Trans4mind Home Page
~ A Journey of Self-Discovery ~

Intersectionality: Living in Many Worlds at Once

Originally Published in Coaching for Transformation

Culture plays an integral part in the socialization process by which people learn behaviors, values and beliefs. The goal of socialization is to prepare people to become active functioning members of society.1 Generally, parents or guardians are the primary agents of socialization,2 providing social norms and order to children;3 however, secondary agents of socialization may include media, authority and educational institutions throughout life. In instances when a child belongs to the dominant group of society, the individual’s socialization process can remain seamlessly aligned— primary and secondary agents of socialization reinforce accepted behaviors, values and beliefs of society.

Latino, Asian, Black or immigrant parents living in the United States face the task of raising children able to survive and prosper in a society that devalues their ethnicity or race. Secondary agents of socialization provide messaging that may be inconsistent with cultural messages taught by family and others in the cultural group.

For example, if you’re coaching a Latino parent with children in an American school that minimizes, deters or institutes punishments for speaking Spanish, how will you support dual socialization? Your client may want coaching on how to talk to teachers who consider speaking Spanish a detriment to the child’s learning. At the same time the client may want a road map for simultaneously respecting her elders, which includes honoring their culture by speaking Spanish. Your client may need support for navigating conflicting values and determining how to teach her children to belong in multiple cultures and environments.

Another common challenge faced by teens and adult children and grandchildren of immigrants and others from the non-dominant culture is the pressure they face to conform to the cultural expectations of their parents and cultural communities despite their desire to adopt some of the practices of the dominant culture or even other cultures that are meaningful to them. This may include pressures to marry someone within the culture or to practice the same religious beliefs and rituals of the culture, despite the actual desires of the client.

At times the pressures can be so severe that a client may feel the need to choose between one world and another—sacrificing personal values, needs and beliefs or the connection with family and cultural community. How can you help your clients navigate, balance and honor the competing personal desires and pressures they may experience?

How will you help clients address issues of race or ethnic socialization—the process of preparing children to understand their unique heritage, culture and their station in a minority group in society? Clients may want coaching on the challenges of straddling two or more worlds. What may be acceptable in one world, may not be in the other and how they are valued in one, may not be mirrored in the other. This might include coaching on how a minority fits into dual worlds in their workplace or community. Or clients may want support for the pain of being asked to choose between their family and the person they love.

The desire to belong results in a conflict of two or more worlds; each having its own rules and perception of what it means to be part of the group; influencing how we answer the question, “Who am I and do I fit in?” W. E. B. Dubois, in The Souls of Black Folks, describes the consequence of slavery for African-Americans as living in a world of “double consciousness”—defining and seeing ourselves through the eyes of the dominant culture.4

Dual socialization is a phenomenon commonly experienced by people of color—as well as other groups—all of their lives, consciously or subconsciously. How will you support your clients to function well in the dominant culture, while also living in their own respective group ethnicities or identities? Managing dual socialization requires tremendous emotional and mental agility. High emotional intelligence is essential for dual socialization, in continuously learning and abiding by firm yet unspoken rules to a game of survival in dominant cultures.

Emotional loneliness is commonly experienced by Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians, especially, in academia or other professional settings. Fear, distrust and self-protection may serve as inner critics inherited from generation to generation for a client with this life experience. At the same time, it is important that we remember that these inner critics are probably living side by side with an inner strength and resilience that comes from a client’s pride in their culture.

Since parents or guardians are the primary agents of socialization, what is the impact when a child is raised by parents or guardians not of their culture? For example, children of color adopted by white parents or someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender raised by parents who are heterosexual. Coaching people with these life experiences is likely to include helping them navigate the various cultures they live in—they may experience isolation, alienation and stigmatization from their own family members.

Questions for consideration:

  • How can you discover what taking a risk in the workplace feels like for a client not from the dominant culture?
  • How can you support clients who feel torn between pressures from family and community and the desires of their own hearts?
  • What do you want to keep in mind when coaching a client from a different culture?


1 Thompson, V. L. S. (1994). “Socialization and its relationship to racial identifi cation among African Americans.” Journal of Black Psychology 0.2: 175-188.

2 Peters, M.F. (1985). Racial Socialization of Black Children. In H. P. McAdoo & J. L. McAdoo, Black Children: Social, educational, and parental environments (pp.159-173). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

3 Glass, J. & Bengston, V. L. (1986). “Attitude similarity in three-generation families: Socialization, status inheritance, or reciprocal influence?” American Sociological Review, 51, 685-698.

4 DuBois, W. E. B. (1903). The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co.

Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

More articles from Coaching for Transformation

Out of the box
PODCAST: Peter Shepherd about Transitions in Life
Learn more   Download MP3   Trans4mind Podcasts

Looking for a better life?

Our online, interactive video workshops present the most effective methods of holistic personal development, covering the full range of challenges all of us inevitably meet in life.
Start off with a Free Life Assessment and a Free Intro Session...

Have a question about Trans4mind Training?

Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Our Fees?
Email Peter Shepherd
More personal development articles at the Counterpoint Article Library

Good info on many topics:

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • Sweet Tooth ~ Train your brain to lose your sweet tooth.
  • Finish What You Start ~ Sprint all the way past the finish line.
  • Do It Now ~ A hypnosis audio to trigger deep, emotionally driven activity.
  • Life Priorities ~ Hypnosis can help you clarify what really matters to you.
  • Stop Thinking About Someone ~ A session to help you move on from thoughts that have been constantly pestering you.
  • Public Speaking Fear ~ Banish speaking anxiety and nerves with hypnosis.
  • Motivate Yourself to Exercise ~ Build a powerful exercise habit that you can't break.
  • Get Rid of Fear & Anxiety ~ Stop worry and apprehension wrecking your life.
  • Self Esteem ~ Break the negative trance of low self esteem and give yourself a chance in life.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...

View all the Hypnosis Downloads here

Get a free Hypnosis Download at Facebook

Hypnosis is the key to unlocking your creativity, focusing your energy and understanding yourself

Hypnosis has a long history of helping human beings be the very best they can be. It can be used to control anything controlled by the unconscious mind - pain, blood pressure, fear, confidence levels, mood, sex drive... the list goes on:

  1. You'll become highly productive without getting stressed
  2. Tap into your creative energies instantly
  3. Really understand yourself and others
  4. You'll learn how to stay calm in high pressure or uncomfortable situations
  5. Develop laser-like levels of focus and concentration

Lean more... Uncommon Hypnosis Course

Welcome to the New Wave in Meditation Technology

Click here to learn more about the iAwake Profound Meditation Program
The iAwake Profound Meditation Program
is a way of enhancing your meditation practice, making meditation not only easier and more enjoyable, but also more efficient and effective.
Profound Meditation provides the smoothest, deepest, richest, most profound meditation experience available anywhere...
Here is a link to a free 20-minute track from iAwake Technologies - a sample of the type of tools that will deepen your meditation immediately and help you quickly become a successful meditator. It's the opening track of iAwake's flagship product, the Profound Meditation Program, called the iAwake Experience...
Learn More and Download the iAwake Experience
We think you'll find this technology a tremendous aid on your transformative journey of becoming your best and most creative self - and you can get started today!
Copyright © 1997-2017 Trans4mind Ltd