Brené with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness - Transcripts

June 10, 2020

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Austin Channing Brown’s anti-racism work is critical to changing our world, and her ability to talk about what is good and true about love, about our faith, and about loving each other is transformative. She is a writer, a speaker, and a media producer providing inspired leadership on racial justice in America. In this episode, we connect on her book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, and talk about her online television show, The Next Question. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit


Hi everyone in case you haven't heard every episode of unlocking us is now available only on Spotify, enjoy this episode, but to find the entire catalogue, please go download the Spotify app for free and start listening today.


everyone, I'm Renee Brown and this is unlocking us. Oh, I have such a special conversation for y'all. Today, I am talking to my friend thought leader, culture shifter change maker. Austin channing Brown. She is a leading voice on racial justice in her book. I'm still here. Black dignity in a world made for whiteness has been transformative for me. We'll talk about this in the conversation, but I often say that I evaluate a book by how many times I threw it across the room while I'm reading it in this book. Let me tell you how some flight hours under it. God, it's so beautiful. And clearly I am not the only one who has found the book transformative Reese Witherspoon who has an incredible Hello Sunshine Book Club just announced that I'm still here is one of two books that she's picked for her june 2020 Book Club. Read.

Austin is also the co creator and executive producer of a video web series, like a tv series on the web called the next question which I've had a chance to be a guest on and it's what a conversation laughed, sobbed, just incredible conversation. It's really the series is hosted by Austin and also co host jenny booth, potter and cheeky Yoku and it's a very different kind of conversation. It's about the expansiveness of racial justice. What does anti racism really look like? I highly recommend it. Yeah. And last but certainly not least this is really exciting. Today's june 10th, this is the day this podcast is dropping and Austin and I are partnered in a movement called share the mic where white women with big social media platforms amplify the voices of black women, anti racism activists and so today in june 10th, 2020 in case you're listening, you can go back and find it. Austin will be on my social media and sharing her thoughts, sharing ideas and then this evening will do an instagram live on her instagram which is at Austin channing. I just want you to get on my instagram which is at Burn a brown today, june 10th. I want you to get on Austin's today and always follow her at Austin channing and then join us for the instagram live tonight last just to let you know this bit about Austin, which I think is important because you'll see that not only will she share her massive knowledge with us, you'll get to know her as a person, which is a real privilege. Trust me, she lives in Metro Detroit with her husband, her son and what she would describe as a very spoiled puppy.

Okay, let's get into the conversation with Austin Austin channing brown, How are you?

It's kind of a weird week.

It's a weird week, but I want to, you know, I was starting with that question really, truly, I want to dig into how you are. I was starting with that question around, you know, when Covid first started and now it just has the answers are further and further away from fine.

I feel everything right now. I feel really, really sad. I feel overwhelmed, I feel betrayed. Um, but I also feel inspired by the protesters. I feel encouraged by how many people are seeking police reform and even police abolition. In some cases, I feel like it feels like one hot, beautiful ugly mess and I feel all of that inside my body right now.

How are you taking care of your body and your mind and your spirit right now

not doing a great job. And I think that's because my body is constantly fluctuating. So at the beginning of all of this, I was eating pretty regularly and the worst things got, the harder it became to eat. And sometimes that's because of posting in the news and getting lost in social media, but really burn a, I've realized that I don't have the same appetite. I don't want to eat and, and I feel nauseous a lot a lot. So it's been, it's been hard. The self care has been hard when your body isn't telling you What it usually tell zero.

I don't even know how long ago this, I think maybe maybe in the first therapist I ever saw. So I must have maybe been 20 and, and I remember her telling me I was going through a really hard time and my family was falling apart. It was just one thing after the next. And and I said sometimes I go, you know, a week and I just, all I can do is eat. And then other times I can't even swallow because I feel so nauseous. If you could see Austin right now. She is like shaking her head. Yes.

All of that. Right? It is the self care is really, really hard. So I think just I'm just trying to be gentle with myself and the one I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but it's the truth. And so the one thing that I'm doing very regular very regularly is giving myself a little face mask. Oh my God, I love it. I bust out my little jade roller. I stick that baby in the fridge so that she's nice and cold. Roll that jade over my face. I have like 11 steps. I mean I am in it Renee I'm in it when when this is all over everything else might be a mess. But my skin will be glowing.

Yes, I will be moisturized when this inside.

But you know what I mean? That sense of touch. Exactly. And that sense of pleasure in that sense of self love that goes with that touching. And I have one of those rollers too. And I'm just like, come to mama just yeah, yeah. Just take it all away.

Yes. Yes. Yes. And I realized that because I'm doing the skin care. I'm actually looking at myself In the mirror. You know, I'm looking into my own eyes. I am breathing in the scent of all these products. It really is 10 minutes of pure pleasure. And it's the only thing my body is telling me like explicitly saying, do this, do this. I don't care what time it is. I don't care if it's after midnight. I don't care if the baby is not down yet.

I don't care what's happening on the news. Do this for me. And so that is my one little action of self care that I do almost every night.

I love that. And I love looking into your own eyes. Yeah. I was going to say about the therapist that I thought was interesting. Just I don't know if this is helpful or not, but it's been helpful for me for the last 30 years since I heard it. She said often when we're depressed, we crave and we eat, but when we can't swallow and we can't, we're nauseous. And we have no appetite is often a sign of despair and despair sometimes makes eating and almost just even the act of swallowing hard,

wow, That resonates so deeply. The despair that resonates so deeply and the reason it resonates so deeply Bernet is because I don't this is so hard to explain Bernet. I know despair is there because I'm working through the crisis. I don't feel it.

That's right. I

feel to the despair. Right? I I am thinking about the next thing. I am thinking about what homework I'm going to give people. I am thinking about how to steward this community through this moment. I am right. I'm thinking about what I've already written. I'm thinking about how to move us toward black freedom. And so I don't feel much of anything except nauseous. Mm hmm. That makes so much sense to me.

Yeah, It makes so much sense to me. I don't know. I I remember hearing rob bell or reading something that he wrote that he defined despair as the fear that tomorrow will be just like today.

Ooh, mm.

Yeah. And I don't know. I mean I wonder I'm thinking just about neurobiology right now as we're having this conversation. I wonder if you can both. I don't think it's humanly possible. I think I've seen the data on this actually to both teach and facilitate and walk us through for change and action around black dignity. Right? And let yourself feel the despair that nothing will ever change. Yeah. I just don't know that were built to do both of those things. I don't think we are actually built to do both of those things at one time And

that feels accurate in my, in my gut right. So so for example, I have not been able to watch the video of George Floyd stuff. I cannot do it on the couple of occasions. It is come on the television, I have either had to turn away or have just turned the tv off altogether right? Like I am very aware that my emotional capacity


only handle so much right. And yet there haven't been any tears. I haven't, you know, haven't collapsed on the floor. I haven't like there hasn't been any of that. But I think you're right that the despair is showing up in a way that I can handle right? And in some ways in some ways it's enabling me to not practice self care because if I have to stop to eat right because I'm genuinely not hungry then I can teach for you know, 4567 hours a day nonstop.

Yeah, I just, I mean for those of y'all listening, I know it's probably clear that we're friends and our, we're not meeting on this podcast,


guess what I feel right now is that God, I just, my prayer for you and my is that I just want you so desperately to take care of all of you because I love you. But we also just, we need you and I wonder sometimes I'm thinking right now, like especially with the advent of calling in the military on the american citizenry, I just wonder exhaustion and wearing people out is such a tool of oppression as well.

Oh absolutely. I mean we saw it, we saw it first in in Ferguson right? Sure. The most most recent reiteration of this and I remember being tired for the protesters because they just kept going night after night, after night after night and now that people are battling health concerns and battling unemployment, battling battling family dynamics, all being cooped up in a house together, people have to be exhausted, everybody is exhausted.

Mhm. Yeah everybody's exhausted everybody. You know, it's funny too because I think a lot of white folks are feeling a weariness that has been a part of the DNA of black experience since the beginning of the time in this country

and that's part of it. Right? Renee is that we're not new to

this. Right.

Right. Right, right. I mean our exhaustion isn't the last week. Exactly. Our exhaustion is since we were born, exhaustion is our exhaustion is our parents memories and our grandparents memories. This exhaustion is is long, it's long.

Yeah, it's bone bone it's just yeah, it's D. N. A exhaustion, it's you're born into a history of weariness I guess from what we know oppression weariness. Yeah, it's real for for those of you who don't know Austin has a book called, I'm still here Black dignity in a world Made for Whiteness now, the way I first described remember if we talked about this on your tv show or we talked about this another time, but whenever a book, whatever I have a book that really changes me but kicks my ass first. I always say that I always say that book has wings because I throw, I usually actually throw the


and I do like I'll just be, I'll be lying in bed reading and I'll be like, oh no bullshit. And I just throw the book and I and the corners of your book are dinged up. Your book has wings.

Like I love that. I actually asked people, particularly white people, black women do not want to throw it, but I always ask white people did you throw it after they read it because I expect you. Really? Oh yeah, I'm disappointed when they say no

jesus. I'm part of a I'm part of a gang of middle aged white white woman book throwers holy shit, deliver me now. Yeah, it's the book is so honest and unflinching.

Yes, purposefully.

And as a person of faith, right? I read things that I knew were true and gave me words for confusion about why in these moments I don't understand why this is not the sermon every sunday.

Mm hmm. I lived at 1st birthday. I lived it. So I feel like I've I've kind of lived dual lives in terms of faith, my faith was born in the black church, but growing up I also was constantly surrounded by white evangelicalism. So I attended a private christian school from the time I was in preschool all the way through college. So I've been around whiteness Monica in all kinds of different denominations. Let me tell you burn a I've seen them all. I learned the hard way, I learned the hard way that there is a deep difference between the jesus that black folks worship and the jesus that white christians worship.

Tell me the difference

the jesus that black folks worship doesn't ask questions like what does the gospel really have anything to do with race and justice? Black jesus doesn't hesitate to save black lives matter. Black jesus stands for the oppressed, cares about those who are most marginalized and not just cares, Renee sits with lives with

fights for

fights for is angered by the mistreatment protests protest swift. Yes. Right. Yeah. While white jesus is primarily interested in self and self and money and capitalism and itself, and how much can I get? How much power can I hoard? It's all about self and it's all about the preservation of self, of ego, mostly power mostly power mostly power. A deep desire to wield power over power over others.

Right. It's interesting because I think of jesus, I think of power to but I think of power within power from and power shared and power within I don't think of power

over power over is white jesus. Yeah. Power over is a Christianity that would say slavery is the way God intended things to be.

Well, it did say that. Right. Exactly, right. I mean, and it continues to in some corners. Absolutely,


Do you think also there is I'm gonna I'm gonna use I hope I'm allowed to to worship the black jesus, because that would be my jesus too. I

wish the whole world

would. Yeah, Because I think as you came up in that environment, I came up in a very liberation theology, Jesuit no plane not just witness, but fight like that protest. That was, you know, I mean, I remember growing up in New Orleans, where the judge, you know, where the Jesuit supported the black panthers, where they were, you know, it was just a very different. But there, but that's not that's different than a conservative white evangelical thinking.

Yeah. My experience as a black woman who has grown up particularly in the era post the civil rights movement, uh, and post post perceived integration. Yes, right. My experience is that white folks want just a pinch of blackness, just a splash, a smattering, a little tossing confetti of blackness in order to affirm itself in order to affirm its own goodness, in order to affirm its rightness, in order to get rid of any feelings of guilt in order to keep itself comfortable so that so that it can continue to practice power over. Yeah. And justify it just wants to feel good about it

feels good about itself. Yeah. I'm asking Austin just if you will be generous with us and and that's a big thing to ask right now. If you will read these two paragraphs from, I'm still here that I think need to be tattooed on the world.

I'm happy to. This is from the chapter Nice White People. When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it's easy to start believing bigotry is rare and that the label racist should be applied only to mean spirited intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates and systems and structures enabled by nice people is that it obligates me to be nice in return. Rather than truthful. I am expected to come closer to the Racists, be nicer to them coddle them even more. If most white people are good, innocent, lovely folks who are just angry or scared or ignorant, it naturally follows that whenever racial tension arises, I must be the problem. I'm not kind enough patient enough warm enough. I don't have enough understanding for the white hart white feelings. White needs. It does not matter that I don't always feel like teaching white people through my pain through the disappointment of allies who gave up and co laborers who left. It does not matter that the well intentioned questions hurt my feelings or that the decisions made in all white meetings affect me differently than they do everyone else.

If my feelings do not fit the narrative of white innocence and goodness, the burden of change gets placed on me when this narrative of goodness is disrupted by the unplanned utterance of racial slurs, jokes, rants or they're kind whiteness has perfected another tool for defending its innocence. I call it the relational defense. It happens in media all the time. A government official, teacher, pastor or principle is caught on tape saying something that is clearly racist. But rather than confess and seek transformation, the person defends their goodness by appealing to the relationships of those who quote unquote know them. I'm not racist. Just ask flank. She knows me, my family and friends know my heart. They will tell you I couldn't be racist. I have a black spouse, child friend, I don't have a racist bone in my body.

God, oh let's talk white supremacy and niceness. Yeah, it's so about cognitive dissonance for people. Do you know like the tension of these two things that let's just take all the bullshit out and let me just say for me


I do something that makes clear my unacknowledged unknown owned privilege. I I feel two things at one time. One is shame and one is but I'm a good


I'm a good person but you know what's true, I am a good person and I have a lot of privilege and a lot of support for structural racism that I don't even know exists inside me, those two things are true. You know like I you

know what's also true, Bernie, you could uh you may be a good person, but you can be a better one.

Oh my God, I can be a better person. And and yeah, no, and if if I am, if I am a decent human being and I believe that about myself and I get called out on something, I've done that sexist, racist, homophobic, hetero sexist, you know, xenophobic, whatever I get called out on, you know what I do in those moments because you know, I have those moments in public all the time, like on film, you know, because I walk into those conversations and I just have them and you know what my mantra is. I have a secret mantra. Please tell I'm here to get it right. Not be right. I'm here to get it right. Not be right. I'm here to get it right. Not be right. And so if I have to get it right, I have to listen and learn. If I have to be right, I have to use my niceness and my decency to defend my behavior.

I tell people all the time that the work of anti racism is the work of becoming a better human to other humans.

Oh my God, can you say that again and slow for everybody?

The work of anti racism is becoming a better human to other humans. That's what we're doing. That's what the work of anti racism is. That is the work we're becoming better humans so that we treat other humans better. That's what we're doing here. So being called out even though it feels terrible, it feels terrible Renee nobody, nobody would argue that this is like a feel good, That's a feel good moment,


But we're but we're also not not interested in trying to hurt your feelings, were not interested in trying to manipulate, you were not interested in, right? All the things that anti racism educators get accused of. We are saying, I think you have capacity to be a better human. Would you, would you accept that invitation? And I can't tell you how often the responses, but I would rather just be nice and polite if that's okay. Yeah,

I mean, I gotta tell you, I gotta tell you nice and polite as a scourge. I mean like it is and I'll tell you I'll tell you where I've seen it. We've got we've got a you know, I'm not gonna lie, we got a shit ton of it in texas but the south, yep, you know the nice and polite culture of the south, you've got a damn yeah, I mean it's just and that's why I'm that's why like when I go back to this cognitive dissonance. So we know cognitive dissonance. When you have to hold the tension of two competing ideas is one of the most physiologically and emotionally uncomfortable feelings like our body is wired to jump out of it as fast as we can. Like oh my God, these conflicting messages right now. I have done or said something that's dehumanizing or racist or supports a system that dehumanizes others. I am a good person. I'm trying my best. Like if we could just jump out of that too, I am a good person. So I'm going to be quiet and learn and apologize and make amends and take action. Like instead of there are two lanes and I'm not I'm not thought through this.

I want to think through it with you. It seems like there are two tap out buttons when we're in the discomfort right? There is the relation, what do you call it? The relational relations have a relation of defense. Look, you know, I'm friends with Austin channing Brown. Like

Yeah, she would say she would say

Yeah, yeah, no. Yeah, it is the relational defense. So that that's that's one tapout button. There's several tapout buttons but they're divided. I think into two sides. The next tapout button is I am a good loving person. Look at the money I give to charity. Look at the work that I do. I'm a good person, something is wrong with you. The other tapout button which people don't understand is also delivers us from this thing is I I'm sorry I am wrong, I will work every day to be better. I will learn from you. But I will value the labor and the work you're doing to teach me soulfully monetarily your time.

That is also and that's a tapout button. Mhm. That is not a deep tunnel to nowhere. That's a tapout button. That makes us, in your words, better humans. That makes me a better mom, a better partner, a better person of faith.

It makes you it makes you more human. It makes you more human. Because the truth is is that we all mess up, Renee We all mess up. I'm a black woman and I get disability stuff wrong. I'm I'm cece and I get queer stuff wrong. We all get shit wrong. We

all get shit wrong. I mean, that's it wrong. Takeaway number one from the podcast today gets

it wrong. The question is, have you built the capacity to care more about others? Then? You care about your own ego. Will you choose? Oh my God, that's the question. Right? Will you choose to protect someone else over protecting your own ego?

And the worst thing is the ego begs for our protection, but is not our friend. It's not our friend.

It makes us worse humans. It

makes us worse humans. But it tells us protect me are you will know pain like you have never known, but it's a

liar, right? Well, sort of right? So too to protect someone else is to invite pain.

But do you think that's for me? That pain is an opening.


That pain is an expansive pain where I an intimacy, a connected. Yes.

That's that's why I say it makes us more human, right? Like. Yeah, that's part of what white supremacy is stealing. Part of what white supremacy is stealing is your ability to see, to feel, to hear, to hold in high esteem other people. There are no roadblocks to two of those buttons that we tap the relational defense. White people can go there immediately. Right, Right? But I'm a really good person and I can't believe you're attacking me like this. You can go there immediately. There is a hurdle that you have to overcome in order to access the desire to protect someone else over yourself. And that hurdle is white supremacy. Because white supremacy doesn't value the other life as much as you value your own.

That's the core of white supremacy, right? I am white and therefore I am better. I am right. I am holy, I am good. I am innocent, I am right and you are inferior. That is that that is how we built white supremacy. I am better. I am superior. You are inferior. But in order to access this desire to protect black lives. The desire to be taught by black lives. The desire to sit at the feet of black people.

The desire to pay black people for their labor. The desire to make sure that America actually lives up to its own creeds. You've got to first get over the hurdle which is destroying the idea that we are not equal. And I know innocent, good, well intentioned white people Do not want to believe for 1 2nd, Bernet that they don't consider themselves equal to another human being. But the truth is, if in your life you can be called out by your white friends or you're white co workers or you're white supervisor, if they can say to you, hey, you know what? That that was really good. That presentation you gave was really good, but I just want you to tweak this one thing. If the white people in your life can say you're not perfect and you don't lash out at them. But the black people in your life would suggest that you could do something better. And all of a sudden you want to rip their heads off. You're not at equality yet. You're not at equality yet.

And it's because you've got to get over white supremacy. You've got to dig deep and really believe, like not, not just like in your head, not just like my parents told me that all people are equal and I was a kid, but you got to really dig deep and decide that against your initial inclination, I am going to decide right now in this moment of having been called out that I am not superior, my ego is not superior, what I want is not superior, What I need is not superior. In this moment I am going to decide that the face in front of me has something, knows something can share something that I am desperately in need of because I am not superior.

It's just truth. They're just I mean, thank you for listening to the podcast. Like I mean, it's just I mean it's just it's I just that's that's truth. And can I ask a bunch of questions please? Yeah. Okay, so you said too easy tap out buttons, relational defense. I'm a good person defense. But the huge barrier to the studying my ego aside is white supremacy. And white supremacy is a complex. I mean complex. It's like asking to me explaining white supremacy is like asking a fish to describe water. That's right, that's right.

You know, what role does proximity play in being able to say i in dismantling white supremacy? Like what what role does it play? Or does it play a role in your mind?

It can it can play a role.

You have to find proximity. How do you define proximity?

You know what? I think that here's what here's what I think people here, when we talk about proximity is do you have a black friend?

Oh you think that's what people here?

Oh yeah, I think that I think that's the white people here. I think white people here, Is there a person of color in your life that you are literally proximate to. Okay, that is in your house, that you're having coffee with or that you're right and that understanding of proximity is dangerous. Yes. It's dangerous for black people. It's dangerous for people of color and it places it works the relationship, it puts the burden of teaching on black people. It

it can become

manipulative. It makes the person of color responsible for changing your heart and mind. Yeah.

You know, but you think that's what people think of when they hear the word proximity, even like I have a black partner or I have.

I do, I do. And again, I want to keep in mind that most of my experience is in faith based organizations and, and, and so often after we finished like the the MLK day service, what is said is can you reach out and, and you know, can you reach across the aisle or can you invite somebody that you haven't met before to a coffee or whatever. Right. So, so maybe it isn't that word, right? Maybe it's just too often the example that we use

that's helpful. That's yes, that's helpful. That makes sense to me. So how what is proximity? How would you define it in real anti racism dismantling terms or would you,

I'm not convinced it's necessary. And there's a lot, there's a first of all, I just want to know there's a lot of anti racism, educators would deeply disagree with me. I'm not convinced it's necessary? Renee. I think I think that white people are not Children. I think grown white people are adults who can think critically on their own, who can read books and listen to podcasts and study history and be self reflective and get a therapist and look at the world and say something's not right here. Let me change the way I vote, right? Something's not right here. Let me give to an organization that I have researched who is trying to change this. Something's not right here. Let me go. Do I think in that process when learning, when curiosity has come first, you find yourself and proximate relationships that do not benefit you.

And I think, I think maybe that's the core of this proximate thing, right? Is that white people hear that and think, great, let me go find a relationship that benefits me

to prove my relational hypothesis

right or to prove that I'm nice and that, you know, at least one black person really likes me. I think there's something missing from our approximate conversation, our national Proximate conversation that is not discussing what the power dynamics are in that proximity.

Yeah, I mean, God, to me, I'm almost going back to like my undergrad sociological theory classes on exchange theory. Like I can see the using the manipulating, I also see right now on social and it's probably the relational defense. I also see a running toward highlighting friends of


and how that

it's still for self, it's still for self. That's it. That's what I was

trying to get to. It still doesn't seem other focus to me, right?

That's right. And that does not serve the cause of justice, freedom and dignity of others. So in that proximate relationship. So my question would be for all white listeners is in that proximate relationship. What are you giving?

Hard stop,

What are you?

Yes. What are you giving period question. Yeah,

Yeah. And there are there are actually, you know what? That's not true Bernie, I was about to say that there are white people in my life and we're just friends and that's it. But it's not true. Every white friend that I have and you can imagine that list is real small, but they do exist. I have a white friend, Bernet, I'm kidding. You're

doing you're doing your

work often you're doing your work. Every white friend I have because they see me as fully human pursues racial justice in their own life. Whether that means whether whether I'm there or not, I think that's what I'm trying to get to. Whether I am physically present. Whether we are in like literal proximity or not. The white people in my life who I would call friend are doing the word if I disappeared from the world tomorrow. If I just like moved to new Zealand and didn't write another word, didn't say another thing just sat on a hill somewhere. You know, the white folks in my life would still be doing the work because it isn't about me personally. It isn't about proximity to me.

Yes. And being friends with you is not the work.


that's the part that feels very, very using to me like. Yeah. So your white friends, if you're on the hill in New Zealand, I'm coming to visit you for sure. Yes. And we're going to hike and go see the Hobbit holes and do all kinds of great stuff. Yeah. But if you're on the hill in New Zealand, your friends are going to keep doing the anti racist the justice work. Their relationship with you is not a proxy for

that work. That's right. They are still going to teach their kids how to be anti racist. They're still diversifying their bookshelves. They're still talking to their teachers about what the curriculum looks like. They're still saying that they want more diverse teachers in the school. They're showing up at protests around immigration or pride or write a million other broken systems in this nation. They are doing the real work. And I am not the work.

Oh my God. It's just,

and I think that's my issue with proximity with the way that we talk about proximity. I don't know right? I think we could redefine it. Right. I think we could, I think we could make it more useful, but I think where it currently falls short is that it still makes me the work. And it still requires me to do work that ultimately does not serve the cause of justice.

And is it not actually when you're immigrant friend or your black friend is the work? Is that not ultimately dehumanizing to? It's so dehumanizing. Austin is doing the praise, jesus, moving. You can't, you can't see her. But we're on zoom and she and I have both done a lot of hand raising in this. I wish you can, I wish you could watch us. Yeah, But isn't that I guess that's why I was asking about proximity because you know, I've got fear about stepping on it as a white person trying to learn and do the work. But I'm seeing it used in this really weird way that feels

it is. That's why, uh, so this is not a rule, white white white people really like rules when it comes to racial justice so that they can

do it on my broadcast,

You know, so whatever.

But no, no, no, no. I gotta stop you. White people like rules not so they can do it the

correct way.

Tell me. So,

why do you know the rules? Let's

talk about that. It's so that we can protect ourselves. It's not to do the work the right way. So that when we do something like you told me african american was the right thing.


you told me that you don't capitalise black. You told me that I could say this. You know, So we

want the rules. The rules for all the time.

Yes. The rules are the fence around the ego. You told me where I could go and where I couldn't go and now you can kiss my ass because these were your rules. You told me you were going to give you example right now. Yeah. People telling Dr Bernice King what white people telling Dr Bernice King what her father meant. So what

you will see the face awesome. Yeah.

No. So here's the thing. Well martin Luther king told us the rules. He told us that we should be peaceful.

I think that's good.

Yeah. And so now you know so I just want to make that because the people I talked to even my students for the last 20 years. You know graduate student me teaching classes on race, gender and policy are saying could we get a list

right? But you know what

I will also go on to like a p flag website and say like what terms are we supposed to be using right now? Some of its good intention that I want to be in the No but a lot of times. Yeah we want rules because they protect us and they are weapons for our defense.

Wow that's good. That's good.

I want him to I want rules don't you wouldn't you love some rules if you just follow this. Yeah that's good.

That would be delightful actually. Yeah. If I could get the black handbook that would be really wonderful. You survive in America as a black woman. Where is that handbook? Please someone That's good. Renee. So this is not a rule. This is this is not unusual. But when I hear anti racism, educators talk about proximity. The framing that they typically use is are you the white person in the minority? Are you in the minority

in your approximate situation? That's right.

Are you, are you having to submit to the authority of someone else? Are you having to follow the cultural rules of another group? The core of that Proximate question is are you learning in real time how to let go of your own supremacy?

Those questions make sense to me that we we learned in social work school. We learned that proximity. Was is the relationship with the person in their geography or yours? Their emotional geography, their physical geography? Where is the relationship in terms of geographical terms? So what do you think? What do you think about that question?

What's hard for me? So in faith based communities the way most white people immediately asked. So should I go to a black church? Yeah, right. Like christian, right? White christians are like, so do I need to pick up my family and go to a black church and no, because I don't want to fly to white folks at the black church because that's a beautiful protected space. That is not for you

and not. And definitely not for you to check off something you need to do and be there as observers and box tickers. You know, I think that's a, I think that's a big issue,

right? So there's, I mean, I'd have a hard time naming a black church where there isn't like a white family, but that white family has been there for years. They ain't going nowhere. They know this project, this isn't a trend, They're not trying something new. And and so I and so that's what, that's, that's where I struggle with even the notion that white people are in right in this proximity but are in the minority is how does their presence still change the dynamics of why people of color had this space in the first place? So I I kind of honestly, I kind of just want to put the onus on white people and say get it together, grow up, be mature, start learning, start reading, start researching because I feel like eventually your decisions, your actions will put you in proximity. two issues that you are passionate about. If you are passionate about immigration, eventually you're probably going to meet someone who is undocumented, right? But by the time you do, so hopefully you will come with a body of knowledge that doesn't make that person the work. It makes immigration reform the work. That's

right. That's right. God, I could just talk to

you for days. I mean

days, okay, you're just an incredibly important thought leader. Where can people find you support, you learn from you tell me tell me everything. Tiene que to tell me everything.

Yeah. So one of my favorite projects has been the next question, which is my T. V. Show, which burn a came and hung out with us, y'all. And it was a fantastic conversation. It's free. All the episodes are free. It's at tiene que show dot com. We interviewed Bernet, we interviewed Nicole Hannah jones. Oh my God, that was so good. Right? We did Rachel cargo.

Um we talked about abolition. We talked about, I mean education, we talked about social movements. I mean it is that is my baby. Next question is my baby. But I also hope that it's it's filled with conversations like the ones you and I just had right Renee that it is digging deeper is asking hard questions that we don't necessarily have answers to, But it's trying to move beyond the 101 questions that typically show up in national media.

So I encourage just amazing. Yeah the convert, you know what I would do if I were listening, I would gather friends and socially distanced way, watch an episode, potluck it in a healthy way and then talk about the episode. What landed for you? What do you have questions about what does not, what makes zero sense to you? All the question. Yeah, like all the questions. Right? Just But to watch the next question show with other people to me is so powerful

and show it in your classroom, right? And a lot of people should take like, take out your notebook because these thought leaders are dropping books, they're dropping names, they're talking about how they learned how, you know, their own process their own journey. Um so it's just so much to learn. I I re watched all the episodes after we filmed them and I found myself like, oh, that was that was good. Yeah,

I mean it's

good. That was a good point Renee and we talk about hard stuff. We do, we have to I know we have to if we're

going to grow. I think Austin when you said the barrier to pushing the button over here, which is being a better human serving others instead of your ego. The barrier is dismantling white supremacy and everyone's like, okay, how do I do that to me? The next question, Right? You sit down and watch that with your family and your friends. Show it in your classroom have those conversations. It's like every time you have an uncomfortable honest conversation, a piece of the system falls off.

That's right, that's right. There's no easy way through this. You you have to be uncomfortable, you have to be and I think there's this misnomer burn a that people of color or people who are queer or like any marginalized body that when we are learning about our own experience that it's like easy, you know that we like delight in our in our pain or do you think

people jesus? Do you think? I bet people do think that I think that

I don't I don't think it's like at the forefront, do you know what I see that? But I think there's I think there's this notion that that learning about these things is somehow harder for you as a white woman. That is for me as a black woman and like no, I don't enjoy reading about lynchings, gonna enjoy reading about slavery, but I I have to for my own survival and for my commitment to justice,

right? And I would argue and I would argue that I also have to for those exact same reasons

and if we can do this hard thing, why not do it together, Bernet. That's right.

And to me, the difference between me reading about lynchings and you talking about lynchings, there's so many but I can opt out of the collective trauma.

That's right, that's right. But

if I choose to stay in the collective trauma, I'm being a better human with other humans. Okay, so the next question show I don't want to lose the thread. Okay, tell us

about, I'm still book. Yes, I love my little green book, I love her so much. I really encourage people to see if I'm still here is available at black owned bookstores great, if you don't need the amazon discount bypass that if you need it. I understand. Oh boy, do I understand? We're we are in covid land. So I understand. But if you can afford to, if you could check to see if it's available at black owned bookstores and buy from them, that would be amazing.

We've got that resource up on social right now and on our website. The list of black owned books tours.

Yeah. And then I hang out on all the now I hang out on three social media platforms. I'm on twitter instagram and facebook

under at Austin channing. You got it. I just cannot say enough about I'm still here black dignity in a world made for whiteness. I mean every thing that Austin taught us today led us today. It felt like you not, not not the information Austin, you feel like church to me. You do. You feel like church to me. You feel like what is good and true about love about our faith about loving each other and I'm really, really grateful for you in this conversation and I'm super grateful for

you. Me too. I wish if there was one thing there's lots of things I wish I could bottle up and just like hand to people so they could experience it like black joy. And you know there are things that I wish I could bottle up and be like here, here's why you want to practise anti racism and one of those things is what happens between co conspirators?

Oh my God, You know, I just got goose, I just got goose bumps from head to toe. You

know when you are equals and when you are partners and when you are in it together and when you're like, you know what if this all falls apart, we're just gonna have to fall apart together. We just got to jail together. We just, you know, like, like yeah, that level of intimacy. I wish I could bottle it and be like, listen, here's what's on the other side. Here's what's on the other side. Here's what's on

the other side. Yeah. I mean like yes, jail, New Zealand. My preference would be, my preference would be new Zealand but

at first, but no one knew. And me, I feel like jail was I

Yeah. And then they'll be like


and we'll both be like here,

yes. We both,

Yeah, I want to invite you to do this. You can say no, but I have these rapid fire 10 questions that are just personal summer fun. Some are serious, but I really think we get dangerously close to dehumanizing thought leaders and activists as thanking machines, not real people. So are you ready? You do this with me? Let's do this. Okay, Fill in the blank. # one vulnerability is




I mean, why indeed number two, you're called to be brave. But your fear is real and it's stuck right in your throat. What's the very first thing you do

flip a coin between my fingers, which is what my dad taught me to do at my very first spelling bee when I was afraid to get up and say my word and handed me a quarter and he said just flip this between your fingers. Yeah. Oh my God, spelling bee strategy. Okay.

Number three, what is something that people often get wrong about you

that I am serious and angry and it just couldn't be further from the truth. I am all about joy and humor. And if I could have chosen my career would have been a stand up comedian. Oh my God, I would have, I would have glad to see you.

Okay. Last show that you binged and loved on television,

Dead to me.

Oh God, so good. Okay, good. Favorite movie are at one of your favorite movies. That's impossible. I know.

I really love movies and I really love all kinds of movies. I love black and white movies and musicals. I love comedies. I love romance. I love action right now. I am obsessed with End of the World movies with that fit. Let me, let me do a Freudian analysis with you. Okay, so what

is something that if you flip past it, not that we flip channels anymore. But if you did, you would always watch it here.

You would always watch it when I watch. I would not say that. This is like my favorite Movie, but it's one that I watched all the time. I watched this almost every night as I'm falling asleep 2012 Where the world ends in the year 2012. Yes. And they and they and they survived by going to Africa sorry, anyone who has a right, I love it. I'm here for the whole thing.

I'm going to send you some more face masks. Okay. Okay. A concert that you'll never forget.


favorite meal.

Oh God. Soul food. That way. I can just include like all the things. Give me the fried chicken and macaroni and the candied yams and the collard greens. Hello? Yeah. Okay.

Okay. What's on your nightstand?

I actually have to because it is overflowing with books. It has books, pens, at least four notebooks. My happy pills, some chapstick and a teeny tiny little lamp.

Perfect. Okay, a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life right now. That

brings you over

to joy.

Oh well not joy. Okay, my kiddo is learning how to like put sentences together.


And so he does this thing. Well he'll include real words at the beginning of the sentence and then the middle will be baby talk. So he'll go blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then there'll be real words at the end of the sentence. So if he asked for water he would say, yeah. Money. I believe that cold waters. Sorry what? Okay,

that's so cute. You should tape that. So you have that forever or film it.

Yes, I'm going to try to do that

and then something haunting like like his rehearsal dinner or something. You can play it like, you know, okay. one thing that you're deeply grateful for right now


amen. Okay Austin chanting Brown, host of the Tv show, the next question author of the book, I'm still here Black dignity in a world Made for Whiteness, one of my very favorite human beings church. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your time with us today.

What a joy to be here.

Thank you. Thank you all for joining me with Austin in this conversation. It's just we're going to get there. We're going to be better humans with better humans. We're going to get there and it's going to be hard and uncomfortable and painful and worth every hard, uncomfortable, painful step Again, a reminder that on June 10 Austin will be on my instagram which is at burn a brown and tonight will be on her instagram doing instagram live, which is at Austin channing. You can also find her on twitter at Austin channing and her website is www dot Austin channing dot com. Same with facebook and you can go to the show notes to learn everything about her where you can find her and just get a copy of, I'm still here black dignity in a world made for whiteness. It will open your heart and open your mind and fuel the fire, which is exactly what we need right now. Thank you all for listening. To unlocking us. Go, be brave, be kind, be awkward. Change the world!

Speak up.