So You Want to Talk about Race with Ileoma Oluo
that we love you. Hello, Internet. And welcome to another episode of Chase Jarvis Live Show you on creativelive. I am very happy to be with you for the next 60 or so minutes. And I am very excited to introduce our esteemed guests before we do just a couple of housekeeping notes. I want to welcome you from wherever you may be tuning in from today. I know I can see from the chat. Uh, Oliver, we've got Facebook. Were live on Instagram live on periscope on Gosh, I think one or two others at least. And of course, at creativelive dot com slash tv. And I also want you to know, along with in this sort of housekeeping segment here, that I do see all of your comments from whatever platform you're on. Uh, and yet the best experience when I see the first the comments that come into my screen first are at creativelive dot com slash tv. If you click, join, chat up there, um, that will be the way to get those questions. Um, percolated up. Ah, the fastest. And it's my goal to usher some of those quest...
ions to our guests today. Of course, I'll be I'll be trying to see the question volume and curate those questions in a manner that's going with the flow of the show. But please feel free to ask him. That is one of the ways that you can impact and control the show. Help contribute to, um to the broadcast today. Um, I do want to say thank you for everyone tuning in from all over the world that I see. We've got folks joining from ah, Brazil. I don't even know what time it is in Brazil right now, but we've got Brazil. New York fellow Seattleites. Nice to see you in the house. New York, London, Espirito California from Lynn Pfosten. Thank you, Lynn. In short, we gotta worldwide global audience and that is a good Q for me to get into the introduction of our guest again. Um, I'm this has been a long time comin working on this guest for probably 6 to 12 months. Um, Joma Luo is a Seattle based writer speaker, and I love this an Internet yeller. She's the author of The New York Times bestseller. So you want to talk about Raced Race, which was published in January ah, year ago by Seal Press named one of the routes 100 most influential African Americans in 2017. 1 of the most influential people in Seattle by Settle Magazine, one of the most influential women in Seattle. Vice Element and winner of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society. Our guests Work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts and personal essay. She's been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, Time Stranger, the Guardian and others. I am. It brings me great pleasure and please rip your in the world Tap on your desk. Tap on some keys, raise your hands. Um welcome, Joma Ludo to the show. Thank you so much for being here. Thanks for having me and fellow Seattleite way were using the Internet, But we're probably, um I don't know, like, two miles apart as the crow flies. Yeah, I mean, we we have driven away. We took a little socially distance vacations on the Oregon coast right now. So, um, I am I am the furthest away from you. I've been in four months. Well, I hope I hope it's pleasant, not because it's further away from me, but some much deserved time. I know it's so hard to get space when you lived in the space for the last however many months. Um, thank you so much for being on this show. And we were making some small talk as in the five minutes before we go live when we were checking connections and what not? And we recap something, Uh, I was asking you if there's some things we want to talk about and one of the items that was on my I got a half a dozen here that I want to talk about, Um one of them is the fact that the book is really three years old or three years old since you wrote it two years out in the market. And, um ah, a lot of people are asking you, It's like you're you're on book tour and you already did that. And so I thought, an interesting place to start Our conversation is around. What context? How context matters so much. And yet not really relative to the work that you're doing. It's everything and nothing simultaneously and now. Here we are, Um, at ah, very impactful moment in time. And yet the book that you written that you wrote to two and three years ago, um is atop the New York Times bestselling book list here. So what has changed for you, And how has the conversation changed since your book has has come out Now that we're most the year years into the books Life. Oh, yeah. So, you know, I would say I started writing this book. Probably 2016. It came out January 2018. Um, And what, You know where I am as a person is, you know, huge. I mean, that was my first book, and I definitely thought the book had reached the peak of what it was going to reach in a few months after it came out. Um And then to see it selling now more than ever had sold before, is very strange. And I would say that you know, it's interesting because when I wrote the book, I wrote the book really talking about the day today. Discussions around race, right. How to talk about race with your co workers. Your family, like how to deal with the state of the issues. Have a look at the day to day issues. And so it was weird for me to see this book being used at a time when we're talking where we're collectively outraged in grieving and talking about, you know, these huge structures of police brutality for people to be like Wait a minute, What's this problem? What's going on? Let me start and see. See this issue because it's not at all how I had envisioned the book being used. I really had envisioned. I even remember writing, you know, in the beginning chapters of the book talking about people who are just now coming to realize this was an issue. Um, and so then you know, to realize, Oh, wait, this many people are the reverse money More people that were just now waiting now, years later, Um, but it's also interesting to see because I think that there's some parts of the book where I feel like the conversation has moved far beyond what I was talking about, especially looking at the chapter on police brutality and seeing the conversation move and wishing you could have kind of a real time update of work as it goes. Yeah, but I'm I'm glad the conversation this moved past is there a problem? Is police brutality real? You know, there are some people who hang on to that, But I think the conversation we're having right now is, you know, how do we dismantle this system? Do we de from the police? And that's progress. It's not as fast as I think any of us would have wanted it to be. It's certainly not as fast as activists, you know, even 50 years ago. Thing about, you know, police violence would have wanted it to be, but it is definitely progress. Well, I just bought have the original version, and I have got the Kindle version, which has an updated preface that I found really interesting. And yeah, it in some ways references the conversation that you and I are having right now. Um, and the discussion guide. You know, it points to the discussion guide at the end, which was incredibly helpful for me, Um, and asking people who are prepared to read the book, maybe in a book club setting, you know, what did you hope to get out of the book, and that makes me want to ask you now, three years on has the book done for you? What you hoped it would and is the Are we just getting started or has it, You know, where are we in the journey of, um, your writings? Yeah. I mean, I would definitely save the book itself was a primer, right? So I wasn't looking at it and saying, Oh, I'm gonna change the world with this book. I was thinking, Well, hopefully we can get past step A, you know, if people read it engaged with the book. And I do think that a lot of people, it's done that and that's been wonderful to hear. Like, I hear from people, people email me the message me all of the time, saying, You know, I brought this into this book into a meeting because as a black person in this office, he couldn't stand being talked over anymore, and I was able to use the discussions in here. I was able to talk about these points I've heard from, you know, couples who are saying I never understood my partners lived experience. But now I'm realizing that maybe I've been harmful in the way I've been acting like this isn't happening. You know, it's been interesting to see org's use it. It's even been interesting to see people not use it. Someone emailed me and it was really interesting message me saying she had been hired from a place where they literally had brought my book out during the interview and she was being hired for an equity position. And this white woman was using the book like to kind of guy her questions and she was like, OK, so she had first reached out to me to tell me about this, and I just thought that was kind of hilarious, Um, and had, like, the fanatic net of spelling of my name on the book, which was really cute. But then, you know, one thing that she said that was interesting was that she noticed was my book was everywhere and my book was really clear, and it was very clear that people weren't actually using the book like there was this piece of material. This reminder everywhere it was of how to have productive conversations, you know, how did not get caught up in your own fragilities and people weren't doing it. And it was like she was like, it was really actually helpful to say this was right here. You've been quoting this and you're not doing any of this. You're actually not committed to this work eso even even when it's not being done. I've found in some places that's useful, but people actually have to read the book. That was one of the shocking things was to realize that, you know, this book has been out as long as it has. If it takes something this drastic for people to be like, let me find that one. No one died in numbers. You know, I would say I've sold more copies of this book in the last month, and I have sold in the last 2.5 years. Um, and that's great. And horror crying at the same time to really Okay, this is what it takes to be in the beginning stages. Because I think many of us who do this work would have holds that by this stage, people would have been like, um where do I talk? Methodology. How do I How do I actually running this down like How do I What do I rebuild? You know, um, and moved onto far more radical works far more strategic where? Exc. But it's better than never, you know, which is a really sad thing to say. I'm so tired of saying it's better, but, you know, um but it is. And for anyone who who has eat a for any by park people who has an easier path, maybe because someone who has influence in their life is starting this path, you know, I'm grateful for it. Yeah, I remember somewhere either, and remembers the discussion guider in the, um somewhere in the book you talked about it unsexy fundamentals, as in Not like, flashy at what was the, uh, quick takes or something? It was It's not those things, these unsexy fundamentals. And yet is it? Is it This is this fundamentals that we need as a culture? And if fundamentals is something that, um the way I think about fundamentals is it's the base of the pyramid. It's where it's all it is required, because if you can't have the top of the pyramid without the bottom of the pyramid, and it just strikes me that that In a way, this work will always be relevant. And we wanted to not be relevant in the future. This is part of the dichotomy that I'm trying to get through toe. Understand? What for us is the creator of this work. Um, is it both? Is it? How does it feel to have something be sorry. One second. Malcolm. No, please. Stuff. Go. Go away. No. Okay, that's what the ice machine is. A bit much. I'm sorry. This is quarantined life right now. I love it. Like I mean, please be quiet. I'm gonna do it. Interview. And then I hear fridge garbage crumbling at the nice here of ice Machine started. Like I'm sorry. I just can't. Oh, it's awesome. It is. You know, we've all had those moments as you said in quarantine, but I'm just wondering, I'm trying to understand the emotional space that you're holding with respect to have created something that is, as you mentioned, um, you know, unsexy fundamentals. But if we're still relying on the fundamentals, that means, you know, almost reflexive of a conversation you just shared with me that we have. You know, we were We haven't moved forward How is that? Um how does that resonate with you? And does it? Is it frustrating or do you look at it as required for us to go forward? You know, I think that part of what needs to happen right now because it is frustrating and I think that, like I've been trying to see right now, is right now you have to learn and do at the same time. We can't do this whole, Um something horrible's happened. People are dying. Let's start a book club, right? It's just not We can't keep doing this. Um, people that people's lives are depending on action and action. That's what we need to realize. I think right now is okay. You know what? I've missed something. I am missing out on something, something big. I don't understand. And I need to look to the people who've been fighting this and talking about this and saying something wrong for a long time. I need to listen to what they say and educate myself at the same time. And I and you have to run both tracks. I do think that the education is important. The fundamentals are important, but we absolutely cannot wait for another whole generation to learn the fundamentals and act it. We will never catch up. What we need to do is is to do both at the same time. Andi. I think that often times people hide behind the let me see how much more information I can gather about this. Let me get a PhD in before I do anything. Let me have more discussions before I do anything. I can't write anything that has been written before. I can't say anything hasn't been said before. We are over 400 years into the horrible system of violent white supremacy in this country, and it's been said we're all trying to just find a new way to get people to pay attention, a new angle to try to get people to understand that we've been saying for hundreds of years. So you have to at some points, trust that the people who are being impacted the most by this system actually have an idea as to what needs to happen or give it a try. Why not? Because what's work right now isn't working right. Like that's the thing right now is there's so much people are so frozen right now, even in these discussions about should we defend the police? What if it's chaos? I mean, it is cast. It's already chaos. We have people right now being pepper sprayed in the street. We have people being murdered in the street. We have all these abuses happening. That's and the chaos we know. Why not If it can possibly help things take a leap for the chaos. You don't know. Give it a try and learn what you do and read while you do and catch up. But people have to do both. Right now, people have to start treating this like an emergency. Brilliant, um, taking a step back from the content for a moment. I'm fascinated by personal journeys and I wanted to explore yours for a moment. Specifically, Ah, the audience who's listening is, uh, broadly identifies as creators and or entrepreneurs. They are hoping to tap into that thing that they were put on this planet to do. And, um, the the you know, whatever medium people are pursuing and whatever you know, content they want to pursue to me is separate from the journey of deciding to become or step into the person of the role that you have always wanted to play and either didn't have the awareness or the courage or some other. There's some other thing that was keeping you from the thing, and I was curious if you could walk us through your transformation from you know, your due technology or however you describe your earlier work to being a writer because to see you having put out such amazing body of work and I understand we'll talk a little bit more and then your future. You got another book coming out in a movie? Um, but for someone who's, you know, probably 10 years or 10 steps away from their dream right now, could you walk us through your process for moving from not doing the thing that you were put on this planet to do to the role that you're you're currently playing, which is obviously impacting millions? Yeah, definitely. Um, no, I feel very fortunate, honestly, to know, you know that I'm doing the thing I'm supposed to be doing right now, Whether that's my for everything, I don't know. But I know with certainty in a way that I haven't known before. uh, this is why I'm so speaking at this moment is, you know, it's something that came to me that became it wasn't even the choice. You know, I started doing this work I had loved writing as a child. I loved writing as a child. Riding was my number one thing, and it was definitely I was that, you know, Unicorn kid, right? Partially being, like, usually the only black kid in every classroom. And that nerd that, you know, defied a lot of racist expectations. People like, let me invest in this child. She loves books, you know, um, and writing was it? And I had somebody features. Tell me you know, right. You know, right. Your first book for me, you know, put my name in the acknowledgements, and I had never considered after the age of maybe 10 but I was going to be a writer. Um, and that's simply because I grew up poor and, you know, poor and black. And the thought that I would have something that unsure, Especially when there were so few role models or being brought to me, you know, in the writing space to show that you know, poor black person. And of course, they absolutely existed. And I, you know, I adored. I grew up, you know, during, um, my Angelou adoring Toni Morrison during rain Hansberry. But they're definitely treated like exceptions, you know? And I knew that, you know, for me, it was Are we going to keep the lights on? And we definitely, you know, I mean, we've slept in cars at times as kids, and we were not just like, Oh, we're a little broke. It was we didn't have a phone for three years. We would go weeks without electricity. You know, we ate at churches, and so for me, I knew that I was smart and I was talented. I knew. I always knew I would be able to translate that. I would find a way to translate that into being able to escape the poverty I had grown up in. And that was my goal. That was my goal as a parent, as a person. And I think that oftentimes, especially black people in this country are taught. But actually most by pop, people I know are taught that financial success is its own revolution, right? If you can get to middle class status. If you compare your bills every month and by your kids the things that you couldn't have, then you will have accomplished something, really. And you will have gotten as close to freedom as you can get, you know? And we grew up in, like that Cosby family age. Write that story. And what I realized as I got older was that was not going to happen, that I was never gonna be a whole person anywhere. I went. I was never going to not just be the black person, any space, even even as I succeeded. And the more I succeeded, the more I was going to be tied to being able to take every abuse and, you know, every slight, the more I was gonna lock myself into having to constantly work twice as hard as my white peers, and I was still going to feel in safe. I was still one traffic stop away from mortal danger. I was still going to worry for my brother, for my sons, and I didn't want to be 60 and still trying to figure out if I had the rights to say something. So I started writing just for myself to kind of counter the general gaslighting that happens in Seattle and unlikely other places holder in the country. But CNN's special, you know, in that several really loves to believe that it has it all figured out that it checked the right boxes on its ballots and it recycled enough things. And therefore, racism is in a problem in Seattle, and it's easy for Seattle to believe that racism is a problem because there's, like 15 black people in the whole city. Um, it's very wealthy city, and those of us who are not wealthy are kind of concentrated in particular areas, hidden away from the vast success and wealth that Seattle has. And add on top of that, this kind of weird, you know, enforcement of politeness that prevents you from talking about anything, really in the city. What I found as I got older is it really felt like I had followed through this vale into an alternate reality. You know, I was walking around traumatized and scared and sad, and people I had grown up with who said they loved me were just fine, you know, and they would look at me and That's weird. Give other. You're acting like this. Why are you doing this? And I needed to know I wasn't alone. And so I just started writing really out of desperation. And I'm not even joking when they say, Like, those felt like some of the most desperate years in the years after Trayvon Martin was killed. Um, I was right just to, like be like, OK, this has to be impacting someone as much as it's a backing me. And from there I started finding other black people in Seattle area of thereby park people in Seattle area who connected to my Facebook posts in my blogger posts. But I had no intention of becoming a writer. And then it started, You know, where nationally people are picking up on it. And it was strange, like, you know, I would be at work working least marketing jobs in this completely white male environments. And I would get like, a call from, like, you know, um, CNN And they were like, Can you talk? And I would have to hide in my car because I knew I couldn't actually talk about these things that works, so I would go sit in my car in the parking lot at work and talk about race in America and then come back into work, you know, take a personal day and fly out. And do you like an MSNBC being and fly back and knowing that no one in the office watched MSNBC so it would be fine And like, no one would know and not have to have these conversations. And then I just couldn't live like that. I couldn't have this space where I could suddenly talk Oh, Kenly and be heard and appreciated for my truth and then come to a place for 11 hours a day where I couldn't say anything where I had to act like none of this was impacting me. And And I think this is also where you know, growing up really poor helped in a sense because, you know, my brother is a musician. Um has lived as a musician his entire adult life. But we both have this idea of like, yeah, you know what will be OK? Um if I take this leap and it doesn't work out, I know I've been through works have survived worse, and I know I have what it takes. I can hustle if I need to grab three jobs to make things work, and I will. And so one day I just said I quit and I had had no plan and no plan. In no way was I was riding enough to pay my mortgage on, and I just bought a house. I think six months ago was the ridiculous. I just knew I couldn't do another day like that. I couldn't have part of me that was full and realized I couldn't never They knew what it was like to be like a whole person, the whole black woman in this space. I couldn't spend those to my time in the space that where I wasn't. And so I just quit and hustled and I worked my butt off, and I tried to make his many contacts and totally, you know, like I was doing everything I remember trying Portrait's for people to make ends. Me, um, you know, just doing any sort of odd jobs out there. When I finally got my when I finally got my book deal, have a I paid four months of back mortgage with my that was basically the whole thing was like, Oh, I didn't lose my house, But it was so close. Um, and it was just the most amazing feeling. I remember Billy, okay? I didn't lose my house because I was so afraid that for my kids, you know, that that was gonna happen. And from then I just kept building. And I've been very fortunate that I've been able to get where I am now. One more One more layer of detail, if you're willing, Is that the space between starting to write as a mechanism for processing and becoming a professional? You know, in a book deal like you, you mentioned that, um, you hustled, but the space right there. So, you know, there's so many people listening, just as a example of someone. It's 1 20 in the morning here in Spain. I'm riveted by this conversation. Um, Wisconsin's tuned in, people, I love you so much. I love your book. I'm recommending it to everyone I know. And there are also people here who, uh, have something to say. And the how is a really block for them, Especially when they feel underrepresented. Especially when they don't feel seen and your ability to break through, like on a really tactical level, is one thing that I would love for us to come out of this conversation with today. So if you're really if you're willing to go one level deeper of what did it look like in that tough space between writing to process pain and hustling? Of course, but and actually getting a book deal, Can you share with us that space? And for so many, for so many underrepresented, um, people, communities. This is such a critical opportunity where there there is now, more than ever, an opportunity and give us some steps. Absolutely. You know, I would say one of the ways in which I feel like I was so fortunate is that I was working in marketing when I started writing, because what people don't tell you about writing and likely any really creative field where you're trying to make ends meet is how how much it's geared towards privilege and geared towards who you know. There's so much inside. Baseball's in writing, um, in publishing in reaching out to editors in pitching that no one explains to you, and especially if you didn't go, you know I don't have a degree in journalism by degrees in political science, I didn't know. I remember trying to admit to people I didn't know what a pitch Waas like. I could kind of gas like I knew, Like throwing something with the word, you know, like I kind of get motion. I don't know what it means technically, how to do this. I didn't know the advocate of it. And what I had to learn first was that I had to admit those things like, how did you say? I don't know what this means and ask. Does anyone know? And so I said, making friends online with people who were in that space and saying, You know, hey, this sounds awkward, but I don't know what it pitches consuming. Tell me, and suddenly and we get the floods of information and people that I remember you can asking editors like What's a good pitch to you? And they're like, no one's ever asked me that. Oh my God, what is a good pitch to me? Right? And these are things that, like, if you have contacts, you don't have to worry about someone says, Let me introduce you to someone. Let me get your name in here. You know, And I had luckily because I had worked in marketing, I kind of understood a little bit about how to phrase things, how to make things appeal. I learned, you know, I knew automatically to be consistent of my message. So when I started writing what I remember thinking as I was starting to make a shift in it first with I was writing a lot. And that's what I would say first and foremost right a lot. And right publicly, I was writing publicly out of necessity because I, like, have people in mind. Like, I need Jeff at the office to understand this, and I'm gonna put it out here, you know, sub tweeting before I was tweeting. But, you know, like with a whole essay right of like, Jeff, this is for you. You need to understand this, Um, and hoping that, you know, the people in my life would pick up on this and learn. Um and so I was putting my work out very publicly because I desperately needed it. And what that helped me. If you're ever trying to write persuasive essays, that made my essays, I think effective. And when I teach, this is what I teach us. Well, if I had the audience in my head, I have audience for my peace in my head. It wasn't a lot of times when you're writing people like I'm just gonna open up my heart and it's going to be a thing of beauty. And what you're doing is you're actually writing something you've already processed, you've already been through and you're writing the end of it. You're writing the very flat story. You're not taking anyone on the journey with you because you're not thinking of the person who's going to be reading it. You're thinking I would like this, you know, And I have seen that. I mean, I could write about a rock collection if I was into rocks, and it would be the most boring story ever. If I'm writing for myself because I have already followed in love with rocks and no one who is in love with rocks is gonna like that, right. And we'd like to think that it's different for all of our personal essays, but it's not, and so because I think I was trying to grab people who really weren't understanding from the beginning of a journey and pull them along. I intrinsically understood I started to see the value of finding people in a particular spot in their understanding or education and pulling them along my journey and knowing your audience and writing to that audience, not beyond It is important and especially because Internet likes to have people thinking If I don't answer every question, if I don't hit every point, all the trolls are gonna come after me. I'm going to be cancelled, you know, and then I'll just die, you know? And people really feel like that, you know, And it's someone's always going to find something, you know. And so I did that. And then my other rule was basically I knew I was a black woman. I'm a black woman writing, and I was never gonna have the contacts. I was not going to write same way as someone who came through these different educational channels or through these internships and things like that. All I was gonna have at the end of the day was my voice. And so if I couldn't look at every piece that was published under my name and recognize it Clearly, I knew I was never going to build an audience. I knew that the dust jobs weren't waiting for me. You know, the times wasn't going to call and say, Will you be our next columnist? That paper wasn't gonna call and say Come be our next columnist. So I was gonna have to get people who like my voice who like what I had to say and who followed it from place to place. And so I always tell people, Don't let an added or change your voice. I mean, be nice. Editors, Please be so nice. Editors Cooperate with editors. But when you read a piece and you read it out loud, if it doesn't sound like you, you're you're only going to become one mortified over the years as you read it, and you're going to stop the audience from being able to connect with who you are. What we have. What I have as a black woman as a black queer woman is valuable because I am a black or woman, because it is my unique perspective. And if I lose sight of that and it doesn't start sound like me anymore. If you could interchange my peace with the work of anyone else, then I have nothing because whiteness gets to fill those jobs. White man get to be the desk writers who can write filler articles and do just fine sounding like everyone else. They get to sound like everyone else. There's no reason for anyone to look from you to fill that position. I have to be me, and that's that's my value at That's what value add to the system to literature, to journalism and knowing that and staying strong to that, finding your voice and saying what works. What connects with the audience I envisioned for this piece in my own voice will help get you there. And so you know, for my you know, for me reading the book. It was Farley because I had written so many articles, article after article, and I was lucky enough that an agent Lauren of Rameau found me reached out to me when hardly anyone knew who I waas and just said I'm just fascinated, love following you. Have you ever thought of writing a book? They said, you know, absolutely not don't want to do that. Um, I have 80 D articles that's perfect for me because I can write the thing. Put it down, send it off. It's done. I may never invoice. I mean, ever answer an email, but I could do the article part and a book sounded like way too much work on one particular thing. And she just waited, said Okay, I'll wait. But, you know, and she did. And it was probably over a year before I came back and said, OK, you know what? Maybe I do need to write this book and we worked on it and got the proposal out there. But find the people that believe in you and I would say that she would not have come forward if I haven't just been writing article after article after article after article that showed that there was mawr in me that people might want to sit with. And that's really what I would say. Get your work out there. A lot of people go. I just need to write the book and people will come. You know what gets something out there? Keep getting your work out there. Believe in your work, even if it's just your blawg. Don't denigrate that. Plenty of people build great huge blocks that people love to follow. But just keep writing and keep putting your work out to the public and listening and getting that feedback. Yeah, Were you ever stuck? Did you ever feel stuck in that process? This idea of repetition in order to find the voice And it's, you know, you are the best gift that you can give to any industry or as a creator of anything but curiously. Did you were you blocked at any point during that process, and or was it just the necessities, the framework that you already shared with us socio economically, that you you needed to just keep pushing or restock? Ever? Yeah. I mean, well, I think it was this mix of, you know, I mean imposture syndrome. Israel And I think everyone in any field, especially creative field, especially women anthems, especially women, friends of color are really socialized to believe that if we're doing well, it's luck and not our skill, not our talent, and I the first time I ever wrote a piece of the new was going to be published like in a website riel website. I had a full panic attack. Full panic attack for in his higher days followed. My cell had to be talked down by, like three different people, convinced that it wasn't the worst thing in the world, that my life was not going to be over, that I really did have the right to write about personal things. I have the right to get my voice out there. I remember, like hyperventilating literally and just reaching out to everyone I know anything like Is this the worst? This awful, you know? Is it gonna be awful? Um and and then, you know, every piece, I would say, probably for the first 6 to 8 months. I couldn't send a piece better without having someone else read it first. I was so worried that I was going that whatever it was it was working was going to stop, you know, on I had actually for myself, for my own peace of mind, I had to start like booking, spending time with all of my work and looking at similar elements and seeing Do I have a pattern? Because I was convinced that maybe I was just getting lucky that I didn't actually have a way of writing. I didn't actually have the skill because I didn't take these classes. But I have a look and say, Wait, do I have a skill? What do I have? And I start asking people, you know, when he will say I like that like, What did you like? And they're, like, always great. No, I'm like, no, specifically, like, what sentences? What pieces? Because I was trying to figure out why it worked and how. And it took me years to just believe that I'm a good writer and I still get stuck on. And I think that especially if you're writing, there's this idea that you'll be hit by inspiration and then you'll like, finish a novel in three days. It will be amazing. You know what? Whoever does that I hate those people off people. I never want to be around. Um, I wish nothing but bad things for them in life because that's not how it usually works. Usually it's awful. You want to tear your hair out. You regret that the written word was ever invented, and you're convinced you've written the worst thing in the world. And, you know, even my last book, I was so convinced it was the worst book ever. People be like, How's it going? And like, Don't at Why would you ask me that? That's so mean. Why would you ask me about my book? Um and what I realized that I have to remind myself of constantly is that just because something is hard doesn't mean it's bad. And when it comes to creative fields, I think we're fucked. You know, we're supposed to think, Oh, it was a breeze. I was, you know, I was inspired. My muse arrived and I wrote it and it was beautiful. And instead it was like, Oh, I hated it. I had to drag myself to my computer every day, and I was convinced it was the worst thing in the world because it wasn't fun. And it's not fun. It's a job. And that can really mess you up because you can think like some of my best pieces. I hated writing. I had one piece that I wrote, and I It's such a solid piece, and I didn't send it out for publication for probably eight months, cause I hated writing it so much that I was convinced it was awful. And I had to, like, put it in the bag, been and then come back to it and then be like, 00 this isn't This isn't the garbage I thought it was. It was just a tough piece. And even with my book, you know, you go through so much, both books and I'm like, Oh, this is awful. And then you get through your all your read of, you know, your revisions. And I'm like, Did I write that? So that's a good sense. In between all the trash, it was apparently writing. I wrote this good paragraph Oh, on this one to, um and I think we have to be more realistic about what creative life is like because, yeah, I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing. And that pulls me through. You know, the times would rather between absolutely anything else, which is most of the time. Mm. Thank you so much for sharing that, Uh, just not that you need it, but just so you know the world, Christine McDonough, your writing is so exemplary. I tell my friends to read everything you write Jenna from Jenna's homecoming. I spend time with all of your work. Brooke Esten from Spain. Thank you so much for doing this, Louise. What I love so much about the job is not just the great mindset in perspective. It's the deep purpose, the anti racism, and you're just so awesome. So it's scrolling too fast. I had to take a screen cap in order to get the praise. So, um, maybe somewhere in here is a lesson for those listening and watching right now. Um, thank you for being so candid about your process and, you know, here you are. Askew said you started writing writing, um, your book in, uh 2016 is that he said 20 for when you want. It s so you want to talk about race, and here we are, you know, four years later and the, um the outpouring of support. Isa really curious. Um, comment from Ravi. I'm in Melbourne, Australia. Born in Fiji of Indian Heritage. I completely disconnected from my culture in order to fit into Western culture. In 2014 I found out my grant. I found my grandmother who had thought it passed away and she helped connect me to my heritage. The question is, she's Yeah, Roberts, I Ravi says, You know, I'm working to dismantle structural racism so my three year old son doesn't face the pain I did growing up. The question is, Is your work for future generations or now? I think I know the answer because it was a little bit of, you know before shattered it in the beginning of the conversation. But I was curious if you could respond specifically to Robbie. Um, I think it's for all I mean, I I feel like where I am in this process right now is definitely trying to called space and protect the work that young people are doing and they're doing some of the most important work right now. I believe that our vision changes. Our vision is limited by the time that we're in right. So my idea of freedom is much more limited than an 18 year old activists idea of freedom because of where I grew up in what had been accomplished as I was coming up versus what's been accomplished now. But I'm also working toe honor for people who have built the space for me to stand today. And and also I believe in every you know, I'm in the battle for black lives. I'm leaving every black life. So yeah, mine Mine is, well, mine and my Children, my grandchildren, my community. But also, you know, my my father has been dead for, you know, 12 years. Um, I think that we all deserve joy and to thrive, and we deserve freedom. And in the struggle that I know we won't see victory in my lifetime. We're not going to see the end of white supremacy in my lifetime. But in the battle for black lives in the battle for all of our lives free from racial oppression, we can still see and protect joy on We can still, you know, take our moments of success. We can take each life saved and celebrate that. So I don't believe that you reach a time where your time has passed. I definitely become less relevance in the struggle as time goes on. And that makes me so happy. Um, but I still no, I have used to hold and to keep things moving forward in my privilege, in my access in my experience from myself in preference. You know, I've run into people who are just discovering at that they don't have to live half a life. You know that they could be whole people that they can still say what happened to me matters, and I deserve better. And it's never too late. And that's a beautiful thing to see. So, you know, I think we have to just fight for all of us all the time you mentioned earlier. Um, Toni Morrison. Maya Angelou. Um, this idea that I'm about to share came up in an earlier conversation I had with Roxane Gay, whom I know, Um, you are, um, connected to. And it's this idea of It's hard to be what you can't see out in the world, and you've done such a good job of showing up as being seen with the recognition of your book and all of the work that no one ever sees. I'm wondering if there are some things that people still can't see that we need. We need more of meeting more people in a particular area. Could you be prescriptive at all what areas that we can't see? Um, what we what we cultivate people showing up in that space. Yeah. I mean, I think that I think that what needs to happen first foremost is we need first and accurate accounting of where we've been. Right, um, people of color, trans people, disabled people. We have queer people we've been everywhere on, and we have done everything it maybe not to the same degree, but we have. And because we've done it in the face of such obstacles makes it even, you know, mawr important. Um and that needs to be accurately told, you know, the amount of times that I run into young people who just have no idea that anyone has come before that needs that needs to be shown. But also, I think, you know, what we need to do is recognize that that we exist as more than struggle and that, you know, we have something to offer every field, every experience, but also that our basic humanity matters what I would love to see. I would love to see just medio grass people of every demographics doing fine. Look, I would love that, right. I wouldn't I would love to get away from the hole You have to be exceptional like we have to have. You know what? I, of course, want to see black Excellent in every field. I also want to see regular ass, medium talented people who just want to go to work and be a member of their community. Do five. I don't want exceptional toe. Have to be what gets us by, You know, like we're human beings and I want more examples of that I want I don't want it to be Were either, you know, criminalized and turned into, like, the bad guys. Or we are, um, exceptional and were presidents. And we're, you know, astrophysicists. We can also just, you know, with our life. And there needs to be space for that. And I would also say, You know, I spent a lot of time in corporate settings. I spent a lot of time talking to other people. Caroline Flint Layer lets one here. There's it was It's like it looks like little diamonds or being Sprinkle. That's so sweet. There. Okay. Uh oh, better Thank you. That's better. So you know, I'm constantly telling people because you hear these phrases that annoy the crap out of me where people are like I don't want to be the first black engineering company. I want to be a great engineer who happens to be black. Like I actually want people to recognize the value of our unique lived experiences of our nick, cultural perspectives, um, of our unique accomplishments in every field. I want that to be part of what people seek out. I want people to actually seek out those experiences and seek ups. We know you know what we actually do. Need more Asian English teachers in the school. We actually do need, you know, more black weatherman on TV. We need that because it adds to the field. It is of value. It is not just, and it's not just about values that people can see themselves in these positions. It's of value because of what the unique experience and cultural you know, um, cultural experience and ideals. That's, you know, we all we are different culturally in many ways and very diverse within our racism that this issues and we bring that along with all of our other skills to the spaces were in, and I would love to see that valued. I would love to see that he saw after the way we seek after so many other skill sets, um, and appreciate it for what it iss you're journey has not been without peril and risk and pain, and you've written and talked about that and a number two replaces. And one of the things that I love about your work is your focus on self care, and I'm wondering for people anyone putting themselves out there, I think you could probably, um, I'm trying to make this universal, so it's not just your particular lens on self care, but maybe the best way of asking it, then, is like what role to self care play in your ability to show up in your ability to do hard things in your ability to put the art that you want to represent in the world out there? Yeah, you know, I would say when I talk about when I talk about self care, when people ask me about self care, I think it's really important that we de colonized the idea of self Karen that we like d white, the idea of self care because self carries culturally relative on for me, sometimes self care is what I do just for myself. Sometimes it's community care, and I think that especially, you know, I think the black community and many other communities of color are we get by with each other, right? And it's not Can I have a spot? It's who calls me Who do I call, who'd wiping dinner to, You know, reach out todo, um to rejuvenate. And it's really for me about fighting. You know, what is your purpose and finding a purpose in love? We have to. There is this idea, especially in the black community, that we have to be martyrs for for our cause that we have to sacrifice everything to get by with the sacrifice, everything to fight racism instead of recognizing that we're fighting for our lives were fighting to thrive were fighting because we deserve to be happy, fulfilled, secure, safe people with secure families and communities. And if you don't replenish that, you know, if you don't realize that your life is the life you're fighting for your you know regardless what you're fighting for, that you are what you're fighting for us. Well, you're not just fighting externally. Um, if you don't find what rejuvenate you, what motivates you that lives in the space of love. You won't be able to continue on in your work. And I would say that especially for people in marginalized populations, it's not just what can you do to get out in protest? It's what can you do to get through a day at the office? You know, in a world that is not built for you, with a world that could be very hostile to you, you're not just fighting for that next paycheck. You know, you you have to do things that remind you that you deserve joy, that your community deserves joy. And that means that you have to really give it that time. And so for me, it's trying to remember that I have to be very deliberate trying to remember that I have to say, even though, you know we're on the Oregon coast and I I had to remind myself today like I can just not do things today like I came here to relax because I needed to relax, came here to spend time with my family, and I'm going to intentionally do that because that's what I'm fighting for working for And if I went through all of this and I didn't see, you know, see, my family didn't take care of myself that I'm no longer fighting for that, you know? And and that's it's important to remember that to keep that focus more than focus on what we're trying to avoid focus on, You know, the pain we're trying to get through to also recognize we're trying to nurture Joey now. Thank you for that again. I just gotta let you know the Morgan and Jenna. Maria, Stephanie, Jonas. Jeremiah. Jena. Corrie. Just expressing huge amount of gratitude for your truth. And what you're saying today wanted to thank you. Um, I'm curious if we can shift years to all of the things you're working on. You mentioned early on how I guess collectively week we talked about how the book is now, you know, three plus years on 2 to 3 years on. And it's obviously in the context of now, having is too huge. As you said, you've sold more books in the last month than you have in the last 2.5 years. But I'm I have just some I don't know is your You've got more stuff coming. And I'm wondering if you can tell us some of the things that are exciting to you right now about your work as a creator. If you can share, um, both different media that you're working in, Um, and why you're making some of these choices? Yeah, absolutely. So my next, but coming on December is called Mediocre, Dangerous Legacy of White Male America. Ah, pretty self explanatory book. I think of how otherwise, just like the last one was. But this is looking at and 50 years of the formation of violent white male identity in this country and the way in which it protects itself at great cost to everyone of all races, ethnicities and genders. Um, and that is a book that I poured a lot of work into. It is very different from the current book. Um, it was very difficult to write, especially writing through a lot of what our family went through this last year. Writing through, you know, a pandemic. I'm proud of it and look forward to it. Finally, being out into the world, I am very excited about a film that I am in with that. My brother, obviously Lou and Charles would A brilliant tells me day, they wrote, And if you aren't familiar with Charles, But you have read my interview I did with Rachel Dolezal a couple years ago. Charles was the editor of that piece and also the person who kind of I would have written it if it weren't for him. If anyone else had asked me, I would have said Absolutely not. I almost said, absolutely not to Charles himself. I think I answered the phone knowing he was gonna ask me and said no, and then he talked me into it because he knows my voice betters myself sometimes. But I used to work with Charles constantly, and he and my brother are very close, wrote this amazing film, um called Vince Skin and I play a fictionalized version of myself. I had to learn how to be an actor type person. Um, and it was a brilliant project. So much fun. It was so beautiful working with my brother working with Charles, I actually just saw, like, an almost completely finished version of it the other day, and I was like, What? it actually looks like a movie because you're making it. I was like, Oh, these reviews, you know, we're gonna be like, Well, you know, someone's kid made a movie and what it was ijo a day that, you know, But no, it looks like a real movie. Um, I'm so excited about that. So those air to mean things, and then I'm just, you know, for me, hopefully for for now, I'm I'm looking at, like writing creatively, you know? So I'm trying to, you know, I've been very clear of like, I I think this for the next couple of years. Hopefully, it's my last book that specifically like, ah, hard nonfiction on racism in America. I just I need to connect with writing for Joey. Believe it or not, it's not incredibly fun. Toe like spend two years looking up genocide and torture and imprisoned it in death. And I would love my writing to benefit me as much, or maybe even more, because chances are my beginning. Fiction's gonna be God awful. So probably more than it benefits other people. But I would love to, like, try fiction. I would love to take riding workshops and stuff like that. So that's been my goal once the next books out in the world and we do all of that to settle in and just be a writing student again, Um, and live in that space. So that's kind of been, Yeah. What we've been I've been up to Wow. Well, I should take a second and give a nod to Charles, who was the first person that shared your work with me some time ago. And he was on this show 10 years ago. Wow. 10 years ago last month, he was on this exact same show. So you can if anyone wants to go take a look. It's just my name and Charles Mood a day M u D E d e um, But what a wonderful human and, um, is idea of film making. Like, how about is the acting more exciting for you? The writing What what roles? And then also, why is it just the newness? Is it because it's something different? Is it another vehicle for your work that may seem to make it a different audience or all three. What's what are why was it was a real mix. So for the film. It was It was a mix of things. One. It was working with my brother, who I remember. And I am incredibly close. Were you gonna have apart in age? But we don't work together very creatively. You know, he's a musician and a musician and storyteller in different space. But also, I love working with Charles and the thought of working with Charles. You know, I am stubborn, too. I am. I stick my morose to a fault. So people who follow my work closely know that I have just very mad at the stranger. And that actually ended my working relationship with Charles, who's there, and I desperately missed it, you know? I mean, like, I literally cried missing working with him. Probably one of the best working relationships I ever had as a writer was with Charles. And so in this whole new capacity, um, toe work with him Now. Charles knocked this up on me. If you know Charles, you know Charles, He's a character, right? So you started with him calling me each oma. Um, can you do me a big favor there, But oh, well, you know, the person that was going to read your lie the lines to play you. Do you think I can make it? Can you read the lines? Okay, so I show up at this, passed through, read the lines, and he was like, Oh, you're good at this. Would you play you? And at this point, it was literally, like five lines was like Sure, Yeah. Okay, fine. Whatever. I can probably do five mines playing myself my little Courtney love moment. Right? And, uh, I was like, Okay, All right, then we got together for his birthday. Maybe a year later, six months to a year later, I was like, Oh, you know, the people, the money, people for the movie. They keep telling me I have to have a talk to you about the film before we move forward And like, OK, and he was like, It's just the parts changed a little bit. A little bit like Okay, it's like we'll talk about it later. We don't talk about it later in a few weeks, A few months later, I get a script. It's literally the second most lines in the character in the movie. After my brother, it went from being five Bloods like a major would. It was like, Oh, are these the few changes we're talking about? So classic Charles CEO, The breadcrumb Oh my God will be perfect, he kept saying, You'll be the next Oprah Winfrey left. It gets it is a basic that's our like a crab Try to take it is like, Oh, no, But it was so fun. I loved it so much, I learned, you know, that it's very different. Life, like writers are like, Oh, out right now when I wake up and acting, it's like, Oh, I have to be somewhere. You have to be there all day and you don't care like and I'm tired of that. I have a thing with my kids, like, you know, you gotta be there. And Charles was a delight, like he was so by quintessential Charles Moment is we're trying to shoot the scene, and there is a, um, lizard in the cage, not part of the scene, but just in the scene. But he wanted the lizard to move desperately, and Lizzie would not move, and I'm in the room next. Him. My brother is pretending to talk to me. If you're a door, and so I hear I'm going. Let's try it again. Let's get this lizard to move. Eight takes later. This lizard has not moved. And I finally my brother goes Wait a minute, Charles, Is this about the fucking list we're gonna summit? We're gonna have a standing lizard here any second now. He just wanted the lizard. And, like we did one scene where he had working with the child, which could be difficult. Child child, get the scene. You After a couple takes, Charles comes out and goes, The snake was amazing. Just like so. Yeah, I loved it. I loved every moment of it. I don't know if I would ever I don't know if I would want to act again, but I loved, like, being a part of that whole creative process of taking something. You know, this piece? My brothers work from this piece in various stages for 10 years and to see it translate to film so you could translate our life to film like I was like, what? Hours? Weird boy and wife. Okay. Um, yeah, I loved it. It was really fun. Ah, and just for reference for anyone who saw the show. It is based if I'm not mistaken on now. I'm fine. The, uh the visit of one man performance that The New York Times called him a jazz memoirist. And so it's a spoken word slash, like, seven piece orchestra, you know, singing story telling jokes type thing. And then they took that and translate it into, like, a film. Yeah, I am. When? When can we expect this? What is happening? So we're it is pretty much done and we're looking at, like, late summer, getting it into festivals and getting it out there. Of course, a pandemic. Put a wrench into everything, but yeah, we are looking at actually getting it out to the world soon, so definitely fall like instagram. There is a thin skin film Instagram page or, you know, follow me or follow a home or follow Charles. Um and we post you know, whatever information we have when we have it. Ah, that was my sort of wrap up is if there can be some attention that you are able to direct for the people who are watching this because they there will be a lot of people watch this and they were, It will have a life span. And I'm wondering, is there something in particular that you would direct them to bodywork Course of action? Um, what are some tactics? And t either further connect people to your work or what would you? What would you like to ask of anyone who's participating and watching right now? You know, I would absolutely say that it is really important to look at who you're listening to, who you're getting information from and diversify as much as possible. Um, and don't diversify within whiteness a lot times what I find off in the head. And especially like, but even even within our own ethnic groups, racial groups or social groups will say, Who are you following that you like? And we're asking people just like us. Like, who are you listening to? Other version of me. And then they give slightly different flavors of the same person. Um, start branching out, right? Look, first to be like, this is someone who is way more radical than me or slightly more conservative than me. Who are they looking at? Who are they listening to? But then it was like, Am I Do I have enough indigenous voices giving me news like, Where am I getting my daily news? Am I getting it from CNN or am I getting it from environmental activists from indigenous activists from disabled activists, right from black activists? If I'm following black activists, are they all light skinned, privileged black writers and thinkers? Or do we have people who are incarcerated? Many people don't know that, like people were incarcerated right now are putting out written work that you can read and find out about what's happening. You know, our, um I'm learning about from, you know, black trans disabled people, right? Like, am I really getting all of this information? Because it all matters. And that perspective matters what we're doing. A lot times is playing catch up for what the most marginalized people have been saying for a long time. You will learn so much more. Your idea of the world would be so much bother. You will get so much more from anything you see on the news you will understand on a deeper level if you start broadening who you follow So really branch out there? Uh, you know, start looking up words like abolition like put abolition in your searches if you're looking up rights but abolition in that search. If you're looking up, you know, race theory. Put abolition and, like, put the most radical terms you can think of out there. Find what the you know writers and thinkers are, and then look at their sources. If you find an article you love, look at the sources. Click on the links. Find out who their referencing follow those people, but diversify where your knowledge comes from. Every day and exercise I used to have people do in workshops is, I would say, start pickle and day of the week and look at every interaction you have and what it touches and think of how much of that is white and male or day build right? And so you get up in your making coffee. Where is this coffee coming from? Who's making money from that coffee when you're watching the news? Who's presenting that news? Who's writing the scripts whose advertising it when you're getting dressed, who's making money off the clothes that you're wearing? You know, like what? Who's making you know cold? Who's getting culturally relevant from that? You know when you're listening to music, who's making money from that industry? Like who? You know who's picking what. You're listening to all of these things day in and day out and look at that and just see where you can diversify that. See where you can patch out, because different people exist in all of these spaces and you can really brag about. So just try that exercise for a day, even quoting people getting argue when you're getting in an argument on Facebook, look and see how often you're quoting white boots in your argument, you know, and and think of how absurd it would be like according to this white dude, we should do this. And according to this white dude, we should do this. And then according to this white dude and writing about like a script, I went to this dinner owned by white people, you know, and made money from this version of an ethnic food that was made by white people. And then I went home and I watch the evening news and listen to a white man. Tell me about news from a white male perspective and you know, you know what you know and just think of your day and then realize how absurd that is and see what you can do to diversify it. I would love to share just a short story along those lines that this has been a, um ah, powerful experience. When, um, for me, I wrote a book and I catalogued every single example on every single page the race, gender, um, point of view of the example. And prior to starting that, that research project I asked everyone had read it. What they thought about all of the balance in the book, and it was belly out. It was great. And I was good. I mean, it was like, Yeah, and the research yielded just shocking results. And so is someone who is. I started this work and, um, we'll never be completed. Um, I just want to say that that is added so much richness to my life. I learned from your instagram ah, a couple weeks ago about colorism as an example, and I have to say it's it's created a richness, and I just feel it simultaneously has me feeling terrible and inspired at the same time. And, um so I want to thank you. And and, um I can't wait to have you back on the show. When you get your next When your next books out there and the film, I'm already like Googling. And as we've been talking here trying to find anything, I cannot know it'll be out there in good time. I just thank you for sharing your wisdom, your vision, your journey, Um, around, um, pursuing your dreams and in career. And thank you for your work. Thank you so much. This was a real pleasure. I'm, uh I'm gonna keep you in line for another 90 seconds, but the world is out there cheering as I've shared so many times. Um, thank you for participating. And, ah, the world. You know where to go to, um, To find a job as work she is. I j e o m a o L u o dot com and instagram. I'm ah, consumer ever instagram as well. Anything else anywhere else in the world would like to point us besides that the book, of course. But anything in particular before we go if you if anyone wants to follow what I'm up to follow, everything's under my name. I figure you learn my name. You can learn anything, but so just look at youth activists right now. You figuring amazing thing, find out what young people are doing. I exclusively look right now towards people between the ages of 17 and 25 and they inspire me greatly. And here in Seattle, um, mutual aid books is doing some great work. Young people getting great books out at protests and community events for people to learn more about all over the world. We're seeing young people do amazing things, Spend time looking at them, take them seriously, cause our media is it. Thank you so much. And for everyone else out there in the world, you know where to go to support, uh, Joma and her work and looking forward to having you back on the show another time soon. And I bid You all do