Professional and Personal Mosaic.

Simone Donaldson is the CEO, founder, registered social worker/psychotherapist, and principal consultant of the group practice Agapé Lens Consulting & Therapy. She has devoted over 15 years to racialized communities and mental health.

Simone has been featured in multiple media outlets as a mental health and anti-Black racist expert, including Elle Magazine, Yahoo Mail, and a documentary selected for the 2022 Toronto Black Film Festival.  Simone is also an author in the groundbreaking Canadian text, “Africentric Social Work”.

She is in high demand as a corporate consultant and has worked with many organizations to bridge the gap between equity and wellness concerns. Her consultations consist of anti-racism training, executive/leadership coaching, workplace wellness, team consultations, and Black healing circles.

Simone’s purpose is to support all her clients to see sustainable change, while guiding them patiently and safely towards authenticity, so they may heal, thrive, and live out their purpose.

YOU ARE ENOUGH:

In high-school, I moved from a very diverse city to a town that was predominately white, where I experienced blatant and subtle experiences of racism. My guidance counselor tried streaming me towards college, although she knew my goal had always been to attend university. During an assembly, I was even acknowledged for academic success. This same high school didn’t celebrate Black History Month until I spoke to a teacher about it.

During my undergrad in university, I was one of a few Black students in most of my classes. I was always the only Black group member for group projects and constantly ignored and even verbally assaulted by a team member once. Nobody including my professor did anything about the student’s behavior.

My first career job out of university, I had a supervisor who I thought I had a good relationship with, make comments in what he thought was funny, while calling me “ghetto”. He then proceeded to mock my Jamaican accent (yes, I was born in Canada, but I picked up the accent from one of my favorite aunties as a child) and insulting my intelligence as a result of both my accent and my “ghetto” behavior.

As I progressed in my career, I finally worked in a place where I felt I could completely be myself and wouldn’t have to wear a mask, stay silent, and or show up in ways to appease others, because most staff and clients looked like me. I vowed, I would never work in spaces where I was the minority, I wouldn’t be accepted with my accent that would come out at different times, especially if it enhanced a joke (if you know, you know), and was not going to be silenced during meetings. I finally felt safe, understood, skilled, valued, knowledgeable, and accepted.

I bet one would think that the above experience was the answer to all my educational and career experiences of anti-Black racism. In many ways it was, because representation absolutely matters, however, in some ways it wasn’t helpful, as I began to create a narrative that truly was a reaction to racial trauma.

All the experiences of anti-Black racism mentioned above, the many before, in between, and after never stopped. As a result, the way I felt about myself never stopped. I convinced myself that I would only feel safe to be authentically me, and only belonged in certain spaces. This narrative took on a life of its own, and even in the beginning of building my private practice, I thought I was dealing with imposter syndrome. This “imposter syndrome”, kept me afraid, in survival mode, and limited my ability to take risks and or engage in some personal and professional experiences. This narrative allowed me to play into the hand of the oppressor that categorized me and my community since the days of colonization.

As I progressed in my own healing journey, which included, addressing my racial wounds, I quickly realized, I was not dealing with imposter syndrome at all, but instead internalized racism. This idea that I didn’t belong in certain spaces, have enough skill or knowledge, was directly a result of both the negative societal messages around my Blackness growing up, as well as my many direct experiences of anti-Black racism. Moreover, I only felt like an “imposter” in spaces where the majority of people appeared white.

I share these stories and the discovery of how anti-Black racism can truly impact our mental health, because too often these narratives are missing in the mental health space. When we don’t understand the impact of anti-Black racism on our mental and emotional wellness, we can easily start to unconsciously live out of survival or begin internalizing the ideals of white supremacy. Sometimes we stop dreaming, take the safer route to our education or career, or work ten times harder to prove our skill, worth and or that we belong, which then leads to burnout. This makes sense, because racism is a daily struggle.

Your racial wounds are real sis! As you work towards your healing journey, please don’t forget to tend to these wounds as well. You are not an imposter, you do belong, you are good enough, smart, beautiful, talented, and the world is waiting for you to realize in all your Black glory that you were made on purpose for a purpose.