In this episode of the She Finds Joy podcast, Kim takes on the difficult topic of racism. This episode is different and hard, but necessary. 

Kim states her core values and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. She explains a few ways we can show up for people of color and do the work that is necessary to dismantle systemic racism. Kim believes we all must stand up and protect Black lives and human rights. 

This episode is an invitation to join Kim in open conversation about the state of existence in America and the reignited revolutionary action that’s taking place. America was built on enslavement and it’s up to us to make the necessary changes that will protect Black lives in communities across the country. Racism is not an individual concept, but a deeply-embedded institution of power that seeps into every corner of this country and we must acknowledge it and fight for change.

Inside This Week’s Episode

In today’s episode, Kim discusses…

  • How white people benefit from a system built by and for other white people.

  • The barriers that people of color have faced and continue to face every day.

  • The responsibility we have to educate ourselves and be willing to see new perspectives, get new information, and rethink our beliefs.

“…Individuals might be against racism, but they still benefit from a system that privileges whites as a group.” 

Robin Diangelo

About Kim

Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and a mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy! 

You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy and in the free private, She Finds Joy Facebook community.

Close Transcript

Kim Strobel 00:27 

Well hello there and this is another solo episode by yours truly. And I’m talking about a topic today that can be controversial. And I am intentionally talking about it because I am 100% going to state that I am for and supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement This is a topic that I’ve been talking about a lot in the she finds joy Facebook group. It’s something that I’m learning and gathering knowledge about and trying to become educated. Because to be honest, in my little small community, this is not something that I was taught, nor have I really been exposed to. In fact, in my community, we had one black family that I went to school with. And that was really all the exposure I really had. And so I would like you to, I would like to invite you to join me today on this episode with an open mind and conversation in community about the state of existence in America. And I really want to go on record and say to black America, that I see you You are seen. You are heard And you are affirmed in your sadness, in your anger, and in your fear. And I really want to be a part of helping us evolve as a society. You know, we know that there have been a lot of lives lost and that the most recent incidents have really reignited revolutionary action. You know, I think that the America that we know that was built, was built on enslavement, and that the America’s commitment to freedom did not apply to everyone. And I’m not going to pretend like this is an easy topic for me because, to be honest, I struggled to figure out how I wanted to talk about this in my facebook group. I struggle In preparation for this podcast, because I am so much in the learning of it all myself, but I also know what my core values are within my business and within my she finds joy Facebook group, and that is to be open to learning a new way. And so I want to talk to you a little bit about racism, about systemic and justices that have been done, and really see if we can come out of this conversation, rethinking some of the things we’ve been told, understanding that many of the beliefs that we hold are just an integral part of how we grew up what was put in front of us what was taught or not taught to us. And one of the books that I recently went live and talked about in my facebook group that is really helping me it’s called white fragility. Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin de Angelou and Robin de Angelou is a white woman who works very hard to educate white people on understanding our contribution contributions, and on redefining what racism really means. And the steps that we can take to help in this cause. Again, this is not easy work. As I read the book, I find myself feeling resistant at times to some of what she says I find myself feeling uncomfortable. Why wouldn’t I because I, there’s a foundation in me that has never really looked through the other side or known there were other angles to look at. So I’m going to dive deep into this conversation. And I just asked us to have an open mind, and to see if we can begin to take on the action that is needed by us in order to educate ourselves so that we can be a part of the solution. Again, it kind of feels scary to have this conversation, because again, we don’t talk about racism. And I, if you would have told me two months ago, Kim, you’re a racist. Or three or four months ago, I would have argued with you, I would have been like, I’m not a racist. I don’t intentionally treat people of color differently. And so I’m not a racist. But the problem is, is that our definition of racism is wrong. It’s not individualized. It’s a very narrow definition. And it’s the definition that we grew up with, but it’s like one thing percent of what racism really is. And so this book, white fragility is helping me redefine what racism is what it looks like. And it’s helping me understand why if I have white skin, that I am a privileged person because I have benefited from a system that gives white skinned people benefits and advantages that people of color don’t have. And that in itself makes me a racist because I have benefited from a system that considers the color of my skin to be elitist. And it doesn’t mean that I’m an immoral person. It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. It simply means that because of the color of my skin, I have grown up in a system that benefits fits me because of the color of my skin. And so I want to share some pieces of the book that have really resonated for me. And again, this is not to say that my hackles don’t raise that I feel some resistance because of course, I would feel some resistance. But when I peel back those layers and choose to grow, right, when I choose to grow, I begin to be able to see things through a different lens. And so, you know, I’m 46 years old. So I’ve had 46 years of the media, of the textbooks that I learned history in of society and family members and community members in society in general, showing me and telling me that this is what racism is, and this is what racism is not. And so what Robyn D’Angelo is trying to tell us is, again, we have to immerse our brain in new information. And she starts the book out with this really powerful quote that says, these ceremonies in honor of white supremacy performed from babyhood slip from the conscious mind down deep into muscles and become difficult to tear out. And this is why she is saying it is so hard for us to change,because our beliefs are very much a part of who we are at the muscular and cellular level, because this is all we’ve ever been taught and trained to believe. And so this is why our belief systems are so strong. It’s deeply ingrained in us yet We’ve been misinformed. And you know, I was I was having lunch recently with my, my 20 year old son Spencer. And I was explaining to him that I’m reading this book and that I did not realize that I was racist because I thought that being a racist meant that I purposely treated people of color differently. And that I didn’t understand what a narrow definition of racism I had. And even my 20 year old, right, he’s grown up in the same culture as me, he’s not been exposed or taught any of this. And he kind of got resistant and said, Mom, I am not a racist. I don’t treat anybody differently. And I said, Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought Spencer before I started to educate myself on what racism really is. And I’m starting to peel back the layers and understand that it’s really about a system here a system That says, You are treated differently and you get advantages and benefits that people of color do not. And I was just telling him, you know, we have to be willing to learn that perhaps our definition is not right. And that we can evolve in our thinking, collect new information, and maybe have new under standing. And so, again, this is a topic that I think, is very difficult. She even talks about Robyn D’Angelo talks about when she gets hired by employers to lead dialogue around race. Can you imagine how difficult Her job is? She says, You know, I get extreme resistance when I talk about race and she’s in a room that is filled with tension and hostility, because she has just presented a definition of racism. That is different than the beliefs the core beliefs of the white people who sit in that room. And this includes the acknowledgement that whites hold social and institutional power over people of color. Let me say that again. Whites hold social and institutional power over people of color. And what this means is that the white people are the ones making the decisions. She even has a chart in the book and you know, she looks at us governors, 96% of them are white. US Congress, 90% of them are white. The 10 richest americans 100% of them are white. The top military advisors 100% are white and people who Decide which TV shows we see that make those decisions. 93% of them are white people who decide which books we read. 90% of those are white, even teachers the profession. I’m in 82% are white. Now, this is what she’s saying. She is saying that we have a system. Right? We have a system. And the people who are in the seats that are making the decisions, mostly are white people. And because of that, they hold social and institutional power over people of color. If you think back to the women’s suffrage movement, right when women finally gained the right to vote, it was between Finally, finally, all of the white men that were in those positions of power somehow decided to give us that privilege but had not for years, we didn’t have a white woman in there helping sway the vote. Right. And not only that, when we finally did get the right to vote, it was only white women who had the right to vote not people, not not women of color. And, and so she says that the reason we get so defensive and you might be feeling your hackles raised, you might already want to turn this podcast off. And I’m begging you not to because we have to learn to do hard things and I’m immersing myself self in the work of learning to do hard things, even if I feel resistant at first. And she says that the reason we get so defensive when somebody says if you’re white, you’re a racist, is because we’ve been taught that only the only people who are racist are immoral, bad people. That we have a very limited definition of what racism is. And she said that she quickly learned that we are taught to think about racism only as discrete acts committed by individual people. And that it’s really not an individual people type of thing. It’s a complex, interconnected system that we as white people benefit from. And so, you know, in light of like so many white expressions of resentment towards people of color, I realized that we see ourselves as like, that’s what she says, like white people, white people, do somewhat see themselves as entitled to or deserving of more than people of color. And when I read that again, I’m like, hey, That’s not me, I don’t think I should make more money because I have white skin versus black skin. Right? I, I don’t think that I should get, I should be able to land a top corporate position more so than a person of color simply because of my skin. But what she says is, she says, and she goes deeper into what she’s really trying to explain, and that is that we have to start to really see that we have these very deeply seated beliefs that we hold on to. And she says that she’s come to see that the way we are taught to define racism, the way we have been taught in our schooling and by our community and by our family and by the media and by advertisements and by television, that it’s virtually impossible. The white people to understand it, because given our racial isolation, and when you couple that with misinformation, any suggestion that we are complicit in racism is insulting to us. And it’s unwelcome. And she says she’s met with so much resistance. And so if you’re feeling that resistance, I want you to stay here with me, because I get it and I understand it. But I’m asking you to let that resistance come and to let yourself also be open to new information. Because what she is teaching me is that racism is not individualized, it’s a system. And it’s a system into which I was socialized into from the time I was a baby. And that we we have to be open to receive feedback on these problematic racial patterns as a helpful way to kind of support us in our learning. Because she says, and I see this right, it’s the white progressives that cause the most daily damage to people of color. And a white progressive is any white person who thinks he or she is not racist. And again, I was the one that thought I was not racist a few months ago, I didn’t understand that it’s a systemic system built on racism that I benefit from that makes me a racist. All right. And so what she’s saying is, is the white progressives, the ones that immediately say, I am not racist. I’m not willing to understand this definition any other way than what I’ve been taught. And I’m not willing to be convinced otherwise. And she says it’s so important for all of us to understand the textbooks, we were taught in schools, that the advertisements we’ve seen on the television, what we’ve learned from our community and society, and how we were raised, is that we just need to open up a teeny, tiny window and let ourselves get new information and see if there’s a new understanding that can take place. And so, again, we know that race is one of many things that we isolate people into, right there’s race, there’s the gender distinction, right? There’s our you upper class, middle class or lower class. And, you know, this is not to say that those positions don’t also profoundly shape our life chances of success. Right. So if you’re a white poor person versus a white person who came from wealth, your chances of becoming successful are much higher. Okay? And but what she is saying is that, you know, we know that it’s obvious that opportunity is not equally distributed across race, across class and across gender. But when you look right, how many white CEOs and CFOs Do we have compared to black CEOs and CFOs? And if we take that one step further, how many male CEO and CFOs are there compared to female CEOs and CFOs? So yes, we know there’s gender discrepancies. We know there’s class discrepancies. We know again, that there’s a difference between if you come from upper class or lower class and your opportunities and your chances of success. We’re not negating that by Talking about racism and that people of color have not had the same chances. So if you find yourself saying, Well, you know, I grew up poor, and I didn’t have the same chance as another person who grew up with wealth, we know that we understand that. But, you know, here’s a great example. You take Bill Gates, right one of the wealthiest men in the world. We know that Bill Gates son is born into a set of opportunities that are going to benefit him for the rest of the of his life, whether he’s mediocre or exceptional, right. And, and even though Bill Gates son has been handed and born into an earned it advantage, we still clean really tightly to the ideology of individualism, when we’re asked to consider our own earned advantages. And so, you know, this is about pushing against our conditioning, pushing it against our belief systems that were fed to us that are inadequate and wrong. This is about if we’re going to deny it and resist it, or are we going to allow ourselves the time to examine it, to understand that these messages have shaped our life and our view? And are we going to educate ourselves because I think it is our responsibility. If you’re a white person listening to this podcast, it is a responsibility for you to get new information, and at least educate yourself on finding new perspectives. And that’s really my goal about talking on this podcast about racism. And I’m going to give you a list of books at the end that are helping me begin to understand that I have benefited from a system based on the color of my skin. And that I will tell you, I believe that we must step up and do this work on behalf of the people of color. One of the other things, again, when we’re talking about race, it’s this evolving social idea that was created to legitimize racial inequality, and to protect the white advantaged people. And again, I’m going to go back to that whole idea of when women were given the right to vote, I think it was an 18 1920 maybe, but women were given the right to vote. But the reason they weren’t given the right to vote for so many years, is because the the people who held the government positions to be able to vote for that were white men, right? We didn’t have women in those seats. So women didn’t get to have a say in whether or not Oh, a woman could gain the right to vote. And then the white the black woman didn’t earn her right to vote until 1965. And so again, we still in today’s society, operate with white people who are holding the social powers. Okay? And it’s mostly white men, we know this. But still, if you’re a white woman, you still benefit more because of the color of your skin. And even the concept of understanding what makes a person white, like was defined by the white men who held the government offices. All right. You know, that decision was made on whether or not a white man would decide whether or not a woman warranted getting the opportunity to vote. And this is really about white fragility, and it’s opening my eyes, folks. It’s opening my eyes. It’s helping me see that, yes, I understand that there are white people who also get discriminated against. And if you grew up poor, you did not have the same equal advantages as the wealthy white person. I’m not denying that. But what I’m learning and what she even says, she says, I as a white woman, I grew up and felt deep shame about being poor. But she said, I also always knew that I was white poor, and that it was better to be white poor than it was to be black poor. And it was such an aha for me, right? It’s such an aha, for me to understand that this is not about me that racism is not individualized. You know, it’s really a system that operates within the bigger scheme of things. And that is the deciding factor that we have a system built on by men, controlled government by men, controlled institutions by white men who make an enforce the loss and so racism folks is so much bigger than me saying, I’m not a racist because I don’t look at a black person as less than me. It’s the fact that I have white skin and I have benefited from a system that gives me an unearned advantage because of my skin color and I will go on record and tell you, I am adamant about educating us as white women. I am adamant for the black people who are listening to this podcast to know that I see you and I hear you and I understand why you have rage. I understand your anger. I am willing to do the hard work to help us as white people evolve and change the system. for the better, that means that I have to educate myself. And I feel a responsibility to educate my listeners. One of the other things that I have learned from her, you know, is that yes, we also know, let’s just, you know, talk about the elephant in the room, because I hear people say all of the time, well, people of color, they hold prejudices. They didn’t discriminate against white people, right. But they also, even though we know that there are people of color who discriminate against white people, yes, we’re not denying that. But we also know that people of color who do that, that they lack the social and institutional power that actually transforms their pres prejudices and discrimination into racism. Right? She even says in the book, you know, people of color also discriminate. They are also prejudice. We’re not denying that. The problem is is that people of color, or I don’t know if it’s a problem, but the issue is that they don’t have the social institutions to back up their racism. They can’t have the institutional power that says, hey, I’m going to take my prejudices and my discrimination, and I’m going to make it impact you in the system as a white person. And she says that whites hold the social and institutional positions in society. So they get to infuse their racial prejudices into the laws, the policies, the practices and the norms of society in a way that people do not. Wow, you guys. Wow. You know, I’m even thinking about this example that she gives. She says, you know, a person of color, they can refuse to wait on me. If I walk in a shop. The owner if they’re a person of color, they can refuse to wait on me right? They can say you’re not allowed in here. You need to leave. But the issue is, I’m white, and the person of color, who can tell me to leave their shop, cannot pass legislation that prohibits me or anyone like me from buying a home in a certain neighborhood. I think that is a great analogy. And so I just want us to start to do the work. I want us to see that we have a lot to learn. I want us to be able to have book clubs to infuse this kind of work into our school systems so that we can learn we can learn a different way of thinking Understanding what it has been like for the people of color. And that we can begin to do right by them, folks. And the only way we can do that is to educate ourselves and begin to understand it from their perspective, and really see the system for what it is. And I know this is a deep conversation, I know that my podcast episodes are usually about joy and happiness, and how do we attain more of it? But I feel like I have a platform that I need to use my ability to influence others to really challenge us to do the work that I believe we need to do. We need to do the work. And I’m going to end this by just stating a few things to kind of summarize what I’ve been In learning in this book, and, you know, what she says is by definition, racism is a deeply embedded historical system of institutional power. It is not fluid and does not change direction simply because a few individual individuals of color, manage to excel. She even says individuals might be against racism, but they still benefit from a system that privileges whites as a group. And stating that racism privileges whites, does not mean that individual white people do not struggle or face barriers. It does mean that we do not face the particular barriers of racism and that we have White people have these advantages that are referred to as white privilege. And white privilege is a social concept, referring to advantages that are taken for granted by whites, and cannot be similar similarly enjoyed by people of color. And folks, that’s the part I’ve been ignorant about. That’s the part I have not known about. I have so much to learn. And I do feel some resistance to some of it. But it is really because I’ve had a narrow understanding of what this looks like and how it’s really played out. So I’m going to ask you all to start to open yourselves up to this learning and see if you can begin to create some face and perhaps be able to see a new layer and a new perspective. And that we do need to do our part. People of Color deserve for us to do our part for them. So I will list out in the show notes, four or five of my favorite books that I’m reading on this concept right now. And let’s let’s just dive in folks and let’s do the hard work. Let’s do it.