Transcribe your podcast

When you don't acknowledge that this actually exists and that my experience may be different from yours because I'm black and you are white, then you are absolutely perpetuating racism. Because when you when you can't see it, when you don't see it, when you choose not to see it, you don't do anything about it. Right. But I also think that you should and it's very it's difficult now, but you need to broaden your circle. You need to be proximate to different kinds of people and start embracing their various identities, you know, examine your own examine the way in which you were socialized and then see other people, see others identities, embrace them, welcome them into your life.


I think that's a that's the way to go. You know, if you have joy to exude, then you should if you have good things to give, then you should maybe we won't win. You know, we should still do it. That's Myrna Valerio and this is the Retro Podcast. The Rich Roll podcast, greetings, citizens, it is I Rich Roll your host, this is my podcast. Thanks for joining me. As many of you guys know, I have a great passion for running.


It's a theme that I consistently explore on this show with a wide variety of minded enthusiasts, everybody from marathon champions to all kinds of people who have leveraged the power of running for tremendous personal transformation, which is a second recurring theme on the show. A third favorite theme is breaking paradigms, and a fourth is forging a more just and equitable world for all. Myrna Valaria embodies all of these themes and so much more. She's somebody who basically redefines what comes to mind when we think of professional athleticism.


Running is something that gave Mirna a whole new life.


She's an endurance athlete who is neither white nor thin, but very much a badass of her own design, somebody who's breaking boundaries, broadening exclusivity and essentially forcing all of us to think more broadly about things like equality and inclusion, both outdoors and in the force of nature. Affectionately known as the innovator, she is one of the most inspirational athletes I've ever met. She's a true ambassador of sport, somebody who's on a mission to empower humans of all shapes, sizes, colors and genders to proudly embrace their bodies, to expand their horizons and ultimately own their truth.


Many of you guys will recall Myrna's first appearance on the podcast Episode 340. And today she's back. She's back to drop truth bombs on all things body, inclusion, identity, diversity. And she will no doubt leave you enthusiastic to get out on your local trail. So why not add fuel to the flame with a badass new pair of on runnings dropkicks in case you guys live in a vortex and haven't heard on running is the fastest growing, most innovative running shoe and apparel company in the world.


The road and trail shoes are total performance machines that also moonlight as fashionable sneakers for your all day adventures. But my favorite thing about on is their lightness, their unmatched support, their minimalist design. Usually you only get one or two of these kinds of things with a particular shoe but aren't. Cushioning is a total paradigm breaker. Their design is unlike anything I've seen in other apparel brands, and I just love everything about this company, their aesthetic and their mission.


For all you on running stands out there. Last week they relaunched my favorite shoe, the Cloud X, with a newer, improved design. I just got mine in the mail the other day. I took them out this morning for the first time and I can say that they made an already great shoe even greater. The Cloud X now has even more cushioning with their proprietary Helion foam that helps you bounce off those explosive movements in all directions to stabilize your foot.


The cloud elements are now bigger and the sidewalls of the shoe are a little bit higher and the shoes just great for everything. Short runs, long runs, weightlifting, hiking, you name it. And after years of running on odds, it is still my number one go to shoe. And right now you guys are privy to an exclusive offer to try any on shoes or gear for thirty days risk free. That means actually running in them before you decide to keep them.


All you got to do is head on over to on dash running dotcom slash rich roll. That's O and dash running dotcom rich roll. Unlock the voucher and see a personalized collection of some of my favorite items. Pick up a cloud X or something else, running it for thirty days. Love them. Keep I'm not convinced. Send it back for a full refund again.


That's O and dash running dotcom rich roll to test on shoes or gear firsthand and experience what running on clouds feels like an after you amp up your workout and your wardrobe with gear, it's time to seal the deal and slap on a wub strap.


What is woop? Look, that PR you've been shooting for is only going to happen if you're getting proper rest. Sleep is crucial to perform at your best and woop is like a personal coach when it comes to recovery.


Basically, WOOP is a fitness membership via a fashionable wristband tracker, an app. But it doesn't just track your steps. It focuses on much more meaningful metrics and biomarkers like Strain, based on how strenuous your day was, will provide personalized sleep and recovery recommendations and insights, including how many hours of sleep you need, a breakdown of your sleep cycles and ideal wake and sleep times tied to your circadian rhythm. And after your recovery is fine tuned up goes as far as to recommend exertion levels.


When you start an activity, we'll show you in real time whether you need to. Push harder if you're overdoing it or if you've reached your goal, I love this thing, I love geeking out on all the data like heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate.


And I love the team's function that lets you share your data with friends and help keep you accountable to your goals. This is the future of physical education, people. So if you're looking to be smarter about how you sleep, recover and train, so you could be at your best. It's time to get woop. For my listeners, WOOP is offering 50 percent off when you use the code. Rich, roll a check out. Go to woop dotcom.


That's OPIS dotcom. Use the code rich roll a check out and say 15 percent off your order. Unlock your best self today with woop and finally were brought to you today by outer noun. It's pretty safe to say that at this point outer known comprises almost 50 percent of my closet.


And that's where a lot of reasons, not the least of which is just these clothes are so damn durable and fashionable that I don't have to replace or repair them every six months or every year. And this is what outer known is all about effortlessly cool essentials, things like jeans, hoodies, t shirts, board shorts made with integrity from planet friendly fabrics, not to mention outer known, only works with factories that pay fair living wages and provide safe working conditions.


And yes, this is still out of the ordinary for most fashion companies, from using organic cotton to solar power and harvesting rainwater to making literal buttons out of recycled ocean plastic.


Everything that comes from outer known is not only made sustainably but also fits great and is insanely durable too. So tread lightly in the most easy going, sustainable, fashionable staples on the planet. Go to our known dotcom today and enter my code rich role at checkout and you'll get 25 percent off your full price order. That's Oughton own dotcom duty PRK and then Dotcom. And remember to use my code rich role at checkout for twenty five percent off. Check him out today.


I don't own dotcom and don't forget to use the promo code. Rich roll for twenty five percent off. OK, back to Mana. I love this woman. This is a great one that spans her evolution into a full time sponsored running professional all the way to her work as a diversity and inclusion educator. We talk about running, of course.


We talk about identity and the way in which we see ourselves as this lens through which we see the world. We discuss the differences between body inclusion versus body positivity and body acceptance.


We talk about everyday racism in the outdoor world and industry and the work required to assess and overcome our own internalized unconscious beliefs. This is about defining your values, embodying them every day. And Myrna's joyful self acceptance is really infectious. It's also real. It's rare, it's authentic. It's bold and inclusive.


She's just completely fun to talk to, unapologetic. And one hundred percent herself. I got to admit that after what is it like one hundred and thirty days now of stay in place quarantine, among other things. Melancholy has crept up on me, kind of comes and goes. But there's something about Myrna's joy and her gleeful demeanor that really cheered me up. And I think she's going to cheer you up as well. So let's do this.


This is me and the motivator. Cool. We're back. How many years is it down since we did three years, almost three years? Yeah, I remember it vividly. We were in your hotel room. You were in town for some kind of education conference, and we were down in Anaheim.


It was fun. Dingy room at the Embassy Suites.


I know, but I'm really happy to have you back here today.


It's really nice to see you. Likewise. I'm so happy to be here. So a lot has changed in the three years since we last sat down culturally, socially, of course, but also personally for you. I mean, you're now a full time professional athlete, basically.


Sure. Right. You want to put it that way? I mean, I usually call myself, well, I'm a sponsored athlete, but I do other things as well.


That makes you a professional athlete like you make your living as an athlete. You get to travel around and do what you love and talk about things that you love, which is pretty awesome.


I do. You're right. You're absolutely right. So what was that like to make that leap like you were? You are an educator, like a private high school.


Right? Right. Saw you. I had been in education for 18 years when I decided that doing all of this that I'm doing now and teaching and working at a boarding school was too much. And also I was making more money doing the other stuff.


So I decided to take a leap.


And it was a really giant leap out of education, out of that security net that I had just in terms of everything, in terms of my salary, in terms of health care and in terms of somewhere to live, because I worked at boarding schools, but I just decided to go for it.


And I had the full support of my family.


My kids stayed at the boarding school for another year while I figured out what and how I was going to how I was going to do this, how I was going to plant myself somewhere and continue to do all the media stuff and to do the professional athlete thing and to do everything else that I was doing.


And it took a couple of months. It took a long time to believe that I could actually function without being attached to a workplace, so to speak.


And but, you know, but again, I had all these awesome opportunities. I ended up in Vermont. Right.


So when did you move to Vermont? You were living in Georgia. I was living in Georgia.


And then after that, after I had to move out of my house because it was school property. Right. I floated around a little bit. I lived in Atlanta for the summer in a friend's apartment. And then I headed my way back up to Brooklyn and slept on a couch for a couple of months. And when I decided that that was that was enough of that, you know, on a whim, decided to go up and visit a friend who lives in Vermont.


And, you know, we were going to have a week of adventure.


We were going to ski and take a snowboard lesson and do some indoor rock climbing, do some snow shoeing.


And so I went up there and loved it for a week.


I only went for a week and decided that I needed to live there in the dead of winter. And I discovered that there were apartments at the inn where I was staying and I ended up staying at those apartments and moved in the next month. And I'm not trying to move out of Vermont again.


I am not trying to move anywhere. That's it. I love it. I absolutely love it. Is the community that I think I need to be in. I'm in Montpelier, in the capital city city, and it's a very real family.


Yes, it's a hamlet, the hamlet of Montpelier, and it's convenient. My son loves it. He's 17 years old. And I've made him move to a lot of different places. And he is having a great career. So and tons of trails, trails everywhere.


Like even though I'm in Star City. Right. I can well, I'm not running right now. We can talk about that later. I can, you know, walk or run to Israel half mile away and, you know, just be ensconced in the forest, right? Yeah, that's cool.


So how come you're not running right now? I yeah, I have a torn meniscus, which is really fun. I saw my first real injury.


I will notice you've been out on the bike a lot.


Yeah, you should talk about that because it's my new sport. Now, that ultra cyclist, I don't know about ultra cycling, but I definitely love being out there in a bike. But yeah, I had some Achilles injuries or an Achilles injury still. Am I left? A foot, but you can run with that just takes a long time to recover, and then I started having issues in my knees, which I had never had to deal with before.


And and it just got worse and worse over the course of a month.


You do that thing where you just pretend it's going to go away and you keep running. Perhaps, maybe I don't know what you're talking about. Right. And, you know, it would get better, you know, for two days and then it would get significantly worse.


And then I finally went on a big hike. And then that night my leg was really stiff and like the whole leg was swollen. And that was very, very unusual. And so I finally went to the doctor. Mind you, during my transition from being a full time teacher to this thing that I'm doing now, I didn't have health insurance because.


Yeah, America and. Right. So but I finally have health insurance. And so I decided to go and use it. And then it turned out to be they thought it was me at first, a little bit of arthritis, which that runs in my family. And but then finally I went for an MRI and. Yeah. And then they found out it was a torn meniscus.


So I will have surgery in a few weeks and hopefully that will take care of a lot of the issues there. And and I'll be back running. I really miss it.


In the meantime, you can ride a bike. I can ride a bike.


I've been on a gravel bike, which is my new second favorite thing.


I still haven't done that. I got to get out on one of those. Oh, man, it's phenomenal. I mean, in Vermont, it's almost 50 percent dirt road.


So you run out of pavement really quickly and you have to ride dirt road. So and it's and it's so fun. It's this thing, this thing that I do now. And the family likes it in Vermont.


The family loves it. I mean, my son loves it. My husband, who lives part time in New York and also in West Africa, he came up and visited and he's like, wow, I can, like, be on a mountain. I can walk, I can ride a bike, I can eat really good food and relax.


And it's clean here because he normally lives in the Bronx or in Harlem. So it's a very different experience.


Is that that's where his job is? Well, that's when he is in the States. He works as a truck driver and a tow truck driver and some other things. And so that's where a lot of the work is. And so he stays down there and then and then he goes home to run his business, which is in technology.


And meanwhile, you get to travel all around and run races and talk to people and talk about your book and stuff like that. And you've done a lot of races, I think. Were you training for a hundred miler when the injury happened or.


I I know you are like I'm not training for a 100 mile area, we're on like Good Morning America. John Harris about OK are not that long ago.


Well, no, I said one day, OK, I like to maybe train for 100 one 100 miler.


All right. But and then they gifted me Good Morning America didn't.


But Texas, which is the title sponsor of 36 New York City Marathon, gifted me four of their races around the world. And and I told them in the interview that, oh, I'm going to take 20/20 to be a rest year so that maybe I can start from zero and then start training for our 100 miler. And then they gifted me these four races for 2020.


And I said, OK, well, I'll just have to put that off for a year. But then covid happened and.


Yeah, well, everybody's putting it off for a year, right. So your injury kind of happened at the correct.


It is the perfect time and I'm actually really grateful that it happened. Now that that all the races are canceled, all the events are canceled and now I can just take care of myself and rest.


How does it feel to rest? A lot of runners get really uncomfortable with that. It's this is like a with yourself and a different kind of taper period. That's what it is.


You know what? I actually haven't had a whole lot of rest.


I you know, to be completely honest, I've been swamped with work since I was actually in L.A. in March for the L.A. Marathon and and then spent a couple of days out west here and then went back east. And that's when everything shut down. And I thought I would have some time to just chill and sleep.


And I did for about two weeks.


But then I started getting a lot of requests for some motivational inspirational speaking because people were down in the dumps. Yeah. And so I did a lot of that. And I don't even I don't market myself as a motivational speaker or an inspirational speaker. I just tell my story. I just talk about what the things that are I'm doing that bring me joy and but I think people get a lot out of it.


So that's what I was doing for a long time. And then racism happened or continues to happen. And then and then I was pulled and again to even more work. So I have I have been working nonstop.


Yeah. Yeah. I want to get into how you've been pulled back into this education space. But before we do that, I mean, we went into your story in great detail last time and people should go back and listen to that. I love that episode and that conversation, but it might make sense for people who haven't heard that. To kind of recap your story a little bit, maybe you could do it in the context of your motivational pitch.


But I don't have a motivational pitch. Share your story. Share my story. Well, back in so in 2008, I had this health scare where I thought I was having a heart attack and it turned out not to be a heart attack.


Thank goodness I happened to be in a car on my way back from a weekend gig with my son in it.


And I started having chest pains and eventually decided stupidly, though, to continue home.


And while I was having these chest pains, a colleague of mine took me to the doctor, took me to the emergency room where it was determined that I wasn't having a heart attack, but that I had had a panic attack, which I thought was strange and impossible for black people, you know, because we're all so chill and had panic, fear.


And I even said that to the doctor. I said black people don't have panic attacks. And he looked at me as though I was crazy. Yeah. And but then, you know, that set off a stream of doctors appointments and cardiologists appointments where the cardiologist that I that I eventually saw said that basically that I was going to die if I didn't change my lifestyle.


And I heard him very well. I knew what he meant. And so I decided that I absolutely needed to change something in my life. You if I wasn't going to eventually have a cardiac event. So I got back on my treadmill.


And this incidentally, this treadmill was one that I had purchased a couple of months before, but that I hadn't been using.


And it was I use it as a closet like most people had shoes on it, belts, clothing, coats. And and as I cleaned it off the next day and got back on, it did my first mile in about three and a half years. And that mile was very painful. Not just physically, but mostly emotionally, because I had let myself get to a point where I can run a mile anymore and that felt really awful and gross.


And you'd like played field hockey? Yeah, I played high school, field hockey.


I played lacrosse, both varsity. And, you know, I was an athlete. I had been an athlete since high school. And, you know, I ran on and off recreationally throughout my young adulthood.


And I was I was always very, very active. But when I moved from New York to Maryland, that's when things changed. That's when I started getting a bunch of weight and having lots of health issues, dental issues. My kid was always sick. And I mean, that's really the crux of the whole story, is my kid was always sick, which meant that I was always sick and I was always missing work. He was always missing school.


And that is very, very stressful. I was living with alone with him in Maryland. My husband was in New York.


And was that the inciting incident for the panic attack?


That whole three year period? Probably was because it was a very stressful existence. I didn't enjoy my job a whole lot. I thought I was really good at it. And I think I was I was I was really good at my job.


But I was also balancing being, you know, living the existence of a single parent. Right. While having this job where for where I wasn't appreciated.


And and so I think that sort of culminated in a lot of things happening with me physically. And then eventually I decided to leave that job because it was just it wasn't a healthy thing for me to be doing with my family. It was healthy for my family either. And so I moved back north to New Jersey to an even more stressful job. But at least I was closer to family. And that's where I had this health scare.


I was also teaching I was teaching full time. I was in grad school. I was obviously a mom and a wife. And I was also teaching on the weekends, too, in Maryland. And so all that mixed up together created this existence that wasn't very healthy or helpful for me. And that's why I had that health scare. And so I when when that cardiologist told me that I was going to die if I didn't change my lifestyle, I really did make a decision to change a lot of things.


I prioritized my day. I stopped bringing work home, which is really difficult to do when you work in a boarding school, I, I would get up super early and hop on the treadmill for an hour and then do politesse and then do awful. Biggest Loser videos are really, really awful.


But I did them anyway because I needed to change drastically. And so I mean and I did I would work out for five hours a day. Wow. Yeah.


It was really committed to changing my life in a very drastic way. So that's what I did. Right. And little little did you know.


So this entire new life that you live now. Right. Who knew?


Was there a breakthrough moment where you thought were you really just embrace this idea that I am a runner and this is like the path that I'm going to blaze for myself?


I don't think there was one moment. I think I just slowly grew into a running persona and I never really had any qualms about whether or not I was a runner like I.


Iran, therefore, I was a runner, but as far as like the really deep running persona and identifying deeply as a runner, I think that just came about organically.


And then it was it's always a surprise to me that people who run don't think they're runners. You run, you use your body for running. It's something you do regularly. Then you are what you do. You're right. Right.


Well, we all measure ourselves up against some idealized version of what that means or is. And the truth is, you know, ninety nine point nine nine percent of people who are running are not, you know, winning marathons and things like that. This is the greatest participation sport. But I think what's interesting about your story and what I'm interested in is your example and your story kind of catalyzed a broader conversation about body positivity. And what does it mean to be an athlete?


Were you surprised at the kind of narrative that emerged out of what you've done or did you see that coming?


I did not see that coming. And I was surprised by the narrative because I just did what I needed to do for my body. And I made it public when I had started a blog. And I only did that because someone suggested that I do it. And it still is surprising to me that this is even a story.


Right. And the factory crowd continues to grow like you're everywhere. Like I I first came across your story by by way of that r.i video that kind of went viral, the motivator. But I keep seeing new stuff popping up all the time, like people are continuing to discover your story, which is wild ride.


And you're like, well I'm here for it. Right.


Like I have no complaints. But it is it is crazy to me that it's that it's a thing, you know, as I you know, as I said, like, I'm just a person who likes to run and I like to exercise.


But on the other hand, I know that there are lots of people who for whom, like, this thing that I'm doing is seems to be inaccessible to them because they have this idea that a runner looks this way, a runner runs this quickly. A person who hikes is a certain body type, a certain race, probably male. And so when they see me at.


Blows their minds that I'm out there doing those same things unapologetically and without regard for what people think I should be doing and where people think I should be doing it, the unapologetic part is a big part of it, too, like you always have this huge smile and you're the life of the party on the trail.


And I think I know about the party. Well, there's a sense like, oh, well, you know, I'm here, but I really shouldn't be here. Like the sheepishness that perhaps somebody, you know, somebody else who's who's, you know, trying to make this work would feel in that experience.


Well, I definitely when I started trail running, I didn't know what I was doing. Nobody does. Right. I still don't know what I'm doing. But, you know, I would just kind of like hang in the back and listen to the race directors and then go off on an adventure, because I always see it as an adventure. And again, not knowing what I was doing, not knowing what I was in for, but as I became.


Used to that and more comfortable with, like the unknown aspect of of trail running and anything that you do in the outdoors. I definitely became more comfortable just being in those spaces.


And that's just that's how I operate.


And any uncomfortable situation I want, I'll hang in the back and observe, learn things. And then as I become more comfortable, I am. What's the word I'm looking for acclamation? Well, I acclimate, but I extend myself more and more when I'm in those situations.


Yeah, what's also interesting is that, you know, trail running isn't exactly the most diverse sport out there. Yeah, right.


So, so juxtaposed against running more broadly. You know, black people dominate running in, you know, all the way from the 100 meters to the to the marathon. But you don't see a lot of black people on the trail. You don't think that is true, and that's there are a lot of reasons that it is that way. Interrail running and hiking. Mm hmm. Because obviously those two are related, I think.


And people definitely are surprised when they see me on a trail, you know, unless they know who I am already. But when famous, famous.


But, you know, like it's, you know, in the nation a trail running these, you know, people people know who I am.


And so it's not as much of a surprise. But if I'm somebody else.


Hey, hey, how are you? Where are you from? There are a lot of questions and that try to get at why you're here and you can read it in people's body language to sort of questioning like, oh, wow, how did this person get here? Why or why are they on this trail?


And so I definitely have had experiences when, for example, I was I signed up for a hiking a group hike out of a store in New Jersey.


And the hike leader, even though I was dressed in trail running clothes and I was I mean, I was decked out, I had met Nathan and running shoes, my wall socks.


I mean, I was decked out, but she only came to me and asked me if I was ready for this hike and we could have been because I'm fat, I don't know. But I was also the only black person there. Did I have enough water and have a hydration pack at your food?


Yeah, I've got bars. I'm good. I'm good. You can go pay attention to people that are here.


So so that happens sometimes. But, you know, there's a lot of history behind why outdoor spaces that are in forests are considered to be white spaces. And so so no one that might make them inhospitable for people who are not like me, I will stick my ass anywhere I feel like I belong. But a lot of people don't have that sense of entitlement, so or don't know that they could be out there hiking or trail running, too, because look at the representation in media.


Who do you see? You see what you see? People like you, rich. Yeah, that's you. Yeah.


Maybe a lady and you definitely don't see me, although I have been privileged to appear in a lot of publications, but I'm only one person and I'm honored to be able to be that one person so that people can kind of see themselves or envision themselves doing the things that I do. But there isn't enough.


So I think representation is really, really crucial and lacking in terms of what we see as the outdoors, who we see in the outdoors and we see doing these outdoor activities.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's it's it's wild. You know, you mentioned that there's a lot of history behind why outdoor spaces have been considered off limits to people of color. It's sickening and disheartening to hear that. I believe it to be true. But I can tell you that I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about why that might be.


Well, if you think about how the national parks were formulated and how that land was stolen from native populations without regard to any of their history or their domiciles, I mean, that's just one part of that. And I and I also think of how just land in the U.S. ownership of land is very, very white, ownership of any sort of real estate or land is very white. And so when someone like me appears and like I look like I don't belong because ownership of land has been traditionally white.


And so, I mean, there is the government, there are there are private entities that are also responsible for this sort of whitewashing of land in in the U.S. And then there's, you know, white supremacy. It's supremacist ideology that, you know, black people don't belong.


And we are we are seen as nuisances in many different types of spaces. So and there's research on that to on like blacks is a nuisance in public spaces. So it's really heavy. You see, I'm smiling because it's so heavy and it's and to have to think about that constantly, but I do think about it constantly every second that I'm on the trail. I mean, I may be smiling and I may be gracious and affable, but I am always, always thinking about.


Whether or not people think I belong and, you know, somebody's got to ask me a dumb ass question, are they going to say something stupid or are they going to make me feel as though I'm not welcome? I'm always thinking of that.


And which is why I'm, like, so effusive with my cheer because I have to be.


Do you feel you feel like part of that is a defense mechanism to put other people at ease, which makes you feel more safe?


Absolutely, yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's that's the story of every black runner. Yeah.


Every single person who goes out and runs who is black. You know, they we have to signal, you know, there's a term for it. It's called signaling to signal to other people that we are safe to be around and we are not a threat.


So, yeah, you hear stories of of black runners who will wear a sweatshirt or a t shirt and their fancy college name on it or something like that, to make white people feel like this person is not a threat.


It doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter what you put on. I you know, again, I I'm always decked out in the latest gear ride.


I wear bright colors. I you know, I've got my running cap on my trucker cap on our race shirt or something that signals to people that I'm a runner. I was when I still lived in Georgia, I was running down my own street and I was two miles wide, had done forty miles. And so I was finishing up the last two miles to do a sixteen miler. On my way back home, a woman in a white SUV was coming in the opposite direction and stops about a quarter of a mile away from me.


I'm slow, so it takes me a long time to do a quarter of a mile, so I was still pretty far away from her.


So she stops, she takes out her phone, she's looking at me, she's talking on her phone, looking at me, talking to her phone again. I am like, really decked out.


I mean, sweaty, but really decked out in all my running gear. And and then she gets off the phone and slowly rolls by me and looks at me and I wave.


I'm smiling.


Hey, I'm wondering, you know, you. Yeah, OK. And then not even five minutes later, a cop car rolls by from that same direction that she had been going and a slow down roll down the window. Look at me. I wave in my head. I'm like, what the fuck?


Right. And that cop roles away. And then another one comes from the opposite direction, slows down, rolls her window down, and then I wave again.


Hey. Have a good day and your neighbor, this is two miles away from my house and you know, and in my head, I'm like, I'm just running, I am running. I did have a walking stick that I carry because there were lots of dogs, like no leash laws where I used to live. And so there were dogs everywhere.


And so I would have to bang the stick on the ground to get the dogs away from me. And so but it was a very fancy carved walking stick. So and, you know, and so when I got back home, I, I of course, I posted this on Facebook because, you know, that's what I do.


And and, you know, we had some laughs about it. And a friend, one friend called me a suspicious black lady running SBL. Ah, I'm just going to get T-shirts made.


And but some other people sort of question whether or not, you know, I looked dangerous because I had a walking stick with me. White people, of course, you know, maybe maybe, you know, she was worried, maybe she was scared about sticky, were carrying acid in my and my pink shirt by Nathan Hyde, hydration pack in my dirty running shoes.


I mean, that's the sort of thing that I think gives people pause.


Yeah. There's a sociologist named Dr. Rashaan Rae. Who has done a study of why black people don't exercise in certain types of neighborhoods because of perceived danger. For their person. And and it's and that's exactly it, that's what it is like we we signal, we wave, we smile, we are extra friendly and bubbly, but it doesn't seem to matter. I mean, look at Imad Aubury. Yeah. Running in a neighborhood. Yeah.


I mean, as you're telling the story, I can't stop thinking about him and how, you know, you're your story isn't that dissimilar from his. It has a different outcome obviously. But the circumstances are related.


And you can't you can't you can't listen to the story you just told without conjuring up what might have gone terribly wrong, because somebody is confused about who you are and what you're doing.


And it's why I'm there. Right. Even though it's. Very clear. Mm hmm. Yeah, you're signaling couldn't be more clear. And I'm just picturing you running like what is threatening about that and what's going on with that person in the SUV that they're feeling so threatened by you? Where is that confusion emanating from and what's going on in their life that they would what is embedded in their programming that perceives that as a threat or something to be scared of white supremacy is embedded in their programming.


That's exactly what that is. So let's talk about that. I mean, you have, you know, a big part of your educational career is teaching diversity rights. And now now you're you're back doing that once again, including teaching anti-racism. Right. You're doing this online.


So walk me through what that's all about.


So I will say that when I left teaching in twenty eighteen, I had no plans on doing further work in diversity, equity and inclusion because it's hard stuff. I mean, it's really, really hard. It takes a lot out of me emotionally.


And I was doing it in North Georgia where I loved my job. I loved developing curriculum and doing seminars and workshops with the students. It was tougher to do it with the parents, not even with the parents, just with my colleagues. Not all of them, though.


But it was really tough as a boarding school, right? It was a boarding school, dominantly white, predominantly white.


But, you know, with a large population of international students and quite a few people who are black, black, American or from the islands or from Africa.


So it was very diverse for a boarding school. And until, like as I said, I had lots of fun doing the work with the students and faculty members who were also sold on the work of diversity and social justice.


But it was really difficult to do that work with constant opposition as far as what I could do, what I could talk about, you know, what was. What was not going to rile up the parent community was Powell and I did I did anyway signing. I did anyway. I was very privileged that I could really do whatever I wanted to do. I had an unlimited budget to send people to conferences, to go to conferences, to do programming.


But it was still really hard because, you know, I was dealing with a fairly conservative community in north Georgia.


And so there are many things that I couldn't do because it probably wasn't safe to do. And so then it weighed on me very heavily. And I and I will say that my blood pressure went up when I was living down in Georgia. Yeah. And there is definitely a correlation between a racist racist acts, racism in general and hypertension in the black community.


And I sure you're in a chronic state of alert. Right, right. Any any time I'm driving. Any time I got pulled over twice. And, you know, and I think getting pulled over for anyone is a stressful experience, but especially for black people when there's so many, so many incidences where people don't come out of those situations alive. It's scary, you know, even though I'm a black woman and doesn't happen as frequently to black women.


But look at Sandra Bland.


It was a suicide, which is very suspicious. Yeah.


So, you know, I'm worried about my son just kind of existing as a student. And he was when I was there, he was a student. And so sometimes he would walk back and forth to school on a road, you know, the same road where that woman called the cops on me.


And, you know, he's tall and he's black. Right.


And so I constantly worried about him. And so, yeah, I definitely, you know, for someone who has never, ever had issues with blood pressure that started when I actually when I started doing that work down south and like, we need we need diversity education.


But don't be too provocative.


Yeah, basically. Yeah, absolutely. And that's and that's why diversity education doesn't really work. Diversity education is meant to be celebratory, like to celebrate our differences and to celebrate the way that that enhances all of our lives, whereas equity and inclusion and anti-racism requires that you are constantly working like under the umbrella of social justice work. And it's not just yet.


We want to definitely, absolutely embrace everyone's various identities. But there is another part to the work that's really hard and you have to. Be very introspective and metacognitive about your own attitudes and beliefs and how they and how they perpetuate racism, right.


And somebody has to be willing to probe in words who's on the receiving end of what you have to say. Right. Because it's easy for me to listen to you tell these stories. And I think, you know, as a as a white, straight male, I hear the story of the woman in the SUV and I'm like, well, that's not me. So, you know, I'm not part of that problem. Right. But the real work is is looking inward enough to see where I am playing a part of this.


Right. And you have to be open enough and vulnerable enough to tackle that for yourself. And not everybody is right. So I was reading I just pulled up this article. I don't know if you saw it. There was in the New York Times Sunday magazine about Robin D'Angelo, whose work is like this long read article about white fragility is everywhere. But does anti-racism training actually work? Right. And it sort of unpacks the very thing that you're talking about, which is you're confronting people with some very uncomfortable truths about not just society, but perhaps our own individual behavior.


And people get provoked and defensive and they don't want to hear it. Right. So that in turn leads to a bit of a backlash. And I think we're seeing that culturally. Right.


That is. But this is I love talking about this. Yeah. So this is why I want to talk to you.


OK, so part of the in the course that I teach introduction to identity, social justice and anti-racism, that's what I do. I want to hit people individually and and I want to bring them to introduce this framework.


It's a framework called White Racial Identity for anti-racism.


Right. And by Dr. Janet Helms out of Boston College. And there are differing stages. Right. And so what you just mentioned kind of people pulling back and shutting down from those conversations. That is one of the stages of achieving an anti-racist identity.


And we have that first stage, which is contac, where people are colorblind and they don't see color. We're all part of the human race. Right. And and then you travel through various stages, disintegration, reintegration. And each of those stages has elements of what you were just talking about, where people they know racism happens. They know that there is a thing called white privilege. And that and I'm talking specifically about people in the white community and they know that they benefit from white privilege.


But then. But then what?


Right. You read white fragility. You do with that. You read how to be anti-racist. You read all of these, you know, so you want to talk about racism or so you can do that. But a lot of people stop there and they don't continue to examine themselves or they you know, they might give money to the NAACP Defense Fund or they might give money to the Minnesota fund, the bailout fund, but then they don't actually do the work themselves or start then mowing their black friends.


Five dollars. OK, I have several. Did you get any video? I got I got so much money from people. It's such a weird thing. And I didn't want to be an asshole and return it.


I didn't need the money, but I did get a lot of money. Hey, you know, from people I didn't know. Right.


Or people who were my followers. And I really appreciate the gesture.


I think I think well, it's a strange combination of of good intentions. Met with perhaps confusion or guilt and shame.


That's what it is. And so that's one of the stages.


There was a there's a podcast called Reply All that does long form stories and weird things that happen on the Internet. And they did a whole hour on this very thing, interviewing black people who received money, money and sharing their experience of what that felt like.


Michael just hit up my beaten, you know, don't go ahead. No know it's OK. But, you know, but that you know, that sending money and the whole blackout Tuesday, all of that is was is out of guilt and shame. That is one of the one of the stages of white racial identity.


You know, if you're going to eventually travel to doing anti-racism work in your life. Right. But again, like, if you get stuck there, you're stuck there. It's. That's that's where a lot of the damage occurs if you even get stuck in the next stage by being stuck, you mean OK, I did my thing.


I did my thing. I posted the black sweater. I'm an ally. That's that's who I am.


I'm going to call myself an ally. And I'm not going to do any further work or any examination of my own attitudes and beliefs. Those are probably racist. And so, you know, and then so as you travel along that spectrum, there is there's even one one part of this one stage, that is where you start blaming the victim and. You say things like. Well, he shouldn't have been playing loud music in his car. He shouldn't have been using a counterfeit 20 or not, shouldn't have been running a construction site, right.


He shouldn't have stopped and looked. At this house under construction, you shouldn't have done that, she should have put out her cigarette when the cop asked her to. But did all these people deserve to die because they had a counterfeit 20 dollar bill or they were running? And so so that's actually one of those things. Yes. But, you know, the thing is that when you can be metacognitive and you can observe yourself having those thoughts. And say, I am having this really negative thought that is probably racist and damaging.


When you can do that, when you have the ability to see yourself saying those things, feeling those things, and then you can say, well, I don't I don't really believe that.


I don't I know that this is I know that this sort of attitude perpetuates racism. And then you move on to the next stage where you actually start doing something. You start you do the reading and stuff, and you start really trying to connect with people in the white community. As I'm in. I'm talking, again, specifically about white people who are trying also to do the work. That's that's the only way, I think. And you you also have to collaborate with people of color.


So when you say I think there's a lot of confusion around what the work is, when you're like, have you done the work or you're actually doing work, like, what is that?


After work is social justice work. All of this is encapsulated under that that umbrella where all members of our society have equitable access to all of the resources that we have. And and then these resources and this access are ecologically sustainable. So that's that's what social justice work is.


And anti-racism is a part of social justice work because obviously there are lots of other isms that we have to contend with, sexism, transphobia, you know, ism and, you know, so there are lots of other things to contend with. But, you know, anti-racism is a facet of that.


And so if you are saying that you are a person that does the work, you are continually educating yourself, collaborating with people beyond and not censoring your own experience.


While you are doing the work and and meeting, what do you mean not centering? Well, you know, when when people censor their own experiences, this is actually it's it's part of how lots of conversations get shut down and what white fragility is all about.


It's all about censoring your own experience.


I mean, I don't I don't do that. Well, no. Well, I have a black friend and or my husband is black or my wife is black. And so that doesn't happen to I don't do that. That doesn't happen to me. It doesn't apply to me.


It's a way of shirking responsibility for dealing with the broader problem or unpacking what what is it like the the systemic imprint of all of this upon our own personal psyches that's so deeply embedded that we're not consciously aware of how it gets manifest in our daily lives.


And and that's that's part of what I do. And so in the course, you know, we talk about identity, we talk about how identity is the way in which we experience the world. I mean, that's our framework. You know, our you know, our gender, wherever we are. And that gender spectrum, race, all of that informs how we experience the world and how people perceive us. You look at me as a black woman, you're going to have thoughts about what it is I probably do, how I how I speak.


You probably have thoughts about that. What are you really up to? You know what? Yeah. Why are you here.




Why are you at this hotel, you know, and why at my gym.


So I could go on and on. But you know, I mean but identity really is that framework. And once you realize that. As a white person or as a black person, your.


World, your experience in life is racialized once you see that it is mind blowing and hopefully you are then able to see others perspectives and to see how they might walk through the world or how they how they might experience something. And so there's a lot of you know, when I was broadening your empathy.


Yes, absolutely.


You know, when I when I was talking about my experience running on my own street and someone essentially gaslighting me saying like, well, you know, obviously somebody was scared because you were holding your your you're walking stick and not legitimizing the story that I just told and making it into something else.


Or I think, oh, that well, that didn't really happen. Yeah.


You know, when when we're able to see others experiences for what they are, there's less gaslighting, there's more legitimizing of my experience and then hopefully movement away from blaming me for whatever just happened and movement towards what can I do to help, what can I do with my own attitudes and my how have I been socialized to believe that you're not supposed to be running on this road?


Mm hmm. Let me look into that.


There does seem to be an awakening right now, though. There is a crack in this firmament. You know, we're having these conversations. There seems to be a lot of energy going into trying to transcend this, you know, systemic situation. But at the same time, we're now we're at the end of July, there's been some distance between the events that catalyzed everything. Do you feel like we're perpetuating the momentum and we're in a position to create real change, or do you feel like it's waning?


Like how are you sensing all of you right now?


I think it's all going to be like, yeah, there was lightning in a bottle for a minute.


I still have that lightning in the bottle or are we moving on? We did that. Many of us are moving on. Yeah, we did that. That's over. We're post-racial society again. But I also think there is still momentum.


I still get lots and lots of calls about a lot of the, you know, Keran activity.


You know, the Karen in that white SUV is now kind of pivoted to Karens going crazy about masks.


You said it. I didn't. But yeah, I mean, so that's continuing to happen. And and really, when you see those videos, it's only white people and white women. Well, just it's white women and white men doing it. You don't see people of color doing that with the whole fake civil liberties issue and wearing masks.


But, you know, I think to a certain extent, this is a very ripe time for doing this work and moving ahead.


You know, as I said, and I am getting lots of calls to work with companies, and I that's not what I am used to doing, you know, because I think I have a different model as far as the education that the pedagogical spend that I use to engage people and thinking about their identities and how that is the root of all of this stuff and and different from the different from the basic human resources kind of model of dealing with this.


And I and I and I will admit that that a lot of the stuff that I did at school was that sort of human resources kind of thing, but obviously doesn't work.


We need a new model. I mean, it worked for what it needed to work for, but it doesn't really dismantle systemic and institutionalized racism and it doesn't.


So I you know, I think that when I think we have to look at ourselves individually, you know, there it has to be a multipronged approach. You have you are if you are in a business or something like that or your workplace, it has to come from the top. It also has to come from within.


You have to be examining your your attitudes, your beliefs, you know, whoever you are, when you know, whether you're white, whether you are a person of color and using that knowledge to. To further deepen and improve your relationships with other people, because, you know, there's this whole issue of proximity, like when you don't have a real relationship with somebody outside of your community, that's where the issues start.


You don't know like that lady on a trail like doing during the hike. She probably didn't know any black people. Right. And so I was a surprise to her. And so she didn't know how to act. And so she thought I didn't know what I was doing. And so when you don't have relationships with somebody like me or you go out on the trail, for example, you're not going to. Treat me in a way that I feel welcome or treat me like you treat everybody else.


And I think that that goes for any sort of relationship, whether you're in a workplace, whether you're just your personal relationships.


I think proximity as is, is very, very important. In the more you know yourself and the more you know about other people's identities, the better you are able to relate.


So the pedagogical difference that you're the place that you're coming from, that that's distinct from the the typical human resources model is what like what is what are you finding is most effective in terms of getting people to think differently about justice and ultimately behave differently?


First of all, with racism, you have to be able to name it so that you can actually see it. Right. And there all of these different types of racism. And no one, you know, before we didn't want to talk about racism too deeply because it's too heavy.


And a lot of people are coming from this color blind ideology where, you know, we you know, we are all the same people, we're all, you know, part of the human race, which is true. Right.


But then you when you don't acknowledge that our experiences are racialized and that that's where the problem starts and so on. And so that's sort of the that was the M.O. of diversity education.




So but now I think, you know, when you start naming races and you start talking about micro aggressions and what they are, what they look like, you start talking about, you know, what overt racism is.


You know, that's the sort of KKK proud boys Bogalusa like, that's that overt racism. And, yes, absolutely it happens. But the other kind of overt racism, that's the kind we have to watch out for. And so when you can name that, when you can, you know, again, talk about micro aggressions or or the colorblindness because that perpetuates racism. And actually people say that they're colorblind because they don't want to look like they're racists.


Well, also, I think somebody of my generation, we were brought up to believe that this is not only is this the aspiration, but to be nonracist is to be colorblind. Right. And that that belies the underlying truth, that perpetuates racism, which is to acknowledge these differences in order to transcend that. Right.


And so you're you kind of let yourself off the hook when you say that you are colorblind. And I I do want to acknowledge that that is a really Iblis term. Color evasiveness is probably a better term, but it's not used as widely. But, yeah, you you let yourself off the hook, you when you don't acknowledge that this actually exists and that my experience may be different from yours because I'm black and you are white, then you are absolutely perpetuating racism.


Because when you when you can't see it, when you don't see it, when you choose not to see it, you don't do anything about it.


Right. Right. Yeah, I get that. I get that. Yeah. It's a it's a it's, it's a heavy pill to swallow. But I don't think that we get to the other side of it without reckoning with that. Right. Real way. Absolutely.


And so. And so what. Why this is why my approach is like it focuses on here all the different kinds of racism that you might see.


Mm hmm. You know, when when you say that I am very articulate, what are you really saying? And when you say that with a sense of surprise and wonder, what are you saying? What is your underlying belief that made you surprised that I'm able to articulate myself in this particular man sitting across from me is much smarter than I expected because my expectation level is premised upon a base underlying assumption that you're going to be less intelligent, right?


Yeah, that's absolutely what it is. And it's horrible. My kid gets no one wants to think.


Yeah, of course, no one wants to believe that they would harbor that even if they're doing it unconsciously.


But if you can see that in yourself and I know that when I mention that particular thing in my course in people, I can see people's body language because maybe they have said that at one point to somebody who was black. Mm hmm.


That is the prime learning opportunity right there, because it's really uncomfortable. And, you know, and I and I focus on I was like, look, this is uncomfortable work. You know, I'm not going to call it I'm not going to outright call you a racist because I don't know who you are. I'm not going to say that. But if you can realize and acknowledge that some of the beliefs that you have that you have or that you've been socialized with are based on racist assumptions and stereotypes, then we can actually move so or move forward, rather.


So it's really interesting to to see that process happening.


I, I do get questions. I actually don't allow questions while I'm presenting.


Well, I saw you in the thread. You said you posted that you like reposted somebody who had posted a thread of, you know, the questions to ask in the midst of this kind of training to disrupt. Yeah. The curriculum.


Right. Right. And, you know, I'm the boss, so and I get to decide how I want my course to be. But because a lot of times it derails the work. A lot of times people will want to argue for argument's sake, let's say it's about obfuscation to try.


That's absolutely. Yeah. And so I I'm not doing it. This is my course. I developed it. You asked me, you came to me and you paid me to educate you. So that's what I'm going to do. And so.




And so like and it's and it's great to kind of lay these like really heavy things down and allow people to process it in pairs in breakout sessions on Zoome, which is a really cool feature I think, because, you know, people need time to.


To really start to relate the conceptual stuff to their own lives, right here is a definition of racism. Here's a definition of microaggression. Where have you seen that in your lives? You know, have you seen it happening to other people? Has have has a microaggression occurred in your own life? You know, as a woman, as someone said to you, you're strong for a woman or you're Fast's for a woman.


You know, those are all things that we hear constantly and they come at us. It's come at us all the time and they have a cumulative negative effect.


And so once people can see that, you know, whether we were talking about gender or or class, I mean, you can actually see that and name it, then you can do something about it.


It's got to be an uphill battle, though, when you're doing this. It's one thing to do it for people who are going out of their way to sign up for it and pay for it. But if you're coming into a corporation and you're in front of a group of people who are employees who've just been told like you have to do this like that, they didn't necessarily volunteer for it or want to be there.


And they're you know, you have the body language like resentful that they have to be there in the first place in order to really, you know, penetrate that kind of psyche and get them to grok where you're coming from. You're going to have to get them to put their guard down a little bit.


But here's yeah, there's that. But I also think that people who think they are not racist and who are liberals and progressives, that's the community I want to work with because I think that's where a lot of the danger lies.


When you think so elaborate, you are not perpetuating elaborate on them because that's a lot of people.


I mean, look at the Cooper lady who the Central Park.


Right. The Hillary Clinton supporting the Hillary Clinton Obama supporting woman who then turns and tries to get this black man arrested. We all saw the video, we saw the video. I mean, that guy who's on the board of the Audubon Society, the Harvard grad, Christin Cooper.


Yeah, that's people believe the name. The lady's name is Rebecca.


I mean, but. Yeah, but that's precisely why they had the same last name that I would like to work with. Right. People who, you know, they have given money to all of the progressive liberal things and they and they think that they are they are post-racial.


And they're actually not that's that's the kind of people I want to work with, the people who are so so that person sitting in front of you. How do you begin to deconstruct their identity around this?


As we go through a variety of of exercises?


I have to always define, I try to make sure that I define what these things are. We define identity. We define what, you know, social justice work is.


And then we go we go through here. Race is an identity. Gender is an identity, sexual preference or sexual orientation. That's an identity. We go through all of that so they can see that all of these things, all of these aspects of who you are, you know, inform the way you walk through the world. And so I ask them to look at a part of their identity before we start talking about race and. And really examine where they have been privileged with this particular identity and how this identity offers disadvantage.


So we talk about privilege and disadvantage and then it really gets them thinking about, oh, well, you know, I'm a woman. And so a lot of times people think I. I'm not strong or that I am bossy. When a man would be seen as assertive.


So in other words, you're trying to get them to identify with some analog of that experience.


And you need to be really conversant in the language. I think that is very, very important to know what those things are, because, again, when you name it. You can know it, right, and you can see it, and so there's a lot of pushback. Oh, well, that's so that's just, you know, all this political correctness, but like, political correctness is really aimed at people not being assholes and and thinking before they speak, thinking before they act.


That's what that is. I mean, and it takes it takes energy and effort. So.


Yeah, yeah. I mean, but I like that approach because the alternative is saying you think you're a good person and you do all these things that are civic minded, but you're actually not a good person for not tell.


Here's what I know. I know. But like but that's how it will be. It will be received. Right. And then immediately that person is going to shut down.


But here's where pedagogy comes in. So you give them opportunities to practice. Another thing that you're not talking about yet, right, you give them opportunities to practice with, gender to practice with.


What if you're a white dude like me, right? Yes. But like, you know, there are tons of aspects of identity. I mean, like, you know, you we have, you know, in addition to race, ethnicity, we've got your regional background. That's a part of your identity. Body image is a part of your identity because that is very culturally informed.


I say class class. You know, how does your class privilege you? How does it disadvantage you the way your body looks? How does that privilege you?


How does that disadvantage you, your leisure activities? You know, what does that say about how you are privileged in life? What does it say about how like your or your lack of access to leisure activities? What does that say about your class, about where you live, about your access to leisure? Mm hmm. And so there are all these different things, your family structure.


You know, a lot of times I mean, I've been married for 20 years.


A lot of people don't know that. And, you know, it's it looks like a traditional family from the outside, but we're not traditional.


But like your family structure, my privilege, your disadvantage, you a lot of people thought that I was a single mom. Mm hmm. They probably still think I'm a single mom because my husband is not on social media.


And so people are going to have a particular reaction to me thinking that I am a single mom. You know, maybe she's one of those black ladies that just whatever didn't want to get married or whatever. I get a lot of that that sort of attitude or the husband and the dad, right?


Yeah. Where's the baby daddy? That sort of thing.


And so the way you speak your accent, that is a part of your identity, the language you speak the and my husband is West African, so he speaks with the Francophone French accent.


And people will have a particular reaction. You know, they'll slow their speech down and get louder because they think that he doesn't understand them.


And so all of those things affect the way you just you are the way you people look at you, the way they react with you, the way they react to you or interact with you. And so.


You know, you're from Maryland, right? Mm hmm. Maryland, Michigan, Michigan, grew up in Maryland, grew up in Maryland. Right. And so I grew up in I grew up in Bethesda.


All right. I was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Like, I'm you know, I grew up upper middle class and then, you know, upper class, basically, like I come from a privileged background and I'm a white dude and I've gone through my life aware of that privilege. But not to the extent that you're speaking up. Like, I haven't thought about it as broadly as I should have.


Right. And so. Yeah. So all of these things and. Well, now Trapattoni needs right. To start thinking about those things.


And and I and I feel like, you know, as somebody who's been in recovery for a long time and who's been in therapy forever, like I I feel, you know, fairly equipped to do that introspective part of this. And I know how to take, you know, personal inventory of my behavior. Like, I have plenty of work to do, believe me. But I'm probably better suited to doing that kind of stuff than a lot of people who haven't had the privilege to have some of those experiences where they've been compelled to look inward.


Right. In a way that I have.


I mean, I don't know what that means, but I think recognizing that the work is hard, it's hard and it is important.


It's hard for me. I mean, I think it is so hard.


What about, in your mind, like how the social media play in all of this? There's great things about it and terrible things. It's being, you know, weaponized for villainous purposes. But it's also cast a spotlight on these issues in a in a unique way that we haven't seen in the history of humanity. And I just know that I can find myself paralyzed, wanting to say the right thing or being part of the solution.


You're smiling and yet feeling like, do I really want to hit publish on this? Like, what's going to happen? Did I get this right? Am I wrong? Where is that fear coming from? Why do I feel that way? Should I should I not you know. You know what? Do you understand this thing like what's going on with much, much social media?


Absolutely no place. I think both a positive and negative part, our negative role in all of this.


And I think that the big social media companies, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the other ones.


Tick tock, am I missing anymore?


There's more MySpace, Friendster throwbacks. I think they have a huge responsibility.


And and no one figure out, like, is this the world that we want to be in? Are we going to be the ones to who enable racism to continue happening or sexism or, you know, with the whole like GamerGate, for example, you know, that just just continues to go on and on and on and, you know, all in the name of free speech.


Well, what is free speech really like? What is it? Is it you know, are we going to continue to to denigrate people of a certain races or sexes or genders or whatever?


Are we going to continue to let that happen in the name of free speech? You know, are we going to continue to endanger the lives of people who are black, who are people of color, who are women, who are trans? And I think that I think social media plays a huge part in that because, you know. Look at what's happening with misinformation spreading and, you know, on various platforms, we're puppets in this massive experiment in humanity and I don't think that we're.


Outfitted to really navigate it as cautiously as we should, like they're completely unregulated. These companies are are, you know, some better than others trying to figure out how to get their heads around, how to better, you know, create a healthier environment for global conversation.


But it's not we're not doing a very good job. You know what I mean? And and and and I think it's it's also making us aware of how easily manipulated we are when information campaigns are targeted in a specific way to get us to behave and think in a very specific way. And we haven't really figured out a solution for this. And yet it continues to grow and expand and become more and more a part of our lives.


Yeah, and it's really scary. It's it's especially scary.


And we're both beneficiaries of this, perhaps.


Certainly think, you know, everybody, thank you. Instagram, which makes it make which, you know, creates another layer of weirdness.


That is really what I'm participating in this thing. I'm benefiting from it. But it's also.


But you're trying to publish it in a way that gives back and that gives good stuff to people. Right. I'm trying.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.


And I say I would say that of myself also, you know, I am not trying to, number one, spread misinformation and definitely not trying to be racist or sexist or homophobic or you or what have you or classist. But then there are entities that are out there trying to do that. Q And on hello. And finally trying to crack down.


Finally, finally, how long did that take? You know, and speaking of, you know, being in a really weird space, like I just participated on this Facebook panel for community leaders. I have a very large community on Facebook called Facher Running. It's amazing. You don't have to be fat to join. And they really wanted to uplift the black community Facebook group community leaders.


And it was a phenomenal discussion sponsored by Facebook utilizing Facebook tools that that's the world that I want to be in.


But then you have the other side and you square that with their ad revenue model and what they're allowing to take place there. And it doesn't it it's it almost feels like they're doing that to distract you from what they're really doing and what they're to do, what their business is really promised.


Yeah. And it's confusing when, you know, campaign advertising is just a drop in the bucket of how they make their money. And it would be so easy for them to say we're dispensing with that and it really wouldn't affect their bottom line or their PNL.


And so what the question is, what what is really behind that? You know, I mean, I don't know. It's a rhetorical question, but maybe it's not a rhetorical question.


It's, you know, what is what is behind that? The fact that they won't end that.


And by you doing that panel, it just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.


It does it, you know, like, oh, Facebook all the way. But yeah. And but I don't forget I mean, there is a huge cognitive dissonance there where, you know, you have that part of Facebook that really sort of dark part of Facebook and then but then all of the the good stuff. And I you know, I'm I'm going to keep doing the good stuff.


Uh, it's never going to be balanced. It's you know, there's always going to be the that dark matter. Right. To contend with. But but I think that's the way the world works, you know, even though there's a lot of dark stuff, there's a lot of heavy stuff we have to I think that, you know, if you have joy to exude, then you should if you have good things to give, then you should maybe we won't win, you know?


Well, you know, we should still do it.


There is something to be said for, you know, the power of the camera that we all have in our pocket and the fact that so many of these incidents that have created the upheaval were documented on video and shared on social media platforms that catalyzed this conversation. There's a cascade effect where that leads to a backlash and a lot of anger and all the other things that we're seeing at the same time. But we can't extract social media from the, you know, the current state of affairs with respect to the civil rights movement.


Right. Those things are completely integrated in a way that I think is new. And there there's certainly benefits to that as well.


And that it's the way that this generation operates. You know, you think about digital natives and like that is the way that they live. You think of my son, you know, who does I. Thing I see tick is tick tock as things is as young people, he thinks you have a tick tock, tick out, not have a dramatic account.


My daughters told me that I was not allowed to go.


I'm also not allowed to I was not allowed to have Snapchat.


I had that for a while and my daughters were not happy. I've used it forever.


But and yeah, it's it's a really interesting thing, but an interesting way that they live now.


Everything is online and and that's how they communicate with one another.


Well, it's creating a whole new language. I mean, my daughter's. Communicate on ticktock, not through like they'll make videos that are shared publicly that are in a weird way, like communications with their friends that only they can decode.


It's so strange.


Yeah, my my son makes his big thing, is making your gaming commentary videos. And I have not seen any of this stream like a game.


And he doesn't scream or he like he he'll play the game and then he I don't actually really know what he does because the whole set.


Yeah. And in the room with a lot of computers and mikes and stuff. And then I hear him creating sound bytes because that's what they do and and then commenting on various people playing games and who's like cursing and that on YouTube.


It's apparently it is.


He will not allow me to see any of the videos because he says that they are cringeworthy. And so but, you know, that's that's a way of being for him.


And whether or not he's communicating with other people, I don't know. Yeah, but it is moving fast, you know.


You know, I'm still on Facebook and Instagram, right. Maybe I'll be dancing on Tic-Tac. Hutto's right.


All right. So let's go back to Alicia. Like, what does it look like to you to be for someone like myself, to be like a good white ally?


I wish we could get rid of the word ally.


Let's get rid of it then. What would you be an advocate? Be an advocate and do the work.


That's what that's what it looks like. It looks like you are doing what you do now, asking questions of yourself, evaluating your behavior, your actions, your attitudes, your thoughts all the time.


It's really, really tiring. But that's what you have to do if you want to continue doing the work, if you want to be an anti-racist, if you want to. Call yourself someone who is an advocate, I think Ally is a term that's been diluted. So I think a better a better way to think of of doing this work is advocacy advocacy for other people. Uh huh.


And I like I like transcending the these some of these words.


And I think that's another word that can't stand. Yeah. Yeah.


When I was getting ready for today, I read an article I was poking around the Internet to see what was new with you that I might not have come across previously. And there was there was a woman who wrote an article that was titled Something like Body Positivity Isn't Enough, We Need Exclusivity. And it was premised upon her being mistaken for you.


Did you see this? Was it Latoya? I mean, I can't remember.


I don't know. La La Toya Graham. Yeah, we get we get confused all the time.


But it was interesting because it was all about like because you're you know, the moniker that gets attached to you is, oh, she's the body positivity person. But it's really it's about moving past that. Yeah. To something bigger and broader.


Right. You can you can say that I believe all bodies are good bodies. You can say that. But do you really believe that? Mm hmm. How are you going to welcome that person. Yeah.


Right. Are you going to welcome like I I am considered a small fat.


They're always like, oh, these names for differently than fat people.


There's like super fat and there's some other types of fat people. But like, to a certain extent, I my kind of fatness is acceptable. But then anyone who's bigger than I am and a lot of the body positive community is not seen as acceptable. So like the term body positivity.


Like, what does that even mean to striation that the body?


Does it mean that all bodies are good bodies or are only certain bodies are good bodies? And so that's why that's why I try not to use the term anymore.


I do prefer to use inclusion because you include more and more people into your sphere, whether it's body positivity, whether it's, you know, whether whether we're talking about combating and dismantling racism when you're giving your talks or you're going all these races when there wasn't covid, do you buy for, Kate, the diversity training part of your brain and your advocacy from Myrna, the maneuverer, the runner, the inclusively on the trails person? Or are these all do you think of these things all wrapped up into one sort of thing?


Because when I get hired to speak, you know, I but all of the various things that I do and that I'm about I mean, that's what I do, you know. So if you invite me to speak and chances are you invited me to speak to to either talk about diversity in the outdoors or or to talk about, you know, I give a thing called a workshop called Passion Forward, where I speak on your work being a reflection of your core values and my core values.


And I present my core values. My core values are joy, adventure, community and inclusion. That's everything I am.


So and I think that permeates anytime I anytime I do a workshop that that sentiment of, you know, my core values permeate every single word that I say.


Hmm. I like that.


I like the clarity on your core values. It took me a long time. Yeah. So you get how did you how did you what was that process?


Well, because people kept asking me about my brand and what I don't I'm not a company. I mean. Yeah, but it's a weird thing isn't it. It's a brand. What's your brand? And then as I started looking into what a brand is, there was a lot of talk about core values and guiding principles.


I was like, oh, I can get with that. I know what my core values are.


And then and then I had to I was at an event that I wasn't supposed to be speaking at. And all of a sudden I was called to speak in place of someone who couldn't make their their workshop. And I so I had to develop a workshop in 24 hours on something career related. And so I'm really good at this. Like, Oh, you want me to speak in twenty minutes? OK, do you have any idea what you want.


OK, I got it, I got it done.


Oh well that's so I came back as being an educator teacher. Panic do that. Yeah.


I mean had it been a few years before I would have, I would panic because this is a new community to me. This is a fancy. Type outdoor community that I had to do this in front of, and so I said, OK, well, I'm very happy that I was a teacher and I know how to do that. I know how to put together a lesson plan and, you know, have some learning goals and some experiential stuff in there.


And so that's what I did. And I said, well, you know, I can talk about. My transition from being a teacher to doing what I do now and how I achieved how it was able to leave teaching and still kind of maintain some integrity about who I am and this new thing that I do. And so and then I came up with those four things as sort of my guiding principles, like in the couple of hours that I had before I had to do this, this presentation.


And so, as I you know, I've refined it a little bit.


And because I had there were some other things that were my core values.


But those those are the four that really, really speak to me and and are really present in everything that I do. So, yeah. And are you still doing the you've got these running retreats, the slow as fuck running retreats.


Did you actually do these or did you do absolutely good. That's like the best name ever throw that, you know, over and over because it's like, oh, all the fear people have.


Like I can't get them running three tiers down a wall. Right.


Oh, I don't think I can do that. I can. I'm slow as fuck. Right. Exactly. Exactly.


And so and where one of those about we're going to do that. So. So yes, they are called slow as fuck chill running adventures and I.


I created them specifically to serve a community that that is made up of runners, some of them are plus size runners, some of them are not much.


But everybody slow and and by slow, I mean, we don't run. What if what if you're fast and you want to go? And I tell people, I said, this is not for you.


This is not the experience for you, because we're going to be on the trails. We will run, we will walk, we will take selfies. We will have a picnic. It'll be a whole day thing. This is not competitive. You should not be you should not consider this as training, because we're just going to we're going to we're going to play it by ear. Yeah. Play by ear. And yes. Pick Daisy. Some of them.


We're going to climb mountains. We're going to do some we're going to do some sort of reflection work and we're having a good time.


So so, yeah, like many people, the very first one I did was twenty two people, which was a lot of people.


Do you just do it in your backyard trailer.


I go, I, I rent a house somewhere. Huh. And that's near a lot of trails and. Yeah. And I bring people in and contract. A lot of people enter to do yoga meditation and I you know, had Rasmus, who's a pole dancer, come in and do some sensual movement without a pole just so that and the goal being that people begin to get more comfortable in their own bodies and in the space that they inhabit.


And they transfer that out onto the trails and hopefully in the rest of their lives. And so so that's fun. And so, yeah, so that's what we do. Another thing that I'm good at is bringing people in to create like a really fantastic experience that just is not only centered on me because, you know, I can people I can talk about others do give presentations like that.


Yeah. That are fun, that are engaging.


So I did my first virtual it wasn't called slow as fuck. It was love your body, love your body and run virtual retreat. And so we did that and had some of the same people do like Rozz did her sensual movement on Zoome.


You know, we, we read and we did some writing, we talked, we did talk about body image and that. And then the beginning of the day and the end of the day were reserved for running and we and everyone was prompted. So you always had a prompt from the the writing teacher that was there that you'd be able to think about on your own.


Right. So they're like being based like that. That's cool. Yeah. That's the teacher in me. Yeah.


When do you think we're going to be able to get back to doing stuff with people in person again, maybe then next year.


I don't think it's going to be anytime soon. Now do you have Zoome fatigue?


I oh absolutely. Sometimes I'm on Zoome a lot like and everyone wants to meet now everyone. You know what used to be a phone call.


Right now we have to now it always has to be on video or face time.


I don't know. No not at eight o'clock in the morning anyway. And I know now and sometimes I just, I will just turn my video off and like I could have been a phone call.


I find it very draining. It is because you always have the smile. You're always on my face hurts after every single zoom. Yeah.


You know, or Microsoft teams, whatever platform they're using. But that is definitely tiring. But I think people really are are hungry for interaction and connection with human beings outside of their homes.


Yeah, yeah, I know. I mean, I don't know.


I just this is like my one outlet where I get to be with people. And other than that, I'm just at home, aside from the occasional grocery store visit. And it's definitely, you know, I thought at the beginning of this whole coronavirus pandemic, stay at home thing, like I'm kind of an introvert, you know, basically, I like to stay at home anyway. I go trail running by myself. My life isn't that different. But, you know, even for somebody like me who I felt I feel like I've been training my whole life for this, like I'm going to be totally fine.


It really has created, like, this melancholy that's, I think, going to be you know, we're I think we're going to see a lot of mental health issues. You know, we're already starting to see it. But, you know, long term and what is it what is the impact on young people? You know, I have a sixteen year old daughter. Thirteen year old daughter like these are Korona kids, like what is twenty years from now?


What is the imprint of this experience on how they think about life and what their experience is going to be?


Right. I worry about my kid who was extremely independent and I mean to a fault.


And, you know, the first couple of weeks that we were in lockdown, just kids not afraid of anything, but like in the middle of the night, I heard the wind knocking on the window and got freaked out. And I was like, OK, please check in on your kids because, you know, it was it was out of character. And I ran into my room was like, what's that? You know? And so I was like, oh, whoa, this is this is weird because, you know, nothing.


Wake him up ever. But clearly, he was having some anxiety about something and about not being able to we travel a lot as a family then not being able to travel, not, you know, not being able to go outside without fearing getting sick. You know, he wouldn't go to the supermarket for a very long time. Yeah.


What is the psychological implication of just being afraid to be in the presence of another human being? Right.


And it's because they're like in this like, truly formative part of their development as teenagers. And so whatever happened, whatever happens now, it's going to stick with everybody. But like particularly, you know, their brains are still developing. You know, that prefrontal cortex is not finished growing yet.


And so, you know, I'm sure that there are, you know, some genetic imprints happening now because of coronavirus and locked down and not not being able to do the things that. Teenagers should be doing it would be an interesting sociological experiment to look at the kids who went through the 1918 pandemic and to see, you know, what what what kind of culture was like 20, 30 years later and how that impacted by choices that they made.


Because there's got to be a corollary there and something we can learn from that from looking at that. Yeah, I know. Deep stuff. Yeah.


Is there a difference in living in.


I mean, Vermont's pretty progressive place, I would suspect, compared to Georgia. Yeah. Like it's got to be different for you.


Vermont is magical. It is. I loved where I lived. I mean, like where I lived in Georgia, but I. Adore Vermont. I mean, it is for the most part, very progressive and and liberal, I mean, I'm very left leaning, so I mean, it's kind of the perfect place for me to be, even though it is, I think, the third way to state. Yeah, it's pretty wild in the country, but I definitely I feel fairly safe.


I live.


Everybody knows where I live and where my son live. Why does everyone know where you live?


Because, well, I live on a very I live on Main Street and I see everything and everyone passes through Main Street. And and now that I now that we've been home, mom, you know.


Yeah, when I started living there is still traveling a lot. And so I would come for like two or three days.


What is your Sunday when you're gone. He is. My son is into culinary. Huh. And we call him AATB for Gordon Ramsay, the black.


Okay. Could you go with Gordon Ramsay and also a culinary. So he right now he's actually right now having a cooking lesson with one of my friends. Oh wow. He's learning how to cook.


He didn't come on this trip, you know, because he didn't he didn't want to was I said, hey, we're going to be staying at a nice hotel and now you're just going to enjoy the fact that I I'm the only one using the bathroom. So, yeah, again, very independent, very self-sufficient, loves cooking and loves playing basketball. So he's found a friend that plays basketball with him in in Montpelier. And, you know, he's such a good time.


He really likes it. And like, I don't worry about him. And actually, Montpelier has a new police chief who is black. Hmm. We'll see what that means.


But people are very you know, people are very interested in social justice and they work actively towards it. Not everybody, but a lot of people do.


And there's a lot of discussion and and conversation. You know, after after we had our Black Lives Matter protests in Montpelier, the number of people who said hi to me is running on the right path or, you know, people, you know, honking their horns.


Hey, look, you know, you can always be nice to people.


I mean, that's kind of that's kind of like the Venmo thing, right? A little bit.


Yeah, it is it. And even for me, it's like, OK, you know, I reached out to you for you to come back on the podcast. So that's is that really that different? You know, because I was like, oh, I knew you were a diversity teacher. You know, we had a rapport from last time and you'll be great to come and talk to each other.


Right. We have had conversations and I found myself thinking, is she going to think that like because I said the same thing to to a friend of mine the other day, I was like, oh, so, you know, every black person's phone's ringing off the hook now. Right?


And it's true. Yeah. And so and I did that. I reached out to you for you to come back on. And I'm thinking, well, I think that's where, you know, we're working.


I think that's part of the skill.


Yes. I mean, I so I think that for me, I saw the importance in exercising this muscle that I have in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion at this time, but not for everybody, you know, because a lot of people did reach out, you know, hey, can you talk about this or that?


You know, when when they're when we don't have any previous relationship or or because they don't know any other black people, you know?


So, yeah. So I've had to be very judicious about choosing when and where I speak and and with whom. Right. Because there are so many years.


Did some of your sponsors reach out to you for help trying to figure out how to communicate around this?


Yeah, I hope you try to charge them for that, because this is like a big it's very important how they configure their their, you know, corporate communication around this issue that's so fraught at the moment. Right. Like, that's a very valuable.


Yeah, but I but I've definitely said that as I I can't solve your company's problems. Well, you know, whatever they might be in terms of systemic racism or structural racism within the company. But what I can do is I can talk to your people and give them some tools and strategies for for educating themselves and for you examining the. Our own attitude, because, I mean, that spills over into your work and your personal life, right? So you will need to hire somebody else to deal with that hire H.R. level type of thing or the like.


Is this Instagram post OK? Right. So, yeah, I don't do that.


But I what I do is the interpersonal stuff and and so yes, I've definitely. I have some large clients, some good, I'm sure, which I will tell you off. I mean, you're you're the you're you you're perfectly suited for that. You know, you have the experience. This is what you do.


Well, you know what? It's and I'm really grateful, but it's also like it's very necessary work. And, you know, if I can give to the movement in this one specific way, then I will continue to do it. All right.


Well, let's land this plane. But I can't let you go without getting a gauge like. Are we are you optimistic?


I'm extremely optimistic. But my optimism is definitely rooted in reality, though. Like, you know, I use, you know, what's going on now. The awfulness of the situation or situations that we are in now and and I use that to sort of fill myself with hope, because I know that I know that things can be better and that I know that things have been better.


They can be better again, but we have to do the work in order for that to happen. And so that's why that's why I do what I do.


So someone's listening to this, and this is like their initiation into thinking about this a little bit more deeply than they have. Where does that person begin if they can't, you know, be privy to your to my very expensive course?


Yeah. Or like like where where do you direct those people? I. I think you should be reading I think reading is really good. You know, you. Doing all of the, you know, looking through all the checklists of 25 resources for you. There's a lot of those. I think that's important. I think that's I think it's a very, very important starting point. But I also think that you should and it's very it's difficult now.


But you need to broaden your circle. You need to have you need to be proximate to different kinds of people and start embracing their various identities, you know, examine your own. Examine the way in which you were socialized. And then see other people, see others identities, embrace them, welcome them into your life. I think that's a that's the way to go. Thanks for coming here today. It's my pleasure, as always. It was fun.


You're always welcome here. Thanks.


Good luck with the surgery in three weeks at the end of August. End of August. Yeah.


What's the rehab plan for that? How long before you're back out there? Start immediately. The day after. This is an arthroscopic thing.


And stay on the bike. Got some bikers coming up. Yeah, a potential bike sponsor.


Oh, shameless shout out. You know where to reach her.


Oh, I already got one in the works. OK. All right. And yeah. And and I as soon as I can. But I'm not going to I'm not going to push it. I'm not going to force it.


I'm going to let my body heal because literally there are no races until January and that might not even happen. So I'm just going to let myself heal if I need to keep hiking and cycling for longer than I'm going to keep doing that.


I mean, I still get to be outside and I'm in Vermont. Yeah, I can stand up and board, even though I hate that, you know, I can I can do some climbing. If I wanted to, I could you know, I could swim in the lake. So I'm good. Cool.


Yeah. All right. If you want to if you want to learn more about Marina, check out the show notes on the episode page. I'll link up a bunch of stuff, including a bunch of the resources that we were talking about earlier. Definitely. We don't even talk about your book. We talked about it last time, but a beautiful work in progress, which is a beautiful book. You did an amazing job on that book. I highly suggest everybody check that out.


You can listen to our earlier conversation, which I'll link up in the show notes as well.


And you're pretty easy to find on the Internet provider, basically, right? Yeah.


All right, Bill, thanks so much. Enjoy the rest of your stay here. These plans.


All right, we did that and it was good. I hope you guys enjoy that. She's just so lovely.


What an incredible human being. My only regret from this conversation is that I didn't compel her or ask her to sing opera at the end like I did at the end of our first conversation. Episode three four. You go check that out if you missed it the first time. She has an incredible Juilliard trained voice. And after the podcast, I was like, Oh, I forgot to ask you to do it. She said I was ready to do it.


I was warming up and I was prepared to sing. So anyway, again, my only regret. But that aside, I thought that was amazing. I hope you guys enjoyed it as well. Please give Myrna a shout out on the Sociales. Let her know how this one landed for you. She's at the maneuverer on both Instagram and Twitter. We also have another roll on amay coming up this week. So if you would like your question answered, leave us a voicemail at four two four, two, three, five, four, six, two six.


Or you can drop it on our Facebook group page. If you'd like to support the work we do here on the show, subscribe rate and comment on it on Apple podcast, on Spotify and on YouTube. Share the show or your favorite episodes with friends or on social media. I love seeing the screen grabs and little videos that people share and I tend to spread them around from time to time. So thank you for that. And you can support us on Patriota ritual dot com forward slash donate.


Thanks to everybody who helps put on this show. Week in, week out. Jason Caramello for audio engineering production show notes and interstitial music. Blake Curtis for videoing today's show. Jessica Mirana for Graphics. Ashley Rogers for Portraits, DKA for advertising relationships and theme music by and Alema. Thanks the love you guys. See you back here in a couple of days with another roll on amay. Until then, be well. Get outside, try to experience a little bit of joy and maybe think a little bit more profoundly and deeply about body inclusion, diversity and.


Uncovering our own unconscious beliefs, piece plans.