Interview by Christine Andreu
Bettie J. Spruill, PCC, is a world-renowned executive coach, management consultant, entrepreneur and trainer. In the transformational circle, she is known as the oracle. She is also a certified Master NLP practitioner and a recognized thought leader in Ontological, Mindful and Ecological Living. Bettie’s coaching certification program, Ideal Coaching Global, is both innovative and inspiring. She deals with harmonizing the body, mind and spirit in courses offered across the United States and Mexico. Bettie also co-founded Trainer Designs Global LLC, a training and development company committed to the successful expansion of transformation trainers and speakers. Additionally, she is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and includes thought leaders and coaches from around the world.
Bettie adopted Begoro, a village in Ghana, Africa, in April of 2000. Since then, she has helped raise thousands of dollars to bring coaching and training to the community. She has also designed and facilitated workshops in the domains of leadership, mastery, and effectiveness for people in Russia, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, England, Hong Kong, Canada, Ghana and the United States.
As a result of these many accomplishments, Bettie was awarded the Positively Powerful Woman Award in 2012 for her transformational education internationally. It is virtually impossible to quantify the hundreds of thousands of lives that she has impacted through her personal work in the transformational community around the world.
Christine Andreu: What do you believe about the Black Lives Matter movement?
Bettie Spruill: Because as we see ourselves through the eyes of others, we are shaped. Part of Black Lives Matter is saying that “I see you; I see you. And I’m here, and you are there.” How we feel with each other shapes who we become. Brené Brown makes a distinction between belonging and fitting, that you can never fit in. Because if you’re saying you’re going to fit in, and you’re always from the outside trying to fit in. But if we belong, that is together, then you belong.
From that sense, your possibilities become infinite. But if you’re trying to fit in, then your whole life is about how do I fit in? Do I look good? [Would I] be accepted? Am I loved? Am I? And this is [as] a family as well as throughout society.
Black Lives Matter is a powerful declaration because when you go back and read the historical narratives, it was said that Black lives didn’t. Somebody said it. And that’s what declarations are, somebody said. In fact, if you read prior to the Declaration of Independence or way back, even back to Plato, so many of them said Black people are less intelligent, less beautiful than White people, especially White men. It’s all throughout. As I’m reading this, I’m going, “how did we even make it in this country this long with any sense of worth and identity?”
And then I read James Baldwin again who hit that – not that I matter, we matter. But it was his own sense of community and belonging and understanding narratives. See, the great thinkers understood that none of this was true, but it was somebody saying it.
Christine Andreu: Why is this all happening now? For so long, so many young, African Americans and Blacks have been killed like George Floyd was. Obviously, the video is quite graphic, and it’s probably a part of it, but why do you think now?
Bettie Spruill: What’s happening is the environmental movement. We’re at a critical point on this planet. If we don’t begin to all live and work together, we are all going to die together.
During the pandemic, when people were shut in, settled in, and they couldn’t breathe, and hearing that voice, I can hear now, “I can’t breathe.” It triggered people around the world. I’m going to say, it triggered something, being on our necks. And when this is severed, when this is cut off, there is no life. And I said, “I can’t breathe.” Then people are going, “Not only can I not physically breathe. I can’t mentally breathe. I can’t emotionally breathe.” It was a perfect, unheard-of storm. It was a perfect time. And the other thing that was amazing [is] it happened at a time where people were in so much danger from being in big crowds. People went anyway —— young, Black people, White people, all people, and the indigenous. It began to emerge just how much damage we’ve done to the indigenous people here in this country and around the world. Then it was something —— we stopped being divided just for a moment. The color of one’s skin didn’t matter. Then all the history of the United States started to just be disclosed. The number of racial injustices, the violence towards Black people.
I believe this virus, this pandemic, is showing us that we’re not as divided as we have believed that we are. We all have been saying this for hundreds of years.
We all come onto this planet in the same way through our mother’s womb [and] from our mother’s womb. But now individuals are responsible for the “we,” not just me. And some people, because it has to do with power, people understand that, right? If I don’t have the power to control and dominate, then what am I going to do with myself? How am I just going to interact with you so that together we can create something? But power is understood in the way of control. That’s not the kind of power that’s emerging now with people.
Christine Andreu: What are your thoughts on the topic of police brutality?
Bettie Spruill: The history of police brutality in the United States. You see, when Africans were first free, and with the Emancipation Proclamation, it took away a lot of labor from the South —— people in the South, in cotton and all the other stuff that men and women were doing there. They were desperate for their crops to be taken care of. So, they came up with a plan, and you can check this out —— it’s historical. I’m not saying it’s true, but I tend to lean in this direction. And it designed a system where any Black man that was doing anything —— they even fabricated some things that he was doing —— they would lock him up and make him work in the fields so that this cop mentality could continue. And then a lot of people were arrested, and they were kept in slavery, because they were accused of crimes they had not committed. And this has been going on for years. And then, when the prison system became private, a lot of money was made. So, you come back to money and power, as they say, “Follow the money.” A lot of money was involved at the time. Now, remember during slavery, it was illegal for slaves to read. And if you were caught reading, you’re going to have your hands cut off, or your eyes put out because you were reading. So, the whole thing of slavery was designed to separate. And over time, that and then after that, with some of the Jim Crow laws [that] came into place, it was systemic.
That’s why they call it systemic racism. It came into place to keep Black families separate, to keep Black men from having no dignity and no power.
And that process is still continuing. So, what am I saying? This is why they talk about systemic racism in that [if] one person is racist, I don’t care. It’s perfectly okay with me. But when you got a whole system, and you have built practices into it that promote re-inequality and inequity, then this is what we’re now coming to. And this is the work that needs to be done. It’s like, look, [with] this pandemic [and] the support, a disproportion of people of color are dying now. And that has something to do with a lack of healthcare, proper healthcare, lack of education. This is systemic. It’s the old system. And that’s what we’re saying. We must put in new practices, new laws, and make the playing field more even for everybody. And not just for a few.
Christine Andreu: How do you tap into your own compassion when you encounter ignorance?
Bettie Spruill: I understand it. It’s a particular way of Bettie Spruill serving the world. It’s a social construction. People who are ignorant in this way are trying to protect some meaning to life that they’ve given, that they made up. And it comes back to Jesus, the great master teacher —— who would do it? Then do it to others as you would have them do unto you.
And the evolution of consciousness is [that] this consciousness knows itself through us. And it’s also not to make it a “because I am conscious.” It’s just like you are. The more we awake, you can say that little Black boy over there, that little Brown boy, that little Asian boy, they come into this role the same way. And then we will lead in the same way. We’re all born, and we’ll all die.
Now, how do I contribute to the life that’s between birth and death in such a way that their [Black] lives are felt as they can fulfill the potential, the possibilities of their lives because it will affect us all?
Read the full interview at lastylemagazine.com/interviews/bettiespruill