Truth Be Told

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What do you do when your in-laws, make you feel like an outsider? If the rift is racial, it might mean having a very uncomfortable family conversation. It all started at Christmastime, with the announcement of a new baby on the way. But not all the in-laws cheered when the happy, interracial couple showed the ultrasounds. How do you say your piece, and keep the peace, when a family dispute involves race?
They say that love is blind. What does it take to make love colorblind? Dating and marriage can be tough enough without bringing race into the equation. In this hour, we’ll hear from people who confronted their racial stereotypes, explored matchmaking through traditional cultures in modern times, and learned to celebrate their love: whether others understood it or not.
Well, the hard work is done. We’ve spent months finding stories, booking guests, writing, recording, mixing, remixing, and re-re-mixing … and now Truth Be Told is ready for your binge listening pleasure! We set out to create an innovative, empathetic conversation on race in America. Now it’s ready for you to enjoy on iTunes, Stitcher or NPR One. You’ll find stories of how people across the country are dealing with issues of race in their personal lives — issues that anyone might find themselves in — and hear insights on how we might handle these situations better (or prevent them from happening). Hopefully the program will help you have better conversations about race with your friends, loved ones, co-workers and neighbors. So enjoy Truth Be Told, and let us know what you think with a review on iTunes. We’d love to produce more episodes of the show, so feel free to email us your story ideas. Thanks for listening! –Joshua Johnson Creator/Host, Truth Be Told Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes
Before she knew it, Laura found herself standing on a chair and yelling. It was Saturday morning, during Shabbat service at a Jewish family camp in Yosemite National Park. The service was honoring advances in social justice, including the US Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality and advances in environmental justice. But there was no mention of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It caught Laura’s attention.  She thought about bringing it up with one of the leaders after the service.  That changed when she looked over and saw her friend, a woman of color, with tears running down her face. “She was shaking,” Laura recalls. “She looked right at me and she said, ‘You need to do something.’ And it was in that moment I was like, ‘Right, this is my privilege.’…she’s feeling like her whole self has been rendered invisible.” That privilege has come to be known as white privilege: the unearned benefits, through no real fault of their own, that white people enjoy today as an after-effect of America’s racial past. This privilege manifests itself in many ways: from (generally) better outcomes economically and socially, to just not having to deal with the kinds of overt racism that people of color do. It may seem odd to have whites like Laura jumping up and taking a stand (literally) on social justice for people of color. Historically, though, that’s how many movements began. The NAACP was founded in 1909 by a group of about sixty people — only seven of whom were black. At the 1964 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, a quarter of the crowd was white. “I stood up on my bench,” Laura recalls, “and I said, ‘Wait a minute! …We’re missing something!’ And what was incredible was that the leaders not only took the time in that moment to say, ‘You’re right, we missed this very important piece,’ now the entire organization is looking at racial justice and how (they had) missed an opportunity.” Laura says standing up and stopping the meeting was terrifying, especially since it took place during a religious ceremony, but she knew she had to act. NYU Sociology Associate Professor Ann Morning says this encounter also shows how gradual steps to improve the racial climate can lay the groundwork for people like Laura to take action when it’s needed. “The fact that this setting was an interracially integrated one, that (Laura) had her friend there who was of color, who prompted this examination on the part of the whole group to think about white privilege, it shows what good things can really come of trying to (take) these issues on,” says Morning. Hear Laura’s story in her own words, along with more stories of being white in America today, HERE, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.
How many times have you paused and asked, Is it just me or — Yeah, us too. We all experience life in our unique bodies and skin. And yet, we’re alone in surviving, growing and thriving. The world we live in gaslights us into thinking anything to do with identity is in our imagination. Well, Truth Be Told is here to tell you it’s not. You are not the only one, you are not alone and guess what? There’s a podcast for that. Sometimes we are sitting with questions that we can’t even talk about with those closest to us. Truth Be Told is the friend you call after a long day to cry, bitch and moan. The one who gets it. So grab a seat on the couch, pull up the podcast and put your earbuds in. We got you. Truth Be Told explores your dilemmas, reaches out to Wise Ones for advice, and deliberately digs deep — because your questions, your story and your existence matters. In our first season, we talked about the guilt of feeling joy when the world is a mess, we interrogated who we grew up crushing on and who we ultimately ended up dating. We scrutinized being enough within our own communities, the complications of working and living with well-meaning white folks and handling family dynamics with estranged fathers or debating whether or not to become a mother. For the past two months I’ve waited patiently for each Thursday to come, knowing that the ⁦@TruthBeToldShow⁩ crew would spark a conversation I needed to hear. Thank you for making this space for me and all POC people to thrive — bebé llora (@shaylynmartos) June 23, 2019 This week’s @TruthBeToldShow is essential listening for those of us who are white-passing or hold other kinds of passing privilege. It unpacks where, why & how we ask to belong, and the different places of marginalization or privilege that desire can come from. — Ariana Martinez (@MartinezAriana_) June 1, 2019 Now we’re back with season two! Our host, Tonya Mosley, will delve into your questions, unearth the layers of your quandaries and pull in a Wise One for advice. This season will be full of growing pains, joy, laughter and collective thriving. And don’t worry, we’re still the place where hard questions meet understanding ears. Where people of color can be candid with each other and work through the messy parts of life. Season two starts on March 12! Listen on Apple, Spotify, NPR One or wherever you get your podcasts. If you want to submit a question you can email us at, call us at (415) 553-2802 or use the hashtag #AskTBT on social media.
We’ve all had that one big question in our lives that looms over us and keeps us up at night. Maybe you are making a life altering decision about a relationship; whether to get into one, get out of one — or stay in one. Maybe you’re one step away from leaving a job, or taking a new one. Or maybe, like our host Tonya Mosley, you are trying to figure out if you should start a relationship with your estranged father’s family. What should you do when faced with a big “what do I do” moment? In this final episode of Truth Be Told, we get personal with author Casey Gerald who teaches us that no matter the question, the answer can be found by asking yourself: “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?” Why the Death tarot Card? If you are new to tarot the Death card can seem really scary, but fear not – it’s actually not a bad omen. The Death card signifies rebirth, transformation, and the ability to leave behind that which is not serving you. These changes won’t be easy or painless, but as we learn in the final episode of Truth Be Told, the decisions we make and the dreams we chose to follow have a cost, but if we forge on, that costs are worth it.  
Do you have “a type?” What if you’re a person of color, and you only have crushes on white folks? There’s a lot of mystery about what gets our hearts pumping, but one thing is for sure, our attractions aren’t simply just our own. From romantic movies to commercials, we are inundated with messages about what sex and love should look like. As people of color, we rarely get to see ourselves in those narratives and this can have some real consequences. In this episode of Truth Be Told, we talk with Dr. Amy Sueyoshi about love, interracial dating, and how an interrogation of our desires can lead to healthier relationships with ourselves and each other. Why The Lovers Tarot Card? The Lovers card in tarot signifies the possibilities of soul-connecting love. It can also suggest our attempts to figure out personal values, beliefs and attractions. For this episode all about colonized desire and how we can all interrogate the complexities of who we love and desire – The Lovers card just makes sense.
Listen to this week’s episode to hear our host Tonya Mosley and Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir, unpack the question: “How are black Americans expected to overcome and thrive in this country without the necessary mechanisms of healing?” This question comes from actor Boris Kodjoe, who you may have seen in shows like “Code Black,” “Station 19” and the movie “Brown Sugar.” Kodjoe was born and raised in Germany, and ever since he arrived in the United States he’s thought, “I never understood how African Americans were expected to thrive.” Laymon said he found the answer in Mississippi where he was born and raised. “I actually think that our healing mechanisms – and this is scary – are a little bit better than white folks,” he said. “At least down here in Mississippi.” Mosley and Laymon’s conversation flows through topics like mothers and children, isolation and protests. And, of course, it ends with therapy. “What I need to do is be able to accept with equal vigor the harm I’ve done in my life to people close to me,” Laymon said. “And also I need to accept the joy that I’ve brought to human beings close to me. At my best, I’m able to do that. And at my worst, I’m completely incapable of doing it.” Ibram X. Kendi, who wrote “How to Be an Antiracist,” offered a really helpful framing for the conversation. Splitting the results of trauma into categories of material and internal effects, he notes that healing from both takes significant effort from both black and non-black Americans. “And it’s going to take a tremendous amount of time,” he said. “But I don’t see any other option.” Episode transcript can be found here. Episode Guests: Kiese Laymon, author of “Heavy: An American Memoir” Ibram X. Kendi, historian and author of “How to Be an Antiracist” Recommended Reading: “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates “The Condition of Black Life Is One of Mourning” by Claudia Rankine Recommended Listening: “1619” podcast from Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times “Scene on Radio,” a Peabody-nominated podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University Have a question for the show? Email us at, call us at (415) 553-2802 or use the hashtag #AskTBT. Follow us at @truthbetoldkqed on Twitter and Instagram.
Have you ever been made to feel like you aren’t enough? Not black enough, not queer enough, not Asian enough, not enough?   In this episode of Truth Be Told, we  explore how we can move beyond the question of “enough” and ask ourselves if we are doing enough, for our communities with Locatora Radio hosts Mala Muñoz and Diosa Femme. Tonya also talks with author Jeff Chang, co-founder of CultureStr/ke and ColorLines,  about the complicated history behind the term “people of color” and how we need to reclaim intersectionality to strengthen our solidarities. Why the Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card? When you pull the Wheel of Fortune card, it’s the universe telling you to get ready because big changes are coming. Just like life, our identities and how we identify are very much in flux, more of a journey than a destination.  For this episode about what it means to be Latina, or a person of color, there’s no tarot card more apt than the Wheel of Fortune.
What is it like being a mixed-race person of color who’s always perceived as white? For one young woman it can make for a life that’s just meshugenismo. Maya Cueva of Berkeley, California tells us her story of learning to live between two worlds. Special thanks to Youth Radio for bringing us Maya’s story.
On this episode of Truth Be Told, we gathered your questions and lived experiences during the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. Tonya Mosley talks to Dr. Seema Yasmin, journalist, author and infectious disease detective. She’s seen what the migration of diseases like COVID-19 can do to communities and how racism rears its ugly head during times like these. “There’s a long history of scapegoating people of color as the carriers of disease,” Yasmin said. “This goes back hundreds of years, and so this isn’t anything new. We’ve even seen it during recent epidemics. Whether it’s Ebola or Zika, non-white people are blamed [for] introducing disease into places.” The uneasiness comes from a long history of racializing health in America. At this moment, the racialization of COVID-19 with Asians and Asian Americans is unfurling in front of us. Accompanying headlines of the spread of infection are also instances of discrimination, harassment and attacks on the Asian community. Mosley and Yasmin responded to concerns of increased power for law enforcement during the pandemic, and the current status of how the illness affects people who are homeless, incarcerated or detained. Yasmin also offered validation for the myriad feelings being experienced. “We have the right to feel whatever we feel,” Yasmin said. Yasmin was our Truth Be Told question asker for “Joy,” the very first episode our first season of the podcast. Her question was, “Is it OK to feel joy when the rest of the world is burning?” In this episode about how the coronavirus is impacting people of color, Mosley asked Yasmin if she is currently using any of the advice she was given. “You know, thinking back to that question, it was about joy, but I think it was also more broadly about the permission to feel things — anything. And so I think in a moment like this, where you feel so many emotions, including anxiety, fear, anger, that advice that I got, reminds me that it’s OK to feel whatever I feel. So I feel very honored right now. You’re having me on as a wise one, but truth be told, this wise one is struggling also … it’s a lot.” So, let’s revisit the sage guidance offered by two wise ones from our very first episode – adrienne maree brown and Tonya’s grandmother, Ernestine Mosley. 1. Faith/Spirituality: Set intentions, pray, worship, meditate. Reacquaint or deepen your relationship with nature. 2. Rituals: Care for your body (baths, exercise, adornment). Feed your soul (read, write, create, cook). Do anything that brings you joy. 3. Look for the helpers, and help the helpers: Find ways to be generous with each other or lift another’s spirit. Redirect your attention on the solution-makers in a crisis. Find ways to support those helpers for the collective good. 4. Connect with the self: Go on dates with yourself, take an inventory of yourself and your life, write down the spaces you feel in complete alignment with yourself in your life (i.e. my role as an auntie), or walk around your home naked while looking at your miraculous body. 5. Connect with those you love and who love you: Reach out to people who make you feel loved and check in on someone you’ve been thinking about. Also, try to laugh as much as you can. Laughter, intimacy and connection are necessary to survive and embark on the freedom journey. Remember, it is absolutely necessary to feel joy in these times. You don’t have to earn it. You deserve it. We appreciate everyone who has helped with the creation of this episode. Special thanks to all of our question askers, Cynthia Choi, and KQED’s Kyana Moghadam and Vida Kuang. Episode transcript can be found here. Experienced or witnessed a hate crime? The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) and Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) have launched a reporting center to allow community members to report incidents of hate they have experienced. You can find out more by visiting Episode Guests: Dr. Seema Yasmin, medical doctor and author of “The Impatient Dr. Lange: One Man’s Fight to End the Global HIV Epidemic” Recommended Articles: Artists Fight Coronavirus-Related Racism on Instagram from KQED Arts Washing Your Hands and Getting a Grip from KQED Arts Why Pandemics Activate Xenophobia from Vox Chinese Americans Worry About Backlash as Coronavirus Fears Mount from Voices of America The Rise of Coronavirus Hate Crimes from The New Yorker As Chinese Exclusion Act Turns 135, Experts Point to Parallels Today from NPR CodeSwitch Recommended Listening: To Be Asian With a Face Mask During the Coronavirus Outbreak from KQED’s The Bay When Xenophobia Spreads Like a Virus from NPR’s Code Switch Coronaracism With APEX Express from KPFA (timestamp 28:00 – 37:55) Racism in the Time of Coronavirus from Long Distance Radio Recommended Books: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Nayan Shah Colonial Pathologies:American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines by Warwick Anderson Fit to Be Citizens? by Natalia Molina Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination by Alondra Nelson The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy by Susan M. Reverby The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection and the Shaping of the Modern Industrial Labor Force by Amy Fairchild Have a question for the show? Email us at, call us at (415) 553-2802 or use the hashtag #AskTBT. Follow us at @truthbetoldkqed on Twitter and Instagram.
You can’t pick your family, but if you’re from a multiracial family you have to pick your battles. Which battles do you fight over people who can’t pronounce your name, people who don’t know what social box to put you in, people who say stupid things to you because they just don’t know what to say? Meet four people who are dealing with the challenges of interracial marriages, multiethnic families or adopting children of another ethnicity.
What business does a white girl have studying at a historically black campus? That question confronted Cheyenne Haven during her semester at Howard University, one of the nation’s most prestigious historically black colleges and universities (or HBCUs). “When I would tell people that I was going to Howard University, they would say things like, ‘Oh, that’s so brave,’” Haven recalls. “Or a common one was, ‘Oh, you’ll get to experience reverse racism.’” Haven had the option of studying abroad during her time at Colby College, a school in Maine that’s just over 3 percent black. It was during her junior year. Many of her classmates decided to study overseas, but Haven says she was concerned about traveling out of the country. So she went to Howard, in northeast Washington, D.C. “I’d walk past a group of students and I’d hear some sort of provocative, side-eye comment like, ‘Look at that white girl. What’s she doing here?’ Nothing was really direct,” Haven says, “And so I just kind of ignored it. I also didn’t really have a good answer at the time about what I was doing there.” Today Haven looks back on the experience as a moment of self-indulgence: a bit of academic tourism in an environment that was not designed for her. HBCUs were established after the Civil War, providing basic education, career skills and eventually postgraduate degrees. Howard was founded in 1867 to educate leaders for Washington’s growing population of free blacks. If she had it to do over again, she says she wouldn’t go. “I kind of think of it as a well-meaning, but ignorant exercise in my own (white) privilege: going and using my privilege to invade one of the few black spaces allowed in America, to do this psycho-social personal experiment. “It’s like the epitome of privilege,” Haven says. Listen to Cheyenne’s story in her own words, along with more stories about race on campus, HERE, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.
What does it mean to be white? If you’ve never thought about it… you’re not alone. People of color wrestle with racial issues all the time. In this hour, white people: it’s your turn. We’ll hear from whites who are trying to support racial equality, struggling with their own identities, or realizing how little they know about America’s racial landscape.
KQED’s Truth Be Told is a brand-new advice show made by and for people of color. If Miss Manners tells you how to behave, Truth Be Told explores how you can be you in a world that doesn’t always want you to…just be. Through unfiltered advice, host Tonya Mosley takes on listener questions, digging into what it means to not just survive, but thrive, as a person of color in our country. Our first episode drops May 16, 2019 with new episodes every Thursday. You can hear the trailer right now and subscribe to Truth Be Told for free on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, or anywhere you get your podcasts. Don’t miss a minute. We see you, we feel you, we hear you.
It’s probably pretty rare for a young black woman to start her dating life in a relationship with an outright racist, but for Arielle Gray, maybe it couldn’t have started any other way. Gray, who is black, grew up in a mostly white Boston suburb before moving with her family to Atlanta. She says her parents tried to instill a sense of cultural pride in her, but peer pressure prevented that pride from sinking in. It also allowed stereotypes about dating within her race to sink in. “[Black men] are no good, they’re not trustworthy, they’re criminals, they can’t really love you the way that you need to be loved, they won’t be able to support you,” Gray says. “…Black men aren’t interested in black women, that’s a big one.” Her first boyfriend, who was white, shared her love of rock music and the sitcom “Family Guy.” Eventually, they moved in together. Subtle hints began to indicate that this interracial relationship was not built to last, like him avoiding bringing her home to meet his family. “He told me…his grandmother doesn’t even want to go to a bagger at the grocery store that’s black,” Gray recalls. “She doesn’t trust a black bagger. Little things like that, and he would find them funny. And I was like, ‘That’s not really funny at all.’” College opened Gray’s eyes in a lot of ways, including how poisonous this relationship was for her. Things really unraveled after an argument about the #BlackLivesMatter movement, where he said something that many of the movement’s supporters find irritating: of course black lives matter, ALL lives matter. Macklemore, a white rapper, addresses this point in his controversial single, “White Privilege II”: “If there was a subdivision and a house was on fire, the fire department wouldn’t show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter,” Macklemore says. “They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that is burning, because that’s the house that needs the help the most.” Gray says she looks back on that relationship with gratitude, because it helped her confront her own internalized racism. Clearly, she’s glad to be done with that guy, but she doesn’t blame him for what happened. “Had I been more accepting of myself and of my people I would have never entered that situation in the first place,” Gray says. Hear Arielle’s story in her own words, along with more stories on race and dating, HERE, and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.
Truth be Told is all about building community and connecting people of color to find collective wisdom and joy in these dangerous and difficult times.  We are also a podcast proudly made in the Bay Area, so we knew from the start that we HAD to do a live show and get our people together. On June 13th in downtown Oakland, over a hundred people gathered to share the love and seek advice from wise ones Ashara Ekundayo and Bari Williams, in conversation with TBT’s Tonya Mosely. (Slight problem? It was the same night as the Warriors final game. But people still came out y’all — to laugh, cry, and listen). Take a listen to our live,  bonus episode.  It’s what community sounds like! Why the Three of Cups tarot Card? The Three of Cups tarot card signifies the joy of community, sisterhood, and collaboration. We couldn’t think of a better card to represent our live show, which brought so many people from all over the Bay Area to heal, talk, and connect with one another.
Our first episode of Truth Be Told is finally here and we’re going in deep to take on one of the biggest questions of our time:  How can I feel joy, when the world is burning? Families are being separated at the border, drugs are ravaging our communities, the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and parts of California are literally being consumed by flames. It feels like the end of days –  and yet we still want to laugh, dance, and love. In this inaugural episode of Truth Be Told, host Tonya Mosley travels to her hometown of Detroit to talk with her grandmother, Ernestine Mosley, and New York Times best-selling author, adrienne maree brown. The three share captivating conversation and life lessons on how we all can and should cultivate joy. Why the Strength Tarot Card?  The Strength card in tarot is a reminder that we have the power to overcome any obstacle. As we learn from our Wise Ones in this episode, it is our inner strength and our willingness to work through our fears that enables us to feel and embrace full, unabashed joy.  
They call education “the great equalizer”. For a nation like the USA that’s always struggled with equality, that is an awesome thing. But many students, of all races, find when they get to college that racial conflicts can force some low moments into their higher learning. This hour focuses on unpacking your personal stories of college encounters, to see how they might have gone better.
Before we even know who we are and what we want out of life, women are expected to mother, to ultimately be mothers. And for women of color? There are added financial and cultural pressures as well as legacies of historical trauma and present-day racism that we are often up against. How do all these forces impact the choice to be a mother? And how might we reimagine what it even means to be a mother? In this episode of Truth Be Told, we talk with Audrey Galo, founder of AG Voiced, Tanya Menendez, entrepreneur, and Jennifer Devere Brody, scholar– all women at various stages of life– about the choice to have children. Why The World tarot card? The World card signifies the feeling of success and achievement after working hard to create something. This sense of celebratory completion can manifest in the birth of a child, a major career achievement or creative project– it isn’t prescriptive, it’s just joyous.  Since this episode on motherhood explores the different ways we can choose to nurture and create, we couldn’t think of a more fitting card to represent “Motherhood” than The World.
If you’re a person of color, it’s probably already happened: you’re on the job, out with friends, spending time with family or just going about your life… and BOOM! You’re on the spot! Someone has said something stupid, and now it’s your move. What do you do? It may just be easier to fire back with a sharp remark, but chances are you’d like the situation to end peacefully… and quickly. Situations like that are exactly what Truth Be Told focuses on. Here are three tips we’ve learned from doing these shows that might help you in the future. 1 – Should you let it go? If the situation doesn’t really require you to take a moral stand, it might be wiser — and, frankly, easier — to move on. NPR Correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates recalls a company holiday party in which a white co-worker, clearly drunk, told the DJ, a black man, “What’s up with this ni–er music?” “He and I sort of looked at each other,” Bates recalls, “and he said, ‘I’m gonna make allowances because you are obviously plastered. You need to go sit down and have some coffee or some ice water… but you need to get out of my face.’ “And she just sort of grinned and said, ‘Okay!’ and walked away, because that’s how looped she was.” Bates says the encounter did not surprise this DJ, who was also a co-worker — apparently, that kind of language didn’t shock him, coming from this particular drunken colleague. Few people heard the outburst, and no one reported it, “because of the combination of stupidity and alcohol,” Bates said. Hear Karen tell the story here. 2 – Should you stand your ground? This is an important one if you can’t easily get away from the people who said or did something racist. Vincent Ray recalls moving into an apartment building in an upscale part of San Francisco when he arrived in town for his medical residency. He recalled one day, a woman held the elevator for him at his building when his hands were full. “We start chatting,” Ray remembers, “and she said, ‘Do you live here?’ And I said, ‘Yes I live here.’ And she said, ‘Hmm, that’s odd, I could’ve swore that the tenants and the management, we had a discussion that we weren’t going to be allowing black people to live in this building.’ “She said it very matter-of-factly, and she said afterward, ‘Well, I guess that’s progress for you.’” Vincent Ray encountered an unexpected racial insult at his apartment building in San Francisco. (Vincent Ray) Ray would not disclose the race of the woman who said this, but he did tell us that he decided to stay in his building. He continued to see the woman occasionally — they kind of went on about their business as if nothing had occurred. To him, it was important that he stay put, for larger reasons. “I was raised by my grandparents,” Ray says, “products of the civil rights movement. They were sharecroppers in Mississippi, and the only way things are going to change are if people don’t move away, and they stay. Because people are educated by their surroundings every day and the less they see people like myself, the more ideas and paradigms like that become solidified.” Vincent’s whole story is here and it’s well worth a listen. 3 – Should you offer to help fix the damage? This becomes especially valuable in situations between people with a deeper relationship, especially extended families. A hurtful remark deepened the divide between Amy Torres, a Chinese-American woman married to a Mexican-American man, and her in-laws. One Christmas they surprised her mother-in-law with a digital camera, loaded with ultrasounds of their new baby. It was a beautiful moment… until Torres’s sister-in-law, Marlene, chimed in. “(Marlene) kind of said, ‘Well, do you know what the gender is?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s too early, I — we don’t know yet.’ And she said…. ‘Well, it looks like the baby’s gonna be… part Chinese!’ And then everyone kind of, like, laughed or, I mean, I uncomfortably laughed… (my husband) might’ve just been completely silent. …And I just remember (thinking), ‘Oh, my God, I’m just so sick to my stomach right now. I can’t believe she said that!’” Torres says she and her husband fell into a pattern of griping about these slights to themselves, privately, instead of firing back an insult. That seemed to help keep the peace, at a high emotional price. And the fact that it’s happening not with strangers, but with family members, makes it even more stressful. “I have never heard any of our friends say anything regarding our races,” says Torres. “But then, it kind of makes me sad, because… maybe they’re thinking it. Because our own family, my brother and his sister are constantly bring it up, it’s making me feel strange to be around my own husband.” Marlene Torres said she did not remember making this comment but trusts Amy’s version of events. She added that she considers herself an open-minded person, and she didn’t see why such a comment would hurt Amy’s feelings. But Marlene did express a willingness to talk things over. That conversation could be fruitful, but a person in Amy’s position might have to be the one to start it and guide it in a productive direction. “They may have to do that old psychotherapist’s trick of not, ‘you make me feel’ but ‘I feel like’,” says NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates. “(Amy could) say, ‘Marlene, you say you don’t mean it, I’m taking you at face value, but I’m telling you: I just feel really crummy when you say these things, because it makes me feel objectified. …Do you really want me to be part of your family? Can you and I be sisters?'” Amy tells her story, here. What have you done to deal with racially charged insults? Email or tweet us your best tips. Subscribe to Truth Be Told on iTunes
Allies are necessary to our collective pursuit of racial equity and antiracism, but sometimes talking across and through differences can be messy, hurtful, and downright exhausting. As people of color we ALL have had our fair share of those “unintentionally” painful encounters. In this episode of Truth be Told, Tonya and Code Switch host Gene Demby tackle two questions from people struggling with how to deal with well-meaning white folks, at home and at work. Why the The Tower Tarot Card?  The Tower card is rarely a welcome sight because it signifies chaos, destruction and turmoil. However, the Tower can also signify transformation and the building of new systems and modes of being. The Tower card represents this episode of Truth Be Told because it speaks to both the systemic pain “well-meaning” white folks can inflict on people of color as well as our power to overcome the limiting structures that make that possible.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou These words have guided me throughout the process of creating, producing and hosting Truth Be Told. Race is a highly emotional topic: sometimes so emotional that feelings overwhelm our better judgment. We had to find ways of talking about race that acknowledged these feelings and let people learn from each other’s experiences. I hope we succeeded — subscribe to the podcast and let us know what you think. I don’t pretend to be an expert on talking about race. But I can share with you some of what I’ve learned from doing this show that might help you talk about race with your friends, family, co-workers or neighbors. That’s the point of the show: to make these conversations easier. 1. Let people tell their own stories. In the show we always want people to tell their own stories in their own words. It’s so hard for people to be heard fully when talking about race: emotions take over and tensions rise, making conversation tough. That makes it even more powerful when we say, “No, really … YOU talk. WE’LL listen.” 2. Aim for empathy. I’m black. My partner is white. And he’s made no secret of the benefit he gets from listening to Truth Be Told: He’s tired of being afraid to talk about race, and our program helped him find the confidence to do it. That means we’ve succeeded, at least with him, in the mission we laid out for ourselves from Day One: Foster empathy. We can’t control what people do, and we can’t solve racial dilemmas, but we can give people a chance to open their hearts and minds. Because my partner can empathize a bit better with people of color, he’s more comfortable dealing with racial issues … and better equipped to deal with conflicts. I admit, “empathy” felt like too small a goal for me for a long time. I really wanted to do something dynamic, something that would make a major dent in how we talk about race. Now I realize that empathy is the greatest goal we could have aspired to. Solutions come when people begin to understand each other, and empathy is the first step. 3. Let white people in. OK, hear me out on this one! ‘Truth Be Told’ production team: left to right, editor Julia McEvoy, contributor Adizah Eghan, producer Vinnee Tong, creator/host Joshua Johnson, director Suzie Racho, social media/engagement producer Olivia Allen-Price, community outreach coordinator Yo Ann Martinez. (Alan McLaughlin) The Truth Be Told production team was mostly people of color, and nearly all female, but we did have a few white people working on the show. Those include our editor, Julia McEvoy, and our social media guru, Olivia Allen-Price. Everyone on the team was chosen because of their skills and the contributions they could make to the show, and I’m immensely grateful to all of them for their hard work. But as the project progressed, it became clear to me how essential it is to have whites in our conversations on race. All of us began confronting our cultural blind spots: not just the white staff. All of us had great perspectives on the stories we produced: not just the people of color. And all of us began realizing things about race we hadn’t thought of before … including the white staff. It was pretty awesome to watch the transformation in all of us. A conversation on race with all white people is probably lacking. A conversation with no white people might be OK, but remember: You could be missing an opportunity. 4. Don’t silence your critics — embrace them. Truth Be Told has gotten some very strong feedback. The people who wrote in either loved it or hated it: no lukewarm reactions at all. And some of the more interesting exchanges I had were with the people who just detested what we were doing. They’d ask terse, snippy questions about our program, assuming that we hated white people or something. But then, we did something they didn’t expect: We used some of those questions in the shows. We engaged them, directly but respectfully. Because the fact is, they were articulating some things that some of our listeners, almost surely, also felt but were afraid to say. Yeah, it’s annoying to constantly have to explain why it’s illogical to say All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter, but if someone asks — even in a snarky, obnoxious way — we can channel that snark into sense-making. We take the sting out of it by turning it into a teaching moment. Plus, the people who snipe at you probably are expecting you to either fire back or ignore them. They are almost never ready for you to engage them like human beings. Not all of them will come around, but if they do that means they see the humanity in you. I think that’s a goal worth the pain of getting occasionally sniped at online (to an extent, of course). Remember what Dr. Angelou said: people remember what they feel. I believe feeling included and validated is key in turning your haters … into participators. What’s worked for you in talking to others about race? Tell us about your experiences by email or Twitter. Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes
If you encountered outright racism in your workplace, then you would probably speak up and take action. That’s obvious. What’s not obvious is how to handle the many other encounters that are racially charged in subtle ways. The ones that make things awkward, embarrassing or just ugly. In this hour we’ll explore your personal stories of encounters with race at work, and try to figure out how to handle these situations better.
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Podcast Details

Apr 19th, 2016
Latest Episode
Mar 26th, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
32 minutes

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