the recognizing and understanding of the beliefs, values, attitudes, rank and behaviors of people (including your own!) with distinct cultural identities (gender, generation, ethnicity, nationality, race, region, ability/disability including neurodiversity, etc); and then applying that awareness toward effective behavior and communication, is one of the key lenses I depend on in leadership, team and mentor coaching for not only moving more quickly towards goals at a depth level that sustains change, but also so our coaching clients experience being completely heard, understood and appreciated.

“As One ICF, we stand together. We stand for greater diversity and inclusion. We stand against racism. We stand against violence. We stand for respect, dignity and integrity,” our professional organization, the International Coaching Federation, issued this stand.

4. What are you standing for? How are you experiencing solidarity? How can we really be allinthistogether? How are you, your organization, community doing on living up to your stand?

“Are your words pulling us together or tearing us apart?” I ask myself and challenge others.

“No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion, our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity or because of their sexual orientation,” Desmond Tutu. We see you. We care. We hear you. You matter. We can be allinthistogether. We can act in solidarity.

-Respect: As a coach, I strive to be judgment free and realize that is not how our brains work. What I can do is choose to see and value each person as a unique and special creation and strive to treat them as such, in accordance with my spiritual beliefs as well as professional training and standards. I am holding up the “all the children of the world” scarf a friend gave me as a reminder in the thumbnail video image.

And I continue to do self checks as well as rely on –accountability partners to help identify and manage my biases. What does that mean? Loving others. Not responding to bullying with bullying. One of the live video participants acknowledged her daughter as an accountability partner, calling her out on the bias she had grown up with and her daughter’s concerns over the impact of her two year old black foster child. Caught up in my own emotions and (new to me) managing the live stream from Zoom to Facebook, I did not feel I fully addressed this participant’s situation, calling afterwards to apologize and allow more time to process.

An African American friend and I hold each other accountable, calling each other out when we hear each other say something that sounds biased. I have previously written about my own flipping judgment, with my daughters catching me talking about “those people” (“othering”) with a different political perspective than mine, rather than seeing us #allinthistogether, in solidarity.

As a result of posting a link to an article of What You Can Do for Racial Justice on a Linkedin post, I gained a new accountability partner. We let each other know how we are progressing through the 75 things on the webpage we can do to take action, like contacting our local police departments about the training they are providing to the police officers, and to make sure body cameras are turned on for each call. I have already received an affirmative response from our Police Chief. I’ve contacted legislators. Accountability can contribute to our being in solidarity, allinthistogether.

Reflecting, I noticed myself commenting on others’ posts and not writing my own. And in a coaching session, realizing the fear of “not getting it right” or “crossing the line.” This is my longest and most vulnerable live video. I still found myself, in the third day of this discussion with colleagues and friends, feeling emotional and can only imagine what the families of Ahmoud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor, families of color who live in fear and targeted groups globally experience.

-“It can get messy” was one of my key takeaways from the Coaching and Social Action course I took from former students Lisa Garrett and Sangita Kumar. This is an imperfect video: even getting a fact wrong: the US anti-Lynching Act was only passed by the House and Senate in 2020! After first being proposed over a hundred years ago, an example of hundreds of years of racism. Are we really allinthistogether, yet?

Even my choice of the initial quote I paired with this image caused an unintended reaction and led me to further consideration of my bias in selection of quotes and images. In fact, I’ve challenged the images websites I use about the lack of racial and gender diversity in images in office settings. And I’m still on the journey to greater awareness. I changed it to Desmond Tutu’s quote: “When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate.’

-The danger of power over: I have a strong conscious bias or preference toward shared power. For those in positions of power, there needs to be strong accountability systems in place. A psychology experiment I learned about in university divided students into two groups: prison guards and prisoners for a simulation. By the end of the weekend those who were designated in the prison guard role were starting to mistreat the “prisoners”. We need to not only be checking ourselves when we are in positions of power, rank and privilege, but also to have accountability partners and other systems in place, like police cameras turned on. We can use our solidarity to check on accountability and legislation of situations where there is power over. The rise of nationalism is leading to more hate crimes and groups. (Florian Bieber (2018) Is Nationalism on the Rise? Assessing Global Trends, Ethnopolitics, 17:5, 519-540, DOI: 10.1080/17449057.2018.1532633)

-Our votes reflect what we stand for and help determine the level of violence in our communities and nations.

I have been writing for years about how injustice and related suffering breaks my heart. That includes racially, ethnically, religion, gender motivated deaths, including wars, globally and the inequitable lingering impact of the pandemic on racial minorities and women (2/3 of low paying jobs, many of them “essential” are held by women in the US and who still carry primary responsibility for children).  “Bias can get you killed.” (cor.org 5/31/20)

Thank you for being with me on this journey and contributing to the sense that we can act in solidarity for the greater good, be #allinthistogether.

How else can I support you, your team, community and organization as you find your way forward to fully living out your stand so all can live in  full potential, prosperity and peace? Apply for your #UnlockAllPotential strategy session now

Note: this is a much longer video than usual! 28 minutes. Our discussion was within days of George Floyd’s murder in the US and during the pandemic. I invite you, your organization to reflect on the stand you took at the time, and now in the midst of wars and political polarization, continued equity and justice challenges, how you are living it out, progress made, how you are healing and renewing. Contact me regarding participating in a co-designed a renewing retreat that includes cultural and body intelligences.

Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW, MCC, LLC; CQ MCC

Originally published June 7, 2020 and updated