To be a person of some “other” identity, means being acutely aware that, at a default, you are perceived (and likely, treated) as “different.”
Instead of merely being ‘human’ like everyone else, your humanity tends to conjure several questions (and people probe earnestly): “does your skin get darker in the sun? Is that your real hair? Do you feel the same level of pain? How do you have sex? When did you know you weren’t like everyone else?
For me, accepting that I will be perceived differently as a Black woman is both a blessing and a curse. I learned early on to expect the worst from most people in terms of how they perceive me, so I don’t make myself a sponge to people’s discriminations and abhorrent sentiments. It’s a lonely space to be in, even when amongst other “like you,” but it also gives you an unwavering comfort that you will be ok no matter what. The world could give you the worst, and so be it–you’ll still be you. Your life could be cut short but, you still lived it (and hopefully, to the fullest). You may lose a lot externally, but what you gain internally can never be taken from you. Nonetheless, having to program yourself to believe this makes life’s difficulties a little easier to swallow, yet still a bit heartbreaking, as so many people simply don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes.
That’s why it’s especially refreshing to hear stories like your own that reassure you that it’s not all in your head–it’s real and hurtful; the unwelcoming energy, glares, microaggressions, and bold insults. All of it makes overcoming the adversity, let alone rising above it, an enormous feat. I celebrate the people who garner the will to do this despite being treated as “other,” especially those who are women. People like Kristina and Lise, two Black women breaking all kinds of barriers in the white-washed world of luxury fashion by their mere daring to exist within that space. I chatted with them both to encourage more people who aren’t from marginalized identities to advocate for those who are, whether it be in business or in life, there’s no limit to how we can uplift and empower one another, and especially, people striving every single day to be accepted.
am·biv·a·lence (n) /amˈbivələnt/
the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
Before all of this, ambivalent wouldn’t have been the first word I’d use to describe my worldview; it suggests far more moodiness and indecisiveness than I’d willingly associate myself with. But, one season of podcasting and pandemic-ing later, and I’ve realized that I feel nothing but ambivalence towards our human experience. My wide scope of conversations clarified for me that life, in all its dynamism, is fully incapable of being wholly one thing, or wholly another. It is forever shifting. The difference is, now, my ambivalence has lost its bliss–and, in my mind, it’s no coincidence that it has gone right at the close of season 1.
Over 16 weeks, I’ve had the privilege to learn and share insights from visionaries, educators, creators, and entrepreneurs who have sparked in me a gutsiness that I’m just beginning to get comfortable with. They knowingly joined me in conversations they imagined would ruffle feathers, induce introspection, and hopefully, inspire fervent criticism of American society.
In me doing more of that, my ambivalence might find its bliss again…but if it never does, the least I can do is thank you for listening, even when you hated what you heard.
The Climate Emergency is not far in the future, it’s here now.
So, what can we do about it?
Jamie Margolin, Founder of Zero Hour Movement, joins me to lay out how we save ourselves and preserve our planet. She started organizing Zero Hour in the summer of 2017 and since then, Nadia Nazar, Madelaine Tew, and Zanagee Artis have joined her in leading it.
Jamie’s book, Youth To Power, comes out June 2, 2020, as a guide to young organizers.
Here’s my conversation with Jamie, and how you can connect with her:
In this episode, I’m getting personal with Sofia Enriquez, an artist based in the Coachella Valley, whose works explore androgyny, her intercultural identity, and feminism. Her practice consists of murals, large scale paintings, as well as her fashion collection MUCHO, consisting of one of a kind painted garments.
Here’s my conversation with Sofia, and how to connect with her:
In this episode, I’m chatting with Sana Javeri Kadri, founder of Diaspora Co., a direct trade spice company working towards a radically equitable, sustainable, and more delicious spice supply chain.
Sana, who was born and raised in Mumbai, decided to start her business after working at the intersection of food and culture there. She discovered that farmers made no money, and spices changed hands upwards of 10 times before reaching the consumer–glaringly similar to the business model enacted during the western, colonial conquest of the Indian subcontinent.
Here’s my conversation with Sana and how to connect with her:
Shop Diaspora Co.