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The Refined Collective Podcast

Sep 4, 2018

Thank goodness for internet friends, you guys. AustinChanning Brown is a leading new voice on the intersection of racial justice, faith, and black womanhood. I recently read her book I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness 
and let me tell you, it is covered with notes, highlighter, underlining, and all the things. It also made it to the top of Amazon's Top 20 Best Sellers list! Austininvites others into a dialogue through her writing, her speaking, and her workshops. 
Beyonce and Faith
• The first time I stalked Austinon Instagram
and saw that she hosted a workshop on Beyonce and faith, I knewwe would be best friends. (Anyone else bummed they missed out on this?)
•She hosted this workshop at a music and faith conference after realizing how much Lemonade was packed with faith. 
• The visual album also shared the story of black womanhood in a major way.
•"She didn't just kind of feature black women. She went all the way there."
I'm Still Here
When her book first came out, it went out to Amazon reviewers and the reviews were not pretty.
• After her husband told her "Austin, would you change one word? Is there anything you would change to have this reviewer like the book?"she realized the answer was no.
•The book allows white readers to confront some of their own behavior and allows black readers to maybe identify with parts of Austin's story.
Diversity v Reconciliation 
•People play a numbers game with people of color, using them as "sprinkles" instead of bringing them in to the core.
•This creates a guise of diversity when it remains wholly lacking in diversity where it counts.
•"We are whole human beings."
• The key to stopping the "token" behavior is bringing in black people who can change the culture that is catered to white people.
Austinremembers the chapel services at her university lacked the music and influence of other cultures. Instead of introducing a single black hymn, they brought in a pastor who could bring power and influence to the service.
"There are places. There are moments. There are institutions. There are people for whom I'm hopeful. But if I broaden it out to the entire country, I have zero evidence that by the time my son is grown he won't have to deal with this."
Even in the absence of hope for the country's eradication of racism, she puts in the work to bring about change.
She looks at photos of ancestors, some of whom were enslaved and feels a duty to them.
"I have work to do whether I feel great or not. That is my privilege. My privilege is being free."
On Being a Spokeswoman
•There is an immense pressure put on black people to be the spokesperson for the entire community.
•Her book focuses on her personal story as a black woman, but it invites others in the black community to share their experiences.
"It gives people a starting place as opposed to 'this is how it is'."
Paul Laurence Dunbar's We Wear the Mask
is an important piece of work in Austin's life. She remembers a teacher who brought this work into the curriculum in a way she had never experienced.
•She is grateful for the way he expected the white students who filled the class to unpack the poem, and it's themes the way she had been expected to do the same for white authors. 
•She remembers being engaged in the work and feeling understood by the work, but her teacher never put on her the responsibility of sharing her thoughts with the class.
•"He didn't make me the temporary substitute teacher on race."
To Hell With Good Intentions
outlines that good intentions are often based on assumptions.
"We don't suddenly become all about our race because you decided to introduce diversity into the class."
I'm Still Here
•We, as a nation, place so much importance on our history, but fail to give everybody'sstory the same attention.
"All of our stories are tied together at one point or another. When we go back to the beginning, it helps us understand how we got here."
•We talk about the fear white people have being called racist. Years ago, they saw that as perfectly normal.
"When we embrace that we are still learning. That's the journey. We point out areas where we can go. We commit to it and we laugh that we haven't realized it before."
Y'all, this interview was full of so much wisdom and laughter. I hope it was transformative for you. This episode is brought to you by AustinChanning Brown's discussion guide for her book I'm Still Here! Click here to access a free resource guide from Austin Channing Brown as well as well as some videos.How incredible?!