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WHAT OUR BODIES TEACH US FT GABY BARBOZA TRANSCRIPT

Genius Black:

Blessings and vibes from Black Owned Maine. Yo, got another episode for y’all, bringing it to you live. Not really. But what I did want to do is introduce to you a guest on our podcast. So I invite you to get into a comfortable place and a comfortable position. Sit down, stand up, lean back, do what you do because later in this episode, appropriately, will be a moment for you to share with us, a guided meditation. But upfront, I want to introduced, I want to introduce, excuse me, the guest that we have today, who is a nurse, a holistic healer, as well as a reiki practitioner. Welcome to Gaby Barboza.

Gaby Barboza:

Thank you.

Genius Black:

Right on. Thank you for being here with us today. We’re going to have a little conversation and like I said, we’re going to lead forward, later, to an actual meditation, that we really invite you all to share with us because we want to really improve your life by listening to this recording. But to get started, if it’s okay with you, Gaby, I would really like for you to talk a little bit about your personal story. And honestly, what drew you into and got you into holistic healing in general.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, so first thing I wanted to say, I always find it interesting when people in this space proclaim themselves as experts. Everything I say right now is kind of what I know at this point, to what the research that I’ve looked at has taught me and what my own body has taught me along the way. So I like to get that kind of out of the way. And just that the only thing that I can ever say for certain is that Black And Brown Lives Matter, basically. When I think about everything that I’m talking about, and so things might change. But at the end of the day, I always say that Black And Brown Lives Matter and racism exists.

Gaby Barboza:

So those are nonnegotiable to me. So my journey really started growing up, I grew up in a lower income household and although we didn’t really know that we were poor, we very much were. And my mom, she had an incredible way of raising us in a way that we really had everything that we thought to be true of what we needed. And so everything that I talk about, sometimes I feel bad because I don’t want it to sound like my mom wasn’t doing everything she could, because she truly was.

Genius Black:

I understand.

Gaby Barboza:

But yeah, so growing up, when I think about my access to quality nutrition, and preventative medicine as I know it now, I didn’t have. And so my mom was a single mom of three, pretty much doing it on her own and so we ate what we could eat. It wasn’t about what was going to fuel our bodies the best, or like a deep dive into nutrition. So I really see that as where my health issues that came later in life really started. I look back on when I really started doing a deep dive and not feeling like I could even digest proper nutrition. So feeling really bloated and just a caveat, there might be some things that I say, just because I am a nurse, that feel uncomfortable to some people.

Gaby Barboza:

But just symptoms, so bloating, and constipation, and things like that. I really attribute that back to my body never really knew how to digest foods like that. So when I was in 4th grade, I had my first grand mal seizure and so I developed epilepsy in the 4th grade. And we never knew what that was and I never knew a cause on that. And looking back, I can kind of see that I can do one plus one equals two, based on my nutrition and lack of preventative medicine, and just household toxins that I was surrounded by.

Gaby Barboza:

So in college it really came to a standstill. I went through some mental health issues in high school and never really understood them. And looking back, I can again attribute it back to the way I was eating, and living, and not sleeping well. And so in college I went to nursing school, so I am a nurse, now practicing in holistic medicine field. But in nursing school I just started seeing sicker and sicker people. And when we were in our clinicals, it felt like we were only treating the symptoms and we weren’t really looking at what caused all of this to be happening.

Genius Black:

Yeah, think there’s something to that, yeah. Yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, so in the western world, we are very driven by money and very driven almost sometimes it feels like we need people to be sick because people that are sick make us more money. And I just couldn’t align with that. I was so frustrated in school because I felt like I just had this whole other part of me that was saying, there’s a better way. And so a lot of my journey is my own symptoms and needing to fix them on my own, and being my own advocate. So once I started, all these symptoms were manifesting in college, I really started researching and just went down a huge rabbit hole of naturopathic medicine and holistic healing. And although, there wasn’t a ton out there at that time, that was probably around like 2013, ’14.

Gaby Barboza:

It was extremely overwhelming and also extremely expensive to be able to see a naturopathic doctor. And so now my mission is really to bring that holistic healing to underprivileged communities and have it start from the ground up there. So we’re not just treating the symptoms later in life. So that’s really, I mean, in college I was on Vyvanse, an ADD medication, I was sleeping through my classes until I went to nursing school because I couldn’t, because I would have failed. But I was sleeping in my classes instead. And so I was exhausted and I knew there had to be a reason and I knew that it was going to go a lot deeper than where I was at and what I was learning in school at that point.

Genius Black:

Oh, right on. Wow, so you started to kind of see through… And I think this happens to a lot of people, through the reality. Like you’re tired, you’re feeling a certain way. But for you, you really started to peel back, do research, and figure out what’s the root? Where is it coming from? Why do I feel awful? Whatnot, yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Absolutely, absolutely. I didn’t want a medication just to help me sleep. I didn’t want to be on Vyvanse, I didn’t want to be on antidepressants. So I took myself off antidepressants, which another thing I want to say, make sure you’re talking to your doctor if you ever take yourself off antidepressants, it’s really important not to just go cold turkey. But I didn’t want to be on all of these things that I was on to ‘help me feel better’. I wanted to know why I needed them in the first place.

Genius Black:

Right. Oh, I love that. And so for you, through the research and through realizations, I would imagine changing some of your behaviors, changing your kind of self nutrition, then you started to see results. So for you, I’m just trying to draw it together, that’s what led you towards the path of working into holistic healing.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, absolutely because I think growing up, we had this idea that I had incredible pediatricians, and I really, really look up to them. But I did have this idea that I could just go to my doctor and get a quick fix, be healed. No worries, it’s totally fine. And it’s great to have that attitude, like I can heal, that’s actually, we’ll talk about that later, is super important to believe you can heal because your body follows your thoughts. But at the same time, thinking that you can just rely on someone else, instead of being your own advocate, especially, especially within the black community, is so important.

Gaby Barboza:

And so when I went to my first naturopathic doctor, I kind of had the same idea, that I was just going to go to them and they were going to heal me, and I was going to be done. But when you heal holistically and you heal from a deep, deep cellar level, it takes a long time sometimes because you’re not just getting a medication that is obliterating your symptoms, you’re truly changing yourself from the inside out at a deep level. And so we have to have patience when we’re healing holistically.

Genius Black:

Wow. So one thing I just want to point out, you definitely just said, you just referenced healing yourself from the inside out, but at a cellar level.

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

There’s a lot of cells in your body, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

And so I’m just thinking, as a listener right now, wrap your head around that. We’re not talking about fighting symptoms, we’re not talking about medication, we’re not talking about healing like your heart, or your left lung. We’re talking about, we were talking on a previous episode about what systemic means, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

That word comes up in a lot of these issues. We’re talking about a systemic level of healing, but internally.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, exactly, exactly.

Genius Black:

Yeah, okay, that’s awesome. Right on, right on. I wanted to also, because you referenced particularly for people that are black, and indigenous, and people of color, that self reliance on your healing, listening to your body, understanding your body, believing that you can heal your body. And of course healing your body, as opposed to relying on let’s say the people who are handed to you as the healers in your life. Because sometimes in our reality, I want to talk a little bit about some of these racial disparities in healing because this is real. And I think that-

Gaby Barboza:

So real.

Genius Black:

And then I noticed that when you were talking to me, you were talking about in terms of health, and then also in terms of yoga. So I want to hear a little bit about that. But I just think that as people of color we often talk about encountering racism, feeling, seeing, knowing, hearing. And there’s a lot of people who want to shut that down. Like, “You guys are just so addicted to always thinking. You’re always thinking about race, you always think it’s about color. Can you stop? If you stop focusing and talking on that, you will find that it gets better.” Right, okay. We know as black folks and as people of color, that shit’s just not real.

Genius Black:

However, I’m glad and I’m honored to have you here to talk about it from the inside out because again, I don’t know, I’m just going to be real. I feel like people just don’t believe us, they just literally don’t believe us when we say, “Yo, my doctor, my therapist, I was talking about how issues of race at my job affect me and they just want to give me a pill and tell me that I was bugging.” But I’m not because they’re not brown like me, and they’re not face… You know what I mean? They just don’t get it. They think that it’s an opinion thing instead of a reality thing. So I would really like to hear a little bit about both your experiences and your knowledge, but just whatever you would like to share about those racial disparities because I know that they are real.

Gaby Barboza:

Right. Yeah, so my first job out of nursing school, I began as a CNA at Maine Medical Center and I worked at Maine Med out of nursing school and finished in the emergency department. And so first of all, people don’t think racism exists in Maine. And as Black Owned Maine just had a post on for my friend, Ronny, his experience. But also, people don’t think that racism exists in Maine hospitals.

Genius Black:

Oh interesting.

Gaby Barboza:

And so I’ve actually had people tell me, “Oh, that would never happen at Maine Med. That would never happen here.” But it does. And so there’s this term called implicit bias, which is basically your subconscious, unconscious biases. So everyone had them, we all have biases, doesn’t matter, black, brown, white. But people have an implicit bias towards black and brown patients in general.

Gaby Barboza:

And so we see in the research that black women, and men, and those that aren’t gendered, anyone that is black, is given less pain medication because they are viewed as tougher. They are viewed as having a higher pain tolerance in the first place. So you’ll see that pain levels, pain ratings in black people is much higher than in white people because nurses, doctors just don’t even think about giving them more pain medication.

Genius Black:

Okay, so I got to say something here. And then I don’t want to throw you off, I want to continue. Please hold onto your train of thought.

Gaby Barboza:

Absolutely.

Genius Black:

But I’ve been in many conversations, I’ve been in debates, I’ve been in arguments. I’ve just even silently witnessed conversations where black and brown people bring, I’m not going to say bring up slavery, they bring up the effects of slavery, right? Which a lot of our America brothers and sisters don’t want to hear anything about slavery. It doesn’t even matter if what you’re saying is real. But I just want to point out that if you really track this back, this belief that black people are stronger, tougher, experience less pain, their bodies are more durable, it didn’t start yesterday.

Gaby Barboza:

Right?

Genius Black:

It didn’t start the week before that, okay? People always want these practical examples and they want to know, “Why do you guys keep bringing up slavery? Uh, just let it go.” Wait, are you telling me to let it go, or are you telling me that my doctor should let it go, in reality? Which one are you telling me? Because for instance, like you said, I went and pain in my chest and they wouldn’t even give me anything, while like legit, and I’m not trying to stereotype people. But there’s this happens who just happens to be addicted to opiates, and I can see that they’re a little worried about this person. They’re giving them meds, I’m just being real, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), totally.

Genius Black:

So I just think it’s interesting some of these examples where people, again, they have this gut reaction against black people always think about race. And they focus on it, and they won’t let it go. But are you actually paying attention to the direct tied in lines that go all the way back to slavery?

Gaby Barboza:

Right, and if we’re looking at the father, I believe he’s the father of gynecology, he experimented on black women without any pain relief, so-

Genius Black:

Wow.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So I mean, it’s well documented.

Genius Black:

Well documented?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

So if you speak from ignorance, telling black folks that we need to forget about slavery, know that you are speaking from ignorance, not from knowledge. We’re not talking about your feelings and what you’re tired of hearing. We’re talking about facts and actual implications. Please continue.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So I mean, on that note, that really is exactly what I’m saying. On that note, multi generational trauma is also very real. So I highly believe in what my ancestors endured in pain and emotions, if they weren’t able to completely heal from that, I am now carrying that until I heal from it. And I will now pass that along to my babies if I don’t heal from it, or at least work on it. And so when we’re looking at pain specifically, the pain and the lack of pain relief that my ancestors went through, I am now taking on. And so it could actually be that the pain tolerance is lower because we went through more pain. And so we need more pain medication than white people.

Genius Black:

Okay, I’m just saying, I’ve never thought about that. But realistically if you can track it back you can come to different conclusions than people automatically jumped to again, just because they’re tired of hearing about it or whatever.

Gaby Barboza:

Right because there’s a lot more trauma that their bodies went through.

Genius Black:

Yeah, I could narrow it down, just start talking about epigenetics and all this kind of stuff, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Right.

Genius Black:

And people don’t want to think about the details. They believe in science until you start scientifically saying, “Hey, we’re still going through some shit. Oh, oh, you don’t want to talk about it any more.” But sure.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, so I mean, just in stats alone and I’m going to make sure that I have them right. So black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth today.

Genius Black:

Three to four times more likely than?

Gaby Barboza:

Than white people.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, so black women have a higher chance of fibroids, which are often not cancerous. But also cause a myriad of symptoms. More likely to have fibroids and cervical cancer. And what this is due to is lack of access and lack of proper prevention, lack of treatment to black people.

Genius Black:

Right.

Gaby Barboza:

Well, I’ll say a couple more and then end on that one. So black children are more likely to die from surgery than white children, today. And if we’re looking at COVID right now, in Maine, as of June 21st, black people had the largest racial disparity gap for COVID. And black populations were 20 times more likely than white populations to have COVID in Maine.

Genius Black:

20 times more likely?

Gaby Barboza:

20 times, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

Wow.

Gaby Barboza:

So when people talk about racism and health disparity not happening in Maine, there’s data. There’s lots of it. Yeah.

Genius Black:

So let me say quickly because I understand sometimes when people listen, they go, “Well, what’s the cause of that?” You know what I mean? “Are you assuming it’s because of racism?” Well, we are inferring some things, and we are also observing, and we’re boiling down information. But again, when you’re willing to actually look at these things and break them down, which many people are not. I’m just going to be honest. They’re going to be ignorant and be reactive. They don’t even want to stop and think, what’s the other-

Gaby Barboza:

Like oh, maybe they’re not being responsible and yeah.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Yeah, obviously that’s a big part of it. Don’t we know that about black people, right? But they don’t think about like, okay, so your mom and grandmother had horrible experiences with white doctors. Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, guys, you guys are listening, are there mad black doctors in Maine? Oh no? Okay, so shut up. So what I’m saying is that, if historically, you’ve been treated a certain way, rightfully so, you react by saying, “Well, those aren’t the people I can trust. Those people seem, I don’t know, like they don’t seem about me.”

Genius Black:

And yeah, sometimes you go to the doctor, I’m not going to make this about the police, but it’s the same thing. People always want to be like, “Oh well, who you going to call when it goes bad?” You do realize you’re asking a brown person, I’m probably not going to call the police when things are going bad. I know you feel safe, right? And I know that your doctor makes you feel okay and accepted. But have you ever considered how that same doctor maybe won’t vibe with me, right? And so over time, there’s nutritional issues, there are monetary issues, and financial things and where people live. All of that leads to, like you said, lack of care. It’s not just because of people being irresponsible with their health, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Right.

Genius Black:

If you were in the same shoes, you wouldn’t go to this person who doesn’t believe what you say when you’re in pain. Why would you keep paying your money or whatever it may be to go to that person who just doesn’t seem to respect you. And then when you go look for black and brown doctors, they’re just not to be found. People don’t consider that, right? But then they hear those stats about black folks and brown folks dying or being… You said it was-

Gaby Barboza:

Diagnosed.

Genius Black:

Diagnosed, not dying, excuse me, which is very different.

Gaby Barboza:

Black women dying three to four times more than white women in childbirth, so yeah.

Genius Black:

Right, which matters. So I’m just saying, I mean, thank you for the statistics. I just want to have people play with that in their mind a little bit. Like the why, it’s what we’re talking about. We’re not just talking about reflectively looking back at the statistics and then judging white people. That’s not the point, the point is what happened? Why is it that way? And you can very quickly come to understand, oh, there’s factors here besides how good the doctor is, or how much the brown person wouldn’t take care of themselves. Those are not the only two factors at play here.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, exactly.

Genius Black:

Right, at your local hospital, by the way.

Gaby Barboza:

Right. Right here.

Genius Black:

Not just far away, stop with that thinking that this is all far away. So I’m still listening.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. No, so that’s really where we’re at and the underlying cause that we always have to get back to, is the communities that are marginalized and oppressed, and that is black and brown communities. And so we have to look at why that is. And I mean, why black and brown communities are the ones living in the lower income areas, that are more heavily populated. So social distancing to them, I mean, come on. How are they going to-

Genius Black:

Distance, how?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, how are they expected to do that. So we have to look really again, systemically and why this is happening. I think it’s also really important to point out, and get away from the stereotype that all black America people are poor. So for what we’re talking about, that is what we’re talking about, but there’s also so many prosperous black and brown people. But when we look at how they got there, they went through way more hurdles and really had to speak up. And at the end of the day, advocate, which is my biggest takeaway and I hope, is what people are hearing is advocating for yourself. And although you shouldn’t have to as much as we do, and that’s what we need to change, like right now you do.

Genius Black:

Yes, but you still have to, even if it’s unfair, even if it’s wrong, or else that’s when you end up with the short side of the stick.

Gaby Barboza:

You’re just on the system, yeah and it’s just happening.

Genius Black:

Can you mention, I mean and only because you had kind of mentioned it to me briefly to me before, you had talked about yoga?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So yoga as in the disparities within yoga?

Genius Black:

With the disparities, yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So, if we’re thinking about the history of yoga, it’s really interesting on how it got to the western world. So one of the people that brought it over to The United States, her name was Indra Devi. And she came over, she studied in India. She was a female and originally was denied to even study because yoga was a man’s world. Yoga started with 12-year-old little boys and that’s why a lot of the postures don’t take into account women’s hips in general. So she brought it over and she started teaching to white, wealthy women in Hollywood.

Gaby Barboza:

So basically housewives in Hollywood. And so it completely transformed from Indian culture and just the roots, it’s not just Indian, but just the roots of yoga in general, to white, wealthy women. And if we think about it now, if you look at… I mean, since June there’s a lot that’s changing in the yoga community. But if we look at who is doing yoga, especially on social media, you see a lot of thin, and I always like to say there’s nothing wrong with thin people. I think body shaming in all ways is wrong. But what you see is a lot of thin, white, young women.

Genius Black:

Yeah, we rock with thin, white women, whatever. I just want to be clear because again, I know how people take these things in. We are not speaking against white people, thin people, thin, white people. We’re simply observationally saying that when things were brought over from a foreign nation, and that’s what it was kind of this where it was planted here. And so you see culturally, those kind of vines, and roots, and things going out. And those communities are still central years, and years, and years later. That’s more observational. Yes, maybe we’re talking about some ways in which that is problematic, but keep your eyes and ears open, right? The point we’re making isn’t against any of those people. We’re keeping it real.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, and they’re some of our biggest allies. So there’s nothing wrong, I just always want to speak to that, to make sure it’s not feeling. So in the yoga community, over the years, something called spiritual bypassing started to happen. Basically what that means, I’m actually going to read the actual definition from a book. It’s called Toward a Psychology of Awakening. So spiritual bypassing is using spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional, unfinished business to store up a shaky sense of self or belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks with a goal of enlightenment.

Gaby Barboza:

So basically what that means is, I’m sorry that I did this or I said this, let’s just go on the topic of this racist comment. But you need to look within myself and see that I am an enlightened human, and it’s okay because I am still a good person. So it’s completely undermining an emotion, and an experience of a collective group of people and using yoga as a way to get out of the emotions and the feelings. Instead of using yoga to truly look at them. I can say that my greatest emotions and my greatest kind of epiphanies have come within my yoga practice, it’s not because I stopped thinking about my emotions.

Genius Black:

That’s actually really powerful. We were chatting earlier, just the folks at Black Owned Maine in general, about cultural appropriation and what does that mean? And what is not? And just some of the fringes, and edges, and like even something that we were all considering ourselves, like even something that we were all considering ourselves, like… Like should we do that? Because I think you got to have those talks, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Of course, yeah.

Genius Black:

That’s real. But part of what you’re saying is, and I’ve seen it, you’ve got these decent people or whatnot, or whatever, and they practice yoga, and they feel like they’re centered, and there’s these ways it helps your body, and your chakras, and all this. But it’s like, “Yo, you still fucked up. Like I hear what you be saying, right? I see who you talk to, who you’re real uncomfortable around. Like… I’m not sure the yoga’s doing for you what you think it is. But I’m sure it’s doing something.”

Gaby Barboza:

Of course. It’s become a very selfish practice.

Genius Black:

Wow.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

I’m just saying, I never really thought about it. But now that you said, I’m like no, no, I’ve actually seen this for years.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah and when you think about it and you think about these people that are super just at peace with everything, everything’s fine.

Genius Black:

Everything’s good, yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. Well, that’s extremely selfish because that’s actually not true. But it’s important to find peace within yourself, but it’s also important to keep a stance on social justice and realize that things are happening around you, and you have to stick up for it.

Genius Black:

So you just said two things I think are critical. Keep a stance, which means pick a side, right? And then you’re talking about acting, like doing something, standing up. And I just want to quickly say, I’ve been recently kind of chatting online with some people that I know from when I grew up in Texas. And one of them, my charges to them was like, “Yo, stop with your toxic positivity.” I know-

Gaby Barboza:

That’s spiritual bypassing. That’s literally, yeah. Exactly.

Genius Black:

I know that you think that being utmostly positive at all times is the key to love and life moving forward, getting over racism, sexism, everything, right? Wrong. And the example I gave was a black or brown person gets murdered in the street, two states over from you and everyone sees the video. And then when people are online talking about it, you jump in and say, “Stop being so negative, it’s not always about race, right? We need to focus on love and unity.”

Genius Black:

And you’re literally interrupting their mourning, and their grief, and the processes that have to happen for people to be okay in terms of mental health, and spiritual health. You’re jumping in and forcing positivity as that’s the fix. We don’t know what’s going on. Your level of positivity is actually what we need in the midst of mourning, that is toxic, that is painful, that is abusive. But they feel like they’re so grounded and they’re so positive, that they’re not going to let this bring them down.

Gaby Barboza:

It’s easier, it’s easier, you.

Genius Black:

It’s way easier, believe it or not, to stay adamantly positive no matter what happens. But it’s very disrespectful to the groups of people that it’s happening to.

Gaby Barboza:

Right.

Genius Black:

So toxic positivity is real, chill with that. It’s all right, we ain’t going to let it keep happening. Yeah, don’t worry. Don’t worry, we’ll help you chill with it. But anyway-

Gaby Barboza:

And when you think about it, so when you’re being positive all the time and everything is great, you’re really repressing those emotions. So I don’t know anyone that looked at that video of George Floyd’s murder and didn’t have an emotional response. I mean, if they did, we don’t have to talk about anyone that hadn’t-

Genius Black:

There’s something else going on, right? Yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, that’s another conversation.

Genius Black:

Got you.

Gaby Barboza:

But when you’re repressing that and you’re not identifying like wow, this really charged something in me, you’re repressing it and then some time down the line whether it’s tomorrow or in 10 years, it’s going to come back up because it’s going to knock at your door and your body. And so that’s a huge thing, is when we talk about stress and all of that, is identifying those emotions and not saying that, “Oh, I’m not stressed, I’m fine. I just feel a little anxious.” You can say, “I have stress and this might be why.” And kind of writing that down and not repressing emotions. I don’t think that’s healing, yeah.

Genius Black:

I’m there with you. Okay. So, Gaby, what you were talking about that stuck with me, is realistically, kind of not just the reality of the racial disparities in healthcare, in the yoga community. We talked about kind of why they are there, where they came from, at least some of them. And kind of how it’s played out in some ways. Obviously part of what I get from that is that in black and brown communities there’s just an increased level of stress, probably anxiety surrounding these realities. And what I want to talk about for a second is some of the ways that you’ve mentioned to me, and that you know of, to kind of escape that place, right? To kind of take more control over your health and wellness, holistically.

Gaby Barboza:

Right. Yeah, so part of and what we were talking about is making sure your not identifying with the emotions, but recognizing them. And so it’s really important to name them and realize that all stress is bad. What ends up being, I mean, as humans, we are innately meant to have stress responses. But when we are stuck in that stress, fight or flight response, that’s when sickness and chronic illness happens.

Genius Black:

When you’re stuck in fight or flight?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), so if you think of like we’re always like wheels turning. In our society, we’re like, “Get up, okay, what are we doing today? What’s the agenda?” And then we have all of these things coming in, especially with our phones and just so many beautiful things of technology, but also how do we turn off from it a little bit? And so stress within black communities especially is important because we know that black and brown people, like we’ve been talking about, are at an increased risk of stress, anxiety, feelings of not feeling safe.

Gaby Barboza:

And so if you can view stress as separate from you. Like I am not stressed, I have stress. Stress is something that happens in my life, but I am not identifying with stress. So it doesn’t become part of your identity, basically. And so some things to get out of fight or flight, the very first step is believing that you can get out of it. And I do the same thing, when we’re in the current state of stress, we’re like, “How could I ever not feel this way? This is so normal. I’ve always felt this way.”

Genius Black:

Because you feel overwhelmed, and inundated.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

Can you quickly just talk about what is, I understand fight or flight being your response, just describe that quickly because we’re talking about how to get out of it. I just want to make sure, maybe some people don’t know.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for saying that. And so basically where it starts, is in the nervous system we have a sympathetic nervous system and a parasympathetic nervous system. So your sympathetic nervous system is that fight or flight response. So back when we were hunting our food, basically, when we were approached, when we had to run and hunt, that was the sympathetic nervous system. And that’s usually, typically the only time that, that would engage. So, that’s when the cortisol is pumping. That’s when the adrenalin is pumping, that’s when we are just focused. Our digestion gets thrown to the wayside because we are focused on the task at hand.

Genius Black:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s a natural response. Certain hormones get flooded, your body stops digesting, you’re ready for something.

Gaby Barboza:

Right and there’s no sense of sleep in sight. You are not resting. On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is the rest and digest, which is the body calming down. So that’s when we, usually, when we’re eating, we’re supposed to be in that state. But if you think about it, our society, we’re eating in the car, we’re eating on the go, we’re eating around our phone, we’re watching TV. So just those small activities are impeding our digestion. And so we always want, depending on your activity, you want to be in the state that we’re meant to be in. And so when you’re working out, you’re running, you want that adrenalin, it’s important.

Genius Black:

Right, get heightened.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, exactly. Like when you’re getting ready for a big performance, you want a little bit of that to get you-

Genius Black:

Right, that’s how you attune in awareness, you’re ready to go. You’re not worried about feeling hungry, you don’t feel that.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, definitely and that’s why when you think about it, when you get stage fright or something like that, the last you’re going to do is eat because you don’t-

Genius Black:

Correct because you’re going to throw up. But anyways, yeah-

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, exactly. And so it’s really important to distinguish the two, so I’m glad you asked that question and understand that neither are necessarily good or bad. It’s just that they have a time and a place.

Genius Black:

Yes and you were talking about, okay, so some of the ways to get out of fight of flight because people end up stuck there, it sounds like.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, absolutely. And that’s what leads to chronic illness. And so, one of the first things we can do and I would say, the most important thing is optimizing your sleep. And so sleep is really where we regenerate, it’s where our liver detoxes. It is so important to sleep, to rest your body. Not just to feel rested in the morning, but because your body goes through multiple again, deep cellar processes while you’re sleeping.

Gaby Barboza:

So if you’re not sleeping enough and you’re not getting deep sleep, I don’t know want to say you can count on, but you might feel good for the next day because you’re running on adrenalin. And so that’s why some people say, “Oh, I can go two hours sleeping and I’ll be fine, and the next day I’m fine.” But it’s because you’re running on adrenalin. And we don’t want to be running on adrenalin. And so, one of the big things that I do for my sleep and people think I’m crazy, is I tape my mouth shut at night. But yeah, it’s really weird when you think about it. But my sleep has deepened incredibly from it.

Genius Black:

Can you tell me a little bit about that because I mean, just beyond the image because I’m like yo, this is… Is this a scary movie, or yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, for sure, for sure. When I first-

Genius Black:

What kind of tape? No, nevermind.

Gaby Barboza:

No, seriously, I can tell you what kind of tape, that’s important. It’s not duct tape. And so what you do is, you get a tiny piece of medical tape and you do it from top to bottom and that seals your lips shut. It basically is just training your body to breathe through your nose. And when you breathe through your nose you initiate, and you activate, and you perpetuate the parasympathetic, so the rest and digest system. So if you think about people that have sleep apnea, they’re breathing through their mouth, they’re drooling. Their sleep is horrible until they can figure out how to retrain that sleep.

Genius Black:

Yeah and it brings their life down overall.

Gaby Barboza:

Exactly, you’re exhausted.

Genius Black:

That’s interesting. Yeah, wow.

Gaby Barboza:

And so the mouth taping is free, I love free medicine. I mean, it’s a little bit of tape. So super cheap, super cheap.

Genius Black:

You got to buy the tape though, or borrow some tape, it’s good.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, borrow some tape. Honestly, look in your first aid kit, you probably have some. And so once you do that, you increase your nitric oxide, which you can look at the benefits of that. We could get all into nitric oxide, but there’s a ton of benefits of it. And it helps reduce snoring, if it’s originating in the mouth. Sometimes people have nasal snoring, which is different. And so it just gets you into the deep sleep. So sleep, I would say, is probably one of the most important things.

Gaby Barboza:

Other ways to help your sleep is to get early morning sun in your eyes. So morning sun, it doesn’t need to be 5:00 AM. I mean, it would be amazing if you were up at sunrise. But I try to be realistic. So early morning sun actually starts the production of melatonin. And so we always hear people taking melatonin, which can be really, really good for people. A lot of people need it at night. But if we can get ourselves, again, getting to that root cause, to produce our own melatonin. One of the things is getting the sun in your eyes in the morning, which is really interesting. Another thing is dimming your lights. So think about our ancestry before electricity.

Genius Black:

Sure.

Gaby Barboza:

They got up with the sunrise, went to bed with the sunset. It’s not as realistic in our society today. We’re not going to go to bed at 7:00 PM in the winter. But if you decrease your lights, it’s also not always realistic to not be on your phone, so I try not to tell people, “Oh, stop being on your phone at sunset.” Our society kind of dictates otherwise and so-

Genius Black:

See, this is the perfect time to post to IG, what do you mean?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, exactly. So it’s like what? Google told me I’ll get the most responses.

Genius Black:

Because Google knows when you need sleep. Man.

Gaby Barboza:

For sure. And so something I do because just with past traumatic experiences, I feel a little anxious sometimes if I have my phone on silent and so I always check it. So I’m always like, “Okay, is there a text? Is there a call? Has something happened?” And so what you can do is just put your phone on loud, especially if you’re home, just put your ringer on. And then you won’t have to worry about checking it. If that speaks to you, if it doesn’t, put on silent and put it in the closet, it’s amazing.

Gaby Barboza:

Put it on airplane mode. Airplane mode at night is amazing because it’s not emitting any of the magnetic rays that are going to disrupt your sleep. So a lot of people sleep with their phone next to their head. There’s actually research that, that can lead to tumors. And so if you can, charge your phone either in another room or away from the head of the bed. That increases your sleep quality incredibly. And so that is on sleep. The other things-

Genius Black:

Can I just-

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, of course.

Genius Black:

I want to interject real quick because first of all, this is super dope. Yes, we’re talking about how certain people can be kind of shoved into this permanent fight or flight, we’re talking about black and brown people and what it’s like to kind of maneuver through western medicine and the doctors in this neighborhood, my neighborhood, your neighborhood, all the neighborhoods. But obviously if you’re paying attention, you recognize that this is advice for all y’all, everybody. Black, white, brown, everything, doesn’t matter size, shape. Literally, take this in for what it is. We’re talking about holistic healing. This deep cellular healing that we’re talking about. And humans benefit from this, just want to say that.

Gaby Barboza:

All humans, exactly. And so wherever you’re at, I always provide, not advice, but just pointers for anyone. No matter their income level or anything. So something, if you do want to spend money, is blue light blockers. So you can, for free, you can put your phone dark mode. But you can also get blue light blockers, which I always have on. They’re yellow at night and that’s if I am on my phone, it’s stopping the… If you notice, you’ll get a little sleepy, but then you look at your phone and you’re awake because that is just triggering the brain to be on.

Genius Black:

Yeah, so I have a question. You notice my glasses are blue?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

My glasses are always blue. People is always like, “Yo, are those shades?” I be like, “I’m not that cool. These are actually prescription glasses. I just like them to be blue.” And so I don’t know, everyone thinks that I just wear shades all day. But is it like killing my sleep by always having these blue lenses on?

Gaby Barboza:

No. I mean, I don’t know enough on the exact lenses. But I would say if anything, it’s darkening, does it feel darker?

Genius Black:

Oh yeah. They definitely work like shades.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So if anything, in the morning you just want some time without them because you want to be exposed to the light in the daytime. But in the nighttime you don’t. So the yellow lenses are really, to my understanding, is blocking the blue light.

Genius Black:

Okay, sorry, that was definitely a very selfish question. I was just like, “I’m going to ask in case she knows.” Yeah-

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, we’ll have to look more on the blue specifically.

Genius Black:

Okay, we’ll research it. Cool, cool.

Gaby Barboza:

So yeah, so we talked about stress. The other thing is nutrition. And so if you think about food, there’s this old saying that you are what you eat. And I never am on a food shaming pathway. I think in my original journey, I had a lot of shame around food myself because I was like, “Well, I’m only going to eat this now and I’m never going to eat that.” And all of these things. But that again, is not realistic. And so never food shaming, I want that to be on the forefront. But if you think about the food you’re eating as what, again, is literally regenerating yourself.

Gaby Barboza:

So the things that you put in, the nutrition that you put in is what your body is responding to. So if it’s only eating sugar and processed foods, then that’s what your body is made of. No wonder I was exhausted growing up, I literally grew up on Ring Dings. That’s what I wanted to eat, no matter if my mom put a vegetable in front of me or not. I went home and I ate my frozen Devil Dog, and my pasta, and all these things. And so, if I think about why I was so exhausted and depressed, no wonder. I literally, that’s what I was eating. I was causing a blood sugar crash in my body. And it makes sense and so food. Sleep, stress, food.

Genius Black:

When you hear someone who understands, talk about it. You’re like, “Oh yeah, that right. I remember, that week it was rough. I didn’t feel good, but I just kept eating crap.”

Gaby Barboza:

And that’s a response, to keep eating it. Yeah. Yeah.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Yeah and you don’t feel any better. And you’re like… What do I do?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s very real.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah and then when you start optimizing your nutrition, and you start eating vegetables, a lot of people get frustrated because they get bloated. And they’re like, “I can’t eat vegetables because I don’t feel good after.”

Genius Black:

What is my body doing?

Gaby Barboza:

Exactly and it’s because your body’s not used to that much fiber. So I urge people just to give it time. It took me a good amount of time, you can ask my family. I used to go to restaurants and eat like two things because I just wouldn’t feel good. And all my vegetables I would cook and I still usually do because cooked foods are easier to digest and so don’t get discouraged-

Genius Black:

But they do have less vitamins and stuff too though.

Gaby Barboza:

Stuff happens. Yeah, when you’re cooking there’s better ways than others. Like if you’re just searing it, like high temperature baking it, then it’s not as great as steaming, which won’t release as much… And then if you are boiling something, the water is actually super nutritious because it’s coming out into the water. Yeah.

Genius Black:

Get your knowledge up, okay.

Gaby Barboza:

So it’s really important in the holistic healing field to not get discouraged the first week you’re doing something because it just takes time again to have your body adapt and remember, “Oh wow, yeah. I know how to digest that. That’s what I want.”

Genius Black:

Well and because my mind goes back the kind of intercellular healing. We’re not talking about blowing your nose to get something out of your nasal cavity. I mean, for real, the cells that literally make up your body, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Right.

Genius Black:

You’re talking about a process that actually affects the inside of those as they already are. So obviously, a week of some gas or bloating might throw you off and it might feel weird. But you have to understand what you’re really going for, yeah. I dig that.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, and then in turn, that’s what is influencing your hormones. A lot of people have thyroid issues, but if you think about it, what are you feeding your thyroid? If you’re feeding it sugar every day all day, then it’s probably going to be a little sluggish. And so just empowering yourself to think about the free medicine, low cost medicine that we talk about and why. Not just because I think that our society is… Yeah, of course we shouldn’t eat sugar, but why? And so once you know the why, you can really implement it.

Genius Black:

Absolutely, absolutely. Do you have any other tips or focus points? Because I’m hella curious.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So I think I have a bunch and I wrote them down, so I wouldn’t forget them. But I’m starting nutrition school in I think, in a week and a half. And so I’ll have a bunch more too, once I continue-

Genius Black:

No, we might have to have you back on, just because we’re talking about holistic, right? So for some people some things are going to make sense than others, just realistically, whether it be their life flow, they have kids, or they’re single, or they travel, or whatever. So I think that would be interesting, to have you back on, to like just kind of help expand it out a bit because at Black Owned Maine, hence anyone who’s been following us and the whole idea of don’t talk, act, it’s really about action. So if you can give people more actions, more behaviors they can change or examine, and give them awareness. I think that’s very valuable. So I’d say maybe we do like one or two more and then we can move on to the meditation.

Gaby Barboza:

The meditation, okay. Yeah.

Genius Black:

I’m excited for that.

Gaby Barboza:

Let me look. Okay, so I’ll do two more.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Gaby Barboza:

If people aren’t familiar with the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen, it’s a great way to figure out what you should buy organic.

Genius Black:

I love the name of it. Go ahead, because I don’t know about that.

Gaby Barboza:

Okay great. Yeah, so-

Genius Black:

The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, so-

Genius Black:

It’s a movie or a band. Okay.

Gaby Barboza:

I believe it’s the Environmental Working Group and they put out every year, the Clean Fifteen, which is the vegetables that even when grown conventionally and not organically, they have the lowest amount of pesticides. And so typically, the fruits and vegetables with a thicker skin can withstand because you’re taking the skin off anyway. And so the pesticide might be on the skin, but you’re not ingesting as much. The Dirty Dozen is the fruits and vegetables that ideally, you’re always buying organic because they have a thin skin or you eat the skin, and so you’re ingesting those pesticides, which is a whole other podcast about what pesticides do to you.

Genius Black:

But there’s like a rule of thumb, what you’re saying is like these things can kind of be your go-tos or not.

Gaby Barboza:

Right and that helps the budget because you’re like, “Well, if I can’t buy all organic,” then you can kind of look at what is important and what necessarily could be better. Another thing you can do with those foods, is most people have baking soda in their house, you can put it in a wash of baking soda. So put your fruits and vegetables, you get home, put it in a huge bowl of baking soda. If you have apple cider vinegar, that’s amazing too. So both of those together, and it’s been shown to take off the pesticides. So yeah, those are two things you can do. And then another way to save money when you’re buying fruits and vegetables is buying frozen isn’t bad. So typically like organic frozen food is frozen at peak freshness, and so it’s actually super nutritious because they’re not going to freeze rotten vegetables. So you know that it was really good food at the time it was frozen.

Genius Black:

I actually was reading a book about self discipline. But this one guy, he said a lot of things where I was like, “Man, I don’t know about that, bro.” But he did say that he’s a big fan of buying like mad, fresh berries of different sorts, strawberries, blueberries. And then he just freezes most of them because then you can make smoothies for like weeks, like you said.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, freeze kale.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and you get it at the perfect time and then you freeze it and it kind of gets well, frozen at that. And then when you go ahead and you mix it up, or use your food processor, or your blender, or whatever you’re using, because I mean, who cares if it’s frozen if you’re just going to… to it anyway, right?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Genius Black:

So I just, I think that vibes with what you’re saying. You can buy the stuff frozen or you can buy it fresh and then freeze it yourself. Either way, be empowered, but know that you’re getting those vitamins and you know what I mean?

Gaby Barboza:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

And also, you’re not boiling it or cooking it, you’re just eating it as is.

Gaby Barboza:

Right.

Genius Black:

Yeah, that’s cool.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, yeah. Exactly, exactly. So yeah, I would say I have ton more, but those things that I would prioritize.

Genius Black:

Sweet. Okay, we’re going to have her back because I know y’all want to hear the ton more, but not right now. Right now what we’re going to do is move forward because we’re talking about holistic healing, and we’re talking about how just people in general can, I don’t know it can be tough to deal with our kind of medical industry, and all the drugs, and all the lobbyists. And just all the stuff that they make happen that don’t help us, honestly, or that I mean, keep us sick. But one of the things that we also were talking about is meditation. And we’re talking about how to get your mind out of fight or flight and how to get yourself into a good mental, and some people would say a spiritual space. So I’m going to let you take over and you can kind of introduce and do whatever you want. I’m trying to use my calmer voice because I’m always used to hype, so much hype. But I’m calm right now, and I’m going to get calmer.

Gaby Barboza:

Perfect. Okay. So I first just want to point out that meditation and deep breathing can be a little uncomfortable, and that’s a normal feeling. And so go into knowing that what comes up is normal, always. And so help yourself to be the most comfortable you can right now. We’re sitting up, but if you can, get into comfortable clothing, if you’re not already. I mean, unbutton your pants if you have to, just so you can be comfortable. Try not to be restricted, yeah.

Genius Black:

You can pause this too. You could pause this right now. That was a natural break I just gave you to pause and then you can come back with comfy clothes. You got comfy clothes on now, we’re good.

Gaby Barboza:

Super important. Okay, we’re here. And so lay down if that’s comfortable to you and just get in a quiet space. And if that’s not possible, that’s okay. Just maybe put some headphones in and just get in a comfortable spot. And so let’s just start by taking a really big, deep belly breath. Try not to start in the chest, start in the belly. And so let’s just do one right now. And you can decide to breathe out of your nose, or breathe out of your mouth, whichever is comfortable to you. But if you can, try to inhale through your nose. Let’s do another one, and exhale. So we’re going to do two more, inhale, exhale. One more, inhale. So really take up space with your breath. Don’t be ashamed of your breathing. The louder and deeper you can breathe, the better, often.

Gaby Barboza:

So just try to breathe, when we’re going through this, in a cyclical manner, so that there’s no end point. And so you’re not coming to a point in this specific meditation, to a point of breathlessness. You’re just always deep breathing, and exhaling, and deep breathing, and exhaling. And that can kind of keep you in that rhythm, instead of having an end point. So what we’ll do is, we’ll start to really tune into our surroundings, the things that you hear, the way that your body feels right now. If there’s any tension anywhere in your body, and if there isn’t, that’s great. Just really think about it.

Gaby Barboza:

Think about the emotions that are coming up. What are they attached to? And you don’t have to empty your mind, I think it’s really important to know you don’t have to empty your mind. You’re just observing at this point. You’re observing the emotions, you’re observing maybe where they came from. You’re not being super analytical, but you’re just kind of looking at them, like they’re kind of outside of your body. And so just start to do that. I’m going to give you some time, just kind of observe what’s coming up and maybe nothing’s coming up. Nothing has to come up. But just breathe into it. So you can inhale and exhale. Great and we’re going to do a body scan.

Gaby Barboza:

So start to think about your feet. We often forget about our feet, they carry us through life, they hold a lot of stress. When we massage our feet, we realize how much stress they actually hold. So start to think about them and if they feel tense at all, if they don’t feel tense, that’s fine. And kind of splay them out, so if you’re laying down, just splay them out, release the tension of keeping them in a straight line. And breathe in and release, and relax into them. Traveling up, start to think about your ankles.

Gaby Barboza:

So your left ankle, what’s your left ankle doing? Think about any tension that it might be holding and release it on your exhale. Think about your right ankle. You have two ankles and they’re different. So think about the right one now, inhale and exhale. And you’re welcome to stay at any point of your body that you feel like you need to focus on. And I’m going to move on, but don’t feel like you have to move on with me. And so think about your calves, your left calf, what is it doing? What is it feeling like? Release the tension, release the grip of the muscle, and release it as you exhale.

Gaby Barboza:

Think of the right calf, what’s the right calf doing? Any tension that it’s associated with? Release and exhale. Think about your knees. Your knees hold a lot of weight and they’re very strong, even though we tend to tell them that they’re not, they are. They hold a lot of our body weight and so breathe into the left knee and exhale any tension away. And breathe into your right knee and exhale any tension away. And again, you can stay there or you can move on with us. So we’re going to move to the left thigh.

Gaby Barboza:

So from the knee to the hip area, that’s what we’re focusing on, on the left side. Breathe into the left thigh, and exhale to release. Breathe into the right thigh, and exhale to release. And now we’ll move to the hips. And so you can just keep breathing that cyclical breath, it doesn’t need to be when I’m saying inhale and exhale, it’s just a cue. So we’ll think about the hips, we’ll think about the left side of the hip. And breathe into it and exhale. And you can touch this part of your body to really get connected with it.

Genius Black:

Yeah, I had that urge, but I was like, “Don’t just grab your hip, bro.”

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah, absolutely. Do it, please. Yeah. It helps see that mind body connection. Yeah, absolutely. So hold onto your hips, you can hold onto both of them or put both hands on your left side and breathe into it as you inhale and exhale, release any tension. So your hips actually store your emotion, so if you’re feeling tight in the hips, you might have some emotion that you need to come to face with-

Genius Black:

It’s getting real, yo. Yeah.

Gaby Barboza:

So breathe into the right hip, inhale and exhale. Again, you can choose to stay here or move with us. So we’re going to move to the abdomen. And so this is a big part of the body that holds some tension because of our society. So we’re taught to suck in our bellies and keep it tight. But I want you to make your belly as big as you’ve ever had it. And so when you breathe in, breathe into your belly and really expand it and then exhale, knowing that it’s okay to have a big belly. You don’t always have to keep it tight and toned. So let’s focus on the belly for a little while, just because I feel like that’s an area that we often don’t think about. So just keep breathing in and exhaling into it.

Gaby Barboza:

And some people are going to say, “Well, I think about it a lot because it’s uncomfortable for me.” And I can resonate with that, so that’s why you can focus on it. Breathe into your belly, exhale. Now, I’ll let you do two more on your own. All right, and if you’re ready, we’ll move onto the fingers and the hands. So just knowing that our hands do a lot for us too. So breathing into the left hand and each individual finger on that side. Then breathing into the right hand, each individual finger on that side. And then the left arm, you know what to do at this point, and the right arm.

Genius Black:

Gaby?

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

As we’re going gently through the body, I want to remind people that if it feels weird, if there’s soreness in that part of your body, if there’s tension, focus on letting it go. If thoughts come into your mind, it’s okay if they come. Also, let them go. They’re passing through, just like the tension comes and goes. Nothing has to throw you off, it’s your body, let it be.

Gaby Barboza:

Normal for this to be uncomfortable sometimes and so you can just be the observer of that and not attach onto it. So let’s move to the chest, which is a huge area of constriction, if you think about our society. We’re often hunching over and if you think about the energetics of that, it’s kind of to protect yourself, and to protect your heart space and your chest. And so it’s really important to work, to opening up your chest. And so we’ll spend some time on the chest here. And just expand and still breathing into your belly, but focusing on your chest. I’ll let you do two more on your own here.

Gaby Barboza:

I’ll talk about the shoulders, and so the shoulders carry a lot of weight, especially if we have a lot on our minds and on our plate. The shoulders kind of take that weight and then in turn, connect to the chest and have us get into that slouching, protection mode. And so expand the shoulders and come into your power really. Shoulders are really powerful and they don’t have to be an area of burden. And so open them up again, and breathe into them and exhale. One more here, exhale. And then focus on your throat. So that’s where the throat chakra lies and I haven’t talked much about chakras here.

Gaby Barboza:

But I’ll introduce throat chakra as your communication, using your voice and so we’re often, especially in the black and brown community, taught to be small, and not use our voice, and not stick up for ourselves, and advocate. And so really come into that power of using your throat and using your voice, and unapologetically. And so breathe into your throat, like your exhale is just going to be a loud scream. And if you want to yell, you can. If you don’t, that’s totally fine. But just come into that and really focus on the throat as an area of power as well. So breathe into it and exhale. Breathe in again, and exhale.

Gaby Barboza:

Moving up to the jaw. The jaw holds a lot and if you relate it to when we were talking about sleep, a lot of people grind their teeth at night. And so let’s really sit and move the jaw around, and just allow it to sit in space. Clenching is a innate response and it’s normal. But we can also work to release that. So breathe into the jaw and exhale to release it. And then moving up to the cheeks, and the nose area, and even the eyes. And so just start to soften them. Many of us have this furrow, and I definitely do. But this furrow between our eyes, especially when we’re stressed.

Gaby Barboza:

And so if we can release that furrow, allow our eyes just to be within the sockets and our eyebrows to just be sitting on our face, instead of clenching in, then we can release that stress that we hold in our face. And so breathe into that and exhale, and then we’re just going to think of the top of our head. And so above our head is the crown chakra and just think of that space that your energy radiates beyond what your body is taking up. So we’re energetic beings in a physical world and so we’re actually much taller than we think we are. And that is just your guardian, and so think about that space above you, as always yours.

Gaby Barboza:

So again, you can take up more space than you usually think you need to because that is ultimately your space and so breathe into that and exhale. And as you exhale, it’s not getting smaller, it’s just getting more personal to you. And now I’ll invite you to either focus on one spot that you still feel that you could use some love too, or just think about your entire body as one. And you can start at that one spot and the next breath will be your whole body, but just whatever is calling to you, even a place that feels good.

Gaby Barboza:

So you don’t have to always focus on the tension. You can focus on somewhere that feels really relaxed and really dive into that. So breathe in and we’ll breathe out. Then either shift that focus or stay the same. Breathe in and breathe out. So you can just keep doing that cyclical breathing and start to move your fingers, and your feet, and just kind of awakening back up into the body. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes and if you feel called, you can journal on how you’re feeling and look back at it the next time you do a meditation. But that’s all, yeah.

Genius Black:

Thank you. I enjoyed that. I think, I’m sure that people listening, who chose to participate, feel aware of themselves right now. I really appreciated the point you were making about what people refer to as the crown chakra and how your energy, it’s taller than you are. And you reminded me of this moment during the craziest part of the lockdown, and different things we’re in, and I had been working with Rose, and Black Owned Maine was literally blowing up, like something that I had never witnessed. And I had been crying a lot and having a lot of emotions. And my kids saw me, like for real, this was a really intense time and all the support was overwhelming.

Genius Black:

And I remember at one point, I had been having some good stuff happen with my music and I think my friend, Karen Jerzyk, she’s this amazing artist photographer, she had just hit me up. And all these things, and I was just so happy and grateful. And I remember standing in this room and the only way I could explain to someone, is that I was taller than the actual building that I was in. I knew it to be true, was no faking, no frou-frou. I’m standing here and I’m aware of my body, I am literally, not taller than the room, taller than the building. I felt it, right? And there was all these things that were hidden from me at the same time. So kind of gave me goose bumps when you said that. I was like, “Oh, snap. That whole energy flow, you can become aware of it in a moment.” And I would imagine, the more you meditate and the more you pay attention, the more aware you are, we’ll say, of your actual height.

Gaby Barboza:

Right, exactly. And so you were taller than the building and so that is your energy field. And some people see colors in the energy field. And so when you can tap into that and realize this isn’t just my imagination, I actually am this tall. I actually am this powerful. That is super, it helps you feel, not only normalize it, but just show you.

Genius Black:

Yeah, wow. All right, I’m going to sit with that some more later.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

So what we’re going to do is kind of wrap up. I’m not going to get hyped at the end like I always do. I’m going to stay calm. Could you let our listeners know where they can find you, for your social media, online, as well as anything they could do to support you and what you do for business. I think people might be interested in that.

Gaby Barboza:

Yeah. So my Instagram is livelyandwell1_ but if you just type in livelyandwell, or Gaby Barboza, it should come up. And so right now like I said, I’m going to nutrition school in a couple of weeks and starting and so I’ll be able to see people one-on-one. But right now my purpose and my passion, and it will always be, is to provide free education and have a really authentic following on my social media. And so just have it be like a community of people, rather than like thousands, and maybe one day I will have more. But I just want it to be a really authentic community, that can reach out to me.

Gaby Barboza:

So I just offer people to reach out over DM and just tell me things that they want to learn and I’m happy to make posts on anything like that. I do work for a naturopathic doctor in Portland. Her name is Dr. Corina Dunlap and so that is where my current practice is. And then once I graduate in July, I’ll be able to take on my clients, under her and under my own business. And so basically just supporting me by following my journey. I just also got my yoga certification, so I’ll be offering free yoga classes. And ultimately, I would love to start a fund that people can donate to, that I can offer reiki, and yoga, and different services to underprivileged people. And so that will be coming, there’s a lot coming down the line. I don’t have a website yet, but that’s coming as well.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Well and we’re always kind of like evolving and changing, so it’s awesome. Thank you for letting us know what’s coming, as well as kind of where people can find you now. Thank you also for taking the time to come here and just converse with us openly and freely. I really appreciate that and I know that the listeners do as well. I would say also, keep in mind, you are listening to an episode of the Black Owned Maine Podcast. I will share with you because I know you’re curious, that we are looking for sponsors.

Genius Black:

You have the ability to step into this spot, instead of me talking about us, I could be talking about you as one of our sponsors. We’re looking for people to sponsor the entire podcast as a whole, or you can actually sponsor just a single episode. That’s up to you, and we can talk about that. You can reach out to us at blackownedmaine@gmail.com. Also, know that you can find us on our Instagram, which blackownedmaine, you can find us on Facebook at blackownedmaine, as well as on Twitter at blackownedmaine. I think you got that. So we’re going to sign off and believe me, we’re going to bring you more vibes and blessings from Black Owned Maine.

2021-03-08T19:56:05-05:00March 8th, 2021|Podcast transcription|

IT’S UP TO US TO THRIVE FT THEARTIST MITCHELL TRANSCRIPT

Genius Black:

Vibes and blessings from Black Owned Maine. Got another episode for you of the Black Owned Maine podcast. I’ll introduce you to our guests very shortly. However, I want to start with two things. One, I want you to be aware, keep in mind that if you learn from what we talk about, and if you enjoy what we talk about, and if this becomes part of your larger conversation, you should consider donating to Black Owned Maine podcast. You can definitely hit us up at blackownedmaine.com to do so. That being said, number two thing I want to share with you today is that I do have my partner here, the co-creator as well as the founder of Black Owned Maine, who’s going to put her voice on the mic and be part of our conversation. Shout out Rose

Rose Barboza:

What’s up everybody. I’m just here coming on the podcast. Some people have been asking why they don’t hear my voice, here’s my voice.

Genius Black:

Boom. That was the voice. So that being said, we’re going to have a cool conversation for you today. And I also want to take a moment here. I want to welcome someone who works as an artist in our community, an activists, an indigenous woman, and soon to be a mother, shout out the artists Mitchell.

Mitch:

Hey everyone.

Genius Black:

Y’all see how it’s rolling. So on this episode you got Genius Black, you got the artists Mitchell and you got Rose of BOM. So as Mitchell is here with us, I would to start to dig into a section right off the bat that we’re calling, standing in power. What I’d like to do is learn a little bit and hear a little bit about growing up on the reservation as you have.

Mitch:

Yeah. I guess I’ll start off. I actually was born in Portland.

Genius Black:

Oh!

Mitch:

Yeah. I was born in Portland. My family came from one of the generations of indigenous people that was relocated to the cities from the reservation. So there’s this whole movement at one point in history where a lot of the rez and able to integrate into society and this was across America. Part of that was my grandparents coming down and starting to kind of integrate into the city.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Mitch:

So yeah. I was born in Portland and we lived in Portland, I think on and off for my pretty much my whole life through adolescence, but a large portion of that time was spent going back home to the rez and spending lots of time there with our cousins and aunts and uncles. Actually I went to school on the rez for a little bit too. So I have some experience with that. I always tell people that being on the rez was one of the best times in my life. Because in the city, I’m just this Indian kid with long hair and just kind of having to always explain my existence to my peers and always being, “Oh yeah, here, let me educate you,” like I’m five years old, I have to educate you on the history of indigenous people. It’s a lot to carry.

Mitch:

So going to school down here and also going to school up there, it’s just kind of I was able to just exist when I went back home to the rez. I was able to just be a person. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone or do anything and I felt safe there actually. I know it’s not really that anymore. Conditions have declined a lot since I was five, it’s been like 20 years so lots of drugs and alcoholism and stuff like that. I hate stereotypes, but it’s real, those problems are real on the rez. But when I was young, it was really safe. I felt safe. I was able to run around with my cousins all the time and we used to chase the ice cream truck and everything like that, that was one of the biggest things during the summer, running down the ice cream man.

Genius Black:

We do know about that. Yes.

Mitch:

Yeah. Learning the dances in the school they teach you, where there’s a whole cultural section of the curriculum in the school where it’s devoted to the cultural learning and the reclaiming of language. We did lots of dancing, every Friday we did the community dance. So we go down to the cafeteria and kids who were learning how to drum, they would drum and we would dance and it was really nice.

Genius Black:

Oh! Sweet. So you were dancing to native, to this edition of drumming.

Mitch:

Yeah, our traditions. Yeah. So there’s this one thing it’s called the snake dance and it involves everyone. It’s one of those party lines where you kind of hold onto each other but you’re not really, I don’t think you touch each other, you just go and you go around in a circle and around the drum and it’s everybody. So anyone who’s in there who wants to join and joins in, and then everybody is kind of participating together. That was one of my best memories, going to school in the rez, our drum circle or dance circles. I always used to fall asleep in language class, it was so bad, my parents would get phone calls. She’d be like, “Yeah, just sleeping through language class,” and I didn’t pick up anything. Those were happy times for me when I was young being on the rez.

Genius Black:

See, I love hearing that. And for me I’m from Texas and obviously there were native people there just in all of America, but it’s kind of a different story when you hear the stories of different people and what’s transpired for their families over time. So I’m still learning about the native history in Maine, even though I’m from a land where there was native people, but the story unfolded differently. So for me, it’s all intriguing to really start to understand details and understand how things are still unfolding. Because I think sometimes we think about all this as being over and in the past as if it doesn’t continue today and tomorrow. One thing I wanted to ask, I had a note here to ask about misconceptions. My note, it says Indian relocated, and I was curious, are there any misconceptions that you faced in those times?

Mitch:

Maybe there’s talking, basically just going off the point that you said about people not thinking we exist or being reintegrated on our lands basically going to live wherever we want. And also that only that native people only live on the rez too, I feel like that’s a whole other thing it’s either you have to basically, “Oh, you’re Indian. Okay. So do you live on the reservation or do you just exist in the void as if it’s like those are your only lands,” people believe that your reservation is just what your lands are and they don’t really have the concept of all of the lands that you see around you are our ancestral lands.

Genius Black:

Thank you for claiming that. That’s why I was going to ask you. Can you just say out loud, which lands are yours?

Mitch:

Right. So, I mean, obviously we don’t believe in borders. We don’t believe in that. It’s roughly territories, but our territory is expanded to Canada not even in the United States, it’s a very small portion of that. So my ancestors, they’re Algonquins, we spanned a large portion of lands, straight through Canada, all the way to the West coast. So an entire territory that was our relatives basically. And the whole concept of ancestral lands, I feel like that’s something that I’m teaching in my work a lot, having to explain that and get that into people’s minds. When we’re thinking about where indigenous people live and it’s not just on the reservation. Our reservation is literally a tiny Island in the middle of the Penobscot river. It’s literally so small. You can walk the whole thing in half an hour.

Genius Black:

Really?

Mitch:

Yeah. You’re going to walk the entire [crosstalk 00:09:47] there’s trails.

Rose Barboza:

Where is…

Mitch:

It’s in Old Town.

Rose Barboza:

Okay.

Mitch:

Yeah. So our reservation is this little tiny Island inside of a small town.

Rose Barboza:

Oh boy.

Mitch:

And there’s just one way to get on and off. It’s a bridge. So it just goes out and comes back. It’s only one way on one way off. But our so-called territories are a bunch of little islands that span in the river. We also have territories that were ‘given to us’ by the federal government. So we have trust lands and federal trust lands that we have for hunting and everything like that. So it’s not just the reservation, and that’s not public knowledge. You haven’t just Indian Island. Because that’s also what it’s called too. It’s called Indian Island. Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

What!

Mitch:

Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

What! Oh boy.

Mitch:

Yeah. And it’s also home to the oldest church in Maine, the oldest, I think it’s Catholic. The oldest churches is standing on our reservation. Yeah. So that’s [crosstalk 00:10:54].

Rose Barboza:

It just goes to show.

Mitch:

Yeah. It points to [crosstalk 00:10:56] all of the missionary stuff, all of the religion, indoctrination, all of that kind of stuff goes back to the residential schools and just pounding this religion into us, so deep. I reject all of that too. So when I go home, learning more and more and growing up and actually seeing it for what it is, I have a different perspective than my elders because my elders grew up in that, are from the residential school kind of generations, they have been truly indoctrinated and I’ve had the privilege to not be there. So that’s where people learning from my elders have a different, they’re like, “Oh, well it’s actually supposed to be this way.” And the youth are like, “No we see what really is going on here and we reject that.” So there’re misconceptions, there are so many.

Genius Black:

Wow. No, thank you for sharing. For me, it reminds me, I think the other day I was watching an interview with the breakfast club or something, and they were talking to someone about how a lot of ancient ways of thinking of esoteric knowledge, our chemical knowledge, all this stuff and how in the black community even a lot of black teenagers in particularly twenties and 30 somethings are not rejecting Christianity as a whole, but a lot of the ways in which it was limited and taught to us, with the Jesus, with the blonde hair and blue eyes and people are just like, “You can tell me whatever you want. I’m going to try to live my life as a good person but I don’t believe, it’s not about me poking holes in everything but I know that what you’re teaching me is fallacious because of how you taught it to me and what you included with it.”

Genius Black:

So I don’t just pick up the mantle of that type of Christianity and just wear it because I know that it’s false. I’m not saying that everything about it or everything about everyone who believes in it is false. I’m saying that what you decided to show me as a front was false. I don’t want to call you on it. Which is also why a lot of people in these different communities are now embracing other types of spirituality and looking at crystals and all this kind of stuff. Because it’s just like, “Man, those limitations you taught me, I don’t buy that because you also taught me, as black and brown people, that I’m lesser than you.”

Mitch:

Right.

Genius Black:

Specifically.

Mitch:

Yeah, exactly.

Genius Black:

That being said, one of the things I wanted to talk about, respectability politics.

Mitch:

Oh yeah.

Genius Black:

Right? Because it’s something that, I mean, I’m all about respect. I’m not here to disrespect people, but sometimes I think some people threw respect out of the window already and then they expect you to approach them respectably, if that makes sense. But can you talk to me a little bit about that and your adherence to that or not and what that means to you?

Mitch:

Just continuing on the conversation of the divide between the youth and the elders nowadays, so for me I didn’t really start, when I was young and so… I come from a foster home, I was a foster kid for eight years in this white home. So I grew up with whiteness all around me. Even though I had a really deep devotion to my indigenous heritage and I knew where I was from and I grew up going to going home to the rez and going to rez school and learning my culture and all that stuff. When you live in a white environment you don’t have the choice to allow what washes you and what doesn’t.

Rose Barboza:

You don’t have the filters.[crosstalk 00:14:54]

Mitch:

Exactly you’re living in it.

Rose Barboza:

You have no idea.

Mitch:

You’re just there. Also you’re in survival mode too, because you’re a foster kid so you’re just kind of surviving, you’re just kind of living. So you don’t really have the choice to deny or reject whiteness when you’re living in a white home. Your guardians are white, you go to the doctor, they’re white, everything about your life is now white. So I didn’t really start going home and trying to find my culture for real and truly trying to embrace it until I moved out, until I got away from my foster home. So that was when I was about 22. So I’ve only been on this path for a few years, but when I jumped in, I jumped in fully. Time is a colonial construct like we keep saying. And there’s always these respectability politics also talking about, “How indigenous are you? Oh, you’re not as indigenous as me because you’ve only been doing this for a few years, whereas I grew up doing this stuff.”

Mitch:

So there’s so many different layers to this respectability. I’ve butted up against it because I think I decided to just jump in fully without any reservations, I just went. I continuously bumped up against this respectability politics over and over at each stage of my development. I think spiritually going home and actually going back to my ancestral lands and volunteering at this place called Nibezun, which is a nonprofit cultural preservation, a nonprofit and they’re on ancestral lands and they worked really hard to get that property.

Mitch:

I spent time there and I’m doing ceremony and learning the traditions and spending time with the elders and really getting to know my culture. That was a really hard falling out for me because I decided to just let everything radicalize me instead of taking it and being very polite about it, I wanted to know everything. I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything. I want to know the truth about everything, about anything, nothing’s off limits. So a lot of things were off limits and I really wanted to know. You just kind of reached a point when you go into a community space where you’ve learned what you needed to learn and it’s time for you to go, and the universe decides that for you.

Mitch:

So I ended up leaving there, but I left there with a lot of knowledge and a lot more connections to my people. I learned that respectability politics are put there by… They’re just these invisible rules put there by white supremacy by colonial thinking, by religion that we’re talking about. So you have to get rid of respectability politics when you’re really trying to get to the truth because people are going to prevent you from trying to see the truth and trying to get to the truth by putting up these barriers that are crap. Oh, you have to respect your elders at all costs, even if they are doing some religious crap that’s preventing you from accessing your culture, or putting up barriers or alert, being violent, there’s also that. You’re supposed to respect your elders at everything and some people hold fast to those kind of rigid. They try to call them traditional rules, but they’re not, so they’re trying to…

Rose Barboza:

Traditional rules, it’s like what they said [crosstalk 00:19:40].

Mitch:

Yeah, exactly, traditional from where? From post residential school? The respectability politics that were put on us by nuns and priests, by religion, or are we going further back to live respectability politics set forth by our own culture, by our own elders and wisdom, which I try to bypass all of the religion, all of the colonial thinking, trying to get back to the real roots of our culture and that’s matriarchal, that’s truth telling that’s just the truth as it is without anything added or taken away from it. Even if it hurts you, hurt your feelings or whatever the truth is the truth. A lot of it has come up in dealing with how, me as an artist, I express myself.

Rose Barboza:

Yes.

Mitch:

So nudity, I paint self portraits of myself and I paint them nude because that’s who I am, that’s what it look like. A body is a body and it’s sacred. It’s nothing, colonialism and all these things have put sexuality on everything that has to do with anything literally anything nude is sexual somehow. Why are we thinking like that? And why is it so taboo when you look back a long ways and you’re just running around with almost no clothes on, and people are swimming together naked and all that, that’s traditional.

Genius Black:

In many cultures yeah.

Mitch:

You’re just kin, you’re relatives all together. You should feel safe to do that with each other. And that’s how it was until colonialism, until those things were put on us. We’re trying to get down to the times where we didn’t have stuff put on us. So I’m searching for that and every time I go deeper, the next nude portrait, Oh God, that’s way too out there. I actually was scared. I painted my eyes first, only, I only painted my face and then just my eyes, and then I went deeper and then exposing breasts and, “Oh my God, that’s almost too much,” and showing that on the streets of Portland even was too much for people to handle. So I would go show my art, First Friday Art Walk, and oh my gosh the reactions of people were just, “Whoa, boobs! Holy cow” [crosstalk 00:22:45]. Hell no! And then I said, “okay, fine. I’m going to dig deeper and expose a full nude portrait,” and mixed media artists. So I made it look realistic.

Rose Barboza:

People were like, “What!” [crosstalk 00:23:01]

Mitch:

It’s a huge like pubes, I individually put hair on my thing.

Genius Black:

Okay. All right [crosstalk 00:23:10].

Mitch:

That’s my truth. That’s how far I’m willing to go. Nothing’s off limits for me. And so it’s so taboo for me to kind of almost exist now because everything that I say and do, I’m doing it from who I really am and not from what’s put on me, what I’m expected to do. It’s impolite for me to show a nude portrait on the sidewalk, it’s very impolite, for me to do that. And it’s impolite for me to say that I reject the chief of my tribe, that’s so bad. And it’s rude for me and it’s inappropriate for me to question my elders when they’re teaching religious rhetoric that does not serve us.

Mitch:

That’s what I’m coming up against. And so I actively participate in rejecting that publicly. So in my art and on my social media, when I speak, when I write, I actually go out of my way to provoke these kinds of figures in my communities. So these people that actually stand in place of white supremacy, they’re like “Hold the space for that.” And I actively poke them and say, “Hey, are you sure you want to be there? Oh, are you sure?” Asking them those questions and for me to ask those questions, I’m the enemy, I’m not allowed to ask that stuff. I’m not allowed to go there. So that’s been a struggle and I have a lot of support behind the scenes from people who aren’t really respected in the community.

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mitch:

But they don’t publicly support me because it’s a really delicate balance of, I have the elders respect and I know I have some elders that really respect me and will always back me and they will back me behind closed doors in public. Some people don’t do it for, “Oh yeah I’m a really respected elder or somebody in the community and I like the artists Mitchell and I like her work and I like what she says and stuff, but I only support it in public where people can just see,” then they’re like, also support me behind closed doors when people are trying to talk some stuff about me behind my back. I’m also teaching them, they’ve also said, “I didn’t ever have the courage to say the things that you’re saying,” because in our society you are easily shunned and you’re easily ostracized and if you’re not accepted or you’re being rude or if you’re being an agitator or whatever, it’s really easy for the community to close ranks on you.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Well, it’s tough because part of what happened is that you’re talking to people who grew up in an era where to survive, you literally were required to have a different set of rules that exist in 2020, 2021, 2022. Right? As much as we can say, that’s problematic that some of their approaches and you don’t understand how, you’re holding space for white supremacy. I know I might not feel it but that’s happening. Also they learned that in survival.

Mitch:

Exactly.

Genius Black:

So it’s really this no, that’s kind of an intense dance to just try to live out. And I know one of the things in our pre-talk with you, because we tried to have a little pre-conversation. One of the quotes that really stood out to me was, “I rubbed them in just the right way and it hurts them.”

Mitch:

Like sandpaper. It’s real because you got to ask those really hard questions because that’s what’s shaping you, sand paper shapes you as much as it hurts. It has a purpose, when you’re making something, you’re crafting something and you’re trying to make it better, getting rid of all those rough edges and stuff, it’s just the same way but it hurts.

Genius Black:

You’re using it. You’re using the pressure and you’re using the grid, through some, it could be perceived as pain, but again, to get rid of the things that aren’t smooth, that aren’t fluid. Yeah and people don’t always love that, we know that. It doesn’t look comfortable for any of us, but I feel you.

Mitch:

A recent thing was, I’m trying to kind of call out an organization for Indigenous People’s Day and how they were kind of using it. They were definitely not taking the day off for respect because it was Columbus Day and then they changed it and now it’s not real anymore. Now we’re not going to celebrate, so I was calling out an organization and calling on the tribal ambassador because the tribal ambassador was involved with the organization as an education tool or something like, “Oh, we’re going to dedicate this day to educating our staff.” But it’s just another white supremacy tactic of just performing and she’d be like, “Oh yeah, we’re down for it,” but we’re really not.

Rose Barboza:

For the day.

Mitch:

[crosstalk 00:28:50] Exactly. For one hour, only one hour was dedicated. So I went out on a limb and I’m like, “Really, is this really what we’re going to do?” And I get, because I don’t hold a title, because I don’t hold a position in our community, because I’m not there. I don’t live there. I get silenced a lot or I get ignored a lot and that’s something that when I’m scraping people, when I’m like, “Hey, I’m going to poke you and try to see how far you’re willing to go, how radical are you? Who are you really supporting here? In favor of what?” I think they really, they actually know the answer and it’s not a good answer.

Mitch:

I truly believe that they know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not like they don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m trying to speak to that deeper inner knowledge. And I feel like I have a special way of doing that. So they know the answer, they don’t like the answer and they want to deal with the answer. So they’re just going to straight up ignore me, as if they never heard it, but they did. So part of that respectability politics are rubbing up against these things or just also to plant seeds and not even really intention. I don’t expect an answer, I don’t really expect a result really. Actually try to dig in so deep that I plant a seed and you didn’t even know it. So later, you really understand, a lot of people have actually come to me recently who actually hated my work before, like a year ago. Following me, following my work and then just admitted to me recently being like, “Hey, I actually couldn’t stand you at first, but you turned me and now I love you.” [crosstalk 00:31:00]

Mitch:

People hate to watch your stories on Instagram. They hate watch you for so long and you really get to them and then you would change them. But the only reason I’m able to do that is because I don’t mind being a sandpaper. I don’t mind that. I accidentally found that that’s my role, even though I try to reject it so many times I tried to shrink. I’ve tried to be quiet. I’ve tried to do everything that everyone asks of me and try to be that servant to this thing. But I’m not the servant, I’m the leader. And I keep trying to reject it and every time I try to go off this path is when stuff doesn’t go right. When the universe is like, “No, you’re not supposed to do that. What are you doing? Move back, get back in your lane.” That been really difficult being that.

Genius Black:

I was going to say here, and I don’t mean to cut you off. It’s really eye-opening, I guess to be honest, when I think about how all this space is being held in our societies and in your community like you said you’re kind of back and forth, but when I think about what you’re telling me, it’s about standing in your power, right? That’s the section that we’re kind of on right now. I want to know where do you draw strings from? And why is it important to keep pushing forward and fighting this fight? If people aren’t listening, if they’re not ready, if they’re tired, where do you get strings from and why do you keep pushing on it?

Mitch:

I guess I could share the story about, this week is my one year anniversary of recovering from a suicide attempt. Actually last year I went through a whole kind of period of reintegrating into this reality, I guess if that’s what you want to call it. A wanting to escape so badly that I rejected it fully, but then made the decision in a moment and that came from nowhere, this decision, and it was actually an angry decision. It actually came down to the deep split, and I was totally cut in half. And I was so angry that I got split so far from myself. So I’m like here, but I’m not here. I’m so far away. And I was so angry, I’ve done too much. I’ve come too far. I’ve worked too hard. And I can’t leave right now. And I’m not even happy about it. I’m so angry about it. I’m so distressed by it. But I have no choice because it was just one thing that clicked, I hit rock bottom.

Genius Black:

That’s deep.

Mitch:

Yeah [crosstalk 00:34:15].

Rose Barboza:

… When you think about just what you said about being on your path or being on this path and the universe is like, “No,” [crosstalk 00:34:23] that’s the perfect example. And I think there’s a lot of people who will be able to relate to that perhaps.

Mitch:

[crosstalk 00:34:31] And it’s not pretty.

Rose Barboza:

In general it’s like, you realized you say, “Wait, actually I do have a place here, even if I’m not even fucking ready to be in that place, but I know it’s there. And the world is telling me, just keep doing it. It’s going to be okay.” Whatever that looks like.

Mitch:

And I didn’t even think it was going to be okay. [crosstalk 00:34:54] I knew it wasn’t going to be okay. But I was like, “You know what?” The place where I come from a really dark place and I’ve lived in the darkness for a long time and so what if my purpose isn’t to be this bright shiny light, “Oh, love and light.” I’m actually dark and I’m intense and I am angry for a reason and what if that is who I am? Because I just keep striving too, I’m like, “Oh, why am I striving every day to be this beautiful, Indian woman?” And “Oh yes. Why is she so happy? I want to be like her.” That was the ideal. I feel instilled sometimes in my mental health journey, I’m still feeling, “Oh, that’s what I’m just trying to get to.” But I’m like, “No, actually, what if that is who I am, this dark lady,” that is the person that pokes you all the time.

Genius Black:

Yeah. I would say wow! I really like that and it hits on a lot of stuff that I’m not going to take all the time talking about. However, I will say that people are complex. One of the things that Black Owned Maine, that we often talk about when it comes to black people, brown people, stop trying to treat us as a monolith. Stop trying to create us as, all of you are Democrats, Republicans,” whatever, all of us are nothing. All of us are all of us. And it’s so interesting to hear you talk about how, you go through that struggle but complexity is really real.

Genius Black:

And I think the thing that gives us energy is not always what people presume it is. it reminds me of, I’ve been doing a lot of studying, a little bit out of context, about hip hop culture. I was talking to you Rose about how thinking about how hip hop came out in New York, in Memphis, in Atlanta, in new Orleans and how it blew up and how the dope game and dope boys and their money and fused it. But it’s just so interesting that when hip hop first started, if y’all, people think back in history when the first commercial hip hop songs was, Rapper’s Delight, a very funny, upbeat, fun party, came out of the disco era. And then later you had people like NWA and the gangster step in and make it dark. Did hip hop die or did it just hit harder?

Genius Black:

I think it hit harder because people are complex. They both want to party. And they sometimes sit in the bathroom by themselves where they think no one can hear them. And they cry about the hurtful shit in their life. Both are real. And I’m using hip hop as a genre and as a certain vehicle, but the reason that it blew up and the way that it did and it caught on is because it touched all of that. So I love hearing you talking about how grappling with, “Am I just the darkness?” I posit that you are more than just the darkness. This is my opinion, but are you darkness and should you come from, that angle and should you represent that piece even, wow! I don’t want to get too bad metaphysical to the light workers or whatever, yes, because that’s who you are. If you have people out here trying to act like “We’re not good and bad,” don’t trust them.

Mitch:

Right?

Genius Black:

Don’t believe in nothing they say.

Mitch:

No.

Genius Black:

If they say we’re all bad, or if they say we’re all good, do not trust them. We’re just going to give you that on the Black Owned Maine Podcast. Take that. I was trying to tell you.

Rose Barboza:

Yeah, that’s true. Everyone’s grouped in to one category, I know what you were saying, we even group ourselves, and you were saying, I can relate to that and saying, “Well, I just want to be happy and do yoga everyday.” And then I’m just like, “Everyone’s so negative like motherfucking negative. I’m just critical. And you should appreciate it because if I’m critical towards you it means that I’m thinking about you and I want you to do better.”

Genius Black:

Exactly.

Rose Barboza:

It’s not because I don’t like you or I don’t want to be friends with you, it’s because you want to pull these things out and say, can we really talk about this and think about what we’re doing and what you’re saying about colonialism, it’s like we don’t need them, sometimes we don’t even realize we’re trapped in that. Someone can come and be like, “Hey, let’s look at this thing that you’re doing.” You say you don’t want to support white supremacy, but see those Amazon packages every day. [crosstalk 00:39:28]

Genius Black:

How’d you get to the top of the list anyway. So I’m going to say this because that was really feeding me. I really appreciate you. Thank you for sharing and just being candid and coming to spend time with us.

Mitch:

One thing to add, I guess where the strength comes from. It’s not, I would say, anger it’s actually fuel for change and physically, I used to weigh 300 pounds, a couple of years ago. So I went through a physical transformation as I’m going through a spiritual transformation and guess where that all of the energy that I got to finally go from running, I could only run maybe 20 feet at once when I was 300 pounds, my bones could barely support me. And that all came from rage, not one day of me running or trying to change came from happiness. Nothing came from nothing positive. It all came from this deep boiling rage that I had kept suppressed for a long time trying to be that love and light. But when I finally got there, I was like, no, this is like a boiling lava this is fuel and it’s a sacred, rage is sacred. Yeah.

Genius Black:

And it has been for a long time. So you bring me to the next section, part two of this podcast. I know we’re just getting into it, but it’s called living in trauma. Right? And not to take anything from what you’re saying, Mitch, because this is brilliant to me again, I’ve been studying the hip hop culture and anger, anxiety, axed, disappointment with a lot of people who were in life. If that didn’t fuel both the drug game and stuff in America, as well as the hip hop and then the record labels and all that. There’s something particularly amongst people of color and marginalized people in America, whether we want or not, so much of our identity is fair to us as minority, secondary, tertiary, whatever. And we learn to be like… I don’t agree with that and after months and months of not agreeing with that, I’ve become anxious about it. And then I become angry. And then I create and demonstrate actions that make people re-imagine me. That gets pulled out of people of color in a way that it doesn’t other people, because they’re not pushed into this. Back to the wall.

Genius Black:

I’m not trying to act all black, I mean, I’m a brown person who lives in a decent neighborhood in case was wondering, I don’t live in the middle of the ghetto hood. I know y’all think that’s where black people live. That’s not where I live, but I’m still Brown and people still look at me funny and talk to me in certain ways. So I’m dissecting the whole pie, not just inner city, Chicago. That’s not the only thing I’m talking about. I’m talking about what black people and brown people and native people and aboriginal people exist in all the pockets in the world, because that gets overlooked. People want to use these, they put these magnifying glasses on the watts riots and what happened in LA and this year. But as people of color and as indigenous people, we have learned the life of living inside of trauma.

Mitch:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

So that’s something I want to dig into a little bit. This is a shared experience between a lot of BIPOC people, different communities, these aren’t all same communities, right? I want to be real about that. Black, indigenous, people of color I know we use the term BIPOC just to put it out like that’s what we’re talking about. One of the questions I had is why are many white folks, just saying, unable to grasp the reality of BIPOC people constantly living in trauma? What do y’all think about that? What’s the disconnect?

Rose Barboza:

I think the disconnect comes again in what you were saying much about the education being a huge piece. And also, I mean, if you don’t know, you don’t know. If you don’t know, you literally just cannot even imagine why that would be a thing, right? I’ve never seen a fly before, a fly doesn’t exist. So, can people learn? Absolutely. I talk about this a lot and I feel kind of funny talking about, but I think there’s a vast difference between the people who are openly racist and hateful and rude or the people who are overtly and the people who just are ignorant. But the ignorant people, I think you can change them. I think they can absolutely be taken and be educated and then say, “Oh wait. Oh shit. I did all of these things and we’re fucked up and whatever seminar or whatever the fuck I did,” I read a book, Whatever The Fuck I Did. And now I finally realized, right?

Rose Barboza:

But then there’s also the people who just will never, and that’s like brainwash, that’s what supremacy, that’s colonialism. That’s all of that all in one. So if you just have never… And the other thing I would say is that there are even people of color, again, talking about people of color, not being a monolith, and not just being the same. There are even people of color who will say, “I’ve never experienced racism. I’ve never experienced trauma. I’ve never been…” And maybe you haven’t, maybe you haven’t. However, perhaps you just didn’t know [crosstalk 00:45:23] that’s what was happening. You just didn’t even know. I was talking about being a kid, a little kid, just not even realizing that things were fucked up. Right?

Genius Black:

Yes.

Mitch:

Yeah.

Rose Barboza:

Especially in Maine, not especially in Maine, but it’s a factor here doesn’t [crosstalk 00:45:40] [inaudible 00:45:40] anywhere else.

Genius Black:

Just say we’re in Maine. So you can speak quite honestly to the fact that that is an actual experience of many Mainers, by the way, not just a little bit.

Mitch:

Not just a little bit.

Genius Black:

Yeah I want to be real. [crosstalk 00:45:51] people think like Maine ain’t about nothing at all. Oh, there’s no racism, there’s no struggle.

Mitch:

Vacationland.

Genius Black:

Come through for vacation [crosstalk 00:45:59].

Rose Barboza:

Can we get a new laugh?

Mitch:

White bread nation.

Genius Black:

I mean not that we’re wrong, there’s a lot of cool vacation stuff to do here, and I really invite you to come do it, but think about what we’re talking about. Think about our indigenous community. Think about the multiple African, whether people are refugees or just immigrants in general. Think about, African-Americans think about Latinos, Latinas, Mexicans. There are people here. And I know that Maine is known as rightfully so the whitest state in the union, that doesn’t mean completely white. And that specifically doesn’t mean completely void of the troubles of racism and classism in America. Stop playing.

Mitch:

Yeah. Vacation land for who, though? Why is it called vacation land? Yeah. “Oh, you know you want to escape, you’re in the city or whatever, if you’re a white just come to vacation land you can just live with all of us for the summer.”

Rose Barboza:

Everything’s good. Yeah.

Mitch:

Yeah [crosstalk 00:46:55] exactly.

Rose Barboza:

… Clog up the streets.

Mitch:

Yeah. But it’s not the same.

Genius Black:

Oh my gosh, she sounds like a local [inaudible 00:47:04]. [crosstalk 00:47:04].

Rose Barboza:

This summer I know covid is [crosstalk 00:47:10].

Mitch:

It didn’t stop them?

Rose Barboza:

It didn’t stop them.

Genius Black:

It did not stop them.

Rose Barboza:

But it will slow down and you could go outside and just potentially enjoy some space.

Mitch:

That’s true.

Rose Barboza:

Without someone in your face, constantly to an extent, right? This is coming from someone who worked in tourism for the last eight years seeing this people coming. “Oh yeah. I joke, Oh, just come into my house and I’m just like, does your house have heat? Then it’s not a house. Sorry. Is it a house?” Come into my house. Can you live in this place all four seasons?

Mitch:

Oh!

Rose Barboza:

Probably not.

Genius Black:

Even if it’s a place you’re renting. It’s fine.

Rose Barboza:

Yeah you could just admit it.

Mitch:

There’s a whole Island that shuts down for their off season. Literally people just own houses then they just shut the whole Island down. No one even lives there all year. What!

Genius Black:

No, the thing is too, because for me, when I think about… I honestly have come to learn over the years that Maine really is vacation land. I dig it. Yeah, it’s a problematic phrase, but I dig it. I think sometimes about how we start to break down the stigma of Maine, how we start to include more people in this enjoyment of vacation land, because it really is beautiful. I don’t want to take anything away from that. Part of why I’ve lived here over the years and decided not to just rush somewhere else after college is because it really is beautiful if you’re talking about the native lands and who really owns it. But these lands are overwhelmingly beautiful.

Mitch:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

Right? Welcome to Maine. But let’s talk a little bit more before we move on to the next section, I want to talk about the role that we need our white brothers and sisters to play in dismantling those stereotypes, dismantling the white supremacy. Even if it doesn’t look, “Oh, there’s a lot of people of color.” It doesn’t take a lot of people of color for there to be a white supremacist oriented system that we just haven’t gotten over yet. Right? So talk to me a little bit about the role that white people play. I don’t know whether you want to call it reparations or just, “Hey, can you do this? Can you support us? Are you an ally,” whatever language you might use. Talk to me about that.

Mitch:

I feel like that’s a question I’ve been asked a lot actually, by white people. “What do you want me to do? What should I do?” And it’s like, “Well…”

Genius Black:

Thank you for the question, but yeah.

Mitch:

I don’t know. For me, it feels like it’s not up to us to define the role of what white people should do. It’s up to them.

Genius Black:

The end of part one.

2021-03-06T21:06:32-05:00March 6th, 2021|Podcast transcription|

ECHOES OF OLD SYSTEMS FT ALI ALI TRANSCRIPT

Introduction

[Theme Music]

Audio Clip: Echo saying Black, Black, Black.Black Owned Maine as a directory and resource and as a brand is also helping the state of Maine stand up and represent itself as a place that does have people of color, does have Black people, does consider diversity. We’re gonna bring money into this economy. People who wouldn’t have felt comfortable coming here and spending dollars and voting with your dollars.” Echo saying dollars, dollars, dollars, dollars.

Genius: Blessings and vibes from Black Owned Maine. Welcome to the Black Owned Maine Podcast. My name is Genius Black.

[Theme Music]

Ad: Right now this could be your spot. Instead, it’s our spot. Black Owned Maine podcast is definitely searching for sponsors. If you want to be a sponsor for our podcast, you can do that for the podcast as a whole, or just an individual episode. If you are interested I would like for you to send us an email at blackownedmaine@gmail.com. Again, searching for sponsors right now. This could be your spot. Hit us with an email at blackownedmaine@gmail.com.

 

Genius: Moving forward, gonna introduce y’all to my dude: he’s an educator, a poet, as well as an abolitionist. Ali, what up bro? (1:20 – 1:30)

Ali: How are you man? (1:30 – 1:32)

Genius: Hey, feeling fine, feeling fine. I really just wanted to bring you on today– tonight– I don’t know whenever y’all listening, that’s what time it is. Because we have some knowledge to bring forth and we want y’all to keep this conversation alive and keep it going. What I want to do is allow my man Ali to further introduce himself. We would love to hear a little bit about where you were born, maybe where you grew up, how you grew up. And really, ultimately, how you ended up doing the work that you do. (1:32 – 1:59)

Ali: First off, my name is Ali. Thank you Jerry for letting me be on here today. I am originally from Ethiopia. I came to the states in ‘99. I was originally in Ohio with my family and everything and then my father came up here to Maine with me and my brother and I grew up over here in Maine. Going through elementary, middle and high school, going through you know just living Maine itself, right now it’s 1.6% Black but back then it probably less than 1%, you know. So it was like a real young generation just trying to grow up and find its way. (2:00 –  2:38)

Genius: Word. (2:38 – 2:39)

Ali: We didn’t have no mother in the house so it was just like me and my brother and my father and so going through life itself was difficult because you ain’t know if you was Black, if you were Somali or Ethiopian, if you were Muslim, if you was white. You didn’t know how to maneuver, so you had to just find a way. You just got to find somewhere where you’re safe, right. (2:39 – 3:00)

Genius: Yup. (3:00 – 3:01)

Ali: And a lot of the homies will listen to like 50 Cent back then and everything, so they was bumping and trying to like do anything wild because the more wild you are, the more cool you is, right? That’s what society embedded into our mentalities. (3:01 – 3:17)

Genius: Umhm. (3:17 – 3:18)

Ali: So I mean, I tried to navigate that way, but I always knew that I didn’t want to mess up too much. I can curse? No, right? (3:18 – 3:29)

Genius: I mean, if you have a curse word in your heart, then you can drop it. (3:29 – 3:34)

Ali: All right. (Laughing) (3:34 – 3:35)

Genius: All right? (Laughing) (3:34 – 3:35)

Ali: Just want to respect the boundaries. (3:36 – 3:38)

Genius: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if it’s real, it’s real. (3:38 – 3:40)

Ali: Yeah, no it’s real, it’s real. Um, I didn’t want to mess up too much, right. So anyways, growing up and not really understanding a place of belonging. And psychologically, that can actually be an issue. So you don’t know how to act, you don’t know what to do. Especially in difficult circumstances, right? (3:41 – 3:55)

Genius: Yes, sir. (3:55- 3:56)

Ali: Because in difficult circumstances you bounce back at home. You count on your family, and stuff like that. (3:56 – 4:03)

Genius: That’s like your spot of respite. When everything is wild, you retreat back there. Or– or not. (4:03 – 4: 08)

Ali: I mean, if you don’t have something like that, where do you retreat back to? So I tended to retreat back to just individuality and like spiritual– myself. Like I didn’t know exactly what God was, or anything like this, but it was just like– I kept kicking back on myself. Then I went back and forth from Ohio to Maine, and eventually I came back here. My mother moved here then. My father and mother were still split; my father decided to leave. During then, since I wasn’t raised with my mother, I also had disagreements with my mother, right? And I was like, “Yo, I don’t think, like, we gonna understand each other because you ain’t really raised me. Like I respect you as my mother, right?”  And I know, not really having stability, at the age of 15, I went to the juvenile facility, and then I went back in there at the age of 16, 17-ish. (4:08 – 4:56)

Genius: So, just because we do have a lot of listeners in Maine, as well as outside Maine, just real quick, in terms of the location and reality. What was the juvenile facility that you are speaking of? (4:57 – 5:05)

Ali: The juvenile facility is the one in South Portland. Its Long Creek Youth Development Center. (5:06 – 5:09)

Genius: South Portland, Maine. (5:09 – 5:10)

Ali: South Portland, Maine. (5:09 – 5:10)

Genius: Long Creek. (5:10 – 5:11)

Ali: Long Creek, yep. (5:10 – 5:11)

Ali: There’s about one hundred and… 163 beds, if I’m not mistaken. About 100 hundred, anywhere between 150 to 180. But, at the time, like, when I first got incarcerated in there, it was something petty. And then I had probation, and I messed up on probation, so I went in there for 18 months. So I ain’t gonna lie to you, as soon as I stepped inside of there, I was actually ok. I was like “alright”, you know what I mean? “I finally get to rest, I finally get a bed, I can finally relax my mind. I finally don’t gotta fight a world that I need to find a belonging in.” 

But, as soon as–and that first day was a good sleep, you get some good sleep. Second day its like, “ok, you are confined in a space”. Third day, you start to notice like, “Oh shoot, I got state clothing.” Fourth day, you know, you got a small golf pencil and a little piece of paper that you can rip off that you can write on. And then you start to understand that this is for a while. This is one day, 2 days, 3 days; this is not two weeks. This is 18 months, right? And that’s what I mean: 18 months sounds like a long time. (5:12 – 6:21)

Genius: Especially when you young bro. When you, young, a year is like a lifetime. (6:21 – 6:25)

Ali: Yeah. (6:25 – 6:26)

Genius: And you said 18 months! Not 12. (6:26 – 6:28)

Ali: And it was bad, man. It’s not bad because of the people. It was bad because of the circumstances. It was bad because you can’t– cuz you know your brain obviously doesn’t stop growing till the age of 25, right? That kind of forces you to stop thinking forward. It forces you to– it just keeps you stagnant, right? 

So I was like, “Ok, this isn’t for me. I need to do something, right?” So I got my GED within the first like, 2 or 3 weeks. Boom, boom, boom. At the age of 17. And I went straight into college right then. So I got into college at the age of 17. I got straight A’s, 3.9 GPA. And then I got into a theater program, so I was doing a lot of programs just to get out of my room and to get off the grounds, right? (6:29 – 7:15)

Genius: So I just want to say, I’m gonna ask you– Thank you brother for sharing this so openly, because I think, in our society, people (and I’m gonna say this, cuz it’s real), people like to incarcerate people, and then forget about them, right? And not worry if they are stuck, trapped, moving forward, moving backwards. Nope–they did something wrong, they’re in there, that’s where they are going to be, right? What I hear you telling me is that as far as you realize, at first, it was good. At first, it was easy for a night. Then you felt stuck. And then you start finding ways to move your spirit and your mind forward. (7:15 – 7:47)

Ali: Yes. (7:47 – 7:48)

Genius: Very, very critical trajectory. (7:48 – 7:50)

Ali: Right. And I’m not saying that this is like a safe haven, right? Cuz you can do this anywhere. You can decide to do better anywhere. (7:51 – 8:03)

Genius: Yes, sir. (8:03 – 8:04)

Ali: But, to do better, you need stability. And the fact that I have to be incarcerated to find stability to do better, is a problem here. Right, this is where the problem lies, because it could have been in a group home; it could have been in a foster home; it could have been somewhere else. Because these are systems too. It could have just been somewhere you feel a little bit of belonging. Someone say, “Hey, you know what? We’re going to invest in housing, right, for kids. We’re going to invest in, like, credible messages.” So this is kind of–I’m going to get onto that eventually, how I got to that. (8:05 – 8:37)

Genius: Yes. (8:37 – 8:38)

Ali: I’m going to go through the realm of how it kind of impacted me. (8:39 – 8:41)

Genius: Okay. (8:41 – 8:42)

Ali: So, I got into a theater program. We started doing a little bit of theater, and explaining our stories, and what happened was, people started to see our performances within the inside of the juvenile facilities–our peers. And they when they saw it, right? You have to understand, there’s beef inside of the juvenile facilities. When they saw it, hands were clapping, hearts were dropping. Like, these are kids that– they were like, “Yo, that was amazing bro.” (8:43 – 9: 10)

Genius: They didn’t even mess with you until, like– well some of them, I would imagine, they wasn’t really– (9:11 – 9:14)

Ali: They were like, “Yo, whatever y’all did,” everyone was taken aback. You know, we started off with like 20 kids, but we ended off, it was only 7 of us consistently doing it. And then we did it for the staff, and they were like, “Yo, this is like, tragic,” and this is our lives just performed, right?  So it’s like damn, like, so they started to realize, like, “Yo, these kids are not messed up, right? There’s something that had affected them that they reacted the same way. It’s like, today we know English because we were taught it. If we were taught trauma, if we were taught pain, we’re going to release pain. If we were taught love, we’re gonna release love. So this was us just telling people– and you know, we were young. People were listening to our stories? (9:14 – 9:58)

Genius: How old were you at this point? (9:58 – 9:59)

Ali: I was 17, 18. Everybody was just around that age. Anywhere from 15 to 19. So, I’m still going to college and doing everything. Everybody was getting out. Being black inside there was so difficult that you couldn’t get out at 9, 10 months. I did my whole 18-month bit inside there because I couldn’t get out, right? But, I was achieving everywhere. I was achieving in every factor. So, here we go: 18 months is almost done, we performed inside and outside the facility. Outside of the facility, we did our biggest performance at University of Southern Maine, right? Which is the same university I go to right now. And we did it at Hannaford Hall, with 500 people. It was Sister Helen Prejean. She actually just passed away, about, like, a few months ago. Sister Helen Prejean, she was going against the death penalty all over the country, but she came in and supported us, and it was great. So we did that, age 19 was done.

So I came out and started doing the work out here, right? So we started doing programs out here. We doing Theatre programs are doing it for all– everybody that’s in the community, everything. (10:00 – 11:05)

Genius: And it’s still the same group of stories, just telling your life? (11:05 – 11:08)

Ali: Yeah. So, the original seven that started, people kind of like broke off. Because some of them lived in Texas, there was one living in Virginia, they were all here, they all moved away for some reason or some of them, like, you know me still stayed in Maine and what not. (11:09- 11:24)

Genius: Okay. (11:24 – 11:25) 

Ali:  But more kids come on right, so it was more kids coming off and more kids coming on, so all together I work with over 250 kids so what happened was over time (11:25 – 11: 34)

Genius: Wow. (11:34 – 11:35)

Ali: I became the artistic director of this program called Maine Inside Out right and there were three ladies running it right and then now we had Joseph Jackson. He did 20 years up in Maine State and he came he got his Master’s degree, he got out and now he’s running his own Maine Prison Advocacy Coalition to advocate for the people that is in there. (11:35 – 11:53)

Genius: Okay. (11:53-11:54)

Ali: Amazing guy, he is a black dude, amazing dude. So he started working and he was just helping, navigating how kids should be – you know I mean performances everything – as an artistic director, I’ve been doing this so long, I can relate with the kids, I can relate with the adults, I am right in the middle. 11:55 – 12:11)

Genius: Got it. (12:11-12:12)

Ali: So, I started doing this work, we got so much popularity that we went up to  the state house. And this was when the Governor LePage – Lepage was there, he passed right by, he didn’t want to see our performance. we miss you though. (12:13 – 12:30)

Genius: Big time. (12:30-12:31)

Ali: Anyways, so  after we did the performance, the ANgus King wife saw the performance and she said, “Wow, we have to invite you out to Washington DC” and I am like, “What, stop playing..” (12:32 – 12:44)

Genius: Out to where? (12:44-12:45)

Ali: Washington DC. (12:45-12:46)

Genius: Wow, bro. (12:46 – 12:47)

Ali: So yeah, so we got the ticket to go to Washington DC, we raised enough and flew down there. And we performed in front of the Senate – right in front of the U.S Senate inside the Senate building. We are underground and everything and it was beautiful. That year, that was the year we were  highlighted. People started questioning what juvenile justice system all across the country and especially starting here in Maine because we only had that one juvenile facility right. (12:47 – 13:14)

Genius: Right. (13:14-13:15)

Ali: So this is about, I will say three years, this is finishing up 2017 – is like finishing up – so all together 7 years. So it was 4 years of being in the works, so it was about 3 years ago and you know what I mean – of doing it… (13:15 – 13:30)

Genius: Got it. (13:30-13:31)

Ali: What happened in what we did in Michigan. In Michigan, we did it like where we had a whole week – we started teaching workshops on how to do theatre of the oppressed – that is the name of it. (13:31 – 13:40)

Genius: So presenter of the oppressed (not sure if this right, could understand well) (13:40-13:42)

Ali:  So after doing that, we came back and a lot of kids were still passing away. I am talking to a lot of kids that were incarcerated with us. So 3 to four years down cause incarceration still messes you up a little bit. For me 18 months being inside there, it took me about 18 months of me being in there to come back to society. (13:34 – 14:01)

Genius: Right (14:01-14:02)

Ali: I couldn’t even talk to a girl. Like I couldn’t, I would freeze, I would have anxiety cause I didn’t see no females at all. I couldn’t walk on the street for the first few days by myself. Like Walmart – I would have anxiety attacks. (14:03 – 14:17)

Genius: Whuush, yeah bro. (14:17-14:18)

Ali: Yeah, they don’t talk about that. They just found a scientific word for that, it’s called Post-Traumatic Prison Disorder. And it is a traumatic experience and they are doing that through Columbia University right now. So, a lot of kids are still dying, so after all these kids are dying and everything, we’re just like, “Yo, why are kids dying at such a high rate right. (14:18 – 14:45)

Genius: No, you talking about inside the facility… after they get out. (14:45 – 14:48)

Ali: After they get out. (14:48-49)

Genius: And are people passing away from violence, drugs? Is it? (14:49-51)

Ali: Multiple reasons, Suicide, overdose. It’s just like where, what do you think…Because my questions like, you got a criminal record, you went in when you was 15, you were incarcerated, you have trauma, what are you going to go back to? You’ve been locked up and hidden from the world for three years. There’s new phones, new cars… (14:51-15:11)

Genius: Yeah. (15:11-12)

Ali: Like where are you gonna go back? Everybody has moved forward in life. (15:12-15)

Genius: Right, you’re gonna find comfort in probably something stupidi or something that is backwards for you or what not. (15:15-19)

Ali: Exactly! Right?! You’re gonna find comfort in marijuana, drugs, whatever. (15:19- 23)

Genius: Yeah. (15:23-24)

Ali: Sorry if im like kinda going off in ah… (15:24-26)

Genius: Nah you’re good, this is, you’re good. (15:26-28)

Ali: Okay, okay. So um yeah so um so right after, what happened was we kept continuing. So we kept saying the system the system, the system. And then last year is when it really hit. There was a kid that um started performing with me right. (15:28-44)

Genius: Mhmm. (15:44)

Ali: And he was a part of the first almost the second generation. This kid, when I was not there, he was there. (15:44-50)

Genius: Mmm. (15:50)

Ali: When I was not there, he was there. (15:51- 15:52)

Genius: Mhmm. (15:52)

Ali: When I was not the main character, he was the main character. He lived in Lewiston, and he has 2 kids, he is 23, he has a wife, he lives with his mother, he pays for all the bills, and he is a leader in the community. He did everything he had to with all the difficulties and disadvantages in the community whatever it was. At the same time he rapped, he was there as a great father and he was there to stand up for people, and he was there performing with us. (15:53 – 16:21)

Genius: Wow, mhmm. (16:22)

Ali: One day after performance he left Portland and went to Lewiston. And as soon as he went to Lewiston, he came inside the front door and his kids were not there. And he was like, “Where are the boys?” you know and they said, “ Oh the BHS came and took them” and he was just like, “ Yo, I just can’t take this no more, they keep messing with me, like they keep messing with me when i am walking the street, they keep messing with me when i am trying to do good. I just can’t take this”. So he is like, “Yo i am done” so he starts tearing up and walks out the door. He goes out, you know grabs some pills, you know grab some henny… (16:23 – 17:00)

Genius: Mmmm. (17:01)

Ali: …some regular and sits right outside the front door and pops the pills and sips the henny and in the morning, his wife opens the door and finds him slumped right outside the front – right out there… (17:01 – 17:16)

Genius: Yeah  (17:17)

Ali: I got the phone call and, I was walking outside, I was just with my daughter and I was headed to work. And I got the phone call saying, “ Hey, I am just going to say this like directly..” and this was one of the directors of our organization – He was like, “Rune is dead ” and I was like, “What? No!” And I heard all the homies die, so many just like Rune okay. And I was like, here we go, another snapchat… (17:18 – 17: 42)

Genius: Wow. (17:42)

Ali: Another snapchat post I gotta make, another instagram post I gotta, another facebook post I gotta make and continue… (17:43 – 17: 48)

Genius: Damn bro, damn. (17: 49)

Ali: So boom this happen, as soon as this happen, I am in the taxi and i’m just like okay, breathing and my mom calls me and she’s like, “Are you good” I am like, “ Yeah” and she is like, “What happened?” and I let her know and she was like, “Alright”. So two days later, it was a burial, a muslim burial – muslim burial we use a white sheet, we wrap the body, bring it over to the graveyard and we put it on the sand because we beleive that you came from sand and you will return to sand. (17:50 – 18:20)

Genius: Okay. (17: 21)

Ali: We are standing there and it was time to put him inside the grave and they didn’t have many people there, so I jumped inside the grave and I grabbed the body and I was putting him in there. I was like—I was pretty cool, I wasn’t…many people were tearing up but I was just real cool with it… (18:22 – 18:40)

Genius: Yeah (18:41).

Ali: I had to take it in because this isn’t the first time. I have been inside the grave yard like seven or eight times (18:42 – 18:47).

Genius: Damn bro (18: 47).

Ali: As I was putting him in, this one really hit like when I had to put his body against the edge of the place and they were passing me some wax so that I can put the body up – and it just really hit me… (18:48 – 18:58)

 

Genius: Mmmm (18:59).

Ali: Like, “Bro, I am sorry” and i’m saying, “It is going to be alright” and i am telling him this, “it gonna be alright bro, we here, it is gonna to be alright” and his body is cold… (19:00 – 19:07)

Genius: Mmmm (19:08).

Ali: So after that,  I jumped out and we finished putting all the sand over and after it was done like it just hit me. I can’t take this s*** no more, why is the system – the system is destroying us. So after that, that summer of last year, I just went hard. I was like, “ Yo, i am done, I can’t do nothing that is going to ever affect me negatively, hurt me, is going to do anything like that because something i was making circumstances to because of the decisions – i was making decisions because of the circumstances I am in (19:09 – 19:43).

Genius: Yeah (19:44).

Ali: So I decided to stop everything completely. Sobriety and everything so like – to really stay focused and try to see where we can go with our community. And that when we got to open Maine Youth Injustice – the campaign to close down the juvenile facility. We are down like  – I think maybe 30 kids left inside that juvenile facility (19:45 – 20:02).

Genius: Say it one more time. Maine Youth, what?  (20:02 – 20:03).

Ali: Maine Youth Injustice (20:04 – 20:06).

Genius: Got you (20:06 – 20:07). 

Ali:  So we are down 30 kids inside the juvenile facility and we are trying to close it down and reinvest the 18.2 million dollars every year that is streaming through there back to the communities that really need it the most. So it is an average of three hundred thousand dollars to five hundred thousand to lock up a kid – per kid right. If we reinvest that back into the same communities, instead of taking the kids out of the same communities right— (20:07 – 20:31)

Genius: Yeah (20:31 – 20:32).

Ali: We would see a lot of issues kind of like be resolved, right (20:32 – 20:35)? 

Genius: I very much agree. I just thought that it was important— (20:35 – 20:37)

Ali: Right (20:37).

Genius: to hear about your history— (20:38 – 20:42)

Ali: Yeah (20:42).

Genius: your family, how you found yourself incarcerated and what that was like, how you picked yourself up. People always talk about that— (20:43 – 20:50)

Ali: Right (20:51). 

Genius: Like what are you going to do with this opportunity.  Like okay, the brother did a lot with the opportunity and brought people up with him with the opportunity. Created an opportunity out of something that didn’t feel like an opportunity right but the pain doesn’t stop— (20:52 – 21:02)

Ali: Nope (21:02).

Genius: The death doesn’t stop. The dysfunction doesn’t stop. And now, one of the first kind of things that I want to crack open here in one of these segments I want to bring to y’all is really – I am just going to call it systemic, see. A good friend of mine, he’s been, he’s been, learning a lot of stuff, he’s been talking to me, I done scream at him a couple times and he took it and kept rolling and he’s the homie right and he’s learning. One of the things he said to me weeks and weeks ago as I was talking about all these issues and the protest and he was like, “Bro, people say systemic and I like kind of know what that mean— (21:03 – 21:40)

Ali: Yeah. (21:40)

Genius: But like what is that for real? Because it, you know, it almost ends up, the way people pull it out sometimes—it’s like, yo is that something, is that nothing? What, what is that, right?” (21:40 – 21:50)

Ali:  (laughs) 

Genius: And so, I want to talk about how you view something big and systemic, um, what that means to you. One thing—and I’ll just share this— (21:51 – 22:00) 

Ali: Right. (22:01)

Genius: I was looking it up one day, and one of the thing that, you know, scientifically and medically when you talk about terms like ‘systemic,’ one of the things that you can find is—you know, say for instance someone has an alignment or they’re sick or they have a rash or whatever it may be, you know, you go to the doctor— (22:02 – 22:15)

Ali: Right. (22:15)

Genius: Part of what the doctor is trying to determine is if the issue you are presenting is systemic or if it’s localized. (22:16 – 22:23)

Ali:  Mhmm. (22:23)

Genius: It’s a very important concept. So for instance, if you’ve ever had a localized rash on your leg, a doctor might give you something to put topically around that spot— (22:24 – 22:38)

Ali: Alright. (22:38)

Genius: And after a couple days, hopefully, if things go well, the rash disappears, dissipates and starts to go away because they gave you a particular way to address a localized issue. (22:39 – 22:48)

Ali:  Right. (22:48)

Genius: However, there are people who get diagnosed with, for instance, cancer in their blood.  (22:49 – 22:54)

Ali: Right… right. (22:54 – 22:56)

Genius: That is a systemic issue, right? It flows through your bloodstream. (22:56 – 23:00)

Ali: Right. (23:00)

Genius: So the way you have to attack that, there is no salve or cream that a doctor can give you to put in a certain spot to attack your systemic issue. (23:01 – 23:11)

Ali: Yeah. (23:12)

Genius: You have to ingest medicine, you have to get things in your blood system, whatever it is you have to do: radiation, chemotherapy— (23:11 – 23:18)

Ali: Transformation. (23:18 – 23:19)

Genius: Right, a whole transformation. Once something is systemically broken, especially when it has been systemically broken for a long time, the way to fix it is not with little localized moments. (23:19 – 23:32)

Ali: Nope. (23:32)

Genius: I mean those matter, don’t get me wrong. (23:32 – 23:34)

Ali: Yeah. (23:34)

Genius: But I just want to give people that because I think something, again, we use terms like systemic, and it just becomes like a buzzword—but no, it really means something. (23:34 – 23:41)

Ali: Right. (23:41)

Genius: So, you talk to me a little bit. What is systemic? You used system, the system, the system. A bunch of times, what up with that? (23:42 – 23:47)

Ali: I mean it is just a easier way to… to bring it all together, right. Because racism, right? If you want to talk about racism— (23:47 –  24:00)

Genius: Yeah. (24:00)

Ali: Just because everyone is like, “Oh my god, I’m not a racist, and I am not this and I’m not that.” Well, you gotta look at the definition of racism, right? Because racism isn’t a social issue. It is not like, “I don’t like this person because they’re this color.” That’s, that’s, that’s your choice, right? That’s prejudice, right, but that’s not racism. Racism is when you are taking a value of someone and degrading it, by—in every predicament, right? So when it comes to finances, when it comes to education, when it comes to health, when it comes to prospering, when it comes, you know, to the ability to do things. That becomes a racist structure, so when this racist structure affects people of color heavily, that when you see everything that’s negative really high and everything that is positive really low, right? (24:00 – 24:50) 

Genius: Yes. (24:50)

Ali:  So for example, education, like, really low for Blacks, and then if you look at poverty levels, they’re really low and death rates are really high. So all the negative things, right, all the negative things are affecting the people of color, and how did this happen, right? Because a system had cre—all this had started from a different system. So the original system had started obviously with the Spanish people when Spain took enslaved Africans from Africa and brought them to this country, right? And there was Blacks in this country, way before all of this. Like, there were Blacks in this country already. (24:51 – 25:29)

Genius: Mmhmm. (25:29)

Ali: So when they brought the Africans, they gave the white people here an incentive, even the poor whites. They were like, “Hey, y’all want to get rich?” (chuckle) (25:30 – 25:38) 

Genius: Yep. (25:38) 

Ali: So this is an easy thing, right? So they, Michelle Alexander explains this in her book, The New Jim Crow. I’m sorry. The New Jim Crow. She explains it, she says that it was used as a tool, because it’s easy, you know? You can look at someone and say just because the color of their skin is just a little bit darker, they’re… not as smart as us. Period. (25:39 – 26:00)

Genius: Right. (26:00)

Ali: And everyone was gonna believe it because it was just a tool, man. (26:00 – 26:03)

Genius: It was just a tool to create otherism. One thing that I want to interject, because I definitely love the way you explained this. You know, when we talk about things being systemic or systems, we’re not talking about people inventing new systems. We’re talking about echoes of old systems. Part of the reason that this conversation can get stagnated is because a lot of people in America, they just don’t want to hear any, you know— “Forget the past, move on. (26:04 – 26:29)

Ali: Yes! (26:30)

Genius: Why do you keep talking about the past?” It’s like, “Listen listen listen.” Even the way that you are responding to me right now isn’t new. (laughs) (26:30 – 26:37)

Ali: They stuck, they freeze. They freeze. (26:37 – 26:39)

Genius: Even your response to being tired of talk about it— (26:37 – 26:38)

Ali: They freeze when they hear slavery, but it’s like— (26:40 – 26:43)

Genius: But, but where did the system start and like, you know, continue? I am just saying, like if you have a car in 2019 or whatever, just real quick here. You can still go look at cars from the 1980s, and if you learn that engine, it tells you about the 2018 car. It does, and if you look at a car from the 60s, it tells you something, right? A combustion engine is a combustion engine. Yeah, it gets more, uh, sleek and has more plastic and more electronics surveillance built into it. You’re exploding gasoline, homie. We figured that out a long time ago. Systems get updated, but people aren’t usually just creating new systems. (26:44 – 27:23) 

Genius: I just want that echo to be real. (27:25 – 27:27)

Ali: Yep. (27:26)

Ali: No, this is… It was an essential, man. Cause this… All this was essential to a prospering, like okay, of power. That’s all it was. (26:27 – 27:34)

Genius: Yes. (27:34)

Ali: So, to moving forward from this, and I know that they say, “Oh, we’ve had a lot of progress,” but you really look at it, we black people made the progress. White people didn’t really do the progress because black people are the only people that have to shed their blood to get anywhere. We have to shed our blood to get to have voting or shed our blood to get to school, but and that’s when it becomes a problem. Like okay, how American are we? How American are we if we disregard the fact that blacks really build this country, right? (27:34 – 28:05)

Genius: Like literally! (28:05 – 28:06)

Ali: Literally, and Natives actually owned this country, right? (28:06 – 28:10)

Genius: Literally! (laughs) (28:10 – 28:12)

Ali: Literally! So like, so this here becomes a problem, right? So after, um, a little bit of progress: the segregation, and you know, the 1954 the Brown vs. Board of Education was signed, after MLK and all that. So people were like, “Yeah, that’s when it ended.”(28:11 – 28:26)

Genius: Shoutout Thurgood Marshall, but yeah, it wasn’t over (28:26 – 28:28)

Ali: From right there, new systems started— (28:29 -28:32)

Genius: Ohhh… (28:32 – 28:33)

Ali: 1954, right? So 1920s to 1980s, what happened was everybody was inside their communities, and people were coming back from war. Blacks and whites were mixed. (28:34 – 28:43)

Genius: Yep. (28:42)

Ali: This is where the red-lining, the segregating… This is that different areas changes (28:43 – 28:46)

Genius: Yeah, that was too dangerous. They couldn’t let that fly. (28:45 – 28:47)

Ali: Right but redlining actually took off on a different scale, right, and people say redlining, like, goes something like, the Color of Law, right? If you read the Color of Law, it teaches you—it said that when the loans were given out, they were given out at low interest rates to whites. So towards the end when Blacks were trying to—towards the end of the 1980s like that when all the houses in the suburbs were filled up already— (28:47 – 29:16)

Genius: Yeah. (29:16)

Ali: and all the communities that were—all only people that were all, that were all—there were Blacks, were Natives and low-income whites, that’s all that was there. Black people only had 2% of the ownership when it came to the houses in the suburbs. So at that time, $14,000 – $17,000 that was the average amount for the houses. (29:17 – 29:37)

Genius: Yeah. (29:37)

Ali: And this jumped up to $200,000 – $300,000. That’s called equity now, right? So, that’s wealth. (29:37 – 29:42)

Genius: Mmm. (29:42)

Ali: Now, everybody that’s Black, right. If—for example—if a Black person moved into the neighborhood, everyone moved out, right? So this person couldn’t even build equity. So the 2% that actually built something—that built something, couldn’t really build it, right. (29:43 – 29:59)

Genius: Wow… they were still kept out. (29:59 – 30:00)

 Ali: They were still kept out. So now we have $300,000 worth of, you know what I mean, equity$100 to $300,000. So now this builds the middle class. The schools and everything, the jobs are sent out to the suburbs. Highways are built in between, so now if you see the inner cities, theres’s highways—(30:00 – 30:19)

Genius: Yup. (30:19)

Ali: there’s the court systems right next to the neighborhoods, right? (30:20 – 30:22)

Genius: Yup. (30:23)

Ali: And downtown, and then over the bridge is green, but the police force live—where do the police live? In the suburbs—(30:23 – 30:32)

Genius: Yep. (30:32)

Ali: where, who gets taxed? The communities. Where does the money go? To the police force that they send in the cops, and they’re in these communities. Now the drugs came into the 1970s – 1980s, right? Nixon… (30:33 – 30:42)

Genius: Mhmm, yep. (30:41 – 30:42)

Ali: Who was the other person? Uh, I’m not gonna get into all the presidents, but Nixon was the biggest one that really pushed it into it. The next president said, um, it was a War on Drugs, and said, “Just say, ‘no.’” And then it was like the three times you’re out or whatever, you know? (30:42 – 31:00)

Genius: Three Strikes, You’re Out. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. (30:59 – 31:01)

Ali: Yeah, the Three Strike System.  (31:01 – 31:02)

Genius: Wow… (31:02)

Ali: So all of this jumped from the number was—now I wish I had my notes, man. So it was roughly around like 100,000/200,000 to 2.3 million people that were incarcerated within, like, 20-30 years. (31:03 – 31:15)

Genius: Yeah. (31:15)

Ali: So Blacks, obviously, crack cocaine, hundred years. Cocaine was one year. You know that. So now this system, 13th Amendment that came in with slavery, saying that slavery is abolished— (31:16 – 31:27)

Genius: Hold on one second. (31:27 – 31:28)

Ali: Yeah? (31:28)

Genius: Oh, ‘cause the 13th Amendment is powerful; however, I just wanna highlight, if you think about the architecture and the image that Ali just painted—if you closed your eyes and you heard that—if not, rewind the podcast. It’s gucci. No one’s gonna make fun of you. (31:29 – 31:42)

Ali: (chuckles) (31:41)

Genius: Right? Think about how he was saying that wealth was created, right? With equity and homes. And there were people that had homes, and there were people that were kept out of homes, but then, it wasn’t just having a house. It wasn’t just about your comfortability, right? It was about the system of the city, the city planning… where the highways go, and then people are physically separated.  (31:43 – 32:03)

Ali: Yup. (32:03)

Genius: And then the Police are—we’ll talk a little bit more about what the Police are really here to do, but they, you know, they’re there to kind of lean on the situation to—let’s say—make it look a certain way, but the Police aren’t even from the neighborhoods on that side of the highway. You’re talking about a system. (32:04 – 32:19)

Ali: Mhmm. (32:19)

Genius: Right? It’s—if you think about it, that system is recreated in city, after city, after city, after city, city (x4) all throughout the country. (32:20 – 32:28)

Ali: Yup. (32:28)

Genius: Think about it, you might—even when we were describing it—you might think of your local hood. (32:29 – 32:33)

Ali: Yeah. (32:33)

Genius: Nope, all of ‘em. Go to California. Go to Alabama. Go to Texas. Go to New York. It’s all the same story, and it was done on purpose. Systems— (32:34 – 32:45)

Ali: Right. (32:45)

Genius: —are created to maintain certain things, to achieve certain things, and they also tend to have the fingerprints of their creators on that system. (32:46 – 32:54)

Ali: Mhmm. (32:55)

Genius: Yessir. (32:55 – 32:56)

Ali: No, and well, this—it continued, right? ‘Cause you can hold the government accountable after the—you know, 1954—they when they signed the Brown vs. Board of Education or anything like that specifically. (32:56 – 33:09)

Genius: Yeah. (33:09)

Ali: You can hold them accountable—and they call it jure de facto—did it happen by the People’s choice, or did it happen by the government, you know? (33:10 – 33:16)

Genius: Right. (33:16)

Ali: And um, that’s an argument that Rothstein actually approves in the Color of Law ‘cause he’s like—yo you can actually hold the government accountable for that for those reasons, and they should be given back to the same type of loans to the descendants of the, uh, the descendants of slaves that were original Blacks, right? You gotta give ‘em the houses back from the $14,000 – $17,000 so they can build their equity, so it can be fair. (33:17 – 32:42)

Genius: Mm! (32:42)

Ali: That’s, that’s just by law, right? He proved that point, but you know, the government don’t like paying good(?) things back, right? (32:43 – 33:49)

Genius: —especially not to Black people, Brown people.(33:49 – 33:51)

Ali: They’re like—ain’t gonna pay nothin’ back. So anyways, so this kinda jumps into the 2000s and now we’re in 2020. We obviously see a lot of the issues coming up. But I mean, this isn’t something that just started the issues. It’s just like, these are systems that are created and embedded. Our schools are underfunded. The houses are broken down. Kids are getting sick. They can’t focus in school or behavioral issues. SROs are, are police officers are, are in schools. And like we understand police officers were like, you know, 10,000 police officers were hired back when, the school shootings popped off and whatnot. But at the same time, like no police officer has never stopped a school shooting period, right.

But over a million kids got arrested. And most of those kids were Black, and because of behavioral issues. Now the kids got behavioral issues because their parents have to overwork. And we live in a capitalist society where you have to work multiple jobs just to afford, right? So there’s, there’s like there’s maybe two counties in this country where you can work a 40-hour job, a minimum wage and afford a two-bedroom home. (33:51 – 34:47)

Genius: Super rare. (34:48)

Ali: Right. So now as a, sometimes, so now it’s like the men are getting arrested because one in every three Black men are gonna go to jail, right? And that’s not because Black people are, are bad because it’s scientifically proven that all races commit crime at the same rate. And actually whites sell more drugs than Black people, right? Yes. For sure. But Black people, one in every three, and I think white people was one in every 17, right? If I’m not wrong, it’s one in every 17. (34:49 – 35:12)

Genius: Damn. (35:13)

Ali: So now you got single mothers and you got this music industry that’s controlled. And I was listening to a podcast, not a podcast, a Ted Talk the other day and they said the music, they were trying to put out some lovely music into Black neighborhoods. And they said, no, we ain’t going with that. (35:14 – 35:28)

Genius: Nah, y’all gotta talk that crazy s***. (35:29 – 35:30)

Ali: Yeah, they wanted the drugs and the guns. Cause that’s what sells. (35:31 – 35:32)

Genius: And then, not that no Black people was trying to tell that story. That was their real ghetto story, let’s be real. At the same time, when you take music to a record label, I’m just saying, cause I’m actually working on some music right now and I’m, I’m not shouting out my record label. I’m saying in general …

(35:33 – 35:48) 

Ali: Shout out your record label, man. Stop playin’. (35:49 – 35:50)

Genius: At this moment, what I’m saying is that when you are working on a body of, of music, you are beholden somewhat to a record label if they’ve signed you, because they have some say so, and they don’t, you know, they don’t want to promote the wrong thing. They want to promote what they think will be successful. That’s why they’re putting money behind you. So, make no mistake when you, you know, I remember the days of the gangster rap and they were all the people, “Oh my God, how are they saying this?” It’s like, well, people just having fun and saying what they want to say. They’re saying what they need to say. They’re also saying what they’re being paid to say, don’t trip. And it’s not a bunch of Black people paying them. I’m sorry. Let’s just … I’m not trying to point the finger. I know people talk about Jewish people, white people. What I’m saying is that we was talking about the gangster rap and the NWAs and all that, even before that, right. When people were, let’s say talking about these harsh things or pain and drugs and rape and b****** and all that, who was paying to put the music out? (35:51 – 36:40)

Ali: Who’s still paying them right now? (36:41 – 36:42) 

Genius: But I’m just saying, because that’s something that just gets overlooked, but like, “Black people are so violent.” Well, y’all like to hear about Black people’s violence. Yeah. So says your dollars. So says your actual money and your playlist and which songs you put on repeat. But I’m just saying … (36:43 – 36:59)

Ali: No, but it’s a reality because if you, you hear the rappers they say, “I don’t use drugs.” They say, “I gotta say this.” Because if you listen to Lil’ Baby’s new song, for example, and I know people are always trying to stay up with their music. So I’m going to throw Lil’ Baby out there and he made one about the movement. And he specifically says, “There’s certain things that cannot say,” he says, “I say what I got to say,” he’d say, he explains it. You got to listen to people’s music, man. ‘Cause when I, when the music explains our pain, right, it does. It does. But now when you put this type of music in Chicago where it’s like, what is it, that death city of, I don’t know, whatever they call it. But now they’re saying, well, what about Black-on-Black crime? I said, well, who put them in the communities? Who took the resources and made them scarce resources? (37:00 – 37:51)

Genius: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Bro, I’m sorry. It’s all these people, and I’m going to say it like this. I’m gonna say it like this, ‘cause it’s real. There’s a lot of white people who maybe don’t know a lot of Black people. They don’t live near a neighborhood like that, or communities like that, right? And they have all these views of Black-on-Black crime and how Black people are to each other, right? But what’s crazy is if you peel back, just like you said, who created those neighborhoods? The Black people did not just decide one day, we’re going to go all live on the Westside of Chicago together because we think it’s beautiful. No, these neighborhoods, this is where people were allowed to live. They were pushed out of other places. And then the police were sent there to keep stirring s*** up and don’t play. So, when you look at these neighborhoods and you watch these news reports and this was, Donald Trump talking, this “American carnage” and all this s***, they love to, once they created these spaces, and don’t do anything to make them less dangerous except throw police at it, because police make it less dangerous? No. (37:52 – 38:54)

Ali: Police officers were made for, to capture Black people. Literally, that’s literally, that’s the history. So it’s like … (38:55 – 39:01)

Genius: We’re going to touch back on that in a second, but I just want to say this because you’re right. But what I’m saying is that there’s just this stigma and there’s these views that these crazy wild Black people are like stuck in this jungle. They didn’t even create the jungle. And the conditions that make it so wild were not created by Black people. This isn’t me trying to, don’t get me wrong, there’s gangsters, people shooting people, raping people that happen to be Black, yeah. I’m not making excuses for these people. I’m just saying peel back and understand the circumstances that created these environments, and continue to create these environments, instead of just watching the news and these reports about how bad it is and all these numbers, without ever realizing how it started. (39:02 – 39:43)

Ali: But I guarantee you though, a lot of people will listen to this and say, “Wow, I didn’t know this.” So, you hear people right now saying, “BLM, it’s just a terrorist group and they’re blowing stuff up and they’re throwing things and they’re doing this and that.” And it’s like, but do you guys know the real deep history and why it’s happening? They just don’t. They don’t. Yeah. “That person has to stop.” But, but what, 400 years of pain isn’t enough, and blood and tears and crying and death and still happening? And police officers are still shooting us in the back and strangling us and stuff. (39:44 – 40:18) 

Genius: And why don’t nobody tell the police to be non-violent? I was at a protest with a guy screaming at me to be, make sure you don’t do anything violent. The police are crossing me with, with whatever you call the jackets on, the face mask, they got these long sticks look like they ready to do some Ambo-Jitsu on somebody. I mean like, literally I’m like, where did y’all even get this gear from? And this guy screaming at me, physically, “Just make sure there’s no violence against the police.” And I’m like, who’s about to have violence? But nobody says that to the police. I don’t get it. (40:19 – 40:53)

Ali: They were taught through their curriculum. Doesn’t teach this. It doesn’t teach this. So, what they all do, the only thing they knew is like, “You guys have freedom, just relax. Y’all can do whatever y’all want.” But can we though? Because, check this out. There’s 2.3 million people that are arrested right now, 5 million people on probation, 70 million people that have criminal records. That’s about 25% of this, of this country, right? 25% of this country has a criminal record. And that means that you’re discriminated against housing, against jobs, against funding for school. Like, these are issues that you can’t prosper. How are you going to raise a family? How are you gonna be with somebody, if you can’t achieve funds, right? So that’s why when people say, I can’t trust the other sex, it’s because these issues come into it. These social issues, economical issues. And it’s just like, I can’t prosper in life; you expect me to go crazy? And as soon, and if I have a criminal record, now the same police officers are just going to start looking at me, right? And after mass incarceration is going to be my mass surveillance. So, there’s a new system that’s coming up. It just adds up, for everybody that’s listening. So if they’re already, if a Black man is walking in a white neighborhood, automatically a cop’s gonna pull up like, “Hey, what the hell you doing here?” But if you have a criminal record, now it’s like, “What are you really doing over here?” If you’re on probation, like, “What are you really…?” You don’t, your probation is like, you don’t have a job, then it’s, so it’s a system that you’re never going to win. You’re not going to win. And if you like, and humans are bound to make mistakes where normally people that make mistakes, we’re going to be late to work. If you make one mistake then you’re going to … so this, you expect somebody to be normal? After, after witnessing people being murdered, after hearing about your history, after being told that you’re worthless? You expect Black people to be normal. So, nobody’s talking about Black trauma. Nobody’s talking about that, right? And that’s what, white people would just be like, okay, well just go and kind of get over it. But it’s like, how can we, even if we go to your therapists, they don’t understand our reality. So, they’ll be like, you know, this is the type of, it’s not the remedy. (40:54 – 43:01)

Genius: Bro. I think you’re right. So, I want to ask something of you, just because, I mean, I do think that people can start to understand why and how Black people are kind of influenced by this reality, how these systems, we say systems of oppression, but it’s more than just oppression. Like there’s a lot going on … (43:02 – 43:20)

Ali: Disadvantages everywhere. (43:21 – 43:22)

Genius: Right. But talk to me a little bit about how, I mean, obviously we have people of color, but what about white people? I feel like white people are not only affected by these systems, but like the way this racism lives itself out? White people are hurt, and, and disadvantaged and, and lied to, fooled. And they don’t even know it, bro. (43:23 – 43:41)

Ali: I mean, this is … okay. So, when they said, “war on drugs,” they said, “just say no,” right? That’s a lie. That was a lie. It’s war against brown and Black people. And then anybody that was low income in the white communities, “Oh, you want to support them? You can go right there with them.” Right? So what happens is that number, that bracket, got bigger and got bigger and got bigger. So there’s so many people that are below the poverty line and the rich are getting richer, capitalism. The same thing they go, we want to call it structural racism. They want to call it capitalism. Same difference, bro. But like the thing is, that in reality, when you do see white people saying, “Black lives matter,” they’re saying that “We’re being affected too, buddy. We’re being affected too. And this is where it’s going to stand, because we’re being affected the exact same way. I have a criminal record. I’m dressed this way. I listened to Black music. I’m hanging out with all Black people.” And it is technically, sometimes I don’t even want to just say just “Black,” because people of color, you know, I want to respect, native people that are, that are also disadvantages. And I wanted to respect the Hispanics that are also, populated highly inside of the prisons and whatnot. So, I want to respect everybody that lives in this country because it’s not all Black and white. It is, other races. But the difference is here, right? The difference is when you’re white, you have a little bit more of an advantage, right? For example, benefit of the doubt. When a Black person walks into court, right? Immediately you’re guilty. You’re going to have to prove your innocence. And I’m telling you this right now, everybody, who’s going to disagree with me? (43:42 – 45:30)

Genius: A couple of ignorant people, but anyway … (45:31 – 45:32)

Ali: They won’t disagree with me. They know the fact; they can lie to themselves. But when someone that’s white walks in: “What happened?” (45:33 – 45:41)

Genius: Yeah. We don’t want to ruin your life because you made a mistake. Wait, hold on. (45:42 – 45:45)

Ali: “I made a mistake. I made a mistake.” So, this is like, so now, now we have economics. We have education. We have health, we have incarceration. We have the disadvantages. We have the police force. Now the next thing is called the bias. Right? So now we have even the mental view, every single way, even the Black kids that are born have less of a high chance when they’re, when they’re being delivered by their white counterparts. And I’m saying, I’m not saying this in a racial view, this is a stat. (45:46 – 46:19)

Genius: It’s mathematical. Proven. Understood. (46:20 – 46:22)

Ali: The reason why, when we have bias, we take the white body and put it higher, at a higher, they meet value, a value, than the Black body. And this is the problem. That’s the problem. Even Black people do it. So when I realized I am racist, or not, or biased or prejudiced against my own people, I had to stop. I had to go as when I walk into an elevator and I see a white person, I shake the hand. When I, when I, when I walk to the elevator, I see a Black person and I nod my head. Right? I stopped doing that. I say, “How you doing, brother?” I smile at him. I shake his hand the same way I would do it for a white person. The reason why it’s because I have to trick my mind and I have to say, this is not threatening. Right? I have to do this. And this is a work of a Black person. Now think of a white person saying, “Oh, I’m not a racist.” Guess what? Every single part of this country is racist. (46:23 – 47:20)

Genius: By default. (47:21) 

Ali: Our dollar bills have to have slave masters. Our 13th amendment says slavery is still … Everything is racist in it. I got to do this work as a Black person. And I’ve been doing this work. You got to do this work. The white people also have to do this work. (47:22 – 47:35)

Genius: This is the end of Part A. (47:37 – 47:38)

Genius Black:

This is the beginning of part B. And Ali, I want to ask you kind of in summary of that segment, really, why is it important that we understand the system?

Ali Ali:

I mean, so everything is law and order, right? Because police are order maintenance and we have to follow the law. And 2000 to 3000 laws are created every year. And if you break a law, then you could be incarcerated. You could be arrested, anything like that could happen. So, if these laws and everything affect us every single day from jobs, from security, from food, from family, from everything that you do, mental health, these systems are connected to everything. If we don’t figure out what’s wrong with the system and we keep looking at people, we’re now going to find a conclusion, because people are just reactions to what they’re learning. Everything is learned behavior, scientifically proven. So if I, like I said earlier, if I’m attacked, then I’m just going to attack back. If I’m hurt, then I’m going to hurt. If I’m loved and I’m cherished, then I’m going to be loved and I’m going to release some love and cherish, right?

Genius Black:

Yeah, yeah.

Ali Ali:

So, understanding that the systems are affecting black people in this country. And if you really care about black lives, right? And you say black lives matter, they just matter. That’s all it is. It’s like your life matters. Then if our lives matter, then it’s your responsibility to understand and see what’s affecting us. Stop looking at the actions and say, “Hey, how do we resolve what’s affecting you?” And that just goes back to a system that’s made to oppress us.

Genius Black:

Absolutely. No, thank you. Thank you for that. I think that what I want to do is just move forward. We have another way to talk about systems. We happen to be located currently in the state of Maine. And it’s a little different from a lot of states. Come visit us. Check us out. But right now, we want to talk about the system specifically in Maine. So what do these systems look like? I know that you have some familiarity. I’m just curious. Can you give us a couple of details about … Before we talk about how we can break down some of the systems in Maine and maybe some of the work that you’re doing to break them down, but what are we really facing? What do these systems look like in Maine?

Ali Ali:

All right. So I know we have the highest disproportionate thing of COVID. I don’t know the exact percentages and they talk about that a lot. But we have 1.6% black people that live in Maine, right? And there’s about 23% of youth that are incarcerated that are black.

Genius Black:

1.6% of Mainers are black?

Ali Ali:

And 23% are incarcerated out inside the juvenile facility.

Genius Black:

Of those incarcerated, 20% are black?

Ali Ali:

23% are black.

Genius Black:

Wow.

Ali Ali:

So we have about, I don’t know, what is it? Like 20 times the rate.

Genius Black:

It’s crazy.

Ali Ali:

Immediately, now you start to look at the police officers. So you looked at the youth. It’s about 50% of kids that go Portland schools are of color. Right? 50%, in Portland schools.

Genius Black:

Yeah. Portland’s popping, yeah.

Ali Ali:

Right. And then you look at how many police officers are black. And even if you did have black police officers, when you’re working in a system that’s made to harm, black people you’re just going to do it. Remember that bias thing I was talking about.

Genius Black:

Yup.

Ali Ali:

So if we, as adults are having this class thing, this doesn’t happen in Maine. But what does happen in Maine? Look at Isahak Muse. Isahak Muse was actually a close friend of mine. He texted me the night before he actually got shot in the back.

Genius Black:

Say his name one more time.

Ali Ali:

Isahak Muse.

Genius Black:

Yeah. And this brother was murdered?

Ali Ali:

He was shot in the back. Right in the back in his girlfriend’s house. Her brother shot. But anyways, the reality is that the benefit of the doubt. Again, he was in the military. But there were statements that were said like, “Muslims are terrorists” inside the house. And other ones like, “Why are you hurting me?” Another one was like, “He could’ve grabbed the phone, but he grabbed the gun.” Right? So there’s these things that were certain statements that were said. So it just turned out that he has seven and a half years in prison. Right?

Genius Black:

Yeah, I saw that.

Ali Ali:

I have more friends doing drugs, bro, doing more time for drugs about 20 years.

Genius Black:

Yeah. They didn’t shoot anybody. They didn’t kill them.

Ali Ali:

No, nothing. They didn’t do any of that.

Genius Black:

Yeah. And also, I just wanted to say, because it stood out to me in the article I was reading it recently too, about the guy who got the seven and a half years. Some people were like, “Oh, this is good.” But he got less time because he served in the military.

Ali Ali:

But Joseph Jackson also served in the military. He did 20 years for self-defense.

Genius Black:

Yeah. No hate to the military. My dad was in the military, some of my good friends growing up. Well, if y’all want to be you’re going to act like I’m saying something against military, then say what you’re going to say. But I’m going to say that I don’t think even this man murdered this … Well, technically, he murdered his sister’s boyfriend, right? I mean, that’s what happened. He should get less time because he served in the military?

Ali Ali:

Is this, man. Is simple as this, right? This is the only country where two people could do the exact same thing at the exact same time, at the exact same place and get two different sentences. Only place in the world. I said this other day. I was, light white sentences is also a tool of white supremacy.

Genius Black:

Light white sentences are also a tool of white supremacy.

Ali Ali:

Yep.

Genius Black:

Truth.

Ali Ali:

So that’s the systems in Maine.

Genius Black:

Because it’s easy to be like, “Oh no, the judge said. The judge said.” Well, who’s the judge? Who put them in power? And what systems are they echoing? Who taught them in law school? You know what I mean? What are they built upon? But people don’t go back there for.

Ali Ali:

It’s the simplicity of this, man. We live under systems. We all have bias no matter how much bias training we do. I mean, I released a five-day, what you call it? Reversing structural racism. And Laura Ligouri, she’s a scientist. She’s a cognitive scientist. She said, “No matter how much bias training you guys do, it’s not going to work.” Unless you really want to change your brain and really focus on it. But like, “Oh, I took bias training. I’m good.” No, you’re still biased. You just realize that you’re biased. This is just a training to tell you that you know you are. I’m like, “Yeah, I know I am.”

Ali Ali:

It is what it is. It doesn’t bother them. So for me, when people do bias training is like, “Why are you wasting your money? Why are you wasting your money?” I don’t care if nobody likes me. To be honest, I just want to be financially good. My health is good. My mental is good. Then I can defend myself. That’s what racism is. It’s because you can’t defend yourself. It’s a structure. It’s the value of life. That’s racism. It’s not a personal hate. That’s like prejudice.

Ali Ali:

I keep saying this like this is the fact is that I’m not here to convince racist people’s minds. I talked to racist people all the time. I have great conversations with them. And we come to a clear understanding that it’s actually capitalism. Great. But the fact is that the more money you’re putting into how to teach white people not to be racist is the same money you could give to black people to get them off of the structure of racism.

Genius Black:

Interesting.

Ali Ali:

Like, that’s the fact is like when two people are equal, you can hang all you want.

Genius Black:

Yeah, yeah. No. Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s the thing too. Sometimes I think people get caught up in like, “Yo, if we could just convince these white people to really love black people and to get up.” And it’s like, “Honestly, I mean, if we could do that, that’s cool. But I don’t need that. I’m trying to rock regardless, because how long have we been trying to convince people that it’s all good?”

Ali Ali:

I have white people that I love. And I got white people that love me.

Genius Black:

Me too, for sure.

Ali Ali:

And you do too, right? So that’s a personal thing. These are personal. Like, I don’t care. You can’t change the whole. But we can change structures.

Genius Black:

We can. So how do we change the structures in the state of Maine?

Ali Ali:

First off, in the whole country, we need to give back things. We need to give back what was taken. We need to give back land and we need to give back money. And how are we going to do that with reparations? That’s the first thing we need to do. It’s not like, “Oh, we climbed this mountain. And yet we did it on y’all backs, but now y’all got a climb it.” No. Y’all got to return what the heck y’all took. That’s just a reality, right? And if that’s not going to happen, which probably isn’t, then we say, “Hey, police officer, stop.” Defund the police and reinvest. Not only defund because that word doesn’t just give it enough juice. You got to add the reinvest into things that are going to help us.

Genius Black:

Yeah. So reallocation.

Ali Ali:

Reallocating. So when you reallocate this money into education, our schools are better. And then you give it to the communities that are divided and whatever. And now they’re over the police. Now, if you could put less police and more credible messages, credible messengers like mentors, black leaders, black women, beautiful black women that are leaders, black men that are leaders. Now we got something to look up to because I had nobody to look up to.

Ali Ali:

I mean, now I’m looking up to people. But before I didn’t have people to look up to. It was very hard. So people are looking up to me now. They’re saying, “Hey, I want to look …” A lot of young kids who say, “I like how Ali rolls.” I’m just like, “Bro, I’m not a leader. I’m not, bro. I’m just like you. I’m really just like you.” But they’re looking at me like that now. So now I’m saying like this, right, if youth are doing this, so why can’t we bring in a good 15, 20 that had life experience, that knows these things, that we can pay through the taxes, the same taxes, right? From the government that we’re paying for these pensions and whatever, to the same funnel stream to the mentors and the credible messengers or whatnot?

Ali Ali:

In these communities, we have less issues because we’re teaching the kids, “This is how you’re supposed to act.” Right? We’re not removing children from there. We’re not taking children. We’re actually helping the community. That’s the first part. This is my ideas too. This my own personalities and everybody has their own, right?

Genius Black:

Yeah, sure.

Ali Ali:

And there’s no one particular way to do it. If we had one way to do it, it’s not like one person created the system. It’s like hundreds of hundreds of thousands of people over the years that had. So it’s going to take hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people together, which if America put our heads together, we could do it, right? That’s one idea. Another idea is after you remove the police, like babysitters so the mothers can get more money, how about bringing down the loans for the black people so they can get their home, so they can earn the 200, $300,000 in equity? There are so much different ways. America’s not running out of money.

Genius Black:

No, it’s not.

Ali Ali:

America is the richest country in the world. We have the most billionaires, the most. So we’re not running out of money and the taxes we’re getting taxed for everything, for everything we do. For breathing, technically. You know what I mean?

Genius Black:

So where’s the money, exactly?

Ali Ali:

So that money just reallocating it in the right places.

Genius Black:

So, and that’s the thing. I like how you just talked about reallocating. You talked about defunding. And again, what does defunding mean? Everyone just hears that. Not everyone. Excuse me. People that are ignorant of the meaning, just saying, hear that and go, “Oh, you want to get rid of police. You just want to …” No. Well, maybe.

Ali Ali:

Reimagine.

Genius Black:

Yeah, reimagine. Reinvent. Reapproach. Something that they just are not willing to do but that is what we mean. One of the things that I want to say, and I’m just curious, because you talked a little bit about what it would look like, where you put those funds. And the question that we were just thinking about just at Black Owned Maine in general is, is it possible to be both pro-black and to be pro-police, like I support the police?

Ali Ali:

As they are right now? No, it can’t. You can’t do that. This is why. Pro-police, police order maintenance. And the laws are struck in policy, are struck into affect us negatively. So as a police officer, they have to do their job. And if their job says the law says that this, this, this, this, this have to be in place, then you’re just harming black people. That’s the fact. We have the most police officers in the world, the highest incarceration rate, black people are dying, obviously. We see them normally getting shot and everything like that. Nobody’s being held accountable. How are we going to be pro both sides? What we have to do is reimagine, right? So one thing, we have to heal the blacks. We have to heal our community. We have to heal what we have caused. That’s the pain, right? And then for the police, we have to reimagine. We can’t have police officers from the suburbs going to our community.

Genius Black:

Bro.

Ali Ali:

We have to have the police officers be from our own community.

Genius Black:

Police unions are very problematic as well because of what they maintain over time. And I wanted to actually harken back, Ali, to a quote from you because it’s really resonated with me. We had like a pre-talk before this podcast and I had to snatch this quote. And what the brother said was, “It’s not your fault, but you’re thriving and I’m hurting.” The responsibility to change is on whites because their money is stolen money. And when I take that idea … I mean, again, there’s a lot of white people in America right now. Everything that’s going on is literally not their fault. It’s not the state they originated in.

Ali Ali:

It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

Genius Black:

We accept that.

Ali Ali:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

But this is the thing. There are still people that are thriving and there’s people that are hurting at the same time. And there’s a system that’s maintaining that. So, when I was listening to Ali and he was saying the responsibility for this changes on the white people because the money is stolen, yo, when we talk about these police and how I’m just going to say it. So many white Americans feel so safe and secure because of what they think. When is the right time to call the police? I’ve been wronged. Someone did this to me. Something happened to my daughter. And I respect that you want help from someone who was helpful, but the police make you feel safe. They don’t make everyone feel safe. In fact, it’s proven that some people are not as safe around police as maybe you are honestly it’s maybe you think you are. So, we talk about-

Ali Ali:

Because they do that because they do their job when it’s with white people.

Genius Black:

Right, right, right, right, right. It looks a certain way. But what we’re saying is when we talk about taking money from the police forces, we’re not hating them or want them to not be able to take care of their families. That’s not the point. We’re saying we need less police, because we do. And what we’re saying is that some of that money that keeps society in a certain way and keeps people in a certain cage, if you can literally pull some of that money away from those systems that are so old and sit the money somewhere else, your society will actually be different.

Ali Ali:

The fact is that they increase the budget for the police, for public safety, so-called public safety, every single year. Crimes have been dropping every single year, right? Our incarceration rate is still at the highest in the world. Our mental health rate is still at the highest in the world. Our depression rate are still highest in the world. Our abusive pharmaceutical drugs are still the highest in the world. We still have the same issues. If we could jail our way out of it, it would have happened already. But no, we’re just increasing the amount of people that have criminal records that are going to be disadvantaged.

Ali Ali:

And that’s why it’s not about one or two or three year or a hundred people or a thousand people, or the 40 million black people that live in this country that are fighting. It’s a lot of white people that are doing this work that are in the work right now is because everyone is affected, right? So it’s not about single police officers. It’s about a system that keeps increasing what’s not needed. It needs to decrease. And it needs to increase in positive things.

Genius Black:

Absolutely, bro. So, just so we can move forward because, I mean, I just had to touch on that because, again, the pro-black pro-police, I’ve heard these types of arguments conversations, and I just want you to chime in. What I want to do is move forward. Or this would be my last thing here, is how do folks get involved?

Ali Ali:

There’s many ways. There is not one specific way of saying, “Oh, defund the police.” No. You can change the word first though. We could say reallocate funds. The second thing is there’s different organizations in Maine. One of which is Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. There’s Maine Inside Out. There’s Maine Youth Justice. There’s Maine Initiatives. There’s so many different Mainer organizations. And I will break down the organizations with you. Actually, I have a little poem that I can read off to you later on that will show you like the gimmick that’s going on.

Ali Ali:

There’s people running for office. Look at the people that’s in your district that are already in office and ask them, “What the heck are you doing about structural racism? What are you doing about the 3%?” I think it was only like, I think. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t hit me on this. I think it’s about 3% of all of the graduates, of black graduates, are reading at the right level of growth, graduating from Portland. And it’s like, why aren’t we investing in things like that? Right?

Ali Ali:

So this is not a responsibility of just the people that are here. These are responsibility of people that are in power. They’re in the power and we need to hold them accountable, right, because they’re voted for. What are you doing for these kids? What are you allocating? What’s your ideas? And who are you getting the ideas from? Don’t pull no ideas out to behind. Ask the people that’s been in the work. Ask the people that are being effected. Ask the people that have the master degrees in this work, the abolitionists, whatever you want to call them. Ask the youth.

Genius Black:

And ask people of color too.

Ali Ali:

Ask people of color. Ask people that experience it. Do not ask people that you think might know. Don’t do that. That’s in power. No. Ask the people that know I brought five people down to the reversing structural racism. I brought professors. I brought researchers. I brought everyone. And you can look at this, reversing structural racism in Maine. Put it on YouTube and there’s a five episode segment where it goes from the cognitive to the policing to education and everything. And I brought all the best experts I could find in the area. And they all went in for a whole hour and to explain how to break this down.

Genius Black:

Wow.

Ali Ali:

Right? So I think that’s the best way to get involved and it’s … There’s Black Owned Maine, right?

Genius Black:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. You can support us. But I hear you talk about being active, right? Getting educated, spending some time. You know what I mean?

Ali Ali:

Yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

One of my day jobs, I have a manager who’s been doing just amazing work on himself. You know what I mean? Like you could go talk to people, have all these conversations and we converse. But he’s reading. I don’t know if he’s meditating, but he’s going in. And I respect that because a lot of people just ain’t willing to do that. You know what I’m saying?

Genius Black:

So we just want to give you all a little bit of those tips. Obviously, check out the body of work that Ali put together about reversing structural racism because you need those resources. You got to set aside some time and sit down. You know what I mean? This isn’t scrolling through social media. Scrolling through social media ain’t going to fix structural racism. Right? So that’s really also a charge and a challenge for y’all.

Ali Ali:

There’s a great website actually that I just released. It’s called reversesrmaine.org. It’s a little organization that … Not really an organization, but this is what I created the platform for the five. If you also click on the tab part, you can see the youth highlights and I’ve been highlighting a lot of youth that have been doing work inside the community, black, white, Hispanic, mixed. And I’m trying to highlight everyone that’s doing the work as much as I can. And we’re going to be updating that, hopefully, every week.

Ali Ali:

And there’s also a donation page if you want to donate. Any of the money is only going to go to the youth activists and they get $50 stipends for all the work that they do. And the reason why I’m doing this is because ain’t nobody paying the black kids, right? Nobody’s paying the kids who’s going to work. I mean, some of them are. But I want to make sure they get highlighted those that are not. And any time they want to get paid, they can just email us at reverse.sr.maine@gmail.com. And if you listen to this, you can do this too. And you can just send in a photo with the type of work you do, let us know, and dropping your Venmo. We’ll be sending you $50 every for all the projects you guys do.

Genius Black:

Word. Word. Real money. Vote with your dollars. So, Ali, what I want to do here moving forward, because I’m always talking about how being black people of color indigenous in America, our lives are complex, honestly. It’s not simplistic. So the fact is that we are multifaceted, multi-angled. And one of the things that I want to talk about now, you know me I’m a creative person. I love art and beautiful things. I know that you are a poet or spoken word artist. I understand. So I’ve heard.

Ali Ali:

Yeah, I do. I do some poetry.

Genius Black:

He does some poetry. The brother slowed down and lean back just a little bit. He was like, “Oh.” But I didn’t want to just ask, because I’m really curious always about the creative process. I’ve had some similar conversations with people. Can you talk to us a little bit about, again, we’re getting a lot of angles of you, brother. We’re looking for this angle.

Ali Ali:

Yeah, yeah, of course.

Genius Black:

How do you best create?

Ali Ali:

When I do my poetry, specifically, I get into this realm of deep thinking. I do it at night.

Genius Black:

Oh, wow. Okay.

Ali Ali:

I can’t have any distractions. I can’t have my daughter near me. I can’t have no tea. I put the phone to the side. It takes me three to four hours and I get into a real deep writer’s block. And I talk about exactly what I want to talk about. It’s like one of the most recent ones is Carceral Humanism. It’s about how you’re still feeling. You feel like you’re caged in this life. And there’s like a chain that’s holding you back. And no matter how far you go, there’s one like that. And it shows like the experiences.

Ali Ali:

And then there’s another one about the system about it, like a chess game. If you actually want to go on my Instagram, go to humblephilosopher2020. There’s actually a little tab that you can click on the top where it says Humble Poetry 2020. And then you look at the bottom part. There’s a chess game. There’s professional one. I’m going to be releasing another one that I’m shooting with somebody really soon. But that’s where I really get into it and I try to … I’m still in a process of releasing it. I didn’t really like wanted to release a lot of my stuff. But a lot of people are like, “Yo, you need to keep going. This is really good and people need to hear it.” So, I’m trying to get it out as fast as I can with all the work that’s going on too.

Genius Black:

Of course, yeah. And priorities. Priorities.

Ali Ali:

Yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

And I’m just curious, are there any things like in your spoken word, your poetry in that level of creativity, are there any things that you return to over and over or things that just seem to come out?

Ali Ali:

A lot of my poetry is about being black in America. I’m Muslim. I’m an immigrant. I have a criminal record. I mean, that’s the worst characteristics [crosstalk 00:23:13].

Genius Black:

No, we love that. We love that. But I understand. I hear you.

Ali Ali:

Yeah. So it’s like a lot of it’s about it just depends, man. There’s one about philanthropy, about the money, like how the whole conversation we had right now. There’s one about black women. I just made this one more recently. There’s one about they tell me I don’t belong here, return to your country. There’s that one? Like, there’s just a lot of different … It’s about my life. I’m an expert of what I know, right? So like how can I relate to what’s going on in the world to my life? How can I relate the criminal justice system to my life? Like, how did that affect his?

Ali Ali:

And I try to relate it so people can understand from a black boy’s life that lived in Maine that grew up here and everything has impacted me. But I’m telling you a story not for entertainment. For educational purposes, and for you to have a purpose and a reason to be like, “Okay, I need to do this work because it’s affecting a lot of people.” And they don’t have to be black and they don’t have to be male. They could be any ethnicity and they can be any race, any sex. Right?

Genius Black:

Yep.

Ali Ali:

So that’s the reason why I do my poetry.

Genius Black:

I love it, bro. I mean, I was going to ask, if you had a piece of poetry you wanted to recite, or if you had something you could pull out. I mean, we on the crispy mix right now.

Ali Ali:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

I know y’all can hear it.

Ali Ali:

This is nice, nice.

Genius Black:

At the same time, not even put you on the spot, whether if you have something that you would like to recite or share with the audience. Again, this is the audience is Maine as well as Texas as far and wide. We’ve got people in Vegas. But then also, for me, man, I’m a creator. I love words. If you want to just break down a poetic idea for us, I would be open to that as well. I’m not saying you have to recite a poem. But I mean, hey, bro.

Ali Ali:

I think I’ll recite a poem. I think poetic ideas are … I mean, everything we speak and as poetic ideas, right?

Genius Black:

Oh. Oh.

Ali Ali:

This whole podcast, you can put it into a poem.

Genius Black:

It’s all poetry.

Ali Ali:

I can do a wrap up of what we talked about today. I could do Carceral Humanism, whichever ones you … What would you do? What did you want to hear? Philosophy? I’m sorry. Philanthropy or the Carceral Humanism?

Genius Black:

Oh, wait, but you said the philanthropy joint wraps up what we were talking about?

Ali Ali:

Yeah, wraps up what we talked about.

Genius Black:

I mean, I don’t know. I don’t want to say yes to either one, but let’s go with that one.

Ali Ali:

Okay. I want to say philanthropy.

Genius Black:

Right, man. You put me on the spot. I’ll try to put … Anyway.

Ali Ali:

All right. So it starts off like this, philanthropy, the definition is a generous donation. All of that wealth you’ve accumulated, what an enormous foundation? You expect me to believe generosity move the elite. We just in their plantation. To promote welfare. I mean, billionaires decide to give some of their share to a low class that hold care. And hopes to declare some fair treatment to settle some affairs that are heinous. Your organization’s plans to fight systems built and secret. Coincidentally, conceiving. Having both sides sign on the dotted line’s agreement. New proposals released then.

Ali Ali:

Set timely infrequent. Boundary set with rules so there is no cheating. Hmm, this is convenient. Examiners examinations gleaming as they discussed during a minor briefing. A table full of individuals that are paid to be seated. Their duty is to decide which application is pleasing kind of like the hunger games we see it seeping. Fighting for survival while all sides are competing. See, their control’s increasing. We’re left drained, leaking. We’re then blinded, perceiving to fight over cheese were scheming.

Ali Ali:

The income inequality, a social philosophy had derived from the pain that enriched the economy. It was between the ’30s and the ’70s reconstruct and rebuild. Up and coming. Yeah, we were quite skilled. Segregation was unwilled because the law had been fulfilled. But when the suburbs got built, those houses were filled. The government sat back. The blueprints were thrilled. The movement to implement separational wealth for generations to thrive a caste was instilled.

Ali Ali:

Prior to this, all Americans were mixed within communities way before ownership. Of a two or three-story property they gave low-cost loans to the white majority and they denied or charged high for the loans for minorities that left only 2% ownership for the black man’s authority. Now, it’s all learned behavior with the white mentality. If color moved in, it’s against normality. No sales distributed. None of the colored were commuted. White flight, right on site. No need to dispute it.

Ali Ali:

Now we disguised the law saying this is the norm. People’s choices aren’t governed so it couldn’t hold up in court. Was it De Jure or De Facto? That’s the color of law. They met a stretch whatever way it worked. It was all a facade. All the houses built clout, the ones in scattered out. Now, the blocks and the projects were left for those in doubt. See, the jobs didn’t follow, then businesses burned down. So if you ain’t a car, you ain’t had no job because there is no route.

Ali Ali:

Now, the schools were under-funded, flung down to a drought. Public’s homes were disowned then the walls then broke out. No governments to assist or help with bailouts. Highways were set. Division was witnessed. So you start to kick it. Generational hangouts. Chilling and grilling, traditional cookouts. What else is there to do when society has left you out? Those empowered stay dreaming, planning, and scheming. How can we do it legally without our history repeating? It came in two words, investing and infesting.

Ali Ali:

Now, listen here. If you were confused, this will teach you a lesson. If we move in simultaneous drives, there will be less tension. In the suburbs with time, the equity had climbed. From a few grants six figures, this here was the prime. Home equity investments some say that it was impressive. Now others sit in question had built some resentment. But then the hood was infested with getting hired depressants. The crack attacks impression while everyone was congested.

Ali Ali:

They arrested the melanin, sent men like a settlement, even though both races were dependent on medicine. The war of drugs obsession 100 years if you’re black. This here was the discretion. This propaganda set felons, but no one dare to contest it. Then they overtaxed the community. Sent money to the suburbs. They paid pension for punity and gave cops immunity. Made it seem like badges and uniform were purity. This isn’t my story nor is it a foolery. Check the 13th amendment, it’s written there in eulogy.

Ali Ali:

But then they say it’s returned in minor annuity, food stamps or the WIC Healthcare. If you’re sick, broken roads in small checks to keep you alive, but you’d lose it if your pockets got big. Now, let’s bring it back to the scratch in defining this fantasy in total of quantity when we say philanthropy. The sum can start with from reparations of free work in slavery. And what’s owned in acres and million dollar homes. That’s a native trail of tears. This is the land that got dethroned.

Ali Ali:

The elite, or sponsor, the amount that we ponder as you stand in your privilege, then throw the chump change that you launder. Have this gimmick and practice to define and conquer. In these groups we scatter, it’s the cheese we’re after. In the maze, we chase go fight racism they say. Katniss Everdeen, this must be the hunger games. Why don’t they hand you your share so you can fight for your freedom? It’s your ownership is them taking you for … It’s them playing you for treason. The tale of two cities, one has become an embassy while the other of refugee. This is why history is important. You start to understand the climate and season. This is the character of America, the institutional reasons.

Genius Black:

Oh, Ali, appreciate you, bro.

Ali Ali:

Thank you, man.

Genius Black:

Appreciate you, bro. I was going to throw in the fake handclaps but I’m not. We’re just going to keep it real. We’re just going to keep it real. Wow.

Ali Ali:

I started a few times, man, though. It’s been a long talk.

Genius Black:

No, you good. You good. I appreciate that, man.

Ali Ali:

Thank you.

Genius Black:

I was curious, where can people find you, listen to any of your art? Or just your website, your social media, you want to plug that real quick for us?

Ali Ali:

Yeah. On social media, on Facebook, they can find me as Ali Ali. On Instagram, it’s humblephilosopher2020. My poetry page is actually right on the top as a tab that you can click. It says Humble Poetry 2020. And that’s like all my poetry is on there from Chess and Carceral Humanism one is going to be on there. It’s going to a new release on there too, new video that I’m coming in. And then on Twitter, I have Humble Philo, P-H-I-L-O, 2020. And then the website is the reverse. Let me make sure I can get you right. We just released this. Reversesrmaine.org. And there’s the donate button on there if you guys want to donate to the course.

Genius Black:

That’s what I was going to ask, if that’s where people can donate.

Ali Ali:

Yeah, yeah. If you want it, there’s a PayPal, everything on there. Anything helps. And even if it’s not a donation that you can just share whatever. All of this is all good work.

Genius Black:

All love, all support. No doubt. Thank you, bro, for letting us know because I know people are going to want to follow up and check you out. I also want to come back and bring it full circle. Again, this could be your spot. But right now it’s not. It’s our spot. So shout out from Black Owned Maine, letting you know that we are searching for sponsors, currently. You can sponsor this podcast as a whole, or an individual episode. If you’d like to do that, send us an email at blackownedmaine@gmail.com. Again, you can sponsor this very podcast as a whole, or via individual episodes. Email us at blackownedmaine@gmail.com.

Genius Black:

Also, absolutely utilize our website and our directory at blackownedmaine.com. I know that goes by quick. I always tell people the portion of Maine owned by black people. Yes, blackownedmaine.com. Also, you can check us out on social media. You know where we’d be. Instagram, Black Owned Maine. Also, on Twitter and Facebook. You can find me at Real Genius Black on Instagram.

Genius Black:

Also, keep in mind, this is something new for y’all. You can make tax-exempt contributions to our organization as a whole. And you can do that through our fiscal sponsorship with Creative Portland. Shout out Creative Portland for having our back, really. Also, there’s a link to donate on our website at blackownedmaine.com. And all you have to do is go under the donate tab. Again, it’s Genius Black, the homie Ali from Black Owned Maine. We shout on y’all out.

Ali Ali:

Yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

Vibes and blessings.

2021-03-08T19:36:47-05:00March 6th, 2021|Podcast transcription|

MOSART NUŃEZ TRANSCRIPTION

Genius Black:

I want to welcome y’all to the inaugural episode of Black Owned Podcast. What we’re doing first off, I want to introduce myself. My name is Jerry Edwards, also known as Genius Black, and I’m one of the originators who helped to launch Black Owned Maine with my friend, Rose. She’s the visionary. She’s the person who started it and had the initial idea. I am one of the voices and beautiful brown faces, mine happens to be freckled, that represents Black Owned Maine, as well as Black folks far and wide.

Genius Black:

Our first guest on Black Owned Podcast is a producer, an educator, an activist, and a local pillar of culture and creativity, my man, Mosart212. Welcome.

Mosart Nunez:

My name is Mo, Mo Nuñez. Most people in Portland know me as Mosart212 or Mosart Nuñez. Actually, interesting fact, my first name is Moises. Tons of people don’t know that. So I figured this would be as good a time as any to clarify that.

Genius Black:

Ay.

Mosart Nunez:

It’s not Mosart. I actually feel really pretentious whenever anybody ever calls me that. I just get a little embarrassed that I’m just like, “Don’t say that out loud, please. My mom wasn’t like that.”

Genius Black:

Understood. That’s not my name.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah. Word, man. I’m super happy that we’re doing this. This is incredible.

Genius Black:

Yeah. No, I’m super excited. I would be remiss to not just thank you for being the first guest.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah. I’m psyched. Got to start somewhere.

Genius Black:

This is where we start.

Mosart Nunez:

Set the bar low.

Genius Black:

Ay, yo. All right. cool. But again, really, welcome to the show, Black Owned Podcast. There’s going to be many more to come. I want to just jump into the first segment here, which I’m going to open with a little bit of an analogy. You ever been out and about and you know it rained last night. The way you know that the rained last night is because this morning, it’s a bunch of worms all over the ground on the concrete. You see them going down the drain. Because when it rains after a storm, it drives the worms to the top.

Genius Black:

The reason I’m bringing this up is that in current times, something I’m calling protest times, in our current race reality, there’s a lot of worms crawling to the surface, brother. There’s a lot of people that are feeling pushed to pick a side, to speak up, to make a statement or not make a statement. So in this segment, we’re going to call it Worms Crawling to the Surface. So what I want to talk to you about first and foremost is how the discourse in Maine and the conversation has been changing as a result of the protests and the protesting, as well as just that, once again, national attention on racial violence against Black people, in this instance a Black man, how has that discourse changed?

Mosart Nunez:

Good question. I think that there’s a lot of places to start there. But I think the first place is to acknowledge what seems like a really quick response from the community and from people stepping up and what appears to be an outpouring and a surge of people who all of a sudden are showing up and protesting and all that. But I think it’s important to note that that didn’t just happen. A lot of people have been talking about things for years. A lot of people have been sort of flirting with the idea of doing something. So I don’t think that this just happened overnight, like this one event all of a sudden galvanized people and they’re just like, “Let’s go protest.”

Mosart Nunez:

I think because of the ways that people of color engage their white community members, in particular in Southern Maine, I think that there’s been a lot of prep, if you will, to get to this point. There have been a lot of people, I think, Black and white, who have been doing things before this. Now just there’s an acceptance, if that makes sense. I think for a lot of people, they needed permission to do these kinds of things, to be as vocal. I think for another group of people, they needed to feel like it was okay to do these things, because there was before this a lot of low stakes engagement and a lot of safe engagement and activity.

Mosart Nunez:

I think this is the perfect convergence of a couple of factors that have made people feel like, “I can do something.” I think that that’s what we’re seeing is that people feel like they can do something, which is crazy considering that there’s been Black people in the community who have been urging the community, Black and white, to get involved and it’s never really caught on how it’s caught on now. But I do think it’s important to note that there have been people since I moved here a decade ago who were always talking about what they’re still talking about now.

Genius Black:

I have to agree. I can say for me, it crossed my mind the other day that I see in the news that some police departments are looking to handle some things differently. I see some business making some statements about changing some practices. I see some of my white brothers and sisters stepping up and thinking about things differently, saying some different things. But I mostly see Black people saying exactly what they’ve been saying for roughly 100 years. That’s not a joke. That’s not petty. That’s real. Our story at this point actually isn’t changing.

Genius Black:

I’m not trying to make this about a lie or the truth. But what I’m saying is that if you think about the one part that’s been consistent through all of that, and people recognize it right now, something has to give. Even the people who don’t want something to give recognize something has to change. But it’s not the Black people who need to say anything different. It’s just one of those things that the problem has lied outside of Black people for a long time. So I want to hear more from you, but I’m going to give you this set-up. Remember, we’re talking about the worms crawling to the surface, right?

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah. Yeah.

Genius Black:

So a lot of people we’ve been noticing, or I’ve been hearing about it and I’ve been seeing, have been kind of exposing themselves as racist online. This has been happening. I’m not surprised, but it’s real. Something that I’m going to repeat here, and everyone’s going to hear me talking about it. Outside of Maine, there’s a stigma amongst people of color, “Well, I don’t know if Maine is so welcoming to Black, brown, this, that. I think it’s mostly white people, right? There’s not really any Black people there. I mean I don’t know what’s up, up there, but you know.”

Genius Black:

And then a lot of white people who aren’t in Maine, there’s this stigma that Maine’s really white and that because it’s mostly white and there’s not many Black people, that there’s no racism here. I think that’s hyper ignorant because that presumes that Black people are the source of racism. Why would there need to be Black people somewhere for there to be racism? The racism literally never came from the Black people in the first place. That’s just not where it comes from. It doesn’t live there. It’s not what it is.

Genius Black:

So how could there be a state void of Black people, therefore it’s void of racism? Again, as if the racism came from the Black people. This is something that I’ve been trying to repeat to help people think through, because I think it’s a common misconception about the very actual nature of racism. So what I’m saying to you, since we talking about the worms crawling to the surface and since we’re talking about this misconception of racism somehow coming, being originating from Black people, I’m just curious, have you seen these people really showing their true thoughts?

Genius Black:

Have you had to deal with that? What kind of pressure do we need to keep going? I mean do we want the worms to keep coming out? Is this good? Is it bad? What’s up? Or if you disagree, if you don’t think it’s the worms-

Mosart Nunez:

No, no, no, no. It’s not. Actually, right now I’m just trying to think. There’s so much in that, so many layers to what you, what you just laid out. I would absolutely agree right now there’s people just sort of outing themselves. But I would also add that for a lot of these people, it’s cathartic. They’re happy to be able to say, “Go back to Africa.” They’re psyched. They’ve never been able to do that shit. Now, they’re like, “Boom.” Man, everybody gets a chance. It’s democratic. We can all be as hateful as we want. Do you know what I mean? You can use your platform to say, “Black is beautiful,” but I can also use my platform to say, “Go back to where you came from.”

Mosart Nunez:

We’re equally as able and we’re equally as legitimate. That’s what we’re seeing is there’s this misconception that there’s a legitimacy to your opinion and your hateful rhetoric. That’s really insane. A lot of it includes like, “Well, I have a right to say these things.” There’s that piece that’s there. So I want to add that nuance to it. Do I think it’s good or bad? I mean I don’t know. It’s so wrapped up in the way that we communicate via social media, that there’s an urgency that social media adds to it that doesn’t actually add anything to the outcome. So there’s a tendency to think about things that happen on social media as faster, more present or newer or more recent, you know what I mean, just because the turnover is so fast.

Mosart Nunez:

I might post five times a day and five different thoughts. They might evolve over the day, giving you the sense that somehow I’m thinking about this all the time and that my thought is becoming more and more evolved as I go along. But it’s just the same as when we had cameras and, before that, when people were drawing. That capturing of the moment is literally that’s all that’s happening. It’s just a moment. What’s the name of that thing when they would take the metal plates, the copper plates? I Think it’s tintype or something like that.

Genius Black:

Daguerrotype.

Mosart Nunez:

Right. Okay. So all we have is just a lot more of those, just tons and tons of those. We can make them faster. We can make them faster than we used to be able to make them.

Genius Black:

Yes, sir.

Mosart Nunez:

So we can’t conflate the speed at which we capture these instances with the progress that’s supposed to go with them. It’s not a relationship there. So the exposure of what people are saying or doing or how they’re outing themselves, I mean it’s inevitable. People will always do that. It’s just happening faster, which makes us think that either there’s more people that are racist than we thought. But I don’t think that’s true.

Genius Black:

No. No one’s becoming racist because of this.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

No. No.

Mosart Nunez:

I think to sort of round out the series of questions here, I think that we’re going to have to figure out a new way to deal with what we hear and learn about in the social media platforms. It’s not like reading in a book or seeing it on film or go into a lecture or a debate or attending a gathering and then hearing these things. We’re going to have to have different reactions and different modes of interacting with the stuff that’s being presented to us. I don’t know that we have that yet. I don’t think that we have a way to respond currently. Our way currently is to call it out and cancel.

Genius Black:

I think we have to develop new ways. I mean I think that’s what you’re getting at.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah. Yeah. We have to develop new ways because there’s an overwhelming influx of negativity that’s happening on these platforms that’s not unique to these platforms. But it’s there and that’s going to require us to interact with that information in a very different way.

Genius Black:

I think you’re absolutely correct. I mean we can talk more about … Because I want to know more about maybe, for instance, why you started to make a business of your talents and tools. But to just harp in a little bit about Black Owned Maine, for instance. We were a protest for a response. So we decided just to talk about something that you build that allows you to react in a different way than before. I realized that what we were doing was bypassing the argument in Maine, for instance, about if it’s racist to focus on Black-owned businesses. Or are you guys saying Black-owned only? Or is this a Black Lives Matter only type thing? Which I’ve never heard a Black person ever say Black lives matter only.

Genius Black:

But you get that instant the guilt, the regret, the anger, the racism, all that from, honestly, just a lot of white people around. You have to Wade through that. Well, instead of getting in the argument, instead of facing our interlocutor and spending time to try to convince them and show them facts, we skipped it. We created a way for people to vote with their dollars and, if they so chose, to put their dollars directly into Black businesses. People use terms like systemic. What does systemic mean? What are systemic problems and how do you resolve systemic issues?

Genius Black:

You resolve systemic issues systemically. So what we did is we created a mechanism to literally get funds to people who historically have been kept away by banks, by racism, whether it be that way. So for us, everyone knows I could give a dozen and a half instances of how the money has been kept from Black people historically, never mind the fact that they actually used to be bought and sold for that same money all through history. So again, we just created a mechanism.

Genius Black:

The reason I say that is that whether it be social media conversations, whether it be new spaces online for people to meet virtually, whether it be businesses and mechanisms like Black Owned Maine that allow money and resources to flow more freely and create safe spaces for Black people to just be vibrant, we have to create new America. We have to create a new future because people are going to obviously go back to the old mechanisms. A couple months from now, when it doesn’t sting as bad, when there aren’t as many videos in that particular season on television, what are the relative mechanisms that we’ve put in place that the racists will come to break down? Because they always do. We’ve seen this before.

Genius Black:

But what would we put into place to slow them down and to keep our power? Because that’s the fight we’re in. So that being said, I was asking you a little bit about the social pressure. I think you kind of touched upon that. I’m wondering what you think happens after the protest. A lot of people said, “Go vote, go vote.” That’s how Black folks get lifted up. I think there’s weight to that. I think it’s about bigger than voting. I think there’s certain things that voting kind of can’t even touch, especially immediately. But what happens after protest? Is it about voting? What should we be focused on?

Mosart Nunez:

I think that focus-wise, I’m really putting all of my eggs in the educate yourself basket. I think it’s super important that people continue to learn about the things that they’re not clear about, about the things they’re confused about, about the things that people mention, about things that are linked to those. So somebody mentions Juneteenth to you and you don’t know what that is, then you go and figure it out. There’s resources. You live in the age of the most information available at your fingertips in a way that we haven’t before. I’m saying that also with the caveat that not everyone has access to these things, et cetera, et cetera. But that barrier to entry is still far, far less intense than it used to be.

Mosart Nunez:

There’s a lot of ways to get information nowadays that is accessible. This is what we invented the internet for. It’s to be able to empower democratically the thoughts that we have and turn them into information and then share the information to create more nuanced ways of thinking. So for me, it’s go learn. Learn about the history of your city. Learn about the policies in your city. Learn about why things are. You don’t like the uniform policy at your school. You learn what it is. All the way, you learn what it is. What is written? How is it written? When was it created? Why was it created? What was the original goal?

Mosart Nunez:

Is the original goal still a goal that we need? Is it outdated, outmoded? We have to keep in mind that, especially in something like policy, lots of policy was created a long time ago with a particular thing in mind at that time. We’ve kept them. Most policy doesn’t even get updated. You know what I mean? So we need to just be learning more. You’re curious, then work on that curiosity. Feed your curiosity. I think what happens after the protests is I would hope that people would turn to books.

Mosart Nunez:

They would turn to art.eee They would turn to resources in their community so that they can keep learning so that they don’t repeat the bad parts of history. I’m all for continuing to protest from now till November 8th, 9th, November 9th?

Genius Black:

We got a lot of work to do before then.

Mosart Nunez:

I’m all for that. I think that’s great. I also think that some of us really need to hit some books. I think we need a lot of depth in the deep end of the critical race analysis pool. How many of us understand how racism works and what some of our greatest thinkers that were Black that were women, that are having all these intersections, what are their thoughts? What were they laying out? What were their observations? Stopping at one person that … Okay, cool. Start here and spend some time with it, but really look at all the angles. Figure out why there’s a difference between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.

Mosart Nunez:

Just figure out why, because then that right there starts to break down how you end up with Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, who’s an anti-Black Black man. You end up understanding the ways in which, although you’re told Black people are monoliths, they’re not. But this helps you understand just how much they’re not. you know what I mean? So for me, it’s what happens after the protest is people begin to want to learn and then they learn more. And then they share that info and we just keep it going.

Genius Black:

Absolutely. Thank you. So I have a question building on that. In Maine, it’s one thing. The race reality nationally, there’s a couple levels to think about it. But I want to hear a little bit … Police behaviors and actions have sparked a lot of reaction, action, activity, feelings. It’s not a new occurrence. But I think we all felt this building and burgeoning and building and building, and to what exactly, who knew?

Genius Black:

One thing we know now is this. Things will be different. Now we’re trying to help figure and shape out where. Can the police do right by Americans? Can the police departments, I’m saying as a whole and even some of the individuals, I mean I know they always try to do this whole one bad seed or one bad apple, which I think is crap. It’s just a way to honestly say the rest of us can just be racist and think and do, but if you ever actually catch one person, then yeah, we’ll go ahead and let you publicly point their finger at them.

Genius Black:

But you can never scrutinize the whole system. That’s stupid. That’s where we’ve been trapped with our hands down. So what I’m saying is can the police do right? What you think, man? What can they do?

Mosart Nunez:

This goes back to what you were saying about systems and that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the system itself is not designed to do right by people. So can cops do right by people? If they’re good people. I’m not doubting that there are good people on the police force, but they’re not incentivized to be good. They’re not rewarded for being good. They’re not asked to be good. So we got to clarify that their job isn’t to be good people. So right then and there, we have an issue, you know what I mean? So reforming that is really going to take a movement within our structures that acknowledges that we don’t currently have the thing we wish police turned into. That thing doesn’t exist.

Mosart Nunez:

So we can’t turn them into … I used to teach a writing class. In writing workshops, students would want to know, “Can I turn this poem into a short story?” Or, “Can I turn this short story into an essay or a novel?” Most of the time, the answer is not really, because it started off as this and it lives in this world. You made it this. You could dismantle it, but you’re not really going to evolve into another thing. You know what I mean? You should start from where you want to be. You know what I mean? Could you turn a poem into an essay or a novel? Yes. But you would have to take apart a lot of it and, in the end, it’s not even going to be recognizable.

Mosart Nunez:

So I would say that the police, as we know it, are doing their job and they do it very well. You know what I mean? They do the thing they do effectively. What that thing is, is pretty detrimental in particular to poor people and people of color. But if were really messing up in the ways that we say that they are, the people that are … How do I say this? When millionaires and CEOs start saying the police aren’t doing their job, then that’s a different conversation. That’s a conversation that skews closer to what we’re seeing. But the reason that they’re going to say that police aren’t doing their jobs isn’t because they’re getting pulled over and beat up. It’s because their assets aren’t being protected. You know what I mean?

Mosart Nunez:

Police serve a different master. That’s the clarifying statement here. Their intents and purposes weren’t, haven’t been, are not moving towards the protect and serve of common citizens. The protect and serve is accurate. It’s just we always assumed the end of that sentence was in my community, but it’s not. So I don’t think that we can work with what we have. You know what I mean? We have to take a look at the ways that they are carrying out their duties, figure out if we need those duties. Is that a thing we need? And then work from there. So start picking out, okay, we do need this. We don’t need that.

Mosart Nunez:

And then with the list, when we have what we do need, then the second question we need to ask is, “Are police the best people to do this?” Now we whittle it down. We have three more things left on the list. Now we’ve asked what do police do, are they the best ones to do it? Now we have to ask, “What is the least harmful way that the police can do this thing?” How much will it cost, not just literally, but figuratively to have them be the ones to do this thing? You know what I mean? That’s the thing. With the police, even the people who want to keep the police don’t want to pay the price of keeping police.

Mosart Nunez:

It’s not about your city budget. It costs a lot to keep police in your community. It’s the constant living under armed guard. Is that a price you want to pay? I don’t want to pay that price. That’s not a fair price to me. That’s not a wager or an exchange I want to get into. You know what I mean?

Genius Black:

I just want to offer an example because I think it’s something that doesn’t cross people’s minds. If you are white and you’re listening to this, think about it. With the way police operate, you could be in your neighborhood away from the Black folks and if a Black person or Hispanic person or whatnot is visiting someone in the neighborhood and the wrong thing goes down, and don’t assume that it’s the person of color doing anything wrong. There’s a lot of drugs and alcohol and dysfunction in white communities. Am I lying, y’all? Come on. Anything can happen anywhere.

Genius Black:

But there just happens to be a Dominican brother there for the weekend with his girlfriend or trying to get back with his ex-girlfriend in real life. The cops show up. You want people dying in your neighborhood? Do you understand? Stop separating yourself from the issue because the police tend to make you feel safer, until they don’t. I don’t think that me saying this right here on this recording is going to open up everyone’s eyes, but even a little sliver.

Genius Black:

I appreciate you and I want to hear what you thought about that. To me, what you just said is honestly, very positive and it’s measured. You actually gave multiple steps. I think that people hear terms, like defund the police, and they hear these things and they cringe. They go, “Then what would we do in the case of this, this, and this?” It’s like, you guys, instead of thinking or considering that Black people have thought about this for a long time, you have a gut reaction and tell us once again that we don’t know the solutions and that it should actually be what you think it is, what makes you feel safe.

Mosart Nunez:

You know that thing I said about education, the reason that we learn and we get critical and we learn to analyze things currently, we live like in a place where everything is these two extremes. So we either have police or we have Mad Max and Thunderdome. That’s wild. Think about the extremes. There’s no middle ground, really?

Genius Black:

I don’t want to be in the Thunderdome, bro.

Mosart Nunez:

Exactly. There’s no middle ground? You don’t imagine a scenario in which we have less police and we don’t have roving marauders burning things down? There’s no capacity. That’s the thing. It’s like people don’t have the capacity to imagine alternatives. That’s a lack of critical thinking-

Genius Black:

It is.

Mosart Nunez:

… and a lack of critical analysis.

Genius Black:

It is.

Mosart Nunez:

Getting rid of the police, let’s be honest, that’s scary if you’re scared of X, Y, and Z in your community. But then if you learn more about the things in your community, you’d be less scared of them.

Genius Black:

That’s how it works.

Mosart Nunez:

If you’re less scared of them, you go back to that original statement. We need police because, and now you’re less likely to say that thing that you just learned about. You might keep this other category of things you’re afraid of. But then when you get to learn about those, then you also figure out that that’s not really a thing that we need to live under a gun for.

Genius Black:

So, I’m going to prep you with the next question, which is I’m going to say to you, Mo, why is black ownership important in Maine? While you’re thinking about the answer, I’m going to say to the audience listening, if you are offending by us talking about how the police maybe need to be defunding, I’m not even saying they should be, though that might be true, or if you are offending by us just playing with these ideas and thinking them through in front of people because we believe in critical thinking, well, it’s not that we don’t care, we do care, but we are just exercising our rights and our intellects because even though we are black and brown, we possess them in a strong way.

Genius Black:

So, you’re going to hear more of these conversations out loud. Try to become part of them, even if you feel like it’s offensive, we’re not talking about hating the police, but we are definitely saying that just because the police makes some people comfortable, we don’t feel comfortable with the very nature of policing and what it was even designed to be, and we do not agree that simply because someone is hired as a police officer that that inherently makes them a hero, and that we shouldn’t scrutinize their behaviors along the way. That’s ignorant, and if it was literally any other profession that you’ve dealt with in your entirety of your life, you would stand up on your right, especially if you were paying them, to scrutinize their work. Yet, you like to label police as heroes and demonize people who scrutinize them. We all see you. We’ll move onto the question that I’ve had my homie thinking through. So, if you agree, and tell me why if you do, why is black ownership important, but in Maine?

Mosart Nunez:

I do agree. I think it’s important in Maine because Maine is part of America. I don’t know if you’ve looked but America has black people, and if they want to open a business, if they want to have services in their community that they offer to other folks, that’s why. It’s not, I don’t have a very complicated or involved answer other than, this is where I put on my libertarian hat. It’s their right, and you win. You win. They open a business in your neighborhood, in your town, guess what you have that you didn’t have before-

Genius Black:

Straight up.

Mosart Nunez:

I mean, that’s it. That’s it. You really want to argue with somebody moving in and really hooking up some great curry? That’s where you want to really fight about? Come on, did you have curry? Like I understand if where you’re at, you’re like, “But it’s going to push out ma and pa’s curry shop.” Okay, I get it. We’ll have that conversation, right? That’s a different conversation by the way than it is about diversifying.

Genius Black:

Yes, it is.

Mosart Nunez:

But, people want to conflate those all the time, and see them as the same, and see the argument that we don’t need this here or that doesn’t belong here. Those are insane. This is where the white supremacy that people are ingrained in hurts them. This is where they are hurt. This is where those people aren’t living life, you know what I mean? Imagine being so racist that you would rather not eat a badass curry than eat it, because you’re so racist. You know what I mean? You would deprive yourself of stuff, you would be like, “I don’t want that,” that’s how racist you are. That’s insane. That’s insane, okay?

Mosart Nunez:

You’re turning down jobs, you’re turning down opportunities, you’re turning down a diversity of thought. You would turn all of those things down because what, you’re the master race, or because those people are inferior? Those reasonings, that just doesn’t make sense. So, you are living under your own oppressive mantle, that albatross of racism is hurting you, you know what I mean? You don’t want to open up your borders to people who look differently than you? Open a history book and figure out what happens to you.

Mosart Nunez:

I’m going to tell you right now, spoiler alert, you’re not in the last chapter of that book, you know what I mean? There’s less of you as the book keeps going, you know what I mean? So, go ahead, that’s on you, but you have an opportunity, now more than even, to diversify. No one loses. This is the thing that’s really, really insane, no one loses. Nothing goes away, nothing… You get, you get, you get, you get.

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

Things become richer, things become more nuanced, more complex. You’re able to see your own self differently, you know what I mean? I always joke with my wife, like if I had all the money in the world, one of the things I would do is I would have a hillbilly exchange program. I’d take hillbillies from Maine and bring them to the Dominican Republic, drop them off in the middle of nowhere. They would survive perfectly. They would fit right in. They would know exactly what to do. They’d know how to get water, they’d know how to plant crop, reap, they would know how to do those things.

Mosart Nunez:

They’re not that different, right? But, you talk to somebody from those regions of Maine, who are like, “Been white, stays white, will be white,” and you say to them, “But, you have so much in common with people in X part of the world,” and they’ll insist that they don’t. It’s different, that those people are savages, that those people come from shithole countries. It’s like, well water is well water. Physics work exactly the same. It’s not the physics in the Dominican Republic are any backwards.

Mosart Nunez:

They’re the same. Crops go in the ground in the Dominican Republic, and then they come up at the same rate they do here. That’s it. So, the idea that somehow you are… It’s just crazy, it’s just a lot of robbing yourself. We rob continents and loot history, but the biggest loser at the end of the day is the people holding the whip. They’re the ones that aren’t living, they’re the ones that are spending their whole life trying to figure out how to stay there. I don’t want to live like that. I don’t envy those dudes.

Genius Black:

No, I do know. Why would you envy them?

Mosart Nunez:

I mean, the diversity question, yeah, it’s why should Maine be more diverse, why should we have more, why is it important? It’s important because it’s inevitable. Don’t you want to be a part of how things look, rather than the part of taxidermist, keeps it one way? By the way, we don’t taxidermy live things. You put them, and they die, and then you preserve them, and they stay dead, and then you look at them, that’s it.

Genius Black:

That’s not how you handle things that are living.

Mosart Nunez:

No, you don’t interact with it. That’s crazy. I don’t want to treat history, people, cultures that way, that’s preposterous. That’s stupid, that’s just, it’s shortsighted, and it’s not even selfish, it’s just ridiculous.

Genius Black:

And I want to talk about the victims of racism. What you have to understand about the actual nature of racism as it’s been actuated in America, is that the victims are mostly white people. What does it make them think, what does it not allow them to think, what obvious things in front of them that they see daily does it actually mask and teach them aren’t exactly what they know it is? A lot, a lot of things. So, what you were just talking about really points to something that I try to open people’s eyes to.

Genius Black:

For a second, just back away from thinking about how bad black people have it, and think about how white people in America aren’t even allowed to recognize the truth. You can have someone shoot up a church full of black people after praying with them, and then white people get on TV and go, “Well, we don’t know it was race related just because he said A, B, and C.” Then, all the black people are like, “Well, okay, we’re not just operating on an assumption. There’s a lot of indicators, but are you really sure that what you should be talking about is how we always jump to race? Maybe there’s something about the nature of your reality that’s really blinding you.” Maybe you got racism all in your eyes, but they don’t see it.

Genius Black:

Then, the manifesto or whatever comes out and it says, “I hate niggers a lot, that’s why I’m here, because I want them to die fast.” Then, those white people just get off TV and stop talking about it, right? But, they love to create that space where maybe it’s just, “Come on, black people, you’re always… Every time you black people come around, you want to talk about race.” Interesting, or are you always acting out your ideas of race against black people. Anyway, that’s a whole nother conversation. But, I just wanted to say, the victims are not just black people.

Genius Black:

There’s this weird thing that when people talk about racism, they just envision black people in their heads as if the white people are off the hook. Who’s hurting right now? Black people, we saying the same thing. White peoples’ lives are being turned upside down. My life is not being upside down because of protesting in the streets and because of whoever saying stupid stuff on TV. But, there’s some people who feel real different. Look around and think about who those people are, and how this is a mechanism of racism we’re living within, and it’s designed to make us feel this way.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah. I’m laughing because in child development, and when we talk about neurology and neuroscience of what we look at as the indicators and markers of how kids are growing, and if they’re growing healthily if you will, we talk about object permanence. So, the reason peekaboo is hilarious to little kids is because they don’t have object permanence. If they don’t see the thing, literally it disappeared into thin air. So, then when you come back and you’re like, “Peekaboo,” and they freak out, it’s like you literally just appeared again, right?

Mosart Nunez:

So, imagine being a group of people who has no object permanence around race and racial relations. To your point that well, we need black people to be racist. That’s like three years old. We’re going to have to go and take you to a neurologist or something, because you should have outgrown the concept of object permanence. You should understand that because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it disappeared, you know what I mean? Just because you see something now doesn’t mean that it’ll be there later-

Genius Black:

Or the fact that you just see it now, that it wasn’t there for a long time before right now.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, exactly.

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

So, it’s just again, that same thing of… Again, if we, as educators found out that a child is not matured past his object permanence age marker, there’s a whole set of things we put into place to make sure that they reach that, that we understand what’s happening neurologically, that we provide services and support so that we can figure out, is this a thing that’s going to be this way forever, is this permanent, is this temporary, and if so how’s it going to affect where we’re supposed to be at this marker? We do that for children. So, think about being an adult who lives in a world like that? That’s childlike, you know what I mean?

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

That whole thing is ridiculous.

Genius Black:

Everything you said, I think is brilliant. I love how you talked about it, but I am also surrounded by it, so it can be disheartening. You know you did talk about development and I know that right now a lot of people are having some breakthroughs are stuff and I want to encourage that. I don’t ever want to sound… I don’t want to be, nevermind sound, I don’t want to be overly cynical. But, I can just tell you as a person of color, it’s a slap in the face when someone all of a sudden realize that instead of a lifelong liar to them, you’ve actually been an honest truth teller, and all of a sudden they see something different. It’s frustrating. That’s just honest, real black talk.

Genius Black:

But, that being said, speaking developmentally, when a person realizes something, hey, at least they realized it. We’re trying to develop, we’re trying to grow. You are an educator, so I know that that’s a lens you use a lot. So, I want to move forward and talk a little bit about, I just see young people leading in this movement. The youth energy is leading energy, and it’s powerful, sparkish energy. But, you’re an educator, so can you talk a little bit about what is that you help people to figure out how to do and communicate around, who’s the recipients, who’s in direct contact with you who might end up… what types of people might be benefiting from what you do? [crosstalk 00:12:38].

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah, no, it’s a great question. I think first and foremost, I’m an advocate for marginalized youth. In different communities, that’s going to look different. In some communities, that’s going to be at risk youth. In other communities I worked at, those are repeat offenders. In another community, it might be a large population of illiterate youth or function illiterate youth. But, it’s basically helping school systems and educational support systems in cities and towns reintegrate these young men and women. It’s extremely important, because they are an incredible resource. They’re resilient, they’re young, and they’re capable. So, for you not to invest in that is like throwing away money and opportunity.

Genius Black:

Say that.

Mosart Nunez:

Right? And so to me, that’s just, again, I go back to, that’s nuts. So, the recipients of my outreach are people who have the power to make changes either through policy or practice, to reengage or engage or reach out to at risk youth. I don’t need to say that nine times out of 10 that includes and is overwhelming black and brown youth, but I’ll just clarify, and the ultimate beneficiaries are youth who want to be not thrown away. It’s not kids who want to be back in school or anything like that, I mean sometimes it is, but it’s really kids who don’t want to be thrown aside or cast aside and treated like they don’t matter or that they’re invisible in their communities.

Mosart Nunez:

So, a lot of the work I do is to figure out, with the youth, “What do you want?” And then, figure out with the adult, like how is it that we get to seeing and actualizing the potential of this group, of this block if you will. A lot of it, I was talking earlier about dual capacity building. So, I might spend some time talking with a group of youth about effective ways to engage the mayor, but I’m going to spend twice as much time talking to the mayor about how to listen to youth. They’re going to need a lot of handholding in the way kids don’t, and they’re going to need a lot of deprogramming in the way kids don’t.

Mosart Nunez:

So, I really try to teach all groups about community engagement, and what it means, and how to have authentic community engagement, and what are the ways that we act off of community engage; what does community engagement get us when it’s purposeful, intentional, and authentic? Then, teach teachers, sometimes I do teacher workshops where we talk about what are the… Teachers want to have difficult conversations, they’ll tell you that. Oh, I want to know how to have difficult conversations with my students.

Mosart Nunez:

A lot of the times, I might step in and say, “Well, let’s figure out what your capacity is to have those conversations. If I give you a bunch of pointers on how to do it, doesn’t mean that you’re going to do it effectively. So, let’s just take a step back and start figuring out why is this important to you, what do you think will happen when you do it.” In the same way that I often get people approaching me who say, “Oh hey, our goal is to have diversity within our workforce and we want to have more black people work here,” and the first thing I say is, “That’s a terrible idea. That’s an awful idea. I don’t want to participate in that idea.” A lot of people, they’re like, “Oh, well, don’t we want more black people?” It’s like, “Well, I mean, we do”-

Genius Black:

We want you to open your mind.

Mosart Nunez:

In safe spaces. I mean, I could bring a thousand black people to your job, and then have a thousand people leave, you know what I mean? The question is, “Are you ready to work with black people?”

Genius Black:

Yes.

Mosart Nunez:

A lot of people focus on how do we make our applications attractive to black candidates, and the question is, if a black person were to work for you, with you, alongside you, does that work? Are you capable of doing that? You know what I mean? Black people aren’t pets, you don’t bring your fucking black person to the office day, you know what I mean? This isn’t like, “Oh, we don’t have allergies, so you can bring in your black friend,” you know what I mean? They’re people too, and so as such, we have to be able to know that we’re responsible enough to have the privilege, to take advantage of the privilege to be with them.

Genius Black:

Yes.

Mosart Nunez:

Just like anybody else, you know what I mean? A lot of these conversations that I’m having with people really centers around why do you want these things, are you capable of having these things, once you get these things what happens next, you know what I mean? So, one of the questions I constantly ask anybody I’m working with is, let’s suppose everything works out exactly how it’s suppose to work out, then what?

Genius Black:

Got you.

Mosart Nunez:

And we might go from there, just from the then what.

Genius Black:

I love that. I think that’s a great approach. One of the things I wanted to ask you is in your work, how do you broach difficult topics? Because obviously people need the most help with those topics, right? But, you already told me, you kind of drill down to, well, what’s the why. Believe it or not, we need to actually examine what you want to get out of this because if it’s a higher percentage of black people, you might be really misinterpreting [crosstalk 00:18:44], you know?

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, I’m the only person who looks like me wherever I go.

Genius Black:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

So, the higher up I go in the world of whatever, education, city government, all those things, it’s a difficult conversation for me, because I’m usually the only one who looks like me. So, I usually just put that out there, I let people know that, and that disarms them right away, kind brings them over to my side. I think that having difficult conversations is just a new buzzword, it’s a new buzz term. I just need to know what is it that you’re talking about when you say that.

Genius Black:

Absolutely. I think what’s going to happen is a lot more nuanced conversations moving forward. And I just think that’s something that you’ve been already teaching people in your work to do. So, hopefully just expands… I’d love to see some of what you’ve been try to teach people, to see it echoed in society, and you have to do less unteaching and unlearning and all that. So, that sounds awesome to me. One of things I wanted to ask, because you have your finger, in the work you do, on the pulse of let’s say some leaders in our community, some adults and some people who hold some power.

Genius Black:

But, you also have your finger on the pulse with some of the younger people because of some of the trainings and interactions you might have. I’m just curious, why is it that the youth voice is just… I mean, I guess, in these moments and movements in society, has it always been the youth voice and youth energy? I’m just curious, because I’ve been noticing a lot of young people, not only do they feel energized, somehow I feel like people feel inclined to listen to them a little bit more, like they have to. What’s up with that?

Mosart Nunez:

So, I think one of the interesting things is to think about the sphere of influence and who has it, and how long they get to live. We have people living much longer now than we have ever, so they’re taking that locus of control with them every decade. But, if you look back at history in general, there were no 45 year old pharaohs. Monuments are built to 18 year olds, 19 year olds. We’re looking at entire societies built on the revolutionary actions of youth, over and over and over again, you know what I mean? We’re not looking at 70, 80 year old people unless they’re robber barons, emphasis on the robber, decimating society.

Mosart Nunez:

For the most part, people creating change and ushering in new ideas are by and large historically young. Really, we can pinpoint it at different points of history just how young. We can look in our windows and look just what is that sphere of influence. In sociology and in political science, we’ve called it the Overton window. Where can you look currently about the things that we are thinking about that are acceptable in the way that quote unquote it is, and then over time that thing shifts. So, when we look at people’s favorite nonsense, like “Well, people hate Republicans but Lincoln was a Republican,” that’s a perfect example of the Overton window.

Mosart Nunez:

Over a hundred years ago, Civil War era, was here. Republicanism looked like this, over time it shifted. It’s still the same term, but it’s shifted, and now the accepted understanding of Republicans and Democrats are totally different. It’s a spectrum, and we use the same terms. So, that youth thing works the same way. It’s not new, it’s not different, it’s not out of the realm of the way we’ve done things, it’s just again that it moves faster, there’s more of it, which gives us the impression that there’s some sort of dynamics that are happening that are new than they were before. But again, we can look at segments of history and find almost all rebellions, all uprisings, the majority of them, let me be careful about saying all, the majority of them are going to be youth led.

Genius Black:

But, I have been observing that. Even I was out in Portland protesting, and the young people, their energy was just so powerful, and it was respected. I mean, people needed some real energy, you know what I mean? We had to get up, we had to come out that house for this.

Mosart Nunez:

I mean, it’s investment. There’s a conservatism that is inherent to getting older because you have more responsibilities.

Genius Black:

Yes, truth.

Mosart Nunez:

So, a 19 year old, a 20 year old, a 21 year old can dedicate a real, authentic, larger portion without having to think about mortgages and jobs and the fallout and all these things. That’s not to say that adults are not just as passionate, but they’re certainly not as actionable.

Genius Black:

Yeah, and [crosstalk 00:24:16]-

Mosart Nunez:

We have to acknowledge that, we have to acknowledge that. You have to be honest with yourself, you have to be transparent and honest with yourself about why you’re not doing these things. And if the answer is I’m worried about my kids, then fucking say that, you know what I mean? Say that, be honest, and acknowledge you know that that’s why you’re not doing it. Figure out what you can do that fits in the realm of where you feel like you can control things, and practice stepping out of your comfort zone, you know what I mean? That’s the other piece is that the youth have far more investment in the future than old people do.

Genius Black:

It’s true, and they haven’t been numbed and dulled by as much crap in life, and that’s true. No, I appreciate that. I wanted to talk to you, kind of shift gears a little bit. I know that in the work you do, teaching facilitation and helping people to be able to communicate better, as well as I know you are a music producer and you’re a creative person, and you perform. I want to talk a little bit about that aspect of you, as well as just like your creative process for instance. We can just jump in. Is your creative process looking any different these days? Are you settled into something when you want to come up with ideas? Again, whether it be music or even if you’re developing things on more kind of the educationing side, I’m just curious. Creativity, I think essential in certain business, maybe not all, but particularly as black professionals. I know for me, I rely a lot on my creativity. I love jobs when I can really have my intuition and creativity play a huge role. I’m just curious, on any of those sides, what is your creative process look like?

Mosart Nunez:

I had a conversation recently, so I’m getting ready to return after almost 20 years to finish off my PhD. I’m finally ready. And I’m having this conversation with the institution that wants me to go there, and I’m meeting with this advisor who I’ve know for a while, and they’re asking me questions about my thesis and dissertation and focus, and they keep asking all these music questions. I finally have to stop and be like, “This has zero to do with music. I’m not going to be… any part of this is going to have anything to do with music,” and they were taken aback, and were like, “Whoa, nothing?” I explained at that point that those are two separate worlds for me. I don’t mind… I shouldn’t say I don’t mind.

Mosart Nunez:

I like doing workshops that center around music, but if that’s what I’m going to do, that’s what I’m going to do. So, if I’m going to do a workshop and it’s going to be a bunch of kids learning how to DJ or the essentials of mixing, I’m all here for it, I’m going to do that. That is not what I’m going to do or bring up when I’m doing a workshop on facilitation and vice versa. I might talk about some aspects of DJing while I do the facilitation workshop, and I might talk a little bit about education in that world when I’m doing the mixing workshop, but I really have a firm line between those things. I don’t talk about DJing at work, I don’t talk about producing. Part of that has to do with why I do music and what I do when I do music.

Mosart Nunez:

So for me, music is when I get to step outside of my job, which is very stressful, very demanding, and takes up a lot of my time. Music is when I get to not do it. I don’t have any aspirations with my music, I’ve never had it, you know what I mean? I’ve been offered record deals, I’ve been offered all sorts of stuff in that world that I’ve turned down repeatedly. I’m not interested at all. Because of that, I also am very mindful that I occupy a very, very privileged space, and in particular in Portland in that music is not my livelihood. So, that means that I have to be very careful and very thoughtful about what I say yes to and what I agree to do and how I interact with other musicians, because it is their life, it is their bread and butter, you know what I mean?

Mosart Nunez:

So for me, I’m constantly thinking about that. But, I also again, this is what allows me to be a diva, I can ask for what I want, I can turn stuff down when I feel like it, I only take stuff I want to do, you know what I mean? It’s a different, my process is I do it. I try to do a little bit a day that’s related to music, whether it’s mixing, or listening to new music, or going out and discovering new stuff, or experimenting with new ways of creating music. But, there’s never an end goal. I’m not thinking, oh, I’m going to put this out, or this is going to turn into this. There’s a very just go with the flow thing with it that for me, it keeps it sacred and protected.

Genius Black:

Yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

[crosstalk 00:29:39] that makes sense.

Genius Black:

It does, it absolutely does. No, I love that. I think a lot of people end up falling out of love, just having this weird relationship with their creativity and their art or their music because they don’t separate those spaces enough, you know?

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

So no, I completely get that. In terms of, just because again, I’m a big guy when it comes to black culture and our creativity, I do want to listen to a couple of your tracks and discuss some of what I hear. So, I’m just curious again, back to the creative process, generally speaking, talk to me a little bit about your creative process.

Mosart Nunez:

The song we’re going to listen to is called Nobody But You, and as far as my process goes, I think this one is a good example of how I put stuff together. It’s a sample from the group Antony and the Johnsons. I love that album that I took this song from. Then, the rest of it is just myself noodling around on some synthesizers. I’m drawn to the music I make, it is not as heavy and it’s definitely a lot of found sound and stuff put back together again. So this, just I think has a good mix of when I sit down, I’m thinking about things in three ways.

Mosart Nunez:

I’m thinking about a sample that brings in something I love, I’m thinking about an atmospheric element that tells you when are you going to listen to this, like you’re not listening to this at a party, you’re not listening to this to dance. But then, there are other times where I’m thinking, oh that’s what I want people to do, or that’s what I wanted to give you the feeling of. Then lastly, the drums or what people call the beat, I don’t always try to create a beat, anything straightforward like that. That’s going to catch fire. It’s already caught fire. It was smoking, okay. All right.

Genius Black:

That’s a good one.

Mosart Nunez:

Hey, we can just leave it in because if you listen to this song, it’ll catch fire. Isn’t that what the kids say? That’s what the kids say, right?

Genius Black:

No, they said it is fire.

Mosart Nunez:

Oh, they say it’s fire. Sorry, okay. The beat or the background and all that stuff then tends to be a third part. So, I try to think of it into those three ways. And the things I sample, I try really hard to dig into what I like to listen to when I’m not listening to rap or hip hop. That’s usually what I try to go for.

Speaker 3:

(singing)

Genius Black:

So, now that we all listened together, I got some thoughts and things that I want to share. The first thing is, when the song first started, I was like, oh man, this is kind of atmospheric. It comes in, there’s these textures, there’s this kind of ebbing into it, there’s this organic thing happen, I kind of feel wet and metallic a little bit, I like that. I was like, all right, so this is going to be long winded, I’m thinking 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and I was like, nope, two minutes, 13 seconds, get in, get out.

Mosart Nunez:

Mm-hm (affirmative).

Genius Black:

So, I thought it was cool. To me, it’s interesting to have an atmosphere, or what I perceive to be an atmospheric approach to something that’s so short. I don’t know why for some reason that stands out to me. So, I thought that was cool. There was a couple moments where something really started to creep in, like a vocal sample and some different things. Those really had me interested. I was really trying to figure out, is that thing going to really become the center of attention. But, you were kind of sneaking it in, letting back out. So, I’d be curious to hear about some of that. I mean, I have a couple more things I’ll share, but like yeah, what’s up with that, with the textures and the ebbing, bro? I got that right off the bat.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, I mean again, I don’t really… Aside from the three things that I’m thinking about, which is the sample I’m using, the textures I’m using, and then the background, the bones, like the beat, I don’t have a time linked in mind, I don’t have a peak in mind. So, I think that that’s one of the things that’s unique to a lot of the stuff I do. There isn’t an actual drop like in dance music or the high moment like in pop music, not really interested in that kind of stuff.

Mosart Nunez:

I think that I make a lot of music that’s built around listening to it for yourself. I know that sounds cliché sometimes, when people are like, “You know, I make headphone music,” but I literally, I make stuff that I imagine that you’re putting on just when you want to chill and you just want to be a little contemplative, and you want to just hear some weird stuff, you know what I mean? So, in this case, I find their voice very amazing. I think that Antony’s voice is unbelievable, and what’s really interesting is that I didn’t do anything to the voice in that sample except put a little bit of reverb on it. That’s how haunting their voice is to begin with.

Mosart Nunez:

Sometimes, I’m looking for samples where I don’t have to change anything, just to capture the magic. Then, I found some textures that I had recorded a little bit earlier, one of which was me trying to get a zipper to work on a sweatshirt that I have that the zipper came off. But, the zipper was stuck at the top, and I couldn’t get it down. So, when you hear the [inaudible 00:37:50], that’s just me rubbing my hand back and forth, and then taking a pencil to try to loosen the zipper.

Genius Black:

Got you.

Mosart Nunez:

So, I’ll talk around the house and I’ll record stuff like that, or I might be watching a movie or a show and then some interesting noise is occurring in the show that I might record, and then I just keep it. I keep folders of just stuff like that, listening to NPR, might hear somebody say something really interesting, and just borrow that section. Then yeah, I mean to me, a lot of the stuff that I put out is really, what you’re hearing is what it sounds like when I have a bunch of hardware in front of me and I just mess with it for a while.

Genius Black:

See, that’s interesting.

Mosart Nunez:

There’s not a plan. It’s literally like after four or five hours over the span of four to six weeks, this is what it would sound like.

Genius Black:

Got it. Okay, so Nobody But You, I think what I was hearing was a muffled or filtered bass line. I don’t know if you had sampled the-

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

I don’t know if you had to sample the bass.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

And sometimes, I don’t know if you were like raising, I guess, you’re letting more of the highs through. It was kind of peaking up sometimes, right?

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Genius Black:

Talk to me a little bit about that. Because first, I was like, wait, what is that? But, it was holding down the bottom, it just wasn’t all present.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, yeah. I found over the years that I don’t go in for making music that has a heavy end or a low end. I listen back to a lot of the stuff I’ve made and it’s just not there. I’ve stopped trying to make it. So, if you actually listen closely to a lot of the stuff I make, there’s actually no real base in it.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Mosart Nunez:

There’s no real bottom, boomy, subby kind of thing happy. I just give you the impression that there is by creating movement in other places.

Genius Black:

So, you cut off the high end and the low end of this bass line then? Because it feels low fidelity like you got rid of some of the highs, but then you go rid of a lot of the sub, like it’s just not there?

Mosart Nunez:

No, I just in that case, if I remember correctly, I recorded that bass line from another song, so it was a sample. Then, I ran that sample with nothing but the low end, and then I ran it again with nothing but the mid, and then I ran it again with nothing but the low end, and then I ran it again with nothing but the high end. And I’ll just do that. Sometimes, I’ll just sit there and keep processing, re sampling, re sampling, processing, until it ends up wherever. But, that also creates a lot of artifacts in the sound, a lot of noise.

Genius Black:

Yes, and that’s part of the texture I hear. I love it.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, I couldn’t get that anywhere else. I have a couple of machines too in the studio that are broken, that I’ve kept, because they do a certain thing that other things can’t do. They weren’t designed to do that, but now that they do that, really, really love them.

Genius Black:

[crosstalk 00:40:46].

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah.

Genius Black:

Yeah, yeah.

Mosart Nunez:

I have a-

Genius Black:

That’s fire.

Mosart Nunez:

I don’t know if y’all know Kaoss Pads. I have one of the original ones, and it’s a little… I have a original Kaoss pad mini, it’s a piece of shit. It shocks you when you touch it, it works some of the time, it doesn’t work other times. It’s really finicky, but when it does put out sound, it puts out this horrible 8-bit scrunchy squeak. And if you take that squeak, that crunchy, all that stuff, and then compress it, and mess with it a bunch, you end up with this really cool digital sounding whatever it is, whatever the sound is. It ends up sounding really flat and digitized in a way that I’ve tried really hard to get in other gear. So, a lot of the stuff you hear too is just me, I’ve-

Genius Black:

I love it.

Mosart Nunez:

You know when John Cage has his fixed pianos and he puts the pennies on the [inaudible 00:41:48], that’s not called [inaudible 00:41:49], what the fuck are they called?

Genius Black:

The hammers?

Mosart Nunez:

The hammers. You know, that kind of stuff, like a lot of my gear’s at this point just fixed gears, stuff that I’ve messed with and now it only does this thing.

Genius Black:

Yeah, no, for sure. That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Well, no, thank you, and for sharing that too. Like I said, I want to just think a little bit even about the creative process. I love the layering of samples. I think that the art of sampling isn’t as prevalent as it used to be, and so even though people still sampling, we have big records that come out that are sample based, and I love that. But, the really, hey man, I’m going to snag the mids, then I’m go ahead and grab the bass, I’m going to process that differently than I do the mids, and I’m actually going to distort the high end, and then I’m going to turn it down. But now, what you’re hearing on this quote unquote bass line is something that I broke into a whole spectrum myself

Mosart Nunez:

Right.

Genius Black:

Right, so I just want of the just highlight for people, some people are digging deep. Some people can sit down and talk to you about chord structures and harmony and the melodies in the way that just… I mean, I get lost in the first two minutes, right? We all have specialties, but I wanted to just showcase some of what you like to dig into in that kind of organic textural sound. I love how you’re leaving some things natural, some things you’re wetting it up yourself, but it comes off very… There’s a lot of movement, like you said. There’s this ebbing, I love it.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, I try to do that. Then, over the years, I’ve been working… I’ve been a DJ for 25 years, and I’ve been producing music for probably 15 years.

Genius Black:

Okay.

Mosart Nunez:

And over that time, I’ve taught myself how to play drums, I’ve taught myself how to play piano, I’ve taught myself how to play bass. I’m not good at any of these things by the way, but just teaching myself and learning has also helped develop other ways to use the things that I’m thinking in my head. It’s helped me express what I’m thinking in my head a lot easier. Then of course, there’s DJing, which just gives you a huge foundational understanding of what sounds good.

Genius Black:

Yes, it does.

Mosart Nunez:

When I mentioned earlier I have zero interest in a record deal or anything like that, part of it has to do with I don’t need, want, or aspire to have anybody at all tell me what to do with the stuff I create, zero, not in exchange for money, not in exchange for anything. I get that there’s some people who work it, and they’re finally at the stage where they’re like, “Well, I control everything.” I’m happy for you, but I don’t even want to do the first step to get their, even if that’s the end goal, I don’t care.

Genius Black:

Right.

Mosart Nunez:

For me, there’s nothing there. There’s nothing that I want. And ultimately, I don’t want to sell my stuff. I’m interested in what sounds good; will people think this sounds good? But, I’m never actually thinking, will people buy this, I’m not sure I’ve ever thought that in my whole life.

Genius Black:

Yeah, not your angle, not your [crosstalk 00:44:33], no doubt.

Mosart Nunez:

That song is a perfect example of this is what I felt like making. And I’ve had people be like, “Yo, I’ll put this in a commercial. This is fire for car music commercials.” I’m constantly being like, “No, I’m not interested. I don’t want to make anything that sells something else.” I don’t want to sell my stuff, let alone give you stuff that makes it so you can sell other stuff.

Genius Black:

Everything is not for sale.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, I’m not… and I think that’s why I can do what I do. I think again, it’s a very privileged position, so I want to be mindful that I’m speaking from a privileged position. I can do whatever I want and people listen to it. Not everybody has that freedom and has to make sacrifices and stuff, so-

Genius Black:

That’s good to recognize. Well, no, I really appreciate you taking the time. Going to wrap it like that, and I think that me and you will probably have another podcast coming for people. Maybe we can collaborate on some music, give some people something dynamic in the moment, but we’ll wrap up today. Again, thank you for being on the first Black Owned Podcast, representing with us, appreciate you.

Mosart Nunez:

Yeah, man, hell yeah.

Genius Black:

Thank you for listening. Want to make sure you guys know to follow us on Instagram at Black Owned Maine, on Twitter at Black Owned Maine, and on Facebook as Black Owned Maine as well. Also, you can follow me on Instagram at Real Genius Black. Also, check out the directory at www.blackownedmaine.com. Also, you can follow Mosart212 on Instagram. Lastly, I want to say this, there are people who want to get active, there are people who want to support, go to blackownedmaine.com/donate. That’s something you can do specifically to support the important work that we’re doing. Thank you.

2021-03-06T20:53:30-05:00March 6th, 2021|Podcast transcription|

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WHAT OUR BODIES TEACH US FT GABY BARBOZA

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ECHOES OF OLD SYSTEMS WITH ALI ALI

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MOSART NUÑEZ

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2021-03-06T20:46:48-05:00August 12th, 2020|BOMPodcast|
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