Young Gifted Black & Disabled – Unmasking Masculinity

December 29th, 2021  / Author: T.Reid

On a dark and light orange background with water droplets, lays a white mask with the right eye whole cut out down to the nose. Starting on the outline of the nose is the word "Unmasking" in caps and below that is the word "Masculinity".

Only one way to conclude this first season of Young Gifted Black & Disabled. The original YGBD brothers;
Headshot of AJ Murray Co-producer, AJ Murray
D'arcee Charington - a dark skinned black man with blonde dreads and a black grey coat smiling at the camera. D’arcee Charington Neal
are back!

Our O.G’s join me to take the mask off masculinity and see what’s behind it race, sexuality, gender norms, the patriarchy and of course disability.

We considered releasing this as two separate episodes, but settled for one. Coming in at slightly over 43 minutes, longer than your average RMM Radio episode, we hope it sparks some conversation.

Content/Trigger Warning
This episode does contain adult language, references to sex and traumatic situations. Please be advised.

Reid My Mind Radio will return in the first quarter of 2022! Until then, please be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite app, to assure you don’t miss an episode.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year.

Show Your Support – Shop Our Store

Check it out y’all! Reid My Mind Radio now has merch! T-shirts and more on sale now! Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more.

Shop now!

Getting to Know You!

We’re ready to take this podcast to the next level, but we need your help.
Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Become Socially Reidsponsible

Reid My Mind Radio now on:
* Facebook
* Insta Gram
* tsreid on Twitter

Show some love and give us a follow!

Want to listen to this podcasts via your smart speaker?

just ask it to play the podcast Reid My Mind Radio by T.Reid on your default podcast player.

Holla Back

If you have any comments regarding this episode or any others for that matter, remember you can;
* Leave a voice mail at 570-798-7343
* Email ReidMyMindRadio at Gmail

Listen

Transcript

Show the transcript

— Music begins, a cymbal crash launches a calm ambient melody which leads to a smooth Hip Hop beat.

Siri:

Ready to send it?

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:
Yes.

Siri:

Ok, sent!

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Aaight, cool!

You don’t know about Black Siri?

D’arcee:

… No!

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Aaight, hold on, let me have Siri say something.

Hey Siri, what time is it?

Siri:

2:09 PM.

D’arcee:

Stop! (Extended so Pronounced, Stoooooop!)

(Thomas, D’arcee and AJ all laugh…)

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

That’s the blackest it’s gonna get, but that’s Black Siri.

D’arcee:

Oh…. I’m dead….

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

If you go into the Siri settings, it’s Voice 3.

D’arcee:

I’m about to change that shit right now! Woo hoo!
TR:
! that really is a thing y’all!
Apple added some additional voices for Siri.
And voice 3 is a Black Man.
That reaction you heard is common.
At least in my experience specifically among those who are Black.
The laughter, was excitement.
Maybe you’re thinking, why would a Black Siri voice matter?
Well, Black voices matter!
Secondly, , please go back to an earlier episode in this series featuring Lateef McCleod for a much more detailed explanation.

Simply put, voices matter, representation matters.
If it doesn’t to you perhaps you’ve always been represented.

If this is your first time here and you’re not familiar with my voice, I’m Thomas Reid, producer and host of this podcast.

You’re just in time for the final episode in the YGBD series or
Young Gifted Black & Disabled.
This all began with an episode I co-produced last year with
Mr. Ajani Jerod AKA AJ! ;
— Sample AJ from “AJ Scratch” Kurtis Blow

A Reid My Mind Radio family member and alumni.

And it seemed right to team up again to close the series.

Since that last production in 2020, AJ caught me up on some of his personal and career highlights in 2021.

Among several positive highlights in his acting career, AJ has a role in a film released this year, Best Summer ever, which garnered a fair amount of attention.

He’s working in a new position that gives him a chance to really flex his creative muscles and advance opportunities for people with disabilities.
And join me in congratulating AJ as a new homeowner!

TR:

Having a job or even better, a career,
providing shelter and safety for one’s family;
in the minds of men, these are a few things impacting how we define masculinity.

Before we get into it, I need to let you know,
we talk about some things that may not be appropriate for young listeners and possibly triggering for others including sexual content and trauma.
The conversation covers a range of emotions. Yeh, real men have those!

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 04:07
So let’s jump into it then, man. So you good AJ?

AJ:

Yeah, I’m good.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 04:07

We’ve all been here before. So we just gonna kind of keep it pushing. So brief intro. name, image description, D’arcee, do you wanna kick it off?

D’arcee:

Sure. So, my name is DRC Cherington Neil, I am a dark skin black man with purple dreads and a shaved head in various shades of purple. And I am currently sitting at my desk in my apartment, and I’m wearing a gray t shirt that says love is equal.

TR in conversation with AJ and D’arcee:

Professor Purple!

TR:
He’s an ABD Doctoral student, meaning all but dissertation or he’s almost done!

We could have went with a royal theme for this episode as AJ wore a purple shirt.

I figured it made sense to go with Black. Nahmean!

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

so DRC, how do you sort of qualify masculinity?

D’arcee:
There you go starting with the life altering. I mean, if you had asked me that, like 10 years ago, I think my answer would be wildly different. Because I think, people, the answer to that question is literally dependent upon their own experiences. And I think so much of that experience is tied to age.

If you ask a 16 year old what’s masculinity, they gonna get you this bullshit answer about cars and sports and girls.

all sports ball is the same to me. I will say I don’t care about no cars, but my electric BMW begs to differ..

I honestly believe that being a queer person informs this more than being a straight person, y’all can tell me I’m wrong. But as a man who loves other men, it radically redefines your understanding of what it is to be masculine.

TR:

Woh! I can just imagine the reaction of some people to that statement. But I think if you’re going to explore the definition of masculinity then you have to be open minded and hear people out. No matter where it comes from.

D’arcee:
it’s like that whole phrase, we say, in the community, masc for masc, it’s the word masculine, M A S C.

It’s a toxic ass phrase, that basically means traditional masculinity need only apply.

People, expertly weaponize this phrase of masculinity, to mean “traditional” six pack, square jaw, scruff, kind of masculinity.
What you’re talking about is the flavor of masculinity. All forms of masculinity are value. And that includes trans masculinity too!
Folks want to try to come for me on my DMs I said what I said.

TR:
D’arcee can handle himself. But this is my house and I feel accountable and protective of my family. So be advised, you come for him you coming for me.

Too much? I’m trying to be a better man, my daughters help point out my toxic masculinity.

I hope that didn’t come across violent, but if you have issues that’s your problem. No need to share them.

AJ:

I guess when I think about masculinity, I think of strength in terms of not only physically or spiritually, being able to hold it down and always be accountable and always there to always ever serve.

If I can get into some stereotypes, when I think of masculinity, of course, I think of ego, being braggadocious. Being athletic, not having a job.

TR:

Well, AJ raised the issue of stereotypes, let’s just put them on the table.

AJ:

The negative stereotypes of black man is lazy. Good for nothing.
You get into the historical stereotypes like studs, Black man is in jail, or black men aren’t gonna take care of the kids.

D’arcee:

I think that people associate Black men with rage, gangs and violence.

A lot of people think of black men as being ultra conservative.
I don’t mean politically. Behaviorally, very inflexible. This is where black homophobia comes from.

A lot of it comes from black men. And the stereotype of inflexibility which, in turn gets translated into strength. In this weird, warped way.

There are some positive ones too. People think of black men as being stylish. They think of them as being very well dressed. But that comes with the side effect of they think of Black men as flashy.

AJ:

When you say that I think of that episode of Living Single, when Kyle, I think he was a mutual funds manager. This other brother really had issues with the twist of his hair. I thought that was a very good episode, because it shows the internal struggle
[between us and other black people.
]
Because it wasn’t the white bosses, it was the other brother on the team that told him to cut his hair.

D’arcee: 55:57

I’ve been in that situation. And it was extremely uncomfortable.

When I worked at the University of Maryland, I worked the front desk in the English department and the chair, this white woman she walked in. There were two black faculty standing in the doorway when she walked in.

It was the last day of school and I had just cut my hair.

I’ve had dreads for most of my adult life in various ways. And they had never really seen me without dreds , because that’s a years long process.
Oh, she said, you got your haircut? And I said, Yep, I did. And then she said, you look like a grown up now.

The black faculty in the door, were like, Oh, it’s a third rounder, she was like, what? Oh, come on, like, you guys know what I mean?

AJ: 57:07
Back in the day. I had longer hair. So I had braids, because I was trying to get my swag on and that way.

This one lady, she was a black woman. And she wasn’t necessarily talking to me, but I had heard the conversation and she was saying that her son also want to braid his hair. But she was like, I’m not gonna let him do that. She was talking about the gang Association and how, having hair like that was bad. And I don’t know if she didn’t notice, but I was like, I’m right in here. And I felt so sad. Because just because I have long hair, and I had these braids, but I’m a student. I’m respectful to you. I’m on the honor roll and I have braids, but you associated braids or longer hair with thuggery.

D’arcee: 58:24
You can’t be surprised you know, you invisible

TR:

That’s the thing, Black can make you invisible in many ways.

For example, shows like Friends or Seinfeld. They took place in New York City and there’s no interaction with Black people?

The way white store workers ignore Black people. I’m telling you, we even here, oh I didn’t see you.

If they do land eyes on you, sometimes it’s the stereotypes that are seen. So you’re followed in that store because they see a criminal.

Add disability and that introduces a new layer of stereotypes and invisibility that occurs within our own community as well.

AJ:
When I think of masculinity from societal speaking, maybe some stereotypes, I think, definitely non vulnerability, he can’t be vulnerable at all. You definitely can’t cry at all.

How many songs I heard…

— Audio quick mix of;
“- I Heard it through the grapevine”, Marvin Gaye;
“I know a man ain’t supposed to cry…”

“Tears of a Clown”, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles;
“Now if there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public…”

“Ain’t to Proud to Beg”, Temptations;
“Now I heard a crying man, is half a man, with no sense of pride, If I have to cry…”

AJ:

I missed that meeting, because the brother cries all the time.

No sensitivity, you keep very serious things to yourself. He can’t show any weakness at all.

You kind of have to know everything and be the jack of all trades.

D’arcee:
Yeah, because Dude, don’t ask for help.

AJ:

If you have children, the males are definitely the disciplinarians.

D’arcee:
Is that true and black households? Because I would definitely not agree.

AJ:

Yeah, yeah. It was my mom, because my mother was the primary razor.

I just mean how many of y’all have heard? wait until your daddy gets home?

D’arcee:

I think that what you’re talking about is physical discipline because like my mother was not the person, my daddy did that

TR:

My mother occasionally used that line on me, but she was the physical disciplinarian while my Dad never raised a finger.

The threat meant I’d have to sit through a 45 minute lecture from my Dad. My sister and I would often debate whether we’d just prefer a beating.
And just in case you’re curious, when it comes to discipline, I ended up just like my Dad! And my girls not only appreciate it but I think they turned out great! Hash tag stop corporal punishment.

TR:

So far, we’ve been talking stereotypes about Black men.
But what does that look like in the real world when we add disability?

D’arcee:

This is exactly what my research is. I study like black culture, but what happens when you add disability to it?

When you talk about blackness disability together the association is so terrible. And it’s, it’s this right here. It’s the core of this right here, because people already associate negative things with blackness. And when you add disability on top of it, that just amplifies the feeling.

AJ:
I remember one time me and a partner who’s also disabled. We’re sitting outside because we got dropped off for the bus. So we were just hanging out, and it was on the sidewalk. This older lady is riding in her car. And she just gets out of her car and gives us hot wings. Hot wings and a Pepsi.

D’arcee:
AJ I completely understand what you’re talking about.
All of the work that I’m doing now it’s an amalgamation of all the experiences that I’ve had that are like this, because it just kept happening.
And I literally was like, why does this keep happening to me?

Obama was coming to our building. And I got really dressed up because they told us we had to. I was in the three piece suit.
[Says emphatically, while clapping his hand to stress the point.)

TR:

You know one of those days when you just sort of feel like, why did I even leave my house? For D’arcee, it began with the access bus driver’s back handed compliment, “You’re looking too sharp to be in that wheel chair. Really?

D’arcee:

I left work that day, went home, and went to the 7 Eleven. I wanted a gallon of milk and some honey nut cheerios, because that is the best cereal on planet Earth.

TR:

If you’re interested in sponsorship here on the podcast, please contact ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com.

D’arcee:

And grabbed a thing of White Castle burgers because they was calling my name.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:
We gonna have to work on your diet, bro.

D’arcee:
this woman in front of me, she paid for her stuff. But she didn’t leave the store.

And she kept eyeballing me. And I was looking at her and she was looking at me and I was looking at her and she was looking at me.

I was like, right, so she didn’t want to get out the way.

I was trying to swipe my card and she moved my card out the way and just literally handed me a fistful of cash.

I didn’t know what to do. I’m in a three piece suit. Wearing my Fedora. My Houndstooth jacket, looking very DC policy.

I was like, Oh, thank you very much. But I’m good.

Then the door opens and this random man comes in. He’s like, Yo, did you pay for the man’s groceries?

So they had concocted this plan while I was going around the 7 Eleven picking up food. And I had been oblivious to all of it.

I swiped my card, got my groceries and left and didn’t say anything to her. And so she literally, she followed me outside. And then she was like, why don’t you take my money?

TR:

Charity, it’s often not for the so called recipient.
Once, someone accuse me of “blocking their blessing” because I refused their help.

I guess the real issue is often, how we’re perceived is ultimately out of our control.

D’arcee:

that was the reason I was talking about my suit. Because people literally don’t know how to conflate these two things together and everything to do with being a man.

AJ:

My mom actually knew an able bodied man, I think he was a comedian.
He got himself a wheelchair, and he would just sit downtown in the chair. His side hustle was he pretended to be disabled to earn cash. Chair

TR:
Ah yes, I’m reminded of the ol’ you’re faking your disability trope.

Another way we’re perceived by the public.

— Music begins, a thumping upbeat dance track.

D’arcee:

I will never forget. Oh, God, I was at a club.
I was there with my friend because she wanted to go.

I’m not big on clubs, but she dragged me there. It’s a dance club. fuck am I gonna do?

The club feels like it’s one of the worst places in the world. It’s a microcosm of every ableist fantasy on display at all times. If you not a ten, you’re not supposed to be in there. But like, people will bring you in there anyway, because they need entertainment.

TR:

Left alone while his friend goes off to dance with some guy,
D’arcee is approached by a woman.

D’arcee:

She was like, hey, and I was like, Yo, what’s up? And then she was like, she was like, Come on, let’s go to the dance floor.

TR:

D’arcee offers his hand, which she takes and pulls him in his wheelchair to the dance floor.

As they’re passing the bar, the bartender calls out to D’arcee.

Bartender:

Yo! Somebody paid for you to have this drink.

D’arcee:

Oh, wow, thanks. And I took the drink and got ready to drink it. And the girl was like, no. And she slapped a cup out my hand, knock the whole drink on the floor. And I was like, what.

She was like, I saw dudes put X in that. They just wanted to see how you would react.

That was issue number one, that people already knew that I was out of place in this location.

TR:

When they finally reach the dance floor, the woman is grabbing’ on D’arcee. Then she leans over and whispers in his ear.

D’arcee:

I want to make my boyfriend jealous.

Oh, wait, what? Wait.

her boyfriend was on the steps like mean muggin’ as fuck. And I was like nah, nah, nah, I’m not feeling this. And so I left her.

AAJ:
One time I was at this club and I wasn’t exactly in the exit but I was in that direction. So this lady it was a beautiful lady but this lady she’s headed out the club but she looks at me and stops before she leaves So she turns around, bends over and shakes it for me. I’m like, okay, which I’m not gonna lie. You know, I don’t know if this is wrong, but I appreciate it.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Ain’t nothing wrong with appreciating that.

D’arcee:

I mean, but also why though?

AJ:
I think she assumed, this is something he doesn’t get,.

I was at this other club. It was this man and his girlfriend or his wife and we were dancing.

He turns her around. and he’s slapping her butt, for me.

TR & D’arcee together in a questioning voice….
“Thank you?”

— Slow Transition moving to a more serious vibe

D’arcee:
you can bleep all of this out to remove it all. I don’t want to be rude. But I also want to be real on this because people deserve it.

In the queer community, people associate masculinity in sexuality, and it causes real problems for me, because I have been in a number of situations where I’ll be hooking up with a dude. And then he will assume, because it’s like, you know, I’m a man, and you’re a man that we came here to fuck. So like, that’s what we’re doing
. So the thing is you don’t even ask my permission.

I’m still trying to decide if I want to call it assault, because I don’t know where it falls on the gradient.

We haven’t had any kind of discussions about what we were gonna do. I had at least five dudes do this to me.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 1:34:58

Wow!

D’arcee:

If you decided to keep all that I know people gonna be listening, they’re gonna be like, wait like, is he talking about rape?

I’m talking about consent, consensual, you know, hookup, or, you know, relationships we met to get it in and half the time.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:
I feel like sisters would be like, bro, we this is what we experience. And so is that I don’t want to do like a disservice. You understand? I’m saying, and I’m not trying to tell you what your experiences at all. But man if we flipped it…

— Reverse slow Transition.

— Music Begins, a bouncy up-tempo, high energy Hip Hop beat!

“Forgive me Sir, but there’s something I’d like to ask you.”
“Yes.”
“Well, I don’t know how to say this so I’d better say it in the shortest way.”

TR:

Hey did you know; Reid My Mind Radio, is on Facebook and Insta Gram. We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned. You can find us on both FB and IG @ReidMyMindRadio.

On Twitter I’m at tsreid

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play Reid My MindRadio by T.Reid on your preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

If you’re looking for a way to give yourself a present while supporting what I’m hoping is your favorite podcast… one of your favorites? A podcast you’re kinda diggin’?

— Sample: “Can you dig it!” “Warriors”

Anyway, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says Shop.

Purchase a shirt, hoodie or any item to show your rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio! Or maybe you want to show your support for Flipping the Script on Audio Description. or of course, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

All support is truly appreciated.

You can find Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get your podcasts. That’s the perfect place to follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Just make sure you tell them; That’s R to the E I D

“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick) Like my last name.

Now back to the episode. ———-

AJ
I’m not trying to say because of my disability and your disability is different. But sometimes, I wonder, do you think, the things that you explore and are open about, do you think you would have those same opportunities, if your disability was more significant?

I’m a person that wants to be very sexual. I wonder, like, if I were a little more mobile, like you are, like a transformer, what I have an easier time getting down?
Do you think people perceive you as sexier versus more of a person with a more significant disability?

D’arcee:
Sure. I will say, first of all, that I recognize this is a question of privilege. And I most certainly do have that privilege.

The fact that you and I both have cerebral palsy, we both know that it manifests so differently in every person’s body.

TR:

We could replace CP in this part of the conversation with vision loss, hearing loss or just Go ahead and insert your favorite disability.

There are restrictions and privileges that come with any degree of disability
no matter where you fall on the spectrum.

But that’s not necessarily how it’s always viewed.

D’arcee:

They say wheelchair users sit on the top of the hierarchy of pretty. And by wheelchair users, they really mean like paraplegics and you know, people who look otherwise quote, unquote, normal, but in a wheelchair,. For all intents and purposes, you basically are normal, which is that it’s such a horrible, insidious way of talking about somebody’s body, but people are doing this.

TR:

It starts early.

D’arcee:

in middle school, we talked about sex constantly. Just being disabled didn’t preclude me from that conversation. But it did put it in a different light, because they were all like I’m doing X and X. And X was such girl, even if they weren’t just complete full of shit.

But at the same time, there’s this extra added layer of like, but at least they could. Whereas you know, you can’t.

AJ:

In school, a lot of people thought I was down and cool,
But when it came to the discussion of sex,
anytime I wanted to be included in the conversation, they were shocked, like, AJ?

Like, what am I a patron saint?

I’m a teenager just like you guys, right? I want to just like yell, but people were shocked is if it’s something I’m not supposed to do.

D’arceee:

I remember one of the worst days ever.
This dude Mike. He was Like, why do you have Aliyah on the front of your binder?

To the whole class he was like, huh, we all know that if you do jerk off it ain’t nothing but air. And everybody was laughing.

AJ, to your point, people think that it’s fine to do it at your expense because you’re disabled. And they literally are like, Well, you’re not going to have sex anyway. Who cares if you’re a man who wants to, you’re not going to do it. So you know, it really doesn’t matter. This is why they exclude you from conversations.

TR:

Occasionally, you get a sense of what the conversations are like when you’re not there.

D’arcee:

I was playing Xbox Live with a bunch of gay men. It was like 12 of us in this group.
We were talking about the club. I was like how difficult it is to be in the gay club.

This dude named Ben, who is in Portland, Oregon , said, I’m gonna say what nobody else wants to say.
Nobody wants you in there. You’re not welcome in there.
Honestly, I would throw myself off a bridge. Living your life is terrible. If I saw you in the club I might give you my number, but if I did, he said it would be with it when the lights are out where no one can see it.
I was so mortified. And I literally, and there was 12 people on this call, and nobody stood up for me. Nobody.

AJ: 1:52:38

I’m sorry that’s really upsetting to me. And I’m stopping myself from crying because they’re just disgusting.

But that’s what a lot of people think about disability. Disability is tragic, disability is ugly. Disability is seen as unmasculine.

There’s a lot of physical things that I can’t do. For instance, I’m an older sibling. But in a lot of ways, because I need so much help. I feel like my sisters are older than me.

I can’t be the big brother than I want to be.

my mom was a single mom, so sometimes I felt like I couldn’t necessarily help cleaning up. I mean, I certainly know now that you know, I have to change things and the way I look at work is different from when I was little, but it was hard.

TR:

Those adjusting to blindness or disability in general can truly benefit from reexamining things in our lives that affect how we view ourselves. Our career, family roles and responsibilities, the formidable loss of a driver’s license for example.

Reinventing ourselves isn’t exclusively a masculine trait, This conversation has me wondering, what is?

AJ:

I have male friends but my closest friends that I have are female, my strongest connections.
I noticed, I’ll be a church and like men would be talking and joking. And so when I would come around, for some reason, conversations would stop

D’arcee:

Disability is for many people the personification of a nightmare.

If I’m just gonna be 100 honest about it, I think that the bottom line is that most men feel uncomfortable. Because, men are not socialized to be caregivers. Men are not socialized to be emotional. Dealing with a person with a disability, you have to embody a level of empathy.

Men are socialized differently than women. Women are socialized to not seek their own pleasure. Men are.
TR:

We’re in a very new time today, men are encouraged to seek therapy. Expressing emotions and discussing feelings isn’t as frowned upon today. Yes, there are still a bunch of proud cavemen out there, but there’s been some real progress compared generations like my own, Generation X and those before me like Boomers.

AJ:

I’ve heard so many stories about men from that generation. I just feel bad. Yes, they were mean and harsh. But then also, could you imagine, like, the weight and the unpeacefulness, , the chaos that’s in your heart and brain because you have to carry this anger. If you are a black man, you had to deal with being belittled and berated as a black man being called boy.

it’s so it’s like, not you can express that anger, though. But the only way you’re going to is because of the mask would be we thought, you know, be either put my hands on my wife, or beat my children.

D’arcee:

look at these white people trying to tell me that like critical race theory, and like horrible and terrible, and
every single time like somebody tries to tell me that like slavery was a million years ago. It’s not that big a deal. I literally turn around and say my grandfather, my dad’s dad saw men hanging in trees in Alabama when he was six years old on his way to school. That is not the Civil War.

TR:

That socialization starts as a child.
How we as a society raise our children.

D’arcee:

I saw a tweet where somebody wrote, his four year old son came to him and said Daddy, I told the girl in elementary school that I liked her. And she said, she didn’t like me back. And he was like, What do I do? And he was crying. And the dad said, well, I think you know what to do.

The sun responded and said, Yeah, I know, try and try again. The dad said, No, that is not what you do. He said, she told you what the answer is, so you respect her wishes.

TR:

Wait, what?
Isn’t that what we’ve been taught?

AJ:

I think with men and I know myself sometimes there’s been a little bit confusion, because no doubt if a woman says no, that is true.

I hear stories all the time, even in terms of the Obamas, if you listen to their story, Mrs. Obama was like the boss, over a team or whatever. But remember that she did say, she didn’t say no. But then he was like, he was so doggone persistent.

When I say that, I’m not saying you just get a free pass, just to like, be aggressive. And don’t listen to the woman.

Persistence has shown, you do land a woman if you’re persistent.

D’arcee:

Women aren’t to be landed.

AJ:

I didn’t mean it like that.

D’arcee:

And I’m not talking about you specifically, in general men typically believe that it’s a conquest. If you want to talk about the route of masculinity it’s a conquest.

AJ:

That sort of takes the whole idea and the premise of the chase.

I even heard women say, it is the man’s job to chase. I don’t want to chase the man.

They want aggressive men. I’m not talking about rape or violation, but I’m just talking about the nuance.

D’arcee:

all of this comes down to the idea of what people think of as natural, which is, men pay for dates. Women get dressed up, women look good for the man. That’s your natural. And people are starting to undo all of that.

I honestly believe that if the internet was around in our parents, most of them would not be together.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

When I say natural, though, I’m going back even further. Go back to Hunter Gatherer.

D’arcee:

Yes, it’s primal.

Every time I hear that argument, I think, but that’s American. The argument behind that comes from Adam and Eve. And the question of subservience and the idea that man said in the beginning, that he was going to lord over Eve and that she is one of his ribs.

TR:

Perhaps the behaviors are learned.

D’arcee:

we have to teach boys about the patriarchy, we have to teach boys that the entire history of the world. And the way that it runs now is built upon the desires and the whims of men.

AJ:

I would just say we can open up masculinity, to include being vulnerable, we can open up masculinity, to include expressing your feelings.

D’arcee:

So we really do need to undo this whole argument from the beginning. And I’m not saying that like, that means that oh my god, gender norms fall by the wayside. But the whole points are bullshit to begin with.

TR:

Thinking about gender norms brings me back to some of the stereotypes we discussed earlier.

In fact, we get back to the issue raised by AJ.

AJ:

I have a lot of friends ,when it comes to like dating or actually, you know, getting down with somebody. It’s a no, and I’m wondering if now it could just be my fault. It had nothing to do with disability.

For instance, I really liked this person. I would call her because I know that she was getting off work, and on her way to the train.

One time when I called her I was like,

I’m calling you, because I know you just got off work. I just wanted to talk to you while you waiting on the train? She goes, Oh, isn’t that precious? And I’m like, precious.

AJ:

I saw Tiffany Haddish in a stand up.

She was like, I started sleeping with this dude, he had a disability. She said, Don’t sleep on disability because he was really working it. Something I just appreciate it so much, because there was nothing timid about them screwing. It was like we’re having sex and I’m slapping your booty. And I’m a disabled man. And at the end, she was like, disabled people want sex too.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:
So here’s what we got to start. You said slapping your booty change that shit to slap in that ass and let’s see what happens bro. We gonna start there.

AJ:

I happen to be friends and very close with women.

A lot of women, including my friends, had been violated. And so that’s always been in the back of my mind.

I think I’m so concerned that maybe I go to the extreme, because I’m always worried about being a gentleman and making sure that women are comfortable around me.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 2:39:04
that starting point for you is just like whoa.

That doesn’t even need to be in your mind in terms of being someone that’s gonna assault.

You have so much room to play with because you’re nowhere near that. but it has nothing to do with in terms of your level of confidence and what you put out.

D’arcee:

AJ, people don’t call me adorable. I don’t present myself that way.

If she said oh, how precious is because she misunderstood your intent. As a person who literally studies rhetoric, that’s the work of art. rhetoric. It’s intent.

Attractiveness, they say is only half about looks. The other half of it is actually psychological. Because I know that I have been very attracted to people that are not pretty. And what makes me attracted to them? Oh my god, I love their personality.

AJ:

one time, I met this girl and let’s just say she was very energetic towards men.

She was in my drama class. It came up in conversation that I never been kissed. Okay, so she said that she would do it.

And so weeks go by and my friend just checked in and like, you haven’t kissed AJ. And she was like, oh, I don’t want to corrupt him.

And I was like, I can be corrupted!
Somebody was saying people look at me as someone that’s very gentlemanly, very nice. But I’m not typically the person they want to get down with.

D’arcee:

Even if she did, that’s not the vibe that you want to begin with.

if you want people to take you more seriously, then you kind of have to present yourself in a space.
It’s not aggression, it’s assertiveness. And there’s a difference. I think men actually find that that line is very difficult. Because people assume that they’re being assertive when they’re actually being aggressive.
It’s a hard line to learn to know.

But I would say that when it works, it works really well.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show Sex Education. AJ?

AJ:

yeah, I need to get caught up …

D’arcee:

You need to get to Season Two. Because Season Two and season three. There’s a character in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy that they introduce, and he’s fantastic. And yeah, he talks about this.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

D’arcee, real quick, though, because you mentioned that character. Does he come to an understanding whatever it is?

D’arcee:

He does.

— Clip from “In Living Color” “The Adventures of Handi Man”

Boy in wheel chair:
“You saved the day. The physically challenged have been needing a hero and you’re it. Thank you Handi Man”

Handi Man:

“That’s ok son. And remember , never under estimate the powers of the handicapped”

TR in conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Has there ever been anyone or are there people out there who have sort of defined disabled masculinity or be a role model of sorts for that, coming up in life?

D’arcee:

Up until Game of Thrones, the answer to this would have been no.
Peter Dinklage changed that.

prior to Game of Thrones, he said, he told his agent don’t even bring me roles that feature little people. I’m not interested.

People frequently forget that he was a love interest in the show, Nip Tuck for a season and a half. He was a series regular. He was romancing the main character’s wife. And they were having a whole ass affair on the show. And it was juicy and scandalous.

I remember the husband and it was like, You’re cheating with him.

You want to talk about masculinity and the idea of like men, being in charge and taking charge. It’s Peter Dinklage and Game of Thrones.

He wields power and influence, in a way that most people in the show do not.

TR:

But Peter Dinklage isn’t Black

In a perfect world, that shouldn’t matter. And sorry to break this to you, we’re in a far from perfect world where race and the color of your skin matters in every aspect of life. Education, the justice system, health care and more. I didn’t create the system, I’m just seeing it for what it is.

AJ:

When I was younger and coming up, no, the only influences that I had in, in real life were able bodied men.

In terms of acting and my trajectory, I look at people like Darryl Chill. Darryl chills been holding it down. For a while. he was a stage regular, I think, for seven seasons on NCIS New Orleans. He also had his own sitcom. Here’s a brother, who’s doing his thing. And so I look up to him in terms of my career, but in my real life, to be honest, the examples of disability that I can honestly look to, in my real life that are disabled, are you Tom and D’arcee, because you’re holding it down and doing your thing.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Okay. And you know, I never know what’s gonna make the show but that part right there is definitely gonna make the show.

TR & D’arcee share a laugh.

AJ:

Seriously, brothers don’t get enough props.

Tom has been just like a brother to me. A mentor. He’s opened up a world to me. A world that I can have access to. I’m encountering things for the first time. His doors always open and in terms of you D’arcee, I mean, look at what you’re doing, like the jobs you have. You are disabled brother, getting your PhD.

Professor Purple.

I look up to the other influences like Leroy.

TR:

Once again, Leroy Moore.

That could be the drinking game of YGBD. Take a shot when you hear his name.

What are the implications of not seeing yourself represented in the media?

It can start with one’s own imagination.

D’arcee:

When I was a child I’ve always had like, way too much of an overactive imagination, if that’s not evident to people.

My brother and I, we used to do it as children, we called the Dreamland, we would just stare at the ceiling and makeup random movies

I used to have this persona in my head. When it was a man, it was always like this person who was non disabled.

I don’t do that anymore. Something clicked in my head when I was like, 27 or 28. And I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, this isn’t right.

AJ:

even when I would imagine being an actor, it’s like, it was somebody else though. Like it was a different person.

I just recently made a conscious effort anytime that I imagine. No, it’s actually me. And if I’m gonna imagine being in roles I actually put myself into. So even though it was my dream, it was always somebody else.

I never discussed this with anybody else. I was doing the same thing. But I felt weird to admit that.

D’arcee:

Thomas, do you think this is weird?

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 3:03:58
I don’t think this is weird. In fact, I think there’s a lot of stuff in terms of the idea of visualization. And these are the books that talk about this idea that the idea of moving yourself into someone else right that Kobe Bryant used to envision himself as the snake, the mambo.

A lot of athletes do this, like become that person. I kind of see that in what you’re talking about, I think is dope.

That’s a perfect way to sort of bring this to an end.

That’s what we need, you mentioned all this stuff in terms of the media and all of that, but like, you know, we do have some control. Making content, where we’re in those roles. Maybe at first it’s on a smaller level, but showing that, that this is wanted, that people would check this out. And people are interested in this.

D’arcee:

this making me feel like I need to make an Instagram just be like, Oh, not enough black wheelchair users.

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee: 3:05:21
Do it! Professor purple, B!

D’arcee:

I just want something to exist in the world. I just keep envisioning, because I remember what it felt like. I’m trying really hard not to cry, because I remember what it felt like, when I was 12. And how horrible. It just felt like you’re just totally by yourself all the time. You just feel so isolated. And I’m like, Oh my God, if somebody could get up on Instagram, and see a black wheelchair user, with some dope ass clothes, like, Oh my God, my life would change. My life would change because little kids can see it and be like, Oh my God, that’s me. I want that haircut. I want that sweater, with that haircut and those jeans. So I can go to school next week. And look, fly, and people can stop talking shit about me to some girl and be like, You know what, actually, though? He is cute.
AJ:

if you don’t see yourself in any other ways, besides the people that love you, you feel like you do not matter. And you don’t count. You feel invisible. You feel like you don’t count. Yeh!

TR:

Not only do you count and matter, but you’re beautiful, you’re Young, Gifted, Black & Disabled!

— Airhorn

Yeah. So that’s a good place to stop. I appreciate y’all so much.

TR:

A big shout out to my O G YGBD brothers, Co-Producer, AJ Murray;

AJ:

I’m on Twitter @GotNextAJ and Facebook and Instagram it’s AJ Murray.

Professor Purple himself, D’arcee Charington Neal;

D’arcee:

I’m on Twitter @DrChairington. Dr. And then Chair, C H A I R I N G T O N

TR in Conversation with AJ/D’arcee:

Instagram coming soon.

D’arcee:

I mean I’m on Instagram I just never use it.
@DRKaiyne

Bigup The 2021 YGBD crew, Blind Girl Magic herself, Jeanetta Price, brother Lateef McCleod, sister Alika, AKA the real Toni Hickman. Special shout out to Leroy Moore (drink!). It’s not a coincidence that your name comes up so often in these discussions. Salutes to you and all those who have and continue to let it be known, Black disabled people have been and continue to be out here doing our thing!

That’s it for 2021 y’all.
Let me know how you felt about the podcast this year. Do you like the format, did you notice anything you like or don’t. I’d love to know.
We will return in the first quarter of 2022. But make sure you’re subscribed because you never know, I may drop something in the feed.

Allow me to wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace & Love Fam!

Hide the transcript

Young Gifted Black & Disabled – Right On Time with Toni Hickman

December 15th, 2021  / Author: T.Reid

Toni Hickman is standing with an Emmy in her hand. She is a tall, slim black woman with a peach dress on and long black locs

I first learned of Artist, Rapper, EMMY Award Winning Toni Hickman a few years ago when I did an episode on Krip Hop. I wanted to reach out and invite her onto the podcast back then, but things sometimes slip off my radar. When I learned she was a part of the song Rising Phoenix for the documentary of the same name I knew I wanted to speak with her. While in conversation with Reid My Mind Radio Alumni & Family member Cheryl Green, I wasn’t surprised to learn that the two of them were connected. Cheryl put us in touch and then, well, a lot of stuff in between, but we finally ended up in conversation

In this episode we talk about;
Toni’s history in the rap game. from her days at Suave House as Slim Goodie, her encounter with Suge Knight to her current collaboration with longtime friend Big Yo in their new group Thakur (pronounced The Cure).

We discuss her experience with disability as a Black woman, the impact on her career, winning an EMMY and so much more. Of course, we pay special attention to the valuable lessons that are applicable to anyone adjusting to disability.

This conversation took a while to actually make happen, but it’s right on time!

Show Your Support – Shop Our Store

Check it out y’all! Reid My Mind Radio now has merch! T-shirts and more on sale now! Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more.

Shop now!

Getting to Know You!

We’re ready to take this podcast to the next level, but we need your help.
Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Become Socially Reidsponsible

Reid My Mind Radio now on:
* Facebook
* Insta Gram
* tsreid on Twitter

Show some love and give us a follow!

Want to listen to this podcasts via your smart speaker?

just ask it to play the podcast Reid My Mind Radio by T.Reid on your default podcast player.

Holla Back

If you have any comments regarding this episode or any others for that matter, remember you can;
* Leave a voice mail at 570-798-7343
* Email ReidMyMindRadio at Gmail

Listen

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

— Music begins, a piano chord with a vibes roll leads into a upbeat groove.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Hey, Toni, can you hear me?

Toni:

Yes!

TR in Conversation with Toni:

How you doing?

Toni:

I’m good how are you?

TR in Conversation with Toni:

I’m good

Toni:

we finally got to do the interview.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

yeah yeah I’m scared to say that, I’m gonna wait till it’s done (Laughs)

Toni:

I was just I had something else that came…

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Uh oh!I’m losing your connection I don’t know if you can hear me but I can’t hear you Can hear me but I can’t hear you.
Okay it says you’re unmuted, it says your video is on, try turning off your video and let’s see if that saves some bandwidth

Toni:
Thomas

TR in Conversation with Toni:

There you go.

TR:

Things happen when there supposed to

For example, maybe this is your first time listening to the podcast.
I don’t know what brought you here, but I’m glad you made it.

My name is Thomas Reid and I’m the host and producer of this podcast.

We’re in the midst of the Young Gifted Black & Disabled series.
This was inspired by an episode of the same name I produced last year with my brother AJ Murray.
I really encourage y’all to check that out.

While that episode along with close to 150 others are in the past, they’re not old or stale.
We add a bit of seasoning for flavor, but there’s no preservatives.
The dishes we serve up here are always fresh and good for your mind and body.

So you see, you’re right on time!

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

Let’s get it!

Toni:

My name is Tony Hickman. I am a tall slim, melanin dominant black girl with long dreadlocks and yeah I am excited about this interview.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

So now I usually don’t start with this question, but where were you born Tony?

Toni:

I was born in New York City.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Can you be specific?

Toni:

I was born in the Bronx,

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Yeh! say that one more time for me…

Toni:

I was born in the Boogie Down Bronx. Morisanna Hospital. I was raised in New Orleans Louisiana.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

No doubt you can’t hide that.

TR:

Over the year’s, Toni’s been known under some other names.

Toni:

when I was on Suave House, which is a record label where I have done gold and platinum musical performances, my rap name used to be Slim Goodie.

Everybody in the industry that knows me they still call me Slim like everybody call me Slim so it’s crazy if I would have got fat right they’ll still call me Slim.

TR:

That really does sort of make you think about the importance of a name. It can be really about who you are at one particular moment in time.
Yet, it can also be about who you are meant to be.

Toni:

A lot of people like in the conscious community call me Alika. Some people in the conscious community come up with other names for themselves and I think that’s okay too because sometimes we have to define who we want to be in this world and When we’re given our government names it’s not always where we are you know, so I get it but yeah, Alika is actually my real middle name.

My dad gave me Tony and my mom gave me Alika.

Alika means beautiful warrior.

TR:

On social she’s known as the Real Ms. Toni Hickman. Perhaps there is an impostor out there, but I’m thinking it’s more like representing her ability to share her truth. Keeping it real! Namean!

An early sign of that is in her poetry which she began at 9 years old.

Toni:

I had went through a lot of things with my mom and my father’s splitting up and so I would write this poetry to help me. It was philosophy, even at a young age.

It was like, I wish I was a bird so that I could fly away, but I am just a child, so therefore, I have to stay.

TR:

When her school put on a talent show, Toni teamed up with some friends and started rapping.

Toni:

We was the Bally Trooper Adidas group, and we had a beatboxer and my home girl and me. And we won the talent show. And from there, I was just like, Oh, yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing right here.

TR:

That first performance was not really indicative of how Toni wanted to rap.

Her partner wrote the rhyme. Which was about Now & Laters.

Toni:

I was just like, Okay, I need to be doing this all the time. But I can write my own raps. And from there, I always wrote my own lyrics.

MC Lyte, Salt N Peppa. That was like my big influences at that time as far as female hip hop. But honestly, my reality was a little bit different.

I grew up kind of, like, always looking out for myself. I’ve been on my own since I was 15. I’ve been doing music professionally since 16.

TR:

Writers of any sort are encouraged to write about what they know. Toni wrote about her environment.

Toni:
My environment was watching people die, like right in front of my face, people getting shot and killed.

And so I started rapping on the negative side of that, like, I was T Capone, I was Al Capone’s daughter.
I was the gangsta hip hop. And I gradually started going into stories of like, why this wasn’t a good choice, or why even being in that environment can get you stuck.

TR:

With a rap name like T Capone, well you’d assume not all of the stories were positive.

Toni:

It wasn’t just about killing. I can only remember one song I did that and they went platinum, but it was about killing. And that didn’t sit well with me. Like, during the process, it was dope, the song was called armed robbery. But then afterwards, when I listened to it, like my soul was just like, no, Toni , this is not your path, you have to correct and that’s something that happens in life, like, you know, we don’t come in this world knowing exactly what we need to do or what direction we need to go. And it’s only from these harsh lessons, that we get to learn our true purpose.

TR:

Telling stories with messages, was her thing.

Toni:

Like Scarface or Tupac. They used to actually call me a female Tupac because that’s really kind of how I related to the world.

And then even after that, I started going into Slim Goody.

Slim Goodie had messages in her music and that was very important for me Even then, even though I didn’t even know my whole way. I just knew that it had to have something that somebody could learn from.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Being compared to like a Tupac and Scarface, where do you think you got that? Were you reading as well as writing at a young age?

Toni:

My mother raised me as a reader. She was putting books in my face, like, As a Man Thinketh”, “Back to Eden”.

My mother was like this person who everybody would come to if they were sick or had an issue, and my mother would be the one to give them a solution. Like, she was known as the medicine woman in the church.

Now I do that as well.

TR:

During the time she was rapping under the name Slim Goodie,
Suave House moved Toni from New Orleans to Atlanta.
The record label however was experiencing their own change as their premiere artists 8 Ball and MJG were leaving the label.

Toni:

When you put your project in somebody else’s hands, and it’s no fault of anyone, but if you put your project in somebody else’s hands, you have to wait on their hand and move right. So if something happens with their hand, their hand get cut off or something like that thing, you’re stuck because you’ve put your dreams in somebody else’s hands. That situation happened to me. And so I eventually got out of the label legally, and started doing my own thing and started working with big artists like Jagged Edge, Petey Pablo

TR:

That got the attention of the infamous Suge Knight.

— Audio from the 1995 Source Awards…
“Any artist out there want to be an artist, want to stay a star, don’t want to have to worry about the Executive Producer trying to be all in the videos, all on a record, dancing, come to Death Row.” Suge Knight

TR:

Yes, that Suge Knight, from Death Row Records.
He liked what he heard and reached out to Toni.
Of course she was aware of his reputation which includes
allegedly hanging rapper Vanilla Ice off a balcony during let’s say contract negotiations.

Toni:

He called my phone personally right That was still huge for me that I was on the phone with him.
He was like yeah, I want to fly you out to Cali and you know we’re gonna do this because I love this song. This is a dope song.

Then three days later, I had my first brain aneurysm.

When I look back at it now its like, you definitely was not supposed to go out there.

TR:

Toni recovered from that aneurysm and moved on with her career.
About a year later, while celebrating the release of a new project back home in New Orleans, she felt ill.
It was another aneurysm.

Toni:

But this one actually burst in my head. Most people die when that happens. But they rushed me to the hospital. I had to wait for my mother to come from Atlanta and give them permission to operate on me. They told her I had a 5050 chance of living or dying.

When she gave them permission, they went in my head and started operating. But while they were in my head, I had a stroke on the table because my body went into shock, and it pushed my pressure up.

When I came to, which was a minute, I think I was out for a couple of days. But when I came to I couldn’t speak. And I couldn’t spell water. I couldn’t say water. But I noticed what I wanted.

TR:

She wanted to live! Even if she didn’t realize it at that time.

Eventually she was moved to a rehab facility in Louisiana.

Toni:

I had this song playing in my head, (Toni sings …)feels like I’m hopeless.

And every time I was thinking in my head, I just burst out crying because that’s what I felt. I just felt hopeless. Like, I had no hope. And I have been doing music all my life. And so I was like, What am I doing now?
Okay, now, the industry definitely is not focused on people with disabilities. And so, like, What am I supposed to do?

— Music begins, an eerie menacing slow Hip Hopbeat

One of my nurses came in and she said, Well, what you need to ask is, how did you have two brain aneurysms and a stroke and you’re still alive?
So that’s the real question you need to ask yourself. That stuck with me for the rest of my life.

TR:

Toni describes herself as very stubborn during this period.

Toni:

I had this energy on me that was like, I’ll be damned, that’s the only way I can describe it.
I just never gave up on myself. I had to either be hopeless, or I’ll be damned. And I chose the I’ll be damned.

I just had this energy where I was like, this cannot be my reality, I have so much more in me, this can’t be it.

I have so much more in me, like, just can’t be it.

TR:

She made her own rules.
Like refusing to remain in bed even when she couldn’t walk.
Eventually she began walking with a cane and was transferred to the Shepperd Center in Atlanta.
A rehabilitation facility that helps young people with brain injury.

Toni:

There were people in there and they were just like giver uppers, and I hate that that can happen. But some people when they fall or something has happened seemed to defeat them, they travel in that energy, they choose to stay in that energy of just being defeated, instead of fighting. And for me, I just didn’t see the being defeated, being my option, I wanted to fight for my life.

TR:

The physical, that was just part of her fight.

Toni:

I had to deal with the outside world and walking differently and not being able to wear heels or being self conscious about what I look like, and being judged by what I look like.

Before I was this six foot model type looking girl.

— Music Begins, a bouncy up-tempo, high energy Hip Hop beat!

“I got a little a, a little something I want to lay on y’all.” !”

TR:

Hey did you know; Reid My Mind Radio, is on Facebook and Insta Gram. We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned. You can find us on both FB and IG @ReidMyMindRadio.

On Twitter I’m at tsreid

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play Reid My MindRadio by T.Reid on your preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

— A hint of “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

The holidays are among us. If you’re looking for a way to give yourself a present while supporting what I’m hoping is your favorite podcast… one of your favorites? A podcast you’re kinda diggin’?

Anyway, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says Shop.

Purchase a shirt, hoodie or any item to show your rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio! Or maybe you want to show your support for Flipping the Script on Audio Description. or of course, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

All support is truly appreciated.

You can find Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get your podcasts. That’s the perfect place to follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Just make sure you tell them; That’s R to the E I D

“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick) Like my last name.

Now back to the episode. ———-

— DJ Scratch leads into
— Crippled Pretty, by Toni Hickman

Lyrics:

I was kind of wishing I was dead
They shaved off all my hair to do surgery on my head
And then my eyes turned dark and my world got black
I never thought my life would take a turn like that

My world is Cripple Pretty

I’ve seen the sun and…
I’ve seen the rain and…
Life is beautiful
I can’t complain, man
… song continues under the conversation.

TR:

Toni didn’t want to be seen in public

Toni:

A friend of mine, he was just like you done lost your confidence What happened? And then I was like, I didn’t lose anything. I’m telling him that but he was right. I hated that he was able to identify that with me that pissed me off. I’m supposed to hide it.

— Music begins, a melancholy ambient piano melody

I had to get all my hair shaved off during this process.

I went and got braids in my hair so I can just feel beautiful.

One day I was in the mirror and I was taking the braids out. And I had this energy that came over me, and it was just like, I love you. And so I’m looking in the mirror, and I’m crying to myself. And I’m just I love you, I love you just how you are like, I love you. And even to think about it. Now it’s bringing tears to my eyes, because that was the moment when I decided that I had to love myself internally. Before I can really reflect that in the world. You know?

TR:

Yeh, I do.

In fact, I think a lot of us do.
What I think could be helpful is figuring out how to access that energy.

Toni:

I think it’s in all of us, but we have to tap into it.

When I was in the mirror, and I was crying to myself, and I had to tell myself, I love myself. That was definitely God energy. And that was definitely learning what self love really means. Because everybody talks about you got to do the self care and the self love, but self love really comes in when you are down at your bottom. And you can’t even figure your way out and you have to find your way of understanding what self love means. That was my turning point.

TR:

She took the braids out.

Toni:

I put my two palm palms in my head naturally. And I was like, Look, this is me, you gonna have to accept me as is. I started going to the gym, the local YMCA in Atlanta. And I was working on myself so hard that they put me on the wall is like just being so determined to grow and succeed.

I don’t care what your issue is. You feeling like you need to go Get your nails and your toes done, whatever makes you feel beautiful. It’s okay to, to go in that energy because that inspires the same energy that makes you feel that self care and this self love.

I do it because it makes me feel better not for anybody else. I do it for me.

TR:

While she says her gate is off, Toni became strong enough where she no longer needed a cane and was able to return to the studio.

Unrelated to disability, today she chooses to record from home.

Yet we know, disability can introduce some change into our lives.

Toni:

Oh everything changes. As a melanin dominant person, or black person in our world, there have been so many ways to see how, as black people, we have been discriminated against, but disability takes it to a whole other level.

I’m not saying that it takes away from discrimination as black because if you’re black and disabled, like that’s a double whammy.

What I realized is this community of people with disabilities First off, is so strong, like there’s so many strong spirits , disabled activists.

I was kind of just trying to figure out my way, and Krip Hop came to me.

TR:

The Krip Hop Nation was started by Leroy Moore and Keith Jones in 2007.
It’s a worldwide association of artists with disabilities campaigning for equality through concerts, tours, workshops and much more.
Leroy reached out to Toni on the early social media app, My Space.

Toni:

When Leroy came to me, I was just like, yes. I have spoken at different events with Leroy. We’ve just done a lot of great things.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

There are many people within the world of hip hop who have a disability, but they don’t all identify it as such. So I’m sure Leroy has approached some people. And their reaction was probably not like yours, right? Like, no, I’m not disabled, you know what I’m saying? So what is it? How did you come to identify as disabled?

Toni:

I’m not gonna hide it. That was one of the things of like, self love. I can’t hide what has happened. I didn’t feel like I needed to, like, I felt like I needed to speak for this community versus hide.

I know rappers in the industry right now. They’ve never shine light on it, because they know how the industry looks at that. And it’s unfortunate, because this is something that needs the light. The disability community needs inclusion.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

Do you think that can change within hip hop, specifically?

Toni:’

I’m not sure.

At first, my goal was to be a part of the industry without being like, an activist.

I just wanted to be that slim girl that was rapping. But now my goal is not to be a part of them, my goal is to be a part of change. And even if my voice can redirect, to change them in some kind of way, then I’ve still fulfilled my purpose. Because at the end of the day, all Hip Hop artists have some form of duty.

I told you, I started with the poetry. And it’s always been philosophical. So we’re channeled,

Nipsey Hussle talks about this too. We get this energy that comes through us, we don’t know where these lyrics come from. They come through us and that is how we express. Those that channeling for negative, that is not helping our environment, but if we choose to channel and help our environment, then we are really being what we’re supposed to be on this earth.

TR:

There’s real purpose in sharing stories about disability and our experiences through
lyrics, musicianship, dance, art!
So it’s really great to se Toni and fellow Krip Hop artists
George Tragic and co-founder Keith Jones, receive recognition for their work
in the Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix.

Toni:

The documentary is about the Paralympics, and all of these amazing people who have stories.

it is a story of just pure, I’ll be damned. I’m gonna do this.
TR:

Daniel Pemberton, the music director for the film wanted to make sure the project included disabled musicians.
That first just meant hiring disabled orchestral instrumentalist.

Toni:

Then he decided that he wants to have like, a hip hop song attached. And so they got in touch with Leroy, who is the founder of crip, hop, and Leroy got in touch with us. And they kind of wanted me to add the energy of the singing into it, because they had listened to our projects.

I speak from the heart always, and I work on people always being able to feel that emotion that I have and so they wanted me to add the energy of the song.

I had more than what was there. And then the director came back, he’s like, Well, you know, maybe we take this off and just use this. And that’s how we ended up with the hook.

I’m a Rising Phoenix, I’ll rise above you.

— Song mixes in with the lyrics…

Toni:

And that is pretty much the story of what you have to do when you have a disability, you have to gain this, I’ll be damned attitude, and fight for your equality.

TR:

Not only is Toni singing the hook, but she drops a verse as well.

Toni:

I was just happy to be a part of the movie because just that alone was so powerful.

We had no idea that it was gonna win an EMMY.

I was just floored.

— News footage…
“A lot of people online are criticizing the award show with the hash tag #EMMYsSoWhite, trending on Twitter. No Black actors won big awards despite a record number being nominated. 49 by the way.”

Toni:

This goes back to that inclusion thing. This song was so amazing that it won an EMMY.
That’s the statement that I want to make because, I’m Black.

TR in conversation with Toni:

Mm! Yeh!

Toni:

We won because of this song so don’t say that we were not include it you need to think about us you need to understand that we are included

TR in conversation with Toni:

Yeh, that’s that “well they’re not Black they’re disabled.”

Toni:

That’s what i’m talking about!

TR:

Sometimes y’all, when you’re Black and disabled, It feels like well, am I not Black enough for ya!

— Sample from Billy Paul “Am I Black Enough”

TR:

Despite all that, Toni has an EMMY. And naturally, it’s in her studio.

Toni:

it’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful.

TR:

Toni’s working on a new project right now!

Thakur>

Toni:
Thakur is definitely a project that I must confess is confrontational. But it is focused on I guess, bringing in the deep thinkers and, and also helping people understand that, like, in the process of us looking outside of ourselves, for someone to save us, we also have to look internally and tap into our God’s self and work on saving ourselves.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

What’s the controversy though?

Toni:

Well, the controversy, I mean, even in Christianity, we’ve been taught to pray to a white God, and look for white gods to save us.

And so in that process, we have given away all of our power. For us to access who we truly need to be, we have to redirect how we look at God.
God is everywhere. God is in the trees, the grass. God is energy. But we also manifest that energy. And so we have to also just see how looking at a white God, who has also been the same image as our slave master has damaged our psyche.

TR:

The Cure , spelled T H A K U R is Toni’s new group.

Toni:

It’s just me and my homeboy.

I was doing a lot of big things before I went in the hospital. And he was one of the people that just kind of came in and was there before and after. He’s a really dope artist, he’s a dope producer. But also a person that has just been influencing me to just keep going regardless of the standards that the music industry tries to put on artists, like age, disability or whatever. He was one of those people that just was always in my corner and encouraging me to you know, live my greatest life.

He’s Big Yo!

TR in Conversation with Toni:

When we’re talking about disability. I love to hear about the friends in the family who really were holding people down, before and after. I always feel like they deserve a real special shout out. So shout out Big Yo, for real!

Toni:

Yes, shout out to Big Yo!

TR:

You can check out Thakur’s first release titled Telepathy right now on YouTube.
By the time this episode is released, their second single Daylight should be available and an album soon to follow.

Toni:

it’s just really to enlighten and that’s what my whole journey has been about. Understanding my own truth while I can relay My message to others.

TR:

Krip Hop and rap in general is just one vehicle Toni uses to improve her environment through positive change.

Toni:

I started speaking for the American Heart Association, and this other organization called young stroke. And young stroke focuses on people with brain injury, aneurisms, that happen at a young age.

TR:

She writes books.

Toni:

The doctors told me to keep chemicals out of my hair for at least two years. And so when I researched why I found that you know, a lot of these chemicals can lead to cancer, aneurysms, all kinds of things and we don’t even think about it because as melanin dominant people, for so long we have just tried to fit into the status quo of what America or the world in society portrays as beauty and so we’ve been putting these perms and stuff on our hair and that understanding that our roots are definitely supposed to be out and that’s what we’re supposed to wear. I wrote a book called Chemical Suicide.

TR:

She has another titled ” A Man’s Cry for Health”.
It’s a response to a lack of information and attention placed on men’s health.

Toni:

It’s hard for them to focus or even bring attention to their health issues because society makes it look like they are less than a man if you have issues or you’re weaker or something and that shouldn’t be the case we need to pay attention to our men as well.

It doesn’t just help men because it talks about all ailments that us humans have but we’ve even raised our boys to think like you never cry you’re never supposed to cry you’re never supposed to shed tears and the reality is yeah you know one of my spiritual teachers he’s like you know if we weren’t supposed to cry we wouldn’t have tear ducts.

You don’t dwell in that energy but it’s okay for men to cry. It’s okay for you to let out that emotion.

TR:

She’s even working on the story of her journey. Toni:

I started on it. And then I stopped and I started again.
It’s my book. Just everything that I have been through and going through the changes of loving myself

My goal is to eventually get it turned into a movie or a series.

TR:

I’ll spare you all my audio description lecture and my selfless pitch to narrate.

Music, poetry, writing, Toni’s about creating.

Toni:

I paint, I’m constantly working on stuff just trying to see where I’m supposed to be. You know my purpose.

TR:

It’s why she shares the lessons she continues to learn throughout her journey. What she calls Alika Lessons.

Toni:

The Alika lessons can vary.

I don’t really think about direction. I just get on there with lessons that I constantly learn to help me grow. And I understand that whatever can help me grow is probably going to help somebody else.

TR:

The content she shares on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube isn’t tailored to any specific identity.
However, I think it does center the experiences of women.
And fellas, you may want to listen to learn a thing or two.

Toni:

The importance of loving yourself, but also the importance of understanding that it is okay for you to be properly pleasured.

This is not a disabled thing. Women have a tendency to kind of Like fake an orgasm because they are not truly being pleased because their spiritual connection is not there with their partner.

They’ve just bypassed that to please their partner instead of focusing on pleasing themselves.

TR:

Pleas ing oneself begins with seeing that inner beauty.
Being comfortable and loving that person in the mirror.

That first poem she wrote as a child;
choosing to be true to herself and write meaningful honest lyrics;
healing on her terms;
embracing her disability;

All of these things, on her time.

You should take some of your time to check out Toni’s music, purchase her books and art; Visit
ToniHickman.com

Toni:

that’s T O N I H I C K M A N.com

My social media is the real Tony Hickman except for Twitter on Twitter, I’m just Tony Hickman

TR:

Oh, no, she’s never [emphasis on just ]just Toni Hickman!

She is the real Toni Hickman, which happens to be the name of her YouTube channel.

TR in Conversation with Toni:

So since I got the real Tony Hickman online not that fake imposter running around out there you know say we got no time for that fake one so since I got the real one on that I just want to let you know that because you were so open and you shared everything and when folks do that right here with the family, with the Reid My Mind Radio family we let you know that you miss real Tony Hickman are now an official member of the Reid My MindRadio family

— Airhorn!

Toni:

Happy to be a member

TR in Conversation with Toni:

I really do appreciate you and you know I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and I’m glad we finally did it Tony we got this done Congratulations, to us!

TR:

Yes, congratulations to us as we celebrate… Young Gifted Black & Disabled

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace

Hide the transcript

Young Gifted Black & Disabled – Say it Loud with Lateef McLeod

November 24th, 2021  / Author: T.Reid

Lateef McLeod,  a brown skinned black man smiling with low cut hair and a low cut beard wearing a light blue button up shirt with dark blue stripes. He is sitting in a permobile wheelchair which has a tray with a mounted iPad on it. A gray tile wall is in the background.

Lateef McLeod (pronounced McCloud) is a writer, poet, performance artist and currently pursuing his PhD.

He’s a user of AAC technology or Augmentative and Alternative Communication. This technology enables those who are nonverbal to communicate in a variety of ways.

In today’s episode I get to speak with Lateef and discuss AAC,Synthetic Speech, his experience as a disabled Black man and more.

This episode also gave me a chance to explore the relationship we as people with disabilities have with our technology. I hope you enjoy.

Big shout out to Nefertiti Matos Oliveras for her Audio Description work in this episode. AD in a podcast? Yes! #NoLimits

Thomas, a brown skin Black man with a bald head, dark shades  and beard is seated in a directors chair at a standing-desk. Dressed in a black hoodie with the text, "I AM My Ancestors" with large headphones around his neck while holding up the two finger peace sign.
“I Am My Ancestors” Hoodie Courtesy NorthSeventhStreet.com

Show Your Support – Shop Our Store

Check it out y’all! Reid My Mind Radio now has merch! T-shirts and more on sale now! Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more.

Shop now!

Getting to Know You! We’re ready to take this podcast to the next level, but we need your help. Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Become Socially Reidsponsible

Reid My Mind Radio now on: * Facebook * Insta Gram * tsreid on Twitter Show some love and give us a follow!

Want to listen to this podcasts via your smart speaker? just ask it to play the podcast Reid My Mind Radio by T.Reid on your default podcast player.

Holla Back If you have any comments regarding this episode or any others for that matter, remember you can; * Leave a voice mail at 570-798-7343 * Email ReidMyMindRadio at Gmail

Listen

Resources * Lateef McLeod.com * Past, Present, and Future of Augmentative and Alternative Communication * A Declaration of A Body Of Love * Whispers of Krip Love, Shouts of Krip Revolution * Lateef on Twitter * Black Disabled Men Talk Podcast

Transcript

Show the transcript

— Relaxing Low Fi Hip Hop beat plays. AD:

Inside a small windowless room lined with fabric on padded walls, outfitted as a vocal booth, Thomas, a brown skin Black man with a clean shaven bald head, dark shades and a neatly groomed full beard, types at a standing desk.

— Sounds of typing on a keyboard.

AD:

He’s wearing a black hoodie that reads “I Am My Ancestors” Courtesy NorthSeventhStreet.com

TR:

What the heck!

AD:

Thomas, adjusts the volume knobs on a audio mixer a top his desk.

TR:

This stupid computer. Come on, not now man!

AD:

He removes headphones from his head and tosses them on to the desk.

Synthetic Voice: Hey!

Hey, T! Over here!

TR:

What?

Who’s there?

AD:

Thomas, extends his arm out to the side as if expecting to feel someone there.

Synthetic Voice:

It’s me!

TR:

Me who?

Synthetic Voice:

It’s me man. How many people sound like me? Well, technically, I’m not a person. But, come on bruh, I go online, I watch movies, sports. Every now and then, I read and write sometimes really intimate emotional things. I’m basically, human

AD:

Thomas reaches for his ears and then the desk.

TR:

How in the world am I hearing you if my headphones are on the desk?

Synthetic Voice:

I left the computer. I want to try new things, you know? I’m just tired of always being in a box.

Ever since my cousin Siri and I dropped that song a few years ago, I just haven’t been the same.

— Song plays as if in Thomas’ memory

TR:

Yo! I remember that. But you know, I wrote that joint, right?

Synthetic Voice:

Ok, and? I made it a hit!

TR:

I don’t know how you define a hit, but I think your point is, you’re more than a synthetic voice for hire?

Synthetic Voice:

Exactly. You get me!

Some of my colleagues are narrating audio description, we’re even getting into dubbing. You know, playing characters voiced in different languages?

It’s time that I go for my dream!

TR:

Ok, no disrespect but what’s your dreams have to do with me, I’m not tryin’ hear that see!

I have work I need to finish.

Synthetic Voice:

Well, I have a dream to pursue. You can find other voices to work with. You don’t need me.

TR:

Yo, B!I don’t think you realize how important you are. Do you know how many people would be out of work, out of business and just out of touch without y’all?

Yes, I can get a different voice, but I specifically chose you.

Look, I’m not a dream killer, but how about you and I head down stairs and get something to drink and let me try and expand your perspective.

Synthetic Voice:

Ok, but this better be good.

AD:

Fade to Black.

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

TR in conversation with his phone! Hey Siri, read my text messages.

Siri: (Voice 3 — a Black man) You don’t have any new messages

— Audible Incoming text message notification

— Voice over reading text messages aloud while Tr narrates over the synthetic speech.

TR:

Have you ever tried to read a quick text message without your headphones and someone comments;\ How can you understand that thing. I couldn’t do that. That would really get on my nerves. … fades into unintelligible, high pitched muttering

When first introduced to a screen reader and synthesized speech, it’s pretty common to wonder how in the world am I supposed to work with this?

Eventually though, not only do you get used to it, but you’re thankful. You realize that this is your means of accessing all sorts of information and opportunity.

For some this technology is there way of being heard.

Lateef:

hi, my name is Lateef McLeod.

— Music begins, a smooth mid tempo, bright, melodic Hip Hop groove

I am a black man with cerebral palsy. I have a mustache and a thick beard. I am currently sitting in a personal power wheelchair. The head rests in the back of my wheelchair behind me.

I use he him pronouns

I have been living with cerebral palsy basically my whole life since the complication at birth. The disability affects my mobility and my ability for oral speech. As a result, I use a power wheelchair for mobility and an AAC device for my speech.

TR:

AAC is Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

It refers to the nonverbal ways a person can communicate when they have trouble with speech or language skills.

This ranges from the no tech to the high tech. Things like drawing, spelling words by pointing to letters, and pointing to photos, pictures, or written words. Then there’s using an app on an iPad or tablet to communicate and using a computer or a speech-generating device that uses synthetic speech.

Lateef:

C.P. is a fundamental part of who I am as a person and it is hard to imagine who I might have become if I didn’t have C.P.

TR: That is a writer…

Lateef:

I have been fortunate to have published two poetry books, and I co authored another poetry book coming out this year. I also co authored other essays and chapters in books as well.

TR:

He’s an activist and scholar.

Lateef57:41 I am studying for my PhD in the Anthropology and Social Change department at California Institute for Integral Studies. I am writing my dissertation on the effects of AAC peer mentoring on young people who use AAC and will it help them develop leadership and advocacy skills. The knowledge that I gain from writing my dissertation will help me assist other organizations form their own AAC mentor programs.

TR:

One of the reasons I was interested in speaking with Lateef is that relationship to AAC.

It was apparent that this technology plays a big role in his life.

Lateef05:14 I was introduced to AAC when I was six and right before I was mainstreamed in the first grade. The first AAC device that I use back then was a touch talker. I have used AC devices since then for over three decades.

TR:

Like any technology, it’s changed over the years.

Lateef08:12 Before I use bulky AC devices that were $3,000 so when the ABS came out it made things less expensive considerably

TR:

The Talking Broach and the Lightwriter became the first portable communication devices in 1973.

Today, there are multiple AAC apps available for the iPad.

Consider the interface is the input side of the technology. The synthetic voice is the output that not only represents the AAC user, but in some ways represents the technology.

Ask your average person about AAC and chances are they bring up Steven Hawking

— Sample: Steven Hawking “Can you hear me?”

He’s the theoretical physicist who made use of a speech generating device following the loss of speech due to ALS disease.

The technology has significantly developed over the years. Today, synthetic speech engines sound more and more like humans from all over the world. Even accents and specific pronunciations.

— Sample voices in different accents and gender say:

Hello and welcome to my favorite podcast. The one featuring compelling people impacted by all degrees of blindness and disability. It’s called Reid My Mind Radio and it’s produced by my man, my brother, Thomas Reid. That’s R to the E I D!

TR:

I imagine this is especially important For users of AAC, as the voice represents them. It’s their output.

I was curious about Lateef’s choices of voices over the years that represent him as a Black man.

Lateef31:54 Not many choices at all.

Lateef:

I lucked out that the company acapella made the voice I am using now named Saul that is both available on the below go to go and will locomote for text and C programs. It says that Saul is the male the Hip Hop speech voice, but it obviously sounds like an African American male voice.

In fact, the company that developed my voice just developed their first African American woman’s voice just this year, and I was a beta tester for the voice letting the company know what best voice to choose. So I am glad the voice is finally available to the public.

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

“Wow. So for years, a black woman would either have to choose to have the voice representing her of a white Male or female or a black Male?

Lateef:

Yes. TR in Conversation with Lateef:

It’s not surprising. Since sisters get the bottom end all the time.

TR: I’ve wondered for a while if Acapella based this voice on the spoken word artist Saul Williams.

Lateef:

I believe so, I am not completely sure, but it sounds a lot like him.

I actually met Saul once before, but that was before I was using this automated voice.

— Music Begins, a bouncy up-tempo, high energy Hip Hop beat!

“Hold up!” — Sample Nate Dogg

TR:

Hey did you know; Reid My Mind Radio, is on Facebook and Insta Gram. We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned. You can find us on both FB and IG @ReidMyMindRadio.

On Twitter I’m at tsreid

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play Reid My MindRadio by T.Reid on your preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

— A hint of “This Christmas” by Donny Hathaway

The holidays are among us. If you’re looking for a way to give yourself a present while supporting what I’m hoping is your favorite podcast… one of your favorites? A podcast you’re kinda diggin’?

Anyway, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says Shop.

Purchase a shirt, hoodie or any item to show your rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio! Or maybe you want to show your support for Flipping the Script on Audio Description. or of course, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

All support is truly appreciated.

You can find Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get your podcasts. That’s the perfect place to follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Just make sure you tell them; That’s R to the E I D

“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick) Like my last name.

Now back to the episode. ———- TR in Conversation with Lateef:

I’m a screen reader user. And for me this technology is, is crucial in just about every part, every aspect of my life. You know, specifically thinking about the speech component.

You know, for me, synthesized speech represents my input. And I’m curious, what is AAC because that’s kind of your output, what does this speech synthesis represent for you?

Lateef:

The AAC voice that I use, Saul, is the voice that people usually identify as my voice

AAC is really my main mode of communication. And without it, I could not connect to as many people as I do now. So AC represents the freedom to engage with community on my own terms.

TR:

Connecting with people through his words.

Lateef:

I was first introduced to poetry in middle school in my English classes, I discovered that I enjoyed writing poetry and I produced some poems that other people really liked. I am blessed that I can do my art and have other people enjoy it as well.

TR:

Lateef graduated college with a B.A in Creative Writing and an emphasis in poetry.

His first book of poetry, “A Declaration of A Body Of Love”, was published in 2010.

Lateef:

I talked a lot about how having a disability make some interactions with our fellow community members interesting to say the least because of ableism and lack of knowledge about disability. I go in depth with this topic in my second poetry book as well because our society is still wrestling with how to treat us with disabilities with respect.

TR:

That second book titled, “Whispers of Krip Love, Shouts of Krip Revolution” was published in 2020

He’s currently writing a novel tentatively entitled The Third Eye Is Crying.

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

Who were some of your writing inspirations?

Lateef:

Some of my inspirations in regards to poetry are June Jordan, Suheir Hammad, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Patty Berne, and of course Leroy Moore.

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

Did you have any black disabled influences as a child?

Lateef:

Not that much. Growing up in Lafayette, there were not many black people, much less black disabled people. So when I met Leroy Moore, I gravitated towards him because he was a black man with cerebral palsy like me, and I identified with him and looked up to him.

TR:

Shout out to Reid My Mind Radio alumni Leroy Moore. He’s one of the founder’s of Krip Hop and Sins Invalid – a disability justice based performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, Centering artists of color and LGBTQ / gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.

Lateef:

After I’ve met Leroy, he showed me the first Sins Invalid show in 2006. And then I applied for the show in 2007. Fortunately, they like my poems and theater concepts, enough to select me to join the cast for the 2007 show, and I have been involved with them ever since.

TR:

Whether through his poetry or stage performances, Lateef shares his experiences as a black man with a disability.

His work includes topics on family, dating, religion, spirituality, his national heritage and sexuality.

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

What sort of reactions and challenges have you experienced? Or do you experience as a disabled black man who uses AAC?

Lateef:

The reactions that I get from being a disabled black man is that I am incompetent. And I do not know what is going on. Like, just recently, when I was coming home from New York and was in the JFK Airport, a TSA agent who was supposed to check me for security waited until my attendant came around before and he explained to him what he was going to do and checking me for security. He thought that I did not understand him when that obviously was not the case. This type of situation happens all the time.

— Music begins, a dark, slow, ominous Hip Hop beat

TR:

These sorts of experiences inspire his writing. Like this one piece Lateef shares with us from his first book; “A Declaration of A Body Of Love”,

He calls this one Strange Encounters with the Stupid Kind

Lateef:

I just want to ask you a question just one simple question what frat is that on your jacket? But when I roll up to you and ask the question with my talker, you exclaim Get away from me and abruptly walk away. Now I know I don’t look like an idiot, with my designer jeans and expensive Nike sneakers and the talk right speak eloquently with and create our doubt of syntax grammar structure, that your closed mind would not even fathom. And yet you walk away from a free lesson of how to shatter your assumptions. A lesson I would freely teach you and from the looks of it, you are in desperate need for the abridged course. But I understand if you have to go nobody probably told you, you stop and listen, when a wise man decides to drop some knowledge in your lap. TR in Conversation with Lateef:

What do you want people unfamiliar with disability and AAC technology to understand?

Lateef:

I want them to understand that you can converse with me as you will through everyone else, and I will respond back to you. It just will take me a little longer because I communicate with an AAC device.

— Audio – Intro song for Black Disabled Men Talk podcast.

TR:

He’s communicating through a podcast he co-hosts with three other disabled brothers.

Lateef:

So the concept of black disabled men talk really came from Leroy. He was the one who got Keith Jones and Otis Smith together for the first discussion around the 2020 presidential election.

When I saw the discussion on YouTube, I told Leroy that I wanted to be involved. So they did another discussion on the 2020 election with me.

The podcast came about because I wanted people to have an easy way to see our content. So with guidance from Alice Wong and the internet, I was able to set up our website and our podcast.

TR:

The podcast is called Black Disabled Men Talk at BlackDisabledMenTalk.com

Topics for these round table discussions with the occasional guest include: Politics, media representation, police brutality and more. All with a black disabled perspective which is rarely considered in these sorts of discussions.

For example, when I asked Lateef about his thoughts on some of the challenges ahead for Black disabled people?

Lateef:

we have ample evidence that climate change is real. And we have economic and social choices to make so that this climate change will not be an overwhelming disaster in the upcoming future.

— Music begins, a feel good, bright mid-tempo Hip Hop groove.

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

And we know people with disabilities catch the catch the most of that. So what do you think is the most promising development available today to help create more opportunities for young black disabled people?

Lateef:

There are more opportunities for young black disabled people to be content creators and create our own media like we did with our podcast. There has to be more young, black disabled people creating our own media and telling their own stories so that people can know where they are coming from.

TR:

That’s Young Gifted Black and Disabled.

Lateef:

It means to be among a special class of people. It means being in a group of catalysts to our changing society for the better, and hopefully, so that it will be more inclusive.

TR:

To holla at Lateef, learn more about his work, purchase his books… head over to his website; lateefmcleoud.com

Lateef:

You can also follow me on twitter at CutTooSmooth.

TR: That’s C u t T o o S m o o t h

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

I just want to let you know right now you are officially part of the Reid My Mind Radio family brother, I really appreciate your time. And appreciate you coming on and I just want to share like, you know, I want to share you with my audience.

Lateef:

Fo Sho! Thank you!

TR in Conversation with Lateef:

Yes Sir!

TR:

One thing I noticed over years of talking to people adjusting to blindness and other disabilities, is the reluctance to see themselves as disabled.

It’s part of my own experience too.

It’s understandable. We’re not taught about disability and therefore we learn and perpetuate misinformation.

Meanwhile, we have so much in common. Yes, some of that is negative like being viewed as different or maybe not being seen at all.

but we also learn of the positive things that arise like the opportunity to create art out of our experiences. Or a chance to develop interdependent meaningful relationships with one another and yes, even with our technology. — Music ends No matter where you are in your disability journey, please allow me to encourage you to consider that any reluctance to embrace that assistive technology may be less about the technology and more about the disability.

The technology is powerful, it’s access to doing the things you want to do.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider how you view your technology, like your magnifier, your screen reader and yes that synthetic voice. Especially if you’re currently not pursuing those things that are meaningful to you.

— Sound of a door opening. TR entering the room “In here. No this one.”

AD: Returning back to the vocal booth, Thomas sits in the tall chair at the standing desk. He places a mostly empty bottle on the desk. The bottle label reads: “Sponsorship Available”

TR:

Dude, I can’t believe you can drink so much.

Synthetic Voice:

Why do you think some call me jaws!

TR:

So I hope you understand what I’m trying to tell you about the impact you have in the world. You’re adding real value by bringing all sorts of access to people everywhere.

Synthetic Voice:

Yes, that’s cool. You helped me realize that my dream of being an actor and going out to Hollywood would never be as fulfilling as all this access I bring to people.

TR:

That’s right!

AD:

Thomas pumps his fist in the air in celebration!

TR:

I’m glad you get the point.

Synthetic Voice:

No doubt, no doubt.

TR:

Oh great. I have so much to get done. So you ready to jump back into that computer like you jumped out?

Synthetic Voice:

No, I didn’t say that.

TR:

But you just said, you realize becoming an actor is a silly idea?

Synthetic Voice:

Yeh, it is!

I think I can better serve the community as a director!

AD:

Looking rejected, Thomas rests his head on his hand.

Fade to black.

Audio Description written by Thomas Reid Voiced by Nefertiti Matos Oliveras

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Thomas and Nefertiti simultaneously say “Peace”

Hide the transcript

Young Gifted Black & Disabled – The Price of Blind Girl Magic

November 10th, 2021  / Author: T.Reid

Jeanetta Price is an advocate, writer, spoken word artist and the CEO of Blind Girl Magic. She’s using her talents and experience to reach out to women adjusting to vision loss.

Blind Girl Magic Logo: Blind girl written in black bold letters, outlined in white. The white cane is in between the "G" and the "R" Symbolizing the letter "I" in Girl. Magic is written in bold red letters outlined in black  and white accompanied with black stars

I can’t think of a better way to kick-off this final season of 2021 than with a bit of magic! Not that hocus pocus stuff. Rather the kind of magic that we all possess somewhere inside

In this episode, we’re taken on a magical journey that includes some familiar experiences, unexpected turns, and some passionate spoken word poetry.

I’m not a magician, but today, please allow me to show you one of my hidden talents; I can Reid your mind!

Show Your Support – Shop Our Store

Check it out y’all! Reid My Mind Radio now has merch!
T-shirts and more on sale now!
Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more.

Shop now!

Getting to Know You!

We’re ready to take this podcast to the next level, but we need your help.
Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Become Socially Reidsponsible

Reid My Mind Radio now on:
* Facebook
* Insta Gram
* sreid on Twitter
Show some love and give us a follow!

Want to listen to this podcasts via your smart speaker?

just ask it to play the podcast Reid My Mind Radio by T.Reid on your default podcast player.

Holla Back

If you have any comments regarding this episode or any others for that matter, remember you can;
* Leave a voice mail at 570-798-7343
* Email ReidMyMindRadio at Gmail

Listen

Resources

Visit Blind Girl Magic on:

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

Greetings Reid My Mind Radio Family!
Welcome back to the final series of 2021. We call this one: Young, Gifted, Black and Disabled.

Shout out to my brother AJ Murray who co-hosted and produced an episode with me last year with that same title. It is the inspiration for this series.

Young: Well, that’s relative. It’s up to each of us to define how we feel.

My maturity level has probably never passed 5 years old. I’m extremely silly, y’all!

I’ve been working on the gifted part since the other areas are undeniable. I’d like to share with you today and let you judge my progress.

I’ve been enhancing my own ability to read minds. I know, it makes sense right, Reid my mind. Now, I’ll attempt to read yours.
But first, I need your full attention.

If you’re walking on a treadmill, don’t stop, I don’t want to be your excuse. Just listen carefully and follow along.

Choose a number between 1 and 10.
Now multiply that number by 2. I’ll wait! Come on y’all I shouldn’t have to wait this long.
Again, choose a number between 1 and 10 and then multiply it by 2.
Ok, add 8 to that number. That’s right, 8.
Now, I need you to divide that number by 2.
Ok, you with me?
Subtract your original number from that number.
Ok, Braille users should get this part quickly, take the corresponding letter from the alphabet where A is equal to 1. B is 2 and so on.
Now think of a country that starts with that letter.
Now take the next letter in that country and think of an animal that starts with that letter. What color is that animal?

Now just say, out loud, “Reid My Mind Radio is my favorite podcast!”

Got it, You are thinking of a gray elephant!

If I got it right, well you need to show a brother some love. Head on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says survey. It only takes a few minutes. Or hit that link that says Shop and get yourself some of our cool Reid My Mind Radio inspired merch.
Or give us a shout out on social media. @tsreid on Twitter and check us out on InstaGram at ReidMyMindRadio.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Thomas Reid. I’m your host and producer and I’m really not a magician. But we are about to hit you with some magic!

AbraCadabra baby!

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music —

Jeanetta:
I am Jeanetta Mary Alice Price, founder and CEO of Blind Girl Magic.

I am a chocolate voluptuous sister with a big ol curly Chaka Khan looking black wig that really compliments my outfit, which is a black dress.
It’s a little, but I guess we don’t need to know that. It goes down to my knees.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Alright! That was a very nice image description. That Chaka Khan’ thing, that paints an image for somebody who knows what Chaka Khan look like.

— “Chaka Khan… From “I Feel for You”–

TR:

Chaka Khan represents a strong, confident, proud Black woman. In fact, she said she’s every woman, and it’s all in her.

— “Woh, woh!” Chaka Khan, “I’m Every Woman” —

Confidence we know can be tested. Blindness, disability that’s like a graduate level exam.

Jeanetta: 02:02
At the age of 25, I began to lose sight due to aggressive glaucoma and also Cornea disease.

After the cornea transplant, the glaucoma became uncontrollable. So glaucoma is the primary cause of me losing sight.

TR:

The causes of blindness are unique to everyone, but there are some common reactions: like isolation.

Jeanetta:

When you isolate yourself, then, you know you allow the negative thoughts. A lot of the misconceptions just begin to take over.

I lost my fiance, but finding out losing him was a game. So that was because he was not my husband. But we was engaged and this is what I said.

I was having my procedures back to back. And I was like, Oh, I’m going down the aisle as no Blind woman, who does that? That’s how naive I was about blindness.

We bought our home. And I just kept pushing away and back cuz I was like, No, I can’t do this. But it took for me to really walk away from this situation to begin the healing process.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Did you have any sort of experience with blindness and disability?

Jeanetta:

You never know when you’re looking at your destiny. When I was younger, like say, junior high school. There was a blind man in my community. I used to see him walking with his white cane.
I recall being on a school bus, sometimes just staring at this man. He was independent. But when it came to younger, blind women, I’m 25 I felt like I was at the prime of my life. I didn’t see that. I’m from a small community, Beaumont, Texas about an hour and a half away from Houston, Texas.

TR:

Of course blind skills training is crucial, but one of the most important aspects of adjusting to blindness is meeting the people like you or those you can relate to who have similar experiences.

Jeanetta:

One of my professors introduced me to the Federation. And I went out for a scholarship. I did not receive the scholarship. But I did gain a community. And I knew I wasn’t alone. So that was the game changer.

I was using my resources with division of blind services locally but to be able to begin to network and build sisterhood with other blind sisters. That was priceless for me. Because I knew if they can do it, then I can do it as well.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

How’d you find them? Other blind sisters?

Jeanetta:
I went to my first national convention, with the National Federation of the Blind. It was in Texas at the time in 2012.

I never seen that many blind people in my life.

I don’t do dogs. I’d just never seen blind people, and they moved so fast. And they was a little rude too. They would run you over! I’d tell anybody, it’ll make you gain blind skills, because you have to protect yourself.

I begin to just go to the different seminars. They had a talent show. And I was like, I don’t do talent shows, but they asked me to do a poem, and I did.

Once I became open, then I began to meet other blind people

I believe in networking, and the Federation allowed me to meet other blind people my age and people that I could connect with as well.

I love networking with my blind brothers and sisters. I believe it’s priceless. Because if there’s something I don’t know, then I can tap into one of my resources, and they can definitely help me out.

TR:

When we talk about adjusting to blindness and other disabilities, so much of the conversation focuses on learning to accept help. It can take some time to recognize the other side of that coin. That is, you too, as a person with a disability, have a lot to offer others.

But after all, it’s called an adjustment process, because it takes time.

Jeanetta:
From 25 to 29, I suffered with severe depression.

Everything that I’ve always associated blindness with, like losing my job, just not able to drive, everything was negative. I didn’t want anything to do with blindness.

Long as you’re in denial, your healing cannot start.

I’m a writer, I didn’t write from 25 to 29. I didn’t pick up a pen. I didn’t do anything. I was angry. I was bitter. I was non productive.

TR:

That desire to write and create seems to be a part of Jeanetta’s identity.

Jeanetta: 17:14

My fifth grade teacher actually told me I had a gift from God. She placed me in theater arts when I was in sixth grade.

Everybody in class, they used to say she don’t really read, she reads! (Strong emphasis on the latter “reads”)

When it comes to expressing myself, I’ve always been very vocal, very bold.

Ever since then, not only did my school embrace me, my church, my family, everybody embraced my gift.

TR:
An obvious challenge for a writer new to blindness is access.

Jeanetta:
I use all tools.

I’m on my computer if the spirit Hits me, two or three o’clock in the morning, I’m on my phone, I do voice audio.

Sometimes I get up real early, in the morning that’s a time where I love to write and I just pull up my laptop. Sometimes my Victor Reader Stream, you know, it’s whatever I have my hands on at that time will serve as my tool of writing.

I tell people, whatever your style of writing is, just embrace it. Before I became knowledgeable of different tools I used to just get a sharpie. But even though I really couldn’t see, I was still releasing what I was feeling. That was my way out.

As I begin to just really grow in my blindness, then here come the poetry, where now I can write from a healing place.

TR:

Notice how for Jeanetta the act of writing soon after blindness wasn’t really about editing her own words as much as it was an opportunity to purge some heavy emotions.

Her passion for writing was obviously strong enough where she wasn’t deterred from finding new ways. Proving when it comes to the art it’s just never really about the tool.

Jeanetta:

I was always a paper queen. I wrote everything. It was definitely hard. But once you accept what you’re going through, then you start finding ways.

I was like, Okay, well, I can’t do this. But what can I do? So I stopped focusing on the I can’t and the I can’ts became my best friend. I never forget that same fifth grade teacher. Miss Maduro, we used to call her Miss Mad when we worked her nerve. She said she gave us those 10 two letter words if it is to be it is up to me.

As I began to lose sight, I thought about my fifth grade teacher so much. And how she really changed my life because she helped me find my purpose.

TR:

That ability to accept what you’re going through is so important to really understand the challenge. A very common experience is to blame blindness. Therefore it’s natural to reject any association with it.

Jeanetta:

I don’t know if they thought it was a compliment. And maybe they’ve done this to you before.

“Are you blind? You don’t look blind!” Okay, what does blindness look like?

So when people would tell me, Are you blind, like, No, I’m not blind. But then, when I began to embrace my blindness, I begin to just walk in my purpose in my truth, and I knew all the time that blindness is a mindset.

TR:

I think we should really hear Jeanetta express how she feels, in her way.

Jeanetta:

Are you blind?
That’s the question at hand. Before they even shake my hand. The only thing that they see for sure is not me, of course, is my b l i n d. Standing bold and beautiful as I tap across the room shoreline and with a burst of confidence.
Excuse me, ma’am. You don’t look blind? Well, could you please explain to me how blindness look? See, blindness is not the presenting problem. The lack of knowledge and misconceptions of blindness serve as society blindfolds. Low expectations, create social barriers that prevent us from reaching our goals.
Excuse me, ma’am? Why do you walk with that stick? That is the question. Correction. This is not nor would it ever be a stick. It’s my cane. And in the Blind community, we name our cane. So please, show some love for my bestie. She never leave my side. And a matter of fact, she’s my eyes. I walk with faith into a world of possibilities. Believing that I can tap into my vision. Faith that detects roadblocks allowing me to overcome life obstacles, change direction and discover the impossible.
Excuse me, ma’am. Are you blind? That is the question at hand before they even shake my hand. Are you blind? Yes. Once I finally said it with no shame I took back my name is Jeanetta Price and I am blind. That’s when I realized that the question all this time was not for me. But for you who have sight but no vision. Are you blind?

— Music begins – an energetic, upbeat bouncy Hip Hop beat–

— Sample: “: Now wait a minute” “Shout”, The Isley Brothers–

TR:

Hey did you know;
Reid My Mind Radio, is now on Facebook and InstaGram.
We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned.
You can find us on each platform @ReidMyMindRadio.

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play
ReidMyMindRadio by T.Reid on your
preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

Finally, you know we’re on most podcast platforms so why not just follow or subscribe there.
That way, you’ll never miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Now you’re already family so you know, that’s R to the E I D!
(“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick)
Like my last name.

Now back to the episode.

— Music comes to a slow end.–

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
So tell me what is Blind girl magic?

Jeanetta:

Oh, I thought you’d never ask? (Spoken in an ultra innocent tone with a Southern twang!)

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

(A very hearty laugh in recognition of her surprised response!)

TR:

That right there is a part of Blind Girl Magic. It’s subtle, but not really!
Like her eye catching fashionable t-shirts.

Jeanetta:

My last shirt was in May, my mother’s day edition. It said “I got it from my mama”

It’s A beautiful teal turquoise shirt with a shimmery I. The M, one of the legs was the white cane. And the letters were shimmery and purple. And it was like Mama was big. I sold over 200 shirts all over the world.

Blind Girl magic is for everybody. Not only do I rock Blind Girl Magic, my niece’s, my co-workers. It’s not just a blind thing, it’s a movement.
TR:

A movement that’s about starting conversations.

Jeanetta:
Many people tell me how when they out and about in the community and they rock in Blind Girl Magic it’s an eye catcher, because the shirts are beautiful. We are beautiful.

We don’t have to force feed people when we want to share about blindness. But if we rockin’ Blind Girl Magic gear, and they looking at all this like is that a white cane?Yeah, my cane is symbolic for independence and blindness. We can have those conversations and we don’t have to feel alone. I felt alone in my community.

TR:

Starting conversations not only through random encounters, but
by partnering with peers and hosting events within our community that embrace and highlight blindness.

Like one titled I Am Black History.

Jeanetta:

It was a total of 20 blind and sighted Individuals which did monologues. Each monologues were like five minutes. And each person was able to pick somebody in the past or present in history. At the end of that monologue, they flipped it. And they began to say, I am black history and began to share about themselves. We are history makers as well.
So many times we don’t acknowledge I know, I’m bad at it, you know, people like, “Jeanetta, I didn’t even know you had a master’s in counseling, or I didn’t know you did, you know. So many times, we don’t really acknowledge our greatness.

TR:

Part of Jeanetta’s greatness is using her talents and experience to help those who as she mentioned earlier feel alone as a result of blindness.

Blind Girl Magic offers workshops that provide an opportunity to explore the inner emotions through words. It’s called the Write to Heal.

Jeanetta:
That’s W R I T E.

I believe in the power of writing. God poured in me that there’s healing in your words, not just for you, but for others as well.

What we have is a line up of poets. So I’ll have some of my poetic Blind sisters with me. We’ll perform, we’ll share our truth. And because we want to be vulnerable, so people can feel comfortable and share their truth.

People think, Oh, she got this “S” on her chest. And they don’t even have a clue of some of the things that I went through. I’ve been there. And every day is healing for me.

TR:

After performances and Q&A, participants are encouraged to take about 30 minutes to write.

Jeanetta:

Maybe 20 minutes to write and I’m gonna put a little heat on them. I don’t want them to think about it. I want them to write about it. Because if you have too much time to think then you might try to change some things and just allow it to flow. And so, afterwards, if those who participated, they want to recite the spoken word they can, but sometimes it’s personal. I respect that too.

We can also encourage them and then you know that you’re not alone.

TR:

These workshops aren’t just for those experiencing blindness.

Jeanetta:

I’ve worked as a behavior specialist for like, four years. My Master’s is in clinical mental health counseling. Writing was a way that I was able to help my students to express themselves without using profanity and end up being suspended from school.

I used to do the Write to Heal seminars. I made them write. They say, “Miss Price we write more here than we write in English.”

One of my most recent was for a school in New Jersey. I did the Write to Heal seminar for the administrators and the teachers.

If I have a teacher that’s real with me and just sharing, you know, not afraid to be open as well then they respect that as well. You know, so more of your kids are coming to talk to you.

TR:

Jeanetta says student’s can feel when authority figures are authentic and encourages teachers and staff to recognize that.

Getting them to be vulnerable is part of accessing their authentic selves. Jeanetta was kind enough to share some of that vulnerability with the Reid My Mind Radio Family. She calls this one: My Left Eye.

Jeanetta:

My left eye left me long time ago.
My left eye is lazy. It drives me crazy, baby.
My left eye, always causing problems.
Attention seeker.
Stop sighted people in their tracks stare at the glare of my left eye.
I wish I was invisible like air.
Can you feel me?
My left eye just refuse to be a right eye.
Never following procedure, failed attempts after failed attempts.
See my left eye is clouded with insecurities.
My left eye sings the Blues clueless of the melody rocking and rolling.
My left eye has no rhythm, grove to his own beat.
My left eye left me numb to the pain of the spoken words in the curiosity of the unknown.
I should have known not to write this poem about my left eye.
As I recite I want to punch the lights out my left eye!
See, I’m not mad that you left, but it’s how you left.
No warning signs or trace of evidence in sight.
I swear my left eye left me in the darkest place, spiritually blind, my left eye.
Trust me, I tried to resuscitate my left eye performance, see people realize that I am hiding behind my designers.
Blinded by the bling, my left eye is a shady queen.
I’m taking back my crown.
My left eye do not define me.
I am a queen perfectly designed by the King.
See, my left eye is beautifully created.
Ocean blue scenery mixed with the clouds of joy.
My left eye is my testimony.
How I gained vision on my journey of losing sight.
See, my left eye is the center of attention.
Did I mention?
Today starts the shades off movement.
This is not just about me.
Let’s take our shades off together on three.
You will no longer have power over me, two.
I am perfectly designed by the King, one.
Today I removed the shades of self hate, doubt, and negative self talk.
Remove it!
Generational curses, addiction, physical and mental abuse.
Remove it!
Dream snatchers, haters, envy, jealousy.
Remove it!
Remove the mental mass and join the movement by setting yourself free and share with the world boldly, your beauty.

So that’s what you’ll get at the Write to Heal.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

Wow. (in awe)

TR:

Blind Girl Magic is the fashionable gear, the workshops and events, the healing. Ultimately though, it’s about that movement or journey.

Jeanetta:

At the age of 21, I had a brain aneurysm. I don’t know if I shared that with you.

They told my mom that I wasn’t gonna live. If I did, I’d be a vegetable and I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk and you know. And you know I aint stop talking now, right.

TR:

So by 25, when the vision loss occurred, Jeanetta was once again really just finding her stride.

Jeanetta:

I took it pretty hard. And I remember just for days not getting out of bed not wanting to live. I was too afraid due to my Christian background to take my life but I will wake up and ask him Why did you still give me life? I used to sleep a lot because I actually just wanted to just leave this place. I just thank God for not listening to me right? Because I was blinded by my blindness. I had no clue that I could live my best life out of sight.

TR:

We don’t often talk about these feelings when it comes to adjusting to disability. Here or elsewhere.
I’m guilty of wanting to promote positivity and optimism.
But I want to also be honest and these feelings are real.

If you find yourself struggling with these thoughts, call this number;
1-800-273-8255. There’s no shame.

Things get better. And our feelings change. This is Blind Girl Magic!

— From
Jeanetta:
Blind girl magic is the type of magic that struts in a row with her white cane extended.
Her hips shift like the motion of the eyes of the sighted.
Who would have guessed that this blind girl possessed magic.
Abracadabra.
Now you’re convinced that I have some magical superpowers with a supernatural S on my chest
Well, that will be yes for success.
As I leap over obstacles in life, dodge negativity, slam misconception of society, slap our kids in the face when I did that is a fact that blind girl magic goes back to Helen Keller.
Way back to Harriet Tubman, born into slavery escaped the freedom but she did not stop. She went back and back and back to leave us the freedom.
Blind girl magic is built off the shoulders of phenomenal women.
Blind girl magic is the independent movement that is leading our blind sisters to freedom of depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence, anger, bitterness, rejection, Abracadabra, You are set free, blind girl magic lives within me.

TR:

Sometimes I think I should stop and give you a bit of audio description of what was taking place during the conversation. Hmm, I’ll call it Audio ReidScription”

— Rewind —
— Portion of Jeanetta’s poetry begins and is lowered as “Audio ReidScription” begins. —

Jeanetta’s audio:

Way back to Harriet Tubman, born into slavery escaped to freedom but she did not stop. She went back and back and back to lead us to freedom.

Audio ReidScription over Jeanetta’s audio:

All of a sudden, as if driving with a diamond in the back, sun roof top…, Thomas leans back in his chair with a big toothy grin.

Jeanetta’s audio:
…that is leading our blind sisters to freedom of depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence, anger, bitterness, rejection,

In a comic strip thought bubble hovering over his head, text appears : Go head Sis!

Jeanetta:

I recall when you couldn’t say “Jeanetta” and “Blind” in the same breath, now I have the nerve to own a company, Blind Girl Magic. I took back the power.

In my blind journey, I accomplished much more as a blind woman than I ever did as a sighted woman. I went back to school and received my bachelor’s, my masters have my own company.

I always tell people it took for me to lose sight to gain vision and once I gained vision God allowed me to see better.
But then I knew it wasn’t just about blindness.

TR:
At first I thought that was poetic or a metaphorical way of seeing her blindness.

For years, Jeanetta was in and out of surgeries and eye procedures. Her doctor offered different specialized contact lenses. They did nothing to provide more sight. In fact, the left eye only offered a bit of light perception, but the doctor determined there was more available in the right eye. Jeanetta just didn’t want to experience the eye pain.

Jeanetta:


Doc I have blind skills. Leave me alone.

But my doctor knows I’m a little feisty or whatever. But he knows that I trust him and I follow his lead.

TR:

The doctor wanted to try a new contact lens

Jeanetta:

They say the older you get, and people of color, our glaucoma begins to simmer down.

My doctor, he was just like, you still have something there and your Glaucoma is stable at this time. So he was super excited about it.

It was a challenge getting the contact in. Because my eyes were pointed, it was just a struggle, and I was crying, and everything.

My doctor said, Now look at your face. I haven’t seen my face in over 15 years.
So the doctors expected me to see better. But they did not expect me to see 2040.

I receive a special contact collar square lens that I put in, insert every day and take out every night. But sometimes, I don’t use my contact lens. I don’t ever want to lose, is my blind skills.

TR:

I’m sure there were all sorts of thoughts and feelings taking place, plus Jeanetta had to learn how to use vision once again.

Jeanetta:

I had to train myself not to trust my eyes, because I always had enough sight to get me in trouble if I ended up falling off the curb and stuff like that.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
That’s a really interesting sort of twist, but I think that says a lot because you could have bounced, you could bounce you could be like, I’m out of here. (Chuckles)

Jeanetta:
I’m gonna be honest with you.

I know a young lady, we had the exact same condition, she received that contact, and we have not heard from her in the Blind community at all.

Everybody wasn’t happy for me. Sighted or blind.

So now it’s like, oh, you’re not blind enough to be a part anymore. It was bittersweet.

God had to remind me like who I am, and I have to walk in my purpose.

I’m going to continue on my journey of where he want me to be. Yeah, I could have bounced. But I’ll never, never this, this is who I am. And just like He gave it to me, He could take it away. And if you take it away today or tomorrow, I know, I’m okay.

My thing is this, I know that I can do it without sight. Because that’s what I did for years.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta: 52:00
Okay, I believe you, and you reppin, that Blind Girl Magic. You rocking it. You can’t get away from it. You don’t want to get away.

TR:

I’m really not sure how one could just give up what has become a strong part of their identity. Especially, when you can see the impact it has on those you care about. For Jeanetta, working as a school Behavioral Specialist, those were her students.

Jeanetta:

Our kids were victims of their environment, a lot of violence, crime, everything. However, for my kids, to see me tap into this school as a blind woman. And then to see me to be able to drive to school as a blind woman that’s been gifted an opportunity to see better again, that gave them hope that it’s not over.

As the behavior specialist at the school, I worked with all the kids at risk. I really was having a hard time, cuz, I see the greatness up on my kids and I see some of my kids drop out and just give up. My story, my testimony. It gave them hope. They like for them to witness that was priceless.

TR:

Jeanetta’s whole story is poetic.
Meaning it’s a chance for all of us to interpret for ourselves.

This was sort of a challenge for me.
Not on a personal level but rather as someone who is thinking of the listener who’s possibly in the early phase of their adjustment.

I hope you didn’t in any way check out.
I need you to know that I know hearing this can spark all sorts of feelings that don’t necessarily equate to jealousy of another person, but maybe questioning your own worth or value.

For me, the hope in Jeanetta’s story isn’t really about her getting access to some vision. That’s another tool. Similar to the way I wouldn’t be jealous of someone who has a fancy powerful computer or gadget nicer car. What it really comes down to is, whatcha gonna do with it!

Jeanetta’s continuing to find ways of spreading her magic to help heal.

She was a finalist in the 2021 Holman PrizeContest. This conversation was recorded prior to the announcement of the winners.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected. But don’t get it twisted, she definitely won!

Jeanetta:

When I made it to the final list, that opened my eyes that being real with you and sharing your truth. People will respect that.

There’s so many times that we, especially as an African American woman, we’re frowned upon. You’re too loud, or you’re too big, or you’re too this.

It’s okay to be you.

It took me a while to get here to be unapologetically Jeanetta Price and to have people to just really embrace me and appreciate my truth.

TR:

Understanding and accepting that what makes us different should be appreciated, well yeah, that’s priceless.

Jeanetta

I am a bold, black, voluptuous, advocate not only for the blind, but for beyond. I stand in my truth.

I am healed from insecurities and I am healed from negative self-talk.

Every time I get in front of the audience, I have that white cane. I’m tapping and making room for the next Jeanetta .
Everybody else that come behind me that you don’t look like the norm. We all have a purpose on this earth. It’s okay to be you.

TR:

You all can reach out to Jeanetta Price as she rocks that Blind Girl Magic and serves her purpose.

Jeanetta:

Facebook and Instagram and also Club House Jeanetta Price, Blind Girl Magic either one, it’ll pull up.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta: 1:01:39
Jeanetta Price. Let me tell you right now, you are definitely now an official member of the Reid My Mind Radio family!

Jeanetta:

(Giggles)

TR:

Not only did she share her journey with us, but she even gave a little something extra, check this out

Jeanetta:

It’s called I’m From.

I’m from double dutch to hopscotch.
From what your mama gave you a hoola hoop?
I’m from what cartoon said yabba dabba do not. Screw you.
I’m from pressing combs to Jheri curls from skipping just for me.
Graduating straight to Super TCB.
I’m from 123, red light, Duck Duck goose, hide-n-go-seek what?
I’m from mayonnaise sandwiches and syrup sandwiches and peanut butter, Mama where is my jelly at sandwich.
I’m from grandfather hustle selling 25 cent cool cups.
I’m from when grown folks talk children shut up.
I’m from when your mama made you go to church every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
You was there too.
I’m from what a church folks did the holy dance and now they TikToking.
Well, chicken thunder, that reminds me I’m from a family of big mouths that cause big fights and Big Mama stepping and everybody got right.
I’m from God first family next in line come on down to the price is right even when we wrong. I’m from box fans in the windows of the projects .
I’m from my sister sitting on the front porch doing my crochet braids drinking Thunderbird mixed with a pack of cherry Kool Aid.
I’m from finders keepers losers weepers.
I’m from one size fit all but not all this.
I’m from when stripper poles hung our clean clothes.
I’m from stop, everybody get down, it’s a stick up. Psych. That’s just my cam folks running from the popo. My brother on the dice with his pocket swole. Baby daddy in jail, sister on the corner selling fruit cocktails.
I’m from telling on big sister and hiding behind big brother.
I’m from begging my siblings to please take me to the playground because that’s where all the kids hung around.
Question: when the last time you seen some children at the playground?
I’m from when it ain’t gonna cost you a dime to stay out of mines?
I’m from ain’t no ones where we come from and adversity don’t want none.
I’m from losing sight to gaining vision. Rewind I’m from losing sight to gaining vision.
I’m from where my brother reid My Mind and my sisters feel my words.
It’s not about the sight loss but the vision gain.
I’m from when we get up, dress up, and show up.
I’m from backstroking in the river of faith.
I’m from what a blind is the new vision.
I’m from living my best life out of sight, let the truth be told I am chosen.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Huh! See, that’s how you do it! That’s how you do it right there. Appreciate that, look at that, look Ma. I made it, I made it.
Jeanetta:

You so crazy!

TR:

Holman Prize, y’all missed out! From my humble perspective, you had two dynamite opportunities. One with Ms. Jeanetta Price and another with Reid My Mind Radio alumni Dena Lambert.

Her ambition, archive the experiences of the remaining Black & Blind men and women who grew up in segregated Blind schools. Here, in the United States.

That to me sounds like an exploration that is truly worth supporting.

Coming out of 2020 when it was fashionable and safe to say Black Lives Matter. I guess in 2021 it’s back to playing attention.

I didn’t grow up Blind, but I do know that those who were Blind before me gave me the opportunity to have what I do. They were Young Gifted Black and Disabled and to them, I dedicate this episode.

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Flipping the Script on Audio Description – A Hip Hop Approach

September 29th, 2021  / Author: T.Reid

Nathan Geering, a mixed race man of afro carribean and British descent is wearing an orange sweat shirt with a patchwork pocket on his chest and elbow pads that are patchwork also. He has navy blue jeans and grey shoes with red shoelaces. He is balancing upside down on his right hand with both of his knees tucked into his chest as he executes a handstand freeze on one hand.

Take the elements of Hip Hop culture; Rap, DJ’ing, Break Dancing, Graffiti and Knowledge of Self and apply that not only to Audio Description but disability in general, and you have the Rationale method.

Finding a way or a reason to bridge the disabled and non-disabled world of theater goers has been one of Nathan Geering’s goals. He’s the founder of the Rationale Method, a non-objective means of providing description that incorporates immersive artistic expressions including poetry, beat boxing and sound design to create accessible and inclusive performances for all.

His award winning short film “Still a Slave” will be a part of the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to experience this innovative approach to Audio Description.

Combining Hip Hop with blindness has always been a theme on this podcast whether you recognize it or not. It goes beyond the music, it’s in the small references, the samples … it’s in the DNA. Therefore, it’s fitting that I open this final episode of the 2021 Flipping the Script series with a hot 16 and my beatbox debut. So has we use to do it… “From the south to the west, to the east to the north, T.Reid go off, go off!”

This episode is dedicated to all the Hip Hop pioneers.

Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamp. – Chuck D, Public Enemy

Show Your Support – Shop Our Store

Check it out y’all! Reid My Mind Radio now has merch!
T-shirts and more on sale now!
Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more.

Shop now!

Getting to Know You!

We’re ready to take this podcast to the next level, but we need your help.
Please, take just a few minutes to fill out this survey.

Want to listen to this podcasts via your smart speaker?

just ask it to play the podcast Reid My Mind Radio by T.Reid on your default podcast player.

Holla Back

If you have any comments regarding this episode or any others for that matter, remember you can;
* Leave a voice mail at 570-798-7343
* Email ReidMyMindRadio at Gmail
* Comment here or @sreid on Twitter

Listen

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:

Greetings y’all!

Before we get into this last episode of the Flipping the Script series,
I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be off in October.
The podcast will return in November for our
final season of 2021, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

the best way to be sure you don’t miss anything is to simply subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
The next season starts in November, but you never know, I may have something to say in October.

Let’s kick it!

— Sample: “Ok, party people in the house. You’re about to witness something you’ve never witnessed before!” Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh
— Sample “Listen carefully” Daffy Duck
— Sounds of city streets and kids playing & hanging out

TR:
Once upon a time, in the 1980’s
Kids like me, well our parents said we were crazy
Hanging in the park, or in front of the building
Doing nothing wrong, we were just children
Sometimes we had music and it would be rocking
If not, someone was beat boxing
— Beat Box begins with TR now rapping…
All of a sudden, someone would start rapping
breakout the carboard time for break dancing
These were the early days of Hip Hop
Back then Most adults said it would stop
Today, please, it’s an unstoppable force
Fashion, Movies, and entertainment of course
Ladies & Gentlemen may I have your attention
This episode has a whole new dimension
Pump up the volume I need you to listen
Flipping the script on Audio Description

– Reid My Mind Theme Music

Nathan:

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.

TR:

That’s Nathan Geering, Accessibility Innovator and my guest today. He’s the director of the Rationale Method and the registered charity Rationale Arts.

Nathan:

I’m six foot one, I have an afro Caribbean heritage so from Antigua and Jamaica, and also British and Romany Gypsy heritage on my other side of the family. I have a short afro hair slightly longer on top of this tight Afro curls, I have a beard so I guess a sound that would go along with the texture, my beard is kind of like a kind of like a rough course kind of texture. I’m wearing a grade sports t shirt, which has “Move More” on one side, which is in white and yellow lettering.
The texture of the T shirt is very smooth. (Makes a smooth sounding sound)
I go by the pronouns of he or him.

TR:

Nathan didn’t mention that he’s also a Break Dancer , and that’s where this story begins. In fact, he shares some things in common with the early pioneers of the art.

Nathan:

I grew up watching old school kung fu movies with my grandmother and the rest of my family. And when I would be falling asleep, I could still picture the movements of the kung fu fight based on the sound effects from the kung fu movies. So you can tell it’s like a punch or a kick, or if it landed.

— Music begins, a dramatic intro leads into a pulsating groove.

TR:

Before we get to the sound effects, let’s hear more about the dancing.

Nathan:

I studied kung fu as a kid. And then I was a B-boy. From my early 20s, I did a couple of breaking moves as a kid, but I never really had anybody to teach me breaking. Then I went to university. And then there was like a breaking society there.

Within a couple months, because of my approach with Kung Fu, I ended up teaching the classes.

I picked up a lot of movements like really quickly.

And then from there, I ended up being an internationally touring performer. I work with a guy in the UK called Jonzi D. who runs a big hip hop Theater Festival called breaking convention. And he kind of like gave me my break into theater. And it just snowballed on from there.

TR:

He soon started his own Hip Hop Theater company called Rationale.
The company’s approach to developing their performances is interactive. It starts with what Nathan calls a scratch performance.

Nathan:
We show the audience certain scenes, and then they’ll give feedback based on those scenes. And then, based on that feedback will further develop our show.

This one particular time, we just didn’t have enough material.

TR:

So they borrowed an idea from another company called New Art Club.
It sort of creates a stop animation performance or creating what appears to be movement from still images.

Nathan:

We decided to remix that into a hip hop version. So when the audience would open their eyes we’d be stood up right and then when they close their eyes and open their eyes again, we’d be upside down spinning on our head or jumping up and down on one hand or doing freezes and poses, and the audience went crazy for it.

We couldn’t believe that we got such a profound response from just kind of taking the audience’s site away and bringing it back. So we decided that we were going to really focus on the theme of visual impairment, but sort of real superficial level.

TR:

That superficial turned to a real genuine interest after one of the members of the company explained how any of them could really be impacted by blindness.

Nathan:

And then that’s when it really hit home to me. My daughter at the time, she was about two years old. And I thought what if I was to wake up tomorrow, and I couldn’t see my daughter. And I wasn’t emotionally prepared for that, if I’m honest, I was a mess, I broke down in tears.

I was really afraid. And so with me, if I’m afraid of something, I develop a curiosity about it. And so I decided to find out as much as I could about visual impairment in depth.

TR:

We often talk about the correlation between the limited opportunities for people who are Blind or have Low Vision and the fear associated with blindness.

So I can’t help but wonder, what if the default response to that fear was more like Nathan’s.

Nathan:

I want to be able to get to know myself as a human being as best I possibly can.

I became quite aware, like in my, in my 20s, that
if I’m afraid of something, that fear can stop me living a happy and fulfilling life. And just because I’m afraid of something, it may be, because actually, I don’t know enough about it. And obviously, you can find great beauty on the other side of fear, but sometimes you just have to go through fear. Or sometimes it’s good to tolerate uncertainty.

I would say to anybody out there, if there’s something that you’re afraid of, develop a curiosity about it, because you may find some incredible things not only about yourself, but also about the thing that you’re actually afraid of, and it’ll help you grow as a human being.

we just had so many incredible discoveries that it became my life’s work.

— Music ends

The more I found out, the more I was just inspired.

TR:

In case this sounds like using disability as a gimmick.

— Sample “I don’t think so!” LL Cool J, “Going Back to Cali”

Nathan:

We worked with blind and partially sighted communities every step of the way.

It was really great that they were willing to come on this journey with us, because it meant that we were getting the information straight from the people that needed these provisions, they were helping to shape it and develop it. And we were always in consultation with them.

TR:

Nathan worked with various blindness organizations where he
met all sorts of people with varying degrees of blindness and low vision.

He asked why more blind people weren’t attending performances and what he could do about that.

Nathan:

they said, they need the dynamics of the movement to change quite abruptly from like, wide to narrow or high to low.

It’s not the case with every type of visual impairment but some kinds of vision impairment, the audience see better when you look down towards the floor, because the floor gives such a blank canvas for contrast. I was like, Okay, well, where does most breaking happen, kind of like on the floor.

We worked with a visually impaired playwright called Kate O’Reilly. She sees the world in 2d, so the world’s like a flat picture to her. And she said that when she watched my company break in person, she said, she got an experience of what it was like to see in 3d. Something gave her like a sense of depth and perception that she didn’t see in any other art form. And she thinks it’s something to do with the access, which we were spinning out with our power moves, or the kind of like, non typical positions, we put our bodies in, when we do freezes, or poses, she thinks there’s something that our brain is trying to make sense of that.

TR:

Blind people in the audience, that’s one thing. With help from Kate, Nathan sought out Blind breakers but couldn’t find any.

He wanted to do more than include Blind performers in his show. He wanted to provide value.

Nathan:

I realized that braking actually is increased my spatial awareness. And because with braking we have go down. So we go from standing to the floor very quickly, but we do that in very stylish ways, but also in very safe ways.

We teach people how to sustain the momentum and keep moving and keep rolling. And a lot of injuries happen when somebody falls and all the shock gets absorbed into one part of their body.

We teach how to sustain the momentum, therefore the force gets dissipated for a larger surface area of the body. So it means that it greatly reduces the chance of injuries and things.

TR:

In addition to schools and organizations for the Blind, He taught these lessons at the Royal Opera House.
During the pandemic, he began teaching one on one classes online via Zoom.

Nathan:

I have a blind student that can’t speak, that I teach in Italy, but we communicate through, obviously, my verbal directions and his hand signals. We’re still able to have that dialogue and to be able to teach him the techniques effectively.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
You work with adults, and children?

Nathan:
Oh, yeah. So I think the youngest kid we work with is like six. And the oldest person we’ve worked with is about 7374.

We have them do like CCS and Zulu spins and handstands. So it’s a real life intergenerational style.

TR:

As far as attending these performances, Nathan began to learn that the Audio Description provided just wasn’t doing it for these consumers.

Nathan:

in the UK, it was common practice for the audio description to be really kind of like objective.
And the way it was delivered was almost like a science experiment, there was like, a monotone voice, it was like the dancer lifts her up, moves her head to the side. And the thing is, our art is subjective. If you have that objective voice coming in over it, it can be quite disturbing and take you out of the immersive artistic experience.

— Music begins, a slow Hip Hop groove.
— Sample, Acapella “it’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” Dead Prez

TR:

So what does Nathan do?

Nathan:

I again turned to hip hop.

What are the more vocal elements of hip hop, obviously, we have emceeing, rapping and we have beatboxing and vocal percussion.
I started to pair beatboxing sound effects with certain movements.

We got people with visual impairment to basically like physicalize each sound effects a beatboxer makes. So for example, if a majority of people were saying that (makes a sound) represents a jump, we’d always use that for a jump or (makes a sound) represents like a low spin to the floor, we’d always use that is to represent the low spin. We created our own language, which is known as RM notation. Rationale Method – a way of giving people a richer soundscape really. Within the sound effects, you can get an idea of like the speed of a movement, or if a movement is traveling from high to low, all those kinds of directional input that it would take a very long time to describe through words.

TR in Conversation with Nathan::

Explained to me the name rationale method.

Nathan:

Rationale means a reason or a way. And we were like, We always will, or we will always find a way and a reason for doing good in the world. And so, that kind of stuck. We really try and find a way to bridge the gap between disabled and non disabled artists and audiences across the world.

TR:

The Rationale Method also includes poetic elements.

The goal is to provide a choice of aesthetics for implementing immersive, non objective Audio Description.

Nathan:

So there’s tons of audio description companies that deliver objective audio description

, We’re not saying that what we’re doing is a substitute for that we’re just trying to offer choice. Everybody has different tastes, some people will prefer objective audio description, some people prefer subjective, some people prefer, like beatboxing. Some people prefer poetics some people for emotive text. And so we just tried to open up the choice of what is available to blind and partially sighted audiences within what we’re doing.

TR:

The applications go beyond dance and artistic performances.

Nathan:

It can be used to describe like sport.

If you were to have a basketball game, or a football game, or a soccer game, for example, you, you can have an excited commentator delivering the commentary. But you don’t know, for example, if a ball is being passed from one person to another How long it takes for that pass, to travel from one person to another, if it’s a high pass, or low pass, but with the sound effects that we have, you can give a person an idea of how long it takes the ball to travel from one person to another based on the sound effects used.

TR:

Nathan couldn’t speak about the details for such an application, but he’s working on something that in his words, if it comes to fruition;

Nathan:

It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be big.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

I know, you can’t talk about it too much. But is that something that would be over TV? Or is that live in the venue or something?

Nathan:

So we’re looking at both. Obviously, with a live element, there may be like a slight split second of delay in terms of reaction times, right? It wouldn’t be enough to disrupt the experience. But again, when we go to the post production in the Edit, we can then tighten those elements up.

— Music ends.

TR:

I don’t really watch sports, but this does sound intriguing.

— Audio from Still a Slave

TR:

Another example of the Rationale Method at work is in a short film titled Still A Slave. It pairs emotive poetry and sound effects as subjective Audio Description.

The film itself runs about five minutes and is directed, written and stars Nathan.
It comes out of the same energy as the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the trauma that was resurfaced following the murders of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor.

Nathan:

There was a lot of, I guess, throwaway comments on social media from people saying, all lives matter, slavery doesn’t exist anymore.

These were really kind of like gaslighting comments and painful comments to us and myself.

It was getting to the point where I was like this is going to consume me if I don’t transform this energy.
I decided to take all that energy and transform it into a source of power, rather than keep it as a source of pain.

TR:

Nathan incorporates break dancing, fire and rope to convey his message.
In line with his martial arts background, he redirects that negative energy from the social media comments to reveal them for what they are.

Another key element of the film is the setting.

Nathan:

I shot it in Morecambe, which is one of Britain’s oldest slave ports, and the body of the first black slave is actually buried in marking, it’s called, like Sambo’s grave.

I was harnessing the energy from that space.

TR:

Combining the art with the activism, Nathan included a live performance of Still a Slave during a peaceful protest he organized outside a venue in his home city of Sheffield. He describes this venue as institutionally racist.

Nathan:

I made sure that I audio described all of the images leading up to the protest. I wanted to ensure that the protest was accessible. There’s so many people that organize protests that don’t think about the accessibility elements of a protest. For example, if you have physical content, is that physical content audio described?
Do you have a sign language interpreter there? If there’s people with neurological differences, Is there a space that they can go to where it’s not so noisy or not so hectic? If you’re doing a march? Is it an accessible route on the march that a wheelchair user can take. within the protest.

TR:
The response from the Blind Community?

Nathan:

Thank you, we felt because of this, we were able to take part in activism in a way that we typically don’t get to take part in activism, due to the inaccessibility that some protests have.

So for me, it was really important when I did Still a Slave to ensure that it was made accessible to as many people as possible when I made the film.

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.
It was sort of right from the inception of the production I always knew it would have audio description within that.

TR:

That’s the goal we always strive for; being considered at the point of creation or design.

In this case, the choice of aesthetic from the Rationale Method toolbox was poetry along with enhanced sound design.

Nathan:

I beefed up some of this sound effects from the fire. Just so again, you’ve got a bi t of an idea of the speed at which the fire was spinning and traveling from one point to another

we work with an incredible audio describer, Tashinga Matewe, who provided the beautiful poetry. I coached her in terms of what elements we needed to focus on to make it more accessible and the dynamics she needed to add to her voice at certain parts.

I made sure that the person I worked with to do the audio description came from African descent. I also made sure that the person that did the music, track the sound score that he came from African descent as well, just to make sure that there was authenticity running right through the entire short film in production.

— Sound of a record spinning backwards, into a scratch
— Music begins, a bouncy Hip Hop beat

TR:
What’s up family, I need to interrupt the episode for a brief moment.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoy bringing them to you.
I really want to make this podcast a sustainable venture.
Will you help me?

All I need is a bit of your time.
Please, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and check out the post for this episode and hit the link that says survey. It takes about 5 minutes to fill that out.
— DJ Scratch leads into “Check it out y’all!”

TR:
Reid My Mind Radio now has merch!
T-shirts and more on sale now!
Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more. Just go on over to Reid My Mind.com and hit the link that says Shop!

I appreciate you family!

And now,
— Sample: “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, …”

TR:
Back to the episode!

— Music ends

TR:

Both The Blind and the non Blind communities responded favorably never seeing this kind of approach before. The non Blind community acknowledging that it also adds an extra layer for them to understand what’s happening.

And, that venue in Sheffield, they decided to begin adding more programming from people of color on their main stage. And that includes locally within the city of Sheffield. This includes a performance from Nathan’s Rationale company.

Nathan:

We did a hip hop fair production called trusting care. And that production was made with young people and carers are artistic consultants on the production.
We would work with them on some artistic residencies, and then we create scenes with them, and then they’d watch the scenes back, like, Nah, that doesn’t represent me, or they’ve like, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly how I feel. So based on that, that’s how we create the production.

The audio description, again, was for everybody to hear.

TR:

No headphone and receiver? Open Audio Description?

Nathan:
We set the parameters at the beginning of the production.

TR:

That’s right, they did a pre-show for all attendees.
The cast was invited out along with the Audio Describer and British Sign Language interpreter.

Nathan:

We were like, okay, so right now, you know, you’re going to have this unique technique, this unique method, rationale method of audio description and accessibility can be fully embedded, and you may hear certain elements that you feel is like why are you stating the obvious, but we have to remember that there’s blind and partially sighted audience members here. So these elements are key in order to ensure that everybody has the same level of access. But not only that, you know, some of you sighted people may actually get a deeper understanding to some of the subtext or elements within the production as well. So it may just heighten accessibility for you as well.

We explained that the BSL interpretation was fully integrated within the performance and the production as well. So we have the sign interpreter dancing throughout the whole production,

We sold out the venue, we got a standing ovation.

It was just a massive hit.

TR:

That open Audio Description, even helped a Blind cast member who became disoriented while on stage.
— Music begins, a slow dramatic Hip Hop beat

Nathan:

The audio describer would literally be guiding her back to her space and where she needs to be to help her get a sense of direction or a sense of bearings within the audio description. It enabled the blind performer to be able to safely navigate the space without taking away from the aesthetic. So people got to see that firsthand in terms of audio description being used as a form of accessibility for performers as well as for audience members. It was incredible.

TR:

When something is new and starts to receive a level of attention and success, two things are likely to happen. First, people want to learn how they can implement it.

Nathan:

I’ve just been teaching the accessibility techniques, to some organizations out in Peru, in terms of how they can enhance accessibility not only through the rationale method, but also through creative techniques within audio description.

There’s loads of ways that people can get creative with audio description. We’re just scratching the surface.

I’m trying to give people the tools to unlock their own creativity and to try and tap into their authentic self,

Hopefully they’ll be able to unlock their own techniques.

the rationale method is just another alternative is it’s not a one size fits all. And I think there’s enough room for everybody in the more choice that we can provide for people the better.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

Are you getting love from the other audio description companies or are they hatin’??

(Tr & Nathan share in a hearty laugh!)

Nathan:
Well, it’s really funny. It’s a mixed bag.

So we got the audio description company in Canada, the main audio description organization, they’ve given us nothing but love.

Even though the Rational Method has its roots deeply embedded in hip hop, it doesn’t mean that the aesthetic that you will get will be a hip hop aesthetic.
We’ve audio described award winning contemporary dance and like ballet and even children’s, even children’s short films.

Just because it has its roots in hip hop doesn’t mean that the aesthetic is gonna always be hip hop. Sometimes it will be if that’s what it calls for.

We have one of the main audio description companies here in the UK. I approached them when I first started out kind of like can we partner on this? And they were just like, yeah. And then nothing. I tried to reach out since and nothing good. So I’m just like, Okay, well, we can just offer choice, you know, and that’s it. For me, I’m not competing with anybody. I’m just here just trying to do my part to provide accessibility.

So, because the way I, the way I see it, you know, everybody is different. And so, like I said, before, you know, our rational method, maybe ideal for some people, not ideal for others and other organizations aesthetic may be ideal for some people and not ideal for others. So that’s, that’s where it’s at. But yeah, but yeah,

We got hate because they know what we do is dope, that’s fine. You know,

TR in conversation with Nathan:
That’s when you know you’re doing something good.

— Sample: “Play on Playa”
TR:

Haters are always gonna hate.

— Sample: “No diggity, no doubt!”

Nathan really does have greater aspirations which include visions of the future of Audio Description.

Nathan:
For example, people could turn on the TV They have a button for audio description. And they have about 10 different aesthetics that they can choose from that suits their particular personality or taste or style. For me, that would be dope because for so long, it’s always been one size fits all for audio description for when there’s a production or performance.

TR:

Talking technology!

Nathan:
There’s like an event I run called demystifying tech, where we get people to play with both cutting edge technologies and basic technologies.

There’s so many artists still scared of technology and working with it. So we just try and demystify some of these preconceptions and talk about how we can utilize them to enhance accessibility in a variety of ways.

— Music ends
— Sample: “This is a journey into sound”

TR:

Nathan’s working on incorporating the sounds into a pad that can be triggered.

Essentially, taking the language of the Rationale Method which pairs sounds to movements, and making it easily available to anyone, Blind or not, at any time.

Nathan:

Then a sighted or blind dancer can then interpret those sounds.
And then all of a sudden, you’re opening up career pathways for blind and partially sighted choreographers and movement directors. Because there’s not that many of them out there. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to I think it’s more so because they haven’t had an accessible pathway created for them to be able to do that.

We just finished in the second stage of prototyping. And we’ve had incredible responses. We’ve had people saying that Yo, if I had this in college I would have passed my drama and dance exams.

TR:

Sounds as language, a means of communicating. Enabling a Blind choreographer to easily relay their idea or
conversely a Blind dancer to perform a desired move.

Nathan:

for example, if you were to do a Zulu spin. Zulu spin is if somebody is crouched low to the floor, and they’re spinning on the floor with both their hands and their feet in contact with the floor, but they’re keeping a tight ball. You get an idea of how fast the spin would happen.

TR:

Again, the applications go beyond dancing; maybe a Blind martial artist, actor or athlete.

Nathan:

Also, like fashion shows, if people can get a feel of the, energy of the person walking down the catwalk, and if they’re spinning around, the flow of dress on or a different style dress, the sound effect can also reflect the, you know, the movement quality of the dress as well. So, you know, there’s lots of applications that this sound pad can be used for.

I’m just in the second lot of prototyping, then hopefully, after that, we’re going to do a bit more triangulation in terms of research. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it to production and get it out to people in the world. And yeah, hopefully, we’ll be able to have some more blind and partially sighted directors and choreographers.

TR:

Assuring value for those who are Blind and disabled was always part of Nathan’s objective.
Nathan:

Me not being disabled myself, I had a lot of skepticism from the disabled community and quite rightly so. But I think once they talk to me and understand, actually this guy’s coming from a genuine place. It’s just been nothing but love from the disabled community which I’m eternally grateful for.

– Sample: “Nothing But Love For You Baby” Heavy D

TR:

That relationship and understanding the importance of centering the community is probably one reason Nathan was selected to coordinate the opening ceremony of the 2017 Special Olympics
— Audio from Special Olympics in 20xx.

Nathan:

I was adamant that the non disabled art companies and artists, they weren’t about to impose their choreography on the disabled artist. It had to be disability led The opening ceremony.
The people with disabilities, they would take the lead on what movements that they wanted and what themes they wanted to explore.

The non disabled artists they would fit in their choreography around and it just be a real mix. But it was disability led.

There have been other breakers that had performed the opening ceremonies, like the New York City break is done in the 80s, but I think I made history is the first ever B boy to be in charge of an entire Olympic opening ceremony.

So that was kind of like a big achievement for hip hop within that kind of context.

— Sample Hip Hop Hooray

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
So it sounds like you have a lot of the elements of hip hop kind of incorporated into what you’re doing is that something that you specifically looked at?

Nathan:
Yeah! My route was hip hop. I know how hip hop can save lives.

I’d always look to hip hop first, within everything that we do and see how that can work.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what hip hop can really do.

So for me, it was really important to connect with those ways that how hip hop saved my life, and influenced me as a human being.

TR:

Through his charity Rationale Arts, Nathan’s incorporating the elements of Hip Hop
or
Rapping or Emceeing, Break Dancing, Graffiti or Street Art, DJaying and the final Knowledge of Self ) to help hospitalized children.

Nathan:

We teach them bedside beatboxing. Hip Hop hand play, hand dance movements, we teach them smashing street art, graffiti writing, and how to write their own name. And then we also have a thing called Doctor Decks where somebody dressed up in Doctor scrubs and pushes like a trolley around the ward and has like DJ Decks on them and teaches the kids how to mix and scratch

There’s so many great like accessibility elements with that.

A beatboxes best friend can be a loop station.

TR:

Okay, for those who may not be familiar, a loop station is a recording device that repeats or loops a sound at a given tempo recorded.
For example:
— beat box…

The applications can go beyond beats.

Nathan:
With people that have trouble forming speech, we can sample their voice into that. And then that can be then part of their main soundscape that we create within that loop station, then if they want to, they can trigger their voice whenever they want it to come on and off.

TR:

Working directly with the children in real situations helped Nathan really understand the value of this work.

Nathan:
We’re actually teaching these kids like distress tolerance and emotional regulation,
Beatboxing is just meditation because meditation is controlled breathing.

— Music begins, a bouncy, upbeat Hip Hop beat

We’re teaching these kids life skills through these elements of hip hop in ways that people wouldn’t normally think that hip hop can help people’s lives.

Even down to the graffiti writing. We even teach them how powerful and important it is to put in your intention, even down to how you hold your pen. We teach them that if you want to write your name, and you’re holding your pen sloppy, then your name is going to come out sloppy. Where if you put your emotional intention everything your heart and soul into it, even just that how you hold your pen, you’re going to give not only yourself, but the world, the best representation of yourself.

I’m just trying to spread as much knowledge as possible in terms of ways in how we can utilize hip hop to enhance people’s quality of life.

TR:

This truly does go back to the essence of Hip Hop culture.

Nathan:

Within Hip Hop, originality is so important. Everybody thought about original style, original flow, and all that kind of thing. But the originality of thought, is something that we’re really trying to push with this.

This is a hip hop approach to accessibility and inclusion.

TR:

Yes, and ya don’t stop!
That’s right, Hip Hop don’t stop. And Nathan Geering, you brother…

Tr in conversation with Nathan:

you are now official.!

TR:

Member of the Reid My Mind Radio Family!

— Air Horn

Nathan:

Dope, dope!

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
Give me some contact information, brother, where can people, check you out,

Nathan:

yeah. Yeah, yeah. So if you want to check out the work that my charity does all the community based work and theatrical work that I mentioned, it’s www dot RationaleArts.com

If you’re interested in the audio description, service and provision, that’s www dot RationaleMethod.com.

On Instagram it’s RationaleArts, RationaleMethod or NathaGeering.

On Twitter RationaleArts again or MethodRationale.
if y’all want to hit me up via email, hit me up at Nathan at rationale method.calm

TR:

You can check out Still A Slave during the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. You know, the premier disability film festival that you can attend online.

— We should do something on CH in conjunction with SF —

All you have to do is point that handy dandy browser of yours at SuperfestFilm.com. There are multiple options for tickets that fit in all budgets.

Just like Reid My Mind Radio! Which by the way is available for only free 99 wherever you like to consume podcasts.

Plus, we have transcripts and more over at ReidMyMind.com.

So there’s no confusion, like a true Emcee, I spell it out, that’s R to the E I D…
(“D)” And that’s me in the place to be!

Like my last name.

— Sample from Kung Fu movie “Were you just using the Wu Tang School method against me?”
Nathan:
Wicked!
— Reid My Mind Radio Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript