Call my girls and put ’em all on a spaceship! In this episode, Alyssa and Brendane are joined by the co-hosts of the amazing Lose Your Sister podcast, Jordan and Liberty. Together, we unpack Black feminist futurity and temporality, the end of the/this world, community, and Squid Game (no spoilers, promise!).
What’s the Word? Futurity. We explain what people mean by futurity, how in the Black feminist tradition futurity is created through visionary work and radical speculation, and why humans are always living in the past.
What We’re Reading. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. We’re joined by Liberty and Jordan of the Lose Your Sister podcast to discuss age in our “apocacryptic” world and adultification of Black girls, whether Butler is “clairvoyant” or simply sees clearly, the recursivity of the past and time, and the importance of building community with more in common than shared pain.
What In the World?! Together we discuss the ways we’re closer to Butler’s Parable world than we think: billion shellfish that cooked in the ocean, supply chain and labor shortages and the WI senate bill that will allow under-16s to work until 11pm, housing scarcity, and the anti-capitalist? parable Squid Games.
Zora’s Daughters Podcast: Season Two, Episode Five
Co-hosts: Brendane Tynes and Alyssa A.L. James
Guests: Jordan Taliha and Liberty Martin (from the Lose Your Sister podcast)
Title: The Emancipation of ZD: Black Feminist Futurity
Total Length: 01:29:33
[00:00:23] Brendane: Hey y’all! Welcome back to Zora’s Daughters, the podcast where we discuss popular culture with a Black feminist anthropological lens. I’m Brendane and I use she/her/hers pronouns.
[00:00:33] Alyssa: Hi everyone! This is Alyssa. My pronouns are she/her/hers, and we have a really cool episode in store for you today. We’ll be discussing futurity, Afrofuturism, Octavia Butler and the end of the, or this, world.
[00:00:51] Brendane: And of course, we’ll be joined by Liberty and Jordan, cohosts of the Lose Your Sister podcast. We’re the daughters, they’re the sisters. We’re derived from Zora Neale Hurston and they’re riffing on Saidiya Hartman. I mean, it’s just—it’s too good. I am so so excited to be shooting the shit with them today.
[00:01:09] Alyssa: [Laughs] That’s what we’re going with, but I think it’s gonna be a really fun conversation. And since we’re reading fiction for just the second time on the podcast, we’re really looking forward to having their insights, since they both come from Black studies and comparative literature backgrounds. So, finally, some people who can tell us about motifs and symbols, you know [laughs]?
[00:01:28] Brendane: Right. Cuz we read symbols in life, they read symbols on the page.
[00:01:34] Alyssa: Okay, okay.
[00:01:35] Brendane: Let’s just say, you know, it’s gonna be a whole different vibe today.
[00:01:39] Alyssa: Yes. And I think what’s really cool is we’ve really set up these last three episodes—well, this one and then the last two episodes—like a series, you know? we could be, like, The Temporality Series or something. You know, we did the past, and the future—you know, the past that is the future and our present with plantation futures, the construction of the past and the present with Naomi’s work. And now we’re getting to the possibilities of the future and imagining new worlds with Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. And it wasn’t even on purpose. But just, like, literally, our shit just aligns. That’s how we roll.
[00:02:17] Brendane: That’s how we roll. Our minds!
[00:02:18] Alyssa: Our minds!
[00:02:19] Brendane: [Laughter] But before we give the entire episode away, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s donated to the podcast or engaged with us on Instagram or Twitter. We would not be doing this without you, like, point blank, period, right? And so if you would like to donate to us, please head over to our websites zorasdaughters.com. And if you don’t have it right now, like many people in the world, that’s fine. Cuz let’s be real times are hard.
[00:02:50] Alyssa: Hard-tuh!
[00:02:50] Brendane: And we love—hard [laughs]. With a hard H [laughter]. We love nonmonetary support, too. So you can leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, which honestly fills our cups. And y’all, newsflash, right, we are not massive influences on social media. So the way that most people are still coming across this podcast is the old-fashioned way, right, word of mouth. So please follow us on social media, tag Zora’s Daughters on IG [Instagram] or zoras_daughters on Twitter, share the episode with your friends, drop a link in the family group chat, or suggest it as part of your underwhelming DEI programming at the office.
[00:03:31] Alyssa: [Laughter] Where do we come up with these things? But speaking of DEI—and that’s diversity, equity and inclusion for folks who are not embedded/enslaved in corporate life [laughs]—we offer Black feminist workshops for companies and nonprofits, and we’ve offered workshops like “How to be a Better Ally to Black Women” and “Finding Joy In Community.” Or we can just completely customize something for your organization. So just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
[00:04:06] Brendane: Yes, please. Also Black Future Month, which some of you might know as Black History Month, is really right around the corner. So be sure to reach out to us if you’re looking for programming. Our calendars are already filling for next semester, believe it or not. With all that being said, shall we get into the episode? Alyssa, what’s our word for the day?
[00:04:31] Alyssa: All right, what’s the word? The word is “futurity.” It is a term that people love using when all they need to say is futures. Okay, no, that’s not it [laughter].
[00:04:42] Brendane: I mean, academics be doing that. Like, how can we make simple things less simple, right? But let’s start with why do people use the term futurity instead of just future, and I think we’ll start with the simplest part, which is the Merriam-Webster definition. And so futurity is defined as the quality, state, or degree of being future. It’s about the possibilities and prospects of existing in a time to come. So simply futurity is all the possible futures for a people, the process of envisioning building and enacting those futures.
[00:05:16] Alyssa: Yeah, I think that’s a great definition to kinda just keep in your pocket. That’s what I say, that’s what I do when there’s a term that I don’t fully understand yet [imitates clearing throat] dialectic. But I want to at least follow someone’s point or someone’s argument, I just have a short definition or cinnamon—cinnamon?—or synonym [laughs] that I can replace the word with in the sentence, so then I can just, you know, keep reading, keep it pushing, it’s all good. But back to what you said, I really wanna put the underscore on “being.” And I think that when scholars are talking about futurity, particularly in Black Studies, there’s a tacit ontological question, right? And so remember, ontology deals with the nature of being, the question of what is it to exist? And that implied question, I think, is, “Is Black being possible and what can we become?”
[00:06:13] Brendane: And I think that question has become even more significant in this landscape of “crisis,” right, which I put in these kinda sarcastic quotation marks, because, of course, this time of crisis is only now starting to affect white people. Capitalism and the other evils of the world are doing exactly as they’re supposed to do, and they have done, to marginalized communities. And as we talked about before, for Black folks, our worlds have ended time and time again. But talk about futurity has become more mainstream, I guess, we’ll say, as we experience the effects of climate change and capitalism, white people are starting to reckon with the possibility of not having a future for possibly the first time.
[00:06:59 ]Alyssa: Oof!
[00:07:00] Brendane: Oof!
[00:07:01] Alyssa: [Laughs] I mean, I think the reason that it is so scary—and don’t get me wrong, I, too, have had my share of climate anxiety, and we’re gonna talk about that later—but I think it’s because there isn’t a blueprint for this for some groups of people, right? There isn’t this kind of—there hasn’t really been this, like, literal end of the world period in their recorded history, you know? They haven’t been ripped from their homelands, or stripped of their culture identity, or even the possibilities of reproducing those cultures. And so, futurity is something that’s necessarily related to the past and the present. Although the present isn’t quite real, either. But, you know, we can talk about that. But without that knowledge of having survived an end of their worlds, and without knowing true community—because individualism is one of these, like, strong, deeply held values in white supremacy culture—this end seems like The End.
[00:08:02] Brendane: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. And I’m interested to hear what you say, like, when you mean “the present isn’t real”?
[00:08:11] Alyssa: Right, so neuroscientists have actually found that we’re always perceiving things after they’ve happened, because our brains are a little bit slow [laughs]. Slower than physics, right? So our brains lag about 80 milliseconds behind actual events.
[00:08:26] Brendane: That’s wild.
[00:08:26] Alyssa: So if we follow these, like, these laws—the Western laws of physics anyways—we’re actually always living in the past.
[00:08:33] Brendane: That’s wild, I’m just sittin’ here like, wow, to know that I’m reacting slower than things are happening. This is fascinating. Yeah, I feel like in thinking through this, right, we should also consider the implications of there being different ways of perceiving time and space. That doesn’t just differ across cultures, but also within a lifespan, like—
[00:08:56] Alyssa: Yeah, like, I felt like I was 13 forever. Forever. I was like, “I just wanna be 15, I just wanna be 16,” and those ages lasts forever. And then I turned 30 [snaps fingers] went by like that [laughs].
[00:09:10] Brendane: What the hell happened to—
[00:09:11] Alyssa: Blinked and now I’m 32 [laughs].
[00:09:12] Brendane: Look, my Saturn return that I am sitting in right now is kicking my Black ass so I feel that, like—I’ve been 28 for four months and Miss Saturn got her foot on my neck, like [laughs]
[00:09:28] Alyssa: It literally does that. You feel crazy during your—at least I did.
[00:09:34] Brendane: Well, here I am. What would you say are the effects, right, that those differences that we have on our understanding of physics or other sciences or systems that rely on a particular understanding of how time operates? What kind of effects do we have in that, you think, in our society?
[00:09:53] Alyssa: Oof, girl, I don’t even know [laughter]. I don’t know, I think [laughs] that would be would probably have to talk to someone who does more Indigenous ontology work or, like, African spirituality work. And I’m sure that there is someone out there who is transmitting that knowledge through oral history right now, or someone who’s documenting it. But to go back to us living in the past and futurity being tied up with that past, I’m gonna dust off my psychology degree, and tell you all about the study that was done on a patient who had both retrograde and anterograde amnesia. So basically, retrograde amnesia—couldn’t remember anything from before the incident that caused the amnesia. And anterograde amnesia is when you can’t create new memories, or you have difficulty creating new memories. So this patient, he had no recollection of the past, he couldn’t create a past for himself in his mind. And so he also could not imagine himself in the future. And so other patients who have had similar disorders, they can understand the future abstractly, but they can’t project themselves into it. And so in order to investigate that further, psychologists started putting research participants into fMRI machines. And basically, those are the ones that show, like, activity in your brain. And so, like, different neural pathways or different parts of your brain will light up based on what they ask you to do. And so they found that recalling the past and envisioning the future—they light up the same neural pathways. Which I think is super cool, which tells you that, like, in some ways, the past is an invention. It’s a recreation, the recollection you’re recreating. But anyhow [laughs]. When people tell stories about their past, that’s essentially what it is. And there’s also evidence that shows that every time you talk about the past, every time you recall a memory, you change it a little bit, so there is a bit of fabrication involved in creating the past.
[00:12:02] Brendane: Right, so it’s not just Geminis out here making up shit, y’all. We all—
[00:12:07] Alyssa: [Laughs] No, we all do it.
[00:12:08] Brendane: We all do it!
[00:12:09] Alyssa: Well, well, maybe not all of us, because as we’ve said before on the podcast, right, psychology is WEIRD. That acronym that stands for Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic people—people from those countries—studies are—psychology studies are mostly conducted on people who are “WEIRD.” I would add white to that, just based on my memory, but it’s basically, I mean, a lot of these psychology studies are done on undergraduate students trying to get credit for [laughs]—tryna get class credit, cuz that’s what I was doing. But I think, you know, that tells you a little bit more of an answer to your question, right? Like, would those neural pathways—would those patterns be the same for people from cultures or communities who conceive of time and space differently than the Euro-American or capitalist time space? And so, you know, as an example—to take it back to anthropology, right—for us, for people who are raised educated in the West, we spatialize time in the sense that the future is ahead of us. We always think, like, the future is forward and the past is behind us. The past is back. For the Aymara—and actually other groups of people—but the Aymara people living in the Andes, it’s reversed, because the past is something that you know, so the past is in front of them spatially, and that’s something you can see. But the future is something you can’t see, so the past is spatialized behind them. And so if you all are interested in that, you can check out the book Marking Indigeneity: The Tongan Art of Sociospatial Relations by Tevita O. Ka’ili. And that’s just—it’s a brilliant ethnography of Indigenous traditions of marking time and creating space. But yes, I will—I’ll put it in the description box, so you all don’t have to take notes too much while we’re talking [laughs]. But yes, to get back to my original point, my theory is that this visceral existential fear that people have now about the apocalypse, it actually emerges from our inability to conceive of something in the future, or to project the past into the future cuz it’s out of the bounds of our historical—our past experiences. And so because we can’t project our past into the future, we’re like that patient with amnesia, right? All there is in the future is nothingness. Or no-thingness, as John Paul Sartre would say.
[00:14:48] Brendane: Oh, chile. Okay, not the—I can’t keep up with all these dead French philosophers. Woo! Can’t keep up with ’em [laughter]!
[00:14:57] Alyssa: Being and nothingness, nothingness and being. Yeah, neither can I. I—but, you know, I’ve—I like to throw in a little reference here there. I’ve got a Derrida one for later.
[00:15:07] Brendane: Oh man—oh, the one I’ve been avoiding.
[00:15:11] Alyssa: Yeah, you need to get into that one. But, you know, I think that’s why in this whole, like, what we’ll call the white Anthropocene literature—which we’ve discussed why I’m saying that. It’s in Episode 5 of Season 1, and we also talked about it in Episode 3 of this season. I think there’s, like, this orientation towards a quest for the past, or there’s always a kinda nostalgia involved in how they’re addressing our contemporary problems. And so I think that nostalgia helps people construct possibilities for the future. However, as we discussed in those episodes, nostalgia and turning the past only reproduces the same injustices and oppression. So it isn’t liberatory for people like us, for marginalized people.
[00:16:02] Brendane: Yeah. And like we’ve talked about before, right, that Black people don’t have the same relationship to the past as WEIRD. Wha—wha— Wh-Wh-WEIRD, I would say Wh-WEIRD, because you’re adding a white to it. Right, like, what is no-thingness in the future for people who are always already written as non-being, right? And so that’s why in the Black feminist tradition, futurity is created through visionary work and radical speculation that moves us beyond simply surviving this world’s always already apocalyptic anti-Black conditions, right, and towards imagining and realizing a future where Black people are free. And particularly free to live and thrive and not just survive. So in this beautiful essay, Caitlin Gunn writes that survival “functions within ostensibly empowering rhetoric that stops black women in the present moment, or suspends us in history.” And, for me, I’ve really been thinking about survival, as you know, what else is survival except returning home, right? And so—and that’s for my dissertation, so, you know, if you wanna take that question and run with it, do it, but I’m thinking about that, right. What else is—what does it mean to be survivor if not to return home, in some sense, however home is constructed? And so maybe the language of survival, as we think about the future will no longer serve us. And I’ve talked about before that when we divest from these systems that we’ve inherited from the past, right, we can begin to realize a world where we do more than survive white supremacy. And I think a lot of the texts that people point to as Afrofuturist—or as futurist, right—actually require that violence to still exist in order to imagine a future, as you were saying, right? How do we take from the past to bring into the future, and we’ll talk about it later in what we’re reading, cuz Joy James has a lot to say about that. And so does Octavia Butler. But, I don’t know, here, I want to ask like, you folks who are listening, like, can we imagine a Black future that is not deeply connected to our oppressive present? Right, like, is that possible for you, right? When you celebrate Black joy or Black excellence, right, is that purely connected to this history of our ancestors could never be recognized as top of their class, right? Like, when we celebrate these things, are we celebrating them as a future that’s apart from the past or something that’s like intimately connected to it? And I think for us to begin to really think about radical Black joy and abundance, like, we have to come from a place that is not “We’re excellent because our ancestors weren’t able to be.”
[00:18:56] Alyssa: Right.
[00:18:58] Brendane: Because that, to me, seems very liberal—but lemme get off my soapbox, anyway. I just wanna know, right, like, what kind of being can we imagine outside of oppression? Because everything that I’ve been reading seems to wanna just kinda copy-paste, or, like, copy-paste and lemme add some words so it’s not technically plagiarism, it’s paraphrasing, you know? [Laughter]
[00:19:21] Alyssa: That—I think that’s such a good point. I think that there’s always been something that bothered me about the way that we’re celebrated—the way that we celebrate ourselves, actually. And it is, like, you didn’t say this but it’s what—part of what you wrote—but, like, it’s always because we’re beating the anti-Black odds. So even when we are celebrating our successes, celebrating our wins, celebrating all the things that we’ve done, it’s always in reference to whiteness and white supremacy. And that has always bugged me [laughs]. But now I have the words for it. And I kinda also understand the, like, reason behind that, right? Yeah, this is—gosh, I love doing this podcast [laughs].
[00:20:14] Brendane: Yes, we do! And—I mean, I’m gonna talk about it later, too—but even in thinking about futurity, Sharon Holland has an excellent book called Raising the Dead, and she talks about how all of these things around capitalism, oppression, etc.—marginalization, right—you have people on the margin so that they can bear the brunt of whatever violence you’re committing so that you can delude yourself into thinking that you can escape death in some way. And so a lot of times when we think about apopca-cryptic— I like to call it apopca-cryptic futures. Right, it’s this—
[00:20:51] Alyssa: Wait, cryptic like you, like, can’t be understood, or crypt, like—
[00:20:55] Brendane: Oh, just means—
[00:20:56] Alyssa: —wherever you died—like, where people put the dead?
[00:20:59] Brendane: Oh, you know, that makes it sound really profound. I really just say it just to mangle the word up [laughter].
[00:21:07] Alyssa: Wow, here I am trying to be deep. I’m like, “Oh, look!”—
[00:21:08] Brendane: No, you’re not trying to be deep, you are actually being deep. I am not [laughs]. But, like—so this myth, right, that you can escape death by pushing it onto the marginalized—which is what capitalism, patriarchy, ableism does—is it deludes people who are at the center into thinking that they are escaping death when the reality is that death is for all of us here, right? And so—well, if you are alive, death is for you. And so, I think about that, too, in thinking about futurity, like, as we’re talking about imagining futures, it’s—and I wanna talk about, like, moving outside of oppression, right? We’re not trying to push futures that just move oppressions to new—new sets of marginalized people. We’re tryna move outside of that. So this will be—I can’t wait for our conversation with Jordan and Liberty. I’m excited. I’m excited for it.
[00:22:06] Alyssa: Me too. So I think—I wanna go back to the essay that you brought up because it’s a really great entry point into Black feminist futurity, right? So Gunn, she talks about radical speculation, and she explains that imagining futures, reclaiming histories, and creating alternate realities is radical when “we imagine futures unbound by ideologies and structures designed to delimit Black lives.” So basically what we’ve been saying: how can we imagine ourselves outside of oppression? So she demonstrates that the Combahee River Collective’s assertion that Black women’s liberation is freedom for all oppressed people is a form of radical speculation. So this is this whole thing, radical speculation, this is not new, y’all, okay? Our imagination, our expression, all of those things—that is our resistance to oppression. But it’s also our way out of this white supremacist world. The more we try to assimilate, the more we stifle our possibilities for liberation.
[00:23:08] Brendane: And there are so many examples of that, too. Audre Lorde told us that poetry is not a luxury, that the erotic is power. There’s art and music, particularly in the Afrofuturist tradition, that help us to start thinking and cultivating alternative futures. And just as a brief overview of Afrofuturism, it is a cultural aesthetic—and if you would like to understand that term more, check out Season 2, Episode 1, “Liberation Don’t Cost A Thang“—and a philosophy of science and history that explores the possibilities of bringing together African diaspora cultures with technology. Authors, musicians, filmmakers, artists, and others create media that involve envisioning Black futures from Afro-diaspora experiences. It’s commonly associated with science fiction, but of course, this can also be fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction, of course.
[00:24:03] Alyssa: And speaking of speculative fiction, that’s the type of text that we chose to discuss today, because as adrienne maree brown explains, speculative fiction is “a way to practice the future together.” And that is what we wanna do with y’all. So let’s move on to the next segment, What We’re Reading.
[00:24:23] Brendane: So what we’re reading today is Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. And as we mentioned earlier, we’re also joined by the fabulous cohosts of the podcast, Lose Your Sister, a podcast inspired by Saidiya Hartman’s “Lose Your Mother.” Their podcast centers Black feminist thought, pop culture, and diaspora with the focus on how Black people find their way back to one another interpersonally, artistically, and politically. Boom! So welcome to the Zoom studio, Jordan and Liberty! We’re so happy to have you.
[00:24:55] Liberty: Thank you for having us.
[00:24:57] Jordan: Hey, hey!
[00:24:57] Alyssa: Hi, welcome, welcome. So could you each just tell us who you are, your pronouns, and a bit about yourself?
[00:25:06] Liberty: Do you want to go first, Jordan?
[00:25:09] Jordan: You can go first. [Laughter] I’m percolating who am I today.
[00:25:14] Liberty: Oh, okay [laughs]. Why didn’t you just say that? [Laughter] Okay, while Jordan decides who she is today, my name is Liberty. I use she/her pronouns. I recently graduated from Columbia University and—where I studied Comparative Literature. Me and Alyssa met because we worked on the same journal. And yes, I write and I broadcast, so I also hosted a radio show at school called Homesick. Oh, and I’m also—I’m from London. I’m from London from a Jamaican family—
[00:25:47] Alyssa: South London!
[00:25:47] Liberty: South London! Exactly [laughter]. So, yes, that’s me.
[00:25:53] Jordan: Alrighty, I’ve centered and found myself again. So my name is Jordan. I use she/her pronouns. I am a writer with some things that I have published on occasion. And I am a graduate student at Harvard studying Black literature and, like, rhetoric. And, you know, happy to be here. And I’m from DC, for, you know, folks who are from the DMV.
[00:26:24] Liberty: You were about to say Howard instead of Harvard, weren’t you?
[00:26:27] Jordan: [Laughter] I almost did because I was actually—I was born at Howard, quiet as it’s kept. She was very much—I was born there.
[00:26:33] Alyssa: Like, in a very literal sense, or [laughs]—?
[00:26:36] Jordan: Like, literally my mother was pregnant with me sophomore year of college—
[00:26:39] Alyssa: Aww, that’s so cute.
[00:26:41] Jordan: Like, water broke in the dorms. Like, very much a scholar from birth.
[00:26:46] Brendane: That water is probably still sitting there.
[00:26:49] Alyssa: Oh nooo. [Laughter]
[00:26:52] Brendane: Probably still sitting there [laughter].
[00:26:52] Jordan: No, honestly, like, I’m sorry, but the Bison will have to answer for their crimes. Get them kids—get them kids some housing.
[00:27:01] Brendane: Please some mold-free safe housing.
[00:27:02] Alyssa: Please do, please do. I think there’s a—
[00:27:05] Liberty: Also—oh, sorry. I was just gonna say I’m an Aquarius, Jordan’s an Aries, if you wanna understand the Zodiac formation of the episode.
[00:27:13] Alyssa: Yes. The Aquarius are dominating today.
[00:27:15] Liberty: Yeeeessss, Jamaican Aquariuses, too!
[00:27:18] Alyssa: Aye, aye. You see, I think this would have been a really great time for us to do our diaspora wars episode that we’ve been promising [laughter]. But we literally never do it [laughs]. But one day, we will and we will talk about ADOS and it’s gonna be hilarious. But yeah, Liberty—
[00:27:34] Liberty: Ooh. That—
[00:27:36] Jordan: You can— like, you can invite us back [laughs]. I’m down with that [laughs]. LOL, mess.
[00:27:43] Alyssa: But yes, as Liberty said, we worked on a journal—we work on a journal together and I started listening to their podcast through her. And honestly, their podcast, Lose Your Sister, y’all have me live-tweeting the episodes. I know you’ve seen them, especially when you were talking about Bridgerton, I was dead. But rather than read theory, like we do, they take culture as a text. And so they “read” the Bridgerton series, they’ve read I May Destroy You, Soul, Oprah’s interview of Meghan Markle, which was also hilarious [laughs]. And they offer reading lists with every episode, so it’s just great. So I really wanna know, what was your inspiration for the podcast?
[00:28:24] Liberty: Well, I wanted to do a podcast for a really long time. But I couldn’t find a friend to cohost it with me. And then one day, Jordan came to visit my college roommate. And we’d met once before and we would DM each other all the time. But we ended up having this very rich conversation about Mariah Carey and Beyoncé, specifically, “Greenlight” by Beyoncé [laughs]. And it was such a funny and critical conversation that I thought we would be great cohosts together. And actually, at one point, Jordan said that B’Day was Beyoncé’s first visual album, and that’s when I knew. I was like, “I have to”—[laughs]. I was like, “She’s the one” [laughs]. And so, I asked Jordan if she wanted to do a podcast together, and of course she said yes. And then Jordan was actually the one who came up with the concept and title of Lose Your Sister.
[00:29:11] Jordan: Yeah, so one, I just think B’Day being a huge part of our origin story is, like, very iconic. I think it says a lot about our tastes, and really, like, you know, what we were giving from the jump. And I also think it was just really cool, because I think Liberty and I were always, like, just going back and forth in the DMs, and I think we were able to capture, like, some of that, like, chaotic brilliance that I think we have [laughter] 1-on-1 onto the podcast. And the fact that we managed to, like, you know, get it together and, like, have things even remotely organized, I’m, like, very proud of us so far and what we’ve been able to do and I just, like, am genuinely excited to, like, talk about everything we’ve talked about so far.
[00:29:58] Alyssa: I love that. I think that Brendane and I have a very similar one in that we just took the conversations that we were having on WhatsApp—because we are older than you all [laughter]. So, we were having our conversations on WhatsApp—we also used to use BBM at some point, but—
[00:30:14] Liberty: Really?
[00:30:15] Alyssa: Yeah. No, not together but a point in our lives.
[00:30:18] Brendane: Oh, I was like “BBM?” [Laughter]
[00:30:22] Liberty: I haven’t had BBM in, like, 10 years, at least [laughter].
[00:30:28] Alyssa: Listen, I was using it when I was living in London, which was in 2015, so I’m not—we won’t talk about it. Okay, so [laughter] moving on. But yes, I’m really excited to have you all on the podcast since the first time I heard your podcast intro, which now I’m very pleased to know that Jordan was the one who created the concept, I’m sure with Liberty’s input. I just—I felt so covered when I heard it. You know, finding our way back to one another, the exercise of sisterhood and all that—it all spoke to me. But let’s get to what we are actually here to talk about, which is Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Take it away, Brendane.
[00:31:09] Brendane: Yes. So we’re gonna do our usual bio and then Liberty and Jordan will offer us a summary of the book. And then after that, we’re gonna discuss some of the themes relevant to what we’re talking about, which is what can Black futures look like? So today we are reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, the Cancerian Queen for those of you did not know. Octavia E. Butler is a renowned writer who received the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She is the author of several award-winning novels, including Parable of the Talents, Parable of the Sower. Parable of the Talents won the Nebula for Best Novel. Her Afrofuturistic feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant in the “end times.” And, unfortunately, she is no longer with us in this realm, but she’s with us in the ancestral realm. She passed away on February 24, 2006.
[00:32:09] Liberty: Rest in peace. Okay, so here’s a rundown of the novel. Butler’s Parable of the Sower follows a teenage Black girl named Lauren Oya Olamina in the year 2024. She lives in a gated community in California with her father, a Baptist pastor, her stepmother, and her stepbrothers. Lauren’s biological mother struggled with drug abuse during her pregnancy, and as a result, she was born with “hyperempathy,” which means she deeply feels emotions of others. For example, if Lauren sees someone who is hurt, she also feels that pain. She can also feel pleasure as well.
[00:32:43] Jordan: And beyond the gates of Lauren’s community is a not-so-dystopian world where most people are poor, homelessness is rampant, climate change has restructured society and resource accessibility, sexual violence is commonplace, indebted servitude has reshaped social dynamics, police are not to be trusted, and an authoritarian zealot has been elected president.
[00:33:04] Liberty: Though she has been raised within the walls of her community to follow the gospel and preserve their way of life, Lauren is convinced of the inevitable deterioration of her safe haven and begin to repair stuff to travel North.
[00:33:17] Jordan: Slowly but surely the outside world creeps into Lauren’s community. Her stepbrother falls in with a group of thieves who later kill him. And one day her father mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead. When the security of her community is breached once and for all, Lauren must strike out with a group of survivors in search of safety and new possibilities.
[00:33:36] Liberty: Disguising herself as a man on that journey, Lauren is strategic and freedom-minded. Grounded in a belief system she develops herself called Earthseed, which is rooted in the idea that “God is change,” Lauren emerges over the course of the novel as a leader, gaining followers, and founding the first Earthseed community, Acorn.
[00:33:57] Brendane: Thank you, thank you for that summary. I just feel like—where should we begin? I really have so many things to say, but where would y’all like to start?
[00:34:05] Jordan: I say let’s start with my girl Lauren. You know, like, she’s our entry point into this world, and I know for me when I was going through the book, I kept thinking a lot about Joy James’s essay on Octavia Butler and the captive maternal, where she described Butler’s protagonist as those for whom “creativity will be the hallmark of their matrix, intimacy and emotional intelligence theorizing and political agency.” And thinking through Toni Morrison’s Beloved alongside representations of children in Butler’s work, James also wrote, “It seems that only the black female child…has the power to destabilize the captive maternal. Both seek to be free.” And, I don’t know, I keep wrestling with that trying to think through like what it means for Parable of the Sower and to have this, like, teenage Black girl at the center.
[00:34:54] Brendane: Yeah, and the essay that Jordan is referencing is called “Captive Maternal Love: Octavia Butler and Sci-Fi Family Values” by the queen of reading, Joy James. And so, she also begins that essay by stating that “The Black female protagonist provides ‘mirrors’-where the marginalized see themselves in narrative; ‘windows’-where the normative look inside worlds that overlap their own; and ‘sliding glass doors’ that permit passage.” And so when I think about Lauren as a teenage Black girl, right, I think about how her character actually provides us with all three of these things. She’s the mirror for folks like us who once were Black teenage girls and having to save our families and our communities. She’s a window for the normative looks, so the non-Black people who may have different experiences who are like, “OMG, Octavia Butler predicted the future, like, look, like, look at this” but we all know that what she really predicted or saw was the inevitable, right, based on where she was. And through Lauren’s vision for Earthseed, right, we also see that sliding glass door, not just to the present, but also to a future outside of this mess.
[00:36:10]Alyssa: I think one of the things that I wanna talk about is, is it really realistic that Lauren is a teenager, right? I mean, even in the foreword, N.K. Jemisin is like, “This girl sounded like a teenager that an adult would think a smart teenager sounds like,” and that was kind of one of the things I had [been] thinking about. I was like, “I was not like that”—[laughter]—”as a teenager.” But on the one hand, I know that young people, of course, are often the drivers of social change. But on the other, I’m like, “Who is this visionary? And who is this forward-thinking when they’re 15 to 18 years old?” I most certainly was not. But then I think about, you know, as Brendane mentioned in our conversation that we had before we recorded, what is time in this world where survival is your baseline?
[00:37:01] Brendane: Yeah, and I think we also have to consider that for a lot of, like, Black firstborn girl children, they tend to be thinking on different levels all the time. Like as a first child of my mother, I had to learn how to take care of a whole family by the time I was like, five.
[00:37:20] Alyssa: And you see that in the book as well, the way that she takes care of her brothers and she’s teaching in her stepmother’s classes in school.
[00:37:31] Brendane: Yeah. So I think, like, it’s only fair to—well, not only fair, lemme not say it like that—but I think it would be very realistic that she would be this way at 15, considering the world, considering her own hyperempathy—which I know we’re gonna talk about a little bit, too—and then just, like, just how shit is. I think it’s very realistic.
[00:37:54] Liberty: Yeah. I also think that Butler purposefully writes this interesting naivety with Lauren, because she theorizes so much about the outside world and what she needs to do. And multiple characters point out to her that, actually, we’ve lived outside and you haven’t. So there are some things that you may not be familiar with, or there’s a lot more for you to learn. And I think sometimes it does come off as condescending or insulting, but other times there is a good point that there are things that Lauren doesn’t know. And I think she’s also aware of what she doesn’t know, which is how she’s able to navigate or finesse her way through certain situations.
[00:38:41] Jordan: Yeah. I think it also—like, to me, at least something I was thinking about throughout the book was just the way that, like, centering this Black girl also, like, brings back up questions about how the category of the “child” are always already imperiled, like, where Black people are concerned. And how, like, in the context of Parable, the apocalypse puts all of those—like, all these categories into question. Right, like age, sex, race—all these things are kind of in this kind of soup that everybody has to kind of figure out in this new world. And that in some ways—like, people who experience anti-Blackness are, like, maybe a little more familiar with the disruption of those categories.
[00:39:22] Liberty: And we see this with, like, how young some of the Black Panthers have been, like, Fred Hampton died at 21. I know not a teenager, but that at 21—there were definitely teenagers in the Black Panther Party and they were living in their own dystopia that drove them to revolutionary ideologies.
[00:39:42] Alyssa: This is a very good point. I think—and I—but one of the things that I think you also see is that life inexperience—like, inexperience with life, right, like her dad says, “You can’t just scare people into trying to change or trying to do what you want, right? You need to teach them to changing.” And even though she’s like, “I don’t really agree with how my father sees the world, particularly through religion, and that’s why I’m starting Earthseed,” I think that the way that she starts kind of constructing Earthseed demonstrates how much of an influence he had on her thinking and on her approach to this new religion, this new community-building.
[00:40:22] Brendane: Yeah, like, I think she definitely makes some teenage decisions towards the beginning, like telling that white girl “Oh, this is my plan,” like [laughter], you know, like, oh—you know, like, cuz Butler says very simply in the beginning that like, you know, race, racism, anti-Blackness, whatever, still exists, right? Even within their community, you have people who are like, “Oh, well, I don’t really fuck with y’all because y’all are Latinx,” or, “I don’t fuck with y’all because y’all are this,” right? And so I think she makes kind of these, like, childish decisions, but being put in these very adult situations. I really find Lauren to be fascinating, and—I think because I project a lot of myself onto her, so I’m like, “Oh, yeah, like, for sure. This is exactly how I would be as a 15-year-old at the end of the world.” [Laughter]
[00:41:15] Alyssa: That’s that gifted mind, because I know I was not. I was like, “Does this boy like me?”—that was me.
[00:41:23] Brendane: I mean, you think that too, as you’re like, “Okay, so this is how things gon’ go, I’m gon’ pack my go bag, you know, and worry about Curtis later.”
[00:41:30] Alyssa: Oh no, I found my diary from when I was 9 years old and it was the most vapid thing. I ripped it up and threw it out.
[00:41:37] Liberty: No, you gotta keep it!
[00:41:39] Alyssa: I am embarrassed I ever—nope! Nope. Did not want that for posterity at all. Not at all.
[00:41:47] Jordan: No, I—
[00:41:48] Brendane: I think also you—
[00:41:49] Jordan: Oh, no, I just think sometimes it’s nice to, like, see—like, see how you’ve grown, and, like, how you’ve changed and what things, like, maybe, like, you know, you cared about back then.
[00:42:00] Alyssa: It was all vapid and shallow and I was embarrassed. I read it again, just to be like, “Wow,” and then I threw it away.
[00:42:07] Liberty: You were nine! [Crosstalk] [Laughter] Like, what else is a 9-year-old meant to do?
[00:42:16] Brendane: [Laughter] I think—oh, I was gonna also say to bring this back to the Parable of the Sower, we also see people—at least what I observed people do to Lauren is try to kind of put her in a child’s place at times. Like, I’m tryna think about the moment where she’s, like, talking to Cory about Keith, and how—she’s, like, tryna warn her stepmother that this—that something else is going on but she knows not to say too much because she’s perceived that Cory is in love with Keith and he’s not worth—you know, not—in love in the sense of mothers and how they love their sons kind of thing. And how Cory tries to kind of, like, stamper down—or tamper down a little bit, but then her father intervenes and then ends up, like, beating him. And I think about—there is this tension between Lauren and the other adults who are not willing to see the world as it is because they want the world to be what it used to be. And I wanted to know, like—cuz I’m—I wanted to know what y’all thought about that kind of generational tension there?
[00:43:27] Liberty: I definitely related to it. I definitely understand how, as you get older, you become more jaded and also have to worry about other things, for instance, like, on top of Cory having—well, Cory’s favorite child being Keith, she also has— is it, like, three other kids to worry about as well as Lauren? She doesn’t really—I don’t feel like she ever really worries about Lauren, because Lauren takes care of herself. But yeah, she’s got like, these bunch of other kids that she has to worry about, as well as the school that—cuz she teaches in the local community school, and other modes of survival, as well about—as well as the husband and herself. So I understand why she doesn’t have as much, like, space for revolutionary ideas or even time to acknowledge it. And then I also think there is the condensation—the condescending attitude toward the child, like, what do you know, whereas like Lauren, as a child with more free time and less experience—and also no knowledge of what life was like before because Lauren was born into this chaos—and so she only has space to dream about the future. Whereas—and, like, future possibilities—whereas the older generations seem to think about going back to how things were. And I think even—there’s a line where it says that Cory just wants—is just waiting for things to sort of just return to normal. And Lauren is like—Lauren [understands?] we can only push forward. So yeah, that’s only within a young—oh no, not only, but I think that’s mostly within, like, a younger person’s purview, because you have the time to, like, even write out a new religion as Lauren does.
[00:45:22] Jordan: I also wonder, like, if things in some ways, like, Lauren’s, like, efforts to, like, you know, strike out on her own or strike out with other survivors, like, also, like, over time, she becomes, like, she kind of re-emerges as becoming a part of a unit, like, a kind of community unit. But, like, in order for that first moment to happen, where, like, you know, the security is breached in that community, she’s making those first moves as someone who’s lost her entire family. So, like, her familial structure has, like, completely dissolved. And that’s, like, the impetus for her, like, her freedom journey in the book. So I also wonder if there’s a way that, like, the actual familial structure is also, like, part of what the, like, novel is getting at in terms of, like, it creating this, like, false notion of, like, security and investment in a particular kind of model. And that once it falls apart, you actually have to face the, like, chaos of, like—of just, like, human life in a certain way.
[00:46:24] Brendane: Yeah, I didn’t even—I didn’t think about that. I think the thing that I did think about was this kind of—just, like, losing her entire family, and then having to create her own. It read very—it read like a very queer experience of things for some folks who have to lose their entire families in order to live and move on and dream up new possibilities. And so maybe that’s one of the—what do you call it? Subtexts, maybe? It’s this kind of, like—this critique of this normative family structure that is supposed to be protective, right? But what happens when you expel your disabled, like, Black child, you know? Or necessity—like, she is basically expelled from it, like, through necessity.
[00:47:09] Liberty: Right. I think we can also talk about, like, how we discuss Parable of the Sower today versus, like, when it came out, because this book is almost 20—yeah. No, it’s over 20-years-old—almost 30-years-old. Because I think it was—
[00:47:29] Alyssa: Disrespectful. It was 1993, okay?
[00:47:33] Jordan: Which means—
[00:47:34] Liberty: That isn’t almost 30?
[00:47:35] Jordan: —it’s damn near 30! [Laughter]
[00:47:37] Liberty: I was ’bout to say, I’m like, “Girl”—[Crosstalk]
[00:47:38] Alyssa: Why are you hurting people in this room?
[00:47:39] Jordan: [Laughs] I think you’re hurting yourself [laughs]!
[00:47:39] Alyssa: Why are you hurting people in this Zoom room, Liberty?
[00:47:45] Liberty: Like—
[00:47:46] Brendane: Ahhhhhhh.
[00:47:47] Liberty: I was just stating facts! Like, my point was that it’s been some time since it came out and so there’s different reactions to how it came out.
[00:47:56] Jordan: And she’s pushing 30, she’s pushing 30 [laughter].
[00:48:00] Liberty: But I’m saying she’s—
[00:48:01] Brendane: Yeah, she and I are in our Saturn return.
[00:48:04] Liberty: Like, the book is 28-years-old [laughter].
[00:48:07] Alyssa: So, actually, you’re right. Brendane, this book is also having it’s Saturn return.
[00:48:11] Liberty: Yes, because I haven’t—and I think it’s interesting how it’s perceived then versus how it’s perceived now, especially with the Trump administration happening in, like, obviously, 2016 and onwards. And the fact that, like, John Green is on the facade of the book, which—I guess, cuz John Green is a YA novelist—also directs the book to younger generations, which is interesting, something we can talk about. But yeah—but this book often gets paired with—well, John Green specifically pairs it with 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale. Which—cuz—
[00:48:49] Alyssa: Do you know—do you know how it was talked about before?
[00:48:54] Liberty: No—
[00:48:54] Liberty: Was it talked about before?
[00:48:59 ] Liberty: I don’t know—I remember not hearing about this book until Trump came into power because people—cuz, of course the slogan “Make America Great Again,” it’s in the novel. And Trump wasn’t the first person to do that. I think Reagan—I don’t even think Reagan was the first person to do it.
[00:49:16] Alyssa: That was Reagan.
[00:49:17] Jordan: Yeah.
[00:49:18] Liberty: Does the slogan predate Reagan? I feel like it might or something similar.
[00:49:23] Alyssa: From what I know, it was Reagan. But yeah, I think—I’m gonna start my rant now.
[00:49:29] Liberty: Oh.
[00:49:30] Alyssa: [Laughter] But yeah, I mean, people—ever since that time, people have called this book, or at least this book series, particularly prescient, right? They were like, “Oh, this foreshadowed Trump and this foreshadowed all of these other things.” But as you were saying, Liberty, Trump was not the first person to say “make America great again.” It was Ronald Reagan and might have even predated him. And so there’s always this, like, this odd desire to make America great “again.” When was it great, someone tell me. I don’t know—maybe in the 90s [laughter]. Maybe in the 90s, when everyone was rich.
[00:50:08] Brendane: Bill Clinton.
[00:50:11] Alyssa: Oh, not Bill Clinton, Lordy.
[00:50:13] Liberty: Not!
[00:50:13] Alyssa: But I think on that front, this book shows us two things. And one, which is very clear, is she’s not writing—what she’s writing about is not entirely the future, right? Like, I think someone said she takes it to—she takes, like, what was going on in her life, her experience, to its kind of logical conclusion and things like that, but it’s also not the future, it’s also the past repeating itself. And then, it’s this present that’s being applied to the US. It’s, like, all of these things that we’re doing today, but happening in America so people can see themselves in it. And so it made me think of discourse on colonialism. And Aime Cesaire writes that what the white man cannot forgive Hitler for is “the fact that he applied to Europe, colonialist procedures which until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India, and the niggers of Africa.” And so the reason that it feels so prescient to the people who are taking it up now—because I’m pretty sure everyone who does the pull quotes—well you don’t know where the pull quotes are all from, but John Green—but then it’s also like the New York Times and The Denver Post and The New Yorker, so obviously they’re tryna, like, pitch this to [pause] the whites. The whites and the Wh-WEIRDs?
[00:51:34] Liberty: It’s also been republished cuz this is a new edition.
[00:51:37] Alyssa: So yeah, that’s the copy I have, I have the reprinted. And so the reason that it feels so prescient to them—of, you know, the people who—among whom, like, the book is circulating is because, like, this could be them in the future. These are things that are happening now, but that could possibly happen to them. And if you think about it, the debt slavery is basically how we’re all going to university—well not me cuz I’m Canadian but [laughter] [crosstalk]—
[00:52:05] Liberty: Ok, damn.
[00:52:08] Jordan: Wow, wow, wow, laugh at my pain. Laugh at my pain.
[00:52:14] Alyssa: [Laughs] But it’s like—it’s—no, but for real, it’s people taking out loans, and I think we’re hearing a lot now—with all this—the possibility of debt relief, right—of student debt relief. People have so many loans that they’ll never be able to stop working. The border work that they talk about in the book that some of the formerly enslaved—they were talking about the border work where Canadian and Asian factories in the US, they kill and maim people for low pay, you know, working in these factories. That’s what’s happening right now in mines in Africa and sweatshops in South Asia and Latin America, right? And so, of course, the slavery is American slavery, the plantation slavery of the past—which, as we talked about in a previous episode is our current, our present, and our future. And one thing I wanted—okay, as an aside—I’m gonna have a lot of the asides—but I think it’s interesting that in the Parable world, the slavers want people who have hyperempathy and who can feel other people’s pain. But then in history, slavers wanted—they believed that enslaved Africans didn’t feel pain or emotions. So I don’t know if that’s all something that we can expand on and think about, but maybe that’s just me working overtime in my mind [laughs].
[00:53:32] Brendane: Look, affect? You know that’s mine. That’s my thing.
[00:53:35] Alyssa: That’s your bag. That’s your bag [laughs].
[00:53:37] Brendane: That’s my bag.
[00:53:40] Alyssa: [Laughs] So—but yes, all of this to say, like, time is recursive or repeats itself, but differently. And, you know, difference in repetition—that’s my Derrida reference. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk [laughter]. But that’s what she’s showing, right? She’s showing that there’s repetition with difference.
[00:54:00] Brendane: And there’s also, I think, you were saying that there are two things that you wanted to mention, right?
[00:54:06] Alyssa: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m slow. So the second thing is that Butler shows us that things that were once impossible, may one day be viewed as oppression, right? So we need to start shaping change and shaping our future, and thinking in ways that are not limited by what we are told is possible, right? The impossible is the possible not yet done. So—
[00:54:27] Brendane: Oh, wow.
[00:54:32] Alyssa: [Laughter] We can start—we also need to start shaping change, right, like, people are like, “Oh, the stuff that’s happening in this book would never happen. The things that are happening in The Handmaid’s Tale would never happen.” And we’re slowly starting to see the erosion of those rights that could lead to those kinds of situations now.
[00:54:47] Liberty: Also, the things in this book have happened because Butler makes very explicit comparisons to slavery, and at one point, because—as they collect people—as their group sort of grows as people start to join them, there are literally runaway slaves who come and join them from different company towns. And Lauren actually says we have a[n] Underground Railroad situation going on. And the way that they describe the way that mothers lose their children and the working conditions is very clearly an allusion to chattel slavery. And so I think it’s interesting that in imagining, like, the worst possible situation, Butler goes backwards. And so, yes, I think that time is not only recursive, but we also like to think of time as sort of just—as progression and upward slope. I think after Obama became president, that was definitely the version of history that was given to me, like, growing up and then Trump disrupted that. So, yes—and that’s also a critique of The Handmaid’s Tale is, like, the situation that the handmaids are in. It’s just what slave women—enslaved women dealt with.
[00:56:17] Alyssa: Experienced. Yep, and of course—but except in the book, there were no people of color. There were no Black people, they just changed it for the show. But that’s another conversation [laughter].
[00:56:30] Brendane: Look, that’s—yeah, what’s her—Margaret Atwood or whatever is under fire for a lot of things right now so that’s like [unclear]—
[00:56:38] Alyssa: I don’t even wanna talk about the—I’m bringing it up but I don’t wanna talk about it, which is the Man Booker Prize—
[00:56:45] Brendane: That’s peak Aquarius.
[00:56:47] Liberty: Ooh, wait, okay, don’t bring that up, cuz I’ll get angry [laughter].
[00:56:50] Alyssa: —and Bernadine Evaristo sharing the Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood—don’t even get me upset, okay. But—yeah, okay, but anyways, before we get too much into it, what do you all think about this whole idea of Octavia Butler predicting the future? She’s so prescient, she’s Miss Cleo but for real.
[00:57:08] Jordan: Yeah. I don’t know something that always annoyed me about the whole, like, Octavia predicted the future, That’s So Octavia!, like, Raven Baxter narrative that everyone was like, putting onto Octavia Butler, like, particularly with the, like, reprinting of this book, is that it feels very connected to the, like, “Black woman will save us,” “Listen to Black woman” discourses that I feel, like, generally, were kind of romanticizing this, like, narrative of Black women as, like, saviors, but, like, in my opinion, weren’t really invested in, like, one, the knowledge that Black woman had to offer. But also, I think we’re so committed to situating it as some kind of, like, clairvoyant, outside, like, information, rather than, like, information that was grounded in, like, reality. Like, that perhaps she was just, like, looking outside and was like, “This is”—like, “This is what it’s giving,” as opposed to her having to be, like, “I had a vision.” I think—I think maybe—like, I think even the point that you made about, like, what makes it, like something in the future versus something that’s happening now. I think the need to project this, like, futurity onto what she was doing, I think feels like an effort to distance themselves from how close we actually are to the things she was describing in the first place.
[00:58:29] Alyssa: That’s true. She—I mean, she—there’s an interview in the back of the new edition where she’s talking about—well, how did she—how did you come up with the whole idea that God is change? How did you come up with Earthseed? How did you come up with these things? And she was like, “I paid close attention to what was going on, and then I thought a lot about, you know, what’s the most powerful force in the universe? What’s something that nobody can influence?” And she went with change, and she was also just paying attention to what was happening. She was learning about history, she was learning about, you know, what was—what people were talking about on the news.
[00:59:07] Liberty: Yeah. And she has even said, like, “I’m not a prophet, I’m just paying attention.” [Laughter] She’s like, “Girl, go pay attention, too.” [Laughs] She’s like, “Look outside the window.” [Unclear]
[00:59:17] Jordan: [Unclear] very much giving weather girl. She’s like, “Girl, it’s raining! Girl, it’s raining!” [Laughter]
[00:59:25] Brendane: There’s a 5% chance that the rain is already here. So, you know, I—yeah, I think I’m sitting with what you all are saying. And for me, similar to what you said Jordan about this being like a listen to Black women kind of moment, it also points to—and Alyssa and I were talking about this earlier—Sharon Hollins’s book, Raising the Dead, where she, like—she talks about how death is displaced onto marginalized people to give folks who are not marginalized the delusion that they do not have to experience death in the same way. Or that they don’t experience death and they escape it. And I think what Octavia Butler does in this novel so masterfully is, like, bring death to you. Like, this is it, like, this is it. This is here, you have to face this. So now that you know that you have fucked up this world in the way that capitalism only was going to do—I don’t know, you know—this delusion that people have that this, like—the resources were so unlimited, and, you know, we were always going to be able to bathe for an hour a day, while people on the other side of the world were not gonna get what they needed, like—now that’s just how things are gonna be until the end of time. And now we’re seeing that really crumble with, like, gas prices already rising—like, when I read that part, I was like “Girl, gas already too high!” [Laughter] Already too high! What they say—this summa cum laude gas [laughter].
[01:00:53] Alyssa: Oh no.
[01:00:55] Brendane: Like, I need some—
[01:00:56] Jordan: Not 3.98.
[01:00:58] Brendane: Look, and if you drive—it’s hard out here. Especially when you’re not paying for regular gas. And so I—I was like, “I already pay this.”
[01:01:08] Alyssa: Okay, Miss Diesel [laughs]. Miss Super 95. [Laughter] Flex on us, flex on us, Brendane!
[01:01:18] Brendane: I’m just saying, I’m just saying. I’m just saying, it’s hard when you’re not paying for regular gas. And so, I’m like, you can already see these things happening, and I can imagine from her chair in 1990, or whenever she was writing this, like, being like, “Oh, the only logical conclusion for us moving jobs overseas or for our economy to be based on the exploitation of people all over the world and people within this nation is this,” right? We can only return to slavery. We can only return to—and you talked about earlier, sexual violence being commonplace. Like, that is the reality now. We just don’t have—we don’t see naked people walking up and down the street who’ve been abused, like—but that’s the reality. So, I think—yeah, this recursivity, I think as you were saying, Liberty, just really points to this—the fallacy of linear progress as something that we can actually achieve through white supremacist capitalist ideology. There is no linear progress in that ideology. Yeah, I think we can pivot to thinking about community in this novel and, like, how it shows up. And one of the things that we really talk about here on the podcast is community. Like, we think of it as like a central, Black feminist and abolitionist principle that is foundational to creating new worlds. And we can tell from the novel, right—literally, the novel centers Lauren in different communities, creating communities. We know that she values community, and she understands the importance of working together. And that becomes even more important for her when her community that she was born into is destroyed, which is something that she did foresee. She said, “You know, people out here hoppin fences, Daddy.” [Laughter] “Don’t you think we need to prepare?” And he was like, “Uhh, I don’t know about that.”
[01:03:11] Liberty: And then he went missing.
[01:03:13] Jordan: Damn.
[01:03:16] Brendane: Yeah, so Lauren really values community. And I think that’s something that we continue to come back to as we were talking about earlier, just, like, how these different communities are built, what principles they’re built upon, how is it that a teenager is able to start a whole new world? I don’t know. I think it’s just because she’s Black. I think that is what makes it possible. But I wanted to know what y’all thought about this, like, theme of community in the novel.
[01:03:46] Jordan: I think for me, like, something I really sat with a lot in the piece is, like, the relationship between Lauren and Bankole—like, the man that I guess she starts Earthseed with, but also who is, like, not a believer, and who is, like, almost 60-years-old, so he’s like, significantly older than her. But it’s really interesting, like, his willingness to support her in the project that she’s trying to create in this new world that she’s trying to build even though he doesn’t believe in what it is, like, he has his own faith practice. And it reminded me a lot of a quote from June Jordan in Civil Wars, where she talks about how, like, when we get the monsters off our backs, we may want to go in different directions. And I feel like it—like, it’s something I always go back to when I think about community cuz I’m always very interested in, like, what it means for Black people to feel connected or not connected to each other. And I thought there was something really interesting about the fact that, like, they are in the struggle to get the monsters off of their backs, but it’s also—there’s an honesty about the fact that they—they don’t actually want to go in the same direction, they don’t want the same things.
[01:04:57] Brendane: Yeah, I mean, even what you’re saying—the masters are backs—a lot of what folks build a community around—or can build community around is experiences of oppression, or their violent experiences. Like, I think as a survivor of—well, I don’t really call myself a survivor anymore—but to enter into a community of survivor[s] of intimate partner violence or interpersonal violence, right, that wound becomes, then, what you connect and build community around. And that can be limiting, it can be freeing, it could be something that allows you to express yourself, but it could also be very limiting in the sense that you don’t really know who you are outside of this. So I think I think that’s a really interesting question, right, like, what draws Black people to each other or not? Like, what if—cuz we all know those people who may look Black but may not identify as Black and they see themselves as not a part of a Black community for whatever reason. And do we take that as valid? I mean, I don’t know. I’ll answer that question not on the mic but—
[01:06:02] Liberty: Or even when we’re violent towards each other—because I think a big issue within the Black community when I was an undergrad was that the Black men were—Black cis het men either weren’t pulling their weight, or were, yeah, dangerous to the Black woman, and so I definitely found myself more in community with Black women or gender variant people, and definitely, like, queer people, rather than the Black [laughs] heteros. So, yeah, I think it’s—it’s difficult to see how you’re drawn to people. And also I didn’t have that much of, like, a racial connection with people in the UK. I definitely—like, now most of my friends here are Black. Whereas that’s not necessarily the case when I was back home in London. There was a bit more racial heterogeneity.
[01:07:09] Alyssa: Interesting. Actually, I did wanna ask you how that works. How—is there a “Black community” in London in the same way that there is in the US in New York and in South Carolina and all these kinds of things?
[01:07:24] Liberty: Right. I think the main difference is that there wasn’t an official segregation law in the UK as it was in the US. They wanted to segregate people in the UK, but the government around the Windrush period—which is, like, post-war, post-World War 2—they were like, “We don’t want these coloreds near us, but we can’t say that on the national stage, because then we’ll get flack. So how are we gonna do this”—[laughs]—”without, yeah, putting it in law.” And there’s actually memos that basically say that. And so the community that I grew up in was heavily Black, and it was usually African and Caribbean people, and heavily South Asian. But it wasn’t as segregated as it is in the US, where I found myself, like, mostly with Black people, and also our friendships being a foundation of, like—also being a PWI—a foundation of a relationship was like, “Me and you are the only Black people in the room. We’re gonna sit together. And then if we click, this is a relationship that we can build, and it’s gonna last much longer.” Growing up in Croydon, where I was, there was a lot of other Black people, so it wasn’t—that wasn’t a need to be foundational in a friendship. And so, even though I also have a lot of Black friends in London, I also had friends who are, like, Asian. There weren’t that many white people. I had a few white friends [laughter]. Yes, very different experience.
[01:08:54] Alyssa: Right. Interesting. It is something that I’ve noticed living here that I can go places and not see any white people and I can go places and not see any Black people, or any people of color. And I just—it’s something that I’ve I found really striking. But, yes, to bring it back to community and the kinds of bonds that we create with people and what they are based on, I think that we want to leave people with that question that Brendane mentioned earlier, which was what kind of being, what kind of life can we imagine outside of oppression? So instead of having these trauma bonds with each other, what kinds of bonds of joy and abundance can we have?
[01:09:38] Brendane: Joy bonds?
[01:09:40] Alyssa: Joy bonds, happiness, I don’t know. Let’s think about that. Let’s sit with that while we segue into our next segment, which is what?
[01:09:51] Brendane: What?
[01:09:51] Alyssa: What—
[01:09:52] Liberty: What—
[01:09:52] Alyssa: —in the world? What in the world—
[01:09:55] Brendane: —is going on?
[01:09:59] Alyssa: So, this episode came to me this summer during the July heatwave, when CNN reported that an estimated 1 billion shellfish cooked to death in the ocean off the coast of British Columbia, due to extreme heat. And so I was like, “Okay. Nah.”
[01:10:24] Liberty: A billion?
[01:10:25] Alyssa: Nah, we outtie. Yeah, they—that’s what the estimate is—a billion shellfish.
[01:10:29] Jordan: That’s a lot of seafood.
[01:10:30] Alyssa: Lot of seafood we can’t eat now.
[01:10:31] Liberty: No—okay, we get it, you’re from the DMV.
[01:10:32] Jordan: [Laughter] Let me get my Old Bay. [Laughter] [Crosstalk]
[01:10:43] Alyssa: Oh my goodness, I just learned what that is, I had my first crab boil with Brendane a few months ago. Anyways, I—okay, so I heard about this, I had never had climate anxiety before, but that news story sent me. I was finished. Okay, I was finished. I was like, “This is the end it’s over.” Clams, mussels, and other sea life are dying in their natural habitat. Like, if it’s over for them, it’s over for us, too. So that’s where this episode idea came from [laughs]. We needed to talk about the end of the world, but we needed to find another entry point into it. And one that is a little bit more—I was gonna say optimistic, but we could get into some conversations that shows that this is not—it’s not all optimist.
[01:11:39] Liberty: Yeah, I have perpetual climate anxiety. So I’m just like—cuz when I was in school and we were learning about climate change, I was like, “Oh, that’s crazy for my grandchildren when they’re adults, and I’m long gone, but now I’m like [laughs], “Oh shit!”
[01:11:53] Brendane: Oh, no, it’s me! It’s me. What happens when the death that we push onto others comes to us? We are face-to-face with it. Yeah, that’s real. I think—while also one thing that this demonstrates that we think about, like, a billion shellfish cooking to death is just how manufactured this, like, food scarcity thing is. Like capitalism, and all of its ills, white supremacy and all of this ills, could mess this world up enough, like, billions, billions of shellfish and sea life just done? And, like, I mean, even thinking about climate change, and things like that, like climate and COVID are now impacting us in the US a year-and-a-half, a year-and-some-change, after because of supply chain issues. Have y’all experienced that in grocery stores and things like that?
[01:12:55] Liberty: It’s really bad in Britain, because—well, actually, that’s more due to Brexit, but there’s, like, an oil shortage because there’s not enough drivers to transport the oil. But I think, as well as COVID, that’s also to do with Brexit, so that’s another manmade problem.
[01:13:14] Alyssa: And still, they’re just trying to find solutions to the problems that they’re facing, rather than looking for other ways of living. That’s the thing that always gets me. They’re like, “Oh, we’re out of oil. Like, how can we stabilize Venezuela so we can get oil from Venezuela?” How about we start using solar panels?
[01:13:32] Liberty: That you been had!?
[01:13:33] Alyssa: How about we start installing solar panels—like, when I saw that they just put a bunch of solar panels in the desert in Morocco, I was like, “We’re getting somewhere..” I have not heard one thing about it since [laughs]. I’m like, “There are literally places with sun”—
[01:13:33] Jordan: I don’t know what happened!
[01:13:34] Alyssa: —”all the time.”
[01:13:43] Jordan: I don’t even know what happened! Because they be talkin’ about solar power all the time for, like, a couple years. And then they just put them in the closet and went right back to everything else. I thought that we was really ’bout to see some solar-powered, like, widespread stuff and we really did not see that.
[01:14:07] Brendane: Well, I mean, I think part of that is how the US maintains control over other countries around the world is through oil. So when we start thinking about alternative futures, right, it has—we really have to think about what would the end of imperialism look like for us? And how can we—in our own individual selves—help bring about an end to imperialism? I don’t have a question—for I don’t have an answer for that besides not joining the military, but I don’t know. I feel like also my Black ass should not have to come up with all the answers to these questions. So I’m also gon’ say that [laughs].
[01:14:46] Jordan: What’s that tweet that’s like, “I’ll serve crack before I serve”—
[01:14:51] Liberty: [Laughs] Yes!
[01:14:52] Alyssa: Wait, what was it? Say it again.
[01:14:54] Jordan: The tweet is like, “I’ll serve crack before I serve this country.” I was like—
[01:14:59] Alyssa: Oh no, oh my gosh.
[01:15:02] Liberty: That’s praxis.
[01:15:03] Jordan: I was like, “That’s the spirit! You’re getting closer!” I was like, “You’re getting closer!”
[01:15:07] Liberty: Yes, as praxis [laughter].
[01:15:07] Brendane: As praxis.
[01:15:12] Alyssa: That’s another word—that needs to be one of our “What’s the Word”s is “praxis,” because that’s another thing you can just start adding it to the ends of sentence to make it sound more Black feminist [laughs].
[01:15:23] Jordan: Yeah—
[01:15:23] Liberty: Yeah, that’s what people be doin’—
[01:15:24] Jordan: —I do it all the time.
[01:15:25] Liberty: That’s how I learned praxis, I had to Google [laughs]. My friend said it and I had to, like, turn away, and, like, Google it [laughter].
[01:15:34] Alyssa: But there are—so in that essay that we talked about earlier—I didn’t—I actually didn’t send it to y’all—but the author, she has a footnote, and she talks about adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy. And she quotes from that book and she says, “Africans leaping off of slave ships were afrofuturist […] Slaves who ran to freedom, and slaves who ran to their deaths, were afrofuturists. The paths of futurism and desire do not always lead to survival,” right? And so part of—I think that a lot of what we’re tryna do is like, “Oh, how can we continue to live?” Like, part of us just needs to—we just need to escape. We just need to be fugitive, do this thing, get out of here, and not tryna save the people who are not tryna save themselves.
[01:16:23] Liberty: Period. And that’s the point I’m in I’m, like, I’m done explaining things to people. You go figure it out. Google is free and your friend. So yeah.
[01:16:33] Alyssa: But, I think Brendane, you mentioned the labor shortage—or not labor shortage—what did you say again?
[01:16:41 ]Brendane: Oh, the child—the chain—ooh chile—the chain supply—
[01:16:46] Alyssa: Supply chain.
[01:16:48] Brendane: —Supply chain thing? The shortage that everybody keeps talking about. That’s why grocery stores running out of things. And part of that is a labor shortage. They don’t have enough people to drive trucks, so they—now they’re tryna recruit high schoolers.
[01:17:01] Alyssa: Yeah, so, I mean—
[01:17:02] Brendane: —[crosstalk] like truck driving.
[01:17:03] Alyssa: So this is another thing that they’re doing. They’re like, “How can I find a solution? How can we find a solution by recreating what we already have, rather than doing something new?” An example of that is last week, the Wisconsin Senate, they approved a bill that would allow people who are under 16 to work as late as 11 pm. And so for them, they were like, “This is going to help us with our labor shortage that the state is having.” But then, at the same time, it’s, like, upending, eroding these child labor laws, right? So federally, the child labor laws say that under 16 are supposed to stop work at 9 pm or 7 pm, depending on the time of year. And so here we are. We’re starting to see it, right? Lauren talks about this in the book: the state starting to infringe on labor laws—they don’t even really know what the laws are in that world. But they’re infringing on these labor laws. And so rather than—so what we’re seeing now is rather than them raising the minimum wage to increase the workforce, they’d rather have 14-year-olds working until 11 pm. And it’s like, “You could—y’all could just pay.” And one of the important things to note about Wisconsin is that the minimum wage for minors is $7.25 an hour and companies can pay them $4.25 an hour for the first 90 days of employment. We don’t live in a society, we live in an economy.
[01:18:32] Brendane: Period. I—this reminds me of that tweet where someone was like, “Y’all doin’ all of this to earn 8 more dollars an hour than your ancestors?” When I saw that, I said, “Ooh, lemme log off.” [Laughter]
[01:18:47] Jordan: No, no, because—
[01:18:50] Alyssa: I don’t even know what else to say now.
[01:18:52] Jordan: No, because I hate slavery. This is the ghetto. [Laughter] This is the ghetto.
[01:18:58] Brendane: So we doin’ all of this to earn a few more dollars a hour than our ancestors? Like—
[01:19:06] Alyssa: And that doesn’t even take into account inflation!
[01:19:13] Brendane: So technically, even really, truly, we not even working for a few more dollars, we’re working for probably cents more. Considering how much the dollar was worth back then.
[01:19:22] Jordan: Oh, don’t get me doin’ math cuz Lord knows I’m not giving women in STEM but [laughter]—
[01:19:30] Liberty: [Laughs] We must know our limits.
[01:19:31] Jordan: But it’s not adding up. It’s not adding up!
[01:19:34] Liberty: Somebody ain’t doing math right.
[01:19:35] Alyssa: The math is not mathing!
[01:19:36] Jordan: No, emancipation was a non-event. It’s giving non-event. Ugh, I can’t.
[01:19:44] Liberty: This is just depressing.
[01:19:49]Alyssa: I know. Brendane’s gonna have to say something uplifting at the end of that episode [laughs].
[01:19:54] Liberty: Amen.
[01:19:54] Brendane: I’m thinkin’ on it.
[01:19:57] Jordan: So, it’s really sick and, like, I think thinking about like, this labor conversation has also gotten me thinking a lot about, like, the housing crisis that’s going on right now, and like, I’ve recently been following a lot of stories, like, in Boston, like, since I moved here about, like, the homeless encampments. And there’s one in particular, like, near here that’s referred to as, like, “Methadone Mile,” where there are, like, a lot of people struggling with, like, houselessness, mental health, and addiction. And local officials recently announced a plan to, like, clean up the area starting this week. And they’re already talking about police being prepared to use force for removals. But there’s been, like, no clear initiative to ensure even temporary housing for the people that will be displaced. And it’s just, like, a reminder to me of, like, how much, like, money and property, like, rules everything here, and, like community and care, like accountability, justice, like, are just, like, the farthest thing from the minds of people that are in power and, like, our society, writ-large—like, it’s just kind of, like, wild to me that they’re just gonna, like, I mean, it’s—I think the encampment has almost, like, 200 tents at this point, so it’s a lot of people. And it’s like, “Where are they going to go?”
[01:21:14] Liberty: It’s the same in the UK as well, because the government has increased taxes for people of lower incomes. And we have universal credit, but it’s—like, there’s been cuts to that as well. And so I recently saw—Channel 4 News does a dispatch—dispatches documentary series, and it was on homeless people. And I think it’s, like, 750,000 people living below the poverty line in the UK. Child poverty is at a high and also a lot of families—there’s lots of overcrowded housing. Sort of multiple families have to live in one home, which is what we actually see in Parable of the Sower. In the community, it’s, like, very common for—yeah, multiple families to live in one house, because they can’t afford to live elsewhere. So yeah, we are very, very close to the realities of the book.
[01:22:19] Brendane: I’m thinking about what you said, Jordan, about property and capital, money, the economy—as you were saying, Alyssa, we don’t live in a society, [an] economy, we prioritize over community and care, accountability, and justice. And I feel like, though, there are certain communities that are being uplifted, and I’ve—it’s just, like, not the shit that we invited to. And so I think like, a lot of times when people talk about the powers that be that shape the world, they don’t understand—they aren’t willing to admit that these are, like, a set of choices that people are making. And that, like, you can make choices not to do these things, or, like, create the world in this way. And I think that, like, The Parable of the Sower, and the things that we’re talking about, are depressing, but also highlight that there’s always a choice that can be made. We just have to decide, like, are we willing to do that? Are we willing to let go of the fiction that we know—capitalism, etc., has told us—to search for something new that might not be achieved or guaranteed? Which I feel like—I know we were gonna talk about Squid Game.
[01:23:37] Alyssa: Okay, I haven’t finished though so.
[01:23:38] Liberty: Exactly, no spoilers, please. I watched a video on Chloe Bailey the other day and I got a Squid Game spoiler. I was upset. So please.
[01:23:47] Brendane: Oh. Oh, I, you know, I—spoilers, I live for them, so I will be careful not to say that. But I was not initially going to watch it. But then my loctician was like, “Girl, you need to watch this Squid Game,” you know, yada, yada, yada. So we watchin’ it, she got me hooked on it—even though I do not like to look at violence—she got me hooked into the storyline. I don’t know how far you are, but I definitely—I thought it was similar to Parasite in the sense that it was, like, an anticapitalist critique, but all of it centered around choice to me, right? Like, you have the choice to participate or not. And, yes, the consequences of not participating is death, but is death really all that scary considering what the other option is, is to live and live through that? Like, I don’t know. That’s the shit I’ve been thinking about these days, guys [laughter].
[01:23:53] Alyssa: What I found interesting about it is so there’s a point where they get—where they start talking about how all of the players are supposed to be equal. They’re all supposed to start on a level playing field, and if you affect that, then you’re affecting the game and the rules of the game. And obviously, there’s a fiction to that. Even though they think that that’s true, there’s a fiction to it just like there is in our society. We don’t all start on a level playing field, even though everybody seems to think that if all of us do the exact same things, we’re all going to be rich just like everybody else. But it’s like, no, this is not a meritocracy. There is no meritocracy in capitalism.
[01:25:32] Liberty: And the people [we trust?] also actively undermine that. So they’re not—they say that, but they don’t believe it. I was gonna say that’s interesting that the—at least the last two major cultural imports from South Korea have been anticapitalist, that being Parasite and Squid Game. And I also saw someone say that “Gangnam Style” was also anticapitalist. But I don’t know [laughter]. I don’t do Korean, and the translations are—
[01:25:59] Alyssa: But the—but the thing is, like—
[01:26:00] Liberty: —[really?] bad so. I don’t know how true that is, but it’s interesting that that’s [unclear].
[01:26:03] Alyssa: The thing is that, like, all of these—the film—and if that’s true about “Gangnam Style,” and all that stuff—the movies—they’re done and undone by their popularity, right? Like, they become popular, but then they also become the thing that they claim to be critiquing.
[01:26:19] Jordan: Yeah. Oh, God. I—they just—I think it’s just, like, they’re just kind of stuck in the rat race kind of thing, cuz it’s, like, if you create anticapitalist art to be sold on the market then it, like, then defeats the purpose of the thing. But I do think the girls are onto something, like, it’s definitely time to shake the table or just evacuate [laughter]. Like, I’m thinking like—what was Beyoncé saying, like, “Call my girls and put them all on a spaceship”? Like, that’s the energy we need. Take me to Planet Her. Doja, answer my calls, like, it’s time to go, like, I just don’t know if it can be redeemed at this point.
[01:26:59] Brendane: I mean, what is—what—what would you like to redeem?
[01:27:04] Liberty: Exactly.
[01:27:05] Alyssa: You know?
[01:27:05] Jordan: That’s what I’m saying! There’s nothing—there’s nothing here.
[01:27:08] Brendane: Like, what is there to redeem?
[01:27:08] Jordan: So it’s like—
[01:27:10] Alyssa: So you all think that we should try to go to Mars?
[01:27:13] Liberty: No, don’t—leave—let’s leave the universe out this.
[01:27:15] Alyssa: You wanna to go to Mars with [unclear] and [unclear]?
[01:27:17] Jordan: No, no, no, because I know when the Martians are anti-Black, imma really be done [laughter]. Imma really be done! Imma really be done! Cuz intergalactic anti-Blackness is what I won’t do.
[01:27:32] Liberty: I’m like, no—no intergalactic colonization. I’m good. I’m like, “We made a mess.”
[01:27:37] Jordan: I won’t do it. No.
[01:27:39] Liberty: Exactly.
[01:27:40] Jordan: Also leave the planets alone.
[01:27:42] Alyssa: Well, with that, we’ll call it the end of our episode. That is our episode, everyone. It has been great, the four us—four brilliant, beautiful Black women in one Zoom room on one podcast. Here we are.
[01:27:59] Alyssa: Thank you so much for being with us, Liberty and Jordan. This has been truly inspired. Can you let the listeners know where they can find you, catch up with your episodes, and all of that good stuff?
[01:27:54] Liberty: Of course, of course. We are available wherever you listen to podcasts, though namely Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts. Follow us at Lose Your Sister—that’s just, like, how you would normally spell it—on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to send us your thoughts via DMS or email us at email@example.com.
[01:28:36] Brendane: Thank you all for listening. This episode was produced by Alyssa James and Brendane Tynes and distributed in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. This season of the podcast is generously funded by a grant from the Arts and Science Graduate Council, and donations from listeners just like you.
[01:28:56] Alyssa: Thank you all for that support. If you liked this episode, please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. We would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, so be sure to follow us on Instagram at zorasdaughters and on Twitter at zoras_daughters. For transcripts, syllabi, and information on how to cite us or donate, visit our website zorasdaughters.com.
[01:29:20] Brendane: And remember, we must take care of ourselves and each other. Bye!
[01:29:24] Liberty: Bye [unclear]!
[01:29:24] Alyssa: Bye!
[01:29:25] Jordan: Bye!
[END OF RECORDING]