Where you won’t find trendy business tactics, but you will find truthful insights and timeless stories from leaders to look up to.
Ep. 002 | Curate Conversations With Pia Beck
“We need to deeply question how we feel, and acknowledge that as humans we’re going to go through phases where we’re more swayed by peer pressure and influence. But, we have to be willing to look at ourselves and examine how we’re living our lives to make that change a lasting one, to really dig in and make it a sustainable we-culture.” — Sara Blanchard
PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Today’s episode features Misasha Sukuzi Graham, and Sara Blanchard — who met at Harvard during undergrad where they walked out of a racial identity conversation because they’d just had enough. 25 years later, they’re best friends discussing and thinking about issues of race and identity and the impact it has on our communities, and our understanding of history, politics and the future of democracy.
In this episode, we talk about the importance of asking why, how they measure success doing work that doesn’t have an end, what it looks like to get uncomfortable talking about important issues in a productive way, how we can reinforce “we” culture to bridge divides, and they answer the question: “What do I DO to be more anti-racist?”.
They’re both biracial (Japanese/white) daughters of one immigrant parent and one white parent. They co-host the podcast: Dear White Women, and recently co-wrote and published a book called: Dear White Women: Let’s Get Un(comfortable) Talking about Racism.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- The book: Dear White Women: Let’s Get (Un)comfortable Talking About Racism
- Curate Community Membership (code PODCAST for 20% off)
[00:00:00] [00:01:00] [00:02:00] This episode features Misasha Suzuki Graham and Sarah Blanchard. Who met at Harvard during undergrad, where they walked out of a racial identity conversation because they’ve just had enough 25 years later. They’re best friends discussing and thinking about issues of race and identity and the impact it has on our communities and our understanding of history, politics, and the future of democracy.
In this episode, we talk about the importance of asking why, how they measure success, doing work that doesn’t have an end. What it looks like to get uncomfortable, talking about important issues in a productive way. How we can reinforce we culture to bridge divides. And they answer the question, what do I do to be more anti-racist. They’re both biracial, Japanese white daughters of one immigrant parent, and one white parent.
They co-host the podcast, Dear White Women. And recently co-authored a book called, “Dear white women, let’s get uncomfortable [00:03:00] talking about racism.” A graduate of Harvard college and Columbia law school. Misasha Suzuki Graham has been a practicing litigator for over 15 years and is passionate about diversity equity and inclusion in the legal profession, as well as in her communities.
She’s a facilitator writer and speaker regarding issues of racial justice, especially with regards children. And the co-author of , “Dear white women, let’s get uncomfortable talking about racism.” And the co-host of Dear White Women, a social justice podcast. Misasha, who is biracial, Japanese and white is married to a black man and is the proud mom of two very active, multiracial young boys.
They live in the bay area of California with their largely indifferent cat. Sarah Blanchard helps build community and connection through conscious conversations. Which she does as a facilitator, TEDx speaker, writer, and consultant. After graduating from Harvard and working at Goldman Sachs, Sarah pursued the science and techniques of wellbeing and is a certified life coach, author of “Flex Mom” and [00:04:00] cohost ofDear White Women, a social justice podcast. Sarah is biracial Japanese and white, married to a white Canadian man and is raising their two white presenting girls to be compassionate, thoughtful advocates. They live in Denver, Colorado with their incredibly lovable dog. This episode is an honest conversation about complex problems without easy answers and Misasha and Sarah beautifully approach big topics with grace, welcoming us all into their work.
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Welcome Sarah and Misasha. Thank you so much for being here. I am so incredibly excited to talk to both of you as I was getting ready for this episode, I had more questions that we’re probably going to be able to fit in our conversation. And I really just can’t wait to hear everything that you [00:06:00] have to say.
So thank you so, so much for joining us. Thank you so much for having us we’re really excited to be here. So the first question that, uh, I always like to ask is in your own measure of success, tell us about what you’re proud of. So this could be number of podcasts downloads. It could be number of books, sold something someone said to you once about your work or a recent achievement or award or an impact you’ve had on your community, whatever you want.
Tell us how you are qualifying or quantifying success today. Who’s going first. I’m going to let you go first. Cause I think this is the question you ask me more often. Cause you, yeah. And this is why your answer, my answer is going to actually surprise you. I’m ready. Okay. Let’s hear it. It was when your husband said that our book was good.
Oh my gosh. I’m going to have, I’m going to actually have to make him listen to this. He never listens to our podcasts or like does we’re very separate in the work that we do. So, yeah. And so when, when after years of [00:07:00] doing the podcast and then we got this book out and like, it is such a personal mission.
Right. And so for him to read the book and give it his blessing, if you will, I was like, yes, we’ve done it. I really felt like that meant more than anything. Any more than any of the sales or numbers or anything else for me, I think that’s really powerful also because he acknowledged that the book, I mean, it’s called “Dear white women.Right. Let’s get uncomfortable talking about racism.” And he’s a black man. So he, he knows that this book wasn’t written for him. Right. And a lot of what is in the book he grew up living or experiencing or knowing. And so for him to say that, I think I appreciate how you feel about that because it was very gratifying for me as well, because they think he, he realized the tone that we used and how we approached the work that we were doing.
And it was sort of it was really, I think, feeling seen on some levels, but also um, [00:08:00] understanding that this work, the book while it’s titled, that is not just for white women, let’s say. And and he got some stuff, especially from the third section of the book that I think was new to him. And so. So I love that though.
I’m going to tell him that. That was such a good answer. Let Misasha, what about you? Well, so I tell this story a lot now um, when I feel up to it and I think and it directly goes to, you know, when we were writing this book, right. It was in 2020, so like nothing was going on, you know, pretty chill year.
Like no homeschooling, your kids know you know, sarcasm. Yeah. I have a lot, I know it’s hard to control sometimes. But you know, and, and the question was, we have this podcast, right. And we’re trying to homeschool our kids at the same time. We’re dealing with everything that sort of 2020 is throwing at us. We had this opportunity to write this book and we had to have a very frank conversation between the two of [00:09:00] us about like, why, why were we going to write this book? Right. And, and so Sarah asked me, why, why are we going to write this? You know, why should we do this now? Basically. And I remember, cause I was driving and I’m driving and, and where I live is pretty hilly.
So I had to pull over to the side because I wanted to make sure that my answer was clear. But it was like one of those speed round questions where it’s like, say the first thing that comes to your mind. Right. And you’re like, okay, go. And so I said, the first thing that came to my mind and it was I’m trying to save my kids’ lives.
And so to this day, the measure of success for me, with regard to the podcast, the book, all of that is if one person hears that, right. Here’s our podcast. Here’s something in our podcast reads, reads our book or has a conversation, even with someone who’s read our book . And that person makes a different choice, right.
Then they were going to make, especially if that choice relates to whether my, one of my boys lives or dies right. Or, or gets out of a situation in a different way. Right. [00:10:00] That to me is success. I don’t care if we sell. I, yeah. Any more books past that point. I don’t care if we have any other podcast listeners.
I don’t really care if we do anything else. I mean, I do care, but I don’t really care because that, to me, that is enough, right? Because that is the goal. That is why, that is my personal, why for doing this work. And I, and for, for my kids and for kids who look like them, right. And, and for kids who are always othered.
So that was a very long answer, but, but it’s a very simple measure. And just to asterisk that I would say that having been raised in this system of, of success, like what does success mean? It’s usually money or power or therefore like book sales or downloads. It was a mind trip and a journey for me to get to this point.
So I’m really actually proud of us that these are our truths right now, because at the beginning of this journey, that was not, I did not expect that this would be our answer at this point. And that’s really cool. Do [00:11:00] you remember how many conversations we had around? Like, what is that metric of success?
Right. And is it podcast downloads? Is it number of followers on social media? Is it number of books sold? Is it overall sort of revenue from that? Like, and, and so we went back and forth and back and forth, and I think removing those sort of traditional metrics that are so prevalent in capitalism. Right.
And, and how we’ve been raised to, to, to sort of value things. I agree. I think it’s really look at us in 2025. Y’all nailed that. And that’s exactly why I asked that question and you just like hit it out of the park. I think it’s so important to actually think about what matters right, too, to see that those, whatever metrics exist are there and to acknowledge them for what they are, and then to look beyond those things or look deeper than those things and answer the bigger question, which is okay.
And why, why does that matter? Right? Why does people listening to our podcast matter? Why does people [00:12:00] reading this book matter and Misasha I remember the first time we connected and I asked you about your book and you gave this succinct, powerful answer. I’m trying to save my kids’ lives. Mic drop. I was like, I have to interview these people.
That was the best answer to any question I’ve ever asked anyone in the history of asking people questions. So thank you so much for getting us started on such a strong note and obviously a big part of what you both do is personal. You both have personal stories and, uh, your mission is interwoven with your families.
And that shifted when you both became mothers. That’s what you said, right? This was something that obviously has been a part of your lives and a part of your story for a long time. And now that you have children that shifted your perspective even more. And so asking as someone who grew up in a position of privilege in many different ways, and as someone who is just now approaching a phase of my life, where I’m starting to consider parenthood, [00:13:00] what do you see is the work for white women specifically to do, to interrupt the generational cycle of systemic oppression?
Just light conversation here, you we’ll just, oh, you know, I think the number one thing, and it’s something that we’ll probably come back to a lot during this conversation, but it’s to remember that what you just said was white privileged, right? Like people who present as white have a race and it’s being white and there is a whole set of stereotypes and characteristics that are being lumped on white people as well.
And so if we’re comfortable calling people black or Asian or native American or, or whatever, we are referring to people, as in terms of their race, we have to get ourselves comfortable with saying that white people are also a race and confront with our truth. Like how has that shaped my lens through which I see the world.
And I think when you think about parenthood, you know, I think back to where, and when [00:14:00] we were kids and I wasn’t raised with more conscious conversations at the forefront of our mind. Right, but the those were the days where people got spanked and children were like quieter. And you were sort of in control.
I think in general, everything has come to this point where we’ve had years of, you know, psychological understanding and you know, how humans operate. We’ve just learned so much about people. And so the same way that I think parenting has shifted to doing more like things like natural consequences and, and helping support children’s development in age appropriate ways.
I think conversations around race and identity are also changing and, and have grown to uh, a different plane. And we have to, in order to give our kids the leg up to understand themselves understanding their racial identity is one of those things. We’d be, ignoring a really vital part of how they show up in this world.
If we don’t teach them to be comfortable and fluent in the language of identity.
I think to add onto what you said, Sarah, when we were growing up, [00:15:00] right? If you can think back right to the first time that you noticed someone’s race, and you told someone about that and what the reaction of that adult was in your life, you know, was that reaction to say, like, sh we don’t see, you know, we don’t see color.
We don’t talk about race, I think, especially for um, white people in America and white women. Cause we’re sort of talking about that right now. When your identity, when that portion of your identity has not been challenged, right. And it has always been sort of a given in your life and no one has made comments about that, or you’ve felt othered in a history class or, you know, it, it, it’s hard to understand.
Right, and that compiled with fact that we’ve always been told maybe if, you know, depending on what generation you grew up in, right. To not talk about race, that, that wasn’t polite. That that’s not something we do. We don’t see color. You know, there’s just this whole concept that we don’t talk about it.
Right. So I’d say the number one thing to do is [00:16:00] talk about it. Just, and I understand it’s uncomfortable. We’re gonna talk about I’m sure why that, why that is the case many times. But you know, I, I’ve been thinking about this more because I remember Sarah and we were doing our book tour very truncated COVID book tour in the fall.
And people would say, you’re so brave to talk about this. And I’ve been thinking about that more because I was thinking like, we don’t say that to white parents when they’re advocating for gluten-free options for their kids. Like, oh God, you’re so brave to talk about that. Right. Like, but I, I think that because it’s been so taboo That it’s, it’s always been something that everyone who’s not white talks about.
Right. And white people are sort of on the periphery of this conversation. But I think that that is why it is so urgent because for nonwhite families, you talk about race, you talk about race a lot because it’s related to survival. And so[00:17:00] I think that, you know, and we can talk about more what’s happened since 2020 this lack of urgency that I feel in 2022, it’s a false lack of urgency.
Like we, if we are really in this together, we all need to be talking about it. So I’d say, just start talking. And on top of that, I think it’s important to remember just like, as you said, we should just talk about it. Our kids always give us opportunity to talk. It’s just you, do you see that? Do you see that moment where, you know, when one of my kiddos I have white presenting daughters and when one of them was super young, you know, when they were coloring before there were skin tone crayons available, and my daughter said, mommy, can I have the skin color?
There’s so many different ways to handle that situation, you know, and I bumbled my way through it and ultimately landed at this conversation about how we have so many different shades of color and what are you looking for? And she was looking for her skin color. So I said, what is that? And she named it peach.
And there we go. So she has peach skin color, but that’s an opportunity. [00:18:00] And how many times have we perhaps, ducked and hide, right? Like I’m not going to seize that opportunity, but, but children’s see race children see difference. And so we would continue to support their development and validate what they’re seeing is true.
Yes. People have different skin tones, you know, we can talk about the difference in race and people’s appearance and make them feel like, yes, I did see this because they’re seeing it from the time they’re six months old, you know, by the time they are four to five years old, they’re choosing playmates based on skin color.
Like the science is showing that that kids are not colorblind it’s, it’s not what we want to raise them.
There was so much good insight in everything that you just said and starting with kind of like the basic commitment to just talk about it, right. To, to take advantage of the opportunities that our kids just like with so many other things that kids are like wildly capable of are presenting with such ease and open-mindedness and curiosity.
And the question that comes up for me, and I know that y’all are focused on speaking in a lot of different communities and groups is, and I think this relates to, to what you were saying about this false sense of urgency is how do we advocate for our kids advocate for each other’s kids advocate, for who we want our kids to be in having these conversations happen in systems that are kind of lagging behind in a lot of ways.
I think that you made a really good comment. Definitely something that I’ve experienced, which is that history isn’t taught the way that history needs to be taught. And that’s something that, you know, I learned along the way and in talking about systems like the education system, right? These like huge systems and really needing to carry this sense of urgency into that.
And to not only have these conversations in our families, but also have these conversations in such a way that our families can take these [00:20:00] into their communities. How do you approach that?
There’s so many layers to that question. So it’s an easy question. It’s just real simple done solved it, but you know, and as we’re recording this, this is right after MLK junior day. Right. And, and I was thinking a lot about Dr. King. Partially because my seven year old was asking about a particular quote and we were talking about quotes and context and what Dr.
King really stood for because I think to your point about history not being taught evenly, not being taught accurately. Right? A lot of what we learned about Dr. King in schools, and a lot of what we teach to this day is not the full story of who Dr. King was because he was murdered. Right. He was not popular when he was alive among white people, largely.
And I think that a lot of people who, you know, put up their MLK [00:21:00] quotes are also the same people who are saying, we shouldn’t be teaching the truth about Dr. King in school. And so I think we have these, you’re absolutely right that we have these systems. And right now in this country, we have a lot of people who are very angry.
About the possibility of teaching sort of the actual American history, right? Which includes how race has impacted this country. Yet we’ll make comments about, oh, Dr. King was a great man, you know? And so there, there’s a huge disconnect, I think, in, in how we understand and how we even understand critical race theory, let’s say right, is, is critical.
Race theory is not what people necessarily think it is, especially in a K through 12 educational setting. And furthermore, a lot of the people who are most vocally opposed to critical race theory, don’t understand what it means. So I think that we come from a lot of, of different threads that go through this, right?
Like we come from not having [00:22:00] learned. The full story or the accurate story of our country’s history in school, not understanding the implications of not having learned that history. Right? Because suddenly people will be like, wow, I didn’t realize that black people were 84% less likely to get mortgages approved.
Right. Which is that new statistic that just came out. Wow, that seems terrible. It is terrible. But if you look at how systemically, right. Black people have been treated, especially with regards to housing loans and, and where they’re able to live. And, you know, if you trace that back through our country’s history, it’s not surprising that we are here.
And so I think that a lot of what we need to do is to be able to teach that true story. Right. And, and if we understand that true story, we understand how we got here. And also if we understand that true story, we understand. [00:23:00] The mistakes that were made along the way to get us here so that we can actually build that better future, because I believe that parents fundamentally want a better future for their kids.
Right. And, and I think we see that in so many different arenas, like climate change, for example, and race, and so many other ways economics and socio-economic structure, but we can’t fix that until we understand how we got there. So I don’t know if that answered all, like maybe that answered a layer of your question, but yeah, it is, it is a complicated thing.
And one that we are so divided by right now in this kind of. But I think if we, to your point about history, right? Short of becoming a history teacher, myself, or short of entering the education system myself as a parent or as a community member, we also have the ability to influence how some of these meetings go.
I mean, you witness the, the like outrageous happenings at some [00:24:00] school boards across the country about mask mandates or about critical race theory, right? Like we can show up and let our voices be heard. But also if you do have a child in the system, you know, sometimes it takes just that aha moment where someone realizes they actually had misunderstood or miss learned some information about our history and their eyes just go wide and they go, wow, what else do I not know?
Let me dive in with some curiosity. And so I think we have the ability to, show up at our PTA and ask to do sessions on, on, on race and how race is playing out in our school. Talk to the principal, you know, look at. The books that are available to your children in the school library and in the public library, and start asking for change, to be made by continuing to educate yourself and sharing that knowledge with those in the community who are in a position to make a different choice and to, to chip it and not expect that it’s going to go well.
Because for example, at one of my children’s schools at the public school, they taught the real history of Thanksgiving. [00:25:00] There were enough people upset about this, that one of the local news stations went off saying that this school was canceling Thanksgiving, which it wasn’t, but, but people have strong feelings about what they’ve learned and, and might need to unlearn.
And so we have to do the work to understand going back to the first part of this conversation, why we care to change the narrative, because it’ll be hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. And we can absolutely every single one of us make. I love what you said about not expecting it to go well. And that was a really powerful example.
And obviously that’s a huge premise of your work, right? In the book that you just released, you talk about getting uncomfortable. Well, we’ll talk about that a little bit more later. And so that’s obviously a big foundation of everything that needs to happen. I want to talk about the book. I want to talk about the podcast and I want to backtrack just a little bit.
So Dear White Women is your podcast. It’s an award-winning podcast. You’ve had it since 2019 [00:26:00] and it’s dedicated to helping white women specifically use their privilege to uproot racism and not making, not by making them us feel defensive. So this is really interesting. It’s really specific, which I love and.
Where I want to start. And again, this is a little bit of a backtrack is tell us about the privileged white woman culture. Like why is this second sentence of not making them feel defensive, a big part of your work? Like what, what what’s happened recently that has made this a focus for you? And I know again, big question layers deep.
Tell us how you honed in on this specific, uh, subculture.
So um, I felt like Sarah likes staring at me about why we named it Dear White Women in the first place and why we reached out to her. I know. Okay. I could feel it. So I would say that the number one question we get asked right about our platform is why did you call it Dear White Women? Because to your point I think [00:27:00] that does that conjures up a lot of emotions in people, right?
And, and to. To what we were saying earlier, right. People have a hard time using the word white in this country, right. To refer to white people. So I think, you know, even from that title, we have been called racist because we are calling white people, white, which is confusing because it’s unclear what else to call white people.
So I will say that we called Dear White Women, Dear White Women for two reasons. One is because we recognize that women in this country have a lot of power, right? That is largely. Undervalued or devalued, depending on who you talk to or what the news cycle is telling us. But that power comes in many different spheres, right?
It comes at home around the dinner table. It comes at work. It comes in the PTA. It comes in through your consumer powers, right? Your wallet power. It comes in the voting booth. There are a lot of different ways that [00:28:00] women hold power that we have been systemically told that we don’t. And if you look at the added layer of being a white woman in this country and Sarah and I, you know, are biracial.
And so and my mother is a white woman. So, you know, being raised by a white woman, I’ve gotten to see this a lot. But Sarah and I have been able to move through these spheres of, you know, groups of white women throughout our lives. Right. And, you know, we can talk more about moving through those spheres later.
But we know what’s being said, and what’s not being said in those circles. And we also know when white women speak in this country too, they’re heard in, in ways that women of color are not and their opinions are held differently than people of color. So we thought we’ve got this group that we know so well, [00:29:00] and we know the power that they hold, like why this is the group that we need to talk to.
Cause if we could convince white women of the urgency of all that, we are actually all in this together, that racism actually does hurt all of us. And if we want that future, that’s better for all of us. And white women by virtue of being women understand to some level what it feels like to be discriminate discriminated against in this country, because.
As women, they probably face some level of gender discrimination along the way. It’s not the same as race or other forms of discrimination, but we try to tap into that empathy as well. So, you know, there’s a lot of factors that go into it. I’m calling it Dear White Women, but this is a group that we feel like has this power to create this change, that if we could collectively harness that energy, like, and that power that changed that future that we would like to see for [00:30:00] our kids for us.
it’s possible. But we have to be in this together. So that’s why we are continually talking to this group of women and everyone else, but really to a group that hasn’t necessarily had to question their identity of being white in this country. But with that identity comes all this power. I think that your approach that leads with empathy or includes empathy is definitely something I want to talk more about.
You use some language and describing what you do in terms of welcoming people in. And I think that that’s something that was evident to me across all of your platforms and knowing that you are taking this very open-hearted approach to welcoming people into the work that you’re doing in the work that you want more people to do.
And that sometimes that’s met with a defensiveness, I find really, really interesting. And so I want to talk a little bit more about that piece. What is [00:31:00] that experience like for you to lead with empathy, to lead with open-heartedness to welcome people in and then hit this roadblock of defensiveness.
What does that like? And. Why is that a part of your core messaging around your platform?
Oh, defensiveness, defensiveness comes up when something doesn’t feel right to, it feels like an assault on who we are and it’s going to affect our value. Right? Usually that’s sort of how, what, what triggers us, uh, you know, uh, we don’t fit some sort of societal norm and so we might feel bad about ourselves.
So we get defensive and we put up these walls and, and I think the danger in putting up the walls is that we don’t get the message. That were, that people are trying to convey to us then. And it becomes about playing into the system that we’ve always had about perfectionism and all the isms. Right. You have to, yeah.
The age-ism fat-ism, like you’re, all of these [00:32:00] expectations are placed on us. Some of which might not be things we care about for ourselves, but society has always told us, we have to care about right. And so if we don’t fit into that, it tends to trigger this. I mean, I’m doing this motion of like, you know, like that feeling and the walls go up and you hold your breath.
And so it’s so important for us to see if we can reach past that, to talk to people in a way and talk with people in a way that helps people understand that there, because of the systems, for example, that you mentioned before, people haven’t been taught the true history of our country. You know, but now that you know, that there’s something to learn, we can meet you where you are and sort of go on this journey together.
And I think that’s the feeling that’s so important for us to all get, instead of jumping into this defensiveness, because then we don’t progress. We don’t grow when we’re in that mode that sort of shuts us down from all the input that’s around us. You know, I think some of the things that we hear a lot are things like I wasn’t sure that I needed to talk to my kids about race.
You know, I wanted them to just be colorblind or hi. I never thought about the fact that someone black might [00:33:00] be experiencing the world differently than I would. Right. It’s it’s sometimes hard to hear that because what it makes me think, what else I think part of this work is so good for us as people, because it opens your eyes to what else am I not seeing about the world around me?
And people’s different experiences because if I’m just one person in 7 billion people, There are a lot of other experiences out there that do not correlate with mine. And I think this is continues to be part of that practice, to peel back the layers of what I’ve been blind to, and understand, and love other people for where they are at, in their journey.
And so I hope that answers a little bit of the question. Yeah, it absolutely does. No, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I think some of the defensiveness also comes from feeling guilt, right. Or responsible for things that happened in the past. So I think what we also hear is, okay, my grandfather was a huge racist you know, but that doesn’t mean I’m a racist.
Like I, you know, I have a black friend or something along those lines. Right. And, and that’s [00:34:00] not what we’re trying to do. I think like, yes. I think we can agree that slavery is a terrible thing. Like we’re not going to be looking for the good slave owners here. Right. But but I, I think it’s a complicated thing when we have not, as a country had a, had a reckoning with, or understanding of the impacts of slavery in our country.
So when we talk, when we even mentioned the word slavery or civil war, or it becomes a very divisive thing where people say like, well, you’re talking about my ancestors. Like, yeah, they probably did a bunch of bad things, but I’m not my ancestors. So I don’t know why we’re talking about this. And I think that goes to Sarah, your point about not really understanding that history and how that history got us from, you know, civil war to today.
And we’re not asking. And I think fundamentally we can’t move forward if we’re asking people to atone for sort of the sons of their ancestors. But what we are asking for people to do is to actively make choices in their daily [00:35:00] lives now, right. To be intentionally anti-racist in very small, yet intentional ways.
And so that’s how we move forward. Right? We, we talk about the past because it teaches us about how we move forward, but we don’t talk about the past because we’re trying to shame people into atoning for whatever their ancestors did. I think those are two different things. And I think that defensiveness comes up a lot and I read a lot of the comments on op-ed pieces around race and racism.
A lot of it is like, this is ridiculous because you know, I’m not a racist, I don’t care. I had a bunch of family members who fought for the south, but that’s fine because that was the past. And I think that we can’t dice things that finally, but we also and Sarah and I really focus on how do we move forward, right?
How do we get there? And so I think that’s where we really lean into that empathy and, and use that to really help people sort of lower those defenses. Like we’re not [00:36:00] going to not talk to you because of who your ancestors were or what they did, but we are going to collectively gather all of us together so that we can get into that future that we want.
And to your point, I do wonder sometimes how much, a fundamental understanding of what we mean when we say racism plays into it, because sometimes people picture lynchings and, you know, pitchforks and slavery and the N word and real dramatic depictions of racism. But from the conversations, I’ve had a lot of people of color say, I’d rather someone, show us those colors, because I know what to stay clear of them. What we’re talking about is both the institutions and the systemic notions of slavery. But that show up in our everyday languaging and our choices and, and our assumptions about people’s hairstyles. Like that’s what we’re talking about, that we can start shifting our understanding of how racism is showing up out of our lives and in our lives by breaking all of these things down.
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I think it’s a good point in, in everything that you both have shared. I had a really great conversation with my dad. One of the last times I was home really long conversation, and it was a really productive conversation. And I remember reflecting on that because I’ve had conversations with my dad like this in the past, and it was not necessarily productive.
And I remember [00:39:00] like feeling just like fatigued, because we were like talking about all of these things for such a long time. And we weren’t seeing eye to eye and I was trying to communicate things and he was trying to communicate things and it was like this whole event. And I remember just walking away from that and being really inspired because it felt productive because it felt respectful because there wasn’t a defensiveness because there was empathy because there was curiosity and that was really powerful.
And I think you make a really good point about how people are defining. Racism, because you know, that conversation was however many months ago. And I was talking to my dad on the phone yesterday and he said something, and I was like, you can’t say that, like, it’s this like, ongoing, like those small moments, right in your languaging where like this, he just like said this thing.
And I was like, what? That’s like, that’s not okay. You can’t say that. And so I think that that is, uh, a really important part to breaking down. These defenses is with empathy, with curiosity, looking at [00:40:00] all of the layers and defining what this actually looks like in day-to-day life, in the conversations you’re having in the systems that you exist in.
So on that note, the title of your book is, “Dear white women let’s get uncomfortable talking about racism”, and the on, in uncomfortable as in brackets implying, correct me if I’m wrong, that we need to be willing to get uncomfortable talking about racism before, during as part of getting comfortable talking about it.
We’d love to hear your perspective on that. And as part of that, what does it look like when this is done in a productive way? How do you outline this in your book first? Can we just go Pia as the first one who talked about the, you are actually really? Yeah. Oh, I noticed that right away. That’s wonderful.
Sorry. I just had to, I was very happy to hear you say that. Yeah. Well, and I think, you know, we went back and forth on this subtitle a couple of times, but I think. That it’s [00:41:00] meant to indicate the whole parentheses and the uncomfortable is that I think there is people expect on some level that at some point we’re going to get comfortable talking about racism or, you know, that that’s, that should be where we should be.
And if we’re not there, then we shouldn’t talk about it. But I think the reality is that everyone is uncomfortable talking about racism, right? Regardless of what race you are, it is not comfortable. I think you’re dealing with a lot of different things, right? In those your own knowledge, your, your identity, the other person’s identity.
Like it’s just, it, it’s not comfortable. And I think what we try to do in the book is to acknowledge that right from the start, right? This is, this is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable for all of us, but here are the tools. And we, we have our, you know, specific sort of formula that we put together to really make it less scary for you so that we can get to that point where we’re just going to talk about it.
Probably going to make mistakes along the way, but we’re going to do it again and again, and again, I’m [00:42:00] just like those conversations you were talking about with your father, right? Like it they’re uncomfortable and they can be hard. And this work is hard and to think about it is hard, but it doesn’t have to be this, you know, this sort of wall that like, we expect that there’s some comfort in this and if we can’t get there, then we’re just done with it.
I think that’s such good perspective. And I think that you’re right, that there’s this, to some extent, some sort of like unspoken benchmark of like, you’re a good ally when you like, feel comfortable talking about this. And I think you bring up such a good point that, Hey, that’s all we’re going for. And B that’s not the point and not what’s going to happen.
And that’s not how we engage in this work. You know, it’s funny. Cause I think that ties into, for me, one of the hardest parts of this whole journey that Misasha and I have been on has been accepting that there’s no arrival point. I’d love to say we can end racism in this generation. I’d love to make major steps in that direction.
And at the same time, there’s so many of us [00:43:00] that have been ingrained and raised in this system. And there are really strong forces, including like capitalism and obviously white supremacy and all this sort of stuff that, that kind of fight against us being okay, being human. And so unlike basically every other part of my life where it’s like, oh, you go to school and then maybe you go to college in order to get a job.
Like there’s all these like transition points where you arrive or you reach a goal. And, and I think that’s why it’s it’s it was hard to shift that focus to sort of say, I don’t believe in. I don’t believe that there is an arrival point. This is a continuous process and a way of thinking and a way of engaging my critical thinking and, being willing to stand up for my values and for the humanity of other people too.
You know? And so that was tricky, I think, to get to, to accept that. But I think once you do, you start seeing the world in a different way, and you start seeing all of the little things that are coming at you and you, you sort of start processing things through a different lens. One that is very, very rewarding because I [00:44:00] think you’re open to all these different narratives.
You’re open to learning about ways other people see the world and experience it and getting nuggets for your own self that you want to take in and learn and grow from. I think that what you said is really important, Sarah, and I, I think it’s because especially since 2020, right. We, I think we’ve seen.
People wanting to, you know, have this immediate change happen, right. Or once you’ve, you’ve read a book or three, right. Then you’re like, suddenly you see things at different ways, so everything should change immediately. And and I think we’re in that culture right now, where there is an app for everything.
And, you know, you can get stuff to your house in two hours and you know, there is no need for intentionality in that because it’s quick and it’s over. And, I think that people expected there to be an end, right? Like you, you have reached this, this moment in your life, like sort of watching a movie and at the end of the two hours, you’ve learned something and that is the pinnacle.
[00:45:00] And now you are an ally or whatever, you know, with that title. And when that didn’t happen, I think people were like, well, this sucks. I worked really hard for, you know, these four weeks and now I am not like, I’m not woke. I’m not an ally. Well, this isn’t for me then. And so I think that, the re the realization that there is no end point in that way is a hard one, but it is also such a great one in some ways, because of.
That desire, that curiosity, right. That we have as humans, the ability to continue to move and grow and grow with the people in your lives too. I think about with my kids, like they push me in ways that I probably wouldn’t have thought of for myself. Right. And, and that ability to constantly become a better human being and push the others around you to be a better human being that I think is amazing.
But that also is, is not something that’s done in two [00:46:00] hours or, in a six week cycle and you get a certificate and you’re done. So I, I think that that’s what we’re seeing now in 2022. And so that’s why these conversations are even more important now,
What do you want to see in your lifetime? That’s such a good, question.
My mind instantly went to the kids and I wish more schools that I’m really, really excited at the public schools that my kids are at and the way they approach thoughtfulness and, and the skills that go into, not just the history, but like what it takes to be a critical thinker and what it means to be kind to others.
And I wish more schools had leaders like the ones my kids are at to raise an entirely different generation. It is tricky because there’s such different areas of our country, where parents are influenced. Like people, people are not a commute. A whole communities are not interested in this, but if we could get to that stage where we shifted the tone of education, that would be incredible.
Like mine is really personal. I mean, you know, One of my biggest fears is that [00:47:00] my boys walk out of our house one day and don’t come back. Right. Because of the color of their skin, I would love to not that same fear about my grandkids. Do I think that’s going to be the case? No, but like my ideal world, would we be at a point where as a grandmother, I wouldn’t be worried about that for my own kids, but for their kids, like, yeah, that would be amazing what we do to get there.
I don’t know, because like, Sarah, you were just saying, we are in this place where we have some communities who are so motivated to have these conversations and make all children right safe. And then we have other communities where we are literally burning books. And, you know, sort of going through and attacking social, emotional learning, and what’s next on the humanities scale, that’s going to come under fire.
And so I think that is, that is a huge divide. So how do we repair that divide? I think repairing that [00:48:00] divide then would be one of the other big goals that I would want to see in this lifetime. Because I think that divide has to, we have to do that in order to get to my personal goal. Yeah. I think you’re right.
You know, what I find is that that side of people who are pushing back, who sort of believe in this idea of this myth of individualism, that they’ve done it, all, that, that they don’t need people.
And, and, there’s this other side of people who understand that we are all interconnected. There’s like, unless you’re living off the grid, there is no way other people don’t influence your life. You know, you witnessed the shortages in the grocery store, you witnessed like, we are all absolutely the truth is impacted by each other in our communities.
And what I would hope to see is that the we culture people get just as loud, if not louder than those who are screaming at the top of their lungs, about how they do it all themselves. Because I think there’s this assumption that people go, oh, they they’re, they’re just so loud. Or sometimes people can dismiss it, [00:49:00] but people aren’t speaking up.
I think we need to get loud and not take for granted that we care about each other. I think we need to really use our voice in order to get to those places that you’re talking about. And we need more people in the majority doing it. We need white men, white women. Like we absolutely need people to speak up.
You touched on something that I think is really powerful. A lot of things that are really powerful and something that I has been kind of woven in throughout our conversation. And I know it was important to your platform is the sense of being othered and in a sense of belonging and I’m of the belief. All of us as humans are on this lifelong quest to belong, right.
We all just want to relate to someone else feel related to be seen, be understood, be considered. And what you said about more people using their voice to bring people together to bridge that divide is it’s, [00:50:00] it’s powerful, right? It’s it’s what’s necessary is that we over me approach to everything. That’s how we’re going to do it.
I hope you can tell Dr. Shefali that like, I hope that that had happened. So we had had a conversation. With someone else, Dr. Shefali and she, Sarah had said that same thing about we versus me. And she was like, Sarah, there is no we group anymore. It’s very, very small. So I had assumed that the we group was so large because I see it as a matter of truth. Right. You can, you can donate the money, speak up at the, uh, you know, read the certain books at book clubs, speak up at the PTA change, who you’re hiring at your company.
And that’s great. I think the deeper transformation happens in the second level where we’re really examining how we’re living our life. Are we subscribing to the keeping up with the Jones’s mentality when it comes to our car, to the home, to, to that sort of stuff. Like those pressures that, that feed into this idea of, of power over another of influence [00:51:00] of, uh, control and better than less than I think all of those things deeply.
We need to deeply question how we feel and acknowledge that as humans, we’re going to go through phases where we’re more swayed by peer pressure and influence, but we have to be willing to look at ourselves and examine how we’re living our lives, um, to make that change a lasting one, I think, to really dig in, to make it a sustainable, we culture.
Just hit on something that is really, really evident in the space that I operate in with my business. Right. Which is the idea of influence the idea of authority, the idea of power, right? And it’s something that it’s, it’s a, it’s a hill I will die on in the very small context of business. Because that’s the realm that I operate in around this, this topic.
And it’s so interesting to me to see how people assign qualification or credibility or [00:52:00] perceived qualification or credibility on sources of authority. And one of the big big missions we have at Curate Well Co is to help business owners step into their role as leaders versus experts, authorities. People who have that kind of domination approach to subscribe to this, buy this, listen to me, look to me.
Listen to me, it’s something that I just feel so strongly about is building businesses that are rooted in communities where leaders are enrolling people into shared beliefs are shifting culture are really reinforcing that we perspective and just the power to your point. That’s in that from a lip service perspective, from an opening, our wallets perspective and how we spend our money.
It’s just something that is, in my opinion, the work of contemporary business owners, specifically of like small and medium sized businesses. And I think that social [00:53:00] media is a force that obviously is, you know, kind of puppeteering a lot of that. What do you see as the role of social media for people who are looking to reinforce the we culture?
Oh, my love hate with social media. So like right at the intersection of this conversation, I think we have to remember, first of all, that social media algorithms are created by companies that are trying to make money. They’re not made to enhance our wellbeing. And so by playing into the system there, we’re fighting against the natural tide of what the platforms are designed to do.
So we have to watch out for both our mental health and make sure that we’re not falling into, to the trap that they are setting That said, I think one of the ways we can do that is, is find those quality leaders and share their messages. Don’t be in, you know, scarcity mindset. If people are doing similar work to you and, or have a similar mission, why not use our platforms to amplify their voices without the masking?
You know, you don’t have to [00:54:00] be, uh, you know, maybe, maybe think twice about the paid influencers idea, uh, because they’re playing into that model. I mean, I think there’s lots of ways we can, we can parse that in terms of social media role. But I think ultimately doing how using it in a way that enhances your mission, remembering that it is not the mission to just grow social media, but to enhance the influence or the, the purpose of the platform.
I think the purity of the platform that why that we go to, I think, is really important. So as someone who’s done those contracts for paid influencers in the legal side, like I a hundred percent agree with that. Cause I think that social media is a lot about perception, right at times. And some of the people who are most impactful in this, in, in the non social media world are not on social media.
So I think social media as a S as a tool, right, as a stepping stone, to being able to, to continue to do the work is important in, in however, [00:55:00] that means to you. But I think that knowing and doing IP law and seeing the tools that social media companies have at their disposal, right. To, to use, to commoditize what is out there.
It, I think that can’t be forgotten, but that said. I think what I would like to see for social media is like a level of authenticity there that you are going to carry outside of social media. Right? Cause I think we saw, you know, the black squares, right. And in 2020, and I’m sure a whole bunch of people put up MLK, junior quotes are going to put up stuff for black history month or women’s history month or Asian heritage month, or, you know, all the months that we have because we’ve sort of segregated American history into these blocks of time.
But are not going to reflect that on the 364 additional days or the 11 other months or whatever. So I think that people watch right. [00:56:00] People watch your social media especially now. So I think that if you’re committed to it, it’s a great tool, right? If you were committed to the change that you’re doing outside of social media, it’s wonderful.
But I think that there are limits right. There are limits and that’s important. Well, on the note of authenticity, you said that your book is very practical, right? Despite the information education perspective conversation that has come about over the last few years, people were still asking you, what do I do to be more anti-racist?
And you mentioned earlier, uh, feeling a need for urgency. And so obviously you wrote a whole book about this. What I would love is if each of you give us your like completely honest would say it in the shower have probably said it to each other. Answer to that question. What do I do to be more anti-racist?
I mean, I was going to have a swear word, but I will keep it clean. I can swear. Go for it. It’s give a shit about people,[00:57:00] about other people, just, just deeply from your heart care and there’s nobody else who’s going to be able to make you care. You have to choose that. But that’s the only thing that’ll change anything.
I’m going to say that in. And I think I’ve leaned to it in 2022 hard you know, where at the start of the year, and I think listening and learning is really important, but the key piece that has been missing for so long is acting. And so I think that education educating yourself, figuring out your own biases is key, but I think we are past the observation point, right?
We are now in the point where it is imperative to do something about it. And that means not just read the books, but make those intentional choices in your own circles, own spheres of influence, because we all have them. It does not have to be going to a protest. It does not have to be. We have the ways that we aligned here today.
It can be what is authentic to you, but it’s really important to do it and keep [00:58:00] doing it. I think second to your husband liking the book. Misasha, when we read this book for my, one of my other book clubs that I’m in and it’s majority white privileged women. And they came to me and said, wow, I didn’t even know that like some of the information, but more than anything, I feel finally like, I know what I can do about it.
And I may not do all these things right now, but I know where I can start. And when I feel like the situation comes up where I can do this other thing, I know what to do now. And so you’re right. I do like that, doing this. Awesome. I said due to many times,
Okay. So I love to leave our listeners with a mic drop moment. So I’m handing you the microphone and I want to invite both of you to say what needs saying, what is the thing that still needs to be said that he should be, would like to say,
I’m going to go first. Cause I’m sure Misasha is, will be better than mine. And so there’s all this pressure and I’m going to forget what I [00:59:00] was going to say. To me, so many people are focused on wanting to be a good human, right? They want to feel better about themselves. And I really don’t think you can be a better human if you don’t tackle the question of your racial identity and how you were addressing the racial inequities in our society is as part of being a good human
I’m pretty good. I like it just, just wait, here. It comes true. No, I mine is really simple. And I’ve said, it’s my question for 2022, which is, I think we need to ask why more often. Right. And I think everyone who is interested in being an anti-racist needs to keep asking why a lot of times in our society, we encourage kids to ask why we encourage them to be curious.
Right. But when adults ask why the answer that we accept as adults is because it’s, it’s just been like that. It’s just been this way. And we have largely been okay with that. And I’m saying we shouldn’t be okay with that anymore. We need to ask [01:00:00] why, why are we here? Why is this the way it is? If we really want change, we have to ask that question.
So I encourage you to keep asking that question.
You both so much for taking the time to chat today. I really enjoyed this conversation and I really want to acknowledge and appreciate you both for being willing to hear and answer the big questions and to welcome the idea that sometimes the answers are too big to answer one in one conversation and just showing up with so much kindness and curiosity and openness and an approach that I think is really unique and really necessary in order to close that divide in order for the critical mass of people to start taking action, to ask why and to.
Care more [01:01:00] deeply and preserve humanity, as you say. So thank you so, so much for this conversation. Thank you for having us. Thanks so much. So y’all can connect with Misasha and Sarah at www.dearwhitewomen.com. You can listen to their podcast and follow along on Instagram @dearwhitewomenpodcast. And if you’re invested in starting to think differently about how we show up at work in our communities and in our lives and the role of intersectionality and belonging in doing so, you can book Misasha and Sarah to come speak and you can buy “Dear White Women, Let’s get uncomfortable talking about racism.” Anywhere that books are sold. When I Googled the book, one of the first things that came up was a review that said, dear white women, please do us all a favor and buy this book and then read it. So I will echo that sentiment for everybody here. Go buy the book and read it.
Thank you so much.
Biracial co-founders of Dear White Women, Sarah and Misasha have very mixed race children and are [01:02:00] personally invested in helping to uproot systemic racism. They do this through their weekly podcast episodes, which include interviews of people whose stories you might not often listen to. Deep dives into history, psychology, and current events to explain why we are where we are as a country and actions that you can take right now to make change in your state.
They also, co-authored a book that breaks down their listen, learn and act formula through the lens of who we are in this country. They hold the perspective that racism not only affects all of us, but is something we can all do something about in our own spheres of influence Misasha and Sarah believed that the little things you do along with the assumptions you make, have a ripple effect on those around you.
And that you get to choose whether you walk through life without purpose or walk through life with intention and curiosity and reflection. If you are a white woman invested in thinking differently about how you show up in your communities and in your life, purchase “Dear White Women, Let’s get uncomfortable talking about racism.” and leave a review on [01:03:00] Amazon with your takeaways from the book..
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