Spaces and communities that look like you, validate your experience, and affirm your identity are transformative. As people of color, specifically Black people, we rarely have these opportunities, so getting them is even more precious. So, in this episode, I share with you an experience I recently had that was deeply affirming, and I share with you how you can find a similar sense of belonging and transformation with me, in Ghana.
What You’ll Learn On This Episode:
00:00:00 – Introduction,
Asha Wilkerson introduces herself as a business coach helping service-based entrepreneurs align their business goals with personal goals to create a life they want to show up for. She talks about the importance of creating safe spaces for women of color, BIPOC entrepreneurs, and the motivation to keep pushing for success.
00:01:32 – The Importance of Validation and Empathy,
Asha reflects on attending a business brunch for women of color entrepreneurs and realizing the importance of validation and empathy. She discusses how witnessing each other’s experiences and having a supportive community can empower entrepreneurs to break barriers and create a business that reflects who they are.
00:04:08 – The Power of Representation,
Asha talks about the power of representation and how it can validate and empower entrepreneurs to be their authentic selves. She shares her own experiences of being the only black person in the room and how traveling to black republics such as Ghana has helped her shed the tenets of white supremacy.
00:07:13 – Join Asha in Ghana,
Asha invites black business owners to join her on a trip to Ghana to experience the validation and empowerment that comes from being surrounded by a community of black leaders and business owners. She emphasizes the importance of showing up confidently and authentically in business and encourages entrepreneurs to pave the way for those coming after them.
00:08:49 – Conclusion,
Asha concludes the podcast episode by reiterating the importance of validation, empathy, and representation in our community spaces.
Hi. Welcome back to another episode of Transcend the podcast, and this one is definitely going to be a good one. So this past weekend, I went to a business brunch for women of color entrepreneurs, and I had a fantastic time. Walked in, and it was literally just women of color entrepreneurs everywhere. And the business coach who put it on was fantastic.
High energy, great food, great camaraderie, and this space was so beautiful. A friend of mine asked me a couple of days later, okay, Asha, what was your biggest takeaway from this business brunch? And it didn’t have anything to do with the strategy or mindset or business tools or the food at all. It had to do with me realizing as soon as I walked in the room and then again when people started introducing themselves, how important it is for us as women of color, BIPOC entrepreneurs, to have spaces that look like us, sound like us, feel like us. And that can support us as we build our businesses from the ground up and put them into the world.
So as I was reflecting on this business brunch, I started asking myself, what made this group so special? I mean, it was women of color entrepreneurs, and I got that. But what was it? What was the sauce that brought everybody together? How did we end up feeling so empowered and so good?
And I realized it’s because we felt validated when someone shared their experience, someone else in the room related to that experience, acknowledged that experience, and said, hey, you got this. We felt empathy and people empathized with us. We all felt like, I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there. Keep going.
It gets better. It won’t always be like this, but there wasn’t a glossing over of someone’s experience or their feelings. Like we often get told in the world at large, we don’t have time to be sad. We don’t have time to be frustrated. You don’t get to be upset about something that didn’t go your way, because we’re often in these places of survival mode.
But in this room full of women of color entrepreneurs, we got to just be us and to lay it on the table, whatever it was that needed to come out at the moment. We were witnessed for whatever we had been through, for whatever struggle we were having, and for the joys that we were experiencing and the success that we were chasing. We were witnessed in that quest and that experience. And just as being a woman of color, entrepreneur. We didn’t have to put on heirs.
We didn’t have to pretend to be somebody or something that we weren’t. We got to be exactly who we were, and that resonated with the folks around us. We were encouraged and also, as a result, motivated internally to keep going, to keep breaking those barriers, to do it for ourselves, to do it for the people in that room, and to do it for the people who were coming behind us and want to walk in our footsteps. Now, I’m not hosting a business brunch, at least not yet, but I am hosting a trip to ghana for members of the african diaspora. That means that if you are black or identify as black, you are welcome to join us on this trip.
Now, when I first touched down on the continent of africa, the first country I visited was kenya. Then I went to zanzibar, and then I went to ghana. I’ve been to three places, and I have so many more to go. But there’s something about touching down in a place that is a black republic. I felt the very first time I felt this was when I actually visited haiti in 2007.
To just get off of the airplane and to see people that you know that you have come from some point in the past. It’s a validating experience to no longer be the only black person in the room. To no longer be the only black business owner at the table. To no longer be the only however you identify in whatever situation that you’re in, because I know that you have experienced that as well. Meeting with people, talking with people, listening to stories, sharing my own story.
I quickly realized that even though I have traveled, even though I consider myself an intelligent person, that I have also been colonized and indoctrinated with tenets of white supremacy that we’re trying to constantly extricate from our ways of thinking. But I still had some of that. And a lot of that comes because I’m often the only attorney in the room. I’m often the only black business coach that I see. I’m often the only professor that’s in the group.
There are so many places where it’s just me by myself that the standard that I have to look to is a white male standard. And that works if you’re a white male. It doesn’t work so well if you’re a black woman or woman of color. Right? And so when I went to ghana in particular, and to the other black republics that I have been to at large, I realized that I already had everything that I needed within me, that I didn’t need to be striving for what we think an attorney looks like, that I could be the attorney that I am.
With my natural hair and my loud earrings and whatever kinds of prints and fabrics that I like to wear, I could be the business coach that plays music with an African beat. As people come into our sessions, I could be the one who leads a retreat or a homecoming for people back to Africa, because I already have everything that I need. I want you to be in a place where you can look around and realize that you already fit in. You already have everything that you need. And when you realize that you have everything you need, particularly as a business owner, you will stop striving for their goals and you’ll start to create your goals.
You’ll create a business that reflects your values, reflects who you are and who you are becoming. You can incorporate pieces of culture that really mirror and match how you feel inside. And there’s nobody to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. But sometimes it’s hard to get that courage to step out and to deviate from the quote unquote norm because you don’t have another example. But when you surround yourself by other members of your community, you will realize again that you already have everything that you need.
That showing up exactly as you are and how you are is perfectly okay. And that you are capable and in fact, encouraged to build a business that reflects your Africanness, that reflects your ethnicity, that reflects your culture and your language, your likes and your dislikes. You’re encouraged to build a business that is a reflection of you. Why? How does that help?
And what does that do? Because there are people, customers, folks who want to buy from you and be in your presence, who are just waiting for you to show up in your full authenticity. So when you head to Ghana with me this summer, I promise this trip will change your life, and it’s going to be an internal shift. You will start showing up more confidently. You will be louder and prouder about showcasing who you are.
And you will realize that you’re not building this business in an isolated capacity. You are doing it with a community who wants to see you succeed, be successful, and pave a way for folks who are coming behind you. I want you, as a business owner of the African Diaspora to come and get a taste of this magic. Ghana is a nation with black leaders, black business owners, black citizens. And when you land on the continent, in the country, you will feel validated, you will feel understood, you will feel encouraged, you will feel witnessed, and you will gain the motivation to keep pushing, not just for you, but for those of us around you and for those who are coming after you to walk in your footsteps.
So the trip happens august 2023. The last deadline to sign up is June 1. You could also write it off as a business expense, and I can tell you how to do that, but I really want you to go to Ghana in particular. If you are a black business owner. We need this space, we need this support, and we need you.
Thank you so much for listening. If you want to hear more on how you can align your business and your life with me as a coach, head to the Show Notes and sign up for the email list. See you next week.
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