Austin Channing Brown is a writer, speaker and media producer providing inspired leadership on racial justice. She is the author of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness (https://amzn.to/2X8qyEc) and the Executive Producer of The Next Question: A Web Series Imagining How Expansive Racial Justice Can Be (https://www.tnqshow.com/). Austin started her career in the nonprofit world, focusing on homelessness and housing, youth engagement, and church operations before blazing her own path in speaking, consulting, media and writing. As a leader, educator, and producer, Channing Brown creates programming that centers the experiences of Black women, dismantling the foundations of white supremacy, while interweaving a way forward for all who will listen. Her nationally-celebrated first season of The Next Question included a slate of incredible contributors. Alongside her co- creators, Chi Chi Okwu and Jenny Booth Potter, the hosts examine complex topics affecting social justice while simultaneously celebrating the stories, personalities, and humanity of their guests.
An added note before we dive into this powerful conversation. Our podcast episodes are often recorded weeks or months in advance, as was the case with this conversation. In the intervening time, we’ve all been horrified and devastated by the deaths of Ahmuad Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Because of the gap between recording and air-dates, they are conspicuously absent from our conversation in a way that, I’m sure, would have different and been a part of the discourse had this conversation occurred at a later date. As I’ve shared elsewhere, silence and complacency are not options. Everything we explore in this conversation is as important and relevant as it’s ever been. We're excited to share it with you.
You can find Austin Channing Brown at:
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/austinchanning/
Website : http://austinchanning.com/
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The hey my guest today, austin channing brown? Is a writer speaker producer, providing inspired leadership on racial justice? She's the author of I'm still here, black dignity in a world made for whiteness
and also the executor producer of the next question, a web series imagining how expensive racial justice can be austin,
started her career in the nonprofit world, focusing on homelessness in housing, youth engagement, church operations,
for really blazing her own path and speaking consulting media and writing and
as a leader educator producer. Often she really creates programming that centres. The experiences of black women, dismantling the foundations of a white supremacy wall interweaving a way forward for all who will listen
Nationally celebrated first season of the next question include:
the slate of incredible contributors, including me
arthur genius Nicole, had a jones near times, bustling authors, bernay, brown and jasmine gallery. Social
still, leaders, rachel, cargo, Andrea Henry.
and more and alongside with her co creators, chee chee opel and jenny potter booth, they really examine complex topics affecting social justice, while
Also celebrating the stories, personalities and humanity of their gas, as
added no before we dive into this powerful conversation, our pod,
episodes are often recorded weeks or even months in advance, as was the case with
conversation with austin
In the intervening time, we have all been horrified and
as stated by the day,
of a mud, arbitrary brianna taylor and george floyd, and become
of the gap between recording and air dates. They are concerned,
curiously absent from our conversation, in a way that I'm sure would have been different and been part of it had. This conversation occurred at a later date,
as I have shared elsewhere cycle,
and complacency are not options. Everything we explore in this conversation is as important and relevant as it has ever been really excited to share with you on John.
field, and this is good like project the best.
Carrying out with you. So
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I am in new york right now, you're hanging out in the detroit area.
in ohio toledo area somewhere, and I dared I've moved around a lot. I group into led ohio. My parents got divorced when I was round eight years. Old
so I spent a lot of summers and almost every weekend in cleveland, ohio,
have also lived and chicago and just outside of detroit and metro Detroit grow.
I'd cinching. The way that you describe growing
and now in
And neighbourhood, which I guess you really predominantly, why middle class
you serve trying to figure out a case, so how do I navigate this space and away where I,
and who I am, but at the same time I feel like I'm, ok and the culture that I am constantly surrounded by yeah. It was
It was like my little secret that I grew up in.
Hope that helps
tony morrison and Alice walker and ralph ellison then links to use on the book shelves and my parents had to gigantic
posters of Alan Alan
and our bedroom walter- we went ahead with it. Did the classic Judith James you now hit so am. I was a modern dancer accessory had that up to I love it
but we listen to you. No gas will music and are in b. We just had sort of your average
it's black lives, but then,
go to school all and because
the christian school in other all about the christian contemporary music of that time, and so they
would rave about Amy grand.
In DC, talk and michael dubious may be light. Have none
You heard of fred hammond.
you know, I was just so confused and it
finally dawned on me that
just knew more about their lives than they knew about mine, and I was
hey with that. I don't feel the need to teach.
classroom. I feel the need to correct the teacher when, for example,
she told us that we should all wash our hair every day. You know
just ass. It was
it was in many ways a source of pride that I
something my teacher did it
said this would have been hideous nineties.
Early nineties yeah, so sorely zooming, the ones out also liking exploring what's going on in the world around. Then we was that a part of
Where were you yet? Your average cable
not yet middle school house was pretty focused on eight june.
a pretty small universe right, I'm curious.
Was that you or or were you, also certainly more broadly aware and carry hollow. That's a great question.
definitely was curious about the world. But we
Open up, oh, I used novels to figure out
happening in the world. Judy bloom, in particular, taught me
about what it meant to be a girl. What
men to have a crush,
a boy to not agree with my parents to not agree with
To be curious about periods and make up Ben
all these things,
Even then, though,.
It was so clear to me that the culture of my household was different than the culture of the house.
Whose duty was writing about.
And so I
magazines- and I
turned on the radio whenever I could
europe and are a really religious households. We had rules like you, can only listen to gospel music on sunday mornings, so I would have to sneak went by
little teeny tiny, boombox internet way down. So I could hear the latest critical,
secular music, but yeah
aye aye aye grouping and both how
Thoughts were very intellectual,
and so I remember my parents having conversations like our black people actually better off
because of integration,
of just gotten rid of segregation and
I'm thinkin we talk about that in school. That's it
it could we are? We aren't
it just celebrate that we can all set in the same classroom together.
We are not supposed to be questioning whether or not it's actually been good for the black community to integrate so
yeah. My curiosity, for the most part was just do devouring every book. I could get my hands on to teach me about the world yeah
Did you did you haven't I,
the desire to have those conversations that you are
Having and that you're both households were really engaging in, did you
Would you have wanted to have those same conversations in the classroom
where you are also sitting in a culture which is profoundly different, where most of the kids around a year, why and most of the teachers or why I'm cool
whether you know that at the time
your thought was: what would it be like to have this conversation in that setting yeah
it made me nervous, because any time race was brought up a couple
Things happen one I found out what
happening and my friends, homes and the ways
They talked about race and I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about that
yeah. But I remember the first time a white kid called me. The n word.
Hours, the livid but
also ring. I distinctly remember thinking.
It's your parents use this word.
Because I knew his parents sweet with I mean our my classroom has never been more, then maybe twenty five
students, and I went to the same school-
pre school all the way through eighth grade. So
everybody. I knew every teacher I stood at. I do every breadth of all, and I remember thinking I have watched your parents come pick you up for like four years. Is that what they ve been thinking of me when you get in the car.
Is that what they say about me so, between
that learning what.
The conversations that were happening in white households are not happening and white households combined with the fact that
my teachers always seemed inapt at navigating the race.
Conversation made me
eddie happy that most of the time major stayed away.
but it also made me trust
Teachers who are good at it,
and I realize that there was a part of me that just didn't trust teacher
to ascribe to
sort of color blind what race
you are doesn't matter to upright, were all when I had a real level of of trust for
teachers who expected white students to step up the think critically to
not just fall into whatever notions they were hearing at home, but to really question what is race and america? What does it mean to me? Even as a white person.
But most of the time I was I was, I was happy to just have my own secret, around black life there.
I remember when I sat down with ruth king in the studio couple years back and
and remember having this really beautiful, intense, fierce commerce.
With her end and she made it.
The clashes that you know what I mean
did you to see my blackness.
When you say you don't see color, that's a bad thing he's like.
I need you to see this and I need we needed to reckon with it. I need to be seen like an and like that's where the conversation start
so many white people when they say that now
now and then
an old enough and like the early nineties, to give this much thought. But certainly now, when I still here why people saying that.
I try really hard to have greece because it's been said for so long. I mean decades that has been said right and I try really hard to point out and I think,
think what most white people mean when they say that its shorthand for your color
does not mean that I am going to treat you any differently and therefore I will be blind to it. But
The question then becomes why'd. You have to be blind to it in order to treat me equally well,
It be better instead of two not see me, wouldn't it be better.
To just rid yourself of these ugly stereotypes and assumptions and prejudices and bias so that
you, can see me and not feel a need not feel compelled to treat me differently
It's kind of like I need to.
To recognize you in order to have them,
Possibility of being changed by who you are in the contacts between us exactly exactly.
Otherwise the intent, the intent around being colorblind is failing.
it is simply impossible to nice
me and treat me with dignity? I know you you you
About two teachers he had early on in high school, one missus phillips in one
She shorthand miss MR supply.
To really powerful expense,
so while you're your servant, the early educational experience in describing, as you have these two
stood out for
reasons yet it kind of anyway complimentary reasons exactly
there are a lot of people who read the story of missus phillips are like, oh, my god, I'm so sorry it to you, and I think that that was it
wasn't supposed to be a bad story.
it just as there was a teacher
who realized that her seeding chart was raised
ass. She was using her seeding chart.
two separate students of color, specifically black students
with the assumption that black students would be more disruptive if they sat together and
There was a classroom in which she couldn't do it. Isis
act mine because my name, trips, people up a lot and she made.
Confession. She made the confession in front of the entire class and held herself accountable.
By choosing to know
angry uses seeding chart for any of her classes, so that
he could no longer use her power in that way. Use her power
two separate students of color
though it made me,
Mr Bowe and though I wasn't sure what to do with her,
action. I don't I don't know it's better anonymous. You should have confessed it or not, confess to add or no but
Definitely should have held ourself accountable right. What
she did and response to realizing. I am acting
in a racist way,
and I'm going to stop? That's good, that's it!
There are so many teachers who have
his biases for students of color and never
interrogate them and if they do
is that they have some never fix it.
and so to have this.
None who dropped of bombs like nobody's business right,
to say my kind of none you not. I mean I mean she was fantastic. She was fan,
day by day,
It is very real, authentic moment around race, with her.
I don't know I have some part of me. Doesn't why have a conversation about whether or not it was the right way
the wrong way? I am much
interested in the fact that she did it that she changed the behaviour.
Yeah I mean. What am I curiosities around? That too was was that, but the second one was, as you describe your class,
I'm guessing you're one of right,
I feel very lucky students of color in that room at that moment right and I'm wondering as she saying this in your mind, are you thinking, even if
all the other students has aren't turning to look at me? Are they effectively turning to look at me? You know it's it's it's a thing that
a minute. I will say black students here. I'm sure it is true of other students of colored as well, but my experience as a black woman is pretty specific and so,
I have been so use to everyone in the classroom turning round and looking at me that
is actually made it hard to wonder what everyone else in the classroom is thinking, at least for me. I end up in my head
trying to figure out what is this? What is this
What assumptions did I make about my relationship with the teacher, though maybe weren't true.
Most often, I wonder how
I been the little black.
was I because I wasn't
two killer lay loud and because I know.
Really loved academics and was a good student
because I had a lot of honours classes are. I was the only black kid in the class.
My teachers assumed.
That I was somehow different from all of my black peers.
And that that made me sad but but
but moments like that, often kicked off so
This dialogue happening in my head
had very little to do with everyone else in the class her who honestly,
That was on one hand very little. On the other hand, everything you ve waited bouncing between these dia duality is a home and they ve got. Mr sly contradicts the exact opposite direct.
and then that sounds like was a really you know it
We all dream of having certainly random people, touchdown and just
somehow opening something in.
For us off or around us and its only. He was one of those people. It's the truth
I had three teachers and high school, who are amazing. I talk about MR sly because
he adjusted his entire curriculum to include black lives.
He was an english teacher who had us reading Paul Lawrence, dunbar and Ralph alison's, invisible man, and he he expected white student
To engage with the topic of race
and it was real
It was one of the few times when I.
the conversation turned towards race and eyed and become the default substitute teacher. That's what was
special about it. It
tat he remained,
in control of the classroom. He didn't need,
my voice to valid.
he don't need me to fill in the blanks he didn't
a firm when he was doing he simply
expected that every waste
and was gonna to and engage with black
poetry in the same way they would read and engage with edgar Allan POE. There was one
fall because it gave me the freedom to just
student too, I think, that's honestly way gave me a gave me the freedom to just to be assessed
while talking about raise, as opposed to being the expert in the room
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there was one knowing what I guess. One poem in particular.
Dad I'm superpower, for we were the mass cost like mistress?
What are you doing to me that that might
I used my stepmom was a high school english teacher, and so it was
pretty rare for
I felt right right in my like sixteen year old. I know everything right. It felt rare fur someone to mention some sort of of literature that I have
at least heard of even if I hadn't ready, and so when he put this poem in front of me,
and I started, reading it arise. I have never read this before
where the mask that grins and lies- and I was like all this is
really familiar, but that this is feeling so familiar, and I had to
really think about how often you know
we go back to the conversation
having earlier about black life feeling, like my secret, and I think the the other side of that coin then, is that I work to maintain the secret.
And so how often have I used the reference?
bueller's day off to make a point
instead of using the color purple to make a point right leg? How
fan? Have I let you
says commentary pass, because I didn't feel like dealing with it. How often, how often have I
we're not mask do I
When every single time I go to a classroom.
and I don't have answers- were that sixteen year old girl.
I vividly remember the questions I was asking myself in that moment:
when you start to ask this question, also you I would imagine part of that union structures thoroughly
followed down the rabbit hole is yet dot, dot, dot and
Does this doing to me right for me or or was stopping me, run
doing or becoming or becoming you're becoming an
and I think in some ways,
Made me much more grateful,
for those three or four teacher, as I had who had asked
done the work around race to include it in our classrooms, so that at least
both times a week. I didn't
have to wonder if I was wearing,
ask you know because I was welcome. All of me- was welcome.
But it's a question that I have come back to
over and over and over again in my adult life, as I navigate whiteness, trying to figure out.
What am I wearing a math, but to do I need to?
It is it's safer for me to wear a mask and to have white people believe that I am just like them.
When there are things about my world and my thinking and my culture that are different.
yeah, I mean it's an interesting day-
and when you use the word safety, you know it's getting, but
people of color and will end and white people coach, which it at various different times and for differ.
Isn't right, but my senses that now
a lot of Jeff. If, yes, your average white person,
how when and why they do it.
the word safety
is not necessarily claimed to be top of the
if even on the less fright, but its very
different experience in so
its ensuring that new, that, for you is it rises up there
like ok, so near it.
not just about. Am I being fully express and mountains not just about am I being seen through? I am it's not just about
Am I lay myself to be noted to blossom into all it can be to be joy, fall and open and live as one person or part of life? It is also there is a major laborious, ass stones. They found the lightest questions in all. I wish also having so many questions that I needed to ask yeah yeah,
yeah I'm in the safety one is really its powerful.
is not just my own
de it safety for every one who looks like me.
Right, so I say: go back to that
who made an assumption about. Ah, why I'm here
All black girls, now she didn't say girls, but I presume affected
she was in our imagining black girls pop in their gum in the back in Messina, giggling and being disruptive and and and why then, if, if that's true,
right it if, in this inherent power dynamic-
is a teacher
Professor, a super
aye, sir, a counselor,
Coach who believes that there is something
yeah inherently wrong. Bad behavior
disobedience right, whatever that they have to look out for for black students
then, what is my responsibility to all the other black students that they'll ever have.
no. It isn't even just just my safety that
Concerned about I'm concerned
About what will happen if I
lean in to the stereotype
that too, I am or not, and
confirm the bias
it's sort of like this is what is the depth of the potential harm as your end and how far out as a ripple go the rain not just in real time but yeah like
What are we leaving in my wake? Train yeah
It's to hear you reflect on these conversations, especially in the context of different teacher in schools and
As I know you, then you then land
Not long after, like northport university in chicago, where
You find yourself in another professors, class refreshment nath and have a profoundly
different experience and one that I know you described as such as the trick on this matter.
your studying, but this there's this year
we have to create your own sensible line for the first time and it sounds like that is not only a grace.
experience, but also a kind of jarring to a certain extent, so because, because proof.
Mcnabb is my first black professor? I have been to this point. I have only ever had white teachers.
even though there were.
Teachers who are really great about teaching black literature or black history, or
I sort of this academic understanding of black line
which was wonderful. I had no expectation that the
Cultural realities of my life whenever make it into the classroom, so I was very
used to teachers using reference,
like sailing ores,
hockey are movies that they just assume every student has seen or music that every student is listening to and would be sitting in the classroom, smiling and nodding. Having no idea what you're talking about I dunno. What rigging is that? What you're saying right now,
and then I walk into this black women's classroom
and she has us work on this project she's
and she says: ok, let's pretend that you're all gonna open up a salon and we need to figure out
the prices for everything we need to figure out overhead we need to. We need to figure out how to make this work. How are we going to make the salon successful
and so she begins listing out all the things that
The price is, she says how much is a shampoo? How much is a cut? How much is a deep conditioner.
And she says how much is a relaxed or any
it was like a record scratched and the room all but waited students early. Oh what and I was about
fall out of my seat, because it was the first time
that's something that's just cultural that is just a nurse
What part of like girls lives was brought up in the classroom and and
remember thinking is this what it's like to be? Why is this? What its life
to just understand all the cultural reference is to have?
you do not have to interpret
explanation for concept. Is this what it's like to just understand.
It was amazing, I I really was. I had to work
to maintain my composure, because I was so tickled.
I was so tickled.
to be in a room full of my students who didn't understand,
and she was so funny because she capped she
kept asking them, don't you know what that is, you don't know
what's she likes it?
threw it out
I oh my gosh I may have. I may have fallen in love with her that day. It was.
I imagine obviously I mean I was at a private, my christian institution, but I imagine that's what it would have been like to go
h- be see you.
and here I was having a surrounded by white students, and there was something really special about that. So she's a marketing profess
asset, which is interesting because it wasn't like she was sir, say: okay. So this
The class on racial justice- or this is a class answer, so we're going to intensely bring and cultural references justly
No, this is me, this is my life. The cities are my references and I am not going to make that jump to to train
Let them to your references to make it. Ok, I'm just dinner. I am
deal with it here? I am an figured out and what
If you need to learn it and learning in many ways, she was figuring out how to take off.
on mask rain, so
Stead of just limiting her example to a students, white students would understand. She was like now
your opening up, a salon in nodded to relax her forget that they pick up up up
I learned a lot from her about them,
bringing your whole self weather.
This? Is the topic or not
to show up, as you are again.
I try to really hard to do that in a book, and I try really hard to do that when I'm speaking somewhere that at all, I dont adjust my references anymore. I don't. I sent her the experiences of other walk women and say, if you're not sure, what's happening here, google, it
Yeah. I mean it's interesting because I think when I read your book resonated deeply
we think on so at different levels and at the same,
It was also really clear that it was written to or for me he oh.
It was you just working yet you used the word centering, which I now comes up.
Why, in the conversations around race and racial justices, nazism and in the book really, I think what
realize the anything like this is. Actually it is,
The subtitle, the bug you it's it's a book centred around black dignity, not white fragility right for you, and it's probably,
great that way, people reading it and and starting to think about it, but it felt like that's. That's my who you wrote it too.
I imagine black women reading this, but
and then sliding it across the table to a co worker.
that there are tired of trying to explain race to the effect that that's why
that's really what I imagined and
We told I imagine, white people walking.
To their local bookstore, see
it getting curious.
Opening it up and putting right back on myself. I just.
I had very little expectations from white people.
which is not to say that I think why people would read it like at all now, but my my expectations were around how black women would feel affirmed
How they would enter used the book for why people who are ready to have that conversation and pretty and pretty clear about that in my life to the eye. At this point.
I'm done trying to convince white people that there is a race problem, I'm finished
I'm finished he gets its first, I'm just done
really trust my editors up a little bed for the most part, matters were wonderful, but there
couple times when the question at least the question was raised, should you
Do you think I should just put a little definition here or there was around
since that someone didn't understand, maybe like maybe you should just like tease this out a little bit like? No I'm not doing it, I'm not doing it if it
confusing to black women, then
Need to fix it, but
confusing to you, because you didn't grow up in this culture and that changes nothing in it.
There. I mean it's also part of it as it is a decision about as
your stepping into your role as a writer.
Where do I want to enter the conversation that train
Because an end and having a sense of agency around that saying, yes.
I understand that
there is a conversation and their ideas and terms and definitions that need to unfold.
For sure for certain people that come before this angle, the actual war I met
in my life in the
That I'm doing where the part of the conversation
that is most enlarging it and most important, where I feel I can make my biggest impact is a bit further down stream from that I say
What's the difference too
joining my own work. You know, I don't know.
And- and I think in many ways it honours the work
It's already been done.
It was the already been done. I once I once was speaking somewhere and the person who spoke before me did.
Mary academic level of here.
In a here our terms, here's how these off it
together. Here's how these play out in history, just like
run down for anybody who was like new to the conversation.
Then I got up and
he's, not one term up, I'm weaving stories left and right. I think you right and at the end, some one
Ask me for a definition of something.
And I say to them: didn't you
the first person? Then you hear the like,
do? Did you need me to repeat everything
like all the work that the first part,
and had done that beautiful powerpoint. Those very
their terms to do this
what you really needed for me. Isn't it better
to say that that was really beautiful and helpful and effective work.
and now we're gonna go at austin. Do her really beautiful and effective work that build on the first one.
It's just, I don't think it's joyful for anyone gets up up up.
People have already done that work and it's not joyful for me to repeat it.
Nothing. It's also there's something really powerful about getting to this place. Where you understand there is
There's value in different parts of the work in different sites,
along the way.
This is where I am and in which israel too, to me is that you
did a lot of that work? Was your day to day life years before this? Do you graduate
Are you end up getting masters in social justice? It mary go
And then you're out in the world's largely hidden sort of em white christian, slash education in not profits and homelessness, an end but
Lot of the work you are doing as you, you are that person in the room doing a lot of this sort of like the building block where the seas of the conversation work.
for years and so
It is interesting to me that yelled, it's not
yeah you're, making a very deliberate choice that attorney I've done this? This is defined, find a season of my life. That's right, and I am now ready to step into the
next season of conversation and ideas and engagement. What happened I
I had been doing teachings and trainings within thought. Those organisations that I worked in and
one of those organizations instead of me teaching. I decided to create a series what I ride, brought in all my friends to come: teach about my friends on the chicago area, community and one of them
Did this whole lesson that, right
operating out all the people of color from the white people. In short, it to show this
vocation of race.
experience and history and all these things and at the end
that she was taking questions and answers, but we were still stratus fight, so we were still separated in the room and
She because the way her body was turned. She could only see, though, of people with a white people who raising our hands.
She simply could not see that there was a routine exe
my point. I think I'm a room
Who was also raising our hand to try and contribute to the conversation?
In that moment, light bob went off
although people of color in the room weren't there,
there to be tools for why people's education- and I thought
How are we going to do this anymore, because I had been right that that is not an indictment on on the teacher. I
we're doing the exact same thing and the way that I taught
I was assuming thou all the people of color.
we're at a certain knowledge base and what we needed to do was come together and ordered
you teach all the way, folks so that they could catch up.
And in a moment I thought could this: could this work
toward rachel justice toward us
communicating still be done
We just moved the focus of our lessons from white people to other people of color in the room.
and that AHA moment has produced a very gratifying journey for me
a during those not over. I have no idea what other ways I will change in the future, but it really has
to find a good portion
the last two,
three years of how I approached this work I
really believe that boy
Women stories in an of themselves are powerful that black women's questions in and of themselves are powerful that black women's.
stories in enough themselves, are powerful
and that when we learn from all of that, it isn't just black women who reap the benefits that we all reaped the benefits from the stories of black women and it's been fun to explore.
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at the same time you you start the book in the end about as direct away. You possibly can.
I remember, the exact lays, but I think you basically starting like white people are exhausting yeah. That's the first.
That's a great many privilege. Why did picks up a book? And I write like
gonna be interesting
because it goes on and I want to know if they come, I'm like a cam open to this end,
And also because I have had similar conversations with so many friends who people of color
over the years specially black people and because
I think it's really easy to paint this broad strokes,
see you later englishman and it's nice. You know, and I have learned that from friends it's really there are
nick experience after every individual as lorry every group as agriculture, sir red,
Then I'm reading autumn- and I am hearing all these stories-
there's a moment where you describe when you finally get to college.
You're in the working world like ok, so let me walk you through my day.
yeah. You literally like eating
and then like eight forty, two and nine are three an you're you're.
Counting the moments rather day, where you're existing in an organisation that, on this
This is all
about equality and just as an equal treatment and faith and acceptance,
and embrace and
even in in this culture which you
would be even more rooted. That's right answer like doing and seeing and being the right way than ravaged. Surely big organization right
of the micro moments where.
Your expect dead to code switch to make them
around you comfortable,
where you're invited, because you want to be there as long as you don't
do something that makes us change word or affect the culture, because we kind of like it that way as this way that lands on you- and this is where it was a really powerful for me-
that lands on you as the burden and and
Yeah, I remember reading research on how repressing
choices are actions its
the more you do it them the it builds up so over the course of a day if you're, stopping or suffering or fear will power. You know it too
the political resource and it really trains you and,
And what I'm thinking as I'm very much like for you to send that to me yeah cause cause, I'm thinking as I'm reading this I'm like. Yes, I've had similar conversations, but the way you laid it out really landed powerfully. For me, it sounds like a wait, so there are probably
we hundreds of micro moments throughout the day, where
you're in some way making the decision to not be you
in the name of making everyone around you, ok and then
When I reflect on that opening line about exactly like oh yeah, that would be brutal data move through every day.
And not just have to do the job that you signed
to do, but to actually
I have a second job. That's right! That's right when
I wrote that line. I was
imagining a black woman and coming home from work.
putting down her purse.
A on the couch.
Just staring up at the ceiling, a huge specialised john just died for the day.
because that line isn't personal.
It's not personal. It has
everything to do with the amount of work it takes,
to navigate a culture that doesn't know its white.
as so funny big high, is often
When I am in front of a predominantly why audience and say that line, not only
The people of color and audience laugh. So do the white people.
A person has been- and this conversation from more than about two minutes-
chances are you've encountered some pretty exhausting white people. It's not it's not hard to imagine why black women would be exhausted by white people and I think that whole passage,
where I lay out the burden of.
Being the outsider, the burden of not being included the burden of.
it to prove that. I'm grateful needing to prove that
one of you having to rule
that I belong, it does get staffed.
And I think when we talk about micro, aggressions, we make them feel micro. You now says bag.
The asian woman who gets asked where you really from an
if she has to make a decision about whether or not she's going to say new york know that there are not so you feel his legs, he has to give her entire ethnic background, but it isn't
just that, it's that you probably aren't the fur.
Person to ask her that that day is.
She also had to prove that shit,
and be as allies
leadership worthy as everyone else. It's also that she had to stay late, so she could prove that she's great.
For her job. It's also that she had
endure for other micro aggressions. It's also that, even though she tried a really hard to make herself as small as possible, she still
pulled into a supervisor his office and was too
that she's just too aggressive, it's the combination of
all these micro aggressions and never knowing what day they're coming.
you know. It would be one thing: if I could wake up in the morning and be like ok austin, you are going to endure exactly six micro russians before lunch, brace yourself that bert bat
but I never know- I never know where you're coming from- I never know when they're gonna papa. I never know what else
I'm going to be doing our thinking about when they arrive. It is exhausting, it's really exhausting to have two.
Fight for my humanity, eve
and in the smallest of ways.
especially in the smallest of ways, its exhausting work
and then you add to that the context of the act
o j o b, that you're being paid to do was then too
and all day-
Having conversations about this very thing, while you on a personal level are trying to figure out how much
of this, do I actually step into or not because the
innovation that your with like you, you want
On the one hand, your sharing all these ideas. On the other hand, you you wanna, play nice, that's from because there's like this
I want to feel like I'm, I'm ok when I shall want that's right, that's right and
and I want when everybody else wants to contribute. But I wanna be considered a member of this team who is needed
and one ed and who is creative and help fall and its disappointing is disappointing when
I can't show up as myself or when I have to expend exe.
energy to try
make white people feel comfortable. So
my contribution will matter there was them.
One gave that I did where I knew
There are a lot of people who are sort of still. I thought one or one
all of of understanding and investigating and interrogating and the host of
that audience had done a fantastic job explaining. Why
having this conversation on race mattered, how her own transformation, it was really
first of all
took a risk a little bit of a risk and diving even further into the conversation pushing on web, but I was, I think, the fur
next morning of the conference, so I said
had two days ago.
When I tell you, I felt like pack, man died,
people, what it did tell me all of their confessions of their racist history.
Literally ended up hiding in a coffee shop in a corner.
another black woman.
Because I was so tired of running into in this instance, but pretty
who wanted to tell me about this terrible thing that they had died
or their parents had died, or this terrible thing that they believed or have a confederate flat.
hung over their living room or how
parents tell them they could never data black man or it's like just on and on and on, and I thought don't want to hear this.
This is in no way edifying to me, too
here about the number of ways that overt,
and the casual racism just exist in these homes and workplaces, and
worship places. This is an error.
To me and said
it is really discouraging spoke, but it's really discouraging, and so, if you could just like that to yourself be fall
I have actually had friends who have suggested that when I
go speak somewhere that the host
organization has some sort of spiritual adviser in order to speak with people who feel that
profound sense of right and wrong, because I wasn't trained for that. I was in trade for that.
And I'm grateful for people
who can make the transition to o this
fires action on my part right. This isn't just that. I get to confess and leave this, isn't that I just get
confess? And now it's now, it's done I've apologized and now I'm good again. It makes me grateful when people take the leap the mental led to
Oh, this visit
requiring more of me.
This is about how I show up in the world
is about who I am reading and who I'm talking to, and the people that I am responsible for like this is this is supposed to be transformative.
And so when people ask me, what should I do? I answer
very honestly and say I have no idea. I have no idea
And to try to answer that question, for you would be cheating you because I believe
The universe is probably going to demand more from you than I would. I think my answer would be too easy, and so I want you to do the hard work of figuring out what god the universe. You you demand from yourself. How are you going to show up in this world differently? I can't answer that, for you.
But I believe there is an answer. Your kind of takes us back to the beginning of our conversation, TIM, miss phillips, right.
there. You are in that room where she effectively-
confesses to the room
But you wonder in hindsight whether she was confessing to you: that's right
and but then she also doesn't stop there. And she says I
Now change my behaviour, this like this is the
Can I have I have grappled with this and its clear that an action needs to be taken, and this is
I'm going to do, and I regret that I heard different. I never could have said that to her, so
had pulled me aside and said, ah scientist really, whenever conversational I'll raise our work, what
why was I the student going to tell her tat? She should eliminate
a racist classroom policy.
I don't know she ever would have told me. That seems
maybe not a good idea to other one black student in a private conversation that you have a racist seeding policy that probably wouldn't
And she had to do the hard work herself and she had to figure out what that work required of her. I couldn't have done that for her. She had to do that for herself and I think I think that's another big, aha,
for white people is that in so many ways holding on to racism contain
going to live out. Racist idea is continuing to be the source of micro, aggressions, isn't just harming people of color its harming. He who.
that your own understanding of humanity is limited.
When you carry all these biases and- and I think
What drives the desire for confession? I think you're trying to you're trying to lift yourself out from me on this
and but the work there
It requires more than the confession is now than it doesn't require confession. I just really require
transformation, a turning toward your
when humanity and
this isn't working. For me, I
Be a person who honours the dignity of all people? How can I do that.
the young, it's interesting, the you you
the word hope for a heart beat in narrowing and remember.
reading turn has occurred and ended up.
hearing him interviewed shortly after and haven't you
Talked about this at one point I can remember not but remember, hearing him interviewed and being
like that, it's a beautiful, powerful
letter to your son. I guess
as a kind of bleak like do you are. You are you hopefully, caveats
None of out are hopeful. Things will change right and he's basically
We now have the facts of the matter. I have.
minor obsession with icicles, I
He is just such a phenomenal thinker, but
also such a phenomenal writer that I just like the goose bumps
like just go on and on, and on that point I engage with his word answer:
when he was
regularly being asked about hope. As such.
way. I wish I could remember which, in our view, this wise.
You have us into so many I don't know, but there is a particular.
our view where we yet again, he has asked about hope, and he says he says you know what I wonder:
I wonder if people who say that they have hope or who do this work from
a place of spirituality or christianity or whatever he says
wonder if they would do the work if they didn't have all that.
but they continue to do work if they didn't have
if they didn't have this. Like
Colonel Heaven, if they didn't have, if all that got,
crept away, would they still do the work as a college,
that's like. Oh, my guts
What I think.
his exact words where, if you, if you didn't, have faith that it was all gonna work out, would you still do the work and the blue, my mom
which is why I have a minor absorption.
Is it really made me question the importance of hope in my work this this after after
after reading this honest, weighty
in some ways: vulnerable work,
what it's like to know
The gate blackness at america.
It one seem strange to me that the first question would be our: u hopeful,
It like a very odd question to me, but then,
him questioning the importance of it.
produced a shift inside of me and
began to envision. Having a conversation with
great grandmother who was born in nineteen o eight. She lived
I was nineteen years old and saw I was
very close to her new a lot of her her story, her history, her background in my can hear every and
Action and her voice still ends. I imagined right now sitting down with her and saying you know what Nana just not feeling very hopeful right now exist.
nothing just feel so bleak.
And I imagine she would scrunch up her face and be like, so that better. I think they pick up
we'll take it now, but we going back to work. You know, I don't think
would put a whole lot of stock in and hope you,
do the work you do the work and
maybe there will be this magical moment of racial solidarity may be there
be this breakthrough at an organization, maybe,
Someone will choose to live a more inclusive life, maybe maybe there will be changed, maybe they'll be transformation, maybe
Produce new policies and new laws that protect the most
and if I don't get to see, if that doesn't mean, I don't get to do the work, and so I decided to do the work
It's almost. I get the difference between faith and hope. You just
but because he knows the work that that you're here to doing have faith that that is.
That's just the way it is. I have decided that it is more important for me to embody hope. Then it is to feel it tell me more about that.
It is my job to write as if it could be encouraging to someone it's my job to write as if change as possible. It's mine,
to speak with every ounce of passion I have in my body, because maybe maybe right
But it's my job to embody. Hope it's mine.
To show up at the protest, it's my job to right up
black lives matter. It's my job to call
injustice, bad bad.
What I do I am body I work toward the past.
ability of change, but I do
that, regardless of whether or not I feel hopeful that things are going to change
so for example, I feel the same people often ask me, because I write a letter to my son, and
book as well. You know
I teach my son had enough
I teach them how to react when the police.
Over or you know I, of course I will of
I well because I've zero hope that all of society is gonna tree black men differently by the time he is eighteen, I don't. I don't have hope.
In that? But it is my job to write as if that's possible, there is theirs.
this tenet that translates roughly to abandon hope.
I never understood that, for a long time
but I also defeatist, I thought it was. How could that be what it really says until
when I realise is that at least my interpretation, the thing that makes me understand how powerful at is is that
It's essentially saying if this
was you for life. If this was your community for life, this was culture and society
for life. What
You do now,
to make it as good as you can.
and maybe over the counter.
The you and dozens or hundreds or thousands of people doing that worked together. Somehow there is
something that shifts down the road and that will
Fantastic right, but if it doesn't,
you know, and you need to navigate this world that you're living in now. What actions would you take and its relate this dualistic thing right?
which I think we we all struggle with a lot for sure. How can you abandon hope and simultaneously, like
at the same time, you know if you live entirely in the space of hope, then you're you're you're not focus on.
doing what you need to do to be safe and express president raised now. That's right! That's right! Yeah,
there's a lot bear? I think that that bit knows it's really powerful and I think it speaks a lotta, the mode
that we're all in right now
I was thinking the same thing. They did the same thing. I did not wake up feeling very hopeful today, but I'll tell you
It was really grateful. Knowing that I was going to speak with you, you know I was grateful that there was a justice,
teeny, our in my day,
which I knew I was going to be able to talk about the thing that I love the most and today that's going to have to be enough. So feels like a good place for us.
Come full circle as well so sitting here in this
container, which now stretches from new york city,
the detroit lawyer widening at these. They lester. I if I offer the phrase to live a good life. What comes out.
so many things because of this moment that we're living in navigating the pandemic hand arm.
I really I really miss my work. I really miss being in conversation with people all over the country around what this transformation looks like for them.
And so I felt really really last in some ways to have that grief. I feel very lucky to have this passion is calling this vacation that I miss.
And whether it's for racial justice or not, is not for the purpose of this question is not nearly as important to me as the fact that so much of the good life for me is being in community with others trying to figure out how to be better humans. I live for that conversation and I miss her tremendously. It's a big part of the good life for me.
Thank you, the thanks for having me the thank you so much for listening, and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who helped make this show possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today's show notes and while you're at it, if you've ever asked yourself. What should I do with my life, we have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work that you're here to do. You can find it add, spark a type dot com, that's s, p, a r K, e t, Y p e dot com or just click, the link in the show notes, and, of course, if you haven't already done so be sure to click on the subscribe button in your listening app. So you never miss an episode and then share share the love. If there's something that you've heard in this episode, that you would love to turn into a conversation, share it with people and have that conversation, because when ideas become conversations that lead to action, that's when real change takes hold, see you next time.
Transcript generated on 2023-06-24.