Part confession, part rant, part preach, the story of why I am who I am, my vision and passions.
Hey all, I'm Coach Alison. I was born in 1973, in Ilford, East London. My mother is English and my father came to England from Barbados in the 1960's, sponsored by the British Government. My father was an African born in the Caribbean because his ancestors were violently taken from their homeland and forced in to slavery by the Europeans.
I suppose I should have given a prewarning. There's not going to be a lot of talk about cycling in this post, in fact none ...... but this is a story I have to tell.
I was born into a world which has been set up to ensure my access to opportunities and wealth are severely restricted based on the pigmentation of my skin.
I was born into a world which has systems to ensure access to opportunities and wealth are greatly diminished due to being female, compared to the male babies next to me in the maternity ward.
I was born into a world which is organised to ensure access to opportunities and wealth are harder to come due to the working class status of my family.
All of these things before I've even spoken my first words. I've spent decades beating myself up, wondering why I hadn't reached the level of success I felt I could be capable of. There was a part of me that believed we were all born equal, and we all hold within us the power to create our own destiny and design our own lives, and yet I still didn't seem to be able to control my own. I could see others, my peers, family members, around me seemingly living their best life, but I was stuck. A failure.
When I found myself living in a Women's refuge, in 2007, for victims of domestic violence, I decided I had no other choice than to change, I needed to figure out how I got in to this situation and make sure it never happened again. I needed to work out why I was living a life no one would choose to live. It was a huge turning point for me. The refuge gave me a space in which I could shut myself off from those around me who it served to restrict my growth. That was the start of my self development journey. I read books on psychology, I researched how our brains worked, I filled journal after journal analysing and exploring my thoughts and behaviours. That study and journey has been continuous for the last 14 years. Every year I had lightbulb moments, made some progression and sometimes took a couple of steps backwards.
So, I have had to work through the trauma of the systemic, overt and sometimes violent racism I experienced through my childhood, the trauma caused by family and domestic emotional and physical violence witnessed and experienced throughout my life. I have had to work through the trauma caused by various experiences of sexualisation, discrimination and diminishing due to my gender, the lifetime of the messages in our society, reinforced from every direction, on TV, in the media, in the history books, by those all around me, in school, in our language, and the very way I was treated and communicated with.
I'm not telling you this because I want pity. I'm partly writing this so that others can maybe get an insight in to how discrimination and misogyny affects a person's experience of life and the path their lives take. If you've not had to deal with these things you might not understand why we are fighting for equality and the need to be anti-racist (not being a racist is not enough by the way).
From the moment we are born, until the age of around 7 years old, the foundations are laid for our core beliefs about our place in the world and how the world works. Our brains are programmed by the input we receive from our immediate environment and the media we are exposed to. From the inevitable awkwardness from being the only brown child in a typical East London family, to the old black & movies that were used as a cheap babysitter, where the women were fragile decorations, and the people of colour were servants, slaves or savages, to the more destructive stuff already mentioned. Well, as you can imagine, my first 7 years were not the most nurturing or empowering! And I'm sure there will be many reading this able to relate to at least some, if not all of my experiences.
If you are white and/or male, after reading this, I hope you can imagine how different our experiences of life are, and how our self image, self worth and view of our place in the world would be different. The programming of our brains in those early years hugely affect every decision we take as adults, and the future we think is possible for us. Unless we awaken to the BS beliefs that are holding us back, or restricting our growth, and make an intentional effort to change those deeply conditioned beliefs, we let them set the course of our lives and how we experience the world.
The other reason I'm writing this is to make a public apology to myself. I will no longer beat myself up. I've worked through a lot of shit to get where I am now. After nearly 15 years of never giving up on myself, I am finally starting to break free from the shackles of the limiting beliefs taught to me in my early years. I am now able to design my own destiny and create my own opportunities (watch out world).
I'm on a mission to disrupt the status quo, empower as many other women as I can, and just maybe do my part to make this world a better place for our daughters. Who's with me?