A Millenials Guide to Saving the World
Host: Anya Kaats
Episode #7 How to Not Travel Like a Basic Bitch with Kiona.
Transcribed by Kelly Sheehy.
[Soft, electronic music builds]
AK: Welcome to A Millenials Guide to Saving the World. With your host, Anya Kaats. This podcast has one mission. To rally a generation that’s been labeled and groomed as lazy, triggered, and entitled and invited invite us all to write a new story – one of a generation that’s willing to challenge the status quo, reject black and white thinking and opt out of each and every repressive system and box that we’ve been placed in. Above all else, I want to invite millenials to step up to the plate, to be vulnerable in owning our responsibility to ourselves and for walking this planet through the darkest of days. It’s time to dream new dreams, write new stories and create new futures. The great work begins.
[Soft, electronic music fades]
AK: Good morning, everyone. Or I guess, afternoon or evening if that’s when you’re listening to this. I am recording this in the morning. It is 9 a.m. on Christmas actually… and I don’t think I’ll release this today, but I had a bunch of thoughts in my head that were top of mind that I figured would be best if I just got out when the time came. And it relates to Christmas, and I guess I’ll be releasing this near Christmas, so it all works out. But I am alone on Christmas this year and I’ve sort of been slowly but surely removing myself from Christmas for the past couple of years to kind of semi-intentionally, but also not intentionally, just in terms of how the plans worked out… where I was at in my life…what I wanted to be doing. It was really though only in the past few years that I actually started to think like, “Hmmm I have free will and can make my own decisions about how I want to spend the holidays.” And it doesn’t just apply to the holidays, I suppose, I think part of the process for me has been about reconstructing my identity and within that reconstruction is a bit of a shifting, rejiggering of what it is that I wanna do. In a very micro and macro sense, what I wanna do in the world and how I wanna spend Christmas.
And…last night I was home alone. I had worked all day, I had a bunch of photos to edit, I took a bath, I listened to some music, I lit some candles…and it felt really good. I didn’t feel any sort of lack. You know, I texted with a few people that I care about and that I love. But it’s just a day. And I don’t–I’m not religious, I’m not Christian, I’ve never had that association with Christmas. So sure, it was a time that I got together with — it was my dad, we would do Christmas with my dad, my parents were divorced — and so there was… yeah, there was some sort of, you know, tradition that I was with my dad and my brother on the holidays, on Christmas. And that was always lovely. I really don’t have any complaints about spending that time doing it, but I do think that as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to re-think what it means to participate in an event like this. Which you know, [clears throat] when you break it down, I don’t have any religious affiliation with the holiday.3q I don’t totally agree with the societal obsession with the holiday insofar as the consumerism, and just the whole thing kind of makes me nauseated. I don’t like buying a bunch of presents for people just because we’re supposed to. I don’t like people buying a bunch of presents for me. I don’t really wanna cut down a bunch of trees. I’m really unsure why we’re decorating the trees…like they’re pretty, but I just don’t get it [laughs]. I don’t resonate with any of it.
And, you know, I…with my own family…I…something I’ve been talking about recently and like, why part of Christmas became uncomfortable for me is because — and I don’t think this just relates to my family, I see this elsewhere as well — that we take something like Christmas, or any sort of holiday, even a birthday, and we say like, “Okay, if we just show up for this day or these couple days and we’re all happy, and drinking, and eating, and giving each other presents, and, like, great — that means we’re a family and then we can just retreat back into our lives and then like, not really be there for each other and support each other for the rest of the year.” And I’m not saying that’s what every family does, and I’m not even saying that’s what my family does, but there was a little bit of a… flavor of that for me. Of feeling like, “You know what? I would rather be in a family in a different way.” To me, what it means to have a family, and be in a family, and feel supported is not showing up for Christmas and going through the motions of what we’re supposed to do. And it’s really hard to redefine yourself and come back home to what you authentically feel. And that was definitely the process for me with Christmas and the holidays, was like, “Wait a second, I know this is what we’ve been doing for a million years, I know this is what the world does, but this doesn’t feellike me.”
And I think I’ve spoken about this before, both on my own podcast and when I’ve been interviewed sometimes. One of the most meaningful exercises that I did over the past couple of years for myself was really asking myself why I did everything, and like, minute things [laughs] in addition to bigger things, right? So like, “Why I am washing the dishes at night? Is that just because I feel like I’m supposed to or is that because that’s what I authentically want to do?” “Why am I eating this type of food?” “Why am I wearing this piece of clothing?” “Why am I going to hang out with this person?” “Why am I celebrating this holiday?” “Why am I texting this person back or not texting them back?” I…became a little obsessive about asking myself that because I recognize that so much of my own identity and choices were constructed vis a vis someone else’s desires or society’s desires. And I didn’t know how else to crawl my way out of that mess other than to ask myself the question of “Where is this coming from?” And the answer is not always super clear, but it did really really help. And in the process of doing that I slowly-but-surely reconstructed myself based on choices that felt authentic to me.
And where I think the struggle for me was most difficult was, you know, I was talking to a friend recently about youth, and how youth is defined almost by continuous deaths of the self. And like, fuck, could I relate to that. You know, I think I look back on the life that I lived from, you know, 16 to 28 and it’s like, I definitely died [laughs] more than once. And so there’s the death of the self, and there’s of course our actual death, which I also think provokes quite a bit of change in oneself, but there’s a third death. And that’s the death of reality. And once we change, once we go through our own death, our own metamorphosis, the world around us and the people around us don’t look the same anymore. For me, that was the hardest part. Is that I was like, “Okay, I’m going through all these changes, this is who I wanna be” and I…expected that I could run into the open arms of all the people that were in my life that I thought supported me and the world that I thought would support me and be like, “Yay! I’m so glad that you are who you want to be! Let me embrace you!” And that didn’t happen. And in fact I ended up running into the same darkness that forced me into the metamorphosis in the first place. And that was, you know, really terrifying because then there was the question of, alright well I’ve never been in this place before…so, I’ve gone through all of this work to redefine myself… it’s fuckin’ hard…I’m trying my best to cultivate some kind of self love, when I’m simultaneously supposed to recognize that, like, other people’s love is not defining of who I am. It was impossible. I felt like I was just floating in outer space for so long and I remember having several conversations with my dad where he was like, “I know that you can’t envision what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like, but I promise you that it exists.” And I don’t really know what it was inside me that held on. Perhaps the misery of my previous life…um…perhaps just my own…ruthless [chuckles] determination in accomplishing what I set out to accomplish, but I didn’t give up. And instead of trying to force family and society to support me, I just decided to kind of isolate myself, which was painful in-and-of itself, but I think actually wildly useful because once I was able to step out and away from all of that, I was able to get a clearer, stronger picture of who I was, that when that light at the end of tunnel did appear I could recognize it as the light and I would feel strong enough and secure enough to walk toward it. And…my dad was right. Through that isolation, through that process of finding myself, I very much did find people who were on my level. And found people that were willing to, not just willing to, just like built to, did their own work that enabled them to support me and my happiness and my authenticity.
And I think this goes both ways, right? Like, if we’re not supporting the people that we love, in their own happiness and authenticity, I’d really like to know what we think that we are doing. You know, love doesn’t ask for compromise. It asks for two unique individuals to create something new, something bigger than both of them. But neither one of them are compromising. There’s some video that makes its way around Facebook sometimes of Eartha Kitt talking about this, being like, “Why would I compromise? What is there to compromise about?” And I totally resonate with that. There’s nothing to fucking compromise about. If you’re being asked to compromise yourself or your desires or your needs or your authenticity for someone else that’s a red flag. That’s not what love is. And if you can’t be there for someone’s true self then you need to remove yourself and stop trying to force them into a place that they’re not in. And honestly letting them go or taking a break is the most loving thing that you could do. And same goes in the inverse. If someone isn’t meeting you where you’re at, you need to be strong enough to walk away, and go through your own dark night of the soul, in recognizing that that isn’t what any of us need — we don’t need to sacrifice and we don’t need to give up parts of ourselves to be loved and accepted.
You know, I think there’s this bullshit cultural norm left over from, like, the whole “Age of Pieces” — the religious movement — this idea that martyrdom and discomfort and suffering is what love is. And that’s bullshit. It’s not, you know…saving someone is not love, being a martyr is not love, these things are not love. And they’re for sure ideas and concepts that I was raised thinking — that my own discomfort…by discomforting myself I am loving you and I expect you to sacrifice for me too. Man, that is just [laughs] a big, dark, black hole of shit. You know, love — real love– is living in your own truth and happiness unapologetically and supporting others in their own truth and happiness. That’s it. It’s not more complicated than that. And I definitely spend quite a bit of time settling.
I just– my –I just recorded the second episode for Patreon…where I talk about how I think, in large part I’ve maybe come out of the phase of deaths of the self in my youth and that from this point forward, although I’m fully aware that my life will change and shift, that I’m gonna be this person who I constructed now into the future. And I’ve only been able to recognize that because I’ve finally found spaces and people and community and things that make me realize I don’t ever have to settle again. And that this world that I thought was such a fantasy — not only that I thought was such a fantasy, but everyone else thought was a fantasy, too. Like, “Oh yeah, that sounds great Anya, but like, in theory not in practice.” But because I didn’t give up, because I kept looking, it seems like not only does that quote-un-quote fantasyexist, but it’s like more beautiful and spectacular than I could ever have imagined and it’s real. It’s not a fantasy. And that too, like that whole idea of people telling us that what we want is not possible, is their own fear, right? Like that isn’t about us, but we take it on and a we assume that it is. And if we can’t have what we want, we don’t want other people to have what they want.
Anyway, I won’t go on and on about that. I recorded a whole episode about it and shared some kind of vulnerable and personal stories around this, so if you have any interest in that, or supporting the show, head over to Pateron — pateron.com/anyakaats. I, at least for now, feel pretty confident that I want to keep this podcast ad-free and I want whatever I do to be supported by real people who support me. [Laughs] So, if you do, and you can afford to give as low as five bucks a month, I’d really appreciate that. And…in addition to just kind of supporting like the overall time, and energy, and money that it spends to actually put this show out — which nobody’s paying for, by the way, aside from those on Patreon — I’m also doing a lot of extra stuff and giving you all sorts of perks. So, bonus episodes…I’m gonna be releasing a worksheet on spiritual bypassing in the next couple of days and I’m going to be releasing something like that once a month. I have shirts at a certain level that you can get…what else…oh, horoscopes. I release a weekly column of inspiration called “Minerva’s Muse”, where I share like, an article that I’ve been reading, some art that I’ve found, or music that I’m enjoying–send that out as well. And I’ve mentioned this a bit before, but all of this is really just like the first step in making this podcast more of a serious part of my own career and in doing so also making it a bit more immersive and…cohesive? That’s not really the right word, but expanding on what I have so far.
And so what I really wanna do is travel a bit more and meet people in person and immerse myself in their world and their experience in an effort to share that with you guys. But, that takes way more time, and energy, and money than just sitting, recording an episode over the computer, which has its….it’s downfalls [laughs]. So, I’m gonna be doing a lot of that more, and so I definitely, even more so, I’m asking for your support in that. I hope that what I’ve put out so far has been meaningful. I know a lot of you have reached out and it means a lot to me. Anytime you wanna do that, it means so much. Whether that’s leaving a review on iTunes so that the podcast can be reach more people, supporting me on Patreon, even just rating the show, sending me a message…all of that stuff means a lot. And the first step in this process is that I am going to be going to Bali at the end of January, which was rather a last minute and impulsive decision, but one that I’m really feeling great about. I’ve wanted to go there for a really long time. I’m going out there with some friends — it’s going to be kinda half vacation half work exploration. And so if anyone has any ideas of people out there in Bali who I could interview or just places to go, things to eat, places to see and visit, let me know! You can always email me at email@example.com, send me a message on Instagram, or send a carrier pigeon, whatever you wanna do [laughs].
On the topic of travel, this week’s episode is with Kiona who has an Instagram account and a blog called How Not To Travel Like a Basic Bitch [laughs]. I had such a good time recording with her–she’s such a kind and genuine person, and I’ve been following her on the internet for a while and could kind of tell that via her online persona, but speaking with her directly just really reinforced what a genuine, authentic person that she is. And she’s really interested and comfortable discussing issues of complexity, and nuance, and paradox, so definitely my kind of gal. And I really appreciated us both, as you’ll hear in the episode, not challenging one another, but just really discussing these issues in an open way where we can have differing opinions, or think different things and share our own unique points, and listen to the other person. It’s like, these are the types of discussions we need to be having. Everyone always asks me when I say, like, “Well, what’s gonna save the world?” like, just listen to the podcast [laughs] like, these conversations, ya know? This type of interaction with people. Where two different people from different life experiences, different races, whatever it is, can come together and have a meaningful, intelligent conversation about the world. And that hopefully both people walk away with something new and they learn something or experience something that they didn’t before. That’s it. I know that seems simple, but that’s my little contribution I think to saving the world at least thus far. That will expand, I’m sure in the future [laughs]. So, I won’t ramble on too much more, I want you guys to hear this episode…so I’m gonna leave you to it. And I’ll talk to you on the other end.
[Begin conversation between Anya and Kiona]
AK: Alright! Thanks, Kiona for coming on the show!
K: Thank you for having me.
AK: Yeah, of course. Um, so I found you via Instagram–you have a hilariously titled account called How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch, which got my attention [laughs] and I know you have a blog by the same name, you have your PhD and like, a million degrees and have your own hosting business. I always joke on this podcast about how I have, like, six careers, but I feel like you maybe beat me [laughs] or at least are like, on my level, so I totally feel you.
So I would love to start off, if you could like, instead of me just running down your bio, like just introduce yourself and tell my listeners a bit about you and how you got started on this journey and we can kind of go from there.
K: Okay, cool. Like you said, I have a million jobs, however, the average millionaire does have seven streams of income, so we are on our way!
K: We’re doing it correctly, basically. [Laughs]
AK: [Laughs] Good to know!
K: But, I went to college for Sports Medicine, realized I didn’t want to do Sports Medicine, but I still finished my degree, and then I went on to get my Masters inNutrition Epidemiology (can’t figure out what the exact title here is, and I feel ignorant lol!)and a Masters in Statistics and Data Sciences and a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. During that entire time– that was eleven years in school [laughs], a really long time — and I needed breaks. Lots of breaks. So, luckily school gives you breaks where you have winter break, you have Christmas break, you have spring break, so I would travel every single one of those breaks. I would be outta here. Because, when I’m here in Austin, Texas, which is where I’m based out of, it’s either work or school. So I just needed to change my scenery, and I would go travel. Well, during those travels I realized I kept running into the same types of people and I really wanted to avoid them. Like, those are the people I didn’t want to hang out with because I could probably hang out with them at my university or just around town anyway, and I wanted to…I was seeking or yearning for a different experience. And as you can see, I really like to learn, so I really wanted to learn about the place that I was in. And through that entire process, I started blogging about my travels. And when I started blogging I realized there was an inherent problem in the blogging world and that there are only so many people who have access, 1. To English, like, writing English. And 2. Writing English professionally. Which are two different things. And then 3. Having access to technology and learning how and having the freedom to write a blog. And I realized that a lot of the voices that were already in the blogging sphere had similar privileges to me and I just really wasn’t interested in reading about my own experiences. Like I understand how travel is, because I do it a lot, and I don’t need to read somebody else’s. I wanted to learn. And so I decided to turn my platform from blogging about my travels–which I still do, sometimes–but, I basically have used it to uplift voices that don’t always get heard and don’t always get a voice. And just passing the mic to them.
AK: Awesome. I love it! Yeah, it’s funny that what you were just saying earlier reminded me when I studied abroad in college and I remember going to visit…like my friend and I went to see their friend and they were staying in Prague–which is like still already, like all white–but, I remember going into their apartment and it was like clear that this group of people from America had all together gone abroad, were staying in this apartment [laughs] and were like, in the apartment playing beer pong the whole time. Like, going out together and like complaining about Prague, and I…at the time it was just like, lame. I just thought like, “Oh, that’s so not the full breadth of the experience that you could be getting.” But I then, I didn’t quite really think about like, not only is it lame, but it’s actually like, offensive and racist and like, destructive. And again, like that clearly… and from, you know, I’ve read a lot of content on your blog and looked at your page a whole lot, and that’s just so heightened in cities that are predominantly people of color; marginalized communities. So, I love…I mean, I think we all know what a “basic bitch” is, but [laughs] I’d love for you to kind of elaborate on, or like give some examples of like, what’s the “basic bitch” way to travel and like what’s a way to travel in a way that’s a lot more respectful and…
K: Yeah, and, yeah that’s a legitimate question. So, I’ve actually thought about changing the name of it a million times and I’m still thinking about it, but to me, “basic bitch” is coloquial, it targets a specific population…and it definitely gives you a feel for the content that you’re about to receive. So, if you’re automatically offended by the term “basic bitch” or automatically center yourself and think I’m calling you a basic bitch, then chances are you probably shouldn’t be on my page, because you are about to get a lot more offended. However, if you think it’s funny or you’re just curious and you wanna see what it is, it really works out in that it attracts a very…I would say, curious, willing-to-learn type of person. Which I like, which is why I’ve struggled so much with changing it. But, basically, a “basic bitch” is not what you would think, colloquially, a basic bitch means. Traveling like a basic bitch has everything to do with travel etiquette and how we choose to present to the country that we’re traveling in and the respect that we show when we’re there. And then also making choices, like acknowledging your privilege when you travel and making choices to leverage your privilege to give back to the community that’s giving back to you and teaching you all of these amazing things about where they’re from.So like, one example is, I went to Nicquaragua and I wanted to make sure that I… there’s this thing called “volcano boarding” where you can kinda like, board, surfboard–it’s on a surfboard–but anyway, you surfboard down this volcano and it looked really cool and extreme and I’m really into being adventurous so, it’s something I wanted to do, but when I went to go look I saw that there was only one company that was run by a Nicaraguan person, and he was actually the person who invented the sport. And I was like, oh I definitely want to go with that guy. Then, when I looked at his prices, they were like, they were like double, triple the amount of all the other companies in the area. So I looked at the other companies and I realized that these companies are Australian-owned, British-owned and American-owned. And I was like, “huh, I wonder why there’s such a huge price difference.” So I asked him and it was probably a stupid question to ask, but I did, I was like, “hey, why are your prices so expensive compared to the others?” and he wrote me this looong paragraph, like an essay, defending himself and I felt so bad, I was like, “oh my god I have to book with him now, he just spent the emotional energy in explaining to me why.” But basically what happened is, Australian or West, Global North people use their economic privilege to bring in huge trucks where they can fit 12 people in the back of a truck and then they take them to the volcano. So when you have 12 people, each paying $20 then you still make your profit. But with people like Henri, who’s Nicaraguan, he doesn’t have the financial capital to buy these trucks, so he is driving people in his personal car. So he can fit up to four people, so he has to charge $50. Which, like, to…I was a student and I could afford $50. So, you know, if you have a regular job, like $50 compared to $20 isn’t that much of a difference. And it didn’t make sense to me when I was booking it, but it made sense to me after talking to him, where he’s like, “I don’t have the money to like fit 12 people in my car.” And then, as we were going past we saw all of these huge trucks just like going towards the volcano and you could see…and Henri stopped his car and was like, “I want you to see and look at what they’re doing.” So these trucks would so fast –and they’re all dirt roads– the dirt would go, like float into the air. And there were people’s homes on the side of the road. So all this dirt was going into people’s houses and you could see kids playing outside, moms washing their laundry, and then the dirt goes up and then they have to re-wash all of their laundry that’s drying because none of these companies took the time to drive slowly and think about the other people in the community that they’re affecting. Whereas Henri was going very, very slow making sure he like minimized the dirt that was kicking up, he even stopped to say hi to some people he knew, he introduced us to some kids he knew. He even started a school in the area. Like, because he’s Nicaraguan he’s invested in his own community even with the money that he’s making. So to me it was like a lightbulb moment where I was like, I mean I was kind of doing this intuitively, but like it really really is important to support local companies and local guides because they are invested in their own communities, where as these external forces have no idea what they’re doing and they don’t always have the same pride in the country that they’re profiting from.
So, a “basic bitch” would not do any research or not even think about this, and book a company that is foreign owned, compared to a locally owned company. So that’s like one example. [Laughs]
AK: Yeah, no, that’s a good example. I think that also speaks to like, I think some people, and maybe I could be wrong, but might react to like a page like yours or someone that does the work that you do and kind of just say like, “Okay, well then I just won’t go there.” But it’s such a good example of like, oh well let’s go. Not only is going like…we could actually do good by going there, right? So like you are supporting the local economy, you are supporting the local culture. And I think the thing that I really appreciate with you and the work that you do is like, how willing you are to embrace nuance and paradox and that there isn’t always a black and white answer. And you have this amazing series that you do of white people asking questions about various things like, can you buy a dreamcatcher and have it be non-offensive? And one of the examples, just because it happened relatively recently, was like The Day of the Dead, right? And like allllll of these white people, it’s like such a fucking social media “thing” and I’d love for you talk about that, because I think that’s an interesting and like topical for the time that we’re in right now–like, what are the nuances associated with something like that and a white person participating in that sort of a tradition.
K: Yeah, uh, I wanna preface this answer by–I’m not Mexican and I’m not even Mexican-American.I don’t want to be the voice for that community, I just wanna uplift what I’ve been taught by my teachers from Mexico and Mexican-American people. But, basically The Day of the Dead is not…its a to honor you ancestors and people who have died and it’s…I would say it’s a celebration, but it’s a very somber celebration in that, like, it’s not the same as Halloween even though they occur around the same time. And I feel like because they occur around the same time people often get it confused. That it’s like something you can celebrate joyously or dress up in as a costume with skulls and Catrina-face. But it’s actually not that kind of holiday and by doing that you kind of are disrespecting the original reason for the holiday, which was to celebrate people’s ancestors and welcome them back from the dead, where they come and visit the living. With that said, Catrina is a very…it’s become a very popular thing to do to paint your face a skull and then have like a flower head arrangement and that is usually imitating this woman called Catrina, who started out as a print in a Mexican magazine and it’s actually a symbol of people, Mexicans, dressing as white colonialists or white settlers, or Spaniards or French that came and colonized Mexico. And they put on these like European-style dresses, but underneath it all they’re still indigenous. And so they were so ashamed of their indigeneity that they wanted to be white. And this cartoonist did this cartoon about how like, at the end of the day, when you die, you’re still indigenous. It doesn’t matter if you put on clothes, what’s underneath is what matters. And so when you put on the makeup without knowing the meaning and you think it’s just some fun thing to do, it’s again, disrespecting the indigenous peoples of Mexico who are still fighting for their rights even with the Mexican government, let alone anybody else. And it just disrespects Mexican-Americans who have been also separate –a lot of them have been separated from their culture and are striving to learn more, and so as a white person doing that it also doesn’t give reverence to the entire process of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and being indigenous and being ashamed of who you were because of white people. So when white people do that it’s just a little bit disrespectful. Or I would say very disrespectful.
However, there are instances where it is okay. For example, I was hired — I have never worn Catrina makeup knowing all of this stuff–but I was invited by the Mexican Art Museum to cover their social media here in Austin, Texas. And they wanted me to come to encourage Austin people or Austin millennials to vote for Proposition B so that they would get funding. They would get a $50,000,000 grant to be able to offer programs to Mexican-American immigrants and children so that they would have a space to do art. And to me that aligned with my beliefs, and because they invited me to this fundraiser which is called Catrina Ball, and they had face painters there who were Mexican painting everyone’s faces, I felt like it was appropriate to take part, especially since it was part of the whole message. So I did. And because I did that, I felt like I needed to explain to other people that I did this because 1.) I was invited by Mexicans to do it. 2.) I had a Mexican person paint my face and who profited, who I paid to it and 3.) I learned what it was and I also presented who she was. So it was an educational moment for me, for other people, and I just wanted to do respectfully and I would encourage other people to do it too.
And there were plenty of other white people there who also did the same thing. They participated in makeup but they paid Mexican people to do their makeup and then they also donated so much money to this cause of celebration of the Mexican art.
AK: Yeah, and what you say–cuz I get this all the time when I talk or speak out about stuff like this and talk about cultural appropriation, that there’s a response that I get all the time around like, “well at least I’m exposing their culture, right?” [Laughs] Like, “Oh, well by buying sage at Urban Outfitters and like buying this dream catcher and like doing these things, at least I’m…like we’re not keeping it in the dark.” And it’s kind of absurd to me, but I would love to hear about how you might answer a question like that and like, give advice to other people who — I think there’s a lot…I know for me, it’s easy to kind of say, like, “That’s not great. And that’s not right.” and then once you get the response, like as a white person, or as just as like not a part of whatever group you’re defending, to then get into the reasons why feels…challenged [laughs]. I know you do that all the time so I’d love to hear like how you manage a situation like that.
K: Yeah. I mean, my first initial reaction is like, rage. But…[laughs]
AK: [Laughs] Fair.
K: But after I take a step back, it’s like, I guess I try to…this is kind of…um, so I try to do what Jesus did, which I’m not trying to be religious, but Jesus does this thing in the Bible where he asks people questions. So whenever somebody asks him a question he answers with a question. And he consistently played people in the Bible by doing that because when you ask somebody a question it kind of points out their own hypocrisy without directly doing it. So I’ve kind of adopted [laughs] that into my own personal interactions where if somebody says stuff like that, like, “why…well, at least I’m doing this.” I always start with a question like, “well why do you think they need you to do this?” or “why do you think that you’re helping them by doing this? Or “How is you helping them” or just to see 1.) What they’re thinking, what their baseline knowledge is. And like, a lot of the times they can’t really find a good defense and end up tripping over themselves, where I don’t have to do a lot of teaching, they just kind of teach themselves. Or they understand like, the disconnect in that. Or they just get really upset because they like, really can’t defend it. But, um yeah. So I always try to answer offensive things with a question first. I don’t know if that answered your question… [laughs].
AK: Yeah, no, I do, it’s fine, I employ that tactic in like, other aspects of my life all the time– to ask questions, but I love relating it to Jesus [laughs] that so…
K: [Laughs] Yeah like I’m not trying to like, you know…
AK: [Laughs] No, I know, I know.
AK: [Laughs] Jesus was a cool dude, I mean, whatever. [Laughs]
K: [Laughs] Yeah I mean, you know, I… one year in grad school…or no…my first year in grad school I decided to take a religious class because I just wanted to learn more about world religion and I realized how much we don’t know about the context in which these texts were written. And so I made a promise to myself that I would actually read all of the religious texts and the first one I chose was the Bible. And so…it was actually the last one I read because it was so long, it took me five years to read [laughs] from front to back and it’s a lot of material so….I don’t know. But I… it was just something that I noticed that he would always answer with a question and it would always be really powerful, you know? The response to it, so I just adopted that in my daily life.
AK: Yeah, I love that. This is a question I wasn’t really planning on asking, it’s like very tangential, but I’m…I’m curious around…like given that this is a quote-un-quote millennial podcast and that you’ve gone to so much schooling and now are doing something that’s like slightly different from all of the stuff that you studied…
K: [Laughs] Yeah.
AK: Can you just talk about that a little bit and like whether you’re…like are you still glad that you did all of that and do you feel that your schooling added a lot to the work that you do now?
K: Yeah, so what I do now has nothing to do with the subject that I studied, however going to school for that long 1.) gave me the time and space to grow as a human being. I felt like if I didn’t have that time I might be a really immature person, which I am, probably in a lot of ways, but it really gave me space to like, think. And then 2.) it gave me the tools to ask the right questions. Just being in research and understanding the process of research and how you can introduce bias into science, makes me start to question everything and every process that goes on. Like the process of journalism, the process of writing, the process of like, travel in general. Like Iapply all of my scientific techniques to my everyday life. And it makes me question how…how entire career bases are based on a certain process and what biases are being introduced into that. So I would say school definitely helped me do what I do now and that I question everything. It also gave me the confidence to not do what I am doing…to not do what I studied. Like I felt like if I could survive everything that I went through for eleven years that I could pretty much do anything. And it made me more confident in my decision to like, not continue in that path.
AK: Right, right.
AK: And on that note too, around like, when people like looking for…cuz there’s sooo many people on social media doing work like this, like, activism work, education…what are some things that you might tell someone to look for when choosing to follow someone?
K: Yeah, that’s such and important question. I just posted on that today! I have so many opinions on this subject and I also question myself regularly, and I’m not going to say that I’m perfect either, because I have participated in certain behaviours that aren’t healthy and aren’t….um…it it is not what I’d advise you to follow. But, I would say if you’re looking for an activist to follow, I would make sure that they have any sort of education in…that has taught them how to teach and that has taught them how to do research. If they are just an activist who experiences trauma, as like most people of color do, just being in like a society that benefits white people, of course they’re going to be receiving a lot of things. But, if you don’t know how to properly relay that information and you weren’t taught that and you weren’t taught…to ask the right questions…like, for example I see people, I see activists posting like news articles regularly about things and I’m like, “The problem with the news media is so huge.” Their process is so biased and a lot of it is strategic to make you feel an emotion and to to make it go viral. Because when you have viral clickbait things then their ad revenue goes skyrocket. So when I see activists buy into the media, I’m like, “oh my gosh, this person was never taught how to do research and how to question the information and things that are being presented to them, nor to validate sources.” So I personally think that having an education really does matter and I mean like, even an advanced degree on like doing your own research, your own thesis that way you can really understand what goes into an investigation. So when you’re looking for an activist, I would make sure that they have an education. Secondly, I would make sure that they’re not participating…their platform isn’t based on calling out people. So, I would say there’s a difference in showcasing what your lived reality is than calling people out. Like I’ve seen people do who campaigns against a specific person and would not let it go. And not even give the other person the space or time to respond and even if they did they would block them, or erase it, or not publicize their response or their apology. And to me that’s so irresponsible, like, if somebody is apologizing to you or accepting that they are still in their learning or growing process, or maybe even explaining why they did a certain thing, and that other activist isn’t recognizing that, you know, this person is in a state of growth and is acknowledging that they are learning also, then to me that’s a very toxic account and they’re using trauma, their own emotional trauma to teach and I feel like that is not something that you want to follow. Like you don’t need to have somebody’s emotional baggage be unloaded onto you while you’re trying to learn.
AK: Right, yeah, I mean it’s definitely –and I hear this from people all the time–like, “Oh well they’re not being “nice” enough or like saying this in a way that I want them to say it and like…and I struggle with this all the time because…I think it’s interesting…in the work that I do I talk a lot about like, gender and sexuatlity. I talk about childhood abuse and childhood trauma in a way that’s… uncomfortable, I think for people, because I’m not sugar-coating stuff.
AK: And like, that’s always the way that I’ve learned. Like when someone says something in like a very, “No, I’m sorry that’s just fuckin’ racist,” that’s what kind of gets me to pay attention, not this placating. And even one of the things I wanted to talk to you about too was like… it was when I first recorded the intro to this podcast I had a line about safe spaces and how like, millennials like…I didn’t want to be associated [laughs] with that. Of what I saw as a “safe space” is being like a very “PC”…like centering around whiteness or whatever it was, like, “Oh, we better not.” So, how do you…what are your thoughts about that and what is a safe space, and do we need them, and how do we construct them, and what does that look like, and how are they harmful or could be?
K: Yeah, I totally get what you’re saying. There’s like a line. So, tone policing is a flawed theory in and of itself. So tone policing means that the oppressed can deliver their message in any way that they can because they’re being oppressed and therefore it elicits an emotional response–that is 100% true. Because it elicits an emotional response, you’re allowed– there’s no right or wrong on how you respond to a racist act or whatever the case is.
However, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be received how you want it to be received. And if you…if your aim is to teach people or to get… learning from the other side so that it benefits you and your existence, then you do have to control your emotional responses. And if you are triggered and if you are emotional that’s what professionals are for who deal with that kind of stuff. And I honestly can’t stress enough is like, therapy is like a seriously underused tool. I go to therapy every other week, bi-weekly and I’ve done it since I was 14. And to me I feel like people who go to therapy and take the time to make sure they are healthy in their mind, present themselves better and healthier in the world.
If you don’t take the time to check out your mind, then you’re not taking the time to heal and therefore can’t heal others. So I highly recommend it. And all of my therapy has either been free through the school or like, through my high school it was free, through college it was free, through grad school it was like $5 or something, and now I don’t go to a…I can’t afford a psychologist so I go to a counselor who is cheaper actually, she’s about $30 an hour. So there is affordable therapy out there it’s just looking…knowing the right types of people to look for like counselors, or, I don’t know just not…if you’re looking for somebody affordable just avoid PhD, MD [laughs] because they went to school for a long time and can charge more if you just go for an MS or an LCSW or something like that, Social Work, those are a bit more affordable. Sorry, that was a tangent, but…what was the original question? Sorry!
AK: I was following, I was all into the therapy talk.
K: Oh, safe space!
AK: Yes, safe spaces. [Laughs]
K: Safe spaces! [Laughs] I do think there needs to be safe spaces, like for example, to me a safe space is an exclusive space for people with similar struggles to talk about their own struggles. Like I find that there’s a huge movement for Black safe spaces and I make sure that I don’t enter those. So, and I think it’s important that they have their own space where they can celebrate each other, they can say things without having to be corrected by white people or non-Black people. And they aren’t policed on their tone or their words, like they should be able to say whatever they want with people who experience similar things. Same for everyone else. Same for the LGBTQ community, like there are things that cis-het people don’t need to enter into.
But, when you’re a platform trying to make a connection or be a bridge between people, that’s when the safe space line kinda totes. So it’s like tone policing…kind of is a thing because like if you want to connect to the other person you kind of have to tailor your response so that it’s received well. However if you’re not trying to do that and you randomly grew a following and people are following you and you never, ever, ever said that you wanted to be a bridge then you, I mean, nobody needs to tone police you, like you can do whatever you want. But if that’s something that you’re striving to do, I would say it does take…it does make a difference. It takes some time to learn how people receive those things.
At the same time, people are fragile and you’re not always going to connect to everyone. So as long as you know that you took the time to strategically think it out, I don’t really think that… it’s not an unsafe space. It’s just that those people just can’t operate in society.
AK: Yeah. And well I guess it can go both ways too, like I forget what example online I was looking at, but someone like told someone to shut up and the white person was like, “Oh, like that’s what someone said to me before I was like, hit and so I…like that’s traumatizing to me.” And it’s like…you know, it’s interesting because it’s like, I think on the one hand it’s like, yeah we should be recognizing who we’re talking to and trying to…I guess it depends on intention, right? Like for me a lot of the the time I’m like, not really trying to change people I’m just trying to like say my…
K: Express yourself.
AK: Yeah [laughs] you know.
K: Right, yeah.
AK: And it’s like, and what that person is saying is like, on the one hand valid, but if they’re saying that and using their trauma to excuse their racism then…
K: Oh, yeah that’s a problem. I understand what you’re saying. I came into this…somebody wrote an article on the Korean War and there’s this thing that happened it’s called Comfort Women, where during Japanese colonialism of Asia they took women of other nationalities and used them as rape tools. They were there to “comfort” Japanese soldiers. But these women were raped up to 50 times a day, they had to eat each other, they were boiled in soup, like it was a really bad situation. And those people are still alive today. Like and passed those traumas down. But I got somebody who was like, “I was gang raped and you don’t need to put this into this space.” and I’m like, “Well, I’m sorry, but you need to stay off the internet if this is gonna trigger you because you’re centering yourself in somebody else’s pain and there’s really no space for you here.”
So, if you need a safe space for just people who have been gang raped, I think that they should have sought that out and understand that that’s not the internet. That’s not gonna be…it’s not going to cater to your specific triggers, and again, that’s why you should go to therapy.
AK: Yeah, I was gonna bring it back to the therapy.
K: Yeah. [Laughs]
AK: [Laughs] Yeah, I was like, I say all the time the thing…one of the taglines of my podcast or just my life in general is “Fix yourself to fix the world.” There is…if we’re not doing the work on ourselves to address our own traumas, then it’s like we can’t enact collective change without doing the personal work, but if we’re also just doing the personal work and then not turning around and effecting collective change, then it’s also a waste of time.
And I’m so…I take such issue with…it’s just a “spiritual white person” problem of like, “Oh, well, like I’ve discovered that I can’t change anyone but myself and so I’m just going to like live in light and love, and like go off in the woods and like, not raise my children badly and like, that’s all I can do.” And I guess maybe that can bring us into the next conversation around, like, what is our responsibility? And do we all have responsibilities? Like are we, especially as mainly white people, like what is our role and what should our role be, and what do you feel around young people and their responsibility to the collective?
K: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. I feel like the responsibility of white people is to educate other white people. 1.) to take the time to learn from other people’s oppression. And this actually isn’t just for white people, like I think it’s important…I minored in African American History because I grew up in a predominantly African American neighborhood and I still live in one now and I thought it was important for me to learn their generational traumas, and what has been going on with them, and what their current situation is. Even though you pick it up when you’re around them all the time, but I thought it was important for me to get a formal education on that.
But, so, with that said I think that it’s important for everyone to learn about each other’s experiences, like I just got an article about Kazakhstan and I had never met a person from Kazakhstan, and I learned so much from reading the article. It’s so much fun learning about other people. And I consistently seek out education from others.
So it’s not just a white people thing, I think that it’s an everybody thing. But I think it’s unique to white people where they’re just dead end stop, they’re like, “Ugh, I can’t do anything. I just can’t handle all of this so I’m just not gonna do the work.” And like, the point is that learning isn’t always comfortable and especially when you’re on the end that did the oppressing. We know that you didn’t do the oppression, but you might take part in a system that does oppress others. So, make sure you don’t place yourself in a personal situation and just recognize that like, we’re not all the same. There is not equality right now. So, just to…when a white person recognizes that I feel so happy and giddy that like, “Oh my gosh, I feel safe with this person because they understand that.”
Am I hating white people? No. Am I personally blaming that one white person for this thing? No. But when I say “white people” it’s the system that’s set up to benefit white people. So I just think that just educating yourself on that system and how you benefit from it and then once you have the education, you can only be ignorant once. So once you have that education it’s your responsibility to do something with that education and to teach other people because it is so much more digestible from a white face than it is from a brown face. And even for me, when I’m being educated by, let’s say somebody in the LGBTQ community, I would rather be educated by somebody I know that I’m familiar with and that I know identifies with those things than I am from some stranger because I don’t know them.
So, it’s just easier when you have like a similarity or a commonality between people and I think that’s why white people should learn from other white people, and then also to take the time to get educated by others. But I just don’t think white people need to teach POC. I think it’s just you learn from POC and then you teach other white people.
AK: And do you think though at all that white people doing that type of work is at all like enacting some sort of white savior complex or sound like, “I’m going to be the one to teach this and I’m, like for whatever reason…like it’s going to be more effective than giving the mic over to a person of color?” Like…[laughs]
K: Yeah, that’s a really, really interesting and good question. I think it’s important for the introduction. But when it comes to like, further education, at that point then you direct them to somebody who cando that work. Also, it is…I mean, I know this in my own family relations that when you confront somebody about their racist idealsm, and they’re close to you and you know them, you still have to have a relationship with them. So, it’s not comfortable to go up to your uncle and be like, “Yo, what you said is racist and you can’t say that about Mexican people because, this, this, and this. It’s hurtful because this, it’s violent because of this…I still love you though…but, you’re racist.” And I’ve had to do it and it is not comfortable, and holidays get really awkward, and sometimes, while it is my duty to speak out against it while it’s happening, I also have to preserve my mental health. So, I think it’s an important line to understand what your mental capacities are. So it is your responsibility to call it out, it is your responsibility to educate, but at that same time if you are feeling broken down then like you need to regroup also.
So I’m not even sure if I even answered your question, but there’s just like this fine line between teaching and educating other people and introducing them to the subject and then just, 1.) not having the tools and 2.) not having the mental capacity to take it all on. Especially if they’re somebody close to you.
AK: Well and I think like, your website is a great example of this. Like you’re not white, but you’re also not all of the races and all of the [laughs] cultures that you speak about.
AK: And so it’s like, “Okay, I have this platform. I’m going to be…” Like what I think you’re saying is like, for white people or for whomever, anybody, to say like, “Okay, I have this platform I’m going to do this, I’m going to introduce those topics, but I’m not going to sit here and claim my voice is more valuable than the voices of the people that I’m defending.” And like, what you do is like you’re bringing in contributors, your bringing in people who can speak from those positions and therefore you’re educating. You’re just like the soap box, and like people are standing on top of you [laughs]. You know what I mean?
K: Yeah! Exactly, I’m just the platform, I’m just here to uplift.
AK: Yeah! [Laughs]
K: But basically that’s what white people should do. You should just be the platform and then uplift others in their learning journey. I also feel like that’s why the website is really effective, just like passive reading because you can learn passively, you’re not like directly talking to a human being. You have time to process it, you don’t have this back and forth, it’s just like a…ingest and then think about it type thing.
AK: Yeah, totally. And I mean I think I said this in my email to you too, like I had a moment when I had the idea for this podcast a year ago and like, wrote, just made a big list of all the these people that I wanted to interview. And I feel very, pretty active in and certainly like supporting of Black, Indigenous, People of Color and yet my whole list was a bunch of white people [laughs]. I was just like, fuuuck, you know?
And it’s like, look, that’s okay, that is what it was, I wasn’t going to sit there and say like, “You’re a fuckin’ horrible person, you’re a racist and all this stuff.”
AK: But it was important for me to re-evaluate that and recognize, like, in what I’m doing, you know, I’m a white person with a platform and so what is the best way to use that platform. To me the only clear answer is to uplift voices of people that aren’t white.
AK: And I think we have the opportunity to do that in so many different ways, and bringing it back full circle, like, to traveling. Why are we traveling and what is the purpose of that other than, “I’m gonna take this Instagram photo” [laughs]. You know?
AK:Yeah totally. So [clears throat] Okay, so, let’s talk about…
K: Okay, well before we go on I want to say that um…
AK: Yes, go on.
K: I want to say that white guilt, just like you acknowledged, is useless. It’s such a useless emotion.
K: And so I’m really proud of you for not dwelling in the guilt and instead just doing something about it, like that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. So…
AK: Except don’t center it around me, I don’t need any credit.
K: Okay, that’s another thing though! I often get that. I understand there are white people who center their…like, “Oh my gosh, I’m doing so much learning, I’m such a great person,” like whatever. And they want all this credit and they make it about them. And I understand that that is not okay. When we’re talking about nuance, there are a lot of white people who do awesome things. Like, I saw a video of a white woman literally standing in front of another white woman who was trying to assault a Latina. And I heard someone say, “This woman isn’t special. Don’t praise her.” And I was like, “We are all human.” Like, I don’t understand why….I love to say thank you. I love to show my appreciation. I don’t understand why that is a bad thing. Whereas as, like, I’m not trying to center her in this, like clearly this was a situation that this woman was racist and the real victim is the Latina woman. And we should concentrate that on that, but also it’s okay to say thank you. It’s okay to say like, “I appreciate this woman for doing the right thing.” And then that shows role modeling.
So, I think role modeling is one of the most powerful things that we can all use, especially those with a platform, to role model for others to see what it looks like. Because a lot of times you don’t know what it looks like. And if we continue not to validate the efforts being made, I mean, not to center, but at least just validate, then like other white people don’t know what that looks like. So, again, I just think that respect is the thing at the bottom. Where it’s like, “Thank you to that white person to showing this person respect and thank you to this Latina person for not attacking the white person in return, and you know, thank you to the white person for not centering herself either, like making this not about her and protecting this victimized person. So, I just think there’s room and enough love for everybody and I don’t want to be like one of those “spiritual people” but [laughs]…
AK: [Laughs] Yeah.
K: I just think we all have a lot of healing to do and when you’re not healed you end up just attacking the wrong person, it’s a lot of misdirected anger.
AK: Yeah totally. Yeah, I was kind of saying it as a joke, but I do think that there’s also…like I think on the one hand though if I was just having a bunch of people of color on my podcast and doing that sort of performatively and then not going out and not actually doing any real work out in the real world, it’s like that’s where I feel…It’s like me having people on my podcast is like, yeah, that’s great, but for me in terms of real work it’s like… not the real work. I mean, I guess having people on the podcast is an action, but I just see it as a much more well rounded job. That like we can’t just do that one thing and like have the token Black person and then, “Okay, great now I’m an activist and I’m this thing and I’m doing great for the world.” So it is, and its, I think in every one of these situations for us to address the nuance in it. And I think if anyone, a teacher or otherwise, a person of color or otherwise, says that this is a black and white thing to be skeptical about that.
K: Yeah, there’s so much nuance to everything and everything is so situational, so it’s important to recognize that.
AK: Yeah, totally. So let’s talk about activists setting boundaries. Someone emailed me the other day and asked, “Do you have any people that you follow that like talk about how to set boundaries in social media spaces?” And I totally sent them to your Instagram story about new people.
AK: So I don’t know, to like, merge these two questions together, I know you don’t call your page an activist page.
AK: And I’d like to…and you call it education. So is education not activism? Like I would love for you to break that down in what your thought process was in saying that it wasn’t an activist page.
K: Yeah, I guess I…education is a form of activism. Anything that you’re creating to balance the scales is a form of activism. Just surviving as a person of color, or a person with disabilities, or someone who is outside the societal norm is a form of activism.
But, I don’t call myself an activist page because I feel like that movement has been hijacked by problematic people. And problematic activists who don’t have any sort of education in what they’re actually doing. And they incite a lot of hate and don’t offer solutions because they’re just not educated enough to offer solutions. [Audio becomes garbled] solutions are financial. I see that all the time where people request money, and I’m like, “This isn’t a solution, this is just benefiting you as human. It’s not pouring anything back into the community that you’re so-called being “an activist” for, but like, who is really benefiting at the end of this?”
Anyway, so yeah, I do create, I did recently create boundaries…and I think, honestly, it’s something everyone needs to do and everyone’s boundaries are going to be different. So I follow a woman called…or I’m actually not sure what she identifies with, I’m pretty sure she’s a woman, but she…her name is Kendriana Speaks and she has community guideline that you have to agree to before following her. Her’s are completely different than mine, her’s are like, “I’m not going to center whiteness. I don’t answer questions from white people.” I’m paraphrasing, this is kind of what I remember, it might be different now, but…that’s clearly not my community guideline. I have a whole series of white people asking questions and I don’t mind in that realm centering whiteness and their questions.
So, everyone’s is going to be different. However, I think that how people interact with each other online is so problematic because we are all strangers. And we would never say some of these things in person to each other. And because of that I feel like people have these really weird responses to things that they read and they feel like they have the authority or space to go on to other people’s space and unload all of their opinions, all of their emotional trauma, all of these things and that’s not normal. You wouldn’t go up to a stranger and do that in real life. So my community guidelines just echo how you would treat me in real life, is please treat me like that on the internet as well.
With that said, I didn’t realize that this was gonna be such a problem until I talked to other large accounts, but mine grew from like 12,000 to 20,000 like in a week. And to manage like, 8,000 new faces… like I engage with everyone, but then to all of the sudden engage with people I don’t know, and who don’t know my work, and aren’t familiar and then receiving feedback from them…I realized I don’t really care what they have to say. I care about my community and people I’ve established a relationship with, but like people who don’t know my work and feel that they can offer these opinions…I don’t care, one. And number two, I didn’t realize how detrimental that would be on my mental health. I consider myself a pretty strong, mentally strong person, but it is not normal for one person to read 500,000 things a week from multiple, from Facebook, from my own website, from Instagram, from Twitter, and I realized I was ingesting all of this negativity and it was seriously affecting my mood, my depression, my anxiety, my frustration and then I would get online and unload it. All over my stories. I would unload it and other people had to ingest that. And I realized how the average person doesn’t ever interact with that many people, one, and number two, doesn’t receive that much negative feedback. And I realized this what celebrities feel like [laughs] when they read tabloids about themselves and feel like they have to defend themselves. And it’s like, that’s not normal for a human to receive.
So, I felt like I had to spell it out that my part of it, is like I also have to protect myself, otherwise I don’t have…because I want to protect others. So, by me not protecting myself that means how I show up isn’t how I need to be showing up, and I don’t need to unload everything that I’m feeling onto other people. So, again it’s all about like, establishing boundaries so that I can come in as a healthy, sane person and not continue this vomiting of emotion everywhere. So that’s why I created the boundaries.
AK: Yeah and I love it. And I think like, for me, the way I’ve had to go through relatively similar realizations and what I’ve recognized is the reason it’s so harmful to get all of that negative feedback is because for the vast majority of it, like those thoughts are already in my head. Like I already have the internalized dialogue of like…
AK: “I’m not good enough. I’m not, you know, I’m racist, I’m whatever it is,” like I’ve got all these terrible thoughts and then all that that…and then like trying to tell myself that, “Oh, if I was just strong enough, and confidant enough, and like did enough of my own work that that stuff shouldn’t affect me,” and I just think that’s really self-destructive.
K: Yeah, for sure. I actually asked one of my friends who was a counselor, why is it that I hold on to these negative thoughts more than I do good? Like I receive 50 great messages to one bad message, but like you said, it’s imposter syndrome. Where I’m already thinking that in my head. Or I’m like, “Am I anti-Black? Am I, you know, racist?” And when somebody tells you that it just confirms what you already believe and that’s the thing that you latch onto.
But, she was telling me that your immedigula holds on to negative responses because it acts as your survival mechanism so that you stay away from things that will help forward your survival.
So it’s normal to hold on to negative things rather than positive things. And once I learned that I was like, “Oh, I should probably eliminate….I should eliminate the negative opinions that aren’t constructive to my learning and growth and from people who have no context or education to teach me, period.
So, I had another comment about negativity…Oh! I also, during that same week, somebody had sent me an article, basically when, every time you get censored or something gets removed from Facebook or Instagram, there has to be somebody removing that and making those decisions. Well somebody sent me an article saying that it’s actually outsourced to Filipino…to the Philippines. And so there’s a ton of Filipino workers looking at every single thing that gets reported and making the decision whether to remove it or to keep it. Those people have been committing suicide at very high rates because they are seeing beheadings, they are seeing hate speech, they are seeing racism, they are seeing porn, they’re seeing children getting molested, they’re seeing all kinds of crazy things every single day. It has nothing to do with them as people, it’s not personally, it’s not their account, they’re just viewing these negative images all day and then they are killing themselves.
And then it also made me realize, like wow, the things that I’m digesting are just even watching really affect my mentality and how healthy I am to present everyday in my everyday life. And so I just wanted to make sure that I was protecting myself to not have to do that.
AK: Holy shit. That like, totally gave me chills, you talking about that, that’s fucking horrifying, but makes total sense.
AK: Yeah, and then again it’s like back to the nuance though, it’s like, we have to protect ourselves from that, but then we also can’t say like, “It’s too much, I’m too sensitive, I just can’t do any of this work” [laughs] you know what I mean?
K: Yeah, ugh. [Laughs]
AK: Exactly. [Laughs]
K: There’s such a fine line.
K: And honestly I can tell it right away when I see it, but I couldn’t make up a rule.
K: Like I couldn’t make up a rule that says like, “Oh yeah, if you react this way, that’s bad, if you react this way, it’s good. It’s like, it’s so situational.
AK: Yeah. I think for me it’s just about doing whatever I can in like my own mental and spiritual health to learn how to trust my own intuition and when something doesn’t feel right, listening to that, but then also when I feel like I’m centering myself or making excuses for something to also listen to that.
Alright, well, this was awesome. I–two more questions. 1.) Tell people where they can find you and then secondly, if you had one book that you would want everyone to read, it can be about the work that you do, or really about anything, what would it be?
K: Okay, um…so, you can find me on Instagram @hownottotravellikeabasicbitch, you can find me on Facebook. My facebook is How Not To Travel Like A Basic B, cuz they censor out the word bitch [laughs].
K: And then Twitter is @donttravelbasic because my name was too long and they wouldn’t accept it. And then my website is www.hownottotravellikeabasicbitch.com. My goal for 2019 is actually to have a censored website where people can use it in their offices or in their classrooms and not have the word bitch in it, so that’s my 2019 goal.
K: But, as for a book…that’s such a good question. Well, first of all I wanna say that in 2019 my book, it’s not my book, it’s a collection of stories by Native people, Indigenous people of not just America, but of New Zealand also. We’ll be coming out with a book, it’s going to be called Traveling While Native and there will be a subtitle that’s more appropriate, but it’s based off the series I had hosted on my website and I think everybody should read that book, and it will be 2019. I can’t give you an exact month, but it is being compiled right now and I think everybody should read that book.
But as for, I guess my learning on racism? Is that what we’re talking about or…
AK: Yeah, yeah or just like anything that really contributed to your own growth. Like something, if you could give a book to everyone on the planet what — I know that’s a crazy question– but what might that be? [Laughs] What was one of them?
K: I always come back to the book called The Four Agreementsby Don Miguel Ruiz, I believe, and he…there’s a lot of religion and spirituality attached to it, and I would say if you’re not a spiritual or religious person to just ignore that part, but go to the basis of the things where there’s four rules that everyone should live by and I think those four rules are really, really important in being able to 1.) Maintain mental health and 2.) show up in the world how you want to show up. So I would say The Four Agreements is what I would recommend everyone read.
AK: Cool, perfect.
AK: Well thank you so much, this was so much fun, I really appreciate you taking the time.
K: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, it was such a great conversation.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
AK: Hello again. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. If you would like to help support the show head on over to pateron.com/anyakaats, you can also support by subscribing, rating and reviewing the show on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, or simply saying to someone you think might enjoy an episode, “Hey, I heard this cool podcast, you should check it out.”
All of that stuff helps. My goal is just to reach as many people as possible, and you guys play an integral role in that. Thank you all so much for your support thus far. The song that I’m going to play you out with today is by Amadou & Mariam, they are a blind couple from Mali and they’re fucking amazing, and I have to thank my friend Thomas, who I met a decade ago (which is crazy that it’s been that long) when I was living in Amsterdam. Thomas, if you listen, you are absolutely my musical muse and sensei back then and probably my muse and sensei of more than just music, but certainlymusic, and I have been listening to them ever since. The song I am going to play today is called “Les Temps Ont Change” which in my very broken French, which used to be way better when I actually spoke it when I was twelve, but oh well! It’s a terrible loss. But it basically means, “Times Change”. And I think in relation both to what I was talking about in my intro and in my episode with Kiona that, you know, things shift and evolve, and that it’s important for us to try not to go backwards or to try to make up for something that was lost in the past, but rather move forward authentically and do our best to make the most of all of life’s death and rebirth.
So, enjoy the song, enjoy the holidays however you are celebrating them or not celebrating them, and I will talk to you all soon.