Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Social Justice and How We Get Free

Navigating our way through this complex, challenging time requires taking a clear look at the issues we’re confronting. Join Omkari Williams and her guests as they take on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

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Tuesday Mar 14, 2023

Shaun Marq Anderson
Given how little we are taught about Black history in general it's not surprising that most of us, me included, have relatively little knowledge of the role that Black athletes have played in the social justice movement before the late 20th century. But since the Reconstruction Era Black athletes have been pushing the envelope, trying to move us towards justice and equity.
Shaun Marq Anderson and I talked about the history of Black athlete activism and how the Sports Justice Movement has been evolving over the years as well as his new book, The Black Athlete Revolt. From Black jockeys who first raced in the Kentucky Derby to Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement Black athletes have used their voices and public platforms to address inequities. From the flamboyant to the subtle the movement has been as diverse as the athletes participating in it.
As Black athletes refuse to follow Fox anchor Laura Ingraham's directive to "shut up and dribble" their impact in their communities and the larger world continues to grow.
This conversation was not only informative but fun as Shaun told me about some real characters in the history of Black athletes. Have a listen, I think you'll really enjoy it. 
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
About Shaun:
Shaun Marq Anderson, is a global authority on sport and social responsibility Shaun says that sport is a microcosm of society, a catalyst for conversations about business, politics, racial injustice, environmental sustainability, and other pressing social issues. Shaun researches these contemporary problems in the context of sport to determine the most effective strategies and methods to solve them. As a consultant, he has used his work to help renowned brands such as Nike, ESPN, and Major League Baseball on their social responsibility initiatives.
Action Steps:
1) Reach out to retired athletes taking action on causes that you care about and explore how you might connect with them. A lot of these athletes are becoming the liaison in their teams' community development arm. 
2) What are the specific policy reforms that are currently being discussed that you can add your voice to with letters to the editor, letters to your legislators, and/or raising community awareness of the conversations that are happening around legislative changes. 
3) Pay attention the intersecting issues of race and gender and support women's teams in their fight for justice.
Connect with Shaun:
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend. 

Tuesday Feb 14, 2023

Allison Butler
We hear a lot about Critical Race Theory, as we should. But what about Critical Media Literacy? Have you ever even heard the term? I hadn't. Then I read The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People. Not to quibble with the authors but really, this isn't only for young people. This is for all of us. 
We're taking in so much information from so many media sources and yet we rarely, if ever, stop to think about what those sources are, their agendas, and what that means for what we're hearing and reading. Allison Butler and her co-authors take this on and lay out a path to being far more savvy about what we hear so that we are making thoughtful decisions about what we choose to engage with and how, rather than just buying everything they're selling without looking behind the curtain. 
This conversation gave me so much insight into looking behind the scenes so that I am less vulnerable to being taken in by something that seems reasonable but, upon closer investigation, isn't what it appeared to be at all. 
In this time of instant "news" it's more important than ever that we pay attention and interrogate what we're told rather than just accepting it. Allison lays out some clear and simple ways that we can become media literate. Ways that will make us better able to engage with all that's coming at us. 
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
About Allison:
Allison Butler is a senior lecturer and director of the media literacy certificate program in the Department of Communication at UMass Amherst. She is the author of Educating Media Literacy: The Need for Critical Media Literacy and Teacher Education. She is the co-author of the open source text, Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning: Interactive Explorations for Students and Teachers. She's also co-authored the new book, The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People.
Action Steps:
1) Recognize that this is not hopeless. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Start by looking at your own language. Part of what we're doing is examining power so instead of "Googling" something and using Google's (a huge, powerful corporation) language, think about just searching for something. 
2) Slow down. Don't just scroll, take a bit of time to read more deeply.
3) Take a break. Turn off notifications. Get your news like back in the old days, when there was a morning paper and an evening paper rather than being inundated all day long. 
Connect with Allison:
Mass Media Literacy
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.

Tuesday Jan 10, 2023

Ross Morales Rocketto
I feel pretty safe in saying that we all have gripes about our government. Where it's not doing enough, where it's overreaching. Most of us just gripe, Ross Morales Rocketto has taken a decidedly different path. Along with his co-founder, Amanda Litman, Ross has made it his mission to get as many young (read under 40) progressives elected to offices at the state and local level around the country as possible. 
From their start, rising from the ashes of the 2016 campaign, their organization, Run For Something, has been guiding successively larger numbers of young people as they run for elected office. 
What they've built in a really short period of time, is amazing. Ross and I talk  about Run For Something but mostly about how important having a strong progressive base is, especially in light of the deeply conservative Supreme Court that we're dealing with.  He's also very honest about the fact that having a (D) next to your name doesn't necessarily mean that you're someone who will fight to build a more just country.
It's a great conversation. I came away feeling hopeful and energized and I think you will too. Have a listen.
About Ross:
Ross Morales Rocketto is the co-founder and co-executive director of Run For Something, a piece of democratic infrastructure designed to recruit and support the next generation of young, diverse, and progressive political leaders. To date Run For Something has worked with more than 125,000 individuals who are interested in running for office. Run For Something as helped elect more than 650 new folks across the country. Before starting Run For Something Ross spent 20 years in electoral politics, having worked for candidates from school board to president. Ross lives in Washington DC with his partner, Jess, their dog, Nacho and cat, Baby Kitty.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Ross's Action Items:
1) The first thing is you can run. So you can go to and get more information about the offices that are available in your community. 2) The second thing you can do is volunteer either for a candidate or just to have one on one conversations and be a mentor for somebody who's thinking about running for office or currently running for office. You can go to to find those opportunities. 3) Make a contribution.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Their strategic plan (it's really good and fun to read or listen to!).
Connect with Ross:
Run For Something's TwitterWebsiteRoss's Twitter
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.

Tuesday Dec 13, 2022

Most of us, mercifully, get through life without getting the news that Emerald Garner and her family got on a July day in 2014. Her father, Eric, had been killed by a police officer who used a chokehold on him as Garner spoke those words that we have heard all too often, "I can't breathe".
While her older sister, Erica, sprang into action Emerald stayed in the background until the day that Erica died at 27 years of age from a heart attack.  With Erica gone Emerald knew that she had to pick up the torch and fight for justice for her father, her sister, and all those who had suffered at the hands of police.
Emerald's book, Finding My Voice takes us through her fight for justice. Emerald and I talked about what it's like to navigate getting anti-chokehold legislation passed while raising her daughter and her sister's two children. We spoke about the youth services organization she is working to build and we talked about dealing with trauma.
Emerald is someone who found herself in an impossible situation and is taking the tragedies that she's experienced to make things better for all of us. Have a listen, I think you'll be inspired.
About Emerald:
Emerald Snipes-Garner is the youngest daughter of six children and is currently the Executive Director of her non-profit We Can't Breathe Inc, which is named after her late father Eric Garner and her sister Erica Garner. She is the author of Finding My Voice: On Grieving My Father, Eric Garner, and Pushing for Justice.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Emerald's Action Items:
1) Get involved in any community action that means the most to you, whether it's a school board, things that involve your children, with your mental health services or elderly services, just get involved in something and figure out what your purpose is in your community.2) Follow me on social media       Instagram      Twitter3) Check in on all your friends, check in on your people, check in on somebody that you haven't spoken to in a long time, try to make amends with somebody who you left on bad terms with, if it's worth fighting for. 
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Nov 08, 2022

Diane Rosenfeld
I read a lot of books, most of the people I interview on this podcast are authors, so I'm pretty used to finding interesting aspects to various subjects. But when I started reading this book I was riveted! I couldn't wait to talk with Diane about what we humans, particularly females, could learn from Bonobo apes. 
That apes had figured out how to eliminate male sexual coercion and violence while this is still a huge problem for a, supposedly, more evolved species fascinated me. By the time I finished reading the book I had pages of questions for Diane. When we finally got to speak I was not disappointed. There is a way to address the crisis of violence against women and women hold the key. This is something that we can do. We just have to choose to. As Diane describes it, it's a pivot. A different way of engaging, with other women both individually and collectively. Then, that different engagement changes the way that males and females engage. From a culture of sexual coercion and violence to a culture where that behavior is not tolerated and does not occur.
Listen to this conversation and then think about how you can create your own Bonobo Sisterhood and what an enormous shift that would create in the world. The opportunity is right there for us. We just have to take it. 
About Diane: Diane L. Rosenfeld is an attorney, a lecturer in law and the founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, where she has taught since 2004. Rosenfeld has appeared in major media outlets, including ABC, Nightline, Katie with Katie Couric, CNN Headline News, Fox and Friends, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition. She is featured in the award winning documentaries, The Hunting Ground: It Could Happen Here, and Rape Is. Rosenfeld served as the first senior counsel to the Office of Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as an executive assistant attorney general in Illinois. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her teaching, mentoring and change making legal policy work. She is also the author of the new book, The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Diane's Action Items:
The first thing is what we talked about to stop judging yourself. Just start with yourself, stop judging yourself. And really take the book as an invitation to to be in an intimate space with yourself and the ideas in the book and see what resonates and what you feel, if anything, that you want to change and how you want to change it. The first thing is really to stop judging harshly yourself, and to open space for your sisters. To really believe in the bonobo principle and that you have a self worth defending.
Learn self defense learn, self defense that's inspired by the bonobo sisterhood. You could even start by going on YouTube and watching a 15 minute video, a lot of self defense is, is being ready to verbally shut down any aggression that's aimed toward you. But learn self defense.
And then once you learn self defense, the third thing is that that enables you to imagine defending your sisters. And it pisses you off. And you learn from the outside in and from the inside out that you have a self worth defending. And then you really want to do it. And you really want to defend your sisters. So it's a physical embodiment of the ideas. And that's what will change, because that's what will stop male sexual coercion.
Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend
Resources mentioned in this episode:The Bonobo Sisterhood: Revolution Through Female Alliance by Diane L. Rosenfeld

Wednesday Oct 12, 2022

Kelli Stewart
Sports are part of the culture of every country. Here, in the U.S., baseball is our "national pastime". Kelli Stewart and her husband, CJ, decided to use the tool of baseball to teach disadvantaged and at risk young Black boys essential life skills. Founders of the LEAD Center in Atlanta, GA Kelli and CJ have grown a program that reaches at risk Black boys in middle school and high school and helps them create positive paths for their lives.
When Kelli and I spoke one of the things that struck me was her commitment to engaging with the kids that most people don't want to engage with. Not the high achievers who were doing well in school but the boys who were on the edge of being thrown out of school, thrown out of society.
What Kelli and CJ have created is practical and inspiring and made me look at the possibilities of sport as a tool for building productive, engaged citizens in a whole new way. She also tells a great story about a baseball game between the Black boys in their program and Atlanta police. 
Have a listen, I think you'll find this as affirming of what's possible when we get creative, as I did. Kelli and I also talk about Serena's retirement from tennis and how we're both pretty sure that we're related to her.
About Kelli:
Kelli Stewart was born in Atlanta and raised in Crawford, Georgia. Under the protective and nurturing guidance of her grandmother, Amy Lou Faust, she learned about work ethic and service. Kelli earned a bachelor's degree with honors in business from Kennesaw State University in 2011. In addition to her degree, Kelli holds a wealth of knowledge regarding sport Kelli's based youth development (SBYD) as a resource for social justice, and the impact sports has on the social emotional development of youth. She is a co-founder of the LEAD Center for Youth in Atlanta, an organization that uses the tool of baseball to help inner city Black boys develop the skills they need to succeed in a world that presents them with obstacles every step of the way.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Kelli's Action Items:
1) Support SBYD (Sport Based Youth Development) where you live. It's a form of youth development that's different and specific in that it focuses on delivering a sport in a trauma informed, healing centered way. So it's not just for the sake of winning trophies, it's sport to help children who are living in very difficult situations, cope with those situations, and develop the SEL (social emotional learning) skills and the executive functioning skills that they need to cope.
2) Follow the LEAD Center on social media (see links below).
3) Become a recurring donor to support LEAD. I mean, $5, $10, $15, $20 a month, it really goes a long way. Those smaller amounts, they make a big difference. I can hear people saying, what can you do with that? Haircuts, transportation for MARTA, our public transit system here, it can go a long way. Meals for families who are experiencing food insecurity, it can really go a long way.
Connect with Kelli:
Website: Lead Center for Youth
Instagram: Lead2Legacy_Atlanta
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.

Tuesday Sep 13, 2022

Will Jawando
Will Jawando sat down to write a book about the Black men who had the most impact in his life. That book, My Seven Black Fathers, has illuminated corners of the Black experience, particularly the Black male experience, that all too often go unseen.
In our conversation Will and I talk about the influence of these men, including Barack Obama, on him. But more than simply a personal narrative Will has written, and we discussed, the universality of many of his experiences and though luck played a part in connecting him to the men whose mentoring helped lead him to the success that he has found we can take luck out of the equation. 
We talked about the challenges that Black boys, in particular, face and some of the remedies to those challenges. But more than that, we talked about what it's like to be Black in America and the struggle to overcome the obstacles, both external and internal, that are in the way of Black equity in this country.
Will's story is both inspiring and instructive. He gives us a path to follow to close the gap of possibilities for young Black boys and men. This was a heartfelt and hopeful conversation and it left me feeling that, no matter the roadblocks, with people like Will fighting for what is right, we can make real the promise of this country. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
About Will:
WIll Jawando is an attorney and activist, a community leader and a council member in Montgomery County, Maryland, a diverse community of more than 1 million residents, called the progressive leader we need by the late Congressman John Lewis, Jawando has worked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Sherrod Brown, and President Barack Obama. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, the Root, and on And his work has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine and on NPR, NBC News, and M. T. V. He regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, and other media outlets
For the written transcript click here.
Resources mentioned in this episode:My Seven Black Fathers by Will Jawando
Connect with Will:WebsiteInstagram
Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Jun 07, 2022

Kerri Kelly
September 11th changed life for all of us, but for Kerri Kelly the impact was especially personal. In the aftermath of that event Kerri upended her life and went on a search for wellness. What she found was not what she expected and, once again, the trajectory of her life was changed.
In her new book, American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal, and in this conversation, Kerri explores the ways in which our culture of wellness perpetuates systems that are deeply unwell. She leads us in a conversation that helps us find our way towards the deep, connected wellness that nourishes us all and away from individualistic focus that keeps us stuck in unhealthy comparison and competition.
I couldn't put Kerri's book down and then, when we spoke, I wanted to talk to her for hours more. 
Our distorted ideas of wellness hurt us all, and those ideas are so deeply embedded it can be hard to even see them. Kerri pulls back the curtain and gives us a path out, a path towards true healing.
Her book is out now and I can't say enough about how important a book I think it is. Listen to our conversation, read her book, and find your way to the healing that we so deeply desire. 
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
About Kerri Kelly:
Kerri Kelly, is the founder of CTZNWell, a movement that is democratizing wellbeing for all. A descendent of generations of firemen and first responders Kerri has dedicated her life to kicking down doors and fighting for justice. She has been teaching yoga for over 20 years. She is a community organizer, wellness activist, and author of American detox, the myth of wellness and how we can truly heal. Kerri is also recognized across communities for her inspired work to bridge transformational practice with social justice. Her leadership has inspired a movement that is actively organizing around issues of racial and economic justice, healthcare as a human right civic engagement and more. Kerri is a powerful facilitator, TED speaker, and is the host of the prominent podcast citizen, that is spelled CTZN. You can learn more about her work at
Three Actions:
1) Interrogate yourself. Be relentlessly curious about what you've been taught, how you've been shaped and indoctrinated by dominant stories and dominant narratives and cultures, and how that's holding you back from your own wholeness. So be curious about that. And how that's a part of a larger system, right, how you're a part of a larger system. 
2) Locate yourself inside that system. What is your place, and proximity? We're all impacted and implicated in different ways. And I want to just say different and disproportionate, I feel like I have to say that as a white bodied woman with so much privilege. So it's really important for us to both take responsibility for our part in this mess. And also see ourselves as part of the solution, right? So it's like, locate yourself so that you can step into your right role and responsibility.
3) Engage in collective action, get political, work with other people, line up in solidarity with organizations who are on the frontlines of the many issues that we are navigating right now. Because personal solutions are not going to solve the many problems, the many systemic and collective problems that we're facing. And so it's really important for folks to see their practice beyond the cushion, and to see wellness as a radical political act, as we work to create the conditions where everybody can be well.
Resources mentioned in this episode:American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal by Kerri KellyDecolonizing Wealth: indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance by Edgar VillanuevaWinner Takes All by Anand Giridharadas
Connect with Kerri:
WebsiteCTZNWELL podcast
Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend.

Tuesday May 17, 2022

Shawn Ginwright
What if we've been approaching this whole idea of justice and have left out a critical piece? What if our very approach is actually helping cement the damage that bias and systemic inequity have caused? 
We all know that there is much healing that has to happen if we're going to be the equitable society that we envision. The question is how do we get from here to there? What are the tools we need, the way of thinking that will help move us along?
Professor Shawn Ginwright, in his new book The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves, argues that we are failing to use all the tools of social change that are available to us. And, he says, those tools begin close in, with us as both as individuals and in our close familial and community relationships. 
This conversation deepened my understanding of what it's going to take for us all to get free. I hope it does the same for you.
About Shawn:Shawn Ginwright, PhD is one of the nation's leading innovators, provocateurs, and thought leaders on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He's the founder and CEO of Flourish Agenda Incorporated, a national nonprofit consulting firm that design strategies to unlock the power of healing and engage youth of color and adult allies in transforming their schools and communities. He is Professor of Education in the Africana Studies department and Senior Research Associate at San Francisco State University. He is the author of The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves.
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
Three Actions:1. At the end of each day map your emotional self. What were the emotions that you experienced that day. This, over time, allows us to map who we are, what our life is like, and whether we are showing up in the world in the ways we would like.
2. Ask, "Where am I going?" This is a question about who we want to become and where you (and your family and larger community) are going. This helps develop the habit of future thinking for yourself, your family, community, and society.
3. Practice these things in community. We in the West are taught to be individualistic but true healing happens in community.
Connect with Shawn:
On his Website
Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

Tuesday Apr 12, 2022

Tatenda Musapatike
If your best friend asks you what you want to do in the world and your response is, "Run shit" then you and Tatenda Musapatike should probably sit down and grab a drink. 
The founder of the organization, Voter Formation Project, Tatenda and her team work to leverage the digital age to not only get people registered to vote but also to get them excited to vote.
From working for Facebook to starting her own firm not only to run shit but to do it with intention and integrity Tatenda is creating a new model for how political work is done. One that isn't about living an underpaid, overworked existence. 
This conversation opened my eyes to the need for this kind of outreach to potential voters in this time of active voter suppression. I learned a lot and you likely will too. 
For a written transcript of this conversation click here.
About Tatenda:
Tatenda Musapatike, has spent over a decade working on digital programs and in tech to support progressive causes. She was most recently a senior advisor at ACRONYM where she built a $12.5 million program from the ground up to expand the electorate working to reach register and mobilize Black and Latino voters across eight states in the 2020 general election and the Georgia Senate runoff elections. Before ACRONYM, Tatenda was the Client Solutions Manager for democratic politics at Facebook where she supported progressive leaning nonprofits in their platform strategies. And she is now the founder of Voter Formation Project.
Action Steps:1) Please visit our Twitter @voterformation, or go to our website, And just learn more.2) There are donation links on Twitter and the website.3) If you are really moved by the work that we do, get involved in your local community so that you can help talk to people who don't vote and get more folks registered and involved in the process.
Connect with Tatenda:
Credits:Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

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