Published On: June 17, 2022

Finding Your True Voice Through Tragedy with Storyteller Devan Sandiford

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Episode Summary:
Sometimes we feel like it’s much easier to shut our eyes to injustices because they may not be affecting us directly, but in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In this episode guest, Devan Sandiford and I discuss how we found our voices through all the injustices and made room to be our full selves.

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About the Interviewee:
Devan Sandiford was born and raised in Southern California, where spent his childhood and young adult years keeping his personal stories hidden from almost everyone. Then feeling a voice within him longing to be heard, he moved to Brooklyn with his wife and two sons, hoping to push himself out of his comfort zone and find the power in his voice. Devan is now a published writer, an award-winning storyteller, and the program manager of community engagement at The Moth. His stories have been featured in the Washington Post, The Moth Radio Hour and Podcast, NPR-affiliate KNKX, and more. Devan has also been interviewed on parenting, race, and identity in The New York Times and Washington Post. He’s currently working on his debut book—Human, Like You: Confessions of a Six-year-old Father.

Spotlight on Melanin:
I am still looking for new submissions for Spotlight on Melanin. Spotlight on Melanin is the part of the show where I like to spotlight a creator, influencer, artist, business owner, or activist of color. If you or someone you know would like a chance to be featured on Spotlight on Melanin, send us an email at Please include links to their social media and why you feel they should be spotlighted.

Host/Producer: Richard Dodds @Doddsism
Show Music: @IAmTheDjBlue

Episode Transcript

Richard Dodds  0:00  
Coming up later in the episode, 

Devan Sandiford  0:02  
and you know, I had a worker come up to me and accuse me of stealing, I had actually put my hands in my pockets by the kiosk, which you know, is a rule of blackness you don’t put your hands in your pockets by by the register because somebody is going to think you’re stealing something. So this person I was 12 came up accused me of stealing said he’s gonna call the cops on me and my friends. And I ended up having to like turn my pockets and that out. And it was a moment for me where I was just having fun with my friends. I wasn’t thinking about being black at all. And it was like a reminder of like, you got to think about this everywhere you go.

Richard Dodds  0:32  
This is still talking about like a show about bringing awareness and perspectives to issues that minorities face every day. I’m your host, Richard that. I recall one night watching the TV show about someone who had been blissfully living their life, not worried about social justice, or the injustice is that black people face as a black man. He was content with just doing his job, being happy and not making any weight. He simply just wanted to be, he had been doing a pretty successful job at it until one day and justice knocked them down and forced him to take a look at reality. As much as he tried to walk the middle line and fought using his voice and his art to speak up one day and injustice hit him. And he was moved reluctantly, but still move to eventually use his platform to speak against the injustice that black people face in America. After the initial episode, I began to cry unexpectedly. After I sat for a while trying to understand what my feelings were, I was crying because that character was me. Not in a literal sense, but a figurative form. Sometimes we feel like it’s much easier to shut our eyes to injustice, because they’re not affecting us directly. But in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and justice anywhere as a threat to justice everywhere. And even though I already started walking in this direction, I knew it was time for me to be serious about using my voice to help impact change for minorities, specifically black people in America.

Richard Dodds  2:10  
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Devan Sandiford  2:41  
I’m Devin Sandra Ford. I’m a writer storyteller. I’m also the Program Manager of Community Engagement at the moth. I actually started this community unreeling storytelling, it’s a place where people can get together as a community and share like our honest truths together and be able to just like lift each other up, especially people who have been often like quieted or feel like repressed. It’s just a space for us to share our stories. That’s really awesome. So, welcome. Welcome to the show. And so storytelling is something that is a cornerstone of society. Everything is based around storytelling. Like even in the early caveman drawers you see the joys of is storage, you tell them a history, you’re telling creative stories, you tell them about your ancestors, what path led you to becoming a storyteller?

Devan Sandiford  3:32  
Yeah, the path that led me to be a storyteller was I actually was not sharing any of my stories at all. I used to love to write when I was a kid, though, when I was a kid, I used to just write all the time, and I kind of just lost that. And sometime around like 2015 16, I decided I wanted to like, share my story. And I started writing again. But I found that like I couldn’t really find like my authentic voice, I would always be self editing myself and trying to find the perfect way to say things. And so I actually had written this piece that was like a, just a small piece for me something that was just had just happened. And it allowed me to just be more honest. And it helped me see the ways in which people didn’t really want to hear me filtered and perfected. They just wanted me to tell the truth. And so I started going on stages to try and find the ways in which I could just speak and not be so like caught up in like, you know, what’s the best word to use here? What’s the person gonna like to hear as opposed to just like, telling what it is that I have to say? So that was my path to storytelling.

Richard Dodds  4:40  
I think there’s definitely a big difference between you know, like talking in person and writing just because writing you can sit there and you can analyze, if anybody, I’ve written stories and things like that before and it’s like when you write the story, the problem why I don’t have anything out. That’s a story like that is because you sit there and you write it and then You go back and you read it, and you try to perfect it and be like, Oh, I can, I can show this expression better. I can say this word better. But it’s something like the wrongness, even as even as talking. Now, it’s a wrongness that you just kind of get it out and you say it the best way that you can in that moment. And you just roll with it, because sometimes it’s better to get it out than to get out perfect.

Devan Sandiford  5:19  
Exactly, yeah. And actually, now at this point, I can like, almost feel the difference in my body. But before I would get behind my computer screen, I would stay up super late at night, I’d feel like this tightness of just like, I gotta work on it. And it’s got to be, it’s got to be this, it’s got to be that and I would just basically be banging my head against the wall, for like, two hours end up with like two sentences. It’s like, this is not good at all. And now just like being able to share, like, almost, even if I’m on a stage, I really just want to have a conversation with people. And not make it a thing where it’s like, I know what to say. But more of just like, This is what I feel this is what I think. And to kind of play off people, whether they’re, you know, telling me things back or just like their body language to be able to like, understand what’s important to me just in conversation.

Richard Dodds  6:08  
I think you and I have some, like very, we have some similarities when it comes to like, how are our story telling started, you know what I mean? It all it all came from a place where we wanted to speak out on something. And I remember the first time I’ve talked about it many times on the podcast, I think they got me, we me started was when George flow was murdered. And it was like the first time where I felt like I really needed to use my voice to do something. So I remember recording my speech, is it because I’m black? I remember recording it, and looking over it and watching it and saying, Am I really gonna put this out because like, once you put it out your voices out there, like that’s written in pain, like you can’t take that back. Right? And I just remember the fear. It was like, you know, I’ve never been skydiving, but I imagined it was like jumping out of a plane, you didn’t know what was gonna happen. Right? So what was it like for you the first time specifically, when you’re talking about an injustice or, you know, something of that nature that happened in your life? What was it like the first time that your voice had to penetrate, and you had to actually say something, and to our audience, whether it was pre recorded or in front of somebody? Yeah, that

Devan Sandiford  7:25  
that moment for me was, was absolutely terrifying. And it came from a place when I was six, my mom’s youngest brother was shot and killed by the police in the front yard of our home. And so like, my uncle had lived next door to us, and everybody in my family, at the time, didn’t talk about it at all. And so I had held not only that, but like pretty much every injustice from that point forward, just never talking about them thinking that like, you know, if we can just move forward and get past it. Like that’s the best way to move on. Because they’re just, they come up so often. And so when I got to the place of sharing this, my first thing was like, I don’t even know if this is mine to share, because it impacted so many people. And there was like this really strong fear about like, hurting the people in my family, just from them, like not wanting to talk about it, and it bringing back the memories of these this incident. And so, first, I was like really, like going a lot of shame on myself, like, why do you need to talk about this, you were the youngest, if anyone should talk about it, it should be the people who were like most affected. And I found myself telling myself that a lot. And just through the process of like, being around friends and being in therapy, it was definitely the shift. And like, No, this is also your story, and you deserve to share, and to talk about it and not to really hold it anymore. And so when I was on the first time I talked about my uncle actually was on stage. And I had built up like this feeling of like, this was a moment, it was actually in a it was in a cemetery. They had like, candles lit up, like a really strange setup, but it was it almost felt like I had a moment to like bring him back to life in the telling of his, in my story, connecting to him. And I was like both terrified to talk about him and also at the same time to reveal something that was really vulnerable to me. And then to know that there’s going to be like other people listening to it. I think it was just like continued to play in my mind that like this is something that’s gonna live it’s got to be just right, like I was saying before. And to really get to a place where it was like, this is just like the first step like I can I can talk about him some more I can talk about, you know, the impact for me some more and then to have it be out in the world and have people you know, respond to it positively in a way that was like, you know, thank you for sharing this. But then also on the other side. There was the like difficulty for my family and like The tough conversations that came as a result of like, honestly, why are you sharing this? So it was kind of both my fear and my, like, biggest hope came true at the same time. And I continue to share and my family has like, had changes as, as I share different things that they’ve moments been like, you absolutely need to share in other moments been like this is kind of too close to home. And it’s also something that I expect, because I have that same feeling like this, this, this feels like a little too, too much too vulnerable, any pullback. And at the same time knowing that, like, I hold it, I held it in stuff my whole life, and it didn’t necessarily make things better. So it was both like enriching and terrifying, I’d say.

Richard Dodds  10:46  
It’s funny, because I feel like whenever you do something like that, it’s almost like the same kind of feeling. When you dip your toe in the pool and the pool, water is cold. And you kind of dividend it’s kind of I know what it’s like once you jump in, you adjust. And once you do it, it feels so much better to finally get it done. And to be free and to be able to live and and living your truth and have that experience. And you said it to you said it best that you never know who’s listening. Right? You could touch anybody. And there’s people who feel like you who might not have the strength to speak up. And sometimes just hearing someone speak up about something gives them the courage to speak up and especially in America to wait in America is today. Like talking about blackness is it seems radical. You’re right. I mean, it’s I hope he’s talking about but like but like we are black, we’re really our blackness, but it just sounds so radical just to be talking about blackness, even if we’re just talking about our ancestry, things that we’ve we’ve experienced in America, things that we went through, because we’ve all had very different experiences. And I know from us talking before that you’ve lived in multiple different places around the United States. How do you feel that each environment has shaped like your voice? And just your yourself? How has each different place impacted the way that you tell stories?

Devan Sandiford  12:13  
That is a really good question. I think the place where I was like spent the most of my childhood, the suburban town in California, it’s a predominantly white neighborhood. And so I, I learned to code switch, like, pretty effectively, to the point where I think I kind of forgot what it meant to have my own authentic voice. Like whatever room I went into, I knew how to change the way that I was talking to match the people that were there and to make people feel comfortable, and to really like connect with people. And so like, it allowed me to be able to have friendships and relationships with people and connect with anyone. But at the same time, it somewhat made me lose the authenticity of what it means to be me. And so, interestingly enough, as I go and share my stories, I will be actively trying to like fight against the code switching as I talk, like if I’m in a room and I start to see people’s faces. I’ll like think what does that person want to hear? And as soon as I get that feeling, I try and like back away from it and say like, you know, what is it that I want to share? And it’s interesting, you talked about blackness, being radical to talking about blackness is radical. And it’s like, honestly, these are just my experiences my life. And for me, I have no no desire to like be doing any political talk like in about my personal life. Like if we’re talking about politics, yes. But if we’re talking about my personal life and meat, like something that happened to me, I’m never going into like how to politicize this. And so it’s interesting to hear people even get defensive around things about race. And it’s like, this story that I’m sharing, it actually isn’t about race. Race is like the highest level of what I’m talking about. But if you look beneath that, there’s like a ton of things that I’m sharing about me personally, that go deeper than just black and white. And so it’s like, yes, it’s about race, but it’s also about insecurity or isolation or like community what it means to have like home and family. And so, you know, that being like, a place that I would probably still call home, I definitely have had to fight to find my, like, my authentic voice. But I have, like you mentioned, lived in many places in America at this point. I lived in Baltimore for a little while and are surrounded by, you know, a large population of black people I’ve lived in outside of Baltimore and Howard County, which again, has like a, you know, a mix of people. And so, I live in New York now. And I would say this place living in Brooklyn has been the place that’s allowed me to really lean into the uniqueness of who I am, like so many people here just are are trying to be their authentic selves. And so it encourages me to just, like, lean into that. And what does it mean to be? What does it mean to be me? And how do I talk when I don’t worry about what someone else is thinking?

Richard Dodds  15:12  
Yeah, it’s funny. You brought up politics just because just by being black, automatically political period, like it doesn’t like whether we want to be political or not just about being black, we’re political. And anytime we started to talk about blackness, especially like, if you’re in the in the workforce, you talk about the things that you went through, which is not radical, it’s like you’re just telling your story. In certain environments, it seems like, Ooh, maybe you shouldn’t be talking about this. But it’s like, that’s my history. Right. And I think the thing about it is, is that the truth of our history sometimes and the things, the systemic racism and things that we face on a daily basis, makes other non minorities uncomfortable. And the thing about us is that for so long, black people have been the ones to try to you talk about code switching, we’ve been wanting to try to make everybody else around us feel comfortable, right. And then when we talk about when we started to tell our truths that makes people feel uncomfortable, and some people are so stuck on having their comfort that they will rather be comfortable than actually hear and understand the truth.

Devan Sandiford  16:19  
Yeah, absolutely. There’s that barrier, when you start to talk about your truth, and it connects to race, where it’s like, I can’t even hear you, I stopped listening to you, because we’re talking about race. And it’s interesting to have people get defensive, and even like, not even feel free to lean into their own experiences, while you’re sharing yours, just because there’s race involved. So actually had a friend, we mentioned, you know, when George Floyd was murdered, I had a friend, I was sharing an experience or a collection of experiences, how this moment landed on me, and like so many of us. And he actually had hit me up to, like, want to go on Instagram Live, to just like, chop it up and laugh and like, let’s have fun, a white person. And for me, it was just like, I mean, there’ll be time for that. But it’s just like, not right now. Like, this literally just happened. Why are we jumping to like, let’s try and laugh and have fun. And so it was a, I think it’s difficult because I have like so many different friends from different periods and places that I’ve lived in that it’s like, not everyone is where I want to be with, like talking about my truth, and like what it means to be me. And there’s definitely been the like, letting go of certain like people, at least in this time, like maybe they come back around at another point, but just like distancing myself in order to like stay centered, and like, true to who I am. So it’s a lesson, or like a something that I’ve been like, having to like force myself to learn, because I’m also the person that’s like, oh, no, like, I’ll give you another chance. Like, you just didn’t know. And it’s like, no, no,

Richard Dodds  18:06  
I think I think it’s times where tragedies and things happen, and you kind of see who people really are, or who they become, because the longer you know, somebody, I mean, we were all constantly changing and evolving. And sometimes you change, like even you think about relationships, whether it’s a friendship, or a romantic relationship, as you grow as time goes you to change over time. And sometimes you change together and you grow together. And then sometimes you grow apart. And not only that, it’s sometimes that like the black race, a lot of us we’ve kind of been forced with everything that’s going on to grow in different ways, where other people that are not Black might not understand and may not be growing and the sensitivity that they need to have in order to relate to the things that are happening in the black community. I mean, like, you know, shooting some buffalo, Floyd, just so many different hashtags and names of people, that is too many to even name, like, you know, take forever, just to name everybody. So that’s something that’s constantly going on or something that’s constantly in the back of our mind. So it causes us to mature and grow in ways that other people don’t have to, to deal with, or, or go through. And so sometimes we just were just growing. And the people that we grew up with, it was good for a time or a season. And now they’re just not on a level where you would need them to be in order to keep the mess out of your cycle.

Devan Sandiford  19:30  
Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. Somebody was that really famous quote about like being able to love somebody from a distance. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but definitely having to make boundaries. And that’s something that I definitely was not good at as a young person being able to like to find what my boundaries are, and to keep people at a safe distance. So like you said, there’s a lot of growth that happens for anybody but like, you know, as a black person that’s directly connected to, like deaths that are shown all across the news. And like being a black father and having two sons and having to have these conversations and explain it to people who are still in their, like, such innocent phase like life, it really brings it to the heart of like, you know, why are we here? And why is this happening? And specifically, like, to the kid’s point of like, like, this is me, like this could happen to me and the fear that you can, like, see in a child’s face when that when they start to like understand that, I think is really hard to, to hold. And it also makes sense why. For my parents, that was the like, the you know, let me protect you from this. I think a lot of parents want to protect their kids from, you know, the the hard things in life and the things that can really hurt. And at the same time, we live in the real world. So it’s like, you’re never really as like protected as you want to be.

Richard Dodds  20:59  
Yeah, I remember the series that I did the mothers of black sons, and just talking about the tragedies with them, you can really hear the heartbreak and their voice. And the issues like one of them, we actually talked about, I believe it was Mallory, we talked about how you want to keep your child innocent. But this world doesn’t want to let your child stay innocent, because it’s a certain level that you have to do to prepare your black child, especially your black young man, especially for this world that is out to seem seemingly, at least I’ll just say seemingly is out to get them. Right. So you have to you have to balance stripping away parts of the innocence so that they can survive with trying to keep them innocent, and thinking that the world is all you know, sunshine and rainbows as long as possible. And it’s just a terrible burden that it’s placed among us. And it’s really, it was really sad. It’s really heartbreaking to talk to some of the mothers even to the point where some of them like you can tell that they were tearful. And it hurt. And I just remember my mom having conversations with me, and letting me know about how to where it was and it was like really confused. And it’s like, why would the world be like this because you’re innocent, you’ve never experienced anything like that. But on the same token, like I hear a story on a round table where someone was six years old, and they’re on the Girl Scouts trip, and it has some of the most heinous and horrible things said to them. And that’s their introduction, or it’s just so many different stories that I’ve heard that racism starting so early, and you get introduced to this stuff so early. And it definitely affects us.

Devan Sandiford  22:44  
Yeah, absolutely does. And when it happens to you at that early age, and you don’t really understand it for the first time, I think is like a really pivotal moment in like what it means to be black. Because it’s, it’s just like right in your face. And it just doesn’t make sense. It honestly doesn’t make sense. So I’ve had many of those moments. My son, my older son, maybe it was like two years ago, he came to me to ask if me and his mom if he could do like, a Nerf gun birthday party in the park. And I was just like, like, my body was just like, No. And he was like, trying to explain like, you know why it’s okay. And like getting into a debate, which is usually like, I’m fine having like conversation with my son. But for whatever reason, not for whatever reason, for valid reason. Yeah. Being a black boy that I just felt like the conversation alone was like the opportunity for something to happen. And for him to be out there and to, you know, there’s not a lot of questions that are asked before something’s done. It’s, it’s usually this thing happens or doesn’t happen. And I could just feel it in my body, like not wanting that to be the case. And it’s just like, no, like, let’s let’s pick something else to do, or like do it indoors.

Richard Dodds  24:03  
Yeah. And that’s a hard thing. As a parent, I’m sure to have to say that because of the color of your skin. This isn’t really feasible for us.

Devan Sandiford  24:11  
Yeah. Yeah. And to have it, like it almost felt like an irrational thing. Like because there’s arguments as a child is like, these are like, pretty, like solid arguments like, but it’s just like the reality of the world. The world that he lives in, which was like, innocent is like less. It’s just not believable anymore to somebody who’s like, lived a life and experienced so many things and seen so many things. So

Richard Dodds  24:39  
yeah, it’s tough. It really is tough, and especially with so many things happening. One of the comments that I heard like on that same series was that it doesn’t seem to matter what age they are. So it doesn’t even matter if if they’re young man anymore. It something’s happening to different people. And it’s just because oh, they see you as a threat. They see you differently than they see somebody else. So just having our color skin, it’s like, we just have a different. Somebody, they have a different point of view on how they see us. And that’s not right. And it’s not fair. Right? So with every tragedy that happens, I’m sure that it affects your voice, especially as a storyteller. So with all of the things that have been happening, like whether recently, or whether, let’s just say over the last few years, because I feel like the pandemic did a job of really sitting us down. And like, any before, if you tried to avoid it, you couldn’t avoid it, it was right in your face, because it was nothing else to do. You’re in a house, you couldn’t go anywhere, tragedies that happened was straight up in your face. And it was everywhere social media has, like you know, you can’t miss it. You can’t miss it is broadcast that everywhere. So with each tragedy, how does that How do you feel, if you feel how has it affected your voice?

Devan Sandiford  26:00  
Each each of the, it’s interesting, over the last two years, so right before the pandemic started, I sometime in the like the summer of 2019, I got really serious about like my writing. And so I was like writing every day for the first time in my life. And, you know, just writing my experiences, some of them had racing them as a black man. And so I started to see the string of things going together. And when George Floyd was murdered, it felt like this really heavy weight to the writing. Like here it is, again, like right in our face, like you said, and actually had some people who knew about what the what my book was about come to me. And they were telling me like, Oh, now you got it, you got to, you know, send it out. This is the time and it just felt like the dirtiest feeling ever just to feel like, like, this is the time like as if I’m going to like capitalize on this moment. And so for me, it almost put me back into a shell not really wanting to share my voice being like, like these, this is this is people don’t understand that this like real people’s lives, I think, yeah, it’s not just somebody on the TV that you’re watching, like, this person had a family, this person has, you know, George Floyd had a daughter, six years old. And all the memories that she has of her dad are going to be from these years, she doesn’t have any new memories that are going to carry on with her. This is it. And people can tell the stories about him. But this is all that she has. And so initially, it kind of put me in a place of not wanting to share my voice. And it was with all the swirl of all these incidents happening. And really my son’s that kind of brought it back to like you got to share. Initially, I had not wanted to watch. I didn’t want to watch the video for a mod Aubrey. I was like in the space where like it was already the pandemic, I was like, I gotta stay positive for my sons and like breathe some life into them. Like, I don’t want to have them have the same experience that I had of just like everything, race everywhere showing up every time you get like you got to consider it, you got to be careful here, you got to be careful there. I wanted them to have this, like freedom from all of that. So I didn’t want to watch it initially. And like you said it was it was everywhere. I knew that I couldn’t avoid it. And I knew eventually it would like pop up on me and surprise me. And rather than like having that be the case, I was like I gotta sit down and watch it. And it was in my at my kitchen table. I was watching it like crying. And my then five year old, he came up to me and he was like he wanted to see. And I was just like no, like, I just like shoo them away. And I could see he was like pretty disappointed when he walked away. And I felt really bad that like I’d kind of just shoot them away. But like I was we were actually supposed to be playing a game together. Or we’re supposed to be playing like a game of Roblox with my sons on their on their iPads near my phone. And so I kind of just like put my phone away after watching it and walked into play with them. And it was like the two of them wondering like, why I was crying and there was no way for me to like, it’s like, I can make up a story. Like why I was crying. So ended up you know, not just talking about race, but like what it means to hold the weight of these losses. Like it’s something that’s really heavy. And explaining that to them and then sharing about what I had like done my whole life, just like holding everything in and I saw that my older son kind of had that same mentality of not wanting to hear he actually plugged his ears when I started talking and so I remembered being like that, and at the same time not wanting him to think that like not talking about it makes it go away. And what I’ve learned from my life, the idea of like not talking about actually makes it worse. And he was the one that like reminded me of that and the need to share and when I talked about that he actually ended up sharing with me something that had happened to him at the school earlier that year with one of his classmates like calling him poop on the bus. Hmm And it was like the hardest thing for me to hear that because I had those experiences as a kid too. And at the same time, it was like, I literally, I was like, extra angry, and I just wanted to find out who it was and like, let’s go, like, do some stuff. And then it was like, you know, my son doesn’t really need that he really needs to just like, express what it felt like and to talk about this as opposed to holding it in. So if not, for my son’s, I may have gone and been like, this is just too much like, all of the talking. And all of the sharing isn’t really making a difference, I could easily see myself going back and like not using, not using my voice to try and make change. And just do that process of like hearing him talk and hearing and having the both of them express what it felt like, was a reminder of like, even if nothing were to change in the world, just the expression of us talking about these things, is enough of a reason to speak in and of itself. So

Devan Sandiford  30:57  
initially, it almost silenced me. And then it allowed me to like lean back into like nama shirt, every place that I can and get these things out of me

Richard Dodds  31:09  
that, uh, that is just like, a perfect reminder of why so important to actually use your voice, especially as a parent, you know, just because by you showing your son it was okay to speak how you’re feeling whether it’s good or bad. At that age, you opened it up and made him available. Like, Dad says, I can do this. And it’s okay for dad to do it, then I’m gonna go ahead and do it too. I feel like so many times, especially in the black community, like a lot of us we try to hold in, like a lot of our pain and issues is just like, it’s like almost like a black rite of passage for a man. We got to hold it in. We got to hold it and we got to hold it in. And it’s killing us. Yeah, and it’s killing us. Absolutely. We got to give each other permission to be able to let it out and be able to tell our truths and to be able to say like, yeah, this hurts, or Yeah, I’m not feeling good. Or I’m not in the best of position to go and do this right now. I’m not mentally there, instead of have done a struggle in silence, and then let it eat away at our body. So I think it’s so beautiful. And I think it’s such an important lesson that you taught your son, because actions speak louder than words and and you just gave him permission to do something. And that that’s a beautiful thing.

Devan Sandiford  32:24  
Yeah, appreciate you saying that. And it was he actually had this really like this line that he said to me that like, was something that I was trying to remember. Because when I was describing to him how I used to be when I was his age, just like not talking about things. One thing after another, he looked back and he’s like, Dad, that makes no sense. Like, if you just like, try and push all the things inside, like you’re literally piling it up for you to carry around everywhere. And it’s just like a burden that you have to carry. And when he said that, it was like, again, you’re you know, you I’m sharing things with you. But also my sons are sharing things with me about like, things that I, you know, wasn’t necessarily doing right the first time around. And the ways in which that I kind of caused the burden to myself, obviously, the world did it first, but then I like piled it on and it was just like, oh, no, I’m okay, I’m gonna, I can carry all this stuff. I can be strong. And it’s like, do you need to be strong, though? Can you can you let it go? So

Richard Dodds  33:29  
yeah, and that that’s, that’s very true. Because we always say we do as black people just automatically have a weight to carry, we have to carry out blackness was everywhere. And the more we hold on to this, like the more weight that we have to carry with us on a daily basis. So that’s a that’s a very true sentiment. So with your storytelling, I remember the biggest thing for me like going back to the speech that I posted on Facebook to all of my diverse friend group, one of the things is that I really just didn’t know how like my diverse friend group would even take you on and know how to black people respond and how to the white people respond. I didn’t you know, all the non minorities in the minorities, I had no idea but the outcry that I got like everybody was a lot of the white people that I talked to a lot of my white friends were like so happy that I shared they were so happy and they were like oh we know you and and we hate that you have to carry this weight and carry this burden and go through all of this and the black people like all of us was like yes, we can relate. You’re speaking you’re speaking of what’s in our hearts and souls. So for you how has that reception been? What your storytelling you talked about a little bit with your family, but I’m sure that you have it sounds like you have a pretty diverse friend group too. How do your different friends how do you black and black friends feel about you telling you telling these stories? I can tell Sometimes be, you know, just by a consequence of being black that can be controversial or radical. And yes,

Devan Sandiford  35:07  
yes, absolutely. And it was interesting, like, almost arguing with myself from all of my different friends perspectives before I, I had a similar experience like you, I had recorded, I was actually in this like Zoom Room where I had recorded like just my response and sharing some stories about like, all the things that I carried, and like what happened when I watched George Floyd be murdered. And I was like, obviously, in tears, like, full on just like letting everything out. And when I decided to post it, there was like this, like, Why are you out here like sharing this with like these people, they’re not actually going to actually help, they’re just going to give the likes, and then you know, maybe it’s six months later, a year later, they’re just gonna go back to doing the same thing, and then argue with myself from the other side, and going back and forth, finally ended up just posting it and being like, let me just lean into like, this was a moment, I was as unfiltered as I had been in, in probably most of my life. And similarly had like, a pouring out of like, support, especially from like, white community. Tons and tons of people resharing and thanking me for sharing. And some of the people you know, people of color saying like, you know, I feel the same way. And then just a reminder not to like, let this moment be like, like, it’s going to be fine, like people are going to forget, and it’s going to move on, don’t forget, because otherwise, you’re going to be surprised when we get six months down the road a year down the road, and people are still the same people that they were. And so I definitely had some support. And some like reminders of what it means to live in a black body and to continue to like, keep hope, but at the same time, be realistic, so you’re not caught off guard. And then as far as like my stories go, it’s, it’s interesting, because they end up getting shared with people that I don’t even know. And so there’s people who will reach out. And sometimes it’s like the best response ever, they’ll be a person and they’ll share about some loss that they have in their family. And like pretty vulnerable losses, like some guy emailed about losing his son, young son, maybe four or five years old and a tragedy, somebody emailed about losing their grandma, like people who are just like connecting to what it means to lose something. And just to connect with the story in that way, and feel honestly pretty deeply connected to these people as they’re being vulnerable with me, and I know that they had heard my story. And then at the same time, friends and family, sometimes they’ll reach out and say things and other times, I don’t even know if they’ve heard it, because they won’t respond. And so it’s interesting to like, for me, I start to like make up what their responses are without even having talked to them. And usually the responses that I have in my mind or something negative, but to have people like respond and give portions of themselves and be vulnerable be vulnerable, about things that have happened in their life and not turn it into like, you know, black versus white. And, you know, so far beyond just like having an argument about racism existing, like, if we’re, if you’re still wondering whether racism exists, then you have you can have that conversation someplace else, I’m not interested.

Richard Dodds  38:32  
And that’s such a that’s such a big thing like, Oh, does racism exists, it’s not even a question. And we all have prejudices. And we all have to admit our prejudice, you know what I mean? The thing that sucks about their prejudices against black people, is that too often it ends with someone being in debt. Right? That’s the most unfortunate thing. You know, I remember when I back in the day, I used to be able to walk into a room, and I could be in a room for hours. And they gave me tons of people in there. And I could be the only or one of very few minorities, and nothing would ever crossed my mind. It would just be like, hey, whatever. It’s like, oh, I didn’t even notice that I was the only black dude in the room. Right? But with the rise of everything that’s happened. It’s caused me to look at the world different again, you know what I mean? You looked at it different as things happen, but you know, especially like recently, I mean, the shooting in Buffalo does audit this countless things. I mean, just we just say the last two years, just everything has happened. And it’s been on for display and and as technology has gotten more vibrant and bolder. You see it a lot more close up. And now it causes me everywhere. I’m like looking around, I’m looking at where the minorities are. What positions do they have where they’re I’m looking at body language of the people in the room, you know, I’m looking to see as another black person, especially when we talk about traveling. Like when I’m traveling, I’m looking around like, I was thinking about moving, I live in Michigan, I was thinking about moving out of Michigan, at one point in time, and I was like, I have to go somewhere where it’s minorities, because of his not any minorities, you know, it’s things that I will need, that I won’t be able to get there. And just having that support group, just, it just means so much. You know what I mean, and it just sucks that once you are awoken to that it’s so hard to turn it off to be to pay attention to those things that you used to never even think about. What has been your experiences?

Devan Sandiford  40:44  
Yeah, I think for me, I had those experiences when I was like, younger, much younger, were at foot probably before I knew what Black was, like, obviously, I have dark brown skin, I knew that I was dark brown. But I didn’t know what Black and White was, the way that I learned about being black, was on the recess yard playing this little game of cooties with the other girls at the school. And I was one of two black people in a classroom of 27 people, we’d go out we’d run the girls would chase the boys, they kissed the boys. And for the longest time, I thought it was playing with them, only to learn that they were like afraid of me and like wouldn’t even touch me if I got close to them, they’d like run away. And that’s how I learned that I was black. Like I didn’t know before that. And that same year was the Rodney King. The year before it’s rotting human beings, the LA riots were that same year I was in first grade. And so like being introduced to like blackness and like, very close proximity to these girls, but then also like, Oh, this is like a, this is like a world thing. I would pretty much start to notice everywhere I went, I would count the number of black people that were in different rooms. Any space that I would go into, I would count them everywhere I went. And anytime that it like, I would forget. So I’d be like playing with my friends we’d be at like A going to A small amusement parks, we’d be playing just having fun, nothing’s going on. And you know, I had a worker come up to me and accuse me of stealing, I had to actually put my hands in my pockets by the kiosk, which you know, is a rule of blackness, you don’t you don’t put your hands in your pocket by by the register, because somebody’s gonna think you’re stealing something. And so this person I was 12 came up accused me of stealing said he was gonna call the cops on me and my friends. And I ended up having to like, turn my pockets and that out. And it was a moment for me where I was just having fun with my friends wasn’t thinking about being black at all. And it was like a reminder of like, you got to think about this everywhere you go. And from that, from those moments on when I was young, it was like, I’m never going to forget that I’m black, because it’s going to catch me off guard. If I ever like forget, and I do the wrong thing. And so honestly, there’ll be times when I go on vacation, I love to travel and to see the world and try and expand my worldview and grow like, I think is I think the purpose of life is growth and learning. So I love to travel, but there’ll be times I’m on vacation at the beach, and I’m out there counting in my head, the number of black people on the beach, I’ll be counting the black people on the bus. And it’s definitely one of those things where like you said, I wish I could turn it off. Because you’re not really enjoying yourself, you’re not really experiencing life when you’re counting the number of black people in the room. And I think the closest I’ve gotten is like really interacting with Toni Morrison’s work. She says this line about like, what would what would your life be? Who would you be if, like, the white figure didn’t exist? What would your life be? And she talked about specifically in writing the idea of like, these, like get why the books, the books that are like, directed at like, I’m gonna talk about the white person, white person, white person. And what that does is like still centers, whiteness. And can you write about your experience in a way that centers yourself? So the closest I’ve gotten to not recognizing my blackness in every space is like, what would it mean? What are my experiences mean? If they’re not centered, and it’s like, I’ve had a whole life 37 years of maybe not 37 years, but like 30 years, I’ll say of like seeing the world as black and white. And now to like, retrain my mind that like I can be black and not center whiteness. It’s the hardest thing for me to do. And I’ve made this like the, the tiniest bit of like growth there, too, to share my, you know, my hardships to share my joys and to be at the center of the story and to center blackness and not the center. Like what these people did to me and how do they feel and are they uncomfortable in the sharing like, you know, what would it mean if it was just us, only sharing to us and that’s what I’ve been trying to do, but it’s been hard

Richard Dodds  45:00  
I think one of the most powerful things that you said during that is that that experience reminded you that you were black. And it’s the saddest thing in the world to be somewhere enjoy yourself. Maybe you you’re with black people, maybe it was just multi denominational people. And to have that moment to where you you’re just so euphoric. And you forget about race to construction of race. And then to get a glance, or accusation, or any of those little things that happen to us on a regular basis. That’s like, oh, yeah, that’s right. I’m still black.

Devan Sandiford  45:46  
Right? I’m still black. And it means that I have so much more responsibility. Like, it was definitely it was a group of three black, two of their black boys, they’re actually twins, they’re there with my grade. So like three of us at this kiosk. And the two, it was interesting, the two of them, ended up going back and forth with this, like adult, like, the guy had said that he had had me on videotape. And so they’re like, alright, well show us the videotape of us stealing, like, you know, call the manager, let’s bring the table and they’re going on and on going back and forth with the guy. And for me, it was interesting, I was going into like blaming myself, like my mom had told me many times before, like, don’t stand by the cash register with your hands in your pockets, people are gonna think you’re stealing. And because I was having so much fun and was just like, my parents weren’t at the amusement park they had allowed us to go in because it was one of those places where they like close the entry off, they don’t let people go in or out, or kids go in and out without their parents. And so it was like a safe place where the three of us could just play. I was definitely just having the best the grandest of time. And just to like, instantly brought back to like, don’t forget, like, this is your weight to carry. I immediately started blaming myself and shaming myself for not knowing how can you How could you forget, like, what, what’s wrong with you. And it actually wasn’t until probably like two years ago that I realized that I had been doing that this whole time I was getting ready to share that story. And it hit me that I was shaming myself for like 20 something years.

Richard Dodds  47:19  
The good thing about that story is that you forgot in a moment and it worked out. Yeah, right is better, it would have been way worse, if it hadn’t been a moment where you got shot, or you got hit or the police came and they knocked you to the ground and they put you in handcuffs. I remember it was something like Monday and I live in the suburbs, and I got pulled over me and my cousin. He’s he’s a big guy like me, and we got pulled over. And the cop was being nice, like, Oh, hey, did you know your life we’re out. You know, in that moment, not thinking about it and not thinking about that I’m black not thinking about the relationship between typical relationship because not all cops are bad. This cop was not bad. But the I started to open up my door. And just thinking in that moment that split second, were almost like Rata opened on my door. So I can actually see like, what was going on with my lights. I thought about it. And I was like, oh, that’s probably not the move. as light as I was. If I had to open that door out might not be here. Right? You know what I mean?

Devan Sandiford  48:33  
I can see you you’re still alive. I’m just feeling it. Like he’s touching the door. Yeah, oh, my God, my heart is beating so fast.

Richard Dodds  48:39  
You know, and this is like something you get comfortable with life. And then you you get reminded of that blackness and like, luckily, it kept me in that moment. Because as nice as that cop was, I have no doubt that something would have went down if they had I felt that I was opening that door. Right? Yeah. And I might, I might have done it.

Devan Sandiford  49:01  
Right, it doesn’t take much. We’ve seen that time and time again. So you could be you could have a Snickers bar, you could have a comb, it could be all types of things. And anything could be interpreted in a way and it’s actually the making it out part that again, is like something that connects to like me, leaning into like sharing my story and my voice and like not letting it pass. It was actually around that same time. I was like jogging on the street and I had a cup, like pull in front of me and shout out the window like what are you running from? And I was just like jogging. And for me I just ran around this car was upset at the COP but I made it home. And then when ahmaud arbery happened I never had talked about that incident and it like hit me so heavily that like a mod can’t talk about the incident like he can’t continue to get to keep going home. He didn’t have that opportunity and so like kind of again, just like how almost How dare you not share this story when people don’t get to talk about out there experience like somebody, somebody needs you to share the story because they didn’t have an opportunity to, to continue to live.

Richard Dodds  50:06  
So, yeah, so we kind of talked about it earlier, we’ve talked about a little bit about code switching. And we talked about finding your authentic voice. And I feel like a lot of times, I feel like I’ve even called Switch with my parents, just depending on the situation. For me, I’m in communication, like I study marketing, the thing that I want to make sure that with the code switching for me, is that I want to make sure that whoever I’m talking to understands me in a way that I want to be understood. So whoever I’m communicating with, I want them to understand what I’m saying. So in those situations, at least for me, I can say that it’s still my voice is my voice using words and tones that the person that I’m trying to communicate with understands, for you, when you’re storytelling, storytelling is different, because words have a lot more meaning when you’re trying to tell a story. So we talked about authentic voice a lot. So how do you maintain your authentic voice? And after having situations where you might need to change that voice to suit the situation that you’re in?

Devan Sandiford  51:11  
Yeah, we talked to mentioned earlier how useful it is to code switch, like you said, to be able to, like have the person on the other end, understand what you’re saying, in a way that’s like it suits them. And interesting ly, when I go and I share stories, the code switching becomes like a detriment, because then it’s actually forced me to like to change, it changed who I am. It’s not just it’s not just changing the words, but it’s actually a different person who’s presenting it almost in the storytelling, because in order for me to share a personal story, the one requirement, I think, like you can think about like crafting, and all these different things, and what’s great for how you write a story and how you share it. But I think the one thing that’s like a requirement is like offense, authenticity, being true to who you are, and changing the way that I talk, changing the words that I’m going to use is slightly changing who I am, I wouldn’t go on the stage and start talking to the people in the room like I would, with my boys like my fan. And especially early on, I would like change the way that I was saying, and it actually was a different person who was standing up there kind of a person with a bit of a mask on. And so like now I’ve been trying to instead of doing that is just to show up every single place that I can, as myself. And you know, like I said, code switching for so many years, it’s not like something where it’s just like, Oh, now I can just stop coats, which, like, it takes a lot more work to do that. And to know that like, there’s like, this person is going to be seeing me as the angry black man, like, regardless of who I am, that’s what if I get angry? It’s the whole stereotype, I carry all of blackness with me, I don’t get to just be be me, like, how could I represent all of blackness. But at the same time, there’s many people who would put that on you. This is how black people are. And it’s like, black people are all different, we have so many different personalities, we have so many different traits, the only people who are trying to make us the same are people are, you know, who are looking at stereotypes, and there’s culture, you know, we have culture that overlaps and things like that. But it has very little to do with just the skin color. Like if I grew up in a different culture than you, we have the same skin color doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to have this similar things. And so while trying to share stories, one of the hardest things, but most important things has been to like, just be me. And I have to like practice that. Not even when I’m just like writing or when I’m sharing a story, but I got to practice it. Like, when I’m just like, at home when I’m talking with my sons when I’m like at work, when I’m when I’m in a meeting with like, people who I know are gonna like look in a certain way, like, I gotta even practice it then. And it’s it’s hard. Like it’s hard, saying something, and knowing somebody’s going to take it a certain way or like proceeding that they’ll take it a certain way and oftentimes being right. So

Richard Dodds  54:18  
yeah, it’s just sometimes it’s just hard, really just being yourself. And speaking out. I’m feeling like I’m just really now really getting to a point where I feel comfortable just being able to say the things that I need to say whether it’s to my parents, whether it’s to my boss, whether it’s to the CEO of a company, just being 100% authentic and true to who I am. I mean, you can say things respectfully, but you can still say the truth. And there’s a way to say the truth and I feel like now I’m fully equipped to be able to say what I need to say without having the whole back who I am and I think that is one of the most beautiful places like when you hear about like the the trope of the old black man like they just had. They went through so much in their life. I feel like Don’t get me into that old black man stage, where I’m just gonna say what I need to say. Right. And I feel like it’s such a freedom and a just being yourself because it’s so it takes so much like you talked about wearing a mask, it takes so much to wear a mask and to dial back yourself to 80%. It takes so much more energy to be 80% than it just to be 100% of you. And I think it’s such a journey that that it takes for us to get to that point.

Devan Sandiford  55:30  
Yeah, I think what you said there is like, extremely profound for me, and to think about 80% of you like to think how much work it takes to be less of you? Yes, why would I want to be less of me, and it’s just something that’s still like, You got to fight to be all like to be myself. That that is like, if there’s anything that I teach my sons, I hope that it’s like to be yourself starting at your age, so you don’t get to be where you’re like 3040 years old, and having to come to a place of like, teaching yourself how to be yourself. And like, yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of work to, to be 80% of yourself to be 60% of yourself. So

Richard Dodds  56:13  
and it really is. And there’s definitely multiple ways that we carry as black people. I remember I had just did the first cut of the show. The first episode, the first, the very first episode, I had just did the first cut, and I had a friend and a car and I was letting them listen to to the episode. And one of the parts on the first episode that I say is that these are my opinions. I’m not a representative of all black people. It’s like just saying that statement and my friend was like, it’s crazy that if you weren’t on black, you won’t have to say that, of course you only representing yourself. But as a black person, we have to say like, Oh, I’m not representing everybody. But in like a way in certain ways. We are like being black, especially in industries that are not dominated or not even. It’s not a bunch of us in it. I’ll say like that in industries where it’s not a bunch of us. We are that representation we are we have to dispel all the stereotypes. And it’s an extra weight on whatever we do. Because it’s like we are pioneering this for all black people, even though we don’t want to, it’s unfair to say like, we have to represent all black people. But in a way, whenever we do something, we are representing all black people in a way and it right, so unfortunately, because I don’t feel like any other race or culture has to deal with that constantly. Oh, yeah, I’m representing for everybody and have to have that, that extra weight of perfection put on you. Is that something that you’ve dealt with in your career, when you’ve been creating content, just thinking about, like, all of the other the as I would say, the ancestors, all of the ancestors, all of the people that are gonna come, like being a pioneer and storytelling and doing the different things that you’re you’re attempting that you’re doing? And do you feel that extra weight ever,

Devan Sandiford  58:04  
all almost all the time, I would say. And I want to say being here in New York, it’s allowed me to like recognize it and try and push back against it, the idea of like, the way I’m going to represent us is by being super specific to who I am to show you that, like, we have so many layers and uniqueness to try and break your stereotypes almost. But I definitely get the weight of like having to represent an entire race and to speak in ways that like, Don’t endanger us that don’t put us in a spot where, you know, somebody can now use these words and say like, this is what black people think. And like, no, that’s what Devon thinks like he said it for himself. So there’s definitely the duality I think of like, not representing and representing at the same time. And that being a way in and of itself and creating, creating the content. And especially I’d say now being like in a professional storytelling, workplace, it does often feel like the extra burden of what it means to like, represent blackness. And if I share a story which connects to trauma, then there’s like the question of if, if that’s there’s the only experience of blackness is trauma and like, where’s your story of joy? And I’ve actually, I’ve actually been really struggling with with that. Because I don’t necessarily have a ton of stories that are easily found within the joy space. I’ll start to tell a story. And it’ll be it’ll be the story of me playing with my friends at the place and then we’ll come back to this moment of like, then that was actually really hurtful for me. I’ll start telling another story. It’ll be like centered in my son then I’ll come back to some like, lesson that I learned about being less than and like how I’ve been passing that on to them and it’s like thing that wasn’t a joyful story. So, I’ve actually been on the hunt for like a purely joyful story. And at the same time knowing that, like, I get to share my experiences of trauma, and at some point, and I think it’s for me through the sharing of trauma that I will probably find, like, my most joyful periods, like, going forward from here, the idea of, I held in so many traumas that like, I have to, like somewhat dig them out before I can really start to experience life with like, all lit up. So at the same time, of course, there’s joyful moments, just like I was telling you, when we jumped on, I just came from out in the park playing with my sons on the basketball court, watching them, shoot up shots and make shots, it’s so much fun and great to see them reenacting like things they see in the NBA, and like, oh, from downtown and stuff like that. So there’s, there’s obviously tons and tons of joy. And just being able to, like, highlight that aspect, and be as like, unique to myself, to hopefully represent us in a way that like, is representative, but also at the same time is like, very individual.

Richard Dodds  1:01:15  
I feel like sometimes in order to find a joyful story, you have to cut it short. You know, I mean, you can’t tell the whole story. And you can tell part of it. But it’s always I feel like you can always find a way to bring something into it that will bring that story down, you know, and like I’m like, I’m so I’m like six feet tall. I’m like six plus, you know, and whenever people will see me, they automatically think, you know, as a child, I would be like, Oh, football, you want to play football, right? Are you gonna? Are you gonna play basketball? And those are the only boxes that you get put in as a tall black man. Because like, oh, you used to go play football? Are you gonna play basketball, you’re gonna play, you’re gonna be one of those two things and your art automatically put in a box based off of who you are and what you look like. Right? And yeah, so sometimes you just have to no stories early. And don’t worry about what happened with the next 15 minutes. But you know, those first 15 minutes were great.

Devan Sandiford  1:02:15  
Yeah, I’m absolutely going to try that. That’s gonna be my new strategy.

Richard Dodds  1:02:19  
There you go. Just just stop the story right there. And the end. Just whenever you feel like it’s going back to add the arrow right there, when I get one has to go out the veer off to the end. That’s it. Right. I’m more happy stories. Yes. So in your opinion, how does our community start to relate our stories, our feelings, our hopes, and our worries to each other, and a rest of the world? What is the best way for us to communicate the things that we’re going through, in my

Devan Sandiford  1:02:49  
opinion, the best way that we do that, both for ourselves, probably first for ourselves within our communities, is being honest with each other, really getting into like, what we talked about earlier about, not necessarily having to be strong all the time. Like, let me just put on, like, put on the strength and work my way through this. Like, especially within community, I think the way that we do that is being honest, and finding a tenderness specially in for black men, the like permission to be tender and soft and like to have struggles because one of the things as black men is that we have so many. And if we don’t ever talk about them, we’ve kind of isolate ourselves and don’t feel like we have connections that we’re doing this alone. And one thing I’ve learned from sharing is that you’re never alone, somebody has gone through a similar experience. And so I would say the first thing is to be honest, within our communities. And then the this one, I think, for the world, I’m still trying to work out, I think the answer is, again, being completely honest. And the reason that I hesitate is because if we’re honest with the wrong people, I think it does put us somewhat in danger for how they can use that against us and how we’re giving them access to our hearts. And they’ve shown that they don’t they don’t consider our hearts or our bodies in a way that they should be considered. And so it puts us in a dangerous way. But I do think is the place where I feel like I’m working towards is being honest, everywhere, completely open and sharing everything. And getting to a place where our honesty is contagious. And it allows people even outside of our community outside of blackness to get honest with themselves and to start sharing some of the things that they’ve been hiding behind like why do you have the need to feel like you’re above somebody else? It has nothing to do with race. There’s something that It goes back within your family within your ancestry, a layer of something that you’re putting on top, and if you are honest, and I think it actually helps you as well, to get past where we are now, and to get to a world where everybody is sharing the portions of themselves and giving of themselves and like I said, I’m hesitating in that space, just because we’re not really there. And there’s so many people who can take our honesty and use it against us and to try and hurt us in ways that now they know. Because we’ve, we’ve allowed them, we’ve allowed them access, we haven’t put a boundary up. But I kind of honestly feel like, you know, that’s what I would want. And maybe I’m overly hopeful that that so at some point, more so for my sons and for me, like, I don’t necessarily think there’s gonna be a ton of change. within my lifetime, that gets to a place where we’re that honest and open. But I do think we are headed into place where especially men, being allowed to be vulnerable is going to change the world in a big way. That we don’t have to be only the rock, that we get to have experiences and have emotions. And just in the process of being honest, I feel like that that will be a huge change for the world.

Richard Dodds  1:06:27  
Yeah, and my hope is that people like you sharing your story Shalini sharing your your grief and your traumas with the world, I hope that it inspires other people to open up and share their drama, and their their trauma, their their grief, the things that they’re going through. And that that will just continue to multiply, and we just feel comfortable just being in our own skin. And I think that’s step one, I do agree with you. And And step two is just, I think for the rest of the world, my opinion is just regardless of how uncomfortable it is, just get comfortable being uncomfortable, just being yourself. And try not to focus so much on how the world is going to perceive us. Now, there’s certain things that we can’t, we have to definitely monitor, especially when it comes to police brutality in the community. But just being willing to be yourself, just like when I locked my hair and going into work. Now as people with a frame of reference of me of knowing who I was before I like my hair and knowing who I continued to be after I like my hair, who can now attach that to this hairstyle and say, Okay, maybe the other stereotypes I had her wasn’t true. Because I know Richard and Richard is not like that, and his hairs locked. So I think he’s continuing to be us exceptionally well, showing the world who we are and that we’re so many different things. But I know that regardless of what it is, we’re gonna have to just continue to fight and continue to push progress forward.

Devan Sandiford  1:08:00  
Yes, absolutely. Yeah, there’s, there’s no, there’s no option to do anything else other than to continue to hope and to move forward. If you lose hope and you you really don’t have much

Richard Dodds  1:08:10  
there. Well, Devin, it was really great talking to you. And I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing what you shared today.

Devan Sandiford  1:08:19  
Yeah, I appreciate being on here. Thank you for the invite. This has been a great conversation and to be able to connect with you. I feel you know just so grateful for you.

Richard Dodds  1:08:30  
So again, I’d like to thank everyone for listening. Still talking black as a crown culture media LLC production is produced by me, Richard eyes. Our theme music was created by the DJ blue, please make sure to rate and subscribe to the show on your favorite podcasting app. You can follow us on Instagram at still talking and black and you can follow my personal account at dizer zone and as do DVS I so you can visit the show website is still talking where you can find previous episodes episode transcriptions and a link to the shop. So again, thanks for listening. Until next time, keep talking

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