Why we need to rise in our self-leadership right now

Every sector of society is re-defining itself, from the way we produce food to education, to transport, fashion and therapy, to public administration, healthcare and finance. No-one is going to be able to plough on as normal. That's why this decade is called the 'decade of disruption'. It means we have no option but to move with the times and contribute to the moving times. Here's why its true that change begins with each of us.

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Emily Johnsson
Emily Johnsson
Nurturing changemakers for a whole world.

The past years has brought the world into an increased state of EMERGENCY on many levels. This has led to a sense of URGENCY for systemic change.

It has made visible, and exposed in undeniable ways, what isn’t working.

We find ourselves living at a time when the very foundations of our society, and the way we have built our world is questioned and at stake.

Collectively, we are moving from one way of operating in the world to another. And along the way it’s going to get messy, before it gets better.

It means that we are simultaneously reckoning with our roots, identifying where change needs to happen, redirecting our focus and resources to where it is needed, and allowing our creativity and problem solving capacity to innovate, so that we can find solutions, mitigate harm, and create new, thriving pathways ahead.

In this process of becoming intentional about transitioning from the old and unhelpful to the yet unknown new, we come to understand that it’s not just about what we do or don’t do, but it’s about HOW we do it.

And that ‘how’ is about leadership.

Our self-leadership.

The word leader can often feel so intimidating and big, but really, where is all begins is with ourselves, and our hearts and minds.

Our ability to steer the ship around, depends on us slowing down enough and being brave enough to feel into who we ARE when we create and innovative, what our vision is, our mission and values and what our capacity to translate those values into action is.

In essence, it’s about asking ourselves: “Who do I want to be at this time? What do I stand for and take a stand for? How can I move through the world in alignment with my values every step of the way?”

If we are to effectively be part of the movement for change, we want to make sure we are solid, resilient and resourceful in our leadership, in every part of our lives: as a family member, community member, colleague, team member, manager, creator, space holder, facilitator, innovator.

It’s time to rise by looking within, and then move forward with courage and integrity.


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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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