We have a major announcement up top so be sure to tune in!
Today on the episode we center… YOU! We asked for your listener questions and wow, you delivered. In this episode, we answer questions about pursuing a PhD and career advance, dealing with imposter syndrome, taking unprescribed “academic performance enhancing medications,” love bombing and giving cis het men the cheat codes to your heart, dating bisexual men, moving in together before marriage, getting help without involving the police, not making abolition about your feelings, learning from our elders, and making it less acceptable to record people in public.
Join us on Patreon to hear answers to some of the questions we weren’t able to get to!
Zora’s Daughters Podcast: Season Three, Episode 9
Co-Hosts: Brendane A. Tynes and Alyssa A. James
Title: You Asked, We Answered!
Total Length: 01:40:23
[00:00:00] [Opening Music Plays]
[00:00:32] BT: Hey everyone! Welcome back to Zora’s Daughters, the podcast where we share Black feminist perspectives and close read pop culture and other social topics that affect Black folks. I’m Brendane, and I use she/her/hers pronouns.
[00:00:45] AJ: Hey y’all! I’m Alyssa, and I use she/her/hers pronouns. Happy New Year! It’s 2023 and big tings a gwan. Big tings are coming [laughter]. Today, we are answering listener questions. You all wrote to us from IG and beyond, and we’re here to share whatever advice or wisdom we got.
[00:01:09] BT: I mean, we doing the best we can with what we got!
[00:01:12] AJ: Yeah.
[00:01:13] BT: In the words of Mariah [laughter].
[00:01:15] AJ: We’ll see. We’ll see what happens, what I’ve gleaned from my—almost in a month—34 years of life [laughter]. And we also have some announcements for this semester. Brendane?
[00:01:31] BT: No.
[00:01:32] AJ: Do you wanna tell them? [Laughter]
[00:01:32] BT: Yes. I guess I will say what needs to be said. So, as you all know, we started Zora’s Daughters in 2020 because we were really tired of white people’s shit, like—well let me extend that—non-Black people’s shit. [Laughter] And we really wanted to have an unapologetically Black feminist space to talk about issues that matter to us. And so, as Black women anthropologists, we don’t encounter many spaces where we get to just be and talk theory and talk about the world. And we really, truly cherish the space that the podcast has created for us and for our community—for y’all, for our listeners. Like this has been an amazing experience so far. All of that being said, this will be the last semester that we do regular, biweekly episodes. Both Alyssa and I want to be able to focus on the next steps of our work, of our life. We were just talking about—before we turned on the mics—how we have lives outside of academia that a lot of academics can’t empathize with that feeling, statement [laughter]. You know, we—and no tea, no shade—I just wanna say that given how twitter has been lately. We have our nonprofit, which is She is the World, Incorporated, that we’re really working on developing programing for. I’m trying to graduate this year. Alyssa has started writing her dissertation, she’s planning a wedding. We’re both going to be on the job market. So, we decided that the best decision would be to end our regularly scheduled programming after this semester.
[00:03:22] AJ: whew, okay, when you actually said it—I mean we’ve been talking about this for a while but when you actually said it, it was like my heart clenched. [Laughter] I was like I couldn’t believe it.
[00:03:30] BT: I know, I feel it, there’s a little baby ass tear right here [laughter] hanging out in the corner of my eye.
[00:03:37] AJ: But we don’t want you all to feel like we took this lightly. We really went around and around on this decision. We were like “yes,” and we were like “no, we’re going to continue” and then it was “oh, no, I’m not sure, you know maybe we need to do something else,” and but then we met all of these listeners and we were just so inspired, and we wanted to continue. But just know that this podcast and all of you have been such a blessing these last two and a half years. And we did not want to let you down, but we want to focus on building She Is the World because we want to grow our impact and also create space for other blessings to come into our life, right. So, it’s not goodbye, it’s see you elsewhere [laughter]. I was actually listening to “It’s Hard to Say Goodbye” from Dreamgirls, as you’ve—as folks may or may not know, I really love musicals and Dreamgirls is in my top three [laughter].
[00:04:37] BT: That was an amazing movie. What? What? I love Dreamgirls too.
[00:04:44] AJ: Now, don’t think we’re going to just disappear! We still have some panels and talks planned and we’ll have some pop-up episodes every once and again, so don’t unsubscribe. In fact, you should subscribe with notifications on every single platform, so you don’t miss those specials, right. Cause if we’re gonna do an episode and it’s a pop-up episode, you know we’re doing something that’s gonna be big.
[00:05:09] BT: Big and bad.
[00:05:10] AJ: Big and bad [laughter]. So, this semester, we have some very special guests. For Black History Month, we’re doing a series with iconic Black feminist anthropologists. And I hope—we both hope—that y’all are ready to hear some insights from Dr. Irma McClaurin, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, and other OGs, alright? We also will be interviewing Tracy Heather Strain, the director of the PBS American Experience film Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space that debuted yesterday, January 17th. But I think that’s enough tea. I don’t want to give everything away. You know, gotta keep a little mystery. Gotta keep a little mystery.
[00:05:50] BT: A lil misty.
[00:05:51] AJ: You know.
[00:05:52] BT: Sumthin. Just a lil sumthin. We as always want to say thank you to all of our listeners, whether you’ve tuned in from Finland, or New Zealand, China, or the last state in the U.S., Florida, we appreciate you.
[00:06:08] AJ: The Caribbean, Africa, like all y’all out there. All y’all. South America [laughter].
[00:06:13] BT: All y’all, thank you. And so, if you would like us to do a workshop for Juneteenth, or really just any day because it’s Black feminist 365 over here, that’s what we say all the time. Feel free to get in touch. We’re still open to talking to classes and spending time with you all. It’s just gonna look different moving forward. And so, we’ve done workshops on supporting Black women in the workplace, reclaiming your radiance, and finding joy in community for international companies, universities, and local organizations. And what’s different about us versus them other people you might hire, is that all our shit is custom. It’s interactive. The talks that we have address the needs of your group and people truly enjoy them. Head over to zorasdaughters.com to email us for details.
[00:07:12] AJ: Yes, I mean I just wanna say for some of our events we have met with your DEI committees and spoken to them, asked them what they wanted us to talk about, what were some of the things that they wanted said that they couldn’t say because it was their place of work. And we have done that. So, we would be thrilled to do that for other places of employment, other places of business. And of course, creating these episodes would not be possible without you. The best way to support us is by becoming a Patron, where you can access the ZD Community, speak to us personally, and see exclusive videos and audio from our episodes! This semester we’ll have some exclusive content from our interviews. Head to patreon.com/zorasdaughters to learn more. With the holidays having just passed, because I know my credit card bills looking like whew and I know my stipend check hasn’t come in yet, whew [laughter], yo [laughter]. Other ways to support us include leaving a rating and a review on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, following us on social media, and sharing our episodes with your friends, family, students, neighbors, side pieces, that supervisor that made being an “ally” to Black people their goal for 2023. Give them the gift of ZD [laughter]! Without any further ado, let’s get into these questions!
[00:08:45] BT: Yes. So, we asked y’all to ask us anything and I will say, y’all delivered. We have some life questions, we have some academic questions, we have some musings, some philosophical questions, existential questions, and just some other shit to answer. So, I’m excited about this.
[00:09:09] AJ: Yeah.
[00:09:09] BT: It’s not our usual Q and A [laughter].
[00:09:12] AJ: No. It’s gonna be good. And you know, as an Aquarius I love some existential questions. So yeah. We may not get to all of them today, but we also have discussion sections as spaces for y’all to hang out with us and get your questions answered. And, of course, if we do this again, we’re gonna need more context y’all! Like we said we wanted the tea. We need the tea, okay. Can’t just ask us one—can’t just give us the question straight like that. We need to know the context of what’s going on
[00:09:43] BT: For real. It really matters.
[00:09:44] AJ: What’s going on in your life. You know, we can’t just—we don’t wanna give you just vague answers. We wanna know what’s going on. What has led you to ask this question? It’s good practice for writing research papers [laughter]. Alright, so, should we start with question number one, that we have?
[00:10:04] BT: Yeah. So, we organized—not we, I’m saying we but our social media assistant Mia, organized these questions by theme. And so, the first theme that we have is academic and our first question is, what made you decide to pursue your PhD? Do you think it is a requirement for advancement?
[00:10:25] AJ: My answer is delayed adulthood [laughter].
[00:10:31] BT: I think most people enter PhD programs for that reason. Maybe if they don’t consciously know, subconsciously, I would say. What made me want to pursue? I was a high school science teacher. I thought that I was going to teach high school students forever. I thought that was going to be my career. I joined a national program that “trains” teachers. It’s horrible. I wouldn’t advise for anyone to do it, but they sold me a lie that I was going to be doing social justice work as a teacher. And so, I started in the end of August and by the first week of October, I was like absolutely the fuck not, I need to find something else to do. And I remembered how much I enjoyed doing my honors thesis project. How much I enjoyed reading and writing about Black women and their—you know and issues with sexual violence and trauma and all of these things. Shit that people—most people are like ew, you like reading about that? I’m like yes, did you know that x, y, and z? And you know. And I was like well how can I continue to do this and also stop being a teacher. And that is when I started learning about what it means to be a PhD. And as a first-generation student, first person in my family to graduate from college, I had no clue that you—like I didn’t know what it took to become a professor or really do anything. So, I had to learn how to do that and learn the process. It’s like a whole learning system to even get into a PhD program. There’s a whole language and work ethic that you have to develop. And then, once you get to your PhD program, there’s a whole nother—what do you call it?
[00:12:31] AJ: Hidden curriculum.
[00:12:32] BT: Hidden curriculum that you have to learn as well. I would say though that if I could go back and change my mind, I probably would because it’s actually not a requirement to advance but that depends on the kind of job that you want to have. If you want to be like a scientist. I know most scientists, that’s required to have a PhD. But if you’re doing work in communities, most of the time you don’t need an advanced degree to do that. You just need to have the experience, and that is something that I wish I would have known before I started my program. What about you?
[00:13:10] AJ: So, for me, the delayed—delaying adulthood wasn’t a complete lie. We were just talking about how I don’t mind being in an institution—you know, institutionalized is what I say Is that a lot of academics are deeply institutionalized because you know they went from elementary, to high school, to college and straight into the PhD and now they work at a university. So, they’re just—they’ve been within that system and have never been outside of it. Which is why I think that Sayers law is such a thing. Because it really is the be all end all of a lot of people’s lives, even anthropologists who work on “the real world.” So that’s—so, I wasn’t entirely joking, having spent a few years out there and I was like wow, I’m tired of this. But I was working, I guess you could say. I was freelancing, and I was doing travel writing and content marketing and there was at the time this movement towards slow travel and ethical travel and people trying to write more culturally respectful kinds of travel writing. And I would still read those and feel like they were pretty shallow at best and harmful in many cases. So, I was just kind of tired of the—I was kind of tired of the lack of depth that you found in travel writing, but I wanted to continue having that experience of being able to, I don’t know, be able to ask questions about people’s cultures and understand culture and write about them. But in ways where people were actually learning things and not just being entertained. And so, that’s kind of—I was debating between sociology and anthropology because I had taken more courses in sociology and undergrad, and I had done a lot of those courses in in sexuality, women, and gender studies. But in the end, I decided to go with anthropology because as I’ve mentioned a few times on this podcast, one of the most impactful texts that I had read—that I found to be very insightful based on the experiences that I had had during my travels, was an ethnography and so that was why I decided to go with anthropology.
Do I think it is a requirement for advancement? So, this is—that’s the kind of question where context would have been great. Advancement in what field? As, Brendane said. So, you know, do you want to be, are you in chemistry? If so, maybe not. I know people who have a Bachelor of Science, and they work for Fenty, like making, creating makeup, and if I had known that you could do that with a chemistry degree, I probably would have studied chemistry. Like I said that like if I could do my life over again, I think I would study chemistry. Because I loved, I loved, I loved, I loved organic chem. I was terrible at the like, physical chemistry. But equations and all that stuff. I loved it [laughter] just don’t get me talking about sigma bonds and all of that stuff.
[00:16:50] BT: Look that’s a part of a past life for me, okay. Pre-Med, that was before I knew myself, so that is mm mmm [negative].
[00:17:00] AJ: That said, in the—on this—in some cases, a PhD can hold you back. Because people will see you as overqualified or they won’t believe that they have the budget to pay you enough based on your degree. So, they’ll assume that you expect a higher salary that isn’t in the budget for that role. So, in some cases it can actually hold you back. Of course, if you’re going—if you want to work for the government, if you want to work as, you know, as a statistician or if you want to work in those kinds of like civil servant roles, I think that it’s a good thing. It’ll help you get up there in those pay scales. Same with—I’m not sure how it works in the states, but at least in Canada, if you’re a teacher then having a PHD will definitely bump you up in terms of pay scale.
[00:17:54] BT: Depends on the state some states don’t compensate for additional education Carolina when I left teaching got rid of the pay bump for people who got. masters or PHD.
[00:18:08] AJ: Wow, I mean and when I was in high school, I had a biology teacher who was like—who had a PhD, and she was one of the best biology teachers I ever had. So, you know, don’t feel like because you have a PhD you have to work at a university, you know, you can have and do a lot of impactful work. I think a lot of PhD’s also work in in private schools, which is like, you get that high school, private school life where you have your summers off and a lot of people, they still do part time research because they have the—they have that capacity and they get paid really well, especially in places like New York. So, I’m not closing the door to that one. Although anthropology, they’re like, I went to a recruiting event once and they were like, don’t know, don’t know. They were like, yeah, private schools have a little bit more latitude with their electives, but anthropology we don’t know [laughter] anyone who’s doing that, so [laughter].
[00:19:08] BT: Okay, y’all stop pretending like you wouldn’t have me teaching social studies.
[00:19:10] AJ: Exactly like, isn’t there a—isn’t there an SAT? What are they called? Because we don’t have to. We didn’t have to do SAT, so I don’t know what they’re called. They have subject exams, right? I’m pretty sure there’s an SAT anthropology subject exam. So, I feel like if that exists, then they should be hiring anthropology PhDs as teachers. Anyways [laughter], next question. how do you not get dissuaded about the contributions you may or may not make to your field of study?
[00:19:44] BT: I guess get dissuaded, I’m gonna assume is about imposter syndrome [more] than anything else. And honestly, imposter syndrome is something that I battle with and something that I’m like, actively like, how do I get this shit out of my thinking? And what really helps me is to think about the work that I have done already and think about the fact that like whether or not I’m recognized as a scholar that does X, Y, and Z, the work that I’ve done has impact on the communities that it matters too, right? So, it allows me to shift from this frame of like seeing myself as someone who deserves praise from everybody all around, right? Which may or may not be genuine, which may or may not be rooted in the same values that I hold and think about. Like, is the work that I’m doing actually doing something for Black women, Black trans and non-trans women, right? Am I impacting Black girls, Black nonbinary people? And so, even if the Academy doesn’t hand me an award, or hand me a grant, or hand me a fellowship for something, that doesn’t mean that the value of my work is any less. So that’s part of it, a partial answer to your question.
[00:21:15] AJ: Yeah. So, for you it’s less about the contribution to the field of study, but really the contribution to the communities that you’re accountable to.
[00:21:25] BT: Yes, you like, we all know that grants and fellowships and all these programs have these white supremacist standards for how they evaluate these things right? So, why would I as a Black person—that would—that’s literally self-hate to be like oh let me look at this, these anti-Black things and hold myself to that. That means I don’t love myself. Oh no [laughter].
[00:21:48] AJ: Wow, that’s a deep. You just cut a few people and with that one.
[00:21:53] BT: My bad, my bad [laughter].
[00:21:56] AJ: Yeah, for me I recently listened to Michelle Obama’s book, The Light We Carry—yeah, so, I’m really corny, but anyway. She reminded me of this, you know, saying that people have, which is don’t let great get in the way of good. And I hold myself to the standard where I expect myself to do great things, and when I don’t feel like I will be able to—I’m not able to—I’m not willing to settle for good enough. And I think that that’s the goal that I have for myself this year is to be happy with good and take those small steps to, you know, towards the great. But if I don’t achieve it then you know, I will be comfortable with that because I’m still taking those small steps and making small achievements. And so, I guess that my advice would be, you know, don’t necessarily think about the contribution like your overall contribution. Think about the small goals that you have or think about the goals that you have for yourself and the small steps you can take to achieve them. And I think it builds confidence when you break down your goals into small parts and you can achieve each of those small parts. I think that helps build your confidence.
[00:23:30] BT: Right. Cause at the end of the day academic celebrity is—okay let me back up, right. Like I I’m again. Not sure how you measure contributions to your field of study, but if it’s through visibility of scholars, right, via social media or, you know, conferences and things like that, right, it’s—it just truly depends on like where your values lie and like what kind of contribution, like. Are you trying to change the field of anthropology? For me, it’s not in my values to make anthropology a better field. I think me just being an anthropology makes it better, but I’m not actively out here like I need to change this discipline. And so, if you’re, you know, a philosopher or do literature studies—or whatever, what have you, right—is your, are your goals and your values in trying to change the field of study or further that field of study? Or is it towards the community, towards yourself? And then, if it’s about you, then you set what makes a contribution valuable or not, right? So, yeah, I just, I had to learn real early not to let these people—no, your standards can’t be my standards, mm mmm [negative]. Uh, let’s see the—in my program, to study and to focus, my white peers often use Adderall or similar stimulant medications to work well. I have never tried them and question whether stimulants will help me. I personally have not been diagnosed, but I do question my ability to work at a disadvantage from my peers. We don’t know the long-term effects either. Have you all considered taking similar medications and have you been in proximity to it?
[00:25:27] AJ: Yes, to both questions. I’ve considered they’re taking similar medications. Have I been in proximity to it? Yes, of course. I went to a very competitive undergraduate program or university in general, and where I did my masters, I mean that’s when it was really picking up, but it was more so among the undergrads and. I’m about to expose myself, but my brother, I’m also going to expose my brother. My brother was on Vyvanse, and I took one, but just to see what it was like, because I’m an anthropologist, y’all I need to have experiences, okay, I like to try things. So, I tried it. I didn’t notice any difference. So, I think with the Vyvanse, you have to take it over an extended. It has to build up in your system before you start actually feeling the effects. So that’s just to tell you, I was curious just to see, but because it didn’t really have any effect for me. My brother was like, yeah, because you don’t have ADHD. So, I didn’t find it to be something that that was worth it for me. That said of course you know I’ve I felt the pressure to use I guess we can call them performance enhancing drugs. But for me, I’m just. I don’t know. I don’t know why. I didn’t really have to think. I’ll think about it, Brendan. You can answer and I’ll think about why that really like. went for it
[00:27:04] BT: Yeah, I’ll say I, I mean, I grew up in in the South, in South Carolina, in like the very kind of Christian household where medications that weren’t directly like diabetes medications or other kind of like physical ailments, that’s something that people really discouraged. So even using things like pain medication, right, was something that I, growing up, was not really encouraged. Encouragement was to pray to God to take it away from you. So yeah, I guess as an adult now, I don’t really have the desire to take these kinds of medications that for some people, right, they used to enhance performance, but for others actually really helps their brain operate in a way that aligns with like what? Capitalism to me? And so that’s [laughter], right. So, for some folks who would, like who are disabled, right, Adderall helps them be able to function in work environments and other kinds of environments. I have been around people who’ve used it in this way to kind of, you know, help them do refinements and focus on things. And I know folks who are on ADD and ADHD medication because that literally helps them be able to get up and wash their dishes and wash themselves.
So, if you feel like you need medication to live your life in whatever way, then you know by all means do what you need to do. But it’s not—I don’t know, I feel strange being like that’s a bad thing. People shouldn’t use Adderall to do the—do work like. You know that’s on them. You know that’s like, that’s a personal choice, right? And I will say though that if you are—one reason that has discouraged me too as an adult from using these medications without a prescription is that I have some anxiety. And so, I have a feeling that any kind of stimulant would make that worse. And I’m not a medical professional, so I have no real clue, but that’s just kind of like what I know from my experience with—I’m like woo, do I expose myself—from other drugs that are not—I have not done anything that’s illegal in all of the states [laughter], I’ll say that. But my grandmother listens to this now, so I’m like [laughter]. Some other drugs that where there was like a stimulant aspect of it, like, you know, a certain strain that stimulates your brain that’s caused me to be very anxious. I can’t even drink caffeine, so I stay away from stimulants just because it doesn’t work for my body. But I do not pass judgment on people no matter whether they’re white or not if they choose to cause you gotta do what you gotta do, right? So.
[00:30:28] AJ: Yeah, for me edibles in Canada are legal. Marijuana is legal in Canada, so I will just say that edibles and other marijuana products [laughter] make me so calm—cause I also have a lot of anxiety—and they just make me so calm that I think my breathing is going to slow down and I’m going to die. [Laughter] So, I’m not really, I’m not a drug user [laughter].
[00:30:53] BT: I have. It has, you know. Oh my gosh, I had a redbull one time. Redbull and tequila cause that was the only thing that was left at this party, and I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack and die. So, I just—
[00:31:09] AJ: Lord. I just think that my breathing and my heart is going to slow down to a stop, so I freak out [laughter]. So, we just told you so much about ourselves. So, while I was listening to Brendane and also reflecting on my myself, I realized that I think that one of the major reasons—besides also growing up in a household where taking painkillers and taking medication wasn’t necessarily discouraged, my mom, she’s a nurse, but taking them in excess. Like when I had knee surgery, she—my surgeon, I was 17 years old, and my surgeon gave me like Oxy and Percocets. Prescribed, right, but my mom hid them from me, and she would just, she would give them to me like if I needed them kind of thing. So, I wasn’t—I’m not like a super, you know, I prefer using natural things and stuff like that. But I think the main reason that I never did it was actually because I felt like as a Black woman, I had to prove myself, and part of proving myself meant doing things independently, doing things without help. And that meant help from professors, help from friends and peers, and also help from medications. So, I think that there was a kind of like need to, desire to prove myself and to show that I’m good enough and I’m smart enough without these kinds of things. Do I think that that’s something that people should follow or internalize? Not necessarily [laughter]. I mean, that’s just me trying to make myself more of a mule than I already am and not recognizing the privileges and advantages that that other people came into university with that I didn’t necessarily have. But yeah, it’s just not my thing. It’s just not my thing. I’d rather if I need to—if I needed to write a paper even when I was in undergrad and it was due at midnight or something, or it was due at 5:00 AM the next day, I would take like a 2-hour nap and write until 5:00 o’clock in the morning. Like I wasn’t even like an all-nighter person or drinking a ton of coffee. I just, you know, did what I had to do and if it didn’t work then, you know, it didn’t work.
[00:33:30] BT: It didn’t work. I was also not an all-nighter person. Maybe, I don’t know. I always feel unusual when I tell people I cannot drink coffee, cannot do caffeine, I can’t even do caffeinated tea. And so, people are like, well, what do you do when you’re tired? I’m like, I sleep and [laughter]. And it’s like, oh, you know. But again, like there are certain things that we are primed to do because of capitalistic demands on our bodies, right? And this might also just be another kind of question to think about whoever this listener is, right. Is one thing might be to consider, like why does it matter to you what your white peers are doing in order to do their work if it actually does not impact you and your ability to do your work? I think a lot of times we see ourselves as in competition with people who actually can’t even sit in their room with us, right? And like my therapist. Bless her. Odette, my first therapist, she like, I was like in therapy one time, complaining about something that a white person in class was doing. And she said, well, why are you complaining about this? Why do you care about how he’s talking? Like, why do you care about that? Why do you? You don’t know him, you don’t know his values, you don’t know where he’s coming from. You don’t know. And basically, I was upset that, like, this white guy was using all of this flowery language and all of this in class, and I’m like, why can’t you just talk straight? Like talk like regular people. And she was like, why is that make you feel inferior if he’s talking this way? Is that why you like? Is that why you’re so upset about it? Like, why are you letting this white man take up so much space in your mind, in your life, when he’s just going about his day, you know? And I—that really had to sit with me. And then that’s when I was like, I can choose to not let what white people are doing, whatever, like invade my space, my mental space and that’s like a—it’s helped me. It’s definitely—
[00:35:46] AJ: But I think what I’m reading from this letter is that the writer feels that they’re not playing on the same playing field because these—their peers are using these drugs in order to enhance their focus and attention while completing their assignments, so I think that’s what I’m reading here.
[00:36:12] BT: Yeah. I mean, I can understand but that means that you in competition with them to complete these assignments, right. So, like, I don’t know the ins and outs of your graduate program, right? Like is it a situation in which you’re competing for in-house fellowships and so the amount of—
[00:36:36] AJ: I was assuming this was in undergrad and we’re thinking bell curve and the students who do better you know impact the students who don’t do as well. That’s just what I—but I’m, I was making assumptions.
[00:36:45] BT: Yeah. Like you know again I have—
[00:36:47] AJ: Yeah. We need to context y’all [crosstalk].
[00:36:50] BT: You have no context. I’m just coming from the place of like oh, like is it are you taking on an inferiority that’s not there, right? Like if these are what—if this is what they have to do to do their work, then let them do that. And if it—and it’s like if it’s something that you feel like you need though, then meet your own needs. But sometimes what I’ve learned in my life is that sometimes I’ll just be like, why can’t other people do this other thing? And it’s like, no, like my life is not about trying to make other people live like me. It’s about being able to be my best self and live my own best life. So yeah, but if it, yeah, if it’s a matter of like cheating or something like that, then—
[00:37:40] AJ: That’s a whole other comment.
[00:37:41] BT: I—
[00:37:42] AJ: Yeah, that’s a whole other comment.
[00:37:42] BT: Honestly. That’s a whole nother conversation [laughter].
[00:37:46] AJ: Have to wait until I graduate to talk about that one [laughter]. Okay, we’re gonna go to the dating section now. And we have a really good letter with plenty of context, so this is very helpful. I’ll read it. Dear Brendane and Alyssa, thank you for your incredible—see, this person listens to podcasts, okay, and knows what listener letters are supposed to sound like [laughter]. Thank you for your incredible podcast. It has been a lifeline for me as I grow in my Black feminist principles and practices. Since you said dating advice, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’m a 29-year-old, straight cis Black woman living in New York City. I meant a man at a bar while I was out with some friends, he approached me and asked for my number. We went on a date, and he asked me a lot of questions about myself and was generally a gentleman. We’ve been dating now for six months. On our first date I told him I was looking for someone who was consistent, kind, generous, intelligent, and wanted to be a father and partner. For the first four months, this is what I saw, he was the perfect man for me. He would send me articles he was reading and seemed to share my politics. But recently, he’s been distant and seems annoyed when I bring up topics like misogynoir against Megan Thee Stallion and things like that. I was starting to see a future with him and now I’m worried I’m too much! Should I bring it up with him and risk him breaking up with me or should I just see if things get better?
[00:39:18] BT: Whew, chile. [Laughter] Uh [pause]. This context is helpful. I’ll say all of that, and I would suggest looking at just the range of dating questions. That this person just look up what love bombing is. Not saying that that’s the situation that you’re in, but it definitely reads like a love bombing situation. And love bombing is when you meet someone and initially, they’re so effusive, they’re like they love on you so much they give you gifts. They’re complimenting you all the time, blah, blah. And then over time are they withdraw that attention and energy. They shift. And the goal of it is to for you to internalize, right, that shift and say well what’s changed? What is it about me that makes this person not be the same person that they were. And we—this is a pattern that happens in in relationships with people who may have like narcissistic traits as well. You’re not too much, right. It literally could end.
This is such an interesting framing too. Like, should I bring it up and risk him breaking up with me? If this person is causing you to feel like you are insufficient, then it’s not someone that you need to be with. And this is coming from a girl who has, for most of my dating life, been abused by people. Like if at any point your partner makes you feel like you are not enough, right, and this is a consistent feeling. Then you don’t get worried about him breaking up with you, you—I actually watched a TikTok today of a therapist who was just like, you have to ask yourself, right? When someone that you are close to or intimate with is mistreating you, and that’s a pattern of behavior, right, what does that say about your self-esteem that you’re allowing someone to treat you this way? People with high self-esteem do not stay around people who mistreat them, right? And I’m talking about adults, I’m not talking about children, right? They have no choice really about who they spend time with.
And so, you know, I would just encourage you to think about how do you feel about this person now, right? It’s not about how you used to feel about around this person, it’s about how they make you feel now. And if they don’t make you feel good now, then it’s okay to let the relationship go. And maybe you’ll get back together. Maybe you won’t, but at least you won’t put up with mistreatment because most of the time things don’t get better. And I can I honestly don’t know a single person who’s been in a long-term romantic relationship in which behavior shift in the first six months didn’t indicate that it was going to end well, yeah, like, at all. So yeah.
[00:42:32] AJ: Yeah, I wanna echo what Brendane said about love bombing. Also, no, you’re not too much. There’s no such thing. He’s not enough. [Laughter]
[00:42:40] BT: Flip it on him.
[00:42:41] AJ: [In Jamaican accent] If him can’t handle it, him can’t handle it. That’s what we say [laughter]. But I, yeah, I think what Brendane said just about covers it. One thing that I would say and is just a more general piece of advice for dating is I think you gave him the cheat code. You said this is what I want, this is what I expect. And he was like, great, got it. I’m going to do that for a few months, you know, get in them drawers [laughter] something like that. And now he’s like, alright, well I’m tired of hearing this this Black feminist crap now, like I’m over it. So, for me, I think that what I try to tell people when they’re dating is don’t just come out and say this is everything that I want and everything that I expect from a relationship. I think that attracts, as Brendane was saying, narcissists. Like people who are just there to use you and then they can use that information against you. I think it’s better to just know what you want. It’s not saying you don’t, you shouldn’t know, shouldn’t be aware of the things that you want. But I think just take the time to observe the person and see if they fit into the you know the traits that you’re looking for in in a long-term partner. And at the same time be open to people who don’t necessarily meet that criteria or who offer something different that still makes you happy.
I think I, you know, with my fiancé [laughter], at first, I was kind of like, wow, I have someone. He’s great. I have so much fun with him and, you know, we have really great conversations. But I was kind of like, ah, this isn’t like, you know, this the serious—you know, I didn’t see it as something serious because we just had so much fun, and I had a different idea of what it was that I wanted and then it took, you know, many months [laughter]. Many months of us going back and forth and finally my friend was just like, you guys need to just do this or be done with it. And so, we did it and look at it and look at where we are now, so. Also, be open. I know people have very strict ideas or stringent ideas. Once they have that list, they don’t want to deviate from it at all. But I think that it’s important to be open minded assuming that the person still has those like very foundational and important characteristics of, you know. I mean, I don’t think, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that consistent, kind, generous, intelligent are like, that’s not a high bar, right. I don’t think that you’re asking too much of anybody either. But there might be some other things that are included in there that we don’t know. So just be open minded and don’t give them the cheat codes. Don’t give him the cheat code to your heart. Someone write a song about this. Send this to Jazmine Sullivan. She’ll write a good song about it.
[00:46:16] BT: I think that is definitely salient. In situations where you know cis women are dealing with cis men, in particular, just because of what we know about how masculinity can be structured under patriarchy. And so, it’s important to really. As someone who never saw myself being with a man [laughter] can say, like, I definitely learned in my queer relationships that that kind of transparency and honesty up front was something that was expected but could also again open up the door to being used. And so, it’s just, it’s really understanding how to toe the line between a kind of transparency so that you’re not in a relationship with someone who does not share the same values or same outlook as you. And also, right, guarding your heart and protecting your heart. Because at the end of the day, right, you are your own best thing. As Toni Morrison says, right, you are your own responsibility and I’m not going to—let me end there so we can move to next.
[00:47:39] AJ: Which there is. Question that follows on really nicely to that one.
[00:47:43] BT: The pitfalls of New York dating are abysmal. I dated a guy who told me he was bisexual five weeks in and then dumped me saying if he was with a woman, he had to be really into it. I don’t mind dating someone who was bisexual. How do I broach this topic with future partners? Honestly? And you might not like me after this, but he was honest with you. He was honest with you. He said, you know, if I’m gonna do this coochie thing, I’m gonna do it with somebody I’m really trying to do it with. And his bisexuality, I mean it’s a factor, but it’s not like I don’t—the question of how do you broach this topic, I mean, are you actively like searching for bisexual men? And you, but you won’t, like I’m kind of confused about it. All I’ll say is he was honest with you. People have a right to date you for a period of time and then say for whatever reason that it’s not working, regardless of their sexuality. And the fact that you don’t mind dating someone who’s bisexual, that’s a great thing if you are a cis het woman, a lot of bisexual cis man and trans men right, feel insecure about sharing that part about themselves because they feel like cis het women will mistreat them. I don’t think you need to broach the topic with future partners unless it’s relevant. I would encourage you to think about this as a gift, right? This man said, after five weeks of spending time with you, that he didn’t really see a future in this and now you have all this time and energy and space to find someone who can see a future with you. Like that kind of honesty is—I appreciate it. I would try to see it differently.
[00:49:41] AJ: I think, from my point of view to come out to you immediately. I mean, if you ask if they’re open, that’s one thing. But I think giving them time. To share that side of themselves with you. You know, if they’re dating you, it’s because there’s a there’s a potential there, there’s a possibility there, but like Brendan said after some time. That potential impossibility might just. Fly away lines of flight. Lines of flight of potentiality. What I’m concerned about reading this is you said you don’t mind dating someone who is bisexual. I’m assuming that the person who sent us this. Is Black. I think in the Black community there’s still a lot of stigma. Of course, there’s a lot of stigma around queer and transness, but I think bisexuality is one of those things that. Specially sis Black women are not really. When it involves this, Blackman is not really something that yeah, it’s not really, yeah, it’s not really welcomed. Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. So. Um, so I could understand his, his hesitancy or waiting, you know, waiting some time to get to know you before telling you um. And so, if you’re truly comfortable with it, I don’t think that it’s something that you would need to broach immediately. I think as I’m as I mentioned in the previous one, is it just it takes time to get to know somebody. Take some time and get to know them. Observe. Think about how you feel about this person because. What you didn’t write in this question is whether or not you were really into him.
[00:51:35] BT: Mmm hmm and if it’s about pause who believe that you know by people should just take whatever the fuck they get, right? Like at least you know someone’s into you and that is a biphobic. Approach to dating, right? And so yeah, the question really is right. Like. Is the problem that he dumped you five weeks in? Is the problem that he dumped you and then said that he wasn’t really into it? Like, like what is the issue here? And also just, you know, I want to send you some love and hopefully you have some compassion with yourself, and you don’t take it. Personally, right like. This he just was honest. This honestly saying, you know, if I’m going to be with a woman, I really want to be invested in it and. now you know that he was not going he was not going to continue to date you and not be invested in it that is good information.
[00:52:38] AJ: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:52:40] BT: That’s good information.
[00:52:41] AJ: He’s just not that into you [laughter] as the title of the book goes.
[00:52:46] BT: Unfortunately, but you know maybe some other person will be
[00:52:50] AJ: There is going to be someone who is.
[00:52:51] BT: Right.
[00:52:52] AJ: And it’s not like can ask someone that at the beginning of your dating relationship, you know, you can’t go on one date and be like, are you really into me? They’re gonna be like, I don’t know, maybe we need a second or third date. You know, maybe that second or third date takes a couple of weeks. And especially in New York where people’s social calendars are. Packed to the hilt, which is very irritating when you’re trying to make friends. But there it is. So, I think just take your time with people and you know, don’t feel like 5 weeks is. Is a lifetime, you know five weeks is a brief amount of time when you’re getting to know somebody.
[00:53:33] BT: That’s literally like be the time between. I don’t know like that’s monthly like that’s a month and a week like that’s not that’s
[00:53:45] AJ: How long? Like how long did it take for us to really become friends, right [laughter]?
[00:53:50] BT: My therapist, Alice, told me it takes two years to build a friendship. And when she and I realized, like, I had been so used to people who just, you know, trauma bonds and things like that, I actually didn’t even consider that I was building relationships with people too quickly. Right. And so, this kind of Hollywood expectation or just societal expectation that you meet someone and instantly fall in love, that is, that allows people to abuse you, that is what allows people to abuse you. Now also produces situations where people feel so much pain and hurt and it’s like, but you didn’t even really know this person, right? Like you didn’t give yourself a chance to know this person because you came with all these expectations. Let’s see, how do you talk to your partner about your emotional needs or bouts of depression? Thank you for sending this question. I think this is a really important question. And it depends on the relationship that you have with your partner.
From my own personal experience, the relationship that I’m in now is really the first relationship that I’ve ever been able to talk honestly about my emotional needs or when I’m not feeling good. Because in the past I’ve had partners who were emotionally immature, who required for me to ignore my own needs so that I could service theirs. And what I’ve learned from being in this relationship is that being able to talk to your partner about your emotional needs really requires a level of like vulnerability and honesty that is built over time. So, if this is a relatively new relationship, or, you know, you, both you and your partner have decided, hey, we’re going to do this thing. You know, it might just be best to have a just like a clear conversation where you’re both put your phones down looking at each other in your eyes, holding hands or whatever it is you choose to do, and just have a conversation about this is what it looks like when I’m sad, this is what it looks like when I’m entering into about a depression, this is what it looks like when I’m angry. This is what I need when I’m angry, this is what I need when I’m sad, this is what I need when I’m depressed.
And so, for me, that conversation with him was I know when I’m about to enter into a bout of depression, when my room is a mess, when my apartment is a mess. So, he likes to clean. So, it was like, okay, this works, you know, I can support you in this way. When I am sad, right? And this also takes you knowing about yourself and what you need, right? So, if and if you’re still exploring that, then that’s OK too. You can express that to your partner if y’all have created a container for that. But for me, it’s like I told him, well, he actually asked me early on, like when you’re sad, like how does that show up? And I told him, when I’m sad, I act like this. And when I need to be hugged, I need to, you know, cry, I need to talk. And he was like, okay, like I can support you in these ways. So, in some, set the container for the conversation and then honor that. You know, things might change or shift as you change as a person, and your partner might change as a person, but that’s all I got on my end [laughter]. I’m still new to being able to talk about my feelings [laughter] so, you know.
[00:57:50] AJ: I hear you on that one. I think for me, for at least in my relationship, I would say that we have a couple strategies. For us, one of the things that was another reason that was like, of course this person is for me. Because I love asking hypothetical questions or, you know, sending random questions that I heard or came up with while I was listening to something else or reading something else. And so, the way that we get conversations started sometimes is we might send an article. Or be like, just say, you know, I was reading this thing and it kind of reminded me of the experience that I have when I’m upset. And, you know, it helped. And this is great if you’re still exploring those feelings, as Brendane said. And, you know, it made me realize that these are the kinds of things that I need when I’m in this situation. And by sending that article it opens the door, or by sending that podcast episode it opens the door to a larger conversation where you can really talk about yourselves and your own experience. Other than that, I think Brendane covered it [laughter].
[00:59:04] BT: Yeah, and [unclear] the question is how do you talk? So, I’m not going to try to figure out this other person, you are asking how do I talk?
[00:59:13] AJ: Yes.
[00:59:14] BT: I feel like I answered your question.
[00:59:15] AJ: Yes. Okay, next question my partner and me have been dating for four years we recently discussed moving in with each other financial natural means are not an issue. I worry my partner will not propose marriage if we move in preemptively, what would be the big difference if we live together now versus as an engaged couple? How do I make clear that this next stage of our relationship requires a proposal? [In unison] Say it. Better put a ring on it boo, put a ring on it. No, I’m kidding [laughter].
[00:59:47] BT: Say it.
[00:59:47] AJ: Okay, this is—I just went through this in 2020 because I moved in with time Bae in January of 2021. And he proposed in April of 2022. However, we did a couples premarital counseling in late 2021. So, we are kind of, you know, messing up the timelines on these things. But what I would say is for us, I wanted to spend more time with him to have that experience of living together, seeing if our lives gel, mesh. Well, because him coming over every now and again, you know, on the weekends, spending the weekend and all of that kind of stuff, it’s like, yeah. Maybe it’s the same, but it’s not really the same. It’s not the same because you’re, it’s not the same. You’re in their space, they’re in your space. And it doesn’t really. It just, it feels different, and it’s experienced differently because in the end it’s that place is your responsibility. The rent is your responsibility, or the rent is their responsibility, etcetera.
So, there is absolutely a big difference in terms of you know, you have to figure out how are you going to share household duties, share the chores. How are you going to handle finances? Are you going to split everything evenly? Are you going to split things proportionally based on your income? Are you going to have a joint account? So, all of those things changed the dynamics in incredible ways. But if you’re feeling like—I think one thing that you have to make clear is that the move in is not a trial period, it’s not a trial marriage. You’re saying if we’re moving in together, it’s because you see me as someone that you want to marry? I think that’s the conversation that you need to sit down and have with your partner. Otherwise, some people, they will just see it as, oh, this is, you know, this is convenient, this is easier. This is a period where we’ll just be getting to know each other and see if this is the person that I want to marry, which I’ve been in that situation as well. Did not workout. Where were we? Babe. When we moved in together, was it clear that we were going to get engaged? Or was it more like we’re moving in together to see how it goes, and then if things go well, we’ll get engaged?
[01:02:39] Fiancé: I think it was more so It’s like you are someone that considering betters marrying. And I would like to get further down to towards that goal.
[01:02:52] AJ: There you go heard it from the mouth of the fiancé himself. You know, it was about getting closer to that, goal. Getting married. Yeah, I’m trying to remember. My memory is terrible, but I definitely, I think for where I was in my life at the time, I was just open to moving in together and seeing how things went. And, you know, after a certain amount of time, I thought okay, I can, you know, this is working for me. I like this and so we started, you know, joining our lives in more ways than just moving in together and having a lease. So, you just have to decide what you’re, you know, how you’re looking at this moment and then talk to your partner about it.
[01:03:46] BT: Yeah. And hopefully, you know, marriage is something that your partner also values, right? And yeah, just seeing like where you all see the relationship going. And then also understanding within yourself, right? What boundaries or boundaries? You’re set around this conversation, right? So, if your partner says, well, I want to move in with you, but I’m not sure if I want to, like, I don’t want to propose to you before that happens, right? Then what is that? What does that signal for you, right? Like is that something that you are you willing to live with someone and be just living, shaking up? Shaking up as they say on, where you know, back in the day. But also, you know, this is one of those things where I first read the question and I was like, you know, it’s not 1967. Like, it’s not like back in the day where they used to say, you know, close your legs or else you’re not gonna meet someone. Or don’t live with them unless you know he’s gonna get too comfortable.
[01:04:57] AJ: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
[01:05:00] BT: Right. Like he’s going to get too comfortable and not propose to you if your partner—and I don’t know the gender of your partner—but if your partner wants to get married to you, then that’s a goal that they have regardless of whether or not, you know, you live together. And as Alyssa said, right, living together, really changes the structure of their relationship and it allows you to see if this is someone that you want. That you actually kind of want to marry and want to want to live with, right? And you could move in together and come to the realization that actually, y’all don’t live well together. And then you have, you know, you have to figure that out from there.
[01:05:41] AJ: Yeah. And then, that’s a time where you decide, do we work on this or is this relationship strong enough for us to work on things, to change things so that we can get to the point where we’re ready to get married? Or is this just not a relationship that I’m prepared to be in? I think it does put a lot of pressure on the relationship, not necessarily to get married, but just to see how you work together as a partner. The most, the biggest danger is that you just slide into getting married because that’s what’s expected after you move in together. But if you’re thinking about it, if you’re thinking about your expectations and make sure you’re clear on what those are. And you’re evaluating how things are going as it’s as it’s happening, then I think moving in together can be a good thing. Of course, there is evidence that couples who live together before getting married, they have higher rates of divorce. I wonder if that’s a lagging indicator. I don’t know. so, of you know previous divorce statistics but
[01:06:48] BT: I think that’s more reflective of like cultural values right. Like if you’re not living together, in 2022, if you’re not living together before you get married then most likely there’s a religious or cultural value that also says divorce is not possible, so I think that’s more reflective of that than anything else.
[01:07:07] AJ: Boom, what Brendane said [laughter].
[01:07:10] BT: Well, 2023, oh my gosh, I’m still in last year.
[01:07:12] AJ: Oh yeah, we are in 2023.
[01:07:13] BT: Yikes.
[01:07:14] AJ: And then, thing that I will say is something that our counselor told us, and she was like, I was like, you know, I want us to be doing this, you know, when we get married and but I’m not sure like [Bleeped Out]. Wow. How my fiancé will feel about it [laughter]. Am I saying his name? Am I giving his government? Anyways. And she was like, no, you have to, you have to do it now. You can’t, you know, if you want.
[01:07:40] BT: People don’t change from marriage.
[01:07:42] AJ: Yeah, you don’t change. Like if he’s not comfortable with it now, then he won’t be comfortable with it just because you guys are married. So, tell him what you want. And if that’s not, if he’s not on board with it, then you can compromise, or you can change your expectations, or you know, or you can decide that maybe things aren’t—maybe this relationship isn’t right for you. So, whatever your expectations are for marriage is what you should be experiencing from the person that you’re dating.
[01:08:09] BT: Well, okay, in a relationship with because we—
[01:08:12] AJ: Yeah, sorry, in a relationship with [laughter].
[01:08:13] BT: I don’t want to—[crosstalk]. Yes, because, again, the—
[01:08:18] AJ: The lingo. The lingo—
[01:08:19] BT: Around dating [crosstalk].
[01:08:20] AJ: I’m just like, you know, you’re talking, you’re dating, you’re I don’t even know, you’re ghosting I don’t know what these things are. What’s going on?
[01:08:31] BT: Yeah, you don’t go on one date and be like I’m tryna get married.
[01:08:33] AJ: Yeah. Don’t be like I’m expecting husband behavior from this guy I went on one date with. But you know, just expect that the person that you’re in a relationship with is not going to change when you get married. So, [laughter].
[01:08:48] BT: Right. And yeah, so that’s between you and your partner to figure out the ins and outs of that one. Peer-to-peer questions. Even though, wow, these dating questions are so interesting [laughter]. Okay, the peer-to-peer question is, what do you do in situations where you need help but don’t want to contact the police? Would really love context around this, in particular because, you know, what kinds of situations are these nonviolent situations that can be—nonviolent conflict that can be resolved in a like a relationship that you have with someone? Is this with a stranger? Is this with someone in community who’s not necessarily your friend? Because these, there’s no kind of blanket answer. And that’s something that white supremacist capitalism, right, anti-Black, cis, hetero, all of the terms, right, had led us to believe that there’s a such thing as a universal. When pre-colonization, right, it was all it was about community; it was about the local, right, and the connections that you make there. So, there’s no real blanket answer to this question. I can give an example though. So, I have a friend who was being stalked by an ex and the behavior was increased, was escalating, increasingly so. And this friend contacted other friends, right? Other people in the community and said I’m experiencing this danger, this harm, and this person is escalating it. They’re leaving things at my door when I’m not home, I’m coming home and there’s, you know, marks on my car. My tire is blown out. I’m receiving all of these strange calls at all times of day and night. Things like that, right. And they work together with their friends and other members of the community to create a safety plan. The other members, other friends would say, okay, well you’re experiencing these things at night. So, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to have someone who’s on a rotating shift with you to like, sleep in your apartment with you to make sure that you’re safe, we are going to change your phone number. Um, something that a lot of people don’t like to do because it’s inconvenient. But here, that’s one way to not get the police involved and also end unwanted contact, right, is change your phone number. We’re going to alert the people that you work with, because I also know of people who have been stalked in where the person [who] was stalking them, contacted their jobs and alleged a lot of horrible things and tried to put their livelihood at risk. So, you know, you want to develop safety plans where you are alerting the people who are able to help you in whatever kind of danger that you’re in. Now if this is a situation in which someone is being physically violent, and you need help. Then again, I would suggest a safety plan with members of the community, friends, if possible, if this person is a partner. Definitely there are intimate partner violence advocates like myself in all over the nation who are able to—like people can call and we can create safety plans with you on how to escape the situation. And you don’t have to have police contact or report that person. Things get dicier if children are involved. If sexual abuse of children, or, you know, elders, disabled people, other things are involved, things get dicier. But again, without context, I can’t really, like, give too deep of answers to this question.
[01:12:52] AJ: Yeah, and we can put some of those resources in the show notes as well, so folks will have those, can send those to people who may need them. I think the example that I would have is my building complex has a tenants association and during our last association meeting people were talking about someone who has been a disturbance. He’s been, you know, yelling racial slurs out of his windows, kicking walls and things like that. Who, you know, someone who it seems like is very much in, you know, going through a mental health crisis. And they’ve contacted the police, the police said he lives here, there’s nothing that we can do. And I told people, I said that the police are not really the right people to handle this. Things can go very wrong, especially if they are in the middle of a crisis that, you know, may not be—he may not be actually enacting violence against people but can seem violent because he’s kicking things and, you know, punching doors and walls and so on. And nobody had actually gone to speak with him. Except one. I think there was one man who lived, you know, down the hall from him. But nobody had actually checked on him or gone to see if there was anything that he could need. And so, in that instance, New York City does have a mental health crisis hotline, which of course keeping in mind that this is still within the bounds of state capture and like policing just not necessarily with the guns. But folks like that are trained to service people who are going through experiences like that. So, I think looking for other resources—as Brendane mentioned—that don’t involve the police, because a lot of places do have them, and making use of those and of course being a fellow community member. I mean this is your neighbor and no nobody checked on him. Nobody’s gone to say, do you have any family that we could call, or do you know other friends, or do you have a doctor or something, you know? Instead, people were just afraid. And I think fear is one of the things that often—one of the emotions that leads us into a lot of trouble and danger. So good to know your neighbors. Get to know, folks.
[01:15:40] BT: Get to know your neighbors. And yeah, like the thing with abolition, right? As people say, you know. Now all of a sudden, abolition is a hot thing, and you know, it’s all about love and blah blah blah. But no, it’s actually a call to responsibility, right? It’s a call to move outside of the capitalist frame of the individual and say that my life is not necessarily anymore like important or special than someone else’s right? And so that means that for my life to be good, it’s dependent on like how good my neighbor or my community member, right—however I fashion my community—is too. And so that’s something important to remember. If these are situations where you are experiencing physical danger. The best thing to do is to figure out what, how can I immediately deal with the physical danger? Can I move away from it, shut the door? Whatever. Are there people that I can call in my community to assist me? And what are ways that I can pull my community into keeping us all safe? And yeah, we’re definitely gonna put resources in so that folks can—because we really have to start building these skills because there’s going to be a world without police one day, right. So, we have to start building these skills
[01:17:11] AJ: since we’re talking about abolition will go to a similar question. We all loved when Da Baby and Andrew Tate were sentenced. I think Andrew Tate was arrested and the—what’s his name? The short guy? The short Canadian?
[01:17:29] BT: Yeah, I was like Da Baby [crosstalk].
[01:17:30] AJ: I’m not sure if it’s Da Baby.
[01:17:31] BT: Are you talking about Daystar Peterson?
[01:17:34] AJ: Yeah, I think this person meant Tory Lanez [laughter]. So, Tory Lanez.
[01:17:39] BT: Oh, you mean Daystar Peterson [crosstalk].
[01:17:41] AJ: Daystar Peterson, which is hilarious because I’ve been seeing Daystar everywhere. Like Daystar Moving Company, Daystar this. Anyways, it’s just been in my thing. So anyways. We all loved when—what this person meant was Daystar, who was charged, tried, and convicted—and Andrew Tate had been arrested. How can we as a community balance abolition and necessity for community protection? I’m going to give this one to Brendane because she recently wrote an essay that speaks very eloquently about this very subject.
[01:18:24] BT: I guess I did. I guess I did. I was like, I guess I could answer this question. First of all, the question that I—I saw this, I was like, we need to disentangle who is we? Who is we? Who is we that all loved when Daystar and Andrew Tate—I didn’t even know who Andrew Tate was until I saw it on Twitter. And I was like, why are people talking about this white man? And then I saw someone actually who was not Black say that he was a Black man and tried to make it some kind of—
[01:18:53] AJ: Oh, man. Oh, man.
[01:18:55] BT: —anti-Blackness thing.
[01:18:57] AJ: Oh, Lord.
[01:18:58] BT: And again but the women that were primarily affected by Andrew Tate’s violence were non-Black women, right? And so again, the question is, who is we as a community? Are we all a community that has investment in abolition because we know that policing is a violent institution that disproportionately distributes death and disease and harm and violence to Black and Blackened people, right? So, the commitment to abolition is regardless of how I feel about someone being sentenced or charged, convicted, etcetera. Because I don’t think either one of them, as you said, neither one of them have been sentenced, right? And so, it’s not a matter of how I feel about a person or how I feel. It’s a matter of understanding that policing in the criminal punishment system is an institution that is bad for everyone, right? So, balancing abolition with necessity for community protection. Protection in this essay that Alyssa talked about, right—
[01:20:20] AJ: I’ll link it in the notes. Don’t worry, y’all [laughter].
[01:20:24] BT: I talk about protection, right? I think we also need to really interrogate our relationship with that, right. Why is it that we feel like we need to turn to other people to protect us, right? And I’m talking about adults, not children in this instance, right? Protection is a relationship that is established through patriarchy, specifically, right. Where we are asked to turn to people who harm us and say, hey, can you keep us safe from this other kind of harm? Right. Protection is not something that we should be aiming for as a community. If we’re thinking that we want to be an abolitionist community, then we’re actually trying to create safe communities, right? Communities where we don’t need protection because there is no other harm that we’re trying to displace, right?
So, if the question is, right, how do we create safe communities that don’t involve the criminal punishment system? Then we have to—all of us have a responsibility to each other to hold each other accountable from harm. One of the things that I discussed in the essay that we’ve seen happen time and time again when Black men are charged and convicted—or charged with particularly sexually violent or gender violent offenses, right there is this kind of call back to the 19th and 20th century lynching, right? They’re trying to lynch him. Or there’s, you know, this generational trauma of our communities being ravished by white violence, right? Where they would come and point to a boy and say this boy looked at this woman wrong and now he’s dead right? Or they would come and point to a young girl child or a woman and say that they were involved in some kind of “illegal” activity and then string them up. And so, I think as a community, as a Black community—I’m, this is the “we” that I’mma use in this moment, right—as Black people we have to really start interrogating the legacies of generational trauma that push us to not hold Black cishet men accountable for the violence they put they do to people in our communities.
Megan Thee Stallion was not trying to go to the police. She said, I did not want to go to the police about this. She—when the police stopped her initially, she didn’t mention that he shot her, right? Because, and I sympathize with her because I’ve protected people who’ve harmed me and that I know plenty of Black women who have—who said I didn’t want this man to go to jail even though he didn’t give a fuck about how I felt when he did XYZ, right? And so, we as a community really have to interrogate If safety is important to us or if we’re trying to, kind of, are we still trying to fall in these age-old patterns dictated by like colonialism and white supremacy that say that men should be able to do whatever the fuck they want at the expense of everybody else. And I don’t think that Black people as a whole are really ready to deal with the fact that Black men actually do not need to be anybody special. That’s where I’m gonna leave it. That’s where I’m gonna leave it [laughter]. Black men do not need to—
[01:24:02] AJ: Why? Why are Black men entitled to protection but not Black women. And Black, queer and trans folks.
[01:24:12] BT: Right. Like my—like what I say all the time is we keep saying protect Black women, protect Black women. But who in the hell are we talking to? Like who are we talking to? I know we’re not talking to the niggas that we be letting in our house, around our kids, do whatever they want. I know we’re not talking to the men that we let do whatever the fuck they want with no consequence, right? Or to the boys that we let do, like. We asking the same people that’s harming us to protect us, that doesn’t make sense. We need to—we really need to think about how can we create safety in our communities for Black girls, Black children, Black queer and trans people. And that has to come at odds with Black men having power. People think you can have both. And it’s like, no, we have to actually—that comes at odds with patriarchal power in our community.
[01:25:09] AJ: Just within the question. Abolition and community, I don’t necessarily want to say protection, but a safety in community. Those are entangled. They’re not opposing each other, they’re not necessarily the same things, but one equals the other. They’re kind of like a—it’s a recursive relationship, is what I would say. To have one, we need the other, to have the other we need the other, so. It’s not. They’re not a binary, so to speak, in the way that the question was framed. All right.
[01:25:45] BT: Yeah.
[01:25:46] AJ: We have two more questions left. I really like both of them.
[01:25: 51] BT: I know.
[01:25:53] AJ: Okay, let’s answer them both really quickly, because one is really—one is near and dear to my heart, and the other one is near and dear to my brain [laughter]. Okay, so—
[01:26:03] BT: Which one you do first?
[01:26:05] AJ: We’ll do the how to keep tradition alive with our elders. So that’s the question. How do I keep tradition alive with my elders? How can I reconnect with family that I previously was not close to, but want to learn all that I can from them? Okay, I feel this deep in my heart as someone who is first generation Canadian, whose family is Jamaican. And when I was growing up, I was just like. Whatever. I’m Canadian. I don’t wanna learn “nay than” from you. I’m not going to be spending all this time in the kitchen. And now I’m older and I really wish that I had, you know, been spending a lot of time learning how to cook Jamaican dishes. That’s kind of, you know, I’m, I’m anthropology of food. So, food is deeply connected to tradition. But also, even with things like, you know, getting married, I’m thinking about how I can incorporate Jamaican wedding traditions and into mine and things like that. So, [laughter].
[01:27:00] BT: I think it’s so sweet.
[01:27:01] AJ: I know it’s cute. It’s adorbs. So, I think in terms of that it’s just a question of one, reaching out and you know spending time with them if they’re willing. And that’s the other thing that you have to be prepared for is they might not be willing to share those traditions and histories with you. Because in in my case a lot of our history, my family history, comes with a lot of pain, trauma, abuse and a lot of the time my family, they don’t want to relive that. So, they don’t necessarily wanna talk about the experiences that they had when they were in Jamaica. You know, maybe they’ll be willing to tell me recipes or something like that. But they won’t necessarily want me kind of, you know, sitting around having them tell me stories while we cook together and stuff like that. So, it’s just being prepared for each eventuality, but I think just reaching out and trying to spend time with them is in any way that you can is a good start.
[01:28:07] BT: Yeah, I would say the same thing. I was like on a path to find ancestors. I did ancestry.com. I didn’t do that genetic stuff though. I did ancestry.com and I actually had like people who are my distant cousins reach out and these are like older Black folks, and I think that the thing about being proactive, reaching out and just saying, hey, I just want to learn about you, learn about your life, learn with you and being open to them, you know, being like yes or no and showing genuine interest is really all you need. All you need for the people who you know require that right, so.
[01:28:56] AJ: Yeah, and we also have our—I mean this isn’t necessary of course but we have a Black feminist interview guide that you can e-mail us for. And, you know, it’s a start where you can start thinking about questions you might want to ask or, you know, just ways to jumpstart the conversation so that you can get to the practices right and understand them in a deep way.
[01:29:23] BT: I know that just touched my heart. Okay, how do we it socially unacceptable to film people in public? How do I make sure I am not caught on candid camera? Why do people like to contribute to our own surveillance? These are all really. I mean, the last question is definitely philosophical. I—how to make it socially unacceptable. What I’ve started doing, and I think we should bring this back, is just like expressing my disgust with people that do things in public that is like, oh, like. Like, this man was at dinner with his sugar baby, and I was at the other table, and he started talking about these females, this, that, and the third, and I literally cut my eyes at him. Made some kind of like [sucks teeth] noise and he changed his whole tone. Switched his whole tone, started whispering to her. Like, I’m like, that’s right, you’re not about to sit here and be loudly disrespecting women out here.
Now when it comes to filming people in public, I hate to be that millennial, but I keep seeing these videos of these kids doing that. And any—one time I’ve been approached to be like interviewed for people, somebody’s TikTok or whatever and I just said no. I said no, I don’t want to do it. And I walked away. I don’t think that there is, in this day and age when most people have phones that can videotape, that you can really just like 100% safeguard yourself from being caught on candid camera. But I guess one way to prevent that too is to check your own behavior and make sure that you’re not—like usually candid camera is exposing someone who is doing something outrageous, right? Are you out here threatening to? Throw a chair at someone. Are you out here, you know, are you, like, truly acting outrageous? Or are you just shopping in target? Like, nobody’s going to follow you on a camera, shopping in target?
[01:31:33] AJ: Listen, people might if you’re wearing a certain outfit, people might follow you
and I–this is something that bothers me. I—if I’m walking through a group of people taking pictures, you know, I live in New York, so there are a lot of monuments and things that people want to take pictures of—I cover my face. Like I cover my face like the way people do when they’re walking past the news. I avoid being in peoples like camera range as much as I can. I absolutely do not like it. I don’t want people having, random people, strangers, having photos of me. I don’t like when people take photos of me on their phones. If I don’t know them. I mean if we’re friends, that’s fine. But you know, people have definitely wanted to take pictures of Brendane and I. We were like, no, you can just take it with our camera, with our phone, because I just don’t want. I don’t know what people are going to do with my likeness, and I also don’t want to end up like a meme or something on Twitter, because I got caught on candid camera. So, I tried to, I actively avoid those things.
I also couldn’t sleep last night, so I watched coded bias, which is a documentary on Netflix which is about technology. And one of the one of the things that they talk about is how we are contributing to our own surveillance by posting all of these photos, by liking all of these posts and being so active on social media sharing all of this information about ourselves to the point where some of these algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. You know, one of the things that my friends and stuff will text me about is they’ll say, wow, I was just talking about a trip to Vegas, and now I’m getting all of these. I haven’t searched it. I haven’t done anything but now I’m getting these ads for Vegas. How would they know that I’m looking to go to Vegas? And the ways that and what’s worrying is that these, this information, these algorithms can be used to manipulate us. They can, you know, they’ll look at people who might be gamblers, they’ll look at what kind of profile they have on the Internet, and then they can find people who might be prone to gambling and then use that information in malicious ways in order to essentially, exploit and take advantage of those tendencies.
So why do people like to contribute? I don’t think that people are as aware of the dangers of it as they are, you know, the joy, the pleasure, the fun. That’s what those apps do, is they make it fun for us to share our information with the world. And I don’t think that people are as, we’re not informed. People are just generally not informed about privacy. Just like what’s in my, you know, what’s in my home, that nobody’s taking pictures of me in my home and things like that. But privacy is also biometric data. It’s also biological data, like your DNA, your face itself. It isn’t. It is something that has information that can be used to identify you against certain databases. And can be used against you. So, why do people like it? I don’t think they necessarily like it. I think that they’re just not aware, unfortunately. So, there’s a, are they, it’s not a charity, but I think it’s like an advocacy group called Big Brother Watch in UK. In the UK. I’m not sure. I’m sure that there’s, you know, there are similar organizations here in the US but, you know, getting started with those resources and becoming an advocate. Letting people know the ways that surveillance images can be used against them is probably a really a really big start.
I remember that it used to be you weren’t supposed to take pictures of strangers. And I remember asking why? Why can’t you take pictures of people, you know at the mall or something, which is in public? And I remember the answer that someone gave me was like, you know, they could be a political refugee or something. And someone might see that photo on the Internet and now they’ll know where they are and they’ll be able to track them down and, you know, stuff like that. This was when I was nine or ten, so I don’t remember who told me that, but that’s something that has stayed with me for a long time. Is that just your face, even your profile and a generalized location can help people track you. And that’s why I’m a little bit freaked out by the whole thing, even though I’m not running from anyone. Whatever, you don’t know. I’m not running from anyone. But the important thing is not necessarily that you have something to hide. It’s what the state and what companies can do with that information and the stories that they can tell about you with that information is what’s very important. So, I would start with resources and if you’re passionate about it I would, you know, be someone who advocates and educates about these kinds of topics.
[01:37:04] BT: Yeah. To shortly say something else is like it’s socially acceptable to do it because people consume the content, right? People are making money off of it. So, until people, until everyone gets on the do not fill me. I don’t wanna be you know in your TikTok. I don’t wanna be in your IG reel. I don’t want to be in your YouTube video. Until being famous and being rich is no longer a goal that people have. I don’t know if we can make it socially unacceptable, but we can, as you said, educate ourselves and at least start that wave like of being like, you know, you actually don’t have to submit to this. You know.
[01:37:47] AJ: Just in case folks don’t have Netflix or don’t want to watch this doc. although they should, and I will put some of the books and information that was shared in that. In that film as well, one of the things that I learned is that we often think that rich people get technology first, but actually a lot of these kind of technologies are used on poor, in poor communities and in communities where there are a lot of people of color, where there’s no expectations that your rights will be respected. So, a lot of surveillance technology is, of course, you know, used, trained in poor, poor Black, poor communities of color. So, this is it’s not just a technology issue. This is also a race. There’s also a class. This is a social justice issue, the question of surveillance. So, get educated y’all.
Alright, well on that note. Wow, we’ve gone an hour and 45 just about, so that is all we have for you today. Let us know if you enjoyed this episode, if you would like us to do this kind of Q and A listener letter with more context, please, more often. If you’d like to see us do this for Patreon, you can send us questions where you’d like our advice, and we’ll respond as best we can. Thank you all for listening. This episode was produced by Alyssa James and Brendan Tynes and distributed in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. This season of the podcast is generously funded by a grant from the Arts & Science Graduate Council, the Heyman Center Public Humanities Graduate Fellowship, and donations from listeners just like you.
[01:39:36] BT: Thank you all for your support. If you like this episode, please share via social media, WhatsApp, that telephone, Nokia phone has never gonna go away, you know.
[01:39:48] AJ: Yes, and not as easy to surveil. Okay, get you that brick phone [laughter].
[01:39:54] BT: Bring back the brick phone. We would love to hear what you have to say about this episode, so be sure to follow us on Instagram @zorasdaughters and on Twitter @zoras_daughters. And for transcripts, syllabi, and information on how to cite us or become a patron to access exclusive content, visit our website, zorasdaughters.com.
[01:40:16] AJ: Last but not least, remember to be kind to yourselves, bye.
[01:40:19] BT: Bye.