How to Find Your Identity, Voice and Personal Power with Caleb Gayle [Episode #727]
This week’s topic is: How to Find Your Identity, Voice and Personal Power with Caleb Gayle
I am so excited to have my very special guest, Caleb Gayle, who is an award-winning journalist and author of the book We Refuse To Forget, out now. Listen in as he shares the power of storytelling and our future, self-healing as part of a collective healing, directing past anger into energy for creating future change, and so much more!
The inspiration behind Caleb’s book, We Refuse To Forget…
We discuss the power in storytelling and our future…
Shifting away from the idea of domination…
The line between equality and distorted history…
Self-healing as part of collective healing…
Defining power and how to flourish for future generations…
Directing past anger into energy for creating future change…
About Caleb Gayle
Caleb Gayle is an award-winning journalist who writes about race and identity. A professor at Northeastern University, he is a fellow at New America, PEN America, Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies, and a visiting scholar at New York University. Gayle’s writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Guernica, and other publications. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Gayle is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, the University of Oxford, and has an MBA and a master’s in public policy, both from Harvard University. He lives in Boston.
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Kimberly: 00:01 Namaste loves and welcome back to our Monday interview show. I am so excited to share our conversation with you today with an incredible guest. His name is Caleb Gayle. He is an award-winning journalist and he is the author of the new book We Refuse to Forget. Caleb focuses on race and identity and personal power, and he has this wonderful way of weaving in stories, storytelling from the past, and instead of flattening our identity, rather listening and carving a path forward, forging a path forward, which is full of celebration, love, and seeing each other in the light of sharing personal power. Everyone is, is accessing their personal power and we can live together in harmonious community. So Caleb is just a really amazing, brilliant, good natured person. I so enjoyed our conversation. He is a fellow at Harvard’s, um, Radcliffe Institution of Advanced Studies. He has an MBA and a Master’s in public policy, also from Harvard and the University of Oxford. He’s writing has appeared in such diverse publications as The Guardian, the Atlantic, the New York Times magazine. And so this brilliant, brilliant author and book really stood out to me. So I’m so excited to share in our conversation with you in just a moment.
Fan of the Week
But before we do, giving a shout out to our fan of the week, our name is Kattaay I think I’m saying that right, and she writes such an amazing tool. I’m feeling extremely grateful for this podcast in moments of anxiety and confusion, being able to scroll through the shows and the ti and find the title that speaks most to what I’m feeling has been extremely helpful. Having guidance in an immediately accessible form is such an amazing tool. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love for this podcast. Well, Kattaay, why I am so grateful for you, my love, and just so honored that we are on this journey together supporting each other. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart and sending you a huge virtual hug no matter where you are.
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Kimberly: 02:27 And all my loves out there listening to this for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week and also just an amazing way to support the show. Please take a moment outta your day and leave us a review on Apple, Spotify, wherever you listen to our podcast. It’s amazing, amazing, so easy, but a powerful way to support. So thank you in advance. Please also be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you stay in the flow of the conversation. You don’t have to, you know, think or remember, make that decision to click on. We all know we make enough
Kimberly: 02:59 Decisions as it is in each and every single day of our lives. There’s enough going on. And also simply share the show though. This is a wonderful way to expand love. Big theme today in our show, just expansion and connection in your personal community. Finding ways to support that are free and easy. So it could be a particular episode or the show in general. Passing along the love to a loved one colleague is such a wonderful personal practice as well.
Get Your Copy Of YOU ARE MORE
Kimberly: Last little reminder, we have a new book, Baby Out, if you haven’t yet checked it out, called You Are More More Than You Think You Are – Practical Enlightenment For Everyday Life. You are full of practical tools and knowledge and teachings for really shifting your life from the inside out in terms of your vitality, your abundance, your creativity, your personal, in your peace levels, and much more. The book is available to you now, and it also, I will say, is an added bonus is broken down into short, digestible chapters for the busy, modern person. All right, all that being said, let’s get right into our show today with a wonderful Caleb Gaye.
Interview with Caleb Gayle
Kimberly: 00:22 Caleb, it’s so great to to chat with you today. You are on the East coast, You’re Harvard, Boston.
Caleb: 00:32 Yeah. Yeah. I, I am, Luckily we got sunlight, which just hasn’t been the case for the past, like, week. So I’m reminding myself of what, like vitamin D
Kimberly: 00:43 Right.
Caleb: 00:44 Are having to drink any sunny dee. So that’s, that’s refreshing.
Kimberly: 00:49 So today I’m really excited to talk about your book. We refuse to forget. It’s such a deep, rich, just incredible, um, body of work you’ve put together for us. But first a, a little background or just interested in this topic, this one really stood out to me. Caleb, my mother is from the Philippines. So I think, I think about, you know, you talk about so much history and the richness and the stories that we bring, and I’ve always sort of, you know, had this journey between, you know, growing up Filipino in a very Caucasian place in Connecticut, you know, where’s where we integrate, where’s where we let go. My mother was always really embarrassed about her accent, you know, and then there was aspects of sort of hiding our, our cultural part. And, you know, we’re talking here about the East coast. I’ve always felt so cold and uncomfortable in the East Coast weather, cuz I think my body’s tropical. I was meant to be on an island, you know, <laugh>.
Caleb: 01:48 Yeah. No, my, my wife is like me Jamaican, but unlike me, she was actually born there, so. Right. Our, our, our house, even though we live in Boston, is, you know, feels rather tropical. It’s like a bombing 81 than our house right now. Uh, I’ve adjusted where she has, but yeah, likewise. Right? Like my, my, I I don’t think my parents were nearly as, um, uh, embarrassed about their accent as I was, oddly enough. Right. I was, I was more worried that my parents accent, which appears usually when they’re upset at me, would emerge when I got a bad grade on an exam when I was a kid. Or that people would ask me, What’s, what’s that that you carried in for lunch? It, it smells different than my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Right. Or, um, why is it that you don’t like this pasta that’s bland? Um, uh, because I grew up with seasoning and flavor and, and whatnot. So I think that I, I I, I empathize with you. I feel you completely on that.
Kimberly: 02:53 So it’s interesting. We can say, well, oh, you know, where did this book come from? From inside of you? And also just guiding your, your whole journey. But we could say, well, may, you know, very early on, I knew you grew up in Oklahoma. There’s a lot of, you know, identity questions and things that came from your own journey. So can you, Yeah. I mean, very early, like the very earliest inspiration for bringing this forward in the conversation, What would you say?
The inspiration behind Caleb’s book, We Refuse To Forget
Caleb: 03:23 Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, Apropo, even the title of the, of the, of your podcast is me. It’s, it’s really difficult to feel whole, to feel good. Yeah. If you don’t have a really full understanding of yourself. And so, as you can imagine, plopping a kid of Jamaican immigrants out of what is like a bastion of Jamaican immigrants New York and plopping that kid into of all places Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, you know, you, it felt like I could stare off into the distance and not see another Jamaican soul at all, let alone a black soul, um, let alone a brown soul <laugh>. Yeah. Um, you know, there was a certain level of disconcerting elements to it. So even when I saw though kids who looked like me, as you’re referring to, and I talk about the book, Kids Who look like me, um, as dark as I am, your, your listeners can’t see me, but I’m a fairly dark-skinned black guy, <laugh>.
Caleb: 04:18 And those kids would say to me, Look me dead in the eye and say, Oh, oh, I, I got Indian in me as a point of distinction. I thought that they were kind of just spreading myths. They were, you know, telling tall tales or something. But in actuality, those kids had more than what I had, which was a really clearer sense of who they were, even if they didn’t know the intricate details of that history, which is complicated and convoluted. So many of them, I, I, I came to learn literally almost two decades later that those kids possessed a certain level of power, um, inside of them because they had access to who they were, and as such that they, they had a better sense of who they are and who they could potentially become.
Kimberly: 05:07 Mm mm Interesting. And, you know, when, when you’re, when you’re talking about it from that standpoint, it reminds me of myself being mixed, being, you know, half Asian, half mixed European. I didn’t have a clear sense. And what it did, it drove me deeper into myself. It drove me deeper into my spiritual journey to say, Oh, we’re not just what we look like, which is, you know, which I don’t wanna get too head, but there’s a part of, um, you know, the book where you talk about, and just this topic of blood quantum that somehow we’re different because of these, like, genetic characteristics. So what I found really interesting about your book, though, it’s like we’re talking about the future, but you’re bridging it with history and with the past, and particularly this story with the, the Black Creeks. Can you talk about the way in which you, you, you chosen to teach, taking it from this perspective, using this, this specific story, what we can learn from storytelling and this specific, um, and what we do with that as a collective for the future?
We discuss the power in storytelling and our future
Caleb: 06:12 Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think first, as you just kind of, from what you said, there’s so much power in storytelling and keeping our own stories alive and being willing to kind of explore stories that might sound boring to us. Right. Um, so, you know, in this story, you know, we explore kind of the, the, the history and the kind of unsealed fate of one family. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> representative of so many more who were once considered citizens of a, a large indigenous nation known as the Muskogee Creek Nation. Um, we follow them through their acceptance, their assuming of leadership. They were sent to leadership of that nation and their eventual expulsion. And it’s all because of their skin tone and the assumptions that other people, the boxes that other people created that they then found themselves on the outside of the very nation, that once they once called home, that once called them brother and once called them sister.
Caleb 07:18 And so, I think in many respects, right, it’s the very fact that they’ve decided to maintain that story and pass it down from generation to generation that allows them to hold that power. Right. And I think all of us have that regardless of whether or not we are, we have this like, very unique story history that can be tracked over 200 years, that some random journalists and writer like me will end up writing about. We all kind of have these interest stories, and we, we owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our happiness, our wholeness, um, to, to dig into our story, to whatever depth that we possibly can.
Kimberly: 07:55 You know, it’s interesting, like you said, that the history and the, you know, we, we study, we look at what’s repeated over time, and we look at how we make shifts in the future. And then I think back, like historically thousands of years, what happened with the Egyptians and the Hebrews and the Roman Empire, It’s like, where was the start of this, this seed idea in humans that based on color or characteristics, some people can be dominated. I mean, it’s huge philosophical questions. We think we examine it and then we see where it’s happened. Mm-hmm. We wonder where it started from, but then we think, how does this shift, Oh, how do we really create a big collective shift away from these ideas going forward? Yeah.
Shifting away from the idea of domination
Caleb: 08:36 Yeah. I mean, kind of like what we talked about in the book, you know, a lot of people when left to their own devices without oftentimes, you know, the, the, the forces driven by oftentimes capitalism and, and colonialism, you know, big wor big words that quite frankly, oftentimes just mean one group of people enforcing dominance on another. You know, with, even within the creek nation, they have their own ways of being, their own ways of identifying acceptance, their own more curious ways of identifying. And so perhaps if we kind of step back and realize for a second that the boxes that we’ve allowed ourselves to create and then be boxed into don’t have to remain boxes that we adhere to and stay in, that’s where a lot of that collective shift starts. Right? That’s where the collective shift really comes from, Right. That you’re talking about.
Caleb 09:33 And I think to some extent, as I even talk about in the book, right? Like, I thought myself to be black, which for much of my life was a diminutive thing that was a diminishing quality. Where in actuality it was a, it was a question of flourishing. It was, it was about so much more about, you know, a much richer tapestry about who I am and who I’ve been, and who my people can become. And so I think oftentimes it’s really shedding ourselves of these boxes that are just so confining that you didn’t create, that I didn’t create that no one asked you to create, No one asked me to create, and no one asked us to be in. And so perhaps if we can shed that, we can really start to kind of have that collective shift that you’re talking about, which is just so powerful.
Kimberly: 10:21 Have within your own journey, Caleb, have you had to shed, there’s questionings, you know, you’re, you’re black, but you’re Jamaican, so your ancestry wasn’t, is different from other black people. And maybe black people kind of viewed you in a different way, or you put them, you know, you said your wife was, you know, born in Jamaica, and same thing in the Asian community. It’s like, No, I’m first generation. My mom is Asian, I’m not. Right. It’s just all these things. So how have you reconciled, you know, you talk a lot in the book about oversimplifying and flattening, like, I’m black from Jamaica, or I’m black from the, you know, and then we have our experiences. I mean, it’s just, they’re so layered.
Loving and appreciating all the different tidbits about yourself
Caleb: 11:00 Yeah, exactly. Right. Like, it’s so powerful because I think what, what you’re saying essentially is what I’m almost, you know, if I, if I were to rewrite this book for kids, right? Um, which I think is oftentimes where our minds are most open to, to changing and accepting really radical ideas. Like, I think a story would be about like, how do you love and appreciate all the different tidbits about yourself that oftentimes you can’t just check off on a box when you’re filling out a census application or a job application or what have you. Right? And, and so for me, you know, I think part of my journey when I asked when you asked about that, like, Oh my goodness, yes. Right? Like, you know, I, I understand that I am a part of the black diaspora, but then wow, like, it’s, it’s led me to this journey of really exploring what it means to be Jamaican and what, what has that meant throughout the course?
Caleb: 11:59 What does it mean now, Right? Like, in what ways have my, my people’s history in Jamaica really kind of contributed to all sorts of political, musical, artistic, uh, astronomical, I mean, like all the ways in which it’s contributed to the ways in which so many people enjoy life, enjoy music, enjoy food, enjoy living. Right? And so I think like it’s, it starts with kind of first loving ourselves and loving kind of all of the good and perhaps the things we might not deem is so good and appreciating it for all that it is and all that it can be. That’s where I think, you know, that’s, that’s where I started to really better appreciate and love myself to kind of approach it with a certain radical love ethic that mm-hmm. <affirmative> I really can’t even shake anymore.
Kimberly: 12:52 Well, you know, it’s, you brought up something interested Caleb, when you were talking about children and the future generations. And I think about, okay, we know that we wanna create change in the future. So I think about my older son now who’s six, he has no idea about races, right? He’ll just say, Mommy, you know, he says, Oh, mama <laugh>, you’re browner than me. Cuz I have darker skin than him. My second son has darker skin. And then, but he doesn’t know races, right? So he’ll just say, Oh, that person’s more brown, or less brown. But at a certain point, you know, as you talk about here and you highlight the importance of history and, and cultural, you know, storytelling and traditions, at some point we, you know, we’re gonna have these conversations with him and I, you know, this, you know what we’re talking about here. Where’s the line between, you know, we’re teaching him everybody’s equal and the love. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is equal inside spirit is present inside everyone. But at the same time, historically things have happened. This is distorted, but this is what we want in the future. You know, there’s just, it’s layered as we continue to think about how we teach.
The line between equality and distorted history
Caleb: 13:58 Yeah. No, I think that’s so, so powerful in part because, you know, part of the point that I think I try making the book and that I try and make, even when I get talks, especially that I’m, I’m, I’m heading to Chicago to talk to a bunch of administrators and teachers, um, who who who are enmeshed in asking this very question that you’re asking, Right? Yeah. Um, which is what I always say at least is, you know, we can never deny people the fullness of their humanity. What I mean by that is when, when we look at history, when we look at the present moment, when we look at who we, who we want to become in the future, we can’t ever look at any historical figure. We can’t look at ourselves in the present, we’re in the future. And always assume good or always assume not so good, or always assume bad, but rather to assume the fullness of that person’s humanity, the, their capacity to do almost anything.
Caleb: 14:55 The, the greatness that lies within people to do such positive things in the world. And also, you know, the risk at times to do things that aren’t so good. And so how do we create a world in which the positive choices are the choices that we want people to be able to, to choose as easily as possible. Right? And so, especially when thinking about, you know, kids, I think especially in, you know, my education upbringing where I didn’t get the opportunity to have teachers that were thinking the way you’re thinking or teachers thinking the way a bunch of teachers in Chicago that I’m gonna go talk to this weekend are thinking about it. I, I wish I had people who assigned to every person through our history, the present and the future, the fullness of their humanity. Right. That, that’s what I think is really important here.
Kimberly: 15:46 And, and you know, for me, Caleb, it wasn’t, it’s, you know, we’re talking about educators. It’s so amazing you’re going to speak to them because that is a big part. I think a missing part is how we teach children about history. What’s happened, what’s going on. Now, I had, I remember a social studies teacher in sixth grade, and any time it was like, Native Americans were studying this, and she turned to me cuz I was the only non fully Caucasian. Oh, you Native American. And then we studied Pearl Harbor. Oh, are are you Japanese? It was like <laugh> anything now. Wow. Yeah. And so it was very traumatizing for me and it led me into like, first of all, being so fixated on my looks having eating disorders. Yeah. Always trying to be, And then it’s driven me into this holistic health and spiritual journey.
Kimberly: 16:32 So there’s a lot of, um, you know, all our journeys have, you know, ways in which we can strengthen. But, um, but educators are such a big part of it. And it’s, it’s confusing Caleb, you know, we wanna teach, definitely wanna make reparations, but then we also wanna teach this equality, right? Yeah. And that, so, you know, with here it’s, you know, your, your story about Tom or cow Tom, and it’s taking this very specific storytelling. And what I like about your way of teaching is that when it’s something we can really relate to, it’s not just theoretical, it does force us to introspect. And so self-healing is such a big part of the collective healing. We have to see where do I project Yes. Pain, anger out, and how do I heal within my family?
Self-healing as part of the collective healing
Caleb: 17:18 Definitely. Definitely. I, I, I feel that so much. Sometimes, sometimes I’m almost like, I’m just getting lost in what you’re saying. I’m like, Oh man, I gotta respond. Cause I
Kimberly: 17:27 Know it’s questions so
Caleb: 17:29 <laugh>. Yeah, no, it’s so powerful in part cause like, look, I feel you so much. Right? Because I think even in writing this work, there was, there was healing internally that I needed to do, Right? There was work that I hadn’t reconciled with in part like, you know, I, I had to wrestle down with some, you know, difficult encounters with my, the educators throughout my past who, you know, would say to me, you know, if, if what black people really want is equality, they should perhaps go back to a country or a continent like Africa to get that equality. Right? Like, I had to wrestle with that as I’m writing this stuff and also thinking very much so about a kid who, who might be hearing something similar. But I know that my experience isn’t the only one. I know that your experience, Kimberly isn’t the only experience like that.
Caleb18:23 And so for me, keeping in mind that person, that’s the person I was writing for, right? That’s, that’s the, that’s the person I’m hoping, uh, can find voice in this, um, in part because hopefully it can be a step in their own healing. Because for me, this was restorative right? To, to work out some of the kinks that I hadn’t, you know, the, the, the work out some of the, the challenges that I experienced, even in my own education upbringing, that made it harder. Right. Um, so for me, yes, I think so much of, so much of this book was writing it in such a relatable way Yes. So that people could really find some identification with the people who were involved, who were holding close to their stories and their histories, and changing the world around them by doing the work of healing their communities, their families, and themselves in the process. So hopefully it’s, it’s helpful to people who are sitting in the same chair in the sixth grade social studies class, just like Kimberly Snyder was. And just like Caleb Gaye was in the ninth grade Oklahoma history class feeling completely and totally isolated. Hopefully they, they feel in conversation and community when they read this book.
Kimberly: 19:45 Beautiful. Now, can you define your definition of, of power, right? Cause the, the, the subtitle, which I love here, the true story of Black Creek’s, American identity and Power. So if you could define power, Caleb, and also in your writings in the book, what is something or a few things that you would like to put forth to, to, to allow this power in this sense? Voice. Power you want to find it to, to flourish for future generations across all races and backgrounds.
Defining power and how to flourish for future generations
Caleb: 20:20 Sure. Yeah.
Kimberly: 20:21 We’re going right to the heart now. Big question,
Caleb: 20:24 <laugh>. Yeah, yeah. No, I love it. I, I think, you know, usually I think, you know, people often talk about or think about power as questions of subjugation or influence over many people.
Kimberly: 20:38 Yes.
Caleb: 20:39 And for me, um, part of the reason, the question of identity preceded power is because I, I felt truly that I, and so many others lacked power because they didn’t have a full and whole sense of themselves mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think that there is such, there is, there is such great dynamism, such great strength that comes from having a better sense of self and the kind of continuous desire to understand self. We all, we’re not static beings. We, we evolve, we change, we, we adapt. And so realizing that we are, uh, on a constant journey to better understand ourselves is the way in which I believe we acquire that is power to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and so to me, I think, you know, in terms of how I want that to flourish for people, you know, for generations to come, I hope that I have given people really accessible ways to do so.
Caleb: 21:48 Right there, the people in this book were not a lot of the people in this book, there was a, there’s a particular person in the book in John Austin who, you know, realized her power when she realized that she had been kind of disenrolled from the nation that she had been involved in since birth. And she realized that, I realized that there, she had no longer received mail. Mm. She was not an affluent expert in law. She was not a policy expert. She just said, I no longer get mail I I no longer get. Now, that was her power. She knew herself enough to know that the dynamic had changed, but she also knew that who she was had not changed in the process. That’s, that’s power Anyone can have that anyone can access that. So I, I wanted to make sure that people realize that it, it doesn’t require becoming, you know, a heavily degreed, pedigreed, you know, expert professor, secretary of state person in order to wield power. But that in fact, knowing oneself,
Kimberly: 23:02 Yes.
Caleb: 23:02 And becoming accustomed to constantly learning about oneself that much more. And how you interact and engage in community with one another and loving one another is actually the centerpiece, the cornerstone, the foundation, if you will, of true power.
Kimberly: 23:20 Mm. Beautiful. And in, in a way, Caleb, I talk about a lot, my work as a yogi, someone very interested in the VA as an eastern philosophy, is that we are always flowing our attention outward. So peripheral nervous system, what we’re sensing with our eyes or ears, what we look like, what other people look like, balancing that with coming into your spine, your central nervous system, this formless energy inside of you and really feeling, oh, this uniqueness, my worth comes from me being me, whatever you wanna say, soul, spirit, this unique collection of energy. So then it’s like contextualizing, yes, this is what I look like, but this isn’t all that I am. Right. Mm. There’s many ways to create that, that, that power. Sitting in meditation really feeling your, your strength. So again, um, when I, when I look at your book, which is so well written by the way and accessible thank you. And flows really well. I, I I struggle with this myself. You know, we refuse to forget, Right? So we learn, we hear these stories. How Caleb, do we not stay embroiled in anger about injustices of the past? Yes. How do we process that? And then, you know, your, your book is, you know, really just about, it’s, it’s, yes, here’s the past, but it’s messaging about the future. How do we stay positive? Or how do we then direct that anger into energy for creating future change?
Directing past anger into energy for creating future change
Caleb: 24:44 Yeah. Whew. That’s not an easy question, but let’s, here’s, here’s my, here’s my attempt to answer that. Um, I think that, uh, the lessons of history and people’s decision to persist amids circumstances that at were so much more, so much more substantial, difficult, um, and challenging with greater degrees of isolation. Um, the offer examples, that’s one. But I find the ways in which I kind of lose, um, uh, the, the, the tendency to become, you know, embroiled, as you said, in in anger or rage or disappointment and negativity, is that I find the, the present. I, I try to actually allow the, the history to, to help me enjoy the present, to to be present in the communities in which I operate, to, to listen more to, to, to the beauty that surrounds me, to, to be engaged with people, to be in conversation with people, to, to listen to myself as I process what people say to, to, to, to sometimes realize that I don’t have to sit in isolation with my feelings, with my thoughts, but that there are people who might be wholly and completely different than me who might have had a, a range of different experiences, but that also, um, um, might struggle at times with some of the same feelings of isolation.
Caleb: 26:28 So I think that perhaps it’s, it’s realizing sure. That, you know, there’s the kind of the usual advice, Oh, well, there are people who have had it harder. Right? And that’s, that’s one thing. But actually engaging in the present moment to realize and love one other and to engage in community is really how I stay super positive. That’s, it’s, it just, it’s impossible to me to laugh with one other, to, to, to have, I, I imagine for you as it is for me, when I deal with my cousins who are around your son’s age, and to see the splendid wonder and curiosity and enjoyment, and not for a second be incredibly positive about what is possible. Yeah. Um, so for me, it’s, it’s the, it’s the present moment, especially amid the struggles of our pasts that remind me of how grateful I am to be in the present moment in my body in this moment.
Kimberly: 27:31 Mm. And you keep, you bring up these words, Caleb, which are really interesting, isolation. And then we talk about being whole and community. So we can say the, when we’re isolated and we feel alone, or we feel like this suffering is, you know, us, we struggle more. So a big part of the journey forward is coming together in community and wholeness and sharing with each other.
Caleb: 27:54 Definitely. Definitely. Without a doubt. Without a doubt.
Kimberly: 27:57 And so, you know, again, going back to how you talk a about how we flatten, how we flatten people, what would be in, um, you know, in your definition, how would the opposite of flattening this, you know, wholeness, what would it, how would it be different today? Yeah. Lord, between different, you know, group.
What the opposite of flattening looks like
Caleb: 28:17 Sure.
Kimberly: 28:18 How would you like it seen? How would it, or, you know, what’s some of the things you might be talking to these educators about?
Caleb: 28:24 Sure. I think like embracing the beautiful complexities, right? Like, I think we’ve, we’ve I think in many cases kind of embrace the notion that, um, that complexity is bad and that it is our job to simplify, right? When it actuality it might be just our job to listen. Mm. It might be just our, our job to reflect. It might be just our job to sit and absorb, right? I, I feel like most of this book was me talking about how I absorbed what I absorbed was giving you, was giving you the reader, the, the, the seat on the right side of my shoulder to kind of ex examine what that process of absorbing was, right? And so I think the opposite of flattening is listening. The opposite of flattening is not super imposing my opinions on who you should be, but rather allowing your voice to speak louder sometimes than mine. Um, to allowing who you are to shine all of its unique ways and to not approach weirdness or what we might deem as weird, as bad, but rather as beautiful as rich. Um, and so to me that’s, that’s my ideal kind of opposite of flattening.
Kimberly: 29:56 Do you feel positive with the way things are going, Caleb, of the past few years, we’ve seen Black Lives Matter, we’ve seen Stop Asian Hate, We’ve seen just a lot of things. So how do you feel about now and going forward?
Now and going forward after past events with Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate
Caleb: 30:11 Sure. Yeah. I mean, I, I am, I think the truest expression of democracy and community is when, uh, institutions that have not been fair to people are held to account.
Kimberly: 30:34 Yeah. Yeah.
Caleb: 30:35 Um, and so I have such a large depth of faith and optimism as it pertains to those groups holding institutions accountable. Um, and so I, I feel as if their abilities, their capabilities, their, their dynamism, their excitement, their abilities to adapt are super strong. And I, I’m confident there. I think, you know, those institutions that are then responding or responsible for then carrying out policies, you know, those things don’t inspire a lot of confidence. Those things don’t inspire a lot of optimism and positivity. And that’s why, as I mentioned, it’s really important for me to exist in those communities that are trying to reimagine what opportunity, what equity, what, what appropriate treatments of people who have been so historically and presently marginalized and disenfranchised. It’s really important to me to be in community with those groups of people that have found joy oftentimes while relegated to the margins of society.
Kimberly: 31:51 Well, Caleb, how do you, how do you connect with the communities? Is it online? Are you, do you always make an effort to, to do in person things? How do you feel really supported and connected specifically? Sure,
Caleb shares how he connects with the community in feeling supported
Caleb: 32:03 Sure. So, you know, I’m lucky. I have a great life to start out with. Who, who, me, who, who keeps me quite, who keeps me quite centered. But I, I have an amazing family and extended family who do the same, right? So I’m, I’m, I’m richly blessed in that regard. Um, but then I think in terms of these larger communities that exist outside of my nuclear family, um, and extended family, you know, I, I think I, I sit in community with other writers who are trying to explain the moments that we’re in most that we’ve been, and those are very rejuvenative and, and help me to, to, to kind of get my steam, but also improve my skills at telling stories and amplifying stories and showing people stories. Um, but then also, yeah, I always love to try and be engaged, live with people because, you know, where wherever it’s safe and convenient, because there’s just things that come about when you’re, after you’ve given a talk or after you’ve said some things as you’re reaching for that sandwich, Right?
Caleb: 33:04 Um, that just don’t come up near as naturally when you’re communicating over the phone or via Zoom or what have you. Um, but, but yeah, I mean, I try and I try and find it wherever I can, however I can, but I’ve been richly blessed in that, um, a lot of those sorts of communities I was able to access and become, you know, part of the fundamental of before the pandemic. Right. Um, and so I think that that was really helpful to me, especially during the pandemic, right? Yes. As a way definitely of keeping me and my spirits afloat.
Kimberly: 33:41 <laugh>. Exactly. We all need that community. And now switching it a little bit within yourself, Caleb, as a writer, as a journalist, as a, as a, as voice, a teacher, professor, how do, what are some of your personal, spiritual or lifestyle practices that keep your voice aligned, centered, inspired, and I, we define spirituality, you know, very broadly, not religion. Sure. Everything from being in nature, meditation, prayer, um, you know what, whatever your, your personal practices are
Personal, spiritual lifestyle practices that keep Caleb’s voice aligned, centered, and inspired
Caleb: 34:14 Yeah. A host of things, Right. It’s more like a smorgasboard. I take all that I could get. Right. So, um, and I think sometimes it’s, it’s challenging, right? The best forms oftentimes are childhood, right? So I can list off that my wife and I are regular church growers and that we pray together. And that, um, during the pandemic, I picked up the practice of meditation, which I just had before. Um, and I found it rich. You’re just incredibly rich and helpful in centering myself the, this, the, the practice of mindfulness to be incredibly helpful, um, um, in regulating my emotions and regulating my body physically. Like <laugh>, I just didn’t realize the amount of benefits. I’m, I feel like I’m, I’m a newbie, so I’m like catching up. Um, so you, Kimberly, um, I love it. But then, then
Kimberly: 35:05 30 Yeah.
Caleb: 35:06 Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. The thing, you know, going to the other things like going to the gym and all that kinda stuff were also helpful. But like the, the, the stretch came for me, uh, when, when I bought my wife a mini golden doodle, um, who, who really just stretches the degree of my resilience in patience. Oh, <laugh>. And requires of me a certain degree of calm and playfulness Yes. That I never imagined. And I think as much as it annoys me, I get up very early in the morning. Uh, usually I do all the things that we just mentioned. Um, and before I go do the things that I mention, I have to out the dog. And it doesn’t matter if it’s 5:00 AM it doesn’t matter if it’s 7:00 AM I go greet that dog and the excitement to be alive, right. That that dog has <laugh> is inspirational to me. Like I am, I, I almost wake up every single morning thinking to myself, if I can be more like Asher, which is his name, if I can be more like Asher in my life, <laugh> with that, just sheer excitement, then all will be well as much as he gets on my nerve. So,
Kimberly: 36:25 And in consistent, he’s always excited
Caleb: 36:27 Every single time, every, I mean, he sees me and it’s just a bundle of joy. And I think that that practice of choosing joy Yeah. Is, is, I, I, I thought at first that I was going crazy, but that decision to choose joy as an active choice Yeah. Is, has been the most consistent meditative practice spiritual decision that I think I’ve made ever. And, and you know, growing up in like a very strict church environment, you would hear that often choose joy. Right. And I never understood what meant I saw that dog, <laugh>.
Kimberly: 37:12 I love it. And it’s the choice, like you said, spiritually we awaken to this Yes. Real like we’re here. And it really is choosing time and time again. We can go this way, we can choose love, we can choose fear, we can choose separation. So, um, do you think you’re destined to always be a, a, a doggy papa Caleb? Or are you open one day to human babies?
Caleb: 37:35 Uh, uh, my wife, uh, would never let me not be a dog dad anymore. Cause she loves more than me love. But yes, I think, I think one day, uh, one day my wife and I will embark on the, the human baby, not just the, I love it,
Kimberly: 37:49 Baby love, right? Cause I have friends that are both, they’re just doggy parents or sometimes. Um, Well thank you so much, Caleb. This is, you know, casting I love, I love your, your work, your writing style, your energy. So just to, just to wrap up, I mean, it’s a, you know, so much in this book we’ve refused to forget. But if there’s one last thought you’d love to li leave our listeners with or just a, a message or, or anything, a tool, a idea going forward, what shall we leave them with?
Caleb: 38:21 Sure. Yeah. Um, uh, I, I would, I would almost leave them with, you know, choose the decision to love yourself Mm. As much as you possibly can. Um, and put yourself then in as many communities. And they don’t have to be formalized large scale, you know, non-profit NGO institutions, um, but friend groups and acquaintances that feed that love that, that kind of compel you by dent of being in community with them to appreciate all that you’ve been, all that you are and all that you can possibly be.
Kimberly: 39:07 Wow. <laugh> well we’ll just end on that note. So well said Caleb. Um, but lastly, tell us where we can find out more about your work and where we can find Sure. Cyberspace, <laugh>.
Caleb: 39:19 Yeah. You can follow me on Twitter at my last name, Gayle Caleb, Um, or you can just go to my firstname.lastname@example.org where I have all of my tour dates and all that stuff. Um, and uh, hope to see you on the interwebs.
Kimberly: 39:39 <laugh>. Amazing. Caleb. And thank you so much. All my loves out there. The book again is called, We Refuse to Forget A True Story of Black Creeks, American Identity and Power. We will link to it directly in the show notes. So thank you so much and thank you so much, Caleb, once again sharing your wisdom with us. Much love. Caleb: 39:57 Thank you. Thank you so much, Kimberly.
Kimberly 04:14 I hope you enjoyed the conversation that Caleb and I had as much as I enjoyed being in the conversation. And as you can see, Caleb is so humble and warmhearted. But what I really enjoyed about the book, as I mentioned several times in the interview, is how well it’s written and how well it flows. And I think you’ll really enjoy and take away different aspects of, um, you know, just introspection and, and seeing things in this expanded light and, and listening and really just gleaning so much from the storytelling. So please check it out. We will link to it directly in the show notes. We will link to Caleb’s work as well as other podcasts, articles, recipes, meditations that I think you would, um, vibe from that will support you in your journey in accordance with this particular show. So there’s so much to explore over there at mysolluna.com, I will see you over there. I will also see you back here Thursday for our next Q&A show. And I will also see you in cyberspace. So til then, sending you so much love, so much gratitude, Namaste.