Episode 23: Telling Stories About Ourselves with Kristiana Willsey

In Episode 23, we talk to Dr. Kristiana Willsey of USC’s Anthropology department about folklore (the field of study and the new Taylor Swift album), the social function of fairy tales and urban legends, and the meaning-making that happens in the stories we tell about our lives.

You can learn more about Kristi here.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“The things that people remember about fairy tales are…things that are often embodied. And that’s partly what makes these such versatile stories and why they can move cross-culturally…I don’t think it’s the morals of fairy tales that make them resilient. I think it’s the imagery.” -Kristiana Willsey

“Storytelling is meaning-making…If you’re trying to understand illness, if you’re trying to understand difficult experiences of any kind, you have to be able to put them in order and say why something happened. That meaning is not in the experience; it’s in the story.” -Kristiana Willsey

“With the Internet, everything is folk knowledge again.” -Kristiana Willsey

“Folklore is always in the present. It’s not vestigial….It has to be actively performed and produced, which means if someone is telling this story, it’s still serving a purpose.” -Kristiana Willsey

“People would rather be the villain in their own story than believe there’s no story.” -Kristiana Willsey

“We are using our bodies to measure the world, and we are all variable. We’re all different. So the evidence, the analysis, the criticism that we generate is a combination of what that person puts out in the world and what shape it takes in the receptacle of our own bodies.” -Kristiana Willsey

“The stories we tell about other people are always just stories about ourselves.” -Kristiana Willsey

This episode was recorded on July 28. 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.

22. Privileging Oral Stories w/ Shenishe Kelly

In Episode 22, we talk to Professor Shenishe Kelly about the importance of teaching non-canonical and oral stories and encouraging students to bring their textual lineages–whatever form they take–into the classroom with them.

Shenishe L. Kelly is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She serves as an Assistant Lecturer (Teaching) of Writing in the University of Southern California’s undergraduate Writing Program while pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership.

Prior to teaching and learning at USC, Shenishe served as a certified secondary English teacher for ten years—five years stateside in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, Illinois and and five years abroad in Busan, South Korea and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Some of her career highlights include participating in the development of test questions for the Korean National English Test administered to approximately five million Korean high school students annually, creating curriculum and assessment resources utilized in 83 high schools throughout the emirate of Abu Dhabi, leading small group professional development sessions for English teachers from five continents (i.e., North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia), coaching more than half a dozen ESL students to place as semi-finalists and finalists in a university-sponsored English creative writing competition, and her class being selected as model of best practices during in international school inspection. 

Shenishe is an emerging educational scholar and creative writer who will publish in both fields in the coming year. Her scholarship centers around intergenerational inquiry and learning, identity development, learned humanity and hopefulness, and critical family literacy. Her creative writing interests center around poetry and flash creative nonfiction, which she uses to navigate the intersection of her past, present, and future. She is committed to engaging with her many communities around literacy education for collective uplift.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  • Sankofa proverb
  • Paulo Freire
  • Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies  by Mwalimu J. Shujaa
  • Nipsey Hussle
  • The Allegory by Royce da 5’9″
  • The allegory of the cave in Plato’s Republic
  • Kala by M.I.A.
  • Big K.R.I.T.
  • Toni Morrison
  • “Beyond Beats, Rhymes, & Beyoncé” by Gloria Ladson-Billings
  • “Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” by Gloria Ladson-Billings
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching by Geneva Gay
  • Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies by Django Paris and H. Samy Alim
  • Siren (TV series)
  • Lola Igna (TV series)
  • Miracle in Cell No. 7 (film)
  • Karl Marx
  • Pierre Bordieu
  • Émile Durkheim
  • Alfred Tatum
  • Gholdy Muhammad
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Jay-Z
  • “Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)” by Nikki Giovanni
  • “Beyond the Methods Fetish: Toward a Humanizing Pedagogy” by Lilia Bartolomé
  • “On Being White…and Other Lies” by James Baldwin

“I approach words in the same way that I approach the world, and that’s rooted in the Sankofa proverb. It translates to, ‘It’s not taboo to go back and fetch it.’ And so, most of my life is kind of rooted in me trying to understand the relationship between my past, my present, and my future.” -Shenishe Kelly

“I’m very passionate about oral stories…I really want to untangle that [textual lineage] and take that primary focus off of looking at print texts because in a lot of cultures that’s not so salient; they don’t always engage in print texts, particularly working class people.” -Shenishe Kelly

“Sometimes when we talk about community engagement we try to push students to go out in the community, but sometimes we need to push them to turn internally, to unpack who they are, their identity.” -Shenishe Kelly

“I really believe in trying to resonate with people’s souls or seeing in which ways my soul resonates with someone else. That’s the way I move through the world…I want people to see me beyond those color labels, see the other parts of my humanity…I’m not just going to agree or be in the Amen corner with what my students are writing about just because we share the same race. I dig deeper than that.” -Shenishe Kelly

“I think it’s a very powerful and bold statement to tell the students that you have just as much agency to push against me as I do to you…We are all in partnership.” -Shenishe Kelly

“I can’t gloss over these things [the protests and resistance]. We have to be in conversation. That’s why I say for people who are looking for that packaged ‘best practices’…around race and class and culture, etc….You have to live it…All these things should always be a part of your teaching and classroom in an organic way. It should not be forced…or sprinkled on.” -Shenishe Kelly

“Students who have been racially constructed as ‘of color’ or students who are socially constructed as [having] lower economic backgrounds…our whole society is designed to ‘fix’ them, to ‘solve’ them, and so most of the texts that they engage with, or we’ve engaged with in that way, are texts that are turned on us. And so that kind of forces us, from my perspective, to always stay inward. And so sometimes I have to push students from upper middle class backgrounds or students who are racialized as white to go inward because they’re used to doing the gaze and they’re not used to going inward…I try to coach my students individually to see if they need to go more inward or more outward.” -Shenishe Kelly

“Having students engage in that self-discovery [means] they’re seeking out texts that they can relate to…or they’re bringing in texts that they relate to and using that to approach other texts that we’re engaging with….We have to privilege stories of all kinds. I think that is crucial…It does not have to be this traditional, academic way that we bring people into our stories or we try to understand and to be in community with each other around story.” -Shenishe Kelly

“It’s not about all the texts you’re reading, but it’s the texts that shape who you are, your thinking and your identity. We can push and cram things down students’ throats all we want to, but…that does not mean that that text is going to resonate with students. When we start to think of each other as living texts…every student is not going to jibe or resonate, but [we can] continue to try to find ways in which we can see our common humanity through that.” -Shenishe Kelly

“That imprint that people leave with us? It doesn’t come in the form of a formal text or empirical work but in oral story.” -Shenishe Kelly

Mug squad

This episode was recorded on July 21. 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.

21. Repurposing Genre w/ Michelle Brittan Rosado & Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

In Episode 21, we talk to award-winning poets Michelle Brittan Rosado and Corinna McClanahan Schroeder about bringing a sense of play to the composition classroom and repurposing genre in our writing.

Read more about Michelle here and Corinna here.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“How do I bring…play to the academic essay?” -Corinna Schroeder

“Traditional academic work is often translated into other genres too, so that’s been a way that I’ve been trying to open up my first-year students to the idea of challenging genre…I’ve been trying to assign works by academics who are in a different genre–like they’re appearing on a podcast or they write an op-ed or they’re a guest on a talk show. This is something that even the more traditional academic does. They have to present their work to different audiences.” @mbrittanrosado

“It feels like a really artificial wall, or walls, that we’ve placed around the academic essay that it’s like the end-all be-all when really all of our communication is constantly being repurposed, inside and outside of the academy.” @mbrittanrosado

“I feel a real tension between wanting to bring, and bringing, a sense of imagination and play into the composition classroom and thinking about writing as a series of choices–there are no rules here; whether it’s a poem or an essay, you’re making a choice, and that choice has an effect on your reader–and then also wanting to make sure they know what that box is, in case they’re in a situation in which they really need to use that box of the essay.” -Corinna Schroeder

This episode was recorded on June 8. 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.

20. Revaluing Free Speech w/ Yan Sham-Shackleton

In Episode 20, we talk to Yan Sham-Shackleton about Hong Kong’s new National Security Law, government censorship, the complicated nature of revolutions, and the importance of free speech to the work of a writer.

Yan Sham-Shackleton is a Hong Kong writer who lives in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in Chicago Quarterly Review, Litro, Great Weather for Media, Popmatters, and others. She is a columnist on Hong Kong Free Press. She is seeking an agent for her coming-of-age novel “Island of Lights” set during the 1997 regime change of Hong Kong. Learn more at her website: www.YanShamS.com

Writers and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“Without free speech, you can’t be a writer.” @YanShamS

“In a Western country, protest works. But if you’re dealing with a totalitarian regime, it doesn’t.” @YanShamS

“If we start censoring people in University or censoring people anywhere, then who gets to decide what you can say and what you can’t say? It’s just who’s in power.” @YanShamS

“I had a really romantic view of the protest, and I actually went home in December to see it and…it was actually very angry and very dirty and hateful…It was a ‘carnival of hate’ more than a romantic democratic movement…I felt really torn when I was home. But…it’s still the movement. The movement’s right, whether everybody is doing the right thing for the movement, I still support the movement, no matter what….But I did wonder…can I capture the ugliness of it? Would I be selling out or hurting the movement if I talked about the ugliness I saw in the protest? But, you know, that IS the beauty and the romanticism… Fighting for freedom is really complicated. ” @YanShamS

“It never occurred to me that if I wrote what I wrote in my novel, something would happen to me.” @YanShamS

“It’s not how important you are. It’s: did they find you?” @YanShamS

This episode was recorded on July 14. 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.

19. Embracing a Messy Identity w/ Meghan P. Nolan

In Episode 19, we talk to Dr. Meghan P. Nolan about identity fragmentation and embracing our fullest, messiest selves–and empowering our students to do the same. We also talk about multi-genre writing projects, the (in)accessibility of academic writing, institutional barriers to equity and progress, gender roles in mystery novels, and finding joy in our scholarship.

Come for Fernando Pessoa; stay for P.D. James!

Meghan P. Nolan, MFA, MA, PHD is an Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at SUNY Rockland Community College. She is a multigenre writer who focuses on fragmented perceptions of self-hood through academic works, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is the author of the poetry collection, Stratification (BlazeVOX Books, 2008); her poetry has appeared in Blue Door Quarterly, The Nepotist, MiPOesias, Quest, Coconut, No Tell Motel, Sawbuck, Free Focus, and more. Her essays have recently been published in Persona Studies, Thread, The 100 Greatest Detectives, Exquisite Corpse: Studio Art-Based Writing in the Academy, and Transnational Crime Fiction.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“We cannot continue to assess student writing in the ways that we are.” @DrNolanRCC

“Students are exploring their identities through their writing, in their own ways, in the classroom…It becomes this hodge-podge, almost like a collage, of creative work and academic work that they’ve connected with a theme throughout the semester, and that theme is really their own identities and how they view themselves.” @DrNolanRCC

“A lot of teaching college writing is learning how to work around the system.” @DrNolanRCC

“As a writer, I really start to free up once I gave up on [fitting into a neat group]…I don’t really care what other people think…I write whatever I feel at the time.” @DrNolanRCC

“You’ve got to move forward as a writer. That’s the only way you can [go].” @DrNolanRCC

“We fall back into those really comfortable zones, where we’re like, yes this is how I present myself, this is who I am to this group of people, instead of seeing all those disparate parts as one cohesive whole…We’ve got to be willing to mash up our own identities in front of audiences that aren’t expecting it and be willing to share all parts of ourselves.” @DrNolanRCC

“That writing work [in the first-year writing classroom] can be so valuable because you can get people exploring those ideas–what makes me who I am? It’s a lot more than what’s on the surface. Let’s piece all of that together and see what you come up with, yourself. Because it can’t be somebody else telling you what they see. It needs to be what you experience, your authentic experience as yourself, that you want to share, that you see as being who you are. And that to me is giving a true account of oneself.” @DrNolanRCC

“No matter what it is that I’m writing–whether it’s creative or it’s academic or it’s poetic–whatever I’m doing, I’m always trying to…pick apart what it means to be an individual. What are those various parts, those gritty pieces that make up who we are?” @DrNolanRCC

This episode was recorded on July 7. 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.

18. Teaching Inside the Prison System w/ Kate Levin & Nicholas De Dominic

In Episode 18, we talk to Professors Kate Levin and Nicholas De Dominic of the USC Writing Program about their work with the Prison Education Project and the obligation an institution like USC has to the incarcerated population and the South Central Los Angeles community.

You can learn more about the Prison Education Project on their website and on their Instagram and Facebook pages. USC faculty interested in participating in the Faculty Forum or developing their own PEP course can contact Kate at klevin@usc.edu or Nik at dedomini@usc.edu. Learn more about Kate here and Nik here.

This episode was recorded on June 23 and contains explicit language. 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.

“There’s nothing that quite disrupts a person’s preconceptions…and forces you to confront your own attitudes about things, like going in there [to prisons] and doing work in the space.” -Kate Levin

“It is an enrichment opportunity. It’s also, I think, for some a stepping stone to higher education. But, frankly, it’s also a way to get back to their lives, their families, and their communities sooner, which I think is important.” -Kate Levin

“I’m deeply, deeply saddened and crushed by everything that’s going on in the world. But one of the benefits is that our more conservative administration is in a place to affect change, whereas I don’t think they were before…We are in a place now where not only the importance of this work is recognized but we can actually institutionalize the program.” @nikded

“This is not just a nice thing for USC to have or do…This the responsibility of the University, which is located in South Central Los Angeles. It is not divorced from the issues of incarceration in Southern California…This is you paying your rent to be in this space, at a bare minimum.” -Kate Levin

“A classroom is a classroom is a classroom…There is no differentiation between that space [the prison classroom] and what goes on at USC, and I think that’s why it’s so very powerful.” @nikded

“Writing is experiential, and in those classrooms [in the prisons] where we’re teaching writing, we have just a wealth of extensive experience that these students are allowed to draw upon. They’re writing to bear witness.” @nikded

17. Challenging Power Structures in Music Education w/ Meagan Dissinger

In Episode 17, Dan and guest host Stephanie Renée Payne talk with Dr. Meagan Dissinger about using culturally responsive teaching in music education, deconstructing power structures and bringing social justice to the music classroom, and teaching music virtually during the current moment.

Dr. Meagan Dissinger currently holds the position of High School Choir Director and Special Education General Music Teacher at the Oyster Bay – East Norwich Central School District on Long Island in New York. This will be her twelfth year servicing the students of New York State where she has taught all grades Pre-K-12. In addition to NYS professional certification, Dr. Dissinger is a National Board Certified in Music for early adolescents to young adults. Dr. Dissinger is an active accompanist and guest conductor for honors ensembles. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education with minors in Special Education from the Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s degree in Piano Performance from CUNY Hunter College, a second Master’s degree in Music Education from Columbia University, and a Doctoral degree in Music Education from Columbia University. Dr. Dissinger’s research interests include culturally responsive teaching in secondary school choral ensembles, how teachers establish equitable music curricula through student choice and autonomy, autoethnography for developing teachers, and performance-based assessment in music.

Scholars Mentioned in the Episode
  • Geneva Gay
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings
  • Constance McCoy
  • Anne Geller
  • Paulo Freire
  • Vershawn Ashanti Young
  • bell hooks

“It is not easy to challenge things that are so rooted in ourselves […] During this time that we’re in right now with this virtual learning, this is even more of an exciting opportunity where we can really learn from our students. I think it’s really important to posit ourselves as lifelong learners with them, not above them.” -Meagan Dissinger

“I really try to challenge those power structures and reconsider what music can look like for my students and my classroom.” -Meagan Dissinger

“I don’t think we can really move anywhere as a society if White people don’t start checking themselves.” -Meagan Dissinger

“Even when I’m presenting this [autoethnography] research, I’m putting myself under a microscope and I’m talking about my own personal flaws, my own biases, my own stereotypes that I work through […] I think it’s important for me to model that work especially for the students in my classroom who are privileged.” -Meagan Dissinger

“One of the questions I get often is well, ‘What are you gonna do next?’ Is there a next? I mean, just because I did this one autoethnography, does that mean now I’m done interrogating myself? I don’t really think that. The project is meant to be lifelong.” -Meagan Dissinger

“In my class, we really come from an angle of social justice. We work towards creating music with purpose.” -Meagan Dissinger 

“A big part of my class is not just the music-making, but the discourse […] If we can give them the tools on how to talk about it [race, gender, etc.], they’re so much more willing–at least from my experience in my classroom–they’re so much more willing to participate in the conversation, and then that opens up opportunity for some transformative learning to happen because some of the students are rethinking how they think about race or gender or sexuality or religion.” -Meagan Dissinger

“Music is an incredible platform for change.” -Meagan Dissinger

This episode was recorded on May 19. 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.

16. Rebuilding the University w/ Stephanie Bower & John Murray

In Episode 16, we talk to Professors Stephanie Bower and John Murray of the USC Writing Program about incorporating multimodal and experience-based assignments into their courses, building relationships with local communities, reframing service learning as a form of activism, and turning to abolitionist pedagogy as a model for dismantling and then rebuilding the University. Learn more about Stephanie here and John here, and be sure to check out some of the student projects from their recent courses:

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“Visual storytelling is a really important skill in rhetoric…Filmmaking and composition actually have a lot in common…If you really break down what goes into a documentary, it is what goes into a paper.” -John Murray

“Sometimes it seems like higher education is behind what they’re doing in K-12…You’re going to write yourself into extinction if you don’t realize how writing can be applied to these other media.” -John Murray

“You have something to learn, so don’t go in there heavy-handed. Don’t go in there taking something from the the community. Don’t go in there doing something for or about the community. You are collaborating.” -John Murray

“How do our opinions shift when we actually listen to the communities whose stories we’re partnering to tell rather than going in with our own assumptions about it? That’s I think a lot of the work we do in the class. And it’s such a relief to students…to have their perspectives be valued and…to be able to narrate and theorize from their own lived experiences.” -Stephanie Bower

“All this humanity coming at them beyond the academic information I think has potential to impact them for years to come, and impact not only how they see these populations when they research them, but how they see the world.” -John Murray

“If you imagine yourself as an activist, first of all, it enables you to recognize your own complicity within the systems…and so it becomes a shared responsibility to change those systems…It challenges that idea of objectivity.” -Stephanie Bower

“Abolitionist thinking isn’t about reforming or reimagining; it’s about dismantling and then rebuilding based upon what we want our values to be.” -Stephanie Bower

“What would it be like if you asked students…how what we’re doing in the classroom can make a difference outside in the world…How can we be thinking about this space as an opportunity to make change?” -Stephanie Bower

“The person has to be part of the educational experience…It’s not only academic success in college that helps you persist and succeed and complete; it’s social integration into college…Under-represented groups very often feel excluded socially in a classroom. And I think that’s a huge consideration to tie into composition…What are you expected to assimilate to here as you make an argument, as you make a case, as you express your voice? Are we expecting you to deny everything you were until you walked into the room so that you can assimilate into what’s been established?…Are we still holding back to standards that are really, in terms of the big picture, obsolete?” -John Murray

“Think like an academic, but don’t write like one.” -Stephanie Bower

“If there’s anything we want to keep about academia…it might be that sense of curiosity for its own sake.” -Stephanie Bower

This episode was recorded on June 9. 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.

15. Drumming a Language of Love w/ Daunté Fyall & Tanee Osborne

Happy Juneteenth! In this episode, we talk to Daunté Fyall and Tanee Osborne about the healing language of traditional West African drumming and dance.

This episode was recorded on June 16 from Motherland Music. We wish we could have been there in person, but unfortunately we still have to do things virtually, so please forgive the limitations of Zoom to capture the sound of these beautiful instruments. 

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.

More About Our Guests

Born in Frankfurt, Germany and raised in Washington DC, Daunté “KINGTAE” Fyall is a passionate dance instructor, performing artist, and motivational speaker. Daunté travels around the world enriching our communities with the healing energy and power of Traditional West African Dance. His Roots began with the World-Renowned Assane Konte, Founder/Artistic Director of Kankouran West African Dance Company of Washington, DC. As a Senior Company Member, Daunte’s performance venues/credits include: The Kennedy Center of Washington DC, the Trinidad & Tobago Emancipation Festival, The Smithsonian Museums of Washington DC, and The White House of the United States of America, to name a few! Daunté has also participated in hundreds of hours of continuing education with West African Masters such as Babacar N’diaye, Aboubacar Oscar Camara, Marie Basse-Wiles, and Mouminatou Camara. He was awarded the privilege of studying and performing with dance Pioneer Debbie Allen at her prestigious dance academy located in the heart of Los Angeles. Daunté can also be seen displaying his talents in Projects with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and in a music video with 5-Grammy nominated R&B Artist: Khalid. Daunté currently hosts West African Dance Fundamental Classes with his Arts Collective: DAANSEKOU in the heart of Los Angeles, CA. Daunté is dedicated to creating nurturing spaces to develop the potential of inner city youth, collaborative workshops with community organizations, maintaining private, corporate and individual group lessons. Daunté is passionate about dance, traveling, leading retreats and teaching specialized workshops. Daunté believes that “…true healing starts with Pure Heart and Positive Intention…” so he is honored to share the value of this living tradition while simultaneously encouraging people to experience their infinite potential. Daunté is on a quest to collectively empower others to discover a greater self awareness through Love, Light (Knowledge), Respect and Humility! 

Tanee Osborne is a West African djembe and dundun percussionist, first introduced to the West African Drum and Dance culture in 2009 with Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance, a company out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Relocating to California in 2011 and landing in Leimert Park, LA’s premiere cultural hub, Tanee has studied and continues to learn the culture and language of the ancestors fulltime from local and out of state master drummers and dancers. You can now catch her playing djembe and dunduns for DAANSEKOU Arts Collective, The H.E.Art Performing Arts and Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Learn more about Tanee in her recent interview with Voyage LA Magazine and find her on Instagram @TaneeTheTO

You can follow DAANSEKOU on Instagram @daansekou and subscribe to their newsletter here.

“This is a language. We believe that it’s communicated through these drums…A conversation is happening…a conversation of a people.” -Daunté Fyall

“This language has to be shared. It is a love language. And a language that promotes healing and a language that promotes growth. A language that actually turns the world.” -Daunté Fyall

“This culture’s married to the heart…These rhythms are functioned off of the heartbeat.” -Daunté Fyall and Tanee Osborne

“We’re all vibrational beings. We all have a rhythm within us. It’s the pumping of our blood, the way that our heart pumps, the way that we breathe and inhale. We all naturally have a rhythm, and this is just another way to connect and align those rhythms within ourselves and within the universe. This drum, djembe, actually means ‘to come together’…It’s impossible to be around these instruments and not be in a higher vibration of love.” -Tanee Osborne

“There is a whole life around this drum.” -Tanee Osborne

“As a teacher…what I’ve learned is you have to give your students something to hold onto.” -Daunté Fyall

“Don’t pull away from yourself…We need you at your best self. I need you to be who you are, because that’s what the universe needs. And so I don’t want you to do so much for others that you begin to take away from yourself. Make sure you’re whole. But when you’re whole, then there’s extra to fill over and it overflows…And if everybody overflows with their gift because they’re full of the joy of their gift, how can the world not be a better place?” -Tanee Osborne

“Every rhythm has a purpose, has a meaning.” -Tanee Osborne

“If you look in every culture, there’s a drum of some sort that takes place in the healing process and ritual and celebration and mourning and life. Everything was centered around some type of drumbeat. In every culture, you can find a rhythm.” -Tanee Osborne

“These drums have survived. This language has survived. And that is the true test of the power behind this drum.” -Daunté Fyall

“[The drum] is fashioned after the woman. It’s fashioned after the womb. And it’s fashioned after the heartbeat too…One of the first sounds we hear when we’re in our mother’s womb is the heartbeat. That’s why it always kind of brings us back home.” -Daunté Fyall

“We’re spelling words over and over and over again with our bodies…We’re kind of writing in the lines of space, and so we’re able to then embed this language into our mind enough to be able to regurgitate it to someone else…We are the words in this book of life.” -Daunté Fyall

“[After a drum class] my energy is at an all-time high. That feeling right there is why we say this is medicine. The feeling you have after a good workout and a good lesson is the energy you want to bottle up and give to someone else.” -Daunté Fyall

“I tell people: do what you want to do. Move in that light, knowing that your intention is pure, your intentions are in the right place. As long as you’re moving in the light of love, how can you be moving in the wrong direction?” -Tanee Osborne

“If you are a writer, that is your protest. Write! This is the time, more than ever, to write. This is the time, more than ever, to make an impact on the world.” -Daunté Fyall

“We’re in a state of awakening…We have this opportunity to be free…Now we get to write what the new normal looks like.” -Tanee Osborne

“Love is the highest vibration.” -Tanee Osborne

14. Practicing Anti-Racist Pedagogy w/ Alisa Sánchez, Carlos Delgado, & Jessi Johnson

We continue the conversation about dismantling White supremacy and systems of oppression, especially in higher education, with Professors Alisa Sánchez, Carlos Delgado, and Jessi Johnson of the USC Writing Program. In this episode we talk about anti-racist pedagogy and ways we can uphold inclusive values and practices in the writing classroom.

Based on recommendations from our guests, we’ve added more resources to the Anti-Racist Reading List. We invite you to read, to listen, and to learn.

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

Some links may be affiliate links, which at no additional cost to you help to fund The Writing Remix. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

“Diversity is not the same as anti-racism.” -Jessi Johnson

“The objections seem to imply: yes, we begin from an unacceptable premise of White supremacy, but your ideas challenge White supremacy, so we can’t do your idea. It’s this amazing contradiction that academia continues to uphold.” @C_A_Delgado

“Our students are coming into the classroom multilingual. That can mean literal languages. That can mean backgrounds, knowledges, perspectives. [We want to] give each of those languages equal agency.” -Jessi Johnson

“Multimodality [means offering] different modes into the classroom space so it’s more inclusive…deconstructing the traditional academic essay, or saying there’s more than one way to approach the academic essay.” -Jessi Johnson

“Code-meshing is the idea that you can equally value all ways of speaking and all codes and all ways of thinking…So you don’t only have to say you can only use standard Western English and that’s the only way you’re going to get an A. It’s instead to say you come from a multitude of languages and ways of expressing your codes, and we want to mesh them all, rather than forcing you to switch back and forth between them.” -Jessi Johnson

“We have so many intersecting aspects of ourselves and so many different identities that all converge to make us very unique people, and we want to make space in the classroom for those intersecting identities.” -Jessi Johnson

“There are a thousand assumptions, invisible assumptions, that people who don’t get this work are making–and they don’t even know they’re making–about the history of Empire and the history of violence and who gets to say what English is right, who gets to say what English is good. We as gatekeepers have the opportunity to address some of that, but when our assumptions are built in…to give somebody a C- because they couldn’t talk like I do, it’s an extension of that violence.” @C_A_Delgado

“I really do and really don’t want to be tender with people because I love other people and we’re all human here…At the same time, it often feels like a betrayal, and a betrayal of myself, like I’m suppressing my anger and my pain in order to to be able to do my language and my affect and everything in the right way in order to not just be heard but be heard in a way that will start to make in-roads.” -Alisa Sánchez

“There is a tradition within Western thinking and writing that cherishes and loves the rebel…There is a long tradition of especially White men saying ‘Be free in your writing!’–until Black people are trying to write that way.” @C_A_Delgado

“I really want to show people their anti-Blackness and then invite them to cross a gap. That’s my hope in all of this.” @C_A_Delgado

“Allyship [in the classroom] means not assuming that your students know that you are for them. It’s speaking up and actually voicing that.” -Jessi Johnson

“The rubric becomes this terrible source of power for gatekeeping…So what I do is we get rid of the rubric, and we build it from the ground up collaboratively.” -Jessi Johnson

“It’s no longer just about diversity; it’s about expressing their intersecting identities, and it’s about valuing those identities. Literally valuing. I will give you a grade, and I will value this identity. And that’s anti-racism.” -Jessi Johnson

“It’s as though we forget once students enter the classroom that they got into college because they wrote a personal essay. They got into college because they know how to write.” @C_A_Delgado

“Rather than have [students] practice the ‘genre’…teach them how to read genre…Otherwise we’re just re-hashing a version of the five-paragraph essay.” @C_A_Delgado

“It’s about teaching those skills of critical thinking and critical reading and making choices as a writer…but it’s about being able to do those while being who you are and while not having to assimilate to a White identity.” -Alisa Sánchez

“[I’ve seen] the damage that [assimilation] can do, and it’s damage not only to individual students but that also ripples out and becomes collective trauma.” -Alisa Sánchez

“That’s why [it’s important] to welcome people to write in all of their languages and to be who they are. Since writing is so vulnerable and so powerful, that is a really important site in which to make sure we’re doing that work as teachers.” -Alisa Sánchez

“What we teach is what will continue.” -Jessi Johnson

“Thinking about this time and what to take from this…it’s to invest in the long-term transformations…that we transform knowledge production and we transform the academy and we transform writing and that it’s happening through our students…I see again and again that they are the ones who are–through their writing and the way that they do their work–shifting things and making change and creating that space.” -Alisa Sánchez

This episode was recorded on June 5. 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.