Episode 13: Using Our Voice and Our Hearts with Stephanie Renée Payne, Danielle Lee, and O Tomas Bell

Former guests Stephanie Renée Payne, Danielle Lee, and O Tomas Bell return for a sobering and powerful discussion about racism in America and the demonstrations taking place around the world protesting the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans. We are incredibly grateful that they were willing to share their thoughts during a time of tremendous pain. Please listen to what they have to say.

Writing Remix stands in solidarity with everyone using their voice to combat racism and police brutality and to dismantle systems of oppression. Black lives are precious. Black lives matter. We invite you to visit this Anti-Racist Reading List created by our guests, which we will continue to update.

The featured artwork was created by Danielle’s son, Jack Lenihan. You can follow him on Instagram @JackLenihanArt.

This episode was recorded on June 2. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.

Writers and Thinkers Mentioned in the Episode
  • Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow)
  • James Baldwin
  • Edward P. Jones (The Known World)
  • Audre Lorde
  • Cornel West
  • Brené Brown
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)
  • Toni Morrison
  • Walt Whitman (“I Hear America Singing”)
  • RuPaul
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“We are socialized to divide…And that socialization is rooted in the capitalist structure of this country, which is on the backs of free labor…We’re always looking for the next slave.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“You feel guilty as a mom that your children are safe, and I am saying to you THAT is oppression manifested.” @otomasbell

“Everyone holds a knowledge. But not everyone holds an experience.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“We cannot get an understanding from the person who hits. We can only get an understanding from the person who feels the blow.” -Edward P. Jones

“We have to stop being polite about racism because racism is not polite.” @otomasbell

“Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.” -Audre Lorde

“This is about hurting someone in the only place we have the power to, which is financially…We need to get attention because they don’t listen.” @dlitephul

“America was great because America had free labor for centuries. And now when you’re including these people, the only way to perpetuate the system…is to make sure you keep certain people at the bottom of the barrel so that the system can maintain itself.” @otomasbell

“[America] was built on a sense of wealth for the few by pressing down on the many.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“The foundational elements of this country have stripped us all of our humanity…The unwitting prize of being able to hold wealth easily has hollowed the soul of America.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“We have all been kept from our racial, our cultural, and our American ties. This is a systemic problem.” @dlitephul

“History–real history–in all of its ugliness, in all of its goodness too, needs to be shared. Not to guilt people. Not to victimize others. But for the purest intention of us being educated. Douglass knew that the secret to slavery was to withhold access to education.” @dlitephul

“Where words fail, behavior takes its spot…I don’t want you to feel guilty…I think you and I need to step into our power, into our knowledge, and forgive ourselves, and let that be our light post.” @dlitephul

“This is not a time for white guilt. White guilt is the reason why this has been perpetuated.” @otomasbell

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“This is a wonderful opportunity to restructure, and we can do it person by person, conversation by conversation…by listening.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal.” -Toni Morrison

“We can use our voice. We can use our hearts…Our humanity and our love is bigger than the construct of this country, which can be changed.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“Visualize how you want to see society behave first. How do you imagine relationships between people of different backgrounds? …Envision it with intention…Create what [your] neighborhood or your community or world should look like. And then you can figure out how to speak to people, how to be heard.” @dlitephul

“There are other ways to protest. I protest in my classroom.” @dlitephul

“People need to look at protest from the ground up, not from the crowd out.” @dlitephul

“We have to cultivate a space in which I can honor my feelings without invalidating your experience, and you can honor your feelings without invalidating mine. And if we agree to disagree, that’s fine. But what we can’t do, based on that disagreement, is bring into law legislation that systemically perpetuates oppression. ” @otomasbell

“This is not a White issue or a Black issue. We all are being robbed of community because we’re buying into divisive narratives.” @otomasbell

“Toni Morrison said, ‘We speak, we write, we cry, we honor ourselves.’ There are so many ways of protest, but they are internal first.” -Stephanie Renée Payne

“I wish to be an American in America, because I am an American every place else. But in America, I’m an African American…I want to be an American in America. I want to know what that feels like.” @otomasbell

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