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June 8, 2022

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) | A Panel Discussion about Race, Gender, & the Labor of Anti-Oppression Work

“We are in the business of putting ourselves out of business.” Nico Le Blanc

In our first - and only! - panel discussion of the season, Taja Lindley facilitates a conversation with 3 diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners with 40+ years of experience between them. Tune in to hear:

  • What DEI work looks like in institutional settings to support racial equity and social movements.
  • How they determine who they will (not) work with and why.
  • The frameworks that guide their practice (i.e. critical race theory, radical Black feminism, etc.)
  • The ways race and gender impact how their work gets done.
  • What it’s like to hold space for anti-racism while Black.
  • Who is responsible for doing this work? And who should (not) be doing this work?


Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is a facilitator and author based in NYC  (unceded land of the Lenape people). As she wraps up her doctoral studies, she works part-time as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education, the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, and Bank Street's Center on Culture, Race & Equity.  Megan is co-author of First Conversations, a critically acclaimed series of books for young children on race, gender, consent, and bodies. 

Nico Le Blanc is a passionate Black, Queer, Non-Binary BEing who currently serves as Associate Director for Diversity & Inclusion at NYU and as a yoga and meditation instructor, counselor, and advocate focused on creating positive, safe, and empowering spaces that facilitate vulnerability, and healing. They are committed to the upliftment, self-care, health, vitality, and liberation of ALL Black BEings. 

Zerandrian Morris (aka ‘The Ignant Intellectual’) is a capital 'B' Black non-binary transmasculine girl-identified person born & raised in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans currently living in DC. Zerandrian is a 2001 graduate of THE Spelman College. Zerandrian is a social impact strategist who creates paradigm-shifting experiences for companies, institutions, organizations, and individuals around topics like anti-racism, anti-Blackness, and racial equity. 


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Creator, Host and HBIC: Taja Lindley

Audio Engineering by Lilah Larson

Music by Emma Alabaster who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer

Additional Music Production by Chip Belton

Vocals by Patience Sings

Mixing and Mastering by Chip Belton

Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster

Logo and Graphic Design Templates by Homegirl HQ

This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle 

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Producer’s Note: The Black Women's Dept. of Labor is produced as a podcast. Transcripts are generated using a combination of transcription software and human transcribers, and may contain typos. Please confirm accuracy before quoting by contacting us.

[00:00:00] Zerandrian Morris: I've been doing this work long before it was called racial equity, long before it was called DEI. 

[00:00:04] Nico Le Blanc: If you're about doing this work, everything that you know has to change. 

[00:00:09] Taja Lindley: How and when is this work effective?

[00:00:11] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: What's my personal theory of change and who am I accountable to? 

[00:00:14] Zerandrian Morris: Is anyone created to eradicate racism?

[00:00:17] Nico Le Blanc: This isn't work that can be done by one person.

[00:00:20] Taja Lindley: Am I really trying to hold space for white people's transformation about racism?

[00:00:24] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: There are expectations about how I'm supposed to be the mammy in the space.

[00:00:27] Nico Le Blanc: White folks need to be doing this work with other white folks.

[00:00:30] Zerandrian Morris: People are still on a "but I'm not racist" level.

[00:00:34] Taja Lindley: Can we dismantle structures of oppression within structures of oppression? 

[00:00:40] Nico Le Blanc: We are in the business of putting ourselves out of business.

[00:00:42] Patience Sings: Now listen, now converse. Using our labor for more than wages. Our bliss our rage, they're both contagious. Beyond the grind, we move through time. Joy is the compass, we live in our purpose. Telling our own stories, birthing new possibilities. Telling our own stories, birthing new possibilities.

[00:01:17] Taja Lindley: You are listening to the Black Women's Dept. of Labor, a project and podcast by yours truly, Taja Lindley, where we examine the intersections of race, gender, and the double entendre of labor: to work and to give birth. 

[00:01:30] Taja Lindley: We are officially halfway through the season, y'all! And we've got our first ever panel discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Or DEI for short. 

[00:01:39] Taja Lindley: Now in our last episode, you heard about the limitations of a diversity only strategy. And today, we're talking about the additional approaches that support with making institutions more equitable. 

[00:01:51] Taja Lindley: Some folks heard about diversity, equity and inclusion for the first time during summer 2020 when black squares flooded our timelines and white guilt money started pouring into the hands of Black owned businesses, artists, and projects. 

[00:02:04] Taja Lindley: To be clear, DEI work has been going on for a long minute. Okay?! It ain't nothing new. In fact, what we now call DEI has gone by other names and iterations in the past, and present, like anti-oppression work, anti-racism work and more. 

[00:02:19] Taja Lindley: And in this panel conversation, I got to chat with three folks who are all too familiar with the wonders and the woes of facilitating DEI work. 

[00:02:27] Taja Lindley: With over 40 years of experience between them, we dive into what this work actually looks like, the frameworks that guide their offerings, and how doing this work impacts Black women and non-binary folks who facilitate spaces of reckoning, reconciliation, and structural change. 

[00:02:43] Taja Lindley: Before we jump into this panel discussion. I want to remind you that it's been edited for clarity and for length. So if you want to hear all of the juicy bits of this conversation, head on over to TajaLindley where you can hear this and other full interviews from the podcast. 

[00:03:00] Taja Lindley: Not only do you get to hear the unpublished part of recordings that supported the podcast project, but you also get to support your girl: an artist and creative entrepreneur living life by her own design. 

[00:03:12] Taja Lindley: Now, let me introduce you to our guests and have them introduce themselves. 

[00:03:21] Zerandrian Morris: My name is Zerandrian. My pronouns are she and they. And I've been doing this work about 20 years. Long before it was called racial equity, long before it was called DEI. Long before George Floyd was murdered by the state. 

[00:03:34] Taja Lindley: Zerandrian Morris is a capital "B" Black non-binary, trans-masculine, girl identified person born and raised in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans currently living in DC. 

[00:03:46] Taja Lindley: You may know them as the creator of Funny Acting Black Girl or as The Ignant Intellectual on Instagram. 

[00:03:51] Taja Lindley: And it ain't just fun games on the gram, y'all. Zerandrian brings humor and skill to their DEI work. 

[00:03:57] Zerandrian Morris: I am trained in public health. I have a degree in epidemiology and biostatistics. I quit my full-time job as the lead trainer at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. So actually that was a beautiful marriage between what I'm trained to do and what I love to do, which is racial equity. 

[00:04:15] Zerandrian Morris: Right now my clients are government. One of my clients is a quote unquote, big green, a nonprofit in climate change, well I say environmental racism. They would never call themselves that. I also am adjunct at Columbia, so academics.

[00:04:30] Taja Lindley: In addition to teaching in higher ed, Zerandrian offers learning opportunities through their LLC. 

[00:04:35] Zerandrian Morris: I just launched my own individual curriculum program for regular degular people that are not coming through their employer. Cause usually when I'm training people, they're coming as workers in a place. 

[00:04:47] Taja Lindley: And now meet our next guest on the panel. 

[00:04:49] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Hey everybody. I'm Megan. I go by she and her and hers. And I come to this work from a background in education. I have a master's degree in early childhood education and started as a preschool teacher. And then came into the work of community organizing. And finding my role as like, oh, we actually need political educators. We need people who know how to teach and to support people to develop critical consciousness as a part of our larger movements. And I was like, oh, I can do that. I actually really know how to teach. And especially when we're teaching about race and gender and class, most grownups are developmentally around preschool age. So I really know how to handle a tantrum. 

[00:05:26] Taja Lindley: Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is based on the unceded land of the Lenape people, commonly known as New York City. As she's wrapping up her doctoral studies, she's working part-time as a trainer for The Center for Racial Justice in Education, The New York Early Childhood Professional Development institute, and Bank Street Center on Culture, Race and Equity. 

[00:05:45] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Most of the time, I situate myself within a movement for racial justice and social justice within the larger field of early childhood education and a movement for racial justice rooted in like Jewish organizing. 

[00:05:59] Taja Lindley: Last, but certainly not least, meet our third and final panelist for this conversation. 

[00:06:04] Nico Le Blanc: Peace my name is Nico. My pronouns are they them. Honestly, I feel like most Black, people of color, non-binary, queer, marginalized folks, you're born into having to do this work, of having to make space for yourself. So I feel like doing it since the day I was born, but in terms of profession, I've been doing this for, I would say the past 16 or so years. And I've chosen to do it primarily within higher education. 

[00:06:32] Taja Lindley: Nico Le Blanc identifies as a passionate Black queer non-binary BEing, and currently serves as the Associate Director for Diversity and Inclusion at New York University. 

[00:06:43] Nico Le Blanc: My position is serving as the person to really be thinking about what does belonging look like in this space for all of the different populations that are existing here. You have students, you have administration, you have faculty. And so what does it mean and look like for people to bring the fullness of who they are into this space and not have to leave any aspects of themselves behind and also see themselves reflected at every turn that they're in the institution. So from the policies that are there, from the onboarding that's happening, from the student clubs that are present, from the case studies that are being used in classes, like from every aspect, what is this looking like? 

[00:07:19] Taja Lindley: Outside of Nico's full-time work, they are a yoga and meditation instructor, advocate and member of Harriet's Apothecary. 

[00:07:25] Nico Le Blanc: What drives me in doing this work is my spiritual practice. I also do this from the space of yoga and then within the wellness industry. There's so much work that needs to be done within the wellness industry when it comes to racial equity. All of the isms, like the oppression within the wellness industry is like bananas.

[00:07:44] Taja Lindley: Now that you've met our brilliant and esteemed guests, let's jump into the conversation. 

[00:07:52] Taja Lindley: I'm curious about your scope of practice. What are the kinds of institutions you all choose to work with slash for and why? And what are some of the parameters and boundaries you put in place around who you will and will not work with? 

[00:08:05] Zerandrian Morris: One of my boundaries is kind of around readiness which is hard to assess. I think at first, years ago, I was kind of trying to get whatever contract I could, and now there has to be an element of already quote unquote buying into the fact that racism rests on more than just a individual level. Like I'm not necessarily trying to go into institutions where the majority of people are still on a "but I'm not racist" level.

[00:08:34] Zerandrian Morris: And yes, I'll spend some times with some people with that, but I'm noticing a shift overall that people are beginning to understand racism is more than just the individual, but there's a difference in the way I'm going to toil with that subject matter that I was willing to toil in my thirties and my twenties that I am not willing to toil in my forties. 

[00:08:53] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I feel like for me, I'm starting to notice that my boundaries are a lot around where I feel called.

[00:08:59] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Like, what are the spaces to which uniquely my gifts will be able to offer some transformation here. And for me, it's actually not spaces where there's quote unquote analysis already. For me, it's humility and openness. I really struggle in institutions where everyone's already read all the books and follows all the people on Twitter, but there's zero humility and zero practice.

[00:09:25] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I'm actually not effective in those spaces. Cause I'm just mad and annoyed by those people. But I'm happy to go into a place where they're like, "Wait, what? Racist systemic? I thought it was just individual." But there's a lot of heart openness and readiness to rethink. Like those spaces I love.

[00:09:43] Zerandrian Morris: There's a quote that Glenn Jones has that he says "the hard people are the people who say, we already do this. We already know this." And those are the people I'm kind of like, ah, God, okay I just can't. I'm struggling with, y'all not people who are ready to learn. 

[00:09:59] Nico Le Blanc: Right, right. No, I feel both of you and particularly what you were just talking about like that heart, openness, I feel the same way. I need to be in a space where I can feel and see that people are able to recognize or attempt to start recognizing the humanity and life and essence of other people, and then work from that space.

[00:10:16] Nico Le Blanc: Not just from a we're trying to meet a quota or this is the trend right now. This is what's happening in the world right now. So now we care. 

[00:10:23] Nico Le Blanc: And my hard boundary that I've been really working on, particularly in the role that I'm in right now is: I'm not doing this work for you. Particularly for white people, I'm not doing it. I'll sit and I'll be in dialogue with you. I'll consult you, but then you need to hit the ground running and do that work. There cannot be an expectation that I'm going to do it for you. And I make that very, very clear. So if it's like, okay, so then what's the next step? You need to figure that out, right? Like we- I've consulted you on this. And like, now I need to see you start putting this into action. And once I see that, if you need help along the way, that's different.

[00:10:57] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I think of the work that I do and like the boundaries around which institutions like, what's my personal theory of change and who am I accountable to? And then I'm always thinking about, am I the right fit for this? Or if it's somebody else. 

[00:11:10] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: So if it's a synagogue in Brooklyn, but I live in Manhattan and I know a couple other amazing Jews of color who are organizers and have a strong analysis, I might refer them to do a synagogue in Brooklyn and I'll trust there's plenty of synagogues in Manhattan um, that can be my lane. 

[00:11:28] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Or if there's an early childhood program in Wisconsin, if I have a deep relationship with them and I'm building with them over time, or they, for some reason, need an outside person, because sometimes you do, you need someone who's not in your context to come in, I'll do that work.

[00:11:44] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: But uh, I often think about like, who, who are my people? Who am I building with? What's my long-term strategy? Like how are the Black Indigenous folks of color who are organizing in that particular institution, what is my relationship with them? And that usually guides my decision making over, like, what kind of institution I work with. It's more like the process of thinking through who are my people? Is this the right time? Am I the right person? 

[00:12:07] Taja Lindley: And that brings me to my next question. What are the frameworks that are supporting your vision for how you do your work? Like critical race theory? We hear about that a lot in the news, especially since it's, you know, there's this attack on it to ban it from different institutions, primarily from educational spaces, but like, what are, what are the frameworks and values that guide you? 

[00:12:28] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Well, I will proudly claim critical race theory. I think radical Black feminism and critical race theory are foundational to how I think about how race and other systems of power operate and intersect in our world. And definitely form the core of like both the content that I teach and my pedagogical approach.

[00:12:48] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Also I really appreciated, Nico, the way you talked about like who you are as a full person and your spiritual foundations. I can't do this work without grounding it in a spiritual tradition. And for me, that happens to be Judaism and Jewish spiritual wisdom and practices. I may or may not be super explicit about that um, depending on what community I'm working in, but it certainly forms the foundation of how I approach the work and what sustains me in it. 

[00:13:15] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I also think about doing the work as an early childhood educator. A person's physical needs are just as important to their learning as like their intellectual, the content that they're learning, which are just as important as the practice and skills and embodiment of what they're learning.

[00:13:31] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Like you don't teach a kid to tie their shoes by like reading a book about tying shoes. You make sure that they're well fed and you give them lots of opportunities to practice. And so I, I think about racial equity skills similarly, and it definitely informs both what I teach and how I teach it.

[00:13:46] Zerandrian Morris: Some of the biggest things that drive the way I do my work is I am always seeking the both and of things. You are not going to force me to an either or thinking, unless that is absolutely the way it is.

[00:13:59] Zerandrian Morris: And I am not the biggest zodiac person but I am a Libra. My sun is in Libra. And I do think that that matters that I am always seeking balance. You're not going to force me into like, it has to be this. And when we're talking about liberation, racial equity, we have to have a bazillion different contending realities all at the same time. 

[00:14:19] Zerandrian Morris: And I don't like the both and to be used as a way to keep centering harm, not that type of both and. Cause I hear people say, well, it's both. And actually no, what you're saying is harmful and needs to go. But the both and that it is a reality that we have our own agency and we have systematic things out here that are already moving in motion and those things exist together. I have agency and control, and racism is real on a systematic structural level and it's out there and it's controlling me and my movement sometimes.

[00:14:50] Zerandrian Morris: I also deeply, deeply believe in liberation and that it happens in micro moments. It is not going to be a Northstar. This big thing we get to on this timestamp date. 

[00:15:00] Zerandrian Morris: So those are some of the, the driving values for me. 

[00:15:03] Zerandrian Morris: I'm also unapologetically a Black American from the U.S. south. That's me. That's who I am. I'm supposed to be queer. I'm not supposed to be anything else. It's the best thing since sliced bread. You couldn't pay me to be cis-gender straight. None of that. None of that. None of that, even some of my straight friends be like, this is not a choice, chile, is not a choice. 

[00:15:25] Nico Le Blanc: I feel you, I feel you. 

[00:15:26] Nico Le Blanc: What really grounds me in doing this work, what drives me in doing this work, as I mentioned before, is my spiritual practice. Just being led by spirit. I do practice Buddhism and it's so intrigued by the notion of suffering, non suffering, non harm, detachment, and how that translates to the world that we're living in. 

[00:15:47] Nico Le Blanc: And also just imagination. Right? And looking at folks that do like Afrofuturism writing, like thinking of Octavia Butler, all kinds of folks and just the imagination that's needed to really pave the way towards liberation.

[00:16:00] Nico Le Blanc: Because from my perspective, that's not going to happen with what we're doing right now. It's going to require imagining a whole new way, which is why, to what was just brought up, right? Like to me being a Black queer nonbinary person is like, what? That is the ish for real, right? Like I am- anybody who's identifying with all of these different layers of what's often called marginalization, which it's not, right.

[00:16:23] Nico Le Blanc: It's the most liberatory space for me to be in is creating the way to see like there's a whole other way of existing. And so let's keep imagining what that can look like. How can we keep expanding our imagination? And so that's so important for me.

[00:16:37] Taja Lindley: So how does your race and gender, and gender as in identity and expression, influence the content of your work, the dynamics of your work, the relationships that you have within this work, and how you feel doing the work? 

[00:16:51] Taja Lindley: And the reason why I'm interested in this is because um, I'm always curious about what it means to simultaneously experience oppression while holding space for institutions and people to dismantle that structural inequity. 

[00:17:04] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I'm a Black cisgender woman. I have mixed racial ancestry, and, like phenotypically I'm really light-skinned. And also, I'm like read as femme, as a cis woman in pretty much every space I come into, regardless of my identity as queer or like how I feel my identity inside me. And there's just always implications in this space. And I think it's also really interesting implications in terms of like who I'm doing the work alongside. 

[00:17:32] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Like when I'm doing work alongside my friend, Kate, who is a white woman, I am read as the Black person on the team and in particular, the Black woman, and there's all kinds of expectations about caregiving that are heaped on me, unconsciously by the group.

[00:17:46] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Um, so if I don't give people a bathroom break, um, people will be really fucking mad at me cause they expect me to care for their bodies in a different way than like if a Black man or white woman is leading the space, they're not expected to care for people's bodies. Or if big feelings come up, there are expectations that are heaped on me about how I'm supposed to care for and soothe and be kind of like the mammy in the space.

[00:18:13] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: And then when I work alongside my mentor, Ijeoma Jordan, who is a darker skin, fat Black woman who's older than me. I am the light-skinned one on the team. All those expectations are heaped on her. 

[00:18:25] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Or when I work with my colleague Jade, who's darker skinned. Even if I'm the one who says white supremacy first in the room, people remember Jade saying it because people expect, even if she didn't even say it, like I have more leeway. Um, people expect Jade to be angry or to hurt them in certain kinds of ways. Um, even if she's not showing up in that space at all, but I'm embodying that.

[00:18:47] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: It's amazing how people's brains will remember and place these kinds of stereotypes and labels and expectations on the bodies at the front of the room. 

[00:18:55] Taja Lindley: Wow. That expectation to be a mammy, just hit a little different. Just hit a little different, because this, this is something that I get really curious about and also frustrated by as someone who does this work sort of. 

[00:19:10] Taja Lindley: There is this dynamic that makes, I know me very uncomfortable with this idea of having to hold space. And in some ways you're employed to hold a certain kind of space, right. People transforming, like when I think about my own healing process, like I will get so resistant to something that is actually really good for me. And in hindsight, it's like, girl, why were you resisting that? Why did you throw that tantrum? Why'd you act like that? But I give thanks for everyone who's held space for me in the process. 

[00:19:37] Taja Lindley: So in some ways in this role, there is a holding of space. And I remember I had to get clear for myself. Like, am I really trying to hold space for white people's transformation about racism? Do I want to hold the space around that? What would be my boundaries inside of that? 

[00:19:52] Taja Lindley: And so I'm just curious, um, Nico and Zerandrian, and how do you all navigate this? Especially as folks who are likely not to be read as femme when you walk into a space but definitely read as Black, like, you know, how does it uniquely land for you in terms of how people read you in the room when you come to do the work that you're there to do?

[00:20:12] Zerandrian Morris: Oh, it's just a lot. It's a lot when it comes to gender expression, when it comes to being in a training room, it depends on who I'm training with how I'm going to be read. What someone is going to remember. 

[00:20:24] Zerandrian Morris: I, I have seen people literally make it up that I said something I didn't say. And it actually was Kelly, the white girl. I can, I can vouch but people will make it up. And everybody is saying, "actually that wasn't even Z who said that." And the person's fumbling like, oh, actually it was a white girl that said white supremacy. Not me. I say it, but I didn't say it in the time you said I said it. 

[00:20:44] Zerandrian Morris: It depends on the topic. So I noticed a pattern if I'm training on history, facts, that is when white men tend to rise to the occasion and argue the interpretation of history. Because they have been told that they have ownership of the dates and what it means and how you get to write the narrative.

[00:21:02] Zerandrian Morris: So when you have a Black bearded busty person, that you could probably figure out 10 minutes into it, that I'm assigned female at birth, who is giving, who is arguing your interpretation of all men are created equal. It is definitely gender expression and gender norms, collide masterfully. 

[00:21:21] Zerandrian Morris: My colleague slash friend Simran and I were on a call with a client. And we got into an argument with them, which is - when you do racial equity, you argue sometimes. And a white guy said, "oh, I see what y'all are doing. Y'all are playing good cop bad cop." And it was almost a given that the bad cop was me and good cop was Sim who is Indian. We knew that he meant Zerandrian was the bad cop and Simran was the good cop. And he began to construct a narrative around integrity because we were calling him out on institutional sexism. 

[00:21:51] Nico Le Blanc: Yeah, I echo that. I feel a combination of those things happening for me. I identify as a Black queer non-binary person. 

[00:21:58] Nico Le Blanc: It wasn't something that I necessarily like held that label for myself until more recently. I've always navigated in that way, but I have a thing with labels, like all of the expectations, et cetera that come with labels, and I'm very clear, like I'm not going to meet none of those.

[00:22:13] Nico Le Blanc: I'm a combination of these things. I'm neither of these things. I am just who I am. Right. And so when I show up into space and to work, it's so interesting because people are often very confused by me. They're not really sure what to do with me. And it depends on who is in the space and what's happening.

[00:22:33] Nico Le Blanc: Right. So if I enter into the space and I am the only Black person, and it's a bunch of white folks, they're going to be confused by me, but still kind of place that, to Megan's point, that caretaking role onto me. Right. 

[00:22:48] Nico Le Blanc: But if there are other Black people in the space, particularly Black women, Black femmes in the space, then that automatically flips. And I'm seen as the more masculine person, and they're going to listen to what I'm saying more, they're going to defer to me more. 

[00:23:00] Nico Le Blanc: I sit back and I'm just like, wow, how you navigate me is very telling of the space that you're in. And I am here to do this work. Right. And this is how you're navigating me. Right? Like, how are you navigating the other folks in this space that are not fulfilling the same type of role that I'm in? Um, so it's really, really interesting to see and to experience. 

[00:23:20] Nico Le Blanc: The experience, the language of like, particularly around pronouns of like, oh, well, I'm just not used to using pronouns. And I, I be rolling my eyes every time. That is a lie. That is not true. You use pronouns every single day. You use them every day. I am calling you to be more expansive in how you use your pronouns and honoring how people show up into space. 

[00:23:44] Nico Le Blanc: And that's what that is about, right? There's a part of you that is resistant to wanting to do that because you're simultaneously saying that you want to dismantle this, or, you know this is a problem. You don't want to participate in it while simultaneously trying to hold onto it and still exist within it. 

[00:23:59] Nico Le Blanc: You called me here, not only in this role, but in the body that I exist in, and you have to know that I'm going to push back up in every single way. Like, not just because that's my role but because of my own humanity and the humanity of other people.

[00:24:14] Nico Le Blanc: It's, it's just very interesting to see and then to call people out on what is happening. And it usually either goes to a space of defensiveness of like, that's not what's happening, you're perceiving that wrong. Or the space of like this deep, like crying. Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. Like, you can miss me with all of that. You can miss me with all of it.

[00:24:35] Nico Le Blanc: Let's be in constructive dialogue with each other around it. I don't need your tears. Let me tell you why this was problematic. And what are the steps that you're going to take to not show up in that way again? Um, or if you do, to have a restorative lens in, in whatever harm that you've caused. 

[00:24:52] Nico Le Blanc: But yeah, it's an interesting ride. And it's exhausting to do the work while holding these identities and having the experiences of trying to dismantle the system. Like you're in the system to a certain degree, right. Trying to dismantle it while holding these identities. It's exhausting. 

[00:25:09] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I love this conversation. I could nerd out about this all day. Like it's making me think about the different facets of the work and how they're all gendered and racialized and all these things too. But like, like the teaching part of the work, like when I give the history of race and racism, I love doing that because it allows me to step outside of a gendered and racialized expectation.

[00:25:31] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: And I just, I get so much satisfaction of being like, no, it was 1864. I know it. You can Google it right now. You can Google it right now. Yup. I was right. Like, I love that.

[00:25:44] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: And I love like the, the gendered performance aspect of it. My gender expression is I often feel like it's a performance and I love that. I love being like, okay, I'm going to a Quaker school in Brooklyn in 2020, like, all right, I'm going to go into my closet. Yep. We're going to go linen. We're going to go pastel. We're going to do like the weird funky earrings and the big ass jewelry, like, and I, it feels fun to play with the gendered expectations and the performative aspect. 

[00:26:14] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: And then in terms of like the holding piece, like what you were talking about Taja, like, I do get annoyed that it's like expected of me or that it feels -people often feel like the reason I'm so good at it is somehow like it just came naturally. And that is annoying. 

[00:26:30] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Cause it's like I have a degree in education. I have studied and deeply practiced this, like my capacity to create an emotional container, strong enough to allow people to take risks and really transform is not innate. It is a skill that I have honed over time. But I love it. It feels, it does feel connected um, to my femininity and I'm really fucking good at it. And I love doing it. 

[00:26:57] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: It's annoying to me when I have like cis dude colleagues who think they can do that. And they can't, they're actually only bringing lecture to the space, which is like, great, someone's gotta lecture, but like, it is a part of the work and I'm really good at it. And I I love offering it.

[00:27:11] Zerandrian Morris: You better preach. 

[00:27:12] Nico Le Blanc: You better claim that. 

[00:27:13] Taja Lindley: So we were talking about, we are talking about, identity. And inside of this through line, I'm curious about your thoughts on if institutional equity work is more or less effective based on the identity of the person or the people who are facilitating that work? 

[00:27:31] Taja Lindley: Is this work effective if a white person is doing it? What kind of white person would that need to be? Do they have to be in collaboration with a Black person? So is this work more or less effective depending on who's doing it? And where do white folks fit in?

[00:27:44] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I don't like rules and recipes. I think the world's too complex for that. So for me, like, I don't think there's one answer. And I do believe like if we're going to get free, we need all of us and we all have an important role to play. 

[00:27:59] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: What I do know is like, if you're trying to do racial equity work in an institution and you're not accountable in a real way to the Black, Indigenous and people of color in that space, it's not going to be effective.

[00:28:10] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: So if the white boss called you as a white consultant who works independently and doesn't have any partnerships, and you said, yes, come, we need to check this box. I don't think it's going to be effective. 

[00:28:21] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: But if uh, there are Black folks in the organization who say we care about this organization and we need it to change. And they had a say in figuring out who they're bringing in to support them. And maybe they end up calling me. And I also determine I'm the right fit for it. And there's a bunch of white people in this institution who aren't going to go anywhere anytime soon. And I don't have the interest or capacity to work with them.

[00:28:46] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I might call my friend Kate and be like, hey Kate, we need a white affinity space. And we have a deep trusting relationship. I know Kate will listen to me and take direction. Like I might ask Kate to hold that white affinity space and do some work and come back and report back. And we're going to think about, and be really thoughtful about who Kate's accountable to. How does that space run? Like how we navigate payment and compensation for that work. I don't think there's one rule, but I do think there's a lot of places to be intentional and thoughtful.

[00:29:14] Nico Le Blanc: White folks need to be doing this work with other white folks when that person has reached like a critical moment in the evolution of their consciousness around this.

[00:29:24] Nico Le Blanc: It's interesting because oftentimes when it comes to any type of role that's seen as DEI, like diversity equity inclusion work, I think most institutions see that, like who they're visualizing often in these roles, are people of color, are Black people to do this work. And it's very interesting because there's still the layer of, I'm not going to quite necessarily take in everything that you're saying, cause you're still Black. You still got to prove to me why I sh- why I need to do this or why we're going to structure things in this way.

[00:29:58] Nico Le Blanc: And I think if I was a white person or somebody who is white in this role, they'll be listened to in a completely different way. Right. There'll be seen as legitimate in a completely different way than I will be. And so. It's a constant, like having to remind folks of like, this is the work that I'm here to do. I'm not going to go back and forth on you on whether or not how we're going to structure things or the new policies or the language that we're going to be using on the website, if this is accurate or not. It's a very interesting space to be in as a Black person. 

[00:30:30] Nico Le Blanc: But I also, you know, hold the space that this isn't work that can be done by one person. And that's often the case. Most institutions want to bring in one, maybe two, maybe if it's a good like year four people, maybe that, and that's like a reach. Often, it's like one to two people that they want to do all of this work within their institution.

[00:30:51] Nico Le Blanc: And it's like, that is not feasible. Like that's not possible, especially if you're actually doing the work that you're saying that you want to do. Dismantling structures of oppression cannot fall onto one person. And so for me, it's about like, how can I identify different folks within this space to be doing this work? 

[00:31:09] Nico Le Blanc: Again, I'll consult you, we'll be in dialogue. We'll think about how things can look, be structured, et cetera, but then you need to hit the ground running and be doing this work. You need to be in your own deep investigation around how you're showing up into space. I'm not doing that work for you and I can't do it for you. Right? So when all of your different departments, teams, et cetera, show me the work that you're doing. We have this common foundation that we've laid. We've talked about what this can look like systemically. And so how are you going to enact that? And so it ends up having to be a team of people. 

[00:31:40] Nico Le Blanc: So in my current job, I have committees everywhere and I'm fine with that. I'm gonna meet with all of y'all, but I can't do it all, right. So there's an undergrad committee for diversity inclusion. There's the graduate, there's staff and faculty, affinity. Like all of these different committees that I meet with. And then we all are meeting with each other because this is, if, again, if we're really doing this work, it has to be expansive and it can't fall into the lap of one person.

[00:32:04] Nico Le Blanc: And again, also recognizing I'm not trying to do- it's my job, but I'm not trying to do that type of labor. And I'm very clear that there's often the expectation because I am a Black person. Right. 

[00:32:15] Nico Le Blanc: And I have to constantly push back like, oh, can you like do this? Well, what is the barrier that's preventing you and your team from doing that? Let's talk about that first. And then from there, we can see what needs to be done, but it's not an automatic, I'm going to do it, but there's definitely that expectation because I'm a Black person. And again, for me, it's like, you're telling on yourself, you're constantly telling on yourself, but fortunately, I'm in the role to tell you about yourself, right? You pay me to tell you about yourself. 

[00:32:43] Zerandrian Morris: I never know what we mean by "the work," because if we are talking about dismantling inequities inside of an institution, but then talking about a workshop with staff that is not an adequate response. It is on the wrong level. It's not even on the level of the problem. And so, you know, if it's an, if it's a structural or institutional issue, the response must be institutional and structural. And a workshop is interpersonal.

[00:33:08] Zerandrian Morris: And, if I am talking about reforming or transforming, is another conversation. Like I've yet to have a client call me and say, we want to revamp and it be truly, you are able to transform this shit. There, there is going to be, a ceiling with which they allow you to, to go. And so if I'm having a workshop at best, that is going to help the employees get along. That's not a policy practice, legality, transformation space, especially if it's a typical workshop where decision makers are not there. 

[00:33:44] Nico Le Blanc: I think that's part of like what it is. In my perspective, getting folks to the space to even recognize that if you're saying that you're about doing this work, that means that everything that you know has to change. It cannot exist. What currently exists can not be. And making sure that folks are really clear on that. I'm not here to remix this space. We are here to take down the current space that exists and imagine something new. 

[00:34:13] Zerandrian Morris: Because some of y'all might not have y'all job. You know what I mean? 

[00:34:15] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Yes. Yeah. A hundred percent. And if the boss of an institution is calling me and asking for a workshop, like I might say yes, but not because I have any illusion that like the boss changing their mind is how change happens. 

[00:34:29] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: My theory of change is that like people of color organize and build power. And through that building of power can make a demand of people who hold institutional power for things to change. And so like if I do a workshop, it's likely to create that consciousness and then create space and skill-building so that the folks- that the employees can start organizing to force institutional change.

[00:34:53] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Cause I also have seen the mistake where people think if I have, as, as a consultant can do a board training or have a strategy session one-on-one with the executive team that that's somehow magically going to create transformative change, but that's not like actually accountable to the stakeholders.

[00:35:09] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: I work in school. So it's like, how are the students involved in this process? How are the families involved in this process? Like, how are your frontline staff? How is the janitor and the cook and the secretary and the first grade teacher assistant engaged in this process? Institutional change is not gonna when I just like do a workshop with the teachers. I don't have any illusions that that's going to lead to transformation at an institutional level. 

[00:35:34] Taja Lindley: You know, Megan, that makes me think about an experience that I had working with the Health Department where it's like, where is the work? I like this question Zerandrian like, what is the work and where does it take place? Cause sometimes the things you got hired to do, is not actually where the rubber meets the road.

[00:35:50] Taja Lindley: So we were working on the NYC Standards for Respectful Care at Birth. That's what I got hired to support a community led process to develop it. And so we're doing that work, but then where it sort of met the road was like, oh, we have to go and have a conversation with the comms team.

[00:36:07] Taja Lindley: And the comms team wants to make all of these changes to something that we collaboratively created. And so it was kind of like the Health Department, it was kind of like, oh, let's work around this issue. But I was like, actually, this issue is the issue. When we talk about equitable healthcare and institutions, it's in these interactions as well.

[00:36:29] Taja Lindley: It's not just the thing you hired me to do, but it's all the things that sort of come with it. And it's not, it's not outside of it. This is, this is all a part of it. So I wrote some very long emails explaining, explaining this. 

[00:36:42] Taja Lindley: But it reminds me of something I think Zerandrian was talking about earlier about the conversation that you have with the client, like the transformative moment, like the moment where the thing that you are hired to address shows up, isn't just in the workshop, it's in the planning calls, it's in the debrief call, it's in the, you know, the microaggressions that happen in the emails, et cetera.

[00:37:04] Taja Lindley: So I, I wanted to name that, but this is also making me think this question around who is responsible for this work? And when we are in the role of holding the responsibility, as an employee, as a consultant, et cetera, how and when is this work effective? And something that I've been coming to is like, you know, I just, I don't feel responsible for racism, so I don't feel responsible for dismantling it.

[00:37:25] Taja Lindley: And when I really check in with my life force energy, I'm like, is this the proper use of what I'm here to do is to respond to a social construct that has been created by maybe some of my, you know, some of my ancestors, cause I am light-skinned. So, you know, there are some folks in my lineage who are not just straight up out of Africa.

[00:37:46] Taja Lindley: But I also say this to say like, as a person who identifies as Black, walks the world as a Black person, is this really my purpose? Or has this been assigned to me? Because the folks who are oppressed are usually the ones who are looked to to be the ones to educate the quote unquote oppressor.

[00:38:02] Taja Lindley: I hate to make it so binary because I know it's not neat like that oppressed and oppressor, but when we isolate parts of identity, race, gender, et cetera. It's like who's on the receiving end of oppression? And who's on the giving or benefiting end of the oppression that is doled out? And so then that makes me feel like, okay, well then white people need to get on this.

[00:38:22] Taja Lindley: But then like a good friend of mine said, she was just like, well, I wouldn't trust white people in a room to do anything unsupervised. Like I just would not trust that that is going to be leading to a good outcome. 

[00:38:34] Taja Lindley: And then there's all these conversations of folks being like, well, white people, shouldn't profit off of writing books about being anti-racist. They shouldn't profit from going to universities and doing workshops and facilitating conversations. 

[00:38:46] Taja Lindley: And so it just leaves me in this conundrum. Well, well, shit, if I don't want to fucking do it, and if they not supposed to do it, then who is, who is responsible for doing it and will get it done effectively?

[00:38:57] Nico Le Blanc: I think that's an incredible question. I think it's a great question. So thank you for asking all of the questions.

[00:39:03] Nico Le Blanc: To your point. I didn't create this, so this is not my work to do. This is your work to do. And so when I'm thinking of myself in these spaces, I see myself as not there to do anything for white folks, but how am I caring for the Black people, the people of color in this space in helping to shift the space to hold the Black people and people of color that are here? That is my primary focus. 

[00:39:27] Nico Le Blanc: And if y'all white folks, you know, have some revelations along the way, amazing. We're going to push forward for this to happen regardless of if your consciousness is at that level or not.

[00:39:36] Nico Le Blanc: And on the other hand, I do see this as a work of white people. And again, as I said before, like white folks that have reached a particular level of consciousness to be able to do this work. And if you're going to be going out and doing any type of racial equity work, for me, what signals that you've really reached that level of consciousness is if you're getting paid for this, like how are you giving of the funds that you are receiving directly to Black people, directly to nonbinary queer, whoever people, right? Like, are you actually doing that? 

[00:40:08] Nico Le Blanc: Or are you here doing this work and then keeping all of the resources, whether it's monetary, whether it's networks, whether it's whatever land, whatever it is. Are you keeping that to yourself and keeping that within white folks, white spaces? Or are you able to give of your resources in different ways back to these communities? 

[00:40:27] Nico Le Blanc: For me, it feels like the reality is white folks are going to listen to white folks. We have been existing alongside them for how many hundreds, hundreds, and hundreds of years beyond that. 

[00:40:40] Nico Le Blanc: So it's not that they don't know what's happening. That's the part that feels frustrating or annoying to me, like the space of like, oh my gosh, I didn't know. And what is happening in like? You know exactly what is happening. Cut the BS. Like, let's be real. And so the question is, are you okay with what's happening? And can you be real with that? Or are you in the space to recognize you're not okay with it? And you're trying to figure out how to shift it.

[00:41:04] Nico Le Blanc: And if you are in that space, you need to be doing that amongst other white folks. Again, that's not my work to do. I'm holding space for Black folks, people of color. I don't see myself as going into do work for white people or even really with them, like I am doing it with some collaboration. I have to, right, with white folks, but not under any illusion that this is for you. I'm doing this to make sure that this is a safe habitable space for any person of color, any Black body that enters here. 

[00:41:36] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Yeah, I love loving on Black and brown people. And I love teaching. And I love building Black power. So I don't do this work because I feel like I have to. When people approach me as like, oh, I want to do what you do. Like I wanna, you know, will you mentor me? Like a big part of that is just like, do you feel called?

[00:41:55] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Do you want to? Like, what do you really want to do with your life? Cause like, you don't have to do this. I want to support you as a Black or brown person to like do what calls you. For me, it happens to be this. I really love facilitating transformation and teaching people stuff. But I, it doesn't feel like a, like a responsibility, in that same kind of way. 

[00:42:15] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Other than like, I feel responsible to the liberation of all people to figure out what my lane is, what my calling is in this world. And to do that. And for me, it happens to be this.

[00:42:23] Zerandrian Morris: Is it safe to say that those of us who do work around anything inside of dismantling or inside of a system are out of alignment? And I think about this often. 

[00:42:36] Zerandrian Morris: Let us say that we do wake up tomorrow and the isms are gone. Is it safe to say that if I am no longer employed, that meant that I'm out of alignment because my work rested on there being an ism? And so that means that I would be unemployed tomorrow, for the most part. I might still teach, but what I teach, it will be gone because the systems have been dismantled. 

[00:43:01] Zerandrian Morris: Is anyone created to eradicate racism, Black or white? Like I just don't, I'm not quite sure that that's true. I don't think nobody is on the planet to dismantle this shit. 

[00:43:10] Zerandrian Morris: So we have ways to imagine figuring out why we're here outside of inequitable systems. But I actually am beginning to feel that nobody is on the planet to dismantle systems of oppression.

[00:43:25] Zerandrian Morris: Like none of us, I, I just, that's where the social construction comes in for me, that this shit is made up and now we are all inside of it. And we saw during COVID that we actually, that is, that is, that is the, the okey-doke is that we need the systems to be employed. Most of us. 

[00:43:43] Nico Le Blanc: I feel you. I feel you. And to me, you're a hundred percent correct. I've been saying for a minute, it blows my mind that we continue to agree to a reality that we have to pay to live on the planet. Like the entire reality needs to be dismantled and we need to be stepping into who we already are and who we want to be. So the work is very large.

[00:44:02] Nico Le Blanc: And for me, I do feel called to that. I do feel called to the space of, to your point, right? Like what am I here to do? And the only way, in this current reality for me to be able to figure that out is to start chipping away at what is creating a barrier for me to be able to see that? What made me disconnected in the first place? What made me question who I was or made me feel like, I didn't know who I was or there's something wrong with who I am. I have to start like shedding that, releasing that so that I can step into that fullness. Right. So that I can recognize we are in the business of putting ourselves out of business.

[00:44:38] Nico Le Blanc: And I'm proud of that. I'm happy of that. I don't want this shit to exist. Right. So I am here to make sure that I don't have a job because one, I shouldn't be having to do this shit. Two, I shouldn't have to pay for food. I shouldn't have to pay for water. I shouldn't have to pay for none of it. So I'm good if I don't have my job and I'm happy to put myself out of business. 

[00:44:58] Taja Lindley: I really appreciate these existential questions. I sit with them often. I sit with them often. And it becomes hard because sometimes there is not an answer I can arrive to that works inside of our collective agreement of what this reality is right now, you know? So I feel that. 

[00:45:15] Taja Lindley: And I I'm sitting with some additional existential questions like how effective is this work? Can we dismantle structures of oppression within structures of oppression? 

[00:45:27] Taja Lindley: I'm very clear that any institution I've collaborated with has enacted some kind of harm or institutional inequity in its existence. I have a starting place that all institutions are raggedy, and then it's just sort of like, well, how raggedy are you going to be?

[00:45:41] Taja Lindley: And what kind of raggedness do I want to deal with? 

[00:45:45] Taja Lindley: On the spectrum. What's going to cause me the least amount of harm, aggravation and annoyance, in exchange for, you know, dollars and peace of mind. What is this exchange? To me that's what the economy is in terms of navigating it as a worker. But I do get curious about how we're able to do that.

[00:46:02] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: Yeah. The way it sits in my body is like, the work of creating systemic racism, took a bunch of people um, over a couple of hundred years. It was an intergenerational project. The work of dismantling racism will probably also take a bunch of people working together for a couple of hundred years. 

[00:46:19] Megan Pamela Ruth Madison: So my work, at this place and this time, in this land, in this day, in this moment, in this year is getting real clear about both the world, as it is. Real clear about the world as it can and it should, and it will be. And then asking myself today when I wake up, like, what is the Megan sized daily sized amount of work that I am called to do with this particular 24 hours? Because I'm in collaboration with thousands of other people in this movement. I'm in collaboration with my ancestors. I'm in collaboration with the generations to come. And so just today, like what is a Megan sized amount of work to do in this larger collaborative project toward the world as it can and it should be.

[00:47:11] Taja Lindley: Whew chile! There is so much more to say. In fact, we said more and you can listen to the full panel conversation at TajaLindley which is, by the way, twice as long as this episode. 

[00:47:25] Taja Lindley: Now before we go, let us recap, a couple of important nuggets from this discussion. 

[00:47:30] Taja Lindley: It's an interesting positionality to hold space for white led institutions and anti-racism work in a Black body. Because the work we're often hired to do shows up not only in our scope of work, but also while we're doing the work. The mammification of Black women facilitators and the questioning of our intelligence or grasp of concepts, are just a couple of ways that this plays out. 

[00:47:51] Taja Lindley: I'm still chewing on: whose work is it anyway? Who is responsible for this labor? Who is trustworthy with this work? 

[00:47:58] Taja Lindley: Some people feel called to take on educating folks and transforming institutions to be anti-racist. Others do it not because it's a calling per se, but because they want to live in a more equitable world and feel skilled to take this on. Y'all already know how I feel. 

[00:48:15] Taja Lindley: What's interesting to note is how race and gender intersect in our consideration of the labor of DEI. 

[00:48:21] Taja Lindley: If you're a Black person listening to this episode and you're thinking about whether or not to do or continue this work, consider what the panelists shared: what are your boundaries for who you will and will not work with? What are your boundaries for how you will do the work? And how can you prepare yourself for the inevitable grappling with racism, sexism, and misogynoir that comes with the job? 

[00:48:42] Taja Lindley: If you're listening to this episode and you want to hire someone to do diversity, equity, and inclusion work for your business or organization or department consider: are you truly committed to dismantling oppression in your workplace? Do you have resources, time and energy for this kind of work? Are you prepared to grapple with how oppression shows up in ways you had not previously recognized? Is the leadership of your institution on board or do they need convincing? And how are you centering the experiences of the most impacted people in your institution? 

[00:49:13] Taja Lindley: Lastly, I'd love for us all to consider what true liberation looks like and what will it take for us to get from where we are to where we imagine. Will DEI work be enough? What other strategies and frameworks are necessary and required for all of us to experience true freedom. 

[00:49:31] Taja Lindley: I give thanks for your time, attention and listenership. 

[00:49:34] Taja Lindley: If you are enjoying your experience, tell a friend and leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts or on our website. 

[00:49:41] Taja Lindley: If you'd like to share your story or perspective with us, write us a message or leave us a voicemail at BlackWomens 

[00:49:48] Taja Lindley: Find us on Instagram @Black WomensLabor and sign up for our newsletter to receive project updates in your inbox. 

[00:49:55] Taja Lindley: And support this work y'all at TajaLindley where you will be able to access exclusive content and full length interviews with each of our guests. 

[00:50:04] Taja Lindley: You can also support this podcast by dropping some coins in our PayPal or purchasing the podcast music on ColoredGirlsHustle .Bandcamp .com. 

[00:50:13] Taja Lindley: This podcast is created and hosted by yours truly, Taja Lindley, also known as the HBIC. 

[00:50:20] Taja Lindley: Audio engineering by Lilah Larson. 

[00:50:22] Taja Lindley: Music by Emma Alabaster, who also served as the Pre-Production Associate Producer. 

[00:50:27] Taja Lindley: Additional music production by Chip Belton. 

[00:50:30] Taja Lindley: Vocals by Patience Sings. 

[00:50:32] Taja Lindley: Mixing and mastering by Chip Belton. 

[00:50:34] Taja Lindley: Lyrics by Taja Lindley and Emma Alabaster. 

[00:50:37] Taja Lindley: Logo and graphic design templates by Homegirl HQ. 

[00:50:41] Taja Lindley: This podcast is produced by Colored Girls Hustle. 

[00:50:44] Patience Sings: Birthing new possibilities. Birthing new possibilities of rest. Birthing new possibilities of play. Birthing new possibilities of pleasure. Birthing new possibilities of purpose. Birthing new possibilities of love. Birthing new possibilities of presence. Birthing new possibilities of labor. Birthing new possibilities of rest. Birthing new possibilities of play. Birthing new possibilities of pleasure. Birthing new possibilities of purpose. Birthing new possibilities of love. Birthing new possibilities of presence. Birthing new possibilities of labor. Black women birthing new possibilities.

Zerandrian MorrisProfile Photo

Zerandrian Morris

Epidemiologist, Biostatistician & Principal Strategist

Zerandrian Morris (a/k/a ‘The Ignant Intellectual’) is a capital 'B' Black non-binary transmasculine girl-identified person born & raised in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans currently living in D.C.

Zerandrian is a 2001 graduate of THE Spelman College. Zerandrian is a social impact strategist who spends time creating paradigm-shifting experiences for companies, institutions, organizations, & individuals around topics like anti-racism, anti-Blackness, and racial equity.

Zerandrian is also an Epidemiologist/Biostatistician & Owner/Principal Strategist of The Ignant Intellectual Group LLC, a consulting and strategy social enterprise that guides organizations and companies through the process of transforming themselves into anti-racist places of business.

Zerandrian is also the creator of Funny Acting BLACK Girl™.

Listen to their full length panel conversation on
Interview length: 01:10:06

Nico Le BlancProfile Photo

Nico Le Blanc

Director for Diversity & Inclusion, Yogi, DJ

Passionate advocate for marginalized communities. Artistic Yogini. Sociological Scholar. Creative. Poetic. Disruptive.

Nico identifies as a passionate Black, Queer, Non-Binary BEing who currently serves as Associate Director for Diversity & Inclusion at NYU and as a yoga and meditation instructor, counselor, and advocate whose primary focus is to create positive, safe, and empowering spaces that facilitate vulnerability and healing. They are committed to the upliftment, self-care, health, vitality, and liberation of ALL Black BEings. As a member of Harriet’s Apothecary, Nico serves as a healer - providing yoga and meditation.

Additionally, they offer a BIPoC LGBTQ+ only affirming yoga and writing mediation class called Liberation Honey Flow and also is an AfroHouse/House DJ.

Listen to their full length panel conversation on
Interview length: 01:10:06

Megan Pamela Ruth MadisonProfile Photo

Megan Pamela Ruth Madison

Facilitator, Author, Trainer, Educator

Megan Pamela Ruth Madison (she, her) is a facilitator and author based in New York City (unceded land of the Lenape people*). As she edges toward the finish line of her doctoral studies, she works part-time as a trainer for the Center for Racial Justice in Education, the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, and Bank Street's Center on Culture, Race & Equity.

Megan is co-author of First Conversations, a critically acclaimed series of books for young children on race, gender, consent, and bodies. Together with her family and community, she loves reading, eating ice cream, and organizing with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (or JFREJ).

*to learn more, visit:

Listen to her full length panel conversation on
Interview length: 01:10:06