Episode 2: Be the Bridge – How It All Began! (Part 2)

The latest episode of the Be the Bridge Podcast features Susan Seay, a motivational speaker and life coach. Latasha and Susan continue the conversation and celebration of how Be the Bridge got started and how Susan played a key part in its formation.

“Restorative justice to me is the willingness to have those honest conversations, to be able to bring the full story forward with the expectation and the hope that this helps to bridge some understanding and empathy and compassion from the other side.” –Susan Seay

“This is a lifestyle. It starts with you, it starts with your family. So how are you leading your family into this?” –Latasha Morrison

About Susan
Through the “Mentor 4 Moms” Podcast, you get a sense of Susan’s heart to provide practical tools and loads of encouragement to busy moms. As a wife and mom to 7, she understands the challenges of trying to be an Intentional Parent in a noisy and distracting world. Susan has been a mentor to thousands of women for over a decade. Her uncommon wisdom has her in demand at conferences, events, and retreats across the globe. To find out more, visit her website SusanSeay.com.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe to the Be the Bridge podcast for more conversations on racial healing, equity and reconciliation!

The full episode transcript is below.

Narrator  0:06  

You’re listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  0:12  

Susan, how are you doing?

Susan  0:15  

I’m glad to be here. I think this is going to be fun for you and I to catch up. It’s been quite a journey.

Latasha Morrison  0:22  

Yeah! Tell the audience who you are.

Susan  0:25  

Hey everybody, I’m Susan Seay. I live in Austin, Texas with my hubby Ron, and together we are raising seven world changers. That’s our goal.

Latasha Morrison  0:39  

Susan is just a good friend. And I’m so glad to have you on the podcast. This is a new podcast and you’re on our episode about our anniversary! So, we are four years old now. We’re still in preschool, we haven’t launched into school. But we are four years old, and it’s unbelievable. You’ve been there since the beginning, I was thinking about just a few people from Austin that had been there from the beginning and have kind of tracked with Be the Bridge since its inception. I think about our group, which wasn’t even called Be the Bridge! And one of the things is, I love your wisdom and your bio, it says, “her uncommon wisdom has her in demand.” And I’m like, there’s just so much wisdom that comes from you. And I know people who listen to your podcast (Mentor for Moms) get a lot of that practical wisdom, and tools and encouragement, and you have just been an encouragement to me from the beginning. And I want to go back in time a little bit to when we met, and see if your “when we met” lines up with when I know that we met—because you know, the memory gets a little fuzzy and we’re in our 40s, so you know we get a little confused. We met in 2000…now we said we saw each other but I mean when we officially met…that was in 2014. When do you recall us first meeting?

Susan  2:25  

Okay, so I feel like this is a pop quiz. This is what I remember: I believe you were hanging out with Renee. Is that her name? Renee? I’m trying, I’m really trying better with names! I just remember…my memory is that we met at IF:Gathering. Is that right?

Latasha Morrison  2:49  

Yes. Yes. Do you remember the backstory of me and how/why we met, girl?

Susan  2:55  

Yes, I do because you were committed to meeting every chocolate woman in the room! I loved that you described it that way! You’re like, “every chocolate person here, I’m gonna meet you! I’m committed to meeting you!” And you could have done that, because there was only a few of us in the whole space, so we were easily identifiable.

Latasha Morrison  3:22  

For those of you who don’t know anything about the “nod,” especially the African American “nod” of, “I see you in such a white space.” Yes. So I went to IF:Gathering with a good friend of mine who got tickets. I didn’t know anything about IF:Gathering…

None of us did! We were all there, thinking “Why are we here?!” 

Why were you there? How did you get connected to it?

Susan 3:46  

I was there because my daughter’s a photographer. And so she was doing photography for the event, for 1…oh, no, no, not that first one. My bad. Backing it up! I was a part of the studio audience for Jennie’s Bible study, one of her Bible studies. And so she invited everybody there to this event. She said, “it would mean a lot to me if you guys came, it’s a big thing I’m starting,” but nobody knew what it was. So I was like, “Okay, sure, let’s go…what are we doing?” I just grabbed a friend and I was like, “Okay, girl. Listen, it’s about Jesus, and let’s just do the best we can with it. If it ain’t…” (you know how you do this?) “…If it ain’t good, we’ll just leave.”

Latasha Morrison  4:31  

Right, right. Yeah, I was on the struggle bus during that time anyway, because I was really questioning like, why am I here? Like, what am I supposed to be doing here? Like, this is not what I thought it was going to be. I was feeling isolated and alone and really, culturally mourning. I remember Renee, when she asked me about it, I was like, “I don’t know who these people are.” I think you’re right too, Susan, there wasn’t a lot of information that was given on purpose, you know, and so it was something new and it was called IF:Gathering, right? You know what? I was intrigued by the name. I thought, “Oh, that sounds good: ‘IF:Gathering.'” So curiosity brought me there. 

Susan  5:17  

Yes! And so interesting you talk about your struggle bus, because I came in there on the struggle bus of “I don’t do women’s events.” I don’t do the whole, it’s such-and-such name and the smoke and the lights and the performance—and I just feel like, what are we doing? Like, is this really what you’re about? So I was like, I mean, I’m going to come because she invited [me]. It was a personal invitation, so I was trying to honor that extension, but oof…I was really going, “I don’t know what we doing.” 

Latasha Morrison  5:52  

So my friend Renee was great, she’s a networker and I was so grateful that she invited me. But I remember walking in, and despite the fact that there wasn’t a lot of people that looked like me, or anything like that, it was still this warm environment and this engaging environment. And I think that time they were doing the long tables, so it was set up with long tables. I’d just never been to a conference like that, where it was really about the community and the people around you versus everything that was going on on the stage. And so that was new for me. The reason why I was able to look for people of color, was because they had so many different conversation times where [they were] asking you to get up off your seat and go engage with someone else. So I remember seeing Susan, I was like, “I’ve seen her before, I don’t know her, I need to meet her.” And it was kind of like one of those “I see you” [moments], we locked eyes across the room and it was kind of like [humming commencement march song] walking towards each other!

Susan  7:03  

We’re gonna make our way. We’re gonna make our way!

Latasha Morrison  7:05  

Yes! In the midst of this crowd. And that was it! That right there was it. I think we exchanged information. And then also I met Kim Patton there and a few other ladies and I was thinking like…Yes, Tori! I met Ryan there. That same day, now this is a crazy thing—that same day when I was just really going there, I was in a down place, I was on my way there I was thinking like, “Okay God, you gotta show me what you got. You’re bringing me here for like, this…this is ridiculous.” And I remember hearing the words “be the bridge” that day. That was the first time I heard the word “be the bridge.” 

Susan  7:09  

No way! That’s interesting…

Latasha Morrison  7:59  

I did not make any connection then, but in my head the way I was connecting it was, I’m going to be the bridge with brown people! That’s what I was thinking. You remember the second meeting we had, you remember? After that, before we met with Jennie—me, you, Ryan, Tori, we all met at this tea place at the domain. We met at this tea place and then it was like, I was thinking about this thing…do you remember? Called mocha leaders?

Susan  8:41  

Yes! I forgot about you saying that! Yes. Because we were gonna all get together, we were gonna come together and form a sisterhood. Yes. Mm hmm. Because it was hard to find one another in Austin, and we were gonna change that.

Latasha Morrison  8:55  

Yes! We were like, “We’re gonna be a network of helping other women connect—other brown women connect.” We met, we had this conversation. It was great. My friend Selah, you remember Selah was there? You brought your daughter, one of your daughters was there. And then I think I followed up after that, after I met with you guys I met with Kim Patton and we had coffee. She knew Jennie, and I think she had had some personal conversations with Jennie with some of the work she was doing in restorative justice. And she was like, “You know what, I think I’m gonna reach out to her and see if we can meet with her about this.” Because we were talking about how we enjoyed the conference, but just the lack of diversity, you know, and all that. So we did that and we ended up meeting with Jennie. I think you and I had spoken about it, and I knew you were there at the conference, so I invited you to lunch. And then I think Kim brought another friend, so it was like four of us and one of Jennie. And just Jennie. And we did the, “Surprise, surprise!” 

“Hello, have a seat. Let’s have a talk.”

That’s right. But the thing is, she took that day like a champ though! She did, she stayed there, you remember? 

Susan  10:29  

She did, she hung in there!

Latasha Morrison  10:31  

She hung in there. She hung in there. But yeah! So that’s how we met. And then the rest is history. Anything I think of significantly that we’ve done with Be the Bridge, from the launch to the first video taping, to the prayer over me—you have been in the midst. You’ve been a great support for this organization. Not just for the organization but for me personally, like, you were a lifeline in Austin when I needed it. And being able to connect with your family, and meeting your mom, and I think you also invited me to Thanksgiving? I can’t remember when it was, but yeah, it’s just been a journey and I’m grateful for it. But I want our audience to know a little bit more about Susan Seay. And I want to talk about just some of our time together and just our journey when we were meeting with that group. So out of our conversation with Jennie we developed kind of the first group and discussion, and then I think one of the things that happened when we were meeting, I think two months into our meetings, Ferguson happened. What do you recall from that time? You know, during that time we were meeting and Ferguson [was] happening. What are some of the things that stand out to you from that time?

Susan  12:19  

Hmm, I think one of the joys in my life is calling people out when I see their giftedness and really speaking to that, because I think it’s difficult for people to see their own gifts and to see what they are doing and how they’re impacting other people. So at that time, as I watched you stepping into this, it was a joy to watch the gift that God has given you in this particular area begin to shine a little bit of light, it’s like we were getting a little peekaboo of it. So when Ferguson happened, just after we formed this group of getting together—”just to talk” is how we framed it initially. Jennie was like, “I’ve got some friends, would it be okay if I bring my friends? And would you bring some other women? Let’s get together.” We didn’t have an official title, we didn’t have a name. We didn’t even have like a defined outline for how we were gonna run it. We were just showing up and having a conversation. So Ferguson was like this outward confirmation that this is the conversation to have, that these are the things to be discussing, and these are the issues at hand. These are not personal experiences of a few of us here in Austin. This is a national, global conversation to have around how we in the body of Christ are responding to this issue—that would be easy to ignore if it doesn’t directly affect you.

Latasha Morrison  13:52  

Right, right. Right. And I’m not gonna lie, I was surprised like, we didn’t talk about what each person did in the group. I don’t think that really came out until later. We didn’t really know them…nobody was enamored with anyone because we didn’t know them. I’d never read a book, never read a blog, none of that, you know, didn’t even know. But, you know, there was some funny moments now that I think back—there was some funny moments. And then there were some, just like not so funny, but some funny moments. What are some of those moments that stood out to you during that time? Whether it’s funny or not so funny.

Susan  14:36  

Well, I think that true to you and I, we always want to have food when we gather, right? And I remember when we first started meeting, it was always like, “Who’s bringing snacks?” and “What snacks are you bringing in?” And, “Did you make that? How did you make that?!” We had all these questions around food and it’s like, for us and I think in our culture, that whole gathering always involves food. We don’t just gather just to look in each other’s faces! Somebody’s gonna be eating something, right? So I think they really wanted to get together and talk and we wanted to go if there was a full table of—

Latasha Morrison  15:17  

Of snacks! It just reminded me of something, Susan, where we went every time…The other thing we would do, just telling this to the audience, is that as we would meet, we would also do social gatherings. So whether that was dinner, lunch, happy hour, you know. I think we did a cookout, we did the MLK march, all kinds of things that we would do outside of our meeting time. And once we went to a restaurant… 

Susan  15:51  

Oh, yes.

Latasha Morrison  15:53  

And it was like a tapas restaurant. Yeah. We would always go to tapas restaurants, and like These like wine bars/tapas restaurants. And it’s cool, but tapas ain’t cheap, right? And we get this small plate of like brussel sprouts, but then everybody got to share it.

Susan  16:15  

Right? Little chunks of chicken. I’m like, where is the meal?!

Latasha Morrison  16:19  

I’m like, “I haven’t eaten all day!” And we would look at each other, and I remember you said, uh…I said, “Oh, another one of these small plates places” and you said, “Look, I want to have the platas! The platas, I need to have the platas!”

Susan  16:38  

The platas, not the tapas. What is this?! 

Latasha Morrison  16:42  

Oh my god but every time I go to a restaurant that’s a tapas restaurant I think about you talking about the platas, not the tapas. So anyway, I think some of that too, just being able to laugh at ourselves and kind of…we would debrief. I remember when everybody would leave, like, you know, we would debrief about the debrief, which was good! We just had some really good, honest conversation, but I think you’re right. It’s like the things that started happening during that season that made national news, like this conversation, you knew like, this is on God’s heart. We were already engaging in that conversation, already starting to look underneath the brokenness and then starting to connect the dots and stuff like that. So how did the group kind of challenge your life? Or how did some of the friendships challenge your life? 

Susan  17:47  

Hmm. I would say that would be a tremendous challenge for sure. I think that what’s important to point out, you know, as we’re doing a reflection and looking back, the people who are seeing where you are now and the impact that you’re having now—it seems as if you had a plan all along and like you knew where you were going. And I just want to emphasize for people that we gathered because we could see a need and there was an interest, a response from Jennie and her friends, of interest. And we were just trying…we didn’t have a plan! I just want to emphasize like, there was no agenda, there was none of that. And so interacting with people I did not know, only later to learn how influential these people were, I had no idea. I was just coming to be my authentic self, and I am so committed to that. I don’t know if it’s being in my 40s or if it’s just where I am in my relationship with God, that it’s just timeout for me around performing, or trying to look a certain way, or fit in, or be a certain group of people’s friend. Like I want to be truly and authentically me. And so when I came into those conversations, I was like, “If we’re going to talk about the real, let’s talk about the real.” And you know, I got plenty of eyebrows raised by people [thinking] like, “Oh, I don’t think I was ready.”

Latasha Morrison  19:21  

Right? I think you went in the first day, you and Jennie were ready to go like, “Okay, I’ve been waiting for this!” And I’m thinking like, Uh oh, wait a minute…

Susan  19:32  

Everybody was like, hold on…uh oh, uh oh! Cuz I turned to her and I was like, let’s talk to YOU. Let’s go. And people were like, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute.” I was like, oh, I mean, I thought that’s what we were here for. What are we doing? Like, y’all need to let me know.

Latasha Morrison  19:52  

That’s good. I remember that. I remember that. And then it got there, we got to have some conversations! I like to let people know like, originally we didn’t have a guide. We didn’t have questions where you can really dig real deep and get underneath some of the dialogue that we have now going on with that. So it kind of had to happen organically, you know. And that’s harder to do when you don’t have this real set agenda, just knowing that we need to have this conversation. It’s painful. And then realizing that the people who were in this group didn’t have a lot of background information, you know, the context and historical things. I just remember us telling stories and people’s mouths would be open—about how (I think Regina told the story) when she was a little girl they went downtown Austin to buy a gift with their mother for Mother’s Day. They had been saving up all year. She was the youngest I think, she was like six or seven [years old]. They went to Woolworth’s downtown. Her oldest sister, and I think there may have been another sister, and she [Regina] was the baby—they went into the store to get a Mother’s Day gift, and they were cursed at and escorted out of the store. And they really didn’t understand because a lot of people tried to shield their children from the pain and the disparities. And so, because of trauma, it wasn’t talked about a lot with your kids (because you didn’t want your kids to feel inferior) unless you were prepping them if you were going somewhere. But I remember her telling that story, and I just remember tears that day, just hearing that and I remember thinking wow, we live in a bubble. No one had ever heard this! It just really brought up some things and the development of Be the Bridge…[connection break]…And the news that you consume, the papers that you read. If no one’s telling this story, or how someone’s telling the story, you get their narrative versus the person that’s experiencing it. We can see that now, you know, it depends on which news channel you’re listening to, according to which narratives you get. So you know, that’s true.

Susan  22:28  

And I think that even as she shared that story, and other ones of us in the group shared stories, it was interesting to me to watch the people of color in the room nod and understand and go, “I believe you.” Like a nod that’s automatic, “I believe you because I get it, I could see that happening or I’ve experienced it personally.” But to see for other people in the room, like, shock! Like, “What?! That’s unbelievable!” Not unbelievable like they didn’t believe you, but it was a first for them and it was a whole new experience. Whereas for the rest of us were like, “Girl, yeah. That was my brother, my cousin, my sister. That was myself.” Like we’ve been there, done that. This is familiar.

Latasha Morrison  23:14  

And I know, I think your stories were…because your family was from the Virginia area, right? I may be getting the story wrong or tying it with someone else’s story, but you can tell the audience if this is correct. But I remember having this discussion about the Green Book in one of our meetings. And I think you were saying that either someone in your family owned a wrecker service or a…

Susan  23:41  

Oh, my grandfather! He was a mechanic. Yeah, he was a mechanic for years.

Latasha Morrison  23:45  

Yeah. And so he was listed on there so if [Black] people would have car trouble during that time, they knew like he was one of those people, African American business owners, that would get a call you know, because he was safe…Tell us a little bit about that.

Susan  24:03  

Yeah, my grandfather was in World War Two, he was a mechanic. He had his own mechanic shop for over 50 years and he was a staple in the community. Everybody knew him and he was listed as, you know, a mechanic that Black travelers could trust. So if they had car issues on the side of the road he would get a call in the middle of the night. He would go out and get the family off the side of the road, he would bring them back to my mom’s house, so they were used to, in the middle of the night having a family show up. My grandmother would get in the kitchen and fix some coffee and maybe a little something to snack on, and make them feel comfortable and that they’re safe. They’re off the side of the road, while my grandfather would go back and get the car and bring it to the shop, figure out what repairs needed to happen and keep them in the loop about how he was repairing the car. And so this community effort to show assistance because travel was unsafe, they didn’t know where to go, and they needed this. This Green Book became a resource for safety. It was like, “If we can make it from here to here, we know we’ve got somebody, so we could make it from here to here.” So I can only imagine what it was like for families to travel in that time, when they were in between places where they recognized that for this next stretch, we don’t necessarily have a safe contact. So we want to keep our eyes open. And you know, we want to make sure we’re gassed up. We want to make sure that everybody’s used the bathroom between here and there, because it’s not a good place for us to stop. 

Latasha Morrison  25:36  

Wow. Yeah. And we see that so many times. I think there’s been some headline stories just within the last five years, four years, of people who have been in accidents and went to search out help and was basically seen as a criminal. And two of those people ended up dead as they were seeking help, one seeking help from a homeowner that thought they were a burglar, but they were kind of delusional and had wrecked their car and it was nearby, they were close to this house. The other one was shot by the police in the yard begging and pleading because his car went in a ditch. And so, you know, that’s what fear can do. I think that’s so poignant when, you know, I’m thinking like, wow, if those people that happened to—I cannot think of the names right now—but if they would have had something on their phone to say, you know, this is the area and this is a house that you can go to for safety. It’s 2020 now, but we’re talking about, this is like stuff that was happening in 2014, 2015, 2016. So it’s like we almost need that today! Think about how instrumental [the Green Book was] and maybe how many lives were saved because we know Virginia was no joke.

Susan  27:11  

Still isn’t!

Latasha Morrison  27:12  

You know, it’s still the South! It was still below the Mason Dixon line. 

Susan  27:17  

Yes, so I also remember sharing that story at the group. Because, you know, I had a concern being in the group. I had several concerns, but one of my concerns was sharing stories of my grandparents and my parents, which made it feel as if this was an old issue. And this hasn’t happened to us personally, these are things we grew up hearing, which then gives people the excuse in their minds to say, “Well see, that was then, now things are different” or, “This is not the same day as it was for them.” So when I share this story of me being in college…I was going to college here in Texas, and I had gone home for spring break to visit my family and some friends of mine from my college were also in the area. So instead of paying for a flight to come home, which would have been expensive, I hopped in their car and we were coming home together. So we were driving down along the east coast, driving down 95. And we did the usual stop: we stopped somewhere in South Carolina at a Waffle House, because hello, Waffle House was open 24 hours and it would allow us to get some cheap food and keep moving down the road. So we pulled into a Waffle House in the middle of the night. We were waiting for our food, and just as our food arrived, the bell on the door chimed to say the door was opening. And all these people started flooding in, not unusual for Waffle House in the middle of the night. But as I’m sitting, the people as they go by our table, I can look up and see them and on the backs of their shirts they have burning crosses, and KKK symbols, and all these different phrases and images that were just terrifying! And I tried my best to remain calm, and I made eye contact with my friends, and I said we need to go now. Because here we are, three black college students—this was pre- cellphones. So our parents just know that we left. They don’t know where we are on the road, but that we’ll call them when we get home. So in between that, they’re just like, “They’re on the road. This is all they have.” So there’s no way for us to contact anyone. Instantly feeling completely unsafe, because now it’s like, did they just happen to come in? Did one of their friends work at the restaurant and go, “Hey, we got three black kids here in the middle of night by themselves.” And so we left money on the table, you know, we left everything like not even trying to [ask for change]. Like we were not in that. We were just like, here’s some money, we’re out. We got in the car and then we’re in the car watching behind us to make sure headlights don’t come, for several miles, watching to make sure we’re not being followed. And that changed our whole trip. So what started out as three college students just going down the road like, “Haha, we’re going to have a good time” became this terrifying experience to realize we still live in a country where we’re made to feel unwanted. Made to feel unsafe. And we really don’t know where we can go to get that sense of safety. So our best thing is just to hope the sun rises sooner so that we can have more people out on the road and maybe find some safety at least in numbers. 

Latasha Morrison  30:38  

Wow. I remember that story. And that was one of the things that we kept reiterating during the group time is that you know, we were telling some historical context, but like, really talking about things that were happening. I remember just a conversation around Ferguson, and I forget who was in the group that said this, like, “If I wouldn’t have been in this group, I would have never had this perspective. I would have never gained this perspective unless I was talking to someone with a different lived experience. Because if I would have seen this, and how it was playing out on the news, it’s like, I am going to believe what I’m told to believe versus looking underneath and looking deeper at the systemic issues just in that entire community. And how these injustices were handled, because this was a Black body and how it would have been handled if this was a White 18-year-old kid that was left to lay out on a sidewalk for four hours.” You know, and so I think that was just some really good conversations that we had, even though we didn’t have a guide or anything. But when we start you know, when we’re thinking about restorative justice, what comes to mind? What does this look like to you?

Susan  32:04  

Hmm. It looks like entering in, when everything about me wants to not do that. I don’t know if it’s clear to others, the difficulty of this work, and the vulnerability and the places you have to be willing to go with your stories. I’ve not only been a part of the original group, but since helped to lead a couple of groups, and that work was quite taxing. I constantly have said, you know, “I don’t know how Tasha does it! I don’t know how Tasha does it.” Like I just keep saying, I don’t know how she does it, because it’s this entering into a retelling of things that are painful and difficult. So for me, restorative justice, the part that I hang out on is the willingness to have those honest conversations. And to not shelter the feelings, but to be able to bring the full story forward with the expectation and the hope that this helps to bridge some understanding and empathy and compassion from the other side. Just like you said, someone said in the group, “I would have never had this perspective if I hadn’t been a part of this group.” And hoping that opening the eyes of that perspective helps to create change. 

Latasha Morrison  33:32  

Yeah, that’s good. You’re always good at, like you said, pulling out the gifts and seeing and just speaking life. You’re one of those life-speakers, you know. What do you see for, it’s been four years, so what do you see for Be the Bridge or what would you like to see for Be the Bridge in the next four years?

Susan  33:55  

Hmm. Oh, I like both of those. What do I see and what would I like to see? So, I see that you guys are starting to reach out to youth, which I think is a powerful opportunity. I think that the youth right now, especially, I don’t know if Be the Bridge has TikTok, but child if y’all could get out there and rescue some of the foolishness that’s going on out there…I don’t know if you’re aware of the racist stuff that’s trending out there on TikTok in particular, but…

Latasha Morrison  34:23  

Yeah, I saw some of it. I saw some of it. We did have some of our students create a TikTok, and I have a TikTok, I just don’t know how to TikTok!

Susan  34:35  

Right. Right. It’s really beyond us, isn’t it? That’s not for us.

Latasha Morrison  34:41  

Tell me about some of the stuff that’s going on out there. So like some of the parents that may not know, I mean, this is your thing right here. What are some of the things that you’re seeing? I do know one viral situation that happened, I think, in Carrollton, Georgia here, where the girl was going to “make” some Black people and then she poured out all this derogatory stuff, stereotypes and racist stuff, is how she saw Black people. I remember that situation. What are some other things going on? 

Susan  35:09  

Mm hmm. Oh, for sure there are some. Definitely what’s happened is the youth have recognized that saying polarizing, ugly, derogatory things gets them views. And in their selfish pursuit of fame, and likes and views, they’re just stringing together any number of stereotypes and derogatory comments and any kind of terms they think they can be triggering enough to get people to come view. I’m going to believe that they’re so selfish to want to be famous, that they are putting this content out there, not fully understanding the impact—and why they’re not allowed to say things like the n-word, why they should never say that, or want to say that, why they should not perpetuate stereotypes, why they should not attempt to imitate other cultures. And there’s so many other hideous things that are happening out there. Because it’s impacting youth who think they’re just there on the app for a fun time, a funny video, and they’re being impacted by this. Like, I had a conversation with my daughter today who’s 16. And I was like, “Have you seen these things?” And she says, “I have.” And it’s difficult, because I don’t necessarily see the original video because the way it’s set up, people can respond to videos and you know, like, offer corrections. So she said, I see a lot with the correction videos, but even in that I’m being exposed to the ugliness that was said the first time and I don’t like it. And I was like, so now we’re having to have a conversation with her about how does she guard her heart? How does she engage in the public sphere in a way that’s still healthy for her own soul? Because these children are producing this content. So if there are parents that are listening and your kids are on TikTok, I would say go check to see what kind of content they’re producing. Because if they’re having conversations at the table about how many likes they’re getting, or how many more people are following them, or how much more engagement they’re getting, find out why. Why are more people there with them? Because we don’t want to assume that it’s all for good reasons. We want to know that that’s the reason. So we really want to be involved and check in on that, because this is not harmless content that’s being created. There’s harm that’s being done. And there are stereotypes that are being perpetuated, and our words have impact. And they have impact for good, we get to choose whether the impact is for good or not. And our tongues are powerful. The Word of God tells us that, so we want to make sure we use it well.

Latasha Morrison  37:56  

Right. And I could imagine now, you know, as we’re recording this we’re in the midst of most of us having stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic of COVID-19. So, a lot more kids are on TikTok. You know, some of it has been a respite. But that’s some great advice, Susan. I think the youth is definitely you know, that’s on my heart, that’s my background. And I don’t feel like you can move this conversation forward without engaging the youth. We just had an online Youth Conference and it was incredible! We had about 85 kids on there and it was over two days over the weekend after they have been on Zoom the entire week, and then they came on in our Zoom. We had a live DJ now, we had a live DJ, we had breakout sessions where they can process. We gave giveaways, gift cards, the money you know, they love that! It was just such a good…it wasn’t like, and this is the thing, it wasn’t all African American kids…it was just such a good blend of students, and that was so hopeful for me. So the youth, although there are some that are going to be ignorant and naive and repeat the same mistakes, there are others who want to know, but don’t have context that are leaning in that showed up and asked questions. Now, they probably got an earful, but [we told them] not to be afraid. And so that’s one of the things as it relates to reproduction and Be the Bridge. We tell people, this is a lifestyle, it starts with you, it starts with your family. So how are you leading your family into this? It’s not so much like, how are you doing this in your community? How are you doing this at your church? You know, how many books are you reading or you know, podcasts you’re listening to? and all that. How are you training your children? How are you talking to your parents or your uncle or your aunt just saying racist comments at the conversation, you know, at the table. And then for us as Black women, I find it just sometimes so painful when I even talked to our kids and they have no context of history. Like, it’s like they have—and then they’re dealing with internalized racism, like they’re so ignorant to our history that they don’t even understand what racism is either. We definitely want to change that. So that is something that we’re hopeful for right now.

Susan  40:43  

Okay. Now I get to say what I look forward to seeing in you and Be the Bridge! And I would…it’s a challenge! So I’m gonna just gonna admit that it’s challenging, girl. But how to guard and protect the soul care of people of color who engage in conversation, and how to ensure that there’s a safe protected space for them as they engage with the groups, but there’s a safe place for them to come back. I’m going to tell you my own experience in a group just in case there’s other leaders out there. I want to talk about some of the challenges. So one of the most important things to me is my background is I have a degree in psychology and now certification as a life coach. And so guarding people’s stories is big for me. So when we go into a group, and we say, “What we say here in this group is for this group, this is our space and it’s a safe space,” and you don’t protect that, there’s a sacredness that’s broken there and there’s a lack of safety. So when you’re in a group, you hear someone’s hard stories, and then you go outside the group and you share what they said and you talk about their stories openly to other people not a part of the group, you break the potential good for that group. Because if we don’t have trust in our groups, we have nothing. We have nothing, we’re just another group just meeting and chatting. And this has the potential to be so—it has the potential to be life changing! Let’s enter into the life changing potential that God wants to do in and through everybody in the group. And that’s not in our haste to share in our own discomfort and our own insecurities, break that. Let’s not do that.

Latasha Morrison  42:40  

That’s so good. So good. And I think that is right on. That piece has been really difficult because it’s like, you know, people of color who are helping lead and guide these conversations—it is painful work. So I’m praying that with the guide that we have coming out for people of color, it’s going to help with that. And we did do, and you can probably check it out, just a couple weeks ago we did a series and our people of color group on Facebook on racial healing/racial trauma by Sheila Wise Rowe, and that has been a resource that we recommended. But there’s so much more to be done. You know, and that is so important, what you just said, and this is what I love to hear. We have to talk about the challenges, you know, that we have within these groups and how we can at least try to create this brave space. It’s going to be hard to be safe, because what’s safe for you is not safe for me, and what’s safe for me may not be safe for you. When we start looking at our audiences, what’s safe for people of color is totally different than what’s safe for white people. And what’s safe for white people is totally different. It’s like, it’s oppressive to us. You know? It’s so funny, well not funny, you know what I’m saying? It’s like opposites. And so I think that it’s going to be some great work over the next four years, too. Yeah, I agree with that. 

Now, okay, you get to dream a little bit. You’re a dreamer and you’ve done some incredible things. So those of you who don’t know, Susan is just a fantastic businesswoman also. She and her husband do a lot of stuff, you know, as it relates to their personal business. And if money wasn’t a limit, and there was no obstacles or barriers…if there were no obstacles or barriers, what would you dream of doing to move this conversation of racial healing and reconciliation forward? If money wasn’t a limit? You’re not thinking about obstacles. As soon as we start thinking about a solution, we start thinking about obstacles and barriers. If none of that existed in this world, what would you do?

Susan  45:24  

Oh, that’s so funny. I’m so glad that you said that. Because I thought of a couple of ideas and immediately I thought, well, I know why that won’t work. So it’s so challenging. I really want to stress this: It’s challenging to dream of what’s possible when you feel like the dreams have been stolen and knocked down and crushed so many times. So to turn around and dream again, and to hold out that hope with this extension of believing maybe it’s possible—it feels so risky.

Latasha Morrison  46:00  

Oh you’re preaching now! You’re preaching.

Susan  46:03  

Recognize that I’m doing my best to dream big, and I’ll probably get something better later. But this is what came to mind: we could have some cultural literacy training in schools that was part of the learning curriculum across grades. I’m not talking about one time in eighth grade, we had a little piece of something, right? But it’s so normative as much as a history curriculum or anything else, that we understood cultural differences in a way of celebrating them. Not studying them as if we want to examine them under a microscope, but celebrating the different cultures and having cultural literacy, I think would go a long way to breaking down a lot of misunderstandings and a lot of hurt and harm that can happen. Even amongst different cultural groups within the people of color, even more as we’re interacting with the dominant culture. So I think it’s important for us to have cultural literacy, not as a one time conversation, not as “we read a book this one time,” but across the experience of education K through 12 and beyond. And in that, having some type of counseling, healing space for people of color, in particular Black people. I think it’s huge. And I’m going to tell you why I stress Black people because in case somebody asks “why just Black people?” Because at the end of the day, most of the pushback, harm, systemic issues that are continually repeated in this country is toward the Black people in this country. It really has an extra weight on Black culture, and we need to acknowledge that and work to heal the harm that’s been done.

Latasha Morrison  48:12  

Yeah. Yeah, I was just talking to a Native American friend that said the same thing. Like, it’s like we don’t want it to be just a binary discussion, like, we don’t want to make everything a Black and White issue. But it is such a prominent issue because you have so much anti-Blackness happening in other groups of color also and so, we have to stress that because it’s a part of the way white supremacy functions in the foundation of it. And so, I mean, what you just said is spot on. And you can look at some examples of that with Germany and how, you know, they teach against the ideology of Nazism to have it never repeated. So they had to look at ways that this mindset was happening, and it started with you! And it was over a 10 year span of time and so that’s why in Germany now, they can’t homeschool their children. So some people may say “that’s oppressive, that’s my right, I can homeschool,” whatever, but over there because they are trying to counter how things were done before, that’s a system that they set up. Now, for us a lot of times people who, especially African Americans who homeschool—you’re homeschooling so that you could put in cultural contexts and cultural literacy that’s not being done at the school level. So it’s kind of like this totally different motivation in that sense. I just interviewed someone else and when I asked that question, their thing related to the same thing related to schools because we know best how change happens. So I think you’re onto something! We’re onto something. We need to see how do we make this dream a reality. I mean, we keep speaking those things that are not, as though they are. I’m just saying, let’s pray towards that. I think that’s good. It’s just so good having you Susan! 

Susan  50:23  

Thanks for having me!

Latasha Morrison  50:24  

And you can follow Susan on social media at Susan Seay, and you can on Instagram. She’s at SusanSeay.com and on Facebook. So she’s in all the places and we’ll put this in the show notes and have this so that you guys can get some of this wonderful wisdom from this mentor for moms! She’s not just a mentor for moms, because I don’t have like, not nay one children. As she has been definitely a voice of wisdom and mentorship for me, and so you don’t have to have children to learn something from Susan! So thank you for joining us, and I’m so grateful that you’re able to kick off our anniversary series with your presence and your words. And anything you want to do to sound off? I’m just throwing that out there now. Go ahead. 

Susan  51:27  

Well, I would just say first of all, thanks for having me. This is great to go back and revisit how far we’ve come. Because we really started with nothing, you know, we started from the bottom now we’re here! Ha! It’s just incredible to see all that God has done in you and through you. So Tasha, I just say to you, that you know, girl, keep dreaming, and keep fighting for those dreams that God’s put in your heart. And I look forward to seeing the way in which God shows himself mighty and strong for you.

Narrator  51:59  

Thank you for listening! For more bridge building resources visit our website at bethebridge.com. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai