conscious + aligned with Chidimma
06: Disrupting the Church Narrative About Sexuality and Spirituality (Robert Van Repta Caro)

06: Disrupting the Church Narrative About Sexuality and Spirituality (Robert Van Repta Caro)

September 5, 2019

I was introduced to Robert Van Repta Caro's work through a dear gf and I appreciated what he was putting forth, an in-depth look, from his lived experience, about sexuality and spirituality. When 92% of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT (which is who they are) from their schools, the internet, and their peers, it is no wonder these youth are more likely to die by suicide. These statistics should wake us up, especially so-called "pro-life" folks in the damn church.

Robert von Repta Caro is a Christ follower who happens to be gay. Born of immigrant parents, Robert grew up in the sub-culture of conservative Romanian Pentecostalism. Raised a "good Christian boy", he was heavily involved at his homophobic Romanian mega church, which happened to be the largest in the United States.  At that church, he was part of the audio/visual/lighting department, was the resident graphic designer, attended church camps, had a short stint preaching, and even got his theology degree from a Romanian theological institute.

Robert has always struggled with his sexuality since he was a little boy. When his best friend at the time ogled the women's lingerie section of the JC Penny catalog, Robert was more interested in the nearly naked men donning tight white briefs. But growing up conservative was tough. Constant sermons about damnation for the "sodomites" and the evil they're spreading across the nation sent him into a deep spiral of depression, prayer, living a double life, revivals, conversion therapy, destructive behaviors and contemplation of suicide. Whispers and alienation in his church only made it worse.

Once he accepted himself for who God make him to be, Robert began re-discovering his faith in God in a beautiful new way.

Bro Bear Blog is one man's voice that is missing in the Romanian-American culture today. A progressive voice that believes in God's unconditional love for all people regardless of gender and sexuality, because everyone is "fearfully and wonderfully made." Bro Bear Blog helps bridge the gap between God and gay culture in the Romanian community today.

Some may call him a backslider, a “faggot”*, or somebody deceived by the devil. Robert calls himself a brother, a bear, a warrior of Love, and a Christ-loving human being.

* Podcast host's note: This is the bio I received from Robert; I do not say this word or condone the word being said. To that end, I am not a member of the LGBTQ community and while I won't say it and I would encourage others who are also not part of that community in terms of their own layered identities/intersections, I will not censor someone within the community as it relates to that word. 

To connect with Robert:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

Additional resources + statistics:

05: Motherhood, Inclusion, Joy, and Urgency (Rebekah Borucki)

05: Motherhood, Inclusion, Joy, and Urgency (Rebekah Borucki)

August 30, 2019

I seriously cannot wait until the day that I'm able to connect with Rebekah "Bex" Borucki IRL. It was honestly the most joy I've had in a really long time recording with her yesterday. I'm always so grateful on the days where it really feels like I'm living my best life.

Rebekah “Bex” Borucki is a mother of five, TV host, meditation and yoga guide, birth doula, and author of You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life: Simple 4-Minute Meditations for Inspiration, Transformation, and True Bliss (Hay House 2017) and her brand new book, Managing the Motherload: A Guide to Creating More Ease, Space, and Grace in Motherhood (Hay House 2019). Her mission is to make mental health support and stress management tools accessible to all, especially BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color), LGBTQ+ folks, and other marginalized communities. Rebekah lives with her family and a barn-full of rescued farm animals on their 8-acre homestead in rural New Jersey. 

To connect with Rebekah:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

04: Spiritual Activism and Overthrowing Systems of Oppression (Rachel Ricketts)

04: Spiritual Activism and Overthrowing Systems of Oppression (Rachel Ricketts)

August 21, 2019

Warning! This is a spicy episode with a fair amount of cursing. It was honestly such a gift to record on a Saturday night with Rachel. She’s very grounding, intelligent, humble and direct. She’s a true holistic practitioner and advocate who not only does her own work, but shares tangible ways for you to start doing your own work in order to overthrow systems of oppression, white supremacy and the patriarchy. But friends, you’ve got to do the work. Address your own pain so that you can show up because we are all connected. 

 

Rachel Rickets is a thought leader + outspoken champion for Black and Indigenous womxn. As a racial justice activist, lawyer, healer, speaker + writer, she educates white folx on their role in perpetuating white supremacy, and helps folx of colour heal from internalized oppression. Rachel hosts online and in-person workshops including her renowned Spiritual Activism series which promotes racial justice and offers practice solutions for all hue-mans to dismantle racist heteropartriarchy. She is the co-founder of WOC (women of Colour) Talks and has helped numerous global brands with anti-racism including Google, WeWork, CreativeLive, lululemon and TELUS.

 

Rachel’s work has been featured in publications such as Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Mind Body Green 21Ninety, Black Girl on Om and Thrive, she’s presented at international conferences including SXSW 2018 + 2019, me Convention in Stockholm and the Follow Black Women Conference. She loves donuts, dancing and all things metaphysical.

 

To connect with Rachel:

 

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

 

Photo credit: Alaina Michelle

03: Resisting White Supremacy Right Where You Are (Kenrya Rankin)

03: Resisting White Supremacy Right Where You Are (Kenrya Rankin)

August 15, 2019

I've known Kenrya for over 10 years and we have worked on various projects together. When she said yes to chatting with me, despite having just written another book, I was over the moon. She is insightful, grounding, direct, kind and loving.

Kenrya Rankin is an award-winning author, journalist and editorial consultant whose insight has been tapped by leading outlets, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post and ThinkProgress. She creates dynamic content that amplifies the lived experiences, advocacy and work of people of color and shifts the narrative around who deserves liberation, justice and dignity in America. She is currently the editorial director of Colorlines and co-host of The Turn On podcast. Kenrya is the author of four books; the latest is How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance co-authored with Akiba Solomon. She previously worked at Reader's DigestLatinaUptown Magazine and ShopSmart magazines. As a journalist and editor, her work has appeared in dozens of national publications, including Fast CompanyEbony and Redbook, and has been translated into 21 languages. Kenrya earned her undergraduate degree in journalism from Howard University, and her master’s degree in publishing from New York University. When she’s not working, she enjoys baking, having Beyoncé dance parties with her brilliant 8-year-old daughter, and talking shit both indoors and out.

To connect with Kenrya:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

02: Legit Feminism, Finances and Intersectionality (Kara Perez)

02: Legit Feminism, Finances and Intersectionality (Kara Perez)

August 7, 2019

I first heard Kara Perez on an IG live she was doing with someone else. I was thrilled that she was open to speaking with me about finances and so many other important topics.

Bravely was founded in January 2017 by Kara Perez. Kara discovered her love of finances courtesy of her quarter-life crisis. Broke, underemployed and saddled with student loan debt, she realized that her lack of financial education was crippling her adulthood. Kara paid off $25,302 in loans on a salary of less than $30,000, the final $18,000 in just ten months. After becoming debt free in June 2015, Kara created Bravely to help other women take control of their financial lives.
 
To connect with Kara:
 
Humans of NY story and subject unknown.
01: Disrupting the Narrative of Women’s Limited Usefulness (Agnes Netunze)

01: Disrupting the Narrative of Women’s Limited Usefulness (Agnes Netunze)

July 24, 2019

Meeting Agnes in Uganda in April 2018 and seeing her lead the Sseko Uganda team was wonderful. Hearing her story this past weekend in Nashville, TN was poignant and so meaningful. Agnes has a way with words and her quiet determination and humility really shows why everyone who meets her knows she's a boss.

To connect with me about Sseko Designs:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.
10: Disrupting the Convenient Church Narrative (Andre Henry)

10: Disrupting the Convenient Church Narrative (Andre Henry)

April 25, 2019

I will never forget hearing Andre share the truth of his lived experience as a black man in Pasadena, CA in the summer of 2016. The truth has a way of binding us together in freedom. It was a gift to speak with him on the podcast this week.

Andre Henry has a passion for making the invisible visible. In the summer of 2016, he began lugging a solid granite boulder
around Los Angeles to show the weight of systemic racism on the black psyche. Months later, he walked around dressed for a
funeral with the names of the victims of state violence written on his jacket; and in response to the police involved death of his mentally ill neighbor, J.R. Thomas, Andre founded an activist collective called “Something Disruptive” dedicated to creative,
nonviolent direct action.

Together, “Something Disruptive” convened a group of community leaders, students, clergy, and civilians from around Los Angeles County for a year-long vigil in protest of police brutality in the wake of J.R. Thomas’ death at the doors of the Pasadena Police
Station called “A Subversive Liturgy.” Through this year-long action, the group raised financial support for J.R.’s family and local Black Lives Matter activists, as well as mobilized support for the Black Lives Matter Pasadena Freedom School serving the youth of Northwest Pasadena.

Andre is a student of nonviolent struggle and social change, including studying leadership in nonviolent movements for social change through the Harvard Kennedy School. He specializes in using digital media to educate and mobilize audiences for racial justice and social progress. He has served as managing editor at RELEVANT Media Group and is currently a contributing editor for The Sider Center for Peace and Justice in Philadelphia, a Content Expert for the Fuller Leadership Platform, and a Research Assistant for the Innovation for Vocation Project. He has also earned theology degrees from both Southeastern University and Fuller Seminary.

To connect with Andre:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.
 
"You are brilliant, and the earth is hiring." From the Commencement Address by Paul Hawken to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, May 3, 2009.
09: Disrupting the Fashion Industry and How to Do Better (Aja Barber)

09: Disrupting the Fashion Industry and How to Do Better (Aja Barber)

April 18, 2019

Chatting with Aja Barber was uplifting and inspiring. I honestly don't need church anymore, I just need a 30-45 min virtual tea with Aja and I'll leave ready to change a small corner of the world. She is a badass woman who speaks the truth and disrupts the tired narratives of weaved lies.

Aja Barber is a writer, stylist and consultant living in London whose work focuses on sustainability, ethics, race and intersectional feminism. Aja believes that fashion should truly be for every body but in order to get to a good place, we have to discuss why currently...it is not.

To connect with Aja:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

08: Trauma and Storytelling (Mel Bosna)

08: Trauma and Storytelling (Mel Bosna)

April 11, 2019

I remember when I started interacting with Mel online. She has a grounded spirit that draws you in. When I finally met her in November 2017, it was such a healing and affirming experience to be in her presence. Suffice it to say, the Divine knew what the Divine was doing when we were connected IRL. 

Mel Bosna is a clinical social worker, feminist therapist and artist. As a clinical social worker Mel cannot see individual pain outside of systemic contexts.

She's learning how to work on the structural pieces that pave the way for the types of painful reasons clients find their way into my office (looking at you sexism, racism and poverty) She is a licensed clinician in the state of Arizona and believes that our best chances at health involve both individual and societal changes. As a result, she aims to validate the broader context of what contributes to the stories we're living, while supporting clients to change what's within their control to change. 

She received a BS in Sociology in 2004 and a Masters in Social Work in 2007.  Mel's worked at an intensive inpatient eating disorder facility, was the Residential Director for a group home for adolescents who had been sex trafficked, taught in a graduate-level counseling program and has provided outpatient therapy services since 2012. It's been a profound honor to for her to support women--together they are learning how to walk away, claim new life, root into new ground, speak the unspeakable, own the narrative, change the script and to say ENOUGH to the shame and lies that have haunted them for too long.

In addition to clinical work, Mel is a speaker, writer and artist who documents the stories of women on a personal project which you can view on her blog. The women in her storytelling project are not to be confused with the women she counsels in her practice as she's a firm believer in the importance of upholding healthy boundaries and sticking to her ethics.

To connect with Mel:

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

Resources:

07: Why Language and the Inclusivity of English Matters (Anne Curzan)

07: Why Language and the Inclusivity of English Matters (Anne Curzan)

April 4, 2019

I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Anne Curzan at a talk she gave during the MLK Symposium at the University of Michigan in January 2019. After the talk was over, I raced up to introduce myself and ask her to be a guest on the podcast and I was ecstatic that she said yes. Speaking with Anne was easy and enjoyable. It was uplifting to know that she's thinking about many of the complexities that other disruptive storytellers are thinking about in terms of inclusivity of English and the impact it has when we decide that English spoken by some speakers is acceptable, while English spoken by others is not. 

 

Anne Curzan is Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education, and she is currently the Associate Dean for Humanities in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (LSA). Her research focuses on the history of the English language,  attitudes about language change, language and gender, dictionaries, and pedagogy. Professor Curzan has received university awards for outstanding research and undergraduate teaching. She has published multiple books and dozens of articles; her most recent book is Fixing English: Prescriptivism and Language History (2014). She has also created the audio/video courses “Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins” (36 lectures) and “English Grammar Boot Camp” (24 lectures) for The Great Courses. Professor Curzan can be found talking about language on the weekly segment "That's What They Say" on local NPR station Michigan Radio.

 

To connect with Professor Curzan:

 

Humans of NY story and subject unknown.

 

Resources: