Tiffany Jana & Ashley Diaz Mejias

How do we erase institutional bias? Great question! Read Erasing Institutional Bias to find out. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, geez…

…All right, all right, fine. I’ll cover the basics for ya, but you’d better still go out and buy this friggin book!

This friggin book offers inspired clarity on a topic that makes many of us uncomfortable just to think about, let alone try to solve. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day! (That doesn’t have anything to do with institutional bias but I just thought I’d pepper in 1-2 historical fun facts.) Enacting real change in the world of systemic prejudice takes a constant intentional effort. That may be why so many lame-o CEOs are too reticent to try! Or maybe it’s because they’re reaping the rewards from a corporate structure that’s been actively designed to benefit them? Who knows!

Despite their different fields, it’s clear that both authors are well versed in the realm of tackling biases. After earning her MA in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and her Masters of Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Ashley has devoted her academic work to researching and writing on racial bias. She has written for blogs and led institutional conversations on race, systemic bias, and mass incarceration. Tiffany is the founder and CEO of TMI Portfolio, a collection of socially responsible and interconnected companies working to advance more culturally inclusive and equitable workforces. TMI Portfolio’s consulting arm, TMI Consulting, Inc. Previously, they co-wrote Overcoming Biasa book focusing on addressing personal biases within ourselves.

Dom and I had a great time with Tiffany and Ashley. I did a great job interview-wise, while Dom tried his best. Bless his heart!

I hope you consider the fact that I’m writing a particularly long post for this one, and take it to mean that this episode is worth it! All jokes aside, we applaud these determined movers and shakers for writing what is sure to be required reading for employers (and employees) everywhere.

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Paula G

Paula Gillison is an author, poet, artist, and all-around inspiration! She’s got a refreshingly open-minded approach to all creative outlets and is here to share her wisdom and part of a short story!

Paula is an active blogger. You can find all kinds of goodies at her website, https://lackofbetter.wordpress.com. You can also usually find her at the monthly Writer’s Den poetry slams!

Richard Rose and Bill Sizemore

Two local, experienced writers each wrote a book about the lasting effect on slavery from the same local publisher. You’d think they’d be pretty similar, right? You’d think they’d be pals, right? Wrong! These two fine books are in fact very different, and these two fine gentlemen had never met before coming on our show (you’re welcome, guys).
Bill Sizemore is a retired investigative journalist who spent most of his professional career at the Virginian-Pilot and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. With this background, when Bill discovered that at least one of his ancestors was a slave-owner, he dove deep into researching the Sizemore family tree, and the family tree of the other Sizemores. The stolen Sizemores. By fateful coincidence, he even discovered that both clans were going to be having family reunions at the same time, mere miles apart. Bill was able to get in touch with the patriarch of the family, Uncle George. Despite the fact that George and his family were direct descendants of the slaves owned by Bill’s ancestors, Uncle George was gregarious and generous. He agreed to a meeting between the clans.
Uncle George and Me will be available September 5 and is published through Brandylane Publishers, Inc. The official release party will be held at Chop Suey Books, Sep. 5, at 6:00pm.
Richard Rose is a retired educator and scientist. He is also a social and environmental activist. He is a poet, songwriter, and playwright. He is also a wonderful person and talented performer! Really, you are not going to want to miss his recitation of an excerpt from his book featured in this episode… it’s a wild ride! While Richard was researching his family history for his semi-biographical opera Monte and Pinky, Richard, like Bill, discovered that his ancestors, too, had been part of the slave trade. Richard’s poetry takes you on a journey through time and place, through culture and history. He believes strongly in being a positive force for change, and that is evident in his writing.
Coming Around will be available September 1, and you can even physically go in person to the book launch party on that same day at Book People, on Granite Ave., at 1 pm. Your faithful prosers will be there armed with bookmarks and possibly other new branded merch(?!).

Henry Haggard and Valley Haggard

It’s not often that you meet a 13-year-old who has already accomplished more than a studio full of radio hosts in their mid-20s combined… but Henry Haggard is no ordinary lad! He’s organized rallies, written columns, and been involved with some of the heaviest-hitting non-profits around. Henry Haggard is my hero.

Aaaaand in the chair next to Henry is his amazing mother, Valley! Valley Haggard founded Life in 10 Minutes, an online literary magazine, back in 2010. Since then, it has grown into so much more! Valley offers classes, workshops, and all kinds of writing-tastic events at the Life in 10 Minutes./Richmond Young Writers space in Carytown. Instead of the soul-crushing pressure to get published (ubiquitous in most workshops) Valley’s classes focus on the therapeutic power of writing. I myself got a chance to participate in a one-on-one Life in 10 Minutes session and it was even more lovely than I had imagined. (I’m currently signed up for a “Meditation and Musing: Focus Your Mind While Honing Your Craft” workshop with Sadeqa Johnson and a six-week class. I’m friggin’ hooked!

So many goodies in this episode. Lots of gems. Wisdom. Words! Laughter. More words.

If you enjoy anthologies and/or great writing, you can find Nine Lives online, or at Chop Suey. This mondo-collection includes 148 pieces of creative non-fiction from 121 local authors, including Patty Smith, author of The Year of Needy Girls former P&C guest.

Henry wants to spread the good word about Love 146, an international organization dedicated to stopping child trafficking and exploitation. He also wants you–yes, you–to vote!

This young man gives me hope for the future.

There are so many great things in the works for Life in 10 Minutes. You can sign up for classes, workshops, even in your very own living room! (“It’s like a Tupperware party, but for writing.”) Valley is even developing a hybrid press, with her next book as the first publication!

And since you have dutifully read all the way to the end of this long-winded blog post, I’m going to let you in on a little secret….

[I’m working with Valley to create a brand-spanking new weekly Life in 10 Minutes podcast.] Don’t tell anyone. Wait, actually–do, we want people to listen.