Transcript for "Perception - with Ame Sanders"

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00:00.31
Craig
Hello I’m Craig Constantonine welcome this is the podcaster community show short conversations that are not just about podcasting because I like to take the scenic route our guests today is Ame Sanders— Amy— sorry I have… ah my bad. But I’m leaving it in because I make mistakes too. I thought—and there’s a word for when you only read things but never hear them—I thought that your name was pronounced the way I just mispronounced it. I apologize. Welcome Amy, because I’ve heard you say it now. So welcome to the show. How are you this afternoon?

00:35.16
Ame
I’m doing great Craig thanks for having me on your podcaster show.

00:38.31
Craig
So many things that I always want to talk to people about and when we talked beforehand you in response to my asking you what would have happened if you had found podcasting a decade sooner you were talking about how podcasting is now a passion project for you. And you started talking about what you’re trying to accomplish or what you’re trying to sort out and you mentioned a balance or that you see a need for a balance between what we’ll call scientific like analytical ways of working on inclusivity. And then I don’t want to say like random acts but like this idea of there’s also something to be said for just trying to act from one’s own heart If you’re in a position where you’re trying to increase inclusivity. Um, do you feel like the podcast gives you a special way to. Examine that balance or do you feel like podcasting is simply and I’m air quoting simply a communication medium for you. Do you feel like it gives you a special way to tease that problem apart.

01:42.58
Ame
Yes, all of the above. So I’m happy to be talking about this. My podcast is state of inclusion and I work with communities. My goal is to work with communities to help them become more inclusive and equitable and the podcast grew out of the idea that. I want to identify work that’s going on in communities and individuals who are working to make their own communities more inclusive and equitable and I want to celebrate that work elevate that work showcase. It. And understand it and see if there is a way to share that across the country so that those ideas can travel more freely and communities that see something that’s happening in I don’t know Louisville Kentucky or in you know Greenville south carolina where I am that they can. Um, say oh well that might or something similar to that might work in my community and the podcast became a way to begin to have those conversations about that and what I was saying earlier is somewhere between this idea of being very analytical about how you approach. Equity and inclusion to transform a community and as you were saying random acts of being more inclusive where do you find that you can really make a difference with a community because what I was also surprised by as I started talking to people is. There is so much work going on out there people across the whole country I mean thousands and hundreds of thousands of people are working on helping their community become more inclusive working at a very local and granular level. And doing all kinds of things and trying all kinds of things to make a difference in their community. It is.

03:29.96
Craig
And that’s where the work actually gets done right? like as much as I love love love love railing on social media I’m not going to do it today. Um, you know a tweet or an Instagram post this doesn’t actually change the world I mean if you’re lucky it goes viral maybe but it’s really. Those people who are actually doing the work. Um in that local context that’s where the change actually happens and so a question that comes to my right away is do you imagine that your podcast is. Something that’s going to change the way those the doers the way they think or like inspire them or do you imagine it. There’s a guy named Hugh Mccleod who calls them social objects or do you imagine that your show is this social object. So I’m this person working on the ground I take Amy’s show and I run to someone else and I say look at this thing here’s something we can try to see what I’m saying but there’s like 2 ways to imagine what you are facilitating with your episodes.

04:28.40
Ame
There’s another way which is probably the first way that I would say to think about it is and it’s the way I mostly think about it I had said this was a passion project for me. So I retired from corporate life and I started working on this and and the in The end the only person we can affect is ourselves. We can’t really change anybody else. We can only change ourselves and how we relate to the world and how we see the world and so the first thing for me is to learn and to grow personally and I hope that at a personal level.

05:05.49
Ame
When anybody hears the podcast that it challenges them to think more broadly more inclusively more openly and to reflect on their own past what they want to see in the world. So it’s an individual thing first then I would say the.

05:25.34
Ame
The second most probable is and really honestly part of what I try to do is I want to so this work is really hard work and it’s slow and long and sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re taking 2 steps forward or 4 steps back and people get tired. And I want to celebrate the folks who are doing this work and lift them up and encourage them and make their work more visible. So the the second part of this is to reach people who are really doing you know substantive work in this and thought leadership and. Who have just been at it a while and who may be weary from this and need some chance to talk about their work. Get a little bit of distance from it reflect on it and celebrate what they’ve been doing or what their team’s been doing and then the third is yes, maybe there’s a community out there. Someone who would hear something and go oh my gosh. That’s a great idea. We should do that and oh now I see better how to do that thing that we’ve been talking about doing or I’ve found someone else I can call and talk to or. All of my podcasts have pretty extensive show notes with them. So I include a lot of links. They have a transcript so you know there’s also materials that you can explore more learn more share those kinds of things so that’s that’s part of it as well. So I’d say those 3 things. And then maybe the fourth one is I want to be able to eventually abstract from I don’t know a series of interviews and maybe put together a reasonably good list somewhere between scientific research and random thoughts. Somewhere in the middle there a reasonably good list of either protective behaviors or protective practices or good good things that you should should be thinking about if you want to make a real difference in your community.

07:31.61
Craig
Um, Well thank you for sharing that. That’s a great intro to all the ways that your podcast can affect the world I’m wondering you you said early on we were talking about this being a passion project and like you and I. We’re Podcasters. We know how much work goes in to making the thing and show notes and transcripts and I’m wondering How do you keep your personal passion level up like how do you keep going with your own project.

08:04.75
Ame
That’s a good question I would say I do and I don’t so I’ve been at this now 4 3 years and during the first year of covid I actually stopped and took a break. Um, several things were happening. Of course there were there was a lot of activism as we all know going on in the area of racial violence police brutality. There were a lot of voices out there and I felt at that particular moment that my voice was not adding.

08:39.39
Ame
To the conversation that you know other people’s voices needed to be heard I needed to kind of sit down for a minute take a pause There was a lot going on in the environment and so I did so one of the nice things about it being a pression project and about being retired is you can. Go with your own rhythm right? So I would say the first year for me was about learning and experimenting and trying to just get the mechanics down the second year I took a pause because I didn’t feel like my voice was adding to the conversation. And this past year I’ve been able to really come at it with more clarity and purpose and a bit more structure and I’ve also gotten some help to help me get this out the door so that has made a difference too. So that’s kind of how I balance it.

09:29.34
Craig
Have you gotten so in my mind I have a metaphor of like yeah I’m a middle aged white middle class guy. So It’s like. Right? I’ll step off of the proverbial stage I’m not talking about podcasting so but in general, whatever context I’ll step off the stage to make a space Well sometimes the person who steps in the space is somebody who looks just like me like figuratively looks like me sounds like me whatever Parameters. We want to discuss and I find I’m Torn. It doesn’t happen very often. But when I see that happening I’m like well I mean I shouldn’t have stepped off the stage because at least I was doing something good with the space that I was standing in whereas now you’re in there polluting the space and I’m just wondering if you’ve had have you had a sense of that now that you’ve actually taken a pause with your podcast. Ah did you look back and. And go yeah that was actually good like I really feel like maybe you were able to pay attention to other things versus focusing on podcasting like it’s not often that I get a chance to talk to people who’ve taken an attentional significant pause for a reason like I feel like it’d be better if I try not putting my voice in the Arena. Um, when you look back on that. What are your thoughts on how did that actually work for you. Did it? Actually you think make a difference in the bigger picture or whatever scale you want to think about.

10:50.14
Ame
It’s a good topic for discussion because I’m an older white woman of privilege who grew up in the south in a very segregated community in a very specific as you can probably Imagine. Southern culture and I I would say that sometimes I struggle with the idea that my voice may not be authentic enough for this work or that I may have.

11:23.70
Ame
Things in my past or my childhood or my experience set that don’t lend itself to this work The only thing I will say though is this is everybody’s job and it is our I believe it is our generation’s life’s work. To make this country different in this regard and to make the world different in this regard and so I think that even though sometimes I doubt my own voice or the clarity with which I can express that I know I need to do that. Need to do that for me first and then I need to do that and we all need to do that to the best ability that we can and we need to inform and educate ourselves and reflect on this and then we can express ourselves. We can’t just randomly. Express ourselves about this. We need to really be thoughtful about it because you can hurt someone so easily without intending to and you can make you will make mistakes and you need to understand what those mean and what you’ll how you’ll respond to that so it is I would say. Kind of back to your question. The pause did help me with that. But I would say it is and I don’t think the way that you described about someone else stepping into the silence and using their voice differently because. Hope other people use their voice on this subject and I want them to and I don’t think it’s an either or necessarily I think it’s an and and and and and does that make sense.

13:10.26
Craig
Yeah I think it does have you gotten any? Um I don’t want to like pry too much but have you gotten any pushback. Um, so you’re you know you’re describing that you’re in a certain social. Context you know where you are geographically where you are societally and I’m wondering if you’ve had anybody push back on like we don’t need more inclusion but I’m just wondering I really would be astounded if it there’s anybody who thinks that although I’m sure there are people but I’m wondering if you’ve if you’ve had to face any of that. I Wanna say antagonism but where people have pushed back and say we don’t really need more of that. What are you doing with the show. Why don’t you do something useful.

13:52.43
Ame
No I haven’t and I would say the reason I probably haven’t is first I’m not like widely well Known. So if gazillions of people listen to this I’m sure I would I’m generally listening to people who are already or talking to people who are already predisposed. To listen to this and who are interested in this So I have I have had people have had several things along the way as I explored this concept and talked to different people. One of the early things that someone said to me was well. You. Probably will be able to do this kind of work because you’re an older white woman and you’re not threatening so that can be a good thing for you now it didn’t play out in the podcast necessarily because people don’t see you but in when I speak or when I’ve done.

14:50.23
Ame
Classes or those kinds of things I do find that people are not necessarily threatened I have had people say to me I was doing a stand-up session at a conference and they said you know there are a lot of people who really want want to hear this information. And I said well you know I thought I was in a friendly audience. It is the first time I’ve shared it but I’m in a friendly audience I think and I think it’s okay so I I do I am conscious of the fact and I was more conscious early on and now probably a little less worried about it. Ah, that there are people who this kind of discussion makes angry makes them angry or violent or frustrated and so I do know that’s true I don’t think I reach those people I don’t think they bind me and i’m.

15:43.26
Craig
Sure right? They weren’t listening to anybody so they’re not going to listen to you right.

15:47.80
Ame
And I’m not going to be particularly yeah I’m not particularly concerned about it at this point but I I do think about it and I am aware of it and I also realize that a lot of people who choose to use their voice because of who they are are at Greater risk for that. Then I am.

16:08.25
Craig
I’m struck by a ah Meta thought. So if people listening are most likely podcasters or asper aspiring to be podcasters. Um are there things and and. So for me I see a hazard for myself because podcasting I mean I have help on certain projects. But it’s a lot in my head and a lot of me making decisions and choices and then um, like I don’t make bureaucratic legal choices I’m I’m only making a podcast but I am I do have a platform and I am heard. More than the next person to the left of me and I’m just wondering if there are any I don’t want to make it sound trite like tips or tricks but like things that people who have to think and work by themselves. Are there ways that we can try to search for. Inherent biases that we have or ways that we’re choosing language or like so you and I are both podcasters I’m like how do I be better if at all possible at you know is it as simple as just trying to mix the voices like the the different. Ah. Places that I’m drawing guests from is it is that simply something as simple as that enough or are there other strategies that I could be aware of.

17:22.75
Ame
So I would say the one that you just mentioned is a good one which is to always be thoughtful and mindful of your own biases and to be purposeful about the. How you invite your guests and which guests you invite because sometimes it’s tempting to want to talk to people who want to talk to you Well they may or may not be the best people for you to talk to and they may or may not have the best message. So. I am very intentional with a fair amount of research about the guests that I invite to speak I don’t just randomly accept people who send me a note or ask people just to tell me somebody else to talk to because I have very specific. Objectives in mind with the conversations that I host and so I I would say be careful of your own biases be thoughtful about the people that you engage with and that you include on your show because they create the voice that your show creates along with you and and you can’t necessarily you. Let that genie out of the bottle and you can’t manage that once it’s happening Really, you can not produce an episode but you you really need to be thoughtful about who you choose and who you talk with and then I would say doing a lot of research is important.

18:39.62
Craig
Right.

18:55.68
Ame
Maybe even pre-calls. So although I don’t do a lot of those precalls I have done with people when they feel uncomfortable I can tell they’ll ask for that and I’m more than happy to do that.

19:04.44
Craig
That’s usually when I do them.

19:06.71
Ame
I Do send them questions in advance so that they know the general flow that I’m hoping the conversation will take and also if there are any controversial subjects that I’m going to bring up because it’s pretty sensitive in people often I’m I’m very conscious of making my guests comfortable I guess I would say because. This is a difficult subject for them too and they want to have some idea of where this is going to go. They don’t want to just blindly come on some strangers show and then be trapped into saying something that they didn’t intend. So and I always give them the option to it’s edited So I give them the option to correct it and I would say. The other thing that I do because you’ve interviewed some other people that are in my critique group I have a group a critique group that I’m part of which they’ve been invaluable in both encourage in my heart and also practically you know don’t do this? Maybe you should think about doing that that kind of advice when you. You can’t hear it yourself any more you know.

20:04.97
Craig
Terrific I think that’s a lot of really actionable items in there in addition to great things about perspective. Me as much as I hate to say it I’m watching our time tick away. So I think that’s a good place to stop for today I appreciate you taking the time and sharing your thoughts with me. Thanks for joining me.

20:26.26
Ame
Craig. It’s been a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks.