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We welcome Black History Month with an episode from the Be the Bridge team! Sean Watkins, Kaylee Morgan, and Mariah Humphries join Latasha Morrison to talk about all things Black History Month because Black history is American history, and Black History Month is for all people. If you’ve ever wondered about the history of February as Black History Month or why histories are separated in the American education system, you don’t want to miss this conversation. If you want space to feel seen and heard as a Black person during this month, you don’t want to miss this conversation.

The Be the Bridge team provides listeners with depth and laughter, things to lament, and things to celebrate. They give personal stories of what Black history means to them, and they give recommended resources and lessons to walk away with. Be encouraged that it is never too late to learn. The incredible Black history many of us missed out on growing up can be redeemed now in how we listen, learn, lament, and leverage our lives. May we work together to make sure the full story is told. May we celebrate the beauty and resilience of the Black community this month and every month.

The full episode transcript is below.

Unknown Speaker  0:01  

“I, Too,” by Langston Hughes. “I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes. But I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes. Nobody’ll dare say to me, ‘Eat in the kitchen,’ Then. Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am. And be ashamed– I, too, am America.” 

Narrator  0:47  

You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  0:52  

[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting! 

Narrator  0:55  

Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison  1:03  

[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator  1:05  

We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison  1:40  

Welcome to the Be the Bridge Podcast. We are two days into Black History Month! Yay!! I think, you know what, for real. They try to monetize like every month. But Black History Month, well, I think some some organizations try to do that too, and some companies. But I think it should be, I think we should treat it like you buy gifts for Black people. That’s what I think. Don’t y’all think that? (laughter) 

Sean Watkins  2:14  

Oh my. We’ll be right back. Let’s go to commercial now. Let’s go to commercial. I know we just started. Let’s go to commercial. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  2:20  

I think Black History Month, there’s only 28 days, you should send a Black friend a gift every one of those days. Just because. Just because racism. I think we gonna call it reparations. (laughter)

Sean Watkins  2:34  

And we’re out of time. Thanks so much everybody.

Mariah Humphries  2:36  

Are you gonna drop all your venmo information in the chat? 

Latasha Morrison  2:40  

No, I’m not playing. You know, people do it for their birthday. “Oh, so happy it’s my birthday. Here’s my venmo or my cashapp.” I’m like, “Uhhh.”

Sean Watkins  2:53  

She said, “I’m just serious.”

Latasha Morrison  2:55  

So that’s what we’re gonna start doing for Black History. “Happy Black History Month! Here’s my venmo. Here’s my cashapp.” (laughter) We gonna do the same thing. Nah, but seriously, seriously. Just joking. It is February the second. It is Black History Month. And I am elated to have the Be the Bridge staff. And we’re going to talk all things Black History Month. But this is what I always like to say as it relates to Black history is I’m Black 365 days of the year. So you know. (laughter) So you know, I used to say I’m gonna treat it like any other month. But if this is what the world is pausing to recognize and to acknowledge history, this is a time where we celebrate ourselves because we are great at celebrating ourselves. Because we’re not waiting for anyone to celebrate us because we are the ones who started Black History Month. So you didn’t, American didn’t. We started it because we want to celebrate ourselves. Sean is like gripping (laughter) If he had pearls, he would be clutching his pearls right now.

Sean Watkins  4:06  

They would be clutched. They would be clutched. If I was a man that wore pearls.

Latasha Morrison  4:08  

Cause he doesn’t know what’s gonna come out of my mouth right about now.

Sean Watkins  4:11  

I do not.

Latasha Morrison  4:07  

But it’s exciting. And I’m glad that we have these markers in our year to pause and recognize the rich diversity that we have in this country, and February just happens to be Black History Month. And as I said I’m Black 365. So you remember McDonald’s had that thing? They had that whole thing Black 365. So that’s where I got that from. So anyway. Now, we have Miss Mariah Humphries. We have Kaylee Morgan. And we have Sean on the podcast. Mr. Sean Watkins. Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir. But Mariah is here. And she ain’t Black.

Mariah Humphries  4:19  

Yeah, I’ve been kind of wondering why I’m on here. So hopefully that will, hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Latasha Morrison  5:15  

This is what happens in Be the Bridge in “other duties.” (laughter) So this is apart of your other duties.

Mariah Humphries  5:22  

The asterisk of the job. Right, right. 

Latasha Morrison  5:24  

Yeah. But this goes into the first question. Okay? The first question as we talk about Black History Month. This is a part of our Take it to the Bridge series, where we highlight different topics from within our Be the Bridge culture and team, areas that we speak out on. Is Black History Month only for Black people? And I think that was some of the things in, this was started to bring, to continue to bring dignity to a group of people who have been denied dignity by the country in which they live in. And so, when we say that, sometimes people feel like, “Okay, if I’m not invited to the party, do we have to officially invite someone to the party?” Or is Black history for everyone? What’s say you, Mariah? You’re here.

Mariah Humphries  6:23  

You are calling on me first, Latasha Morrison. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  6:26  

I know, I know, because you’re here. And we’re addressing the elephant in the room. (laugter)

Mariah Humphries  6:33  

I am here. I am here. I think Black history is important for all of us. One of the things that I try to emphasize anytime that I’m talking about history in general is the fact that we have made an option of all of the histories that are not primarily white centered. And I think that is dangerous for us as an organization, as a country, as a people, as humanity, as Christians, to make each one of our histories or our heritages optional. And I think that is something that Black History Month for me is so important, because it is 28 days of the year, we know, but one of the things that I find that’s really important during this month is the fact that we are really emphasizing the beauty of the Black community, the resilience of the Black community, the history and heritage too, which I know there’s a difference between the history and heritage of of the month. But I think for me, as a non Black person of color, it is really good for me to be in that practice of listening, to learn from one another, and being in that practice of pushing forward somebody’s voice within my sphere of influence as well. And so for me, Black History Month really tackles that. I’m always learning and I’m creating content too, especially on the organizational side, but I’m always learning. So being a student is very important in this work. And so this month, I am learning every day from every Black author, musician, speaker, friend that I have online and in person, is making sure that I’m really tuning into what they are saying, how they’re saying it, what they really want me to learn this month. And sometimes it varies. I feel like as someone who is a person of color, but a non Black person of color, from year to year, I think it’s actually different. I think that there’s a tone that is different every year and a focus that I kind of get from the posts that are shared. So yeah, for me, it’s just, it’s really important this month to be able to practice that listening to learn, how am I using my voice to support the Black community? How am I promoting people within the Black community and making sure that I’m not overstepping but I’m promoting? And so that’s important for me. So I feel like it is an important month for non Black people as well.

Latasha Morrison  9:13  

Yeah, it’s beyond. I like how you talked about the learning and the engagement. Because it’s beyond the quotes that we post. And so I think, and I love the practice of doing this, you know, not just in February, but all the time. Now. Mr. Watkins, we have you here. And one of the things, I wish there was a song, I don’t know there may be a song. And if there’s a song I know Travon will have it. But a song that just says Black history is American history. You know? This segmented history, it seems like it kind of others our history. But it’s actually American history. Why is that important for us to say today, and throughout the year, that Black history is American history?

Sean Watkins  10:11  

Yeah, Tasha. That’s just a great question. I think it ties really into what a lot of what Mariah was saying just a few moments ago. I think when we look at the history of Black History Month, right, Carter G. Woodson (that famous Black Harvard educated historian that wrote The Mis-Education of the Negro) writes back in 1926, when he recognizes we are a couple of decades removed from slavery, and that we need to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans in the country. And so he advocates for Negro History Week. And he picks that week around February 12th, the week rather of February 12th and February 14, because Lincoln’s birthday is on the 12th. And Frederick Douglas’s birthday is on the 14th. And so he he picks this week. But of course, we know, there’s always going to be pushback whenever people of color are trying to advocate and affirm just the dignity of their own different heritage and ethnic groups in the United States. And so, we start to see this grand myth that comes out of the south. Right? And that really kind of is propagated from Gone With the Wind that slavery wasn’t that bad, African Americans were actually better when they were enslaved. They were well fed and well clothed. Just this big lie that started to be told, if you will. And so Negro History Week was an opportunity to to reshape and to retell the narrative in a more accurate or more correct way. Whenever we do trainings at Be the Bridge, I often start out with a Navajo proverb. Right? The Navajo say that, “We trust our memory more than your history.” And so I think for people outside of those diasporas, it can feel like Black history isn’t for us or that Black history isn’t addressing these things are it’s trying to reshape the narrative. And in some ways it is. It’s trying to reshape it to a more accurate one. It’s trying to say, we don’t tell the truth in the United States of America, we tell a version of history that’s most comfortable for us. But we don’t tell the history of Asian Americans, of Native Americans, of African Americans, of our Latino brothers and sisters. And so I think Black History Month is an opportunity to say, there’s so much more that we don’t know. And so how do we take the opportunity to start that process of learning? And so I think for others, you know, it can be, it’s not a, the story of Black people in America is a painful story. And so it can be difficult to navigate that. And so for some, I know a lot of people to where it’s painful to watch those movies, look at those documentaries, but they feel something from the ancestors that just says, “Alright, for this month, I just have to suck it up. And I have to look at the bad and the good, the totality of this experience, because there’s something rich and rewarding that we can all learn from it.”

Latasha Morrison  12:49  

That’s so good. Thanks, Sean. And Kaylee, Kaylee Morgan, tell the people what you do here at Be the Bridge. And we’ll get a chance for you guys to do that. Because I would like for everyone to hear your specific roles at Be the Bridge. And I, you know, I really want you to talk about just why this, why this day is important, why this month is important. And why is it important to you specifically? But also introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do on the Be the Bridge team.

Kaylee Morgan  13:22  

Yeah, of course. So I am Kaylee Morgan. I’m the Youth and University Program Manager here at Be the Bridge. And I work on everything next gen. So really, the ultimate goal is for me to do my job so well that everyone else doesn’t have a job. And we’re only working with the next generation. So that’s my secret goal. But Black History Month to me, I think it’s incredibly important to be able to, like we’ve been talking about, acknowledge that this is actually American history, that we are just as much a part of this narrative as anyone else. And I was actually watching an interview recently with Floyd Mayweather. And they were talking to him and you know, asking him about, you know, being African American. And his response was so interesting to me because he was talking as like, you know, “I was born here in America.” Right? As was I, I was born here in America. And the only time that they, I say they, the United States, the times that we get separated is every time that the narrative does not benefit America and the reputation of America. And how when we are performing at the Olympics and we are winning gold medals for America, we’re Americans. But when we talk about Black history, it’s not American history, it’s Black history, because it’s not benefiting the narrative of this country. And so I think what is beautiful about this month is that we do get to take hold of that. We do get to take hold of the reins, and remind people that, “No, no, no, this is just as much your history, as it is my history.” And I think for me, what’s exciting about this month is we do get to celebrate. And we do. Unfortunately, it feels like this is the month that we have a pass to be proud to be Black. It feels like just about every other month, you know, we get some pushback on, “Whoa, whoa, you need to be American first.” Right? We need to have have that pride for our country. But it’s like, actually, this is the one month that we get to freely express our love of who we are and who God made us to be. And that is the exciting part for me anyway is to be able to have that little bit of ease in being really proud of who I am without the constant push back and berating, not berating but berating, of being Black. And really, this is my last thought about it is that what I love, love, love about this month is that there, it proves that there is no one way to be Black, that there are many different avenues. And we’ve done many different things in many different categories that it’s hard to stereotype us into one lump sum when you really learn the history and what all we’ve contributed to this country.

Latasha Morrison  17:11  

Yes. As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, there’s a lot of thought, especially as we come into this year, there’s been a lot of thoughts around the country as it relates to our history in how our history, just our basic being living history. Because when I talk about the history of my father, there are going to be some things where I talk about, “Oh, yes, he was in the military,” or, “My mom did this.” But then I can also talk about how my father was born during the time of desegregation and school integration. Like that’s a part of my history. So to talk about my father means to also talk about some of the celebrated history of this country but also some of the ugly history of this country. And so that’s a part of our, who we are and a part of our DNA. But there’s a lot of pushback to not talk about things that make people uncomfortable. And so we see that happening around the country now. And I would just love to get your thoughts on just history and how we need to understand history, how we need to understand, you know, some of the pushback that’s happening. And how it shouldn’t be connected to just generalized history, but how we’re taking something from what we say is a theory (which a theory is connected to history). What are some things that we can do to make sure that when people are in school that the full story is told? I can remember being in probably in middle school, and I can remember like, you know, there was just this very fragmented history that was told. And I can remember as a Black student feeling uncomfortable and also feeling a shame when history was told about my people. And this could be the teacher, this could be the state, it could be the classroom. I mean, it’s different because there’s no uniform way that we do this across our country. And so, I know, so that’s important for me to make sure that no other student feels like that within the classroom. Yes, we can equip parents to do that at home and churches and other community outlets. But within the school framework why is this important? Why is it important to really understand history separated from some of the theories that are getting a lot of pushback. I know I’m throwing that out there. Boom, yes. Go ahead, Sean.

Sean Watkins  20:11  

Appreciate it. So like, I’ll be good. No that’s a lie. But I’ll try to be good. So I think a couple of things one. I hit 40 last year, and so I’ve been broadcasting it. But many, many, many years ago, when I was closer to the Kaylee’s age, in my late 20s, and decided, like, you know, that’s when you realize you’re mortal. And you just wake up and everything starts hurting. And so I tried to go to the gym to get in shape. And the trainer that was there, we did kind of a test in the physicals, the whole nine. And she told me, she said, “You’re freakishly strong for somebody your size.” I’m 5’9″ and weigh 160 pounds. And she’s like, “You can lift a lot of weights,” she said, “But your a typical dude. You only do chest and arms and back. You don’t work out your legs, you don’t work out your shoulders, you don’t work out your hips.” So she said, “That means you’re going to be really strong in all these areas. Your visible muscles are strong, but your invisible muscles are weak. You’re strong in all these areas that we can see. But in all these areas that we can’t, you are going to fall one day in your 60s, and you’re going to break every bone in your body because you haven’t developed the things that we can’t see.” And I think that’s kind of one of those things that happens with American history. We have the visible muscles of like the founding fathers of America, and these like, you know, the 13 colonies, and we know the 50 stars and stripes and flags and kind of all these things. We don’t know the history of virtually any other ethnic group in the country. And so we’re ill prepared when there is a cross cultural conflict, when there’s a racialized incident, where there’s anything that happens. When we turn on the news and we see Native Americans protesting because of the violence being done to the land. When we turn on the news and we see anger and rage that’s coming from these different ethnic communities. It’s like Tasha said, “Clutch the pearls, Why is everybody so mad?” It feels like these things are isolated incidents. But if we know the story, the history of the people in the country, then we realize that from their perspective, this is one ongoing series of events of those people groups. They remember. There’s a psychological trauma, there’s a history that they carry, that I think we have to be able to remember. You know, Scripture talks about when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer. And that’s just not a Christian principle; that’s just a human being principle. Like, we need each other. The continents need each other, the countries need each other, the people need each other. And so I think we have a responsibility, not just as Americans, but as global citizens to know the history of these other groups. When we don’t do that we are ill prepared to navigate the world. We’re ill prepared to lead in the world. And I think Tasha, you and I talk about it all the time when I was at seminary…yeah, I’ll throw them under the bus. And I don’t care. When I was getting my M.Div. at Fuller, I used to say it all the time. I was like, “Y’all are preparing people for a world that never existed. We are only looking at history and theology and culture from one framework. And so y’all are not asking the questions that my community is asking, you aren’t even answering the questions that my community is trying to ask.” And I feel like that’s what happens when we don’t know the history of these different people groups. We don’t know their history, their background. They’ve got questions that they’re wrestling with; we don’t even know what those questions are, and we’re not prepared to answer them. But when we learn history, when we engage in cross cultural relationship, it gives us an openness and a softness of heart, I think to have some great conversations.

I think even before…

Latasha Morrison  23:25  

That’s good. Thank you.

Mariah Humphries  23:25  

Oh, go ahead.

Latasha Morrison  23:27  

No, no, that’s good. I was just…keep going, keep going. (laughter)

Mariah Humphries  23:30  

I think in addition to that, I think when it comes to individual work, we get a lot of pushback in people who were becoming aware of racism. Right? You know, they thought everything was all good and cool until they realized it wasn’t. And one of the things that as individuals that we have to remember is, sometimes you don’t know that there’s an issue or an illness, maybe even, until somebody brings it up, until you are face to face with it. Someone says, “No, you’re actually…you’re ill, you’re sick. There’s something that has to change.” And you have a decision at that moment. Whenever you’re faced with truth, you can either walk away and ignore it with that willfulness, or you can change. And I think that’s where a lot of the discomfort comes in. Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. I mean, there are times we’re uncomfortable and it’s good. And in this work to be uncomfortable is not a bad thing. I think all of us faced discomfort at some point. But I think whenever someone as an individual comes in, especially this month, and all the history months that come out through the year, but with this month, they’re going to be faced with truth and they can choose to ignore it and walk away and stay, they’re no longer naive, but they’re now accountable, or they can come in and try to heal. And I think that’s where something like Be the Bridge comes in. We are trying to take those people who want to heal and want to change, and walk them through that. But healing is not always comfortable either. A lot of times, that’s when you actually are feeling some things, and you are trying to step in and do something different. And you realize, “I can no longer partake of this.” “I can no longer have this in my life; I have to remove this in order to step towards healing.” And I think that is where a lot of the decisions come into play for so many people is: are you willing to adjust the knowledge that you’ve had? Are you willing to adjust how you’ve lived your life up until now in order to be healthier, in order to have wider eyes open and ears open? And I think that is an internal question each individual has to ask. And that is something that we see a lot is, “I’m not willing to do that. So therefore, I’m going to push back and you’re wrong about this. So I’m going to push back because I’m now uncomfortable, and I don’t want to be uncomfortable.” And then there are others that we see are like, “I am uncomfortable, but I think I’m okay with that. But I need to learn more. I need to see exactly how I have to change my life.” And I mean, you say this all the time, Tasha, this is a lifestyle. This is not a movement. This is not a one time event. This is not a decade process. This is a continual process through our entire life. It is all the way through. We’re always learning. And I think that’s one of the things that you have to ask yourself, when you step into awareness, what are you going to do? And then from there on out, you don’t just get healed. It is a process. And there’s things that you have to remove from your life. There’s things you have to bring into your life. And so I think months like this really bring this work to the forefront of what people are going to decide to do as the non Black community. What are we going to do? Are we going to learn? Are we going to adapt? Are we going to change things in our life? Or are we going to stay willful and reject and deflect?

Sean Watkins  27:11  

Yeah, Mariah, if I can piggyback off of Mariah’s piggyback just for one second. You know, it’s like a knife and a scalpel. Right? They both cut, but a knife cuts to hurt and a scalpel cuts to heal. And so Mariah is right, like there is that how uncomfortable do we want to be in order to move forward? We talk about a lot in the training team. Tasha it’s one of the principles you talked about often, too, right? If someone in the room is 100% comfortable, somebody else is 100% uncomfortable. And for too long I think in our country, we’ve had one dominant culture that has navigated the world really kind of oblivious or unaware of a lot of these realities that’s happened for other people groups. They’ve been mostly comfortable, I won’t say 100%, because life has happenings for everybody. But they’ve been largely comfortable. And that’s come at the cost, the expense of a lot of other people groups that have been uncomfortable. And that’s a nice way of saying their lives have been taken, their land has been taken, their property has been taken. And so now it’s a journey of as we learn this collective history. It’s like Mariah was saying, we get to practice, what does it mean to be comfortable being uncomfortable because that’s how we grow together.

Latasha Morrison  28:13  

Yeah, I think one of the things…that’s so good what you were saying. I think, a few months ago, probably well, actually, it’s probably been about a year ago, I was speaking at an event and I did a q&a. And I had a woman who started sharing with me the discomfort that her son was learning about just the history of this country. And she was saying that, you know, how she really centered how it made her son, her white son feel. And I sat there and I listened. And after she finished talking about, you know, how she had to explain things to her son when he came home. You know, I said, “Well, you know, your son was feeling like little Black boys and girls have felt through the history of this country. You know?” I said, “So your son has the opportunity now to empathize with a group of people who have always felt unseen.” And she kind of looked at me…because, you know, because when we’re having these debates and everything, when we think about if we played back what we’re saying and who we want to feel comfortable, we’re also addressing who we want to feel uncomfortable. And so it’s okay for you know, Brown, Black boys and girls to have felt very uncomfortable in this country for centuries. But in a moment, like you said, Sean, where there’s some discussions of some conversations we have to have that are not going to feel good. But you could be an outlier in this. You could be the, you can be some of the heroes that we talk about in this story. But it’s like a scalpel. It’s gonna cut, but there’s going to be healing. And we know that the truth makes us free. We know that. That anything we hide, we understand that relationally that if we have a problem, if Kaylee and I have an issue, if it goes unsaid or unspoken, that issue is only going to implode. But if we deal with that relational history, you know, whatever has happened, it may not feel good. But we get to a point where we can go forth in healing. But we can’t heal, what we conceal. And we talk about that all the time, we can’t heal what we conceal. And so, I think this is the opportunity. And I would want to know, maybe, from Kaylee, and from all of you really. What is a way, you know, that when you’re hearing that as a parent, what ways can you be an ally and to help uplift the Black voice? You know, I want to go away from saying I know, I’m supposed to say it this month because it’s Black History Month. But I really feel like these are things that we just don’t need to do. I don’t need you to be nice to be, and acknowledge me, and sell my stuff, and have designers in your store, and you know, have a special tee in February. I need you to do this all the time. (laughter)

Sean Watkins  32:02  

And put on your kente cloth this month. The kente cloth this month. Yeah, no. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  32:07  

Exactly. So what is the way, what does allyship look like during Black History Month? I guess, I’m clutching my pearls as I say that because, you know, it can’t just be this month. But for the sake of the podcast and for those that are listening, what does allyship look like for Black History Month? Come on, Kaylee. 

Kaylee Morgan  32:31  

Yeah. Allyship. Gotta love them. Yeah, no, I really do think that there is a way to do allyship. And there’s a wrong way to do allyship. But I think the most practical way to do so, the safest lane for them to travel in is to understand when speaking and advocating, one that you’re not centering yourself. That you’re keeping the main thing, the main thing, which in this month would be Black history. Right? And so it would be the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions of the Black community, and not whatever is going on in your world. I think so often we in allyship and in general, as human beings, we play as Sean likes to call it the oppression Olympics. And well, you know, “I may not be Black, but I’m a woman. And so I know exactly what you’re talking about when you are talking about being silenced.” You know, when you’re like “Uhhhh. No. It’s not the same. It’s not the same. Like I’m just gonna call it for what it is. It’s not the same.” And so I think there is that. There is making sure that as an ally, you’re not making this about you. In your allyship, it is not for you to be praised, for you to look good. I’ve written an article, I wrote an article one time about Black History Month and how it is a playground for performative activism. And this month is, I’ll be very honest, as a woman of color, especially in this work, it’s a little annoying to see the amount of people who come out of the woodworks out of nowhere. There’s people in my world well sometimes I’ll see them post something and I’m like, “Wait a minute. Where did that come from? Where are you every other month of this year? Where are you when these things are happening?” And so I think that if you make advocating and allyship a part of your daily rhythm, that it is as natural as breathing to you, that’s how you avoid doing this wrong. And I think also in this work, you can’t…I’m like trying to not step on anybody’s toes. You can’t really you can’t really pretend.

Sean Watkins  35:32  

Kaylee it’s Black History Month. This is our month to step on toes. You just talked about it. Step away. Step in the name of the Lord. (laughter) Step in the name of justice. Step, step, step, step. 

Kaylee Morgan  35:41  

I cannot do it. No, I really do believe that, when advocating…I’ll just, I’ll make it an ask. I ask as a Black woman when you are elevating my voice or elevating our voices, please do not speak with an authority that you do not have.

Latasha Morrison  36:06  

Yeah.

Kaylee Morgan  36:08  

You are not an expert here. And so in a lot of cases, you see people outside of a people group speaking with an authority that they have not earned, that they have not lived through. And so I would say that, to stay in your lane. Don’t center yourself. And be a constant learner. You’re the learner here, you’re not the expert here. And so those are my thoughts that I journal about at night.

Mariah Humphries  36:48  

That I journal about at night. (laughter) Into the mind of Kaylee Morgan. I’ll talk a little bit about allyship. I’m not a big fan of the word ally. I tend to encourage people not to use it, mainly because you can be an ally to one person or entire people group you may think and do a lot of harm to another person or to another people group. And so I think one of the things that we tend to get excited about is if we’re called an ally, or “I’m an ally.” We’ve kind of centered ourselves to this position of, “No, I’m better than the people underneath me because I’ve reached this level of support.” And I think that’s a dangerous area to step into. But as a non Black person of color, and I keep saying that, because it’s important here. I don’t have the experience of the Black community or a Black person, that is not my experience, I can’t speak to it. I may have related things, but I can’t speak to this experience. So even in this month, as a person of color, I think a lot of times we tend to say, “and addition to here’s something about the Black community just as it’s like in the Native American community.” And I think we need to as people of color who are not from the Black community, make sure that we’re also aware of not stepping ourselves into this just as, exactly as Kaylee, you guys know me, you know how I feel about this. But even with being a woman, how that connection to suppression or oppression and fighting for things does not mean that you face racism. So I think that’s something that people of color also need to remember, in this space of Black History Month, but year round, because it is larger than a month – but for the sake of the podcast, right? We need to make sure that we are also not centering our suppressed voice in this work to talk about the Black community. But I don’t like the term ally. I really, I just don’t. I don’t like using it. I don’t like it when people use it. I’m like, “Are you really? Because, I mean, you’re a total jerk to me, but yet you call yourself an ally. So I’m not really sure I want you representing allyship out in the world.” But I think that’s something that we just need to be careful of. And I don’t know if I do it right. Right? Every month, this month, every year this month comes and I’m like what do I talk about this month? What is the vibe that I’m getting from people around me? And every time I do posts I’m like, “Is that going to be stepping over into a lane that I shouldn’t be in?” And if I don’t post I’m the same thing like, “Am I not speaking up this month? And should I be?” It’s the tug and pull every year of what do I say? What do I not say? And if I don’t say it, am I being part of this bigger issue? And I think as people who are on the non side of all of these months, and it just, it’s the big question of what exactly should we be doing? What should I be doing? And so I’ve just tried to very much look at that. Whatever I say, whatever I do, would I appreciate that if somebody else was saying that about who I am? And that’s like an internal gauge, because I know it can vary from person to person, but I just have to ask myself on everything of is that something that I would feel honored and respected or would that be me centering myself? And so it’s just a question we have to ask. But it’s it’s tricky allyship. 

Latasha Morrison  40:54  

Yup.

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Sean Watkins  42:27  

Yeah, that word allyship, I agree Mariah, it’s weird, because I think, and we’ve talked about this several times, all four of us have really, but that idea of I think it’s weird when someone calls himself an ally to the group where as opposed to that people group saying, “This brother, this sister is an ally.” Right? And so it feels like people that have like bought one book or watched one five minute YouTube video and they’ve deputized themselves, they are now allies. And so they’ve learned two things about one group and gone out and just done some horrible things. And that’s every ethnic group to different groups. Right? And so the ally word is weird. Only thing that I would add, is actually something Mariah said, at a different recording that we were doing. It was a video segment for just a training that we did. And we had a diverse conversation around justice and reconciliation. And Mariah said something that has really just stayed with me. She talked about the necessity of us taking our own medicine. And I think if we have to use the term allyship, I think that’s what it looks like. It’s not saying, “This is Black History Month, I’m going to call every Black person I know and tell me, what’s the new Black Panther movie that’s come out? What’s the new book that’s happening? What’s the new TV show to watch? What’s happening in your community? Educate me.” No, I think if you’re going to be a quote unquote, ally, you ought to be self taught. You can go on google yourself. You take the medicine. In the same way that is something that you’re passionate about or excited about, you will do what it takes to become good, great, and expert in that. We become self taught in a lot of things. But it feels like when it comes to other people’s stories or histories, we’re like, “Nope, I want that diaspora, that community to be the source of my education.” Oh, and it’s like, no, you’ve got a brain, you got, hopefully a smartphone or a device or just some friends that can tell you what they’ve learned. And so that opportunity just to have access to different information, to say I want to learn about this community but I don’t want to put the burden of that community, to put the burden of my learning on that community. Dr. Brittney Cooper, brilliant Black female sociologist, I think she’s a theologian, too, but she always says “Your desire to learn does not produce in me a desire to educate.” And it’s just a good reminder for us that like, you want to learn? Great. Hop on Amazon. Just give Jeff Bezos some more money. He’s got plenty. But go there and find a book. Start your journey there. I think that’s what allyship can look like.

Latasha Morrison  44:47  

Yeah. And I think it’s like we’re in a phase now where even the word allyship has been tokenized. So I think, you know, there’s another word that I really like to use is that of an accomplice. And you know, you think about an accomplice in an act. It’s more than standing with, you know, I think it’s a little deeper. And people who are accomplices are not motivated by personal gain. Because what we’ve seen in a lot of allyship is a lot of self centeredness within that allyship. And so I think it’s just important for, you know, those who are accomplices in this work to amplify the voices, specifically this month, Black voices, but those who are in this work of racial justice, that of BIPOC voices. And so, I think it’s just, you know, I think, being mindful of how we use that. And I don’t think you label yourself that. I think it’s something that the communities that are impacted by the injustices, I think we label you that. You know, so you have to look at, if you’re labeling yourself or calling yourself that, and we’re not calling you that, oh, that may be the wrong thing to do. And so I think that’s important. But what, I want to move and you know, we’ve all had different experiences. We are in different ages. Mariah and I were very close in age. I want to know from you, you know, what you wish you had learned about Black history beyond MLK. We hear about MLK, in some places you may even hear about Harriet Tubman. And some places you may have heard about Carter G. Woodson, but in some places, you know, you may the only people you have heard of maybe was Frederick Douglass if that. So, what are some things that you wish that you had learned about Black history?

Oh, I got them. Okay. I mean, I think it was in adulthood when I learned a lot of things and I know that it would have done a lot for my self esteem, direction in life. There’s so much when we start understanding. I think it helps us understand even our identity a little bit more. I think there was a lot of unknown shame that I carried just how things were communicated and because we lived in this racialized society. So when I think about certain things, there’s these little books now for kids that talks about all the inventions that Black people have made. You know? And then also things that maybe patents that were stolen from them. But when we start talking about the word ominate you know, just so many things down to little things, you know, the stoplight, all these different things. I wish I would have known more about inventions and our contribution in the STEM field. Because you’re looking, you’re thinking about all that people like that went through to create and to be innovative in a time where they were not receiving proper education, where they weren’t getting the credibility or the patents or the university education. And so I wish I would have known more about that as an encouragement that has me to dream my wildest dreams with the little that you have. You know? And so I think that’s one thing for me having known some of that. How about you?

Mariah Humphries  49:14  

I’ll jump in.

Kaylee Morgan  49:15  

Yeah. I’ll take it.

Mariah Humphries  49:17  

Oh. I don’t need to go first.

Latasha Morrison  49:21  

Good!

Mariah Humphries  49:21  

Go ahead young one. (laughter)

Kaylee Morgan  49:23  

I will because I’m gonna represent the young uns out here. I wish that I would have learned…I’m so sorry, Sean. But I wish I would have learned how much the younger generation actually contributed to a lot of the Civil Rights Movement. Um, you know, we learn about it. You get your Martin Luther King Jr. You get your Rosa Parks. But you don’t get the Claudette Colvin, who was the 15 year old girl who refused to give up her seat. Actually, a bit of time before Rosa Parks comes into play. You know? You don’t get that the college students lead the sit ins. You don’t get any of that information. And so a lot of times I feel like in our youth, we can feel all of these feelings and all of these emotions about a cause, but feel paralyzed in our age. We can feel paralyzed by even the generations above us who many times hit us with the, “You’re young, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re young, what can you do?” But, I mean, I have a picture behind me of Elizabeth Eckford, who is a part of the Little Rock Nine. She’s like incredibly inspiring to me. And in this photo, you know, it’s her walking into school completely unbothered with a crowd of white women just berating her. And I look at it often as this reminder of like, hey, stay in the game. This is important work. And you can do this work with your head up and being focused on getting into the school, or in our case, like building the bridges. We can continue to do this, and it’s not going to be easy, and you’re gonna get yelled at. But I didn’t learn about any of that stuff until I was older on my own accord. It was never, it was never taught to me in school. And so that would be my thing that I wish I would have known sooner was how much I actually could have done and been a part of creating change as a young person.

Mariah Humphries  51:52  

Yeah, I think that’s great. It kind of goes along with what I was thinking. Because as someone who, you hear about the atrocity, I think that’s one of the things that we hear the most about is the atrocities. And I look today, as you know, like Tasha said, we’re at an age. So there’s an age that we have reached. And that’s where we are right now. We won’t say what that age is. But there is this…I look at these older, even older than I am, these senior, specifically Black women that I hear giving lectures, being interviewed. I’m reading about them. And I look at them and I’m thinking, oh, my word, the time that you actually were attending school, college collegiate, and going on and getting a master’s, and going on and getting a PhD. At the time that you were doing that? How? How did you actually navigate that, not only the pressures of academia, but the pressures of racism within academia. Because let’s be very clear, academia has deep issues with racism, even in the year of our Lord 2023. And even at that time, what did you have to go through to be able to be where you are today? And it wasn’t necessarily like this resilience, but it’s like the age brings me back to what age they had to be. I’m like that was going on in history, these atrocities, these things that we were talking about, maybe even nationwide, because, you know, we had paper and news, it was a little bit more broadcast. But what individuals kind of had to go through and how amazing it is, and how we tend to hear a lot about arts. Right? Like the creative side of the Black community. I think that’s something that, at least I did growing up, heavily in music and musicianship, but the engineering side, you know, the medicinal, you know, medicine, and just the brilliant minds that come from the Black community. And I never saw those in my books. I was never taught about those. But what an inspiration that would have been for even a Brown skinned little girl, seeing someone who was not white achieve these things, outside of people that I just knew directly and being able to hear about just what so many people became academically, you know, not academically, but like in their life, in their career. And how they challenged the narrative, and how they challenged the man. And how just freakin amazing some of these people are in how they think, and how…because I’m big person on strategy and how things, you know, the intricacies of things, and how their mind just processed this while experiencing what they had experience to me is something that I am fascinated by today. As I see people in front of me because I’m learning, right, I’m looking people up and they’re coming across my social media feed. And that I wish we would have seen more of where those achievements took and what they actually did for us as a collective society – what they founded, what they created, and what we have to be thankful for, for these great minds. I wish we would have seen more of that, I wish I would have seen more of that growing up.

Sean Watkins  55:53  

Yeah, that’s, I agree. 100% with both my sisters. I think probably, for me three things. One is just reconstruction. I, that 14 year period is when you know, America was great. It’s when America actually lived up to its ideals. And when you see, no one is kneeling on the proverbial neck of Black people. You see the flourishing that happens in the Black community. And so I wish I would have learned about reconstruction, I think, when I was younger. I wish number two, I would have learned about the impact in the role of women in the Civil Rights Movement. Most Black churches are led by men, but they are populated by women. Women are the organizers of not just the Black community and Black family, they were also the organizers of the Civil Rights Movement. We saw pictures of MLK and Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks, if you know, depending on what state you’re in, and that was it. But to know that the women were the ones that made the phone calls, did the signs, cooked the meals, did the community organizing, so that when MLK showed up to have a dream, women were the ones that got the people there. And so I think there’s something about saying how do we include all of the voices at the table for the people who’ve done the work? The third thing, and then I’m done, anybody other than MLK and Malcolm X. And I don’t mean in a disrespectful manner. But if you were educated in the confederacy, like me. I’m from the great state of Texas where, you know, like Florida, they can’t figure out what’s history and what’s not. That’s a whole other conversation. In Texas, it was the whole chapter on Black history was slavery, civil rights, and that was it. Like, we didn’t get Frederick Douglass, we didn’t get Melvin Edwards, we didn’t get Sojourner Truth. We got MLK and Malcolm X. And that was it. And I wish we just had a broader tapestry of what’s happened. What was that culture like before they got to the Americas? So something of the opulence and the beauty of Africa. Talk about the transatlantic slave trade, the folks that didn’t make it. What slavery was like here. Reconstruction. Jim Crow segregation, the horrors there. And like Mariah said, these people persisted. They did incredible things in spite of War I and II. We should be knowing about Black soldiers from both of those wars, and the incredible things that they’ve done. We should have been taught that in schools. Just that broad tapestry. There’s just so much that we weren’t taught. And so I’m like, anything – just pick a year, pick a decade, pick a country, anything at all. I think we would be so much the better for it. And that’s what we get to do during Black History Month is to hop on Google, hop on Amazon, find a book, find a resource and say, “What don’t I know? Let me just start there and go down this rabbit hole and see what happens.”

Latasha Morrison  58:36  

Yeah, I agree, Sean. That period of reconstruction, the more I read and learn from what happened. I mean, first of all, I get so mad at Rutherford B. Hayes, you know, just with the Hayes compromise, like I mean, and what that did. And I can see how, as a country, we make those mistakes, time and time again that, you know, 50 years, 60 years from now, we’re going to look back and say, “What if we would have…” You know? And I was, I just learned about a Black man, Hiram Rhodes Revels, was the first Black American to be elected to serve in the US Senate. And he was elected in Mississippi, but and why it’s significant to me is because he was from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is where I was born. And just, I mean, these are people after reconstruction that had been basically considered barbaric, like unable to lead or to learn. And then you have the eloquence of Frederick Douglass coming out of that era. And you can see what could have been. And it’s just so many, so many things that happened during that reconstruction. This was also the first time we could have, you know, passed the civil rights, the first Civil Rights Act. Actually, it could have been the first time we would have passed the first policing act. There’s so much during that reconstruction time to learn about. But it’s not, you know, it’s not too late. Because, you know, here we are as adults. That’s why we are using our voice. That’s why we are making sure that we’re creating resources, that we’re talking about, that we’re helping to educate people. So that there won’t be a repeat of maybe what we went through as children. So that our kids do know, like, you know, some of these famous inventors. And so, I mean, I was yesterday years old, (laughter) when I found out that it was a Black man that invented the elevator. You know, I should have known, because we were the ones operating them things. You know? A lot of stuff that was connected to the work. You know, it was, I mean, just so many things, the blood plasma bag…

Sean Watkins  1:01:11  

Tasha.

Latasha Morrison  1:01:12  

 …the clothes dryer, the curtain rods, doorknobs.

Sean Watkins  1:01:16  

Tasha. Now. 

Latasha Morrison  1:01:18  

I know. I know.

Sean Watkins  1:01:20  

We were the one’s operating them things, we should of known we built them. Ma’am. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  1:01:29  

Listen, listen, listen. The golf tee, the guitar, hairbrush. ice cream scoop. I mean, we can go on and on and on. And I think it’s important that our kids know about the significance of the accomplishments of other people. And I think it’s important to name that because we live in such a white dominant society, racialized society, it is important to name that. So the only people that would say that the race of the person doesn’t matter, just the the invention, would be that of the dominant majority culture. So it is important for us to see ourselves because, you know, when we can see it, we know we can be it. And so I think that’s important. I mean, the straightening comb, you know, the sparkplug, the rolling pin. There’s been a lot of heads bashed in because of the rolling pin. The mop, like I said, the mop, because we were doing the work. Because if you go and look at some of the list of inventions, a lot of it is related to work. And so, you know, we think about, you know, that movie Hidden Figures and the mathematics that was done, you know, by Katherine Johnson and a team of people during that era. And, you know, we’re like, why didn’t we know this history? It was on purpose that we didn’t know that history. And so I think it has to be purposeful now that we do learn that learn this history. And I think I wanted to name just a few of these things. Because a lot of times, when we think about Black history, the first thing that people jump two, is that of Black trauma. And I think it’s important for us to acknowledge and to lift up, you know, there is there is blackness without Black trauma. You know, and Sean, you mentioned like, what are some of the things that were happening before the transatlantic slave trade? Let’s talk about some of the great accomplishments. Yes, trauma is a part of it. But it’s not the only part. And so why is it important that we also acknowledge that and make sure that all kids know that? Not just, you know, Black children, but all kids know that. Why is that important?

Sean Watkins  1:04:01  

Yes. It’s a great question. I have made it a goal in my life to go to every African American History Museum in the country. I got my bachelors in African Studies from UT in undergrad. Walked in as a government pre law major, but one of the Black staff there said, “You should take an African American History class.” And so with 19, my life changed. And I’ve been obsessed with Black history ever since. And so, I haven’t gotten to the one in DC yet, because the line is always too long. But I want to go. But there was one that I went to in Detroit that I was not prepared for. Didn’t know, I didn’t even know it was there, my friends said we should go. And so we got to that museum and again, haven’t been to the one in DC. I’m sure it’s like this. But, the one in Detroit. It starts out with the different countries in Africa. It starts out showing us as kings and queens and the wealth, the opulence, the beauty of Africa. And then it transitions you go downstairs into the bowels of the slave ship. And they have live mannequins that are full length men, women, and children. And I mean, it is a jarring experience. Ya’ll know at Be the Bridge, I’m an emotional man. I cry during every training and half our staff meetings. So of course, I cried while I was there. But it’s something significant to say, “How do I not start with the bad news?” How do I not start with, “Black history begins with you being property and being bondage?” No, it doesn’t. These people were human beings. They were farmers, they were workers, they were husbands and wives, they were parents, they were kings and queens. They came from a different place; their story does not start here. That dehumanizes them to start their story there. To start them with saying, “No, they had something significant and something great.” I think it’s by far, one of the best things that we can do. And I think Mariah and Tasha, actually everybody has said it, I think when you give folks an image of who they can be, and that image is based on not just the future, but on the past of who we’ve been previously, there’s nothing more inspiring than that. Y’all know, I’m a big superhero fan, massive superhero fan. And when Black Panther came out in 2018, they had the red carpet event, and every Black actor, celebrity, famous, was a stand-in a walk-in on one episode of Seinfeld 50 years ago, it didn’t matter. If they were Black and on television and movies, they came their red carpet event. And John Kani who played T’Chaka, T’Challa’s dad in the movie, John Kani is from South Africa. They learned the language spoken, Xhosa if I’m not mistaken. They learned the language that’s spoken in South Africa to be…and that’s the South African dialect, that’s the Wakandan dialect they talk about in the movie. He’s interviewed and they said, “What are you excited about for folks to see Black Panther?” And that African elder very calmly said to the person that was interviewing him, “I want people to see Black Panther because I want them to see what Africa would have been like if Europe would have left us alone. That Africa had all of this beauty, all of this majesty. That aliens didn’t create the pyramids or the Sphinx, we did that. We were able to build and accomplish things that Europe could not back in its day at the same time. And that was taken away from us. And that there is a level of dignity that needs to be restored to Black people by not starting our story with slavery, but with starting with the beauty that Africa had to offer to the world before the beauty was taken away.” And you just got chills. You know? Because we going to see Black Panther, and we trying to like, just watch about Wakanda. And here you have this elder saying, “Watch this movie and let this reawaken your imagination of the beauty of what Blackness was, and what it is now.” And I think that’s the gift that we bring to people, not just for us, but for every ethnic group, when we start with the beauty of our stories, before it’s contaminated by the evils in the world.

Latasha Morrison  1:07:43  

So good. I think, Sean, I get, you know, I always say that, you know, the area of Rwanda, the Congo is like the real Wakanda. Because, you know, just in that area alone, it was several tribes, but they spoke the same language, and they had one chief, you know, of different tribes. And so, a lot of that is adapted from history that you see there. And there, the soil, especially in the Congo, the things that it produces that that are being exploited now, there’s so much there. And I think it’s important for us to know that. And also for leaders even within those countries, not to make the same mistakes of the past. You know? And making sure that you take care of the resources that God has given you. As we close, I was talking to one of our other staff members, and I found out that she was telling me that her mom was Afro Mexican. And so and so, and I was…I thought when she said it, I was like, “Huh, wait a minute.” And I know that. I mean, we know that the diaspora is everywhere. And so I would be remiss, you know, doing Black History Month if we did not acknowledge Afro Latin and Afro Indigenous. You know? And that’s what I love about our community. You know, the bridge is wide. You know, we always have open arms. The things that we marched for, there’s so many people that are benefiting from the things that we march for. You know? There would have been no reform to our immigration if it hadn’t been for the Civil Rights Movement. And we think back to countless times, of that, you know, of the partnerships. And I think it’s important even during this month that we remember, you know, just how we can be in greater unity in knowing each other stories as a BIPOC community. But I would love for you guys just to comment, you know, on you know there are Afro Indigenous people that are unseen. There are Afro Latina and a lot of places like Colombia and Mexico who are gravely oppressed, and even some of the people that we even see at the border are coming from those communities that they face even more oppression in those communities because they are Afro Latina. So I just want, if you guys want to just to speak on that just for a moment.

Mariah Humphries  1:11:02  

Yeah, I’ll speak and I’ll even mention a couple of Afro Indigenous women that I follow and I listen to and I look to highly. And one is Amber Starks, and she’s Afro Latina. Her tag is melaninmvskoke. So she’s actually Mvskoke, the same as me. And I love how she fully embraces what the world sees as two parts of her, but it’s completely her; she is fully herself. And I love her for that. And so she speaks as a Native American woman, and she speaks as a Black woman, and she does not divide the two. And she’s very clear about that. And so, I love melaninmvskoke, Amber Starks is one that absolutely everybody needs to follow. I think another one, that would be, she’s Chappaquiddick Wampanoag is Kara Roselle Smith. And she is absolutely amazing. Both of them are advocates, they’re activists, they’re just speaking on behalf of their people. And both of those women are just incredible. And I recommend everybody give them a follow. I think one of the beautiful things about, you know, Afro Indigenous, Afro Latina, is it shows where our peoples have crossed each other and how we have interacted. And even historically, our histories crossed over and we were actually in the same spaces and places for so long, and we have been remained divided because of that primary narrative of the majority culture has kept us all divided. But I think there’s a beauty of Afro Latina and Afro Indigenous women and men. I just think that just is an amazing representation of the diversity of culture and languages and a collective history. But yeah, I think they’re speaking on some really needed and hard topics within, you know, both communities, and they’re speaking as themselves. And I praise them all day, I think they’re absolutely amazing.

Latasha Morrison  1:13:36  

Okay. I mean, we’re about to close now. And I want you guys to name some of your favorite artists, poets, authors, musicians. Mariah just gave us some people to follow. We’re going to make sure that those are in the show notes. Because I love…I mean, I think social media really brings us closer in a sense, where people you would never hear about or see or anything like that you’re able to follow them and kind of get a glimpse of their world and who they are. So I think, you know, there’s a lot of negativity about, negative things about social media, but then there’s a lot of beauty that comes from that can come from social media, being able to learn and to glean from people from afar. And I know many of you who are listening, you do that even with Be the Bridge and some of the staff members, that you’re following us, that you’re listening, and that you’re sharing this information with those in your community. So what are some, you know, as we’re closing like if you’re like, “Okay, this is a book that you have to read.” Sean, you mentioned a couple books. Kaylee, you mentioned the picture on your wall there. But what is something else? People who are listening now. We know who our audience is. So, you know, and what is maybe an artist or poet or author or musician or a leader that you would say, “Hey, this is someone that you should follow. This is a book that you should read. This is something that you should listen to that’s going to add value and really help you in this.” What is someone that you recommend?

Sean Watkins  1:15:24  

Yeah, I’ll jump in real quick. I think two people I referenced are earlier. But I think Dr. Brittney Cooper, she’s just an amazing, I think again, sociologist and theologian to follow. Again, right, your desire to learn does not producing the desire to educate. And so she’s just, I think she has a book that’s called Eloquent Rage. And so, Brittney is just brilliant. Y’all know that I’m a Howard Thurman fan. So anything that Howard Thurman wrote especially Jesus and the Disinherited. Goodnight. For all the folks who’ve been wounded by the church or think that the church is just kind of off track in terms of naming those things, Howard Thurman back in 1949 names why the church misses those things. And it’s just absolutely timeless. In terms of musician, I’m gonna give a shout out to my friends in Austin, Texas, Shedrach and Kraven Rowry, they have a group called The Levites. And Kraven is my favorite singer on Earth. We used to go to the same church together and have just stayed good friends. And so Shedrach and Kraven, they have a singing group. They could be Grammy Award winning artists, they really could. They just enjoy being married and wanted to be parents and love each other and chose prioritized family over success. And so their sound is just outstanding. So they’re on all social media things. They’re are also on Spotify, and I think Apple music. But The Levites without question. They’re phenomenal. Levites, Brittney Cooper, Howard Thurman.

Mariah Humphries  1:16:42  

I think for me, there are two that really stand out. And it was, one’s a recent one. And then one is just from growing up. And one is Sarah Vaughan, a singer, jazz singer and just, I’m a big music person. I’m a bit creative person. Grew up, just this was the way that, I’m a very extreme introvert and so this was the way that I kind of found my community of people that I felt like were my friends as a little introvert girl. But Sarah Vaughn was somebody who, you know, we had Ella Fitzgerald and everybody, but Sarah Vaughn is somebody who you have to look her up and listen to her voice. Just listening to her music, listening to how she sings, how she she moves when she sings. I just I love her. And then a more recent one of someone I just admire for so many layers and levels is Morgan Harper Nichols. She is somebody that writer, artist, poet, just the way that she brings, even her voice is calming. And I love the fact that she has got white in her hair. Her and I are…anybody who lets their hair go white, I’m a fan of. But she is somebody that, you know, society wise, would say that she has struggles or things that she has to battle. And just the way that she represents her life through her work and her artwork, as someone who deeply appreciates art I absolutely adore her. I think she is an amazing person. And obviously you can find her anywhere. She’s a pretty popular one. But those would be two.

Kaylee Morgan  1:18:36  

Yeah, and then I think just wrapping us up in here. I’m actually going to take like more of the personal route of like, these are the people as I had been growing up that I had looked to. Because again, I think we really hit it well, but representation does matter. And seeing yourself does matter. And so I’m going to answer it in a personal way. Where I think in this current moment women in ministry like Irene Rollins is someone that is really really near and dear to my heart. When I was doing college ministry in a predominantly white space, I was the only woman of color on staff. I was their first actual, or I was there first person of color hired period, happened to be a woman, happened to be doing ministry in the Bible Belt Midwest, where that is like, not a thing. So I would watch Irene Rollins preach. I’ve watched every message she’s ever given. She has curly hair like me, she looks like me. And it was just somebody that I had watched. It’s like a tour guide on a hike, that’s gonna take you up this mountain. And it’s like, when you don’t have a guide, you don’t know if this trek is worth it. Right? You don’t know if the view is phenomenal; you don’t know if this view is gonna be blocked. But Irene was that guide for me. I was able to look at her and I had permission to continue to do what I was doing. So she’s one that’s really big for me. Jo Saxton, another powerful woman, absolutely love her to pieces. Her book Ready to Rise changed my entire life. And she is one that, again, personally affected me and my trajectory when it comes to leadership. And this last one, you guys are probably gonna laugh at me, but it’s fine. I’m gonna, I’ll receive it. But I’m gonna say that Melanie Brown who is Scary Spice from the Spice Girls. She absolutely…okay, listen, you can laugh all you want, but I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be serious. I’m being serious. I’m being serious. Because you have to think through my age and what representation I had in any type of media. You have to understand Melanie Brown is a mixed woman where her father is Black, her mother is white. And I grew up watching television where the Black representation actually didn’t look like me. And so I’m being so serious when I say that Melanie Brown is somebody that I think as a young woman with their, I mean, you can laugh about the girl power and all that jazz when it comes to Spice Girls, like you can laugh about it, I laugh about it. But I will say that there was something about her, she did have a confidence that I really do believed rubbed off on me when I was watching the Spice Girls movie every day after preschool. So that’ll age me. And continue to…and nowadays she is a big advocate for fighting domestic abuse and goes around and speaks on women and how to get, women that are abused how to get help. And so I’ve watched somebody that was super fun as an artist and super encouraging to me, and loved to be Scary Spice for Halloween every year, grow up into this woman who is advocating for other people and is using her influence to bring safety and joy and health to a community of people who are often pushed to the side. And so I will say that that has encouraged me as I continue to grow and as I continue to age to make sure that I’m using my influence however that may be to advocate for other people.

Latasha Morrison  1:23:15  

Oh man, I think there’s so many people I don’t even want to start saying any names because (laughter). But, the first thing I thought was, like you Kaylee, is I thought the personal route. And for the sake of time, I would agree, Sean, I think Howard Thurman is someone that everyone should read. And then also I will say, because I’m just going to agree with some of the ones that, because this one was on my list. And I thought about Howard Thurman. Then I also thought about Jo Saxton, too. She’s a dear friend, I love her. And she is an incredible leader and her book Ready to Rise is an incredible book. And sometimes I don’t feel like she gets the roses. You know? I mean, Jo is just brilliant and just a beautiful soul. And I love her dearly. And there’s so many other ones. I mean, we are in a in a moment in time that where there’s just so many incredible leaders. I could say that even about each of you that are on this podcast with me. People are gleaming from your lives. There’s things that I get opportunity to glean from you. So I think, you know, history is still being written. We are Black history. You know? And so I think that’s incredible, and I think this is a beautiful month. I love all the months that celebrate all people. You know? When we have the that month in November, it’s like…because we want like, I mean, as an African American person, I love to see my other brothers and sisters get opportunity to shine and to take up space. And so this month is, as I will say, blackity Black month. And we’re going to take up all the space that we want. No, we’re not going to cut that. (laughter) Okay, okay.

Mariah Humphries  1:25:38  

I want to log in to this podcast and hear that. Yeah, don’t don’t cut.

Sean Watkins  1:25:43  

Yeah. Can that be the intro and the outro? Welcome to blackity Black month. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  1:25:47  

Blackity Black Month. Black history is American history. (laughter) We need a song. We need a whole song to remind people. But yes. So I would say in closing, what is a one word that expresses how you feel about this month? One word that expresses how you feel about this month. And we’re definitely gonna have to edit this podcast. (laugher)

Sean Watkins  1:26:22  

I think hopeful.

Latasha Morrison  1:26:24  

Hopeful.

Sean Watkins  1:26:25  

Yeah, I think hopeful. There are reasons to not have hope. But I think this month is a reminder of how far we’ve come. So hopeful.

Latasha Morrison  1:26:31  

Yeah. Yeah.

Mariah Humphries  1:26:36  

I think for me, it’s challenged. I’m challenged every time I enter this month. So.

Kaylee Morgan  1:26:48  

I think for me, it’s joyful.

Latasha Morrison  1:26:54  

Okay.

Kaylee Morgan  1:26:55  

I think that I’m choosing this month to be, to lean into joy and not let, not let this month be an exhausting month, a tiring month, but actually choosing joy in this month.

Narrator  1:27:14  

Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast. Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.