Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Social Justice and How We Get Free

Navigating our way through this complex, challenging time requires taking a clear look at the issues we’re confronting. Join Omkari Williams and her guests as they take on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

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Tuesday Nov 08, 2022

Diane Rosenfeld I read a lot of books, most of the people I interview on this podcast are authors, so I'm pretty used to finding interesting aspects to various subjects. But when I started reading this book I was riveted! I couldn't wait to talk with Diane about what we humans, particularly females, could learn from Bonobo apes.  That apes had figured out how to eliminate male sexual coercion and violence while this is still a huge problem for a, supposedly, more evolved species fascinated me. By the time I finished reading the book I had pages of questions for Diane. When we finally got to speak I was not disappointed. There is a way to address the crisis of violence against women and women hold the key. This is something that we can do. We just have to choose to. As Diane describes it, it's a pivot. A different way of engaging, with other women both individually and collectively. Then, that different engagement changes the way that males and females engage. From a culture of sexual coercion and violence to a culture where that behavior is not tolerated and does not occur. Listen to this conversation and then think about how you can create your own Bonobo Sisterhood and what an enormous shift that would create in the world. The opportunity is right there for us. We just have to take it.  About Diane: Diane L. Rosenfeld is an attorney, a lecturer in law and the founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, where she has taught since 2004. Rosenfeld has appeared in major media outlets, including ABC, Nightline, Katie with Katie Couric, CNN Headline News, Fox and Friends, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She is featured in the award winning documentaries, The Hunting Ground: It Could Happen Here, and Rape Is. Rosenfeld served as the first senior counsel to the Office of Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as an executive assistant attorney general in Illinois. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her teaching, mentoring and change making legal policy work. She is also the author of the new book, The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. Diane's Action Items: The first thing is what we talked about to stop judging yourself. Just start with yourself, stop judging yourself. And really take the book as an invitation to to be in an intimate space with yourself and the ideas in the book and see what resonates and what you feel, if anything, that you want to change and how you want to change it. The first thing is really to stop judging harshly yourself, and to open space for your sisters. To really believe in the bonobo principle and that you have a self worth defending. Learn self defense learn, self defense that's inspired by the bonobo sisterhood. You could even start by going on YouTube and watching a 15 minute video, a lot of self defense is, is being ready to verbally shut down any aggression that's aimed toward you. But learn self defense. And then once you learn self defense, the third thing is that that enables you to imagine defending your sisters. And it pisses you off. And you learn from the outside in and from the inside out that you have a self worth defending. And then you really want to do it. And you really want to defend your sisters. So it's a physical embodiment of the ideas. And that's what will change, because that's what will stop male sexual coercion. Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend Resources mentioned in this episode:The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance by Diane L. Rosenfeld

Wednesday Oct 12, 2022

Kelli Stewart Sports are part of the culture of every country. Here, in the U.S., baseball is our "national pastime". Kelli Stewart and her husband, CJ, decided to use the tool of baseball to teach disadvantaged and at risk young Black boys essential life skills. Founders of the LEAD Center in Atlanta, GA Kelli and CJ have grown a program that reaches at risk Black boys in middle school and high school and helps them create positive paths for their lives. When Kelli and I spoke one of the things that struck me was her commitment to engaging with the kids that most people don't want to engage with. Not the high achievers who were doing well in school but the boys who were on the edge of being thrown out of school, thrown out of society. What Kelli and CJ have created is practical and inspiring and made me look at the possibilities of sport as a tool for building productive, engaged citizens in a whole new way. She also tells a great story about a baseball game between the Black boys in their program and Atlanta police.  Have a listen, I think you'll find this as affirming of what's possible when we get creative, as I did. Kelli and I also talk about Serena's retirement from tennis and how we're both pretty sure that we're related to her. About Kelli: Kelli Stewart was born in Atlanta and raised in Crawford, Georgia. Under the protective and nurturing guidance of her grandmother, Amy Lou Faust, she learned about work ethic and service. Kelli earned a bachelor's degree with honors in business from Kennesaw State University in 2011. In addition to her degree, Kelli holds a wealth of knowledge regarding sport Kelli's based youth development (SBYD) as a resource for social justice, and the impact sports has on the social emotional development of youth. She is a co-founder of the LEAD Center for Youth in Atlanta, an organization that uses the tool of baseball to help inner city Black boys develop the skills they need to succeed in a world that presents them with obstacles every step of the way. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. Kelli's Action Items: 1) Support SBYD (Sport Based Youth Development) where you live. It's a form of youth development that's different and specific in that it focuses on delivering a sport in a trauma informed, healing centered way. So it's not just for the sake of winning trophies, it's sport to help children who are living in very difficult situations, cope with those situations, and develop the SEL (social emotional learning) skills and the executive functioning skills that they need to cope. 2) Follow the LEAD Center on social media (see links below). 3) Become a recurring donor to support LEAD. I mean, $5, $10, $15, $20 a month, it really goes a long way. Those smaller amounts, they make a big difference. I can hear people saying, what can you do with that? Haircuts, transportation for MARTA, our public transit system here, it can go a long way. Meals for families who are experiencing food insecurity, it can really go a long way. Connect with Kelli: Website: Lead Center for Youth Instagram: Lead2Legacy_Atlanta Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.  

Tuesday Sep 13, 2022

Will Jawando Will Jawando sat down to write a book about the Black men who had the most impact in his life. That book, My Seven Black Fathers, has illuminated corners of the Black experience, particularly the Black male experience, that all too often go unseen. In our conversation Will and I talk about the influence of these men, including Barack Obama, on him. But more than simply a personal narrative Will has written, and we discussed, the universality of many of his experiences and though luck played a part in connecting him to the men whose mentoring helped lead him to the success that he has found we can take luck out of the equation.  We talked about the challenges that Black boys, in particular, face and some of the remedies to those challenges. But more than that, we talked about what it's like to be Black in America and the struggle to overcome the obstacles, both external and internal, that are in the way of Black equity in this country. Will's story is both inspiring and instructive. He gives us a path to follow to close the gap of possibilities for young Black boys and men. This was a heartfelt and hopeful conversation and it left me feeling that, no matter the roadblocks, with people like Will fighting for what is right, we can make real the promise of this country. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. About Will: WIll Jawando is an attorney and activist, a community leader and a council member in Montgomery County, Maryland, a diverse community of more than 1 million residents, called the progressive leader we need by the late Congressman John Lewis, Jawando has worked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Sherrod Brown, and President Barack Obama. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, the Root, and on And his work has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine and on NPR, NBC News, and M. T. V. He regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets For the written transcript click here. Resources mentioned in this episode:My Seven Black Fathers by Will Jawando Connect with Will:WebsiteInstagram Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Jun 07, 2022

Kerri Kelly September 11th changed life for all of us, but for Kerri Kelly the impact was especially personal. In the aftermath of that event Kerri upended her life and went on a search for wellness. What she found was not what she expected and, once again, the trajectory of her life was changed. In her new book, American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal, and in this conversation, Kerri explores the ways in which our culture of wellness perpetuates systems that are deeply unwell. She leads us in a conversation that helps us find our way towards the deep, connected wellness that nourishes us all and away from individualistic focus that keeps us stuck in unhealthy comparison and competition. I couldn't put Kerri's book down and then, when we spoke, I wanted to talk to her for hours more.  Our distorted ideas of wellness hurt us all, and those ideas are so deeply embedded it can be hard to even see them. Kerri pulls back the curtain and gives us a path out, a path towards true healing. Her book is out now and I can't say enough about how important a book I think it is. Listen to our conversation, read her book, and find your way to the healing that we so deeply desire.  For a written transcript of this conversation click here. About Kerri Kelly: Kerri Kelly, is the founder of CTZNWell, a movement that is democratizing wellbeing for all. A descendent of generations of firemen and first responders Kerri has dedicated her life to kicking down doors and fighting for justice. She has been teaching yoga for over 20 years. She is a community organizer, wellness activist, and author of American detox, the myth of wellness and how we can truly heal. Kerri is also recognized across communities for her inspired work to bridge transformational practice with social justice. Her leadership has inspired a movement that is actively organizing around issues of racial and economic justice, healthcare as a human right civic engagement and more. Kerri is a powerful facilitator, TED speaker, and is the host of the prominent podcast citizen, that is spelled CTZN. You can learn more about her work at Three Actions: 1) Interrogate yourself. Be relentlessly curious about what you've been taught, how you've been shaped and indoctrinated by dominant stories and dominant narratives and cultures, and how that's holding you back from your own wholeness. So be curious about that. And how that's a part of a larger system, right, how you're a part of a larger system.  2) Locate yourself inside that system. What is your place, and proximity? We're all impacted and implicated in different ways. And I want to just say different and disproportionate, I feel like I have to say that as a white bodied woman with so much privilege. So it's really important for us to both take responsibility for our part in this mess. And also see ourselves as part of the solution, right? So it's like, locate yourself so that you can step into your right role and responsibility. 3) Engage in collective action, get political, work with other people, line up in solidarity with organizations who are on the frontlines of the many issues that we are navigating right now. Because personal solutions are not going to solve the many problems, the many systemic and collective problems that we're facing. And so it's really important for folks to see their practice beyond the cushion, and to see wellness as a radical political act, as we work to create the conditions where everybody can be well. Resources mentioned in this episode:American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal by Kerri KellyDecolonizing Wealth: indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance by Edgar VillanuevaWinner Takes All by Anand Giridharadas Connect with Kerri: WebsiteCTZNWELL podcast Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.

Tuesday May 17, 2022

Shawn Ginwright What if we've been approaching this whole idea of justice and have left out a critical piece? What if our very approach is actually helping cement the damage that bias and systemic inequity have caused?  We all know that there is much healing that has to happen if we're going to be the equitable society that we envision. The question is how do we get from here to there? What are the tools we need, the way of thinking that will help move us along? Professor Shawn Ginwright, in his new book The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves, argues that we are failing to use all the tools of social change that are available to us. And, he says, those tools begin close in, with us as both as individuals and in our close familial and community relationships.  This conversation deepened my understanding of what it's going to take for us all to get free. I hope it does the same for you. About Shawn:Shawn Ginwright, PhD is one of the nation's leading innovators, provocateurs, and thought leaders on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He's the founder and CEO of Flourish Agenda Incorporated, a national nonprofit consulting firm that design strategies to unlock the power of healing and engage youth of color and adult allies in transforming their schools and communities. He is Professor of Education in the Africana Studies department and Senior Research Associate at San Francisco State University. He is the author of The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. Three Actions:1. At the end of each day map your emotional self. What were the emotions that you experienced that day. This, over time, allows us to map who we are, what our life is like, and whether we are showing up in the world in the ways we would like. 2. Ask, "Where am I going?" This is a question about who we want to become and where you (and your family and larger community) are going. This helps develop the habit of future thinking for yourself, your family, community, and society. 3. Practice these things in community. We in the West are taught to be individualistic but true healing happens in community. Connect with Shawn: On his Website Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Apr 12, 2022

Tatenda Musapatike If your best friend asks you what you want to do in the world and your response is, "Run shit" then you and Tatenda Musapatike should probably sit down and grab a drink.  The founder of the organization, Voter Formation Project, Tatenda and her team work to leverage the digital age to not only get people registered to vote but also to get them excited to vote. From working for Facebook to starting her own firm not only to run shit but to do it with intention and integrity Tatenda is creating a new model for how political work is done. One that isn't about living an underpaid, overworked existence.  This conversation opened my eyes to the need for this kind of outreach to potential voters in this time of active voter suppression. I learned a lot and you likely will too.  For a written transcript of this conversation click here. About Tatenda: Tatenda Musapatike, has spent over a decade working on digital programs and in tech to support progressive causes. She was most recently a senior advisor at ACRONYM where she built a $12.5 million program from the ground up to expand the electorate working to reach register and mobilize Black and Latino voters across eight states in the 2020 general election and the Georgia Senate runoff elections. Before ACRONYM, Tatenda was the Client Solutions Manager for democratic politics at Facebook where she supported progressive leaning nonprofits in their platform strategies. And she is now the founder of Voter Formation Project. Action Steps:1) Please visit our Twitter @voterformation, or go to our website, And just learn more.2) There are donation links on Twitter and the website.3) If you are really moved by the work that we do, get involved in your local community so that you can help talk to people who don't vote and get more folks registered and involved in the process. Connect with Tatenda: TwitterWebsite Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Mar 15, 2022

Nisha Anand Around the world the divisions that define our societies are becoming deeper and more hardened. In this inspiring conversation Dream Corps CEO Nisha Anand and I talk about the power of finding common ground.  If we truly want to make the difference that we say we want to make we have to be willing to work with people who may have radically different points of view to ours but who, miraculously, share common ground with us on maybe only one thing.  Nisha gives us a map to coming together in service of a mutually important goal, beyond the politics and divisions that keep us in our silos of left, right, conservative, or progressive.  This conversation made me think differently about what's possible to achieve with unlikely collaborators.  Have a listen and then take her model out into your own work and expand your power to make change.  For a written transcript of this conversation go here. About Nisha: Nisha Anand is a boundary-buster, common ground creator, non-violent culture-creator, outside-the-box experimenter, and national leader for social and racial justice. Once a grassroots activist arrested in Burma for pro-democracy demonstrations, Nisha is known today as a leader in cultivating unlikely and unconventional partnerships to create change. As Dream Corps’ CEO, Nisha guides a team of storytellers, organizers, and policy experts working on some of society’s toughest problems to create a better future for all. 3 Action Steps:1) Listen deeply and with curiosity, not trying to change anyone's mind. Listen to understand.2) Grieve with others. We've all lost something these past 2 years, grieve with others.3) Dream big, the world can change overnight, so dream big.Bonus action4) Get involved with Dream Corps Resources mentioned in this episode:The Radical Act of Choosing Common Ground Tedx talk Connect with Nisha: Website: Twitter: @nishamanand Instagram: @nishamanand LinkedIn: YouTube: Nisha Anand Playlist Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Feb 08, 2022

Obery Hendricks From the moment of his announcement that he was running for the presidency Donald Trump directed his efforts towards courting white evangelicals with  racist and anti-immigrant sentiments. But he didn't start this trend, he simply hopped on a bandwagon that had been gaining speed for years. Author, scholar, and ordained minister Obery Hendricks and I explore some of the lesser known aspects of this issue and including the culpability of large swaths of the Black church for not responding forcefully to the ongoing assault on civil rights. In theory the United States has separation of church and state, but do we really or are white evangelicals succeeding in shaping the country in the image they would like to see? In this conversation we look at what has happened, what is happening, and how we can take action to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by the religious right. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. About Obery: Obery M. Hendricks Jr, is a visiting scholar in the departments of Religion and African American and African Diasporic Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, including The Politics of Jesus: Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Nature of Jesus's teachings and How They've Been Corrupted, The Universe Bends Towards Justice: Radical Reflections on the Bible, the Church and the Body Politic, a novel, Living Water, and his latest book Christians against Christianity: How Right Wing Evangelicals are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith. Resources: Christians against Christianity, How Right Wing Evangelicals are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith (please consider buying this book from a local bookseller) Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend  

Tuesday Jan 25, 2022

For many Black Americans the land itself is the scene of the crime. That legacy of slavery has dramatically impacted the relationship that many Black Americans have with the land.  Food and land justice activist Leah Penniman is working to change that. A founder of Soul Fire Farm and the author of Farming While Black, Leah has made it her mission in life to reconnect Black and Brown people with the land.  In this conversation Leah and I talk about not only how the legacy of slavery is still seen in connection to the land and land ownership but how to heal some of these wounds. From spending time working with the land, to reparations, to political advocacy Leah and I talk about where we are, where we want to be, and how we get there.  About Leah: Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol farmer, author, mother, and food justice activist who has been tending the soil and organizing for an anti-racist food system for25 years. She currently serves as founding co-executive director of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, a Black & Brown led project that works toward food and land justice. Her book is Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land. Find out more about Leah’s work at and follow her @soulfirefarm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For a written transcript of this conversation go here. Action Items: Check out the Soul Fire Farm website where you'll find a ton of resources and action guides. Look at the reparations map created by the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust and Soul Fire Farm and find a project that connects with you and needs resources if you are able to make a financial contribution. Pay attention to legislation that is happening around farmers and our food and get in touch with your representatives. As few as 20 contacts from constituents make a difference. Resources: Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land by Leah Penniman Connect with Leah: Soul Fire Farm Farming While Black, the book  Instagram Twitter Credits: Thank you to the National Liberty Museum for their production support.Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.   

Tuesday Jan 11, 2022

Veronica Chambers For a lot of people Black Lives Matter became part of their lives in a concrete way in the wake of the murder of George Floyd but the story of the organization starts years earlier. In her book, with its gorgeous photographs, NYT editor Veronica Chambers takes us on not only the journey of BLM but also looks to the past and the future to see where we came from and where we might go. In this conversation Veronica and I talk about both the struggle and about how we all get free. Looking at leaders who work outside of the spotlight and what they have to teach us we get a broader picture of how we might do our individual activism.  From Ferguson to the climate conference in Glasgow we look at the intersections and how we can use them to increase our impact.  I loved this conversation because it reminded me of the power of collective action which, I think, we sometimes underestimate. It reminded me of how many remarkable people, that includes you, are out in the world doing their part. We are not alone in doing this work, no matter how isolating it can sometimes feel.  Have a listen and take inspiration from Veronica's words and her perspective. Take inspiration from the stories she shares and let's keep doing the work. About Veronica: Veronica Chambers is an award winning author and the lead editor of Narrative Projects, a team dedicated to telling multi-platform stories at the New York Times. Based in London, her most recent book is Call and Response: The Story of Black Lives Matter. She has taught writing at several colleges and universities, including Bowdoin in Maine, Bard College at Simon's Rock, Massachusetts, and the Stanford School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. Born in Panama and raised in Brooklyn, she writes often about her Afro Latina heritage. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. Action Steps: 1) Take a look at the NY Times series: Black History Continued    This series looks at pivotal moments and transformative figures in Black         history. 2) Girls Write Now:     Helping girls and young women find their voice through the tool of story. 3) Youth Communication:     Two youth run publications, one focusing on economic, gender, and racial         diversity. The other written by kids in the foster care system. Connect with Veronica: Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friendProduction support provided by the National Liberty Museum

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