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 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

Tuesday Nov 23, 2021

Varun Nikore 2020 saw the greatest increase in voter turnout by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in history. That turnout powered the vote in key states like Georgia and helped prevent another four years with the former guy. I wish the fight for our democracy was over but it's clearly not and there are some important lessons to take away from what happened in 2020.  My guest today is Varun Nikore, president of the AAPI Victory Alliance. Varun and I discuss the history of the AAPI community here and how they have come to play such an important role in determining the outcome of key elections and, consequently, the direction of our country. Though they have been in this country since its inception and here in large numbers since the late 1800's AAPI people are still often seen as "other", and the hateful and harmful rhetoric around Covid hasn't helped.  In this wide ranging conversation Varun and I look at the challenges and some of the solutions to problems confronting AAPI people here, including those recently resettled from Afghanistan. This conversation was so interesting and it gave me things to do to help bring justice to this marginalized group of people.  Listen, learn, and then take action.  Together we can build the world we want to live in. About Varun: My guest today Varun Nikore has for more than 30 years been involved in national state and local politics as a campaign strategist, fundraiser and policy advisor and AAPI leader. In 1998, he was appointed to serve in the Clinton administration. He is the founder and past president of the Indian American Leadership Initiative, which is the largest Indian American network of Democrats in the United States. In 2008, Varun served as a transportation policy adviser for President Obama under Obama for America. He is the current president of AAPI victory fund and executive director of AAPI Victory Alliance. For a written transcript of this conversation click here. Action Items: Get their weekly newsletterIf you can make a financial donation to support their work Follow their weekly calls to action  Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friendProduction support provided by the National Liberty Museum

Tuesday Nov 09, 2021

Nicole Hockley In the wake of the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children (6 and 7 years of age) and six educators were killed on December 14, 2012, some of the grieving parents joined together to do what they could to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again and Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) was born. Nicole Hockley's six year old son, Dylan, was among those killed and now she, and others at Sandy Hook Promise, works to give educators and students the tools they need to recognize the warning signs and prevent violence from occurring.  SHP's Know the Signs program offers both students and educators training in how to be more socially inclusive and connected to one another. Research has shown that social isolation is one of the predictors of violence and teaching both kids and adults to be aware of this and how to combat it, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, is a critical piece of school gun violence prevention. This conversation was one of those that I will never forget. Hearing Nicole's take on the impact of school shootings on kids, whether they've experienced a school shooting or not, was truly sobering. I also found myself uplifted by the reach of this program and the impact of the work that SHP is doing.  Among other things we talk about in this conversation are two Public Service Announcements that SHP has done. Please take a few moments and watch them, they give us insight into the experience too many of our kids are having. Teenage Dream, which is set to the lighthearted lyrics of Katy Perry's song, and Back to School Essentials are hard to watch and it's so important that we do watch and then take action. About Nicole: Nicole Hockley is co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise where she oversees organizational strategy, marketing, and development of the acclaimed Know the Signs violence prevention programs. Under her leadership, the Sandy Hook Promise is effectively turning tragedy into transformation, averting multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence in schools across the country. For a Written Transcript of this conversation click here. Action Steps: 1) Learn the signs of someone in crisis. Go to to download the free brochure with a wide range of signs to look for. Then if you see those signs take them seriously, act on them, get help.2) If you're a parent or involved with schools make sure that mental health supports are a priority.3) Vote for politicians that are running on gun violence prevention platforms. Vote for funding for programs that are going to help reduce gun violence. And use your voice. Those in charge need to hear from you. Connect with Nicole: Website: Instagram: @sandyhookpromise Twitter: @sandyhook   Credits and Acknowledgements: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend Thank you to The National Liberty Museum for production support

Tuesday Oct 26, 2021

Shelby Kretz In the midst of this awakening, in the larger community, to the systemic injustices in our society we've heard a lot about "wokeness". What if instead of people having to get woke in adulthood we raised children who were aware of and sensitive to social justice issues from the beginning? Imagine if, instead of coming to this work as adults, we had all come to it as children. What might the world look like if we didn't have to fight for the rights of people of color, of LGBTQIA+ people, for or a sustainable environment, to mention just a few causes, because we'd been educated early about what the inequities were and learned ways to address them and, most importantly, not perpetuate injustice in our own lives? In this conversation Shelby Kretz and I talked about making social justice an everyday part of the education that our children receive in school and at home. People talk about, "hearts and minds" all the time. What if we could support open hearts and minds from the beginning? Think of how much further along we would be as a society.  Shelby and her team at Little Justice Leaders work to do exactly that. Part of breaking the cycle of racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression is making sure those attitudes never take root.  This conversation gave me so much hope for the future. I think it will do the same for you. About Shelby: Shelby Kretz is an educational researcher at UCLA and creator of Little Justice Leaders subscription box. Little Justice Leaders is a monthly box for parents and teachers of elementary school students, which provides resources each month to learn about a new topic of social justice. For a written transcript of this conversation please click here. Action Steps:1) Start having conversations with the kids in your life about justice issues.2) Do your part to normalize the teaching of social justice in schools.           a) As a parent or educator you could advocate at your kid's school for social         justice education.           b) Lobbying your school board and legislators around this issue.           c) Connect with them on Instagram @littlejusticeleaders where they have free resources that will help you and the kids in your life as you do this work Resources: Little Justice Leaders Blog: Here you will find ideas and guidance for engaging with the children in your life around social justice. Connect: On Instagram: @littlejusticeleadersLittle Justice Leaders website Credits: Harmonica music courtesy of a friend  

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