Why anti-racism work is integral to regenerative self-leadership

Going ‘next level’ as changemakers at this time, means going deeper, into the shadows of our collective and individual root system, without bypassing a single thing. Not by ‘love and light’. Not by claiming that we are ‘good people’. Not by believing ’it’s for other people, not me!”. Not by toxic positivity. Or by self-betrayal. But by courage. By humility. Openness. Integrity. Reverence for life. Of truly meeting ourselves in the name of the highest good of all. In the name of collective healing. Of greater wholeness across all timelines.

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Emily Johnsson
Emily Johnsson
Nurturing changemakers for a whole world.

“Why do you keep harping on about anti-racism work, Emily? What does it have to do with self-leadership? I don’t see the link. Can you explain?”

There will be no regenerative futures without intentional dismantling of white supremacy.

I repeat: There will be no regenerative futures without intentional dismantling of white supremacy.

This toxic system lives in all of us who benefit from it (those of us with pale complexion) and we uphold it in unconscious ways.

The ONLY way to interrupt, disrupt and dismantle this system that encapsulates the essence of separation from both each other in our human family and the Earth, is by facing it inside-out.

It depends on changemakers in paleskinned bodies who are committed to a different world. Committed to being the change.

Committed to walking your talk.

Committed to a whole world.

Regenerative self-leadership work is in essence about being and relating from WHOLENESS, a journey of integrating fragmented parts of ourselves.

It’s about being and doing and relating from a whole living-systems perspective on life and work, business and organisations. Humans and all living beings. The wider world.

It’s only from a place of greater wholeness that we can self-manage, be part of self-organising teams, and open up to greater levels of creativity that can benefit the whole.

It is only from a place of wholeness that we see ourselves part of Nature and the greater web of life. This is when we choose to shift to circular economies and open up to biomimicry.

It is only from a place of greater wholeness that we are able to be still enough to listen carefully to the fields of our organisations, businesses, communities or family systems into what is wanting to emerge, wanting healing, wanting attention, deep down below the surface.

It’s also the only place from which we are able to show up with people who see the world differently to ourselves without being fiercely triggered, resentful or cancelling.

Anti-racism work is in its essence about wholeness too.

It’s about clearing distortions and fragmentations about who we are, our socialised mindsets and behaviours.

Clearing distortions about where we have come from and opening up to new empowering and regenerative pathways about where we can go, collectively. Together.

Two of the key principles of the ‘logic of life’ are the principles of DIVERSITY and RELATIONSHIPS. Life thrives on diversity, and the species who are the most resilient on our planet are the ones with the strongest relationships.

Any system or culture that claims to centre wholeness or belonging in diverse groups of people cannot be facilitated without engaging in anti-racism work.

This goes beyond ‘D,E & I’ initiatives.

Without active anti-racism work, our organisational culture (for example) is likely going to be filled with unconscious micro-aggressions, colour-blindness, normative thinking, code-switching and exceptionalism.

These are all degenerative ways of being and relating that erodes belonging, innovation and hinders the release of an organisation’s evolutionary purpose.

Racism and our climate emergency come from the same degenerative root-system.

Our global economic system was built on the notion of making some people and nations (in the global north) rich and other people (in the global south) to enable that. It still works this way.

If we want to contribute to a regenerative, thriving future for the whole world, we must become conscious of the degenerative ideologies that underpin the systems we are all a part of.

Simply put, we cannot be ‘for the Earth’ and not do anti-racism work (or else we are not seeing the whole picture). We cannot claim to be anti-racist without also embracing climate justice (or else we are not seeing the whole picture).

Anti-racism work is regenerative wholeness work.

Love work.

Home-coming work.

If you are a white-bodied human reading this who is curious, believes in a regenerative, thriving, just world and is willing to self-reflect, then put yourself on the wait list for the Becoming a good ancestor Wholeness Immersion based on Layla F Saad’s ground-breaking healing work “Me & White Supremacy”.

It is a journey that all future ancestors are thankful for.

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Emily Johnsson | November 25, 2023
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About Emily & White Supremacy

Emily is a space holder and self-leadership coach to changemakers. She has over 20 years experience in the field of human development, learning and growth, and leads the coaching and consultancy company Wish Tree since 2011. Her work centres around wholeness – whole humans, whole communities, whole organisations, whole ecosystems. A whole world. Her changemakership is therefore dedicated to clearing distortions and fragmentations that relate to our perceptions of separation.

Emily has been exposed to and ‘sat with’ systemic issues around race, racism, privilege and injustice her whole life. She was born in Camden, London, in the late 1970s to a Swedish immigrant single mum and spent her first formative years in a highly culturally and ethnically diverse setting. As a baby, Emily and her mum lived in a bedsit in a shared house with a Black British family. Her first memory of Father Christmas was of him as a Bangladeshi man. Emily’s mum worked with refugee families and in Children’s Homes in inner city London, and since she had no access to child care opportunities, Emily joined her at work. For a while, Emily had an older Black British foster sister called Debbie. She was very often the only white child in the community of children of which she was a part.

Emily moved to Sweden with her mum as a child and as a teenager became involved with, and led, antiracism youth work in her local town through her school and council-initiated networks in the 1990s.

Her mum, who was active in the peace-and- environmental movement and who had been involved as an ally in the civil rights movement in the US on her travels there, introduced her to Black feminist and activist writers such as Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Audre Lord, and actively taught her about white privilege, white supremacy and the truth of colonialism. She was also taught about the importance of learning from Indigenous wisdom keepers in order to heal and evolve as humanity, and to (in those days) stop climate change.

In contrast, on her father’s side, Emily is of British Colonial descent. Emily’s grandmother was born in Zimbabwe to Scottish sheep-farmers. Her grandfather came from a poor English background but won a scholarship to Cambridge University to study law. As many young British men of his time who sought “adventure, a good job and travel”, Emily’s grandfather joined the colonial service in the final days of the British Empire, and served in several African countries as a high-ranking colonial officer. He spoke Zulu and Emily’s father spoke Swazi and Swahili before being sent to Britain as a child to attend boarding school, thousands of miles away from his parents.

Although Emily did not grow up with her father or his family, she eventually came to know them and have a relationship with them, which involved taking responsibility for understanding and healing her own familial and ancestral relationship to colonialism and white supremacy.

In this process, she came to see, feel and understand first hand and close up, the deeper psychological workings of the system of white supremacy, the colonial mind and its intimate links with narcissism, perfectionism, patriarchy and extractive economies and behaviours.

Between 2003-2015, Emily worked as a learning researcher and Access, Diversity and Inclusion enabler in the Arts & Cultural Sector, deeply rooted in the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Convention. She worked across the U.K and Scandinavia contributing to a number of large scale change projects, self-evaluation initiatives, conferences and trainings such as “Access for All”, “Inspiring Learning for All”, “Belonging – the Voices of London’s Refugees”, “The West Indian Front Room”, “Kultur och Fritid för Alla”, “Vidgat Deltagande”, “In this curriculum I don’t exist”, “In between two worlds – London teenagers’ ideas about Black History, Belonging and being British” to name a few. She worked with a wide range of marginalised communities as well as with leaders and directors holding white privilege, facilitating necessary and brave conversations challenging the status quo.

Emily has worked across many cultures and languages around the world from Sri Lanka to South Africa, Costa Rica and India to Romania and Denmark, continuously reflecting on and challenging white saviour tendencies. In this process has come to observe how white supremacy and racism works differently in different countries depending on context and history.

In 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Emily became a loud voice in the Wellness industry by calling in leaders bypassing white supremacy through ‘love and light’ rhetoric, exceptionalism, colourblindness and virtue signalling. She closed down several online coaching circles because white participants were unwilling to dive deeper into their own internalised white supremacy, and rendered the spaces not only additionally unsafe, but traumatising for BIPOC clients. Her platform and large facebook community for coaches and wellbeing facilitators centred BIWOC-led anti-racism conversations as a response.

Emily is a skilled and fiercely loving coach and space-holder with many years experience of creating safe spaces for accountability, healing, integration and growth to take place.

She is dedicated to her own ongoing learning, healing and unlearning of covert white supremacy. Examples of this are continuous learning from a wide range of anti-racism educators, authors and activists from around the world.

This bio has not been written with the intention of centring Emily in the context of Me & White Supremacy, but to transparently share about her background, values, skills and experience in order for you to make a conscious decision to choose her as a space-holder, or not.

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