Pleasure activist adrienne maree brown on conflict, canceling, and community

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Hey y’all, it’s Brittany.  Last Saturday, the federal moratorium on evictions expired. The CDC mandated that renters not be put out of their homes during the pandemic. And Congress knew this deadline was approaching. The administration knew it was coming. And until my hometown congresswoman, Cori Bush, camped out on the steps of the Capitol building for five straight days and nights to protest evictions, they did nothing. Actually, you know what? That’s not true. They made a choice to treat 11 million people like they were disposable. So President Biden’s new 60 day federal eviction ban is due entirely to Congresswoman Bush. And, of course, this is personal for her. Two decades ago, the Missouri Democrat was living in her car with her two young children.

Cori Bush Like it is actual violence on a person, you know, to be evicted. And I don’t wish that on anyone. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And, y’all, I’m grateful that the congresswoman made this happen, but it never should have come to this. It appears that most lawmakers just don’t understand or even care about the realities of eviction. When people are forced onto the streets, they’re more easily forced back into choosing oppressive work conditions or worse, criminalized for being poor and houseless and jailed alongside millions of the mass incarcerated. And according to the eviction lab, it is Black and Latina women who are most at risk of being evicted. Listen, America’s housing crisis has certainly been magnified by the pandemic, but it most definitely did not start last year. And the truth is that our government has done very little to put quality housing within reach of most working families. Instead, they’ve been passing anti homelessness measures and making further investments in prisons and jails. Thank God for you, Cori Bush. You gave folks some breathing room and now it’s time to fight for permanent solutions, for real relief for these bills that have racked up over the last year and a half and committed time and attention paid by our government to a housing crisis of their own making. Like you Cori, we banging til the end. 


On the show today, adrienne maree brown. I’ll be talking to the pleasure activist about facilitating within movements spaces and finding joy even in a pandemic.

adrienne maree brown This past year and a half has been that like how do I sit with all the grief I’m feeling and also look towards pleasure? And I’ve heard from so many people that like, literally their orgasms are getting them through this period. Right? Otherwise, so much can get stuck in your bones and your cells and your body. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s coming up, but first, it’s your “UNtrending News” . 

First up, this past Tuesday was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, and it was established on August 3rd because that’s the date that marks how long a Black woman would have to work into the new year to earn as much as a white man did the previous year. Yeah, you heard that right. Black women make 63 cents for every dollar a white man makes. 

Reporter This amounts to a median wage gap of over two thousand dollars a month, more than twenty four thousand dollars a year, and nearly one million dollars over the course of a 40 year career for a full time working Black woman versus white man. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And things are pretty friggin terrible for native and Latina women too. Their equal pay days don’t roll around until the fall. So if you’re white and you’re listening to this, the least you can do is practice salary transparency. Tell your Black and Latina and native colleagues what you’re making. And if you’re a person in leadership, you have the power to make it so that your employees don’t have to sneak around trading this info because you can actually pay them and promote them accordingly. 

On Sunday, American shot putter Raven Saunders made the first podium protest of the Olympic Games, the twenty five year old athlete nicknamed The Hulk. Yeah, it’s serious business. She crossed her arms in an X gesture during the medal ceremony after she clinched silver in her event. Raven said her gesture was made in solidarity with oppressed people. 

Raven Saunders X represents the intersection of where all people who are oppressed, you know, meet. I’m a Black female, I’m queer, and I talk about mental health awareness. I deal with depression, anxiety and PTSD a lot. So me personally, I represent being really at that intersection. So for me, I decided to use my platform to really speak up for all of those people. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Raven’s protest is the first test of the IOC rule against protests on the medal podium. And they were looking into what penalties, if any, she might face. But ultimately, the IOC decided to suspend their investigation after Raven shared on social media that just days after winning her medal, her mother died. Raven, our condolences and prayers to you. Raven is so special. I appreciate her openness about her struggles with depression and for how real she is on and off the field. What I do not appreciate is the trend of the IOC always needing to investigate activism by athletes when those athletes happen to be women and people of color. After taking Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ medals after their Black Power fist action in the 1968 Olympics, the IOC has rarely been on the right side of history on this. So I hope that not just for Raven, but for every athlete activist that comes after her, they finally suspend this rule. 

And finally, a couple more Olympic shout outs, congratulations to New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who became the first out transgender woman to compete at the Olympics. 

Laurel Hubbard All I’ve ever wanted to be is myself, and I’m just so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to come here and be me. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And it’s been a hell of a week for Simone Biles we know. But she returned to the games and clinched bronze on the balance beam. 

Announcer Simone Biles, who captures the bronze medal, her seventh. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham The 24 year old tied the record for the most Olympic medals won by an American gymnast, and she says she did it for herself. Y’all, there’s been a ton said about Simone. There were folks who said that she was weak and a quitter and a failure. Meanwhile, millions of people may have had their lives saved by being reminded that no matter how big the stage, your mental and physical health is more important than your labor. 

Simone Biles The topic of mental health. It should be talked about a lot more, especially with athletes, because I know some of us are going through the same things and we’re always told to push through it. At the end of the day, we’re not just entertainment, we’re humans. And there are things going on behind the scenes that we’re also trying to juggle with as well. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So congratulations to you, Simone. I hope you are feeling all of our love and support. You are the undisputed greatest of all time. The GOAT in my book, for reasons far beyond any medal you have ever earned. 

Coming up, I’ll be talking to adrienne maree brown about the art of holding space for others right after this short break. 

And we are back, so it’s an understatement to say that the past year and a half has been difficult. Pleasure and joy are probably the last two words anyone would use to describe this period. But my guest today is somehow always able to find the pleasures in life, even in the hard times. adrienne maree brown is a skilled facilitator, organizer and author of several books, including Pleasure Activism, Emergent Strategy, and We Will Not Cancel This. Her newest book is called Holding Change, and it’s all about the art of facilitation and our greatest, most hopeful visions for the future. And y’all, this was the calming and comforting conversation I didn’t even know I needed. adrienne maree brown, I am so thrilled to be talking to you. 

adrienne maree brown It’s great to be here with you Brittany. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I mean, honestly, it is hard to keep up with you. I mean, you’ve been putting out a book almost every year for the past five years. You are busy in the best way.

adrienne maree brown I stay writing baby. I stay writing. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Right. I love it. Before I ask you about your newest book, I want to catch up with you about Pleasure Activism, which is, of course, a massive hit from 2019 New York Times bestseller. I’d love to just know what it’s been like for you to see your ideas about reclaiming joy in our lives really take off to this extent. 

adrienne maree brown Oh, you know, it’s been an interesting period since 2019, of like really having to do the work to find the pleasures of life. But it’s been a glorious practice period. You don’t really learn the most when you’re practicing and everything’s going well. Yeah, with pleasure activism. It’s really like we are in a long, long lineage now of people who have been told that their life has no value outside of labor and trying to undo that conditioning and reclaim ourselves, reclaim ourselves from oppression and reclaim ourselves from the lies people tell us about ourselves, reclaim ourselves from the constructs that keep us from each other. That’s a lot of work and I feel like Pleasure Activism is everything we’re doing in that reclamation process. And for me, this past year and a half has been that like, how do I sit with all the grief I’m feeling and also look towards pleasure and how do I let pleasure be part of what moves me through that grief? How do I sit with the loneliness I’m feeling? Because I expected to be around my people and now I’m by myself and let that be a place to practice pleasure. How do I fall in love, you know, in the apocalypse and let that still be a pleasure, a love of pleasure? So I feel like there’s a lot of practice around. And I’ve heard from so many people that they’re like, literally their orgasms are getting them through this period, right. Where it’s like otherwise so much can get stuck in your bones and your cells and your body. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham You know, you write a book like this in 2019 when the world is one way. And then this book really takes off before the pandemic, certainly, but definitely during the pandemic when people are trying to figure out how to reclaim joy and how to separate themselves from, like you said, these lies of capitalism and oppression. You’ve already listed some of them. But I’m curious if you found any new pleasures or practices, any kind of silver, joyous linings in this really, really difficult time. 

adrienne maree brown Yeah, you know, one thing that I did not realize, I needed to be even more honest about what gave me pleasure. I was on sabbatical when the pandemic hit. I was out of — I was actually in Italy. And all of a sudden I had to really ask myself, like, where do I need to be? Like, where will I be able to still rest in any way, you know, because I was like, oh, maybe I should just go to my parents and maybe I should just go to my partner. Maybe I should just go somewhere else. And I was like, no, the truth is, even in this condition, and even if this is everything and even if you’re not going to survive this pandemic and still, you know, there’s no guarantee, like we just don’t know. And so sitting with that, with the mortality right there in front of you and just being like, well, what is it that matters? And it’s like, I need to go be quiet. And I gave myself that quiet and, you know, struggled through it. But a lot of it was immensely pleasurable. I got myself really far from social media and really far from the kind of rhythms of like the twenty four hour news cycle and the mess of the presidency and the you know, like all these things that I couldn’t control. I like tuned them out enough to be able to hear myself again. And when you can really hear yourself, life can really become such a pleasure. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Amen to that. So in pleasure activism, you looked at how we can reclaim pleasure not just in our personal lives, but in the social justice work we do, in the liberatory work we do, yeah. What did you want to focus your attention on with your new work Holding Change? 

adrienne maree brown Well, for me, I came into movement spaces as someone who was super curious, you know, i was like what? I know that we need to change the world, but I don’t really understand all these things. And so for me, facilitation was my first offer into movement space. And what it meant was like, I’ll hold this space, I’ll hold this group. I will help us figure out the agenda. I’ll help us synthesize what’s happening. I’ll help us move through conflict, I’ll help us generate vision. And all along that I got to be a really curious human being. I am learning about reproductive justice and environmental justice and learning about racial justice, and I’m learning about all the possibilities for a new economy and just all these things. I’m learning about them by getting to sit in the spaces where people who are at the forefront of thinking new thoughts about these things are having the conversation. And so for me, holding change is like I’m not the only facilitator in the world I can’t be. And there’s so many people who need this particular skill set of, whether you’re in your family space, your community space, your organizational space, wherever you are, conflict arises. We are different because we are biodiverse. And that’s the good news, is that we have differences. And in all of those conditions, we need to be able to hold each other through the hard times with as much ease as possible. So that’s what I want to bring my attention to, is like, are you able to hold others? Are you able to let others hold you? How do we be with each other inside this changing world? 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham For those who are looking for this skill and maybe don’t even know that they’re looking for this skill, what does “holding change” look like in practice? 

adrienne maree brown So years ago now, the Movement for Black Lives called me to come hold change for them. And it was me and two other Black women who are both in the book, N’Tanya Lee and Makani Themba. And we were asked to come and help the group understand what is it that we can do right now? What is the landscape, what is the power analysis and what’s keeping us from being able to move forward with each other? How do we get in the right relationship with each other enough to have some impact? How do we harness the door that has been opened in this moment and I think several doors were open. Like we’ll look back at this decade, I think, as the decade in which Me Too and Black Lives Matter opened the door for a new kind of society to pass through. And, you know, some people ran through that door. Some people are still like, I’m not going through that door, you know, like, but the doors are open. And so for everyone in movement, we had to look at each other, be like, okay, Black people have been organizing for liberation for a long time. Right now it’s gone viral. And how do we bring as many people together as we can to move that, to shape that? So to facilitate that space meant sitting with all these powerhouse people. There are no small humans in that room. Right. There was no one who was like, I don’t got anything to say. I’m just going to sit over the corner. Like every single person in the space has a lot to say and they deserve to be heard. And what they’re saying is at odds with each other in some cases because it’s informed by their local work or it’s informed by the particular issues they care about and they’re trying to figure it out. And so we sat there and, you know, some of the work was looking at what was strategically possible. And then a lot of what I was attending to was what are the relationships between the people in the space and can we make those relationships stronger and deeper, so that under the pressures that are coming right, the pressure of mainstream media, the pressures of having no money and then having a lot of money and probably having no money again. Right under those pressures that the relationships will hold, that was my passion. So I’ll make them sit face to face and face to face, share things with each other, tell each other love stories. I’m really curious about getting people into groups where they talk about what really matters to them, where they are processing the strategy, not just from a standpoint of like moving chess pieces on a board, but like, what do you feel and what does your community feel about this and really getting to know each other. And we wove those things together. That’s what the holding change looked like. Oh, and I, I would say their work has been spoken for the impact of that weaving that they opted into deep relationships and they have really transformed the organizing landscape and the policy landscape and other things. And that to me is like when facilitation goes well, usually you don’t know the facilitator, you don’t know who — who held that. And most of the time it’s just like I always draw on the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu where they say when the master has done their work, the people believe that they have done it themselves. They feel that they have done it themselves. And I always think that’s the task of the facilitator basically to unveil to the people in the room their own brilliance and their own capacity and their own, like their sort of magical force is like now I could change the whole world. Do you know that you can change the whole world? 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham You’re perfectly capable. 

adrienne maree brown Let’s — let’s — let’s — let’s remember that, let’s not forget that, let’s do that. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I love thinking about it that way. And you didn’t come to this by accident, right. You’ve been doing this for more than 20 years with Black organizers, with feminists, with climate warriors. Yeah. You say that you’ve — you’ve held the hands of friends and strangers going through loss and death and grief and so many difficulties. I’m curious how holding change for other people has shaped you. 

adrienne maree brown Yeah, I think the biggest thing it has told me is that there’s really not a such thing as failure in the way that I was taught growing up. You know, I grew up in a military environment. I was like a talented and gifted kid I was supposed to achieve and that my value is in achieving. And the first big failure that I had was in the ninth grade. I failed out of geometry. I had a racist teacher who put me in the back of the class and I couldn’t see and it was, you know, in the south and it just was what it was. But I took it so personally and I had to transform the conditions. I went to summer school and I ended up tutoring all the other kids in the class and like having this really transformative experience of Blackness and understanding how the system was structured to make sure that these other kids didn’t succeed. And I wrote about that when I was going to college. And then I failed out of college. I flunked my French test and going through the process of facilitation made me realize, like each of those things, was an important part of my life. There was key data involved in that. And if I paid attention to it as a lesson, as like good data about who I am and what I needed. You know, in college, I was burning myself out. I was taking seven classes running four organizations. I was the VP of the student body. I was doing too much. And that would become a pattern for my life, especially through my 20s, into my 30s. The pattern was a burnout pattern. And if I had attended to the data not as a failure, but as a sign of like, oh, if you are working over the capacity, things will fall through and you won’t be able to complete what you set out to do. That happened multiple times in my life before I took the lesson, you know, took the L right. The L is the lesson. And I feel like that holding change for other people helped to normalize that, helped me to let my judgment fall away. And now I’m just like, oh, I’m an emotional mess today. That’s such good information. Why am I an emotional mess? Oh, because the climate is in crisis and I’m grieving and I’m this and that. And instead of looking at it as I’m having another moment of personal failure, I look at it as I’m being a human being. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah. Nelson Mandela says I never lose. I either win or I learn. And that’s been such a transformative mantra for me. Yes. You know, one of the things you note is that we are at a very particular point in history where we need a lot of holding of change. I mean, we just talked about the Movement for Black Lives. There’s so much work to be done and we’ve certainly got a more friendly administration in office. And yet there is much progress that people need in their material, everyday lives. And Republicans are trying with every single bit of energy that they have to take away the little we’ve got. How can the practice of holding change help us specifically at this moment in history? 

adrienne maree brown You know, one of the things I think that has been unfolding in this moment in history is also that we’re being socialized to trust each other less and less. And it’s the long term outcome of being involved in systems of supremacy. You know, this idea of white supremacy, the idea of male supremacy, the idea of able bodied supremacy, the idea that some humans are better than others, eventually leads us to a situation in which people are constantly trying to prove that they’re better than others and that trickles down. That trickles in every direction. So our movements are not immune to it. And right now our movements are really caught up in that same thing. Who’s good, who’s bad, who is superior, morally superior? We hear people all the time saying they would never do certain things and. We hear people all the time really try to make the distinctions amongst us and not the distinctions, I think that matter what you like, what are our political distinctions? Right. Those are the ways that our movement is politically biodiverse. And that’s good news, that we are thinking different things and trying to find alignment. But we’re trying to find distinctions of like, who is a good or a bad person. So in that space, I think the work of facilitators and I think the work of mediators becomes extremely important. That there are those of us who are willing to not get caught up in, you know, the drama, the like knee jerk reactions. Right. The pace of social media. Like there’s those of us who are saying, I’m going to be over here and I’m willing to hold some room for us to sit down with each other and actually talk this through. So many of the things that I think are elevated to the level of the dramatic are actually just conversations that got missed and they get missed because it’s so exciting to get on the bandwagon, you know, to be in the groupthink activity of like, yeah, that person’s bad. And then it’s like, wait, maybe that’s not a bad person. Maybe that’s just someone who had a bad moment and needs a conversation or needs some support or often is playing out some trauma because of these systems that we’re all surviving. And I think all the time about that, like, well, who are we to judge each other for how we’re surviving these impossible systems? It is an impossible thing to come into a world and be told that you’re not a whole human being. I mean, that is a devastating thing. It is a devastating thing that our children still recognize regularly, you know, that they’re being bullied. They’re being told that their lives don’t matter if they’re queer, if they’re disabled, if they’re different in any way, if they’re neurodivergent. Right, that we are not protecting our babies and then our babies grow up and we grow up and we grow into whatever fortified identities can get us through. So the tenderness when you recognize the pattern of all that and then you’re holding a room of 20 people, 50 people, and it’s like we not only get to vision something different for the future, but right now we get to practice something different right now in this moment. And, you know, I say this as someone who’s like feel your feelings. I love feelings. I think they’re so important. And I think right now we’re in a what feels like a maelstrom of any feeling goes. You know, I watch movement spend entire days over some relatively small offense. And I’m like, we didn’t get to the system that was underneath all these things again today. The system, the system won. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham You know, this is putting me in the mind of your book from last year. We Will Not Cancel This where you — you examine, you know, so-called cancel culture. And really what you’re talking about is within the context of movement spaces, abolitionist spaces, liberatory spaces. And I think you so tenderly make this distinction between conflict, harm and abuse and that it’s important to be discerning about these things because you don’t believe in and I don’t believe anyone is disposable. 

adrienne maree brown Right, I mean, if we learn from the natural world, there’s a use for everything. Nothing is disposable and with human beings, the reason we think some of us are disposable is because we have been socialized to think that way. Right. So there are huge portions of — of society that think Black people are disposable, there are portions that think poor people are disposable, there are portions that think people with disabilities are disposable and so on and so forth. And then if you’re in a combination that’s that intersectionality, if you have some intersection of those identities, then that disposability increases. So this idea that no one is disposable, as it’s like easy to say and it’s nice to say, it’s different to live it. It’s really, really hard to live in a situation where, you know, for me, the people I want to dispose of are white supremacist people who want to enact violence against me and mine. Right? I want to dispose of people who would ever cause harm to myself or the children that I love. It’s not like I’m above this feeling. I know this feeling right. As a survivor, I’m like, there are people who I have wanted to disappear. I know that feeling. And if I can get up under it, you know, part of the way I understand transformative justice is it’s not punitive. Justice is not just about punishing people forever and getting whatever joy and community we think we get from punishment together is not real. Right. It’s not about even trying to, you know, restore anything, is really trying to go all the way down into the root system of the harm that was caused and say, how do we make this harm impossible? And it’s not going to become impossible because we disappear one person because we’ve tried that. And I often in the book and in my life, I always try to point people towards Mariame Kaba because I think she’s at the forefront of thinking about this and she just put out an incredible book called We Do This Till We Free Us. I point to her because she reminds me, helps me think about the fact that we’ve basically been in two hundred and fifty plus years of an experiment of punitive justice. So if it was enough to remove a rapist from a community and then rape would stop, we would have done that. Yeah, that would have happened. So we know that that doesn’t work. We know that sending people into the prison system doesn’t actually break those cycles. And if we know that for the larger world, my question in We Will Not Cancel This is like, what do we do with that inside of movement space? Because we’re not immune to those tendencies. We still want to punish each other, dispose of each other. And there are still people who are like, well, they’re beyond help. I can’t do anything with them. Yeah. So I’m curious about it because I think it’s in juxtaposition with this beautiful quote from my friend Prentis Hemphill, which is “Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and myself simultaneously.” And I think that a lot of times when we’re disposing of people, what we’re actually needing is boundaries. And what we need in our movement is ways to say we’re setting a boundary against a behavior, but we’re still holding space for all the people here because we actually want to grow this thing. We want a movement to grow. And in order for movement to grow, all kinds of people with all kinds of mess have to come in and have to be welcomed in. We, I think, should have movement feel like a sanctuary where it’s like get in, get in the door. And in the same way that I was shaped, I didn’t show up fully formed with a great analysis and understanding all the different identities. All that has changed in my lifetime. Okay, I say this all the time because I’m like I used to be transphobic. I had internalized homophobia. I wasn’t out. I think these things are so important to articulate because I’m like somebody loved me enough to teach me. Yes, somebody loved me enough to make sure that I learned and pointed me towards what I needed to read and got me into groups where I could sit and process what I was reading and organizations that I was a part of made sure that I was reading and learning and not just laboring. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So before I let you go, speaking of some of the things that we read that shape us. You are an Octavia Butler Scholar.

adrienne maree brown It’s true. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And I know that you use speculative fiction as a framework in the justice and facilitation and meditation work you do. And this work is all about dreaming and envisioning and co-creating a better world. So as we hopefully prayerfully emerge from this pandemic, what possible future are you dreaming of? 

adrienne maree brown Yeah, I mean, I think speculative fiction and organizing are of the same ilk, right? Like, I think they go down at the same root system of imagination and practicing a different future. And the thing that I’m really dreaming of right now is a future in which humans are curious about each other again and a future in which humans get to be their whole selves again, that we get interested in each other’s flaws. You know, like how did you end up with that one? You know, the same way, you know, maybe you’ve had this experience with a new lover where you’re chasing each other’s scars and telling the stories, you know, like I fell, you know, and cut my knee when I was a kid. And there’s still the scar. I think everyone has these knee scars like, you know, but it’s like telling the story of like, this is the body that I have for this reason. And these are the things that shaped it. And these are the ways that I love to be held and touched. And this is the way that I need to be cared for. I wish everyone would approach each other with that same sweet, like, kind of new lover energy. You know, it’s just like, oh, look at you, beloved. Like, what made you like this, you know? And I love the things about humans that maybe would make them less attractive according to the mainstream models. Right. Like when someone has a really outlandish, loud laugh, you know, or they’re throwing their head back and they show the backs of their teeth or whatever, you know, like, I love this stuff. It’s just like, oh, like that. So, you know, for me, I don’t necessarily prescribe a particular like, oh, it’s this economy. It’s this thing is this thing. You know, I’m a post nationalist. I think we’re heading towards smaller enclaves of society in which we’re able to be in deeper relationship with each other than the current big national experiments allow for. I think that the long history of humans is tribal more than anything else. And I think there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason why we feel overextended right now that we’re trying to literally track too many things. It’s like we don’t agree, it’s too large. So part of my vision is one in which whatever structures we’re in are small enough for us to actually know each other, to know where our food comes from, to know where the water comes from, to be in relationship with land. I think that’s also a really big part of my vision, especially for people who had displacement in our traumatic histories, is like finding ways to return to the land and listen to the indigenous communities around. Like, how do we do that? How do our roots find a way back into the soil? And that feels like a personal passion of mine. Like when I think of my personal future, I want to be rooted more and more each year of the life that I have left. And I want that for all of us is to feel like, oh yeah, like belonging. My belonging cannot be shaken. I belong to the earth. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham How can our roots find their way back to the soil? Adrienne, I could literally listen to you all day. My spirit feels so soothed and so revived. Thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for who you are in the world. And thank you for spending some time with me. 

adrienne maree brown Thank you for the excellent questions. And thank you for having me here with you. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham adrienne maree brown is a facilitator, pleasure activist and prolific author. Her newest book is called Holding Change. Adrienne gives me chills and I so appreciate that she sees failure not as failure, but as lessons, it’s just a much healthier way to approach everything, how we change societies, how we live our lives. Those lessons become some of our greatest gifts, even when they are a bit painful to receive. Those lessons or Ls I will gladly take. So let’s forget about the self judgment and listen to what our bodies and our emotions and our quietest thoughts are telling us. There is so much we can learn and there’s so much pleasure to be had if we can actually hear ourselves. And speaking of judgment, it’s also true what Adrienne said about our movements getting caught up in supremacist ways of thinking and punishing. It can happen. It does happen inside of our movement spaces, but we don’t win by mirroring a system that perpetually harms us. We win by doing it our way, by imagining and creating the future that we deserve. Accountability is always appropriate and, not but, we should always ask ourselves what comes after that. I pray for all our sake. It is deep curiosity and openness to learn and to do what Adrienne recommends. Let’s practice something different right now. 

That’s it for today, but never for tomorrow. 


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Subscribe to UNDISTRACTED and rate and review us on Spotify, Apple Podcast or wherever you check out your favorite podcasts. 

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being, and thanks for doing.  

Y’all next week, I can’t believe it, is our fortieth episode and our season finale. 

You absolutely do not want to miss our very special in-depth conversation with Tarana Burke about her upcoming memoir. 

Until then, I’m Britney Packnett Cunningham. Let’s go get free.