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Busy Being Black

English, Cultural, 1 seasons, 126 episodes, 4 days 9 hours 36 minutes
Busy Being Black with Josh Rivers is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives.
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Julian Joseph – Living Music

Julian Joseph is acclaimed as one of the finest jazz musicians to emerge this side of the Atlantic and his career has been characterised by many ground-breaking advances: he was the first Black British jazz musician to host a series of concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall and the first to headline a late-night televised performance at the BBC Proms. We explore how jazz and life are both animated by the art of improvisation, the methodology that undergirds the educative offering of the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, the instruments and symphonies that enchant him, the artists and composers he recommends to inspire us to adventure, and his message to those who feel like they have music within them, but aren’t quite sure how to get it out. Julian plays Gershwin with London Philharmonic Orchestra on 22 November – and subscribers to Field Notes have an exclusive discount on tickets. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black with Josh Rivers is the award-winning podcast that centres and celebrates q
28/10/202350 minutes 45 seconds
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Elijah McKinnon – Becoming Undone

Questioning and then breaching our limits is a salient and consequential concern — and a quest Elijah McKinnon undertakes as founder and executive diva of Open Television (OTV), a platform and media incubator for intersectional storytelling. Elijah’s insights into how their imagination is supported and encouraged by their pragmatism made me think and reflect on how I engage with my own; and we wax lyrical on a shared desire to become undone. We explore the difference between surrender and intentional release, the differing demands of and confusion between transparency and vulnerability, and refusing to be bound by other people’s ideas and labels. Elijah reflects on their stewardship of OTV, the care required to sustain artistic vitality, and how an entitlement to softness has transformed their sense of duty to themselves and the communities they love. About Elijah McKinnon Elijah McKinnon (they/them) is an award-winning entrepreneur, strategist and visionary from the future currently r
04/10/20231 hour 3 minutes 26 seconds
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D Smith – A Provocation for More

Help me shape the future of Busy Being Black by filling out this short listener survey: Kokomo City takes up a seemingly simple mantle — to present the stories of four Black transgender sex workers: Daniella Carter, Liyah Mitchell, Dominique Silver and the late Koko Da Doll, who share their reflections on desire, confronting taboos, gender’s many meanings and the ways Black trans women are harmed by both structural and cultural impositions that render their lives less valuable than any other. The film is the directorial debut of D Smith, a veteran of the music industry who was shunned when she came out as trans. In creating Kokomo City, D Smith has captured an unapologetic and cutting analysis of Black culture and society at large from a vantage point that is vibrating with energy, sex and hard-earned wisdom – and tenderness, intimacy and humour. We explore how the artistic process that made Kokomo City possible reflects what D’s learned through her
02/08/202327 minutes 54 seconds
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Leon Benson – I'm Living Like I Died Before

At just 23 years old, Leon Benson was sentenced to 61 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. At 47 years old, Leon is a free man after his case was taken up by lawyers at the University of San Francisco Law School’s Racial Justice Clinic. Over 25 years, Leon consumed as much knowledge as he could get access to, which helped him explain the complex dynamics of not only his physical form in relation to confined space, but also of how his mind made sense of the injustice of his experience and the experiences of those like him. We explore the parallel experiences of those confined within and beyond the walls of prison, the awakenings and reckonings that helped him build emotional and psychic resilience and the near impossible task of embodiment in a place that traffics in sensory deprivation. We discuss the moments and people in 2020 that would be instrumental in his release and how people born guilty in America maintain faith in the idea of justice, which he believes is a natural
15/07/202357 minutes 8 seconds
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Kenyon Farrow – A Modern Black History Hero

Writer and organiser Kenyon Farrow is fighting for better infrastructures of support for queer Black people vulnerable to and living with HIV. He trained as an actor before he pivoting to activism in response to the fault lines he saw emerging as gentrification, criminalisation and healthcare inequalities began to rock his personal and extended networks. He has since coordinated campaigns large and small, local, national and global at the intersection of public policy, public health and social justice. Today, we explore his upbringing in Cleveland, Ohio – including watershed encounters with gay Black film and literature – and the events that led to a hard pivot from acting to activism. He shares how his work at the policy level is work that centres queer Black liveliness, and speaks lovingly about house music and house music spaces as evidence of the ways queer Black communities create for themselves that which is often structurally denied: spaces of love, care, spiritual renewal and h
28/06/202356 minutes 13 seconds
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Rikki Beadle-Blair – Yearning into Creation

Earlier this year, writer, actor and director Rikki Beadle-Blair gave an electrifying and affirming keynote speech at Let’s Debate, a conversation about creativity and culture in the UK, produced by arts commissioner Mediale with the support of Arts Council England. As Rikki does, his speech centred his insistence that marginalised communities create art unashamedly; and at a time of increased cultural and political disregard for queer life around the world, Rikki reminds us all that art-making is life-giving. So it feels like the right time to resurface our 2018 conversation, in which he asks us to pay closer attention to the beauty that abounds around us and within us, and to our role as creators of the worlds we want to inhabit. Watch: Let's Debate Keynote for Inclusivity and Relevance About Rikki Beadle-Blair Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE is a British actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, singer, designer, choreographer, dancer and songwriter of British/West Indian origin. He is the
21/06/202330 minutes 49 seconds
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Farzana Khan – Extending Ourselves to Each Other's Aliveness

Farzana Khan is the tender titan leading the transformative work of Healing Justice London, which works to dignify lives made vulnerable and to cultivate public health provisions for collective liberation. She's a writer, cultural producer and award-winning arts educator, and her work centres community health, repair and self-transformation, rooted in disability justice, survivor work and trauma-informed practice. We share a love for the poetic wisdom of Kevin Quashie and language and practices that engender tenderness. And our conversation today explores how Farzana and the team at Healing Justice London are thinking through and building new infrastructures that respond to the ongoing needs of vulnerable communities. Undergirding this work is Farzana’s commitment to holding and facilitating spaces that invite change through a deeper engagement with the world of feeling and wisdom in our bodies. We discuss the importance of attending to our grief, mobilising with an improved class cons
15/06/202347 minutes 3 seconds
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Mikael Owunna – I Have Magic to Work

There is a divine vision for all of us and Mikael Owunna hopes his work can be a vessel for the transformation of our consciousness. Trained in the mechanics of bioengineering and empowered by the imaginative possibilities of photography, his artistic practice conjures queer Black people as embodied reflections of the black and brilliant cosmos. He does this work because he believes we, as queer Black people, are heirs to African cosmological traditions, which place us as the stewards of spiritual experience and as gatekeepers between the realms of the physical and the numinous. Our conversation explores how Mikael utilises technology to help us reencounter ourselves as divine beings, what 50 different expressions of queer Black liveliness taught him about his own capacity for self-actualisation and how art helps us push back against distorted images of ourselves. About Mikael Owunna Mikael Owunna is a Nigerian American multimedia artist, filmmaker and engineer. He is the Director of
31/05/202354 minutes 7 seconds
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Rahim Thawer – Sexuality and the Imprint of Shame

Many of us have an intimate and ongoing relationship to shame and shame forms part of a very public conversation about what it means to be queer in the world. And until my conversation today, which is with social worker and psychotherapist Rahim Thawer, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what shame is. I was wrong. I wasn’t aware, for example, of how shame really operates, nor how it prevents the radical intimacy necessary for our collective liberation. Our conversation today explores how shame thrives on white supremacist ideas of desirability, how we learn to live with shame’s imprint and residue and the four defensive behaviours we exhibit to separate us from our shame. Rahim also shares why attempts to love ourselves before we can love anyone else will always leave us wanting; and says that contrary to the dominant culture’s insistence that shame is a problem for the individual to address in isolation, we must learn that love for yourself only develops in positive relationships
17/05/202356 minutes 7 seconds
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Emily Aboud – Splintered

Emily Aboud believes that art needs to be political. Whether in its critique of power or its provocation of joy and laughter, art must help move us towards freedom. Her cabaret-play, Splintered, gathers the first person experiences of 12 queer women in Trinidad and Tobago and weaves together these experiences to show how queer women living under threat of homophobic violence manage to cultivate and nurture intimacy, joy and resistance together. Emily says she made an explicit and intentional decision to avoid centring the trauma queer women know so well, deciding instead to let laughter, irreverence and satire act as the vehicle for a necessary critique of what post-colonial countries and cultures decide to hold onto. We explore Emily’s complicated feelings about carnival, her adoration of the mythic shapeshifter Lagahoo, and her challenge to what she calls the false binary between art and science. Emily says art and science are asking the same question in two distinct but connected wa
26/04/20231 hour 3 minutes 58 seconds
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Paula Boggs – Ebony Revisited

When we think of the sweeping constellation of music that is Americana, we could be forgiven for thinking of it as a genre that doesn’t really speak to our lived experiences as queer Black people. Emerging in the 1940s as music borne of the weathered realities of rural life in the United States, Americana is perhaps most closely — if not accurately — associated with the region of Appalachia and the experiences of white Americans. But as my guest, Paula Boggs, makes clear: there is no Americana — no bluegrass, no country, no folk music — without the backbeat of African influences and the musical ingenuity of Black Americans. Paula Boggs fronts the Paula Boggs Band, whose music is described as “Seattle-brewed soulgrass.” She is an accomplished musician and songwriter and the COVID-19 pandemic offered her an opportunity to reevaluate and research, §and to come into closer relationship with her ancestral lineages — an experience which animates Janus, the newest release from the Paula Boggs
05/04/20231 hour 4 minutes 33 seconds
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Mojisola Adebayo – The Beautiful in the Brutal

In Theory and Play of the Duende, Spanish poet Federico García Lorca extolled the artistic necessity of duende – a poetic and artistic force that emerges from the darkness of our wounds. Lorca believed that art could only be great when duende was joined with wisdom and inspiration; the romance of angels and muses alone is not enough to create art that resonates with our fleshy, human experience. It was duende I thought of while in conversation with my guest today, Mojisola Adebayo. She is a performer, playwright and theatre maker, who often draws from the deep wells of Black pain to address the extractive practices that have robbed Black people of our lives and environments for 400 years. She marries these histories of extraction with the fantastical, adventurous and more-than-human to create art that challenges, provokes and inspires. Today, Mojisola takes us on a journey from Goldsmiths University to Antarctica, to space and back again, in a conversation that explores utilising perfo
08/03/20231 hour 3 minutes 35 seconds
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Pádraig Ó Tuama – Feed the Beast

This week, I’m in conversation with queer Black theologian and Anglican priest Father Jarel Robinson-Brown, whose theology and pastoral practice offer a re-embodied understanding of Christianity. Jarel is one of many theologians, poets and philosophers whose work has offered me an affirming and vitalising framework for understanding and practising my evolving spirituality. You’ll have heard me talk about author Sophie Strand, biological philosopher Andreas Weber and poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama, who joins me today for a conversation about his new book of poetry, Feed the Beast, which features poems wrestling with sexuality and religion. Today, we discuss the body as a site of divine and erotic intelligence, the potential of poetry to help us approach and unlock our desires and Pádraig reads four of his poems: “Monster”, “Exorcism”, “Someone” and “How to Be Alone”. About Pádraig Ó Tuama Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian from Ireland. His work has appeared in Poetry Ireland
25/02/202339 minutes 27 seconds
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Father Jarel Robinson-Brown – The Rhythm of Our Faith

Father Jarel Robinson-Brown is a queer Black theologian and Anglican priest, whose 2021 book, Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer: The Church and the Famine of Grace, takes the Church and its leadership to task for its exclusion of queer Black bodies, citing the historical and ongoing “ecclesial terrorism of the Christian community through its speech and its silence”. Far from justifying queer Black bodies of faith as worthy of communion, Jarel argues that Christianity as it’s ministered and practised now evidences a famine of grace, a wayward deviation from the inclusive ministry of Jesus.  In our conversation, Jarel gives an honest appraisal of the doctrine of forgiveness and shares how his theology has been transformed in relationship with those he ministers to. He also diagnoses the disembodiment of our faith as a symptom of the Church’s bodyphobia and says that the separation of faith and prayer from sex and pleasure prevents us from knowing and enjoying God as fully as God want
22/02/20231 hour 4 minutes 26 seconds
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Marc Thompson – I Have a Virus Older Than You

This week, I'm in conversation with author and scholar Dagmawi Woubshet, whose 2015 book, The Calendar of Loss, has transformed how I engage with the work Black gay men created during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and '90s. In this clip from our 2018 conversation, HIV activist and community organiser Marc Thompson shares insights about the Black gay experience in London in the 1980s. About Marc Thompson Marc Thompson is an HIV activist and writer. He established The Love Tank in March 2018 and is one of the original founders of PrEPster. Marc lead Positively UK’s peer mentor programme until June 2018 and he is now Strategic Programme Lead for Health Improvement at the UK’s Terrence Higgins Trust. He has a rich history of community organising and engagement, co-founding Big Up in the late 1990s to respond to the sexual health needs of Black queer men. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/02/202319 minutes 5 seconds
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Dagmawi Woubshet – The Calendar of Loss

I cherish my copy of Joseph Beam and Essex Hemphill’s 1991 anthology, Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men. It is a soaring, sensual and at times heartbreaking collection of the writings, plays, poetry and speeches of some of the Black gay men we lost during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. I cherish it because it has affirmed my unequivocal spiritual lineage to the Black gay men who came before me – and because it offers such piercing first-person insight into how Black gay lived and loved. As I’ve learned from Dagmawi Woubshet, Brother to Brother is also an effervescent and enlivening demonstration of grief as a public and political act. In The Calendar of Loss, Dagmawi illuminates how AIDS mourning challenges how we have come to think about loss and grief, insisting that the bereaved can confront death in the face of shame and stigma in eloquent ways that also imply a fierce political sensibility and a longing for justice. We explore how political funerals during
08/02/20231 hour 2 minutes 29 seconds
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Prince Shakur – When They Tell You to Be Good

In his essay, "Nothing Personal", James Baldwin writes: “One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for; but everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith.” What light do we see in ourselves and in each other amid the literal and metaphorical darkness of our time? And what do we need in order to answer Baldwin’s call to be light bearers? To encounter our light, we often need courage, which my guest today defines as “acts that bring something necessary to the surface.” Prince Shakur is a queer, Jamaican-American author, journalist and videomaker, whose work is steeped in his commitment to Black liberation, prison abolition and queer resilience. His memoir, When They Tell You to Be Good, was released in October and won the Hurston/Wright Crossover Award, wh
24/12/202252 minutes 52 seconds
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Nakhane – Do You Well

I've been drawn to expressions of art and life that speak to a wisdom shared with me by mentor: "Your ministry is in your DNA". The work we choose do in the world, the people we choose to be against the odds, is how each of us does the ministering necessary to ensure we and our communities can thrive. We live as an expression of our truth. And the ministry we're engaged in is one that requires defiance, which my guest today offers through a prodigious kaleidoscope of artist expression. Nakhane is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician from South Africa whose music, writing and film-work strikes an unusual balance between vulnerability, rage and the erotic. Nakhane grew up in the throes of Christianity and felt compelled to renounce their sexuality in order to do what was asked of them. But the religious community Nakhane gave up so much for was not there when Nakhane needed them – their queer family was. And so our conversation today explores what their excommunication from the churc
03/12/20221 hour 2 minutes 40 seconds
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Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – The Disordered Cosmos

Can we look at the stars queerly? And if so, how might queer star-gazing help orient us towards earthly liberation? To help me answer these questions is Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – a theoretical cosmologist and particle physicist. Her book, The Disordered Cosmos, presents a Black queer feminist challenge to the dominant understanding of physics and calls for a more robust and intersectional approach to ensuring the sciences and the night sky are available to all.  Three lessons in particular stand out to me from this conversation: The first is that science is queer. If we understand queerness as a refusal to aspire to the norm, then the insatiable curiosity that queerness demands is well-suited to a science like physics. Indeed physics – perhaps the most difficult and ever-changing of the sciences – could be the queerest science of all. Physics is for us. The second lesson is personal. Ahead of my conversation with Chanda, I told her I was feeling nervous because I’m not a scientist:
19/11/20221 hour 3 minutes 42 seconds
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F*ck / Sunflowers by Inua Ellams

My conversation this week is with artist, producer and educator malakaï sergeant. During the recording of our conversation, malakaï flagged the carceral geographies many of us have become so accustomed to – limiting and murderous as they can be. In the moment, I grabbed one of my favourite books of poetry, The Actual by Inua Ellams – an incisive, fiery and tender defence of Black liveliness. My favourite poem in the collection is "F*ck / Sunflowers", which speaks with such stunning heartbreak about the realities so many are forced to endure when robbed of the soil that could sustain us. With Inua’s permission, I’m reciting it for you today. Content warning: this poem infers death by suicide. The Actual is published by and available from Penned in the Margins. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/11/20224 minutes 12 seconds
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malakaï sargeant – I Sparkle When I Sleep

In 2020, as we enclosed ourselves to protect ourselves and others from the ravages of Covid-19, I noticed for the first time in a long time the resonant chorus of birdsong. Without the sound and smog of vehicles, the natural world around us began to sing more loudly. As I discovered through a conversation between Krista Tippett and sound ecologist Gordon Hempton on the radio programme On Being, the return of birdsong – to the world around us and to our consciousness – is much more than something beautiful to listen to: humans have evolved to not only detect the faintest birdsong in the distance, but to move in its direction because birdsong is the primary indicator of habitats prosperous to our survival.  But the birds of our ancestors sang in a very different jungle. The concrete jungles we inhabit now are increasingly inhospitable to our survival. And as malakaï sargeant explores with me today, tapping into and utilising the ancestral and evolutionary wisdom within us is urgent work.
05/11/202256 minutes 31 seconds
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Come Into This

Busy Being Black is the award-winning podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Each week, I have conversations with academics, artists, activists, thinkers and change-makers who help me and listeners understand ourselves as complex and complicated, messy, beautiful and vibrant people making the grandest and noblest attempts to thrive. Whether we’re searching for our place in the vast expanse of the universe or tracing our ancestral lineages through dance, guests on Busy Being Black bring their hard earned wisdom to your ears and heart each episode. From Black Trans Feminist theory to poetry, HIV/AIDS activism and questions of Black masculinity, Busy Being Black centres queer Black hope, as we discuss what it means to show up as ourselves against the odds.  Busy Being Black is by us, for us. In the words of poet and activist PJ Samuels: "Come into this; it’s flavoured, fully seasoned. Taste. Look what was made for you." #busybeingblack t
19/10/202259 seconds
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Marquis Bey – A Curator of Prophecies

I’ve been utterly enchanted by Walter Brueggemann’s 1978 book, The Prophetic Imagination. In it, this preeminent theologian helps us understand the role of the prophet: a truth-teller, whose ministry utilises grief to criticise the dominant order. In doing so, prophets energise those suffering under brutalisation and awaken us all to possibilities of life beyond what we know. Part of what the dominant order does to us all is stilt and stunt our imaginations. Brueggemann refers to this stunted imagination as the “royal consciousness”: our imagination is limited in the interests of the ruling elite. It does not have to be this way. Today, many of us understand that limited imagination through the imposition of gender, the stereotypes we fight against that limit how we as Black queer people can show up in the world and the arduous but necessary conversation and organising around abolition. In their new book, Black Trans Feminism, Marquis Bey makes clear that even the identities we’ve come
18/10/202250 minutes 57 seconds
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Dionne Edwards – Attempting Utopia

One of my favourite quotes is from the late Toni Morrison: “Sometimes you don’t survive whole, you just survive in part. But the grandeur of life is that attempt. It’s not about that solution. It is about being as fearless as one can, behaving as beautifully as one can, under completely impossible circumstances. It’s that that makes it elegant.” For those of us inclined to share ourselves through the creative process, we can also be navigating imposter syndrome, structural barriers and limiting beliefs about ourselves. The reminder that our attempt is the grandest part of it all feels like a reminder worth shouting repeatedly.  Dionne Edwards is a wonderful example of Morrisonian attempt in action. She’s a screenwriter and director, whose debut feature film Pretty Red Dress debuts this month at BFI London Film Festival. We explore why it’s important for us to embrace the grandiose, the beauty and weirdness of distortion in the creative process, and telling the stories of flawed people
08/10/202250 minutes 31 seconds
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Afrorithms from the Future

My conversation this week is with Ahmed Best, a story teller, artist, educator and futurist who helps facilitate the game Afrorithms from the Future. In this bonus episode, Ahmed and Afrorithms from the Future co-creator Dr Lonny Brooks take Long Time Academy host Ella Saltmarshe through the game. Afrorithims from the Future is a collaborative, design thinking, storytelling game that helps activate our radical imaginations by centring the experiences and wisdoms of Black people and BIPOC. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black is an exploration and expression of quare liveliness and my guests are those who have learned to live, love and thrive at the intersection of their identities. Your support of the show means the world. Please leave a rating and a review and share these conversations far and wide. As we continue to work towards futures worthy of us all, my hope is that as many of you as possible understand Busy Being Black as a soft, tender and intellectually rigorous place for y
01/10/202213 minutes 52 seconds
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Ahmed Best – Hope Among the Stars

I’m still revelling in an acute awe, inaugurated by the images captured by the Just Wonderful Space Telescope in July. As a big and beautiful conversation about our significance continues, a persistent narrative about how small we are has emerged and I suspect that the language deployed to make us insignificant as we gaze at the stars, has something to do with the dominant culture’s denuding of our imaginations, which my guest today says require an emotional athleticism. To help us reckon with our collective awe and our responsibility to harness our imaginations for the futures we deserve, I’m in conversation with Ahmed Best. Ahmed is a multi-hyphenate story teller, artist, educator, and futurist – as well as an Adjunct Professor at USC School of Dramatic Arts and the Stanford d. school. You may also know him as the actor who played Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars. We explore afrofuturism as an imaginative framework that helps us work through current and oppressive realities in order to fas
01/10/202249 minutes 3 seconds
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Episode 100 – The Dancing Boy

This is episode 100 of Busy Being Black. To honour this milestone, my friend DYLEMA takes my seat to interview me. Busy Being Black emerged four years ago at a time of great personal distress – and transformation. I am unendingly grateful that you all keep showing up, tuning in and talking back. Busy Being Black returns on Saturday, 1 October, for what I’m calling Busy Being Black version four.  About DYLEMA DYLEMA is an acronym: Do You and Let Every Man Adapt. She is an artist, musician and spoken word poet, whose life and spiritual guidance continue to enrich and inspire my own. You may remember her voice from our soaring conversation in 2019, "When I Named Myself, I Became a Poet", which I encourage you all to revisit.  The voice notes included in this episode are (in order of inclusion): Max and Freya Powers, Lerone Clarke-Oliver, Adrian Jönsson-Iseni and Pádraig Ó Tuama. The poem included in this episode, "The Dancing Boy", was written and performed by Josh Rivers, includes vocals
30/07/202257 minutes 18 seconds
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Rico Norwood – A Quare Gaze

I’m in conversation with Rico Norwood, who opens our conversation with a beautiful and important introduction to Isaac Julien’s seminal film Looking for Langston. As well as doing more justice to Looking for Langston’s importance than I could, we open with this introduction because Rico flags an important word “quare”, which – as some of you already know – I have tattooed right across my throat. “Quare” was put forward by E. Patrick Johnson, the fairy godfather of Black queer studies, in his 2001 essay, “Quare studies, or (almost) everything I know about queer studies I learned from my grandmother”. Part of what animates Johnson’s theoretical intervention is an understanding that Black queer people and the non-queer people who birth, nurture and raise us, often have much more to offer the world than we’re given credit for.  It is a “quareness” that energises my own cultural and intellectual inquiry and which brings me and Rico together, both as friends and conversation partners. Today
16/07/202247 minutes 6 seconds
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Travis Alabanza – None of the Above

My admiration of Travis Alabanza runs deep. They were one of the first people to say yes to me and Busy Being Black at a time of tremendous uncertainty for me, and our 2018 conversation remains a firm favourite with listeners. The wisdom and insights Travis shared on art, gender, race and self-awareness are as relevant and salient today as then. I find them refreshing, not least for the ways they engage with the spectacle of curiosity that confronts them and trans folks daily. Travis reproaches with sass, or critique or silence: a questioning back that asks, ultimately, whether the rest of us know the role we play in the ongoing hostilities facing trans people. But Travis’ work is not only, always or forever work about their experience as a trans person in a transphobic world, nor do they create to explain; which is perhaps most beautifully expressed in a statement made to Travis by writer and friend Kuchenga: "This is for us, baby, not for them." At the heart of Travis’ new book, None
11/06/202252 minutes 18 seconds
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Jafari S. Allen – There's a Disco Ball Between Us

2015 and 2016 were big years for me: in April 2015, I was shocked into my political awakening by the Baltimore riots, which erupted after the funeral of Freddie Gray. The rage and grief expressed through the riots inspired me to action: how might I be part of a solution? And a year later, in 2016, I stumbled on No Tea, No Shade, an anthology of nineteen essays from scholars, activists, and community leaders doing work on black gender and sexuality. No Tea, No Shade helped focus the fire stoked by the riots towards something generative, rigorous and tender. Busy Being Black is a product of these two events — and a life of searching and questioning before, during and since. So, you can imagine how honoured I am to be in conversation with Dr Jafari S. Allen, whose essay "Black/Queer Rhizomatics" opens No Tea, No Shade and was the first piece of Black queer theory I ever read. We discuss his latest book, There’s a Disco Ball Between Us, a sweeping and lively ethnographic and intellectual h
28/05/20221 hour 11 minutes 17 seconds
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Da'Shaun L. Harrison – An Invitation to Pleasure

This week, my conversation is with Black, fat, queer and trans theorist and abolitionist Da’Shaun Harrison. Their new book, Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-fatness as Anti-Blackness is an important addition in the fields of fat and Black studies, which offers us all necessary knowledge and insights to help improve how we relate to one another and ourselves. In this bonus episode, Da’Shaun and I explore the erotic and how the many barriers society forces us to erect around ourselves, preclude a deeper, necessary and potentially world-ending intimacy. Content warning: sexual violence. Da’Shaun Harrison is based in Atlanta and is the author of Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-fatness as Anti-Blackness. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/05/202236 minutes 6 seconds
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Da'Shaun L. Harrison – Belly of the Beast

I’ve long admired the work of Da’Shaun L. Harrison. Like many of those I’ve come to encounter and adore over the past few years, Da’Shaun’s work came across my timeline on social media and their incisive and invigorating intellectual offerings have had me hooked since. Da’Shaun is a Black, fat, queer and trans theorist and abolitionist, and in their debut book, Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-fatness as Anti-Blackness, they argue that to live in a body that is both fat and Black is to exist at the margins of a society that limits us in ways we may have never considered. In our conversation today, Da’Shaun expands on the connection between anti-fatness and anti-Blackness, explains how diet culture persists as a tool of social control and offers up ways of thinking about how the policing each of us might do of our own bodies invariably impacts how we interact with – and even judge – those around us. Like all of the best intellectual work, Da’Shaun’s intervention is grounded in a
14/05/202259 minutes 35 seconds
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Zinzi Minott – Ancestral Interference

In the face of the ongoing and various violences experienced by Black women in the UK and across the world, Zinzi Minott wonders why more people don’t ask, “What do Black women’s bodies need?” It’s a question I’ve been sitting with since we recorded our conversation, which includes us exploring what our duty of care is to each other. Zinzi is a dancer, artist and filmmaker and she’s interested in ideas of broken narrative, disturbed lineage and how the use of the "glitch" can help us to consider notions of racism one experiences through their life. She is specifically interested in telling Caribbean stories, highlighting the histories of those enslaved and the resulting migration of the Windrush Generation. In this sweeping conversation, we explore her work commemorating the Windrush Generation, how we might show up better and more meaningfully for Black women and how her queerness kicked the doors open to her acceptance of what she calls her weirdness. Zinzi also explores her rearing
30/04/20221 hour 6 minutes 47 seconds
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Shrouk El-Attar – The Dancing Queer

For many of us who’ve grown up in the so-called West, our understanding of what belly dancing is has been shaped by colonialism’s legacy. What we’ve learned about or encountered as belly-dancing is actually a white-washed mishmash of several cultures, designed to play into the West’s fascination with and manufactured fear of those designated Muslim. My guest today, Shrouk El-Attar, is an LGBTQ rights campaigner, electronics engineer and belly dancer from Egypt. She is currently working on a piece of interactive art – a belly-dancing robot – which troubles the line between technology and human, and between the east and west. Her desire is to return belly-dancing, or more accurately Egyptian dancing, to its roots – which, she reminds us, has little to do with the movement of the belly and was never a practice restricted to women.  Today we explore her experience as an asylum seeker, her fascination with technology and the moment she learned the people in her television set were there thr
03/04/202252 minutes 45 seconds
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Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley – Knowing Where to Dig

The late Ursula K. Le Guin wrote, “Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing – instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there.” And it is down there, among roots and earth, that Black trans gaming designer, archivist and artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley is looking for our Black trans ancestors—those whose lives and stories have been lost to history and thus our collective memory.  Danielle believes we are each responsible for someone in the earth, and through her work, calls us to interrogate the roles we play in the ongoing violence directed towards our trans siblings. Her approach to this interrogation brings together AI and game design, and places us in situations where we have to make choices—choices that can feel impossible. And that is the point.  In our conversation today, we explore how she provides space and means for the expression of multiple Black trans essences; disrupting ideas about what an archive is, what we think
12/03/20221 hour 52 seconds
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Raven Gill – The Bajan Butterfly

I met Raven Gill in March 2020 at the Equality and Justice Alliance convening in Saint Lucia, just before our countries went into their respective lockdowns. We became fast friends. She is an outspoken and forthright activist, who does essential and life-sustaining work with trans and non binary Bajans through the civil society organisation she founded, Butterfly Barbados. In our conversation, we explore how she and the communities she fights for have navigated the challenges of Covid-19, the toll the weight of responsibility has taken on her over the past two years and how the positive image Barbados has earned on the global stage recently obscures some harsher realities for trans and non-binary Bajans. And she shares some of her more personal reckonings, including learning what she needs from her friendships, the chosen family she has gathered around her, and what — or rather who — is bringing her joy. About Raven Gill Raven Gill is a community organiser and activist and the founder
26/02/202257 minutes 59 seconds
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Robert Jones, Jr. reads "New Covenant" from The Prophets

This week, I’m in conversation with Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets – his New York Times best-selling debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men. In this bonus episode, Robert reads an excerpt The Prophets, entitled “New Covenant”. Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer and thinker, and the creator and curator of the social-justice social media community Son of Baldwin. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Essence and the Paris Review. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK, The Tenth, Schools Out and to you the listeners. Remember this, your support doesn’t cost any money: retweets, ratings, reviews and shares all help so please keep the support coming.  Thank you to our funding partner, myGwork – the LGBT+ business community. Thank you to Lazarus Lynch – a queer Black musician and culinary
12/02/202212 minutes 43 seconds
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Robert Jones, Jr. – The Prophets

“Tiny resistances were a kind of healing in a weeping place” is just one of the many powerful and lyric aphorisms that ennoble The Prophets, the New York Times best-selling debut novel from Robert Jones, Jr. – a story about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other and a betrayal that threatens their existence. Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer and thinker, and the creator and curator of the social-justice social media community Son of Baldwin. He has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Essence and the Paris Review. Today, in a far reaching conversation, we explore how The Prophets came to life and why he felt it so important to ensure queer Black love was neither denigrated nor ignored within it, his desire to correct the historical record, learning rebellion from his mother and making sure that queer Black people know they are loved, valued and have a purposeful place in the world. About
12/02/202249 minutes 39 seconds
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Edafe Okporo – My Brother's Keeper

Edafe Okporo is an author and activist, who successfully sought asylum in the United States after years of violent persecution in Nigeria because of his sexuality. Since then, he’s made it his mission to not only speak out against the ongoing violence faced by LGBTQ people in Nigeria, but to help those displaced by violence build new lives as close to the American Dream as possible. We explore his relationship to the idea and the reality of America, the importance of pleasure in our understanding of freedom, his refusal to participate in the spectacle of Black death and trauma, making space for his hopes, dreams and desires, and his complicated and evolving understanding of what it means to be a Black African man in America.  About Edafe Okporo Edafe Okporo is an author and activist. He currently serves as the Mobilisation Director at Talent Beyond Boundaries, and in 2022, Simon and Schuster will publish Edafe’s first book, ASYLUM, a Memoir & Manifesto. He is also among the inaugural w
29/01/202259 minutes 54 seconds
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Frank Mugisha and Lady Phyll – Live at Black Tech Fest 2021

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah and Frank Mugisha are two powerhouse LGBTQ human rights activists. Phyll, who has been a guest on the show before, is the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride, Europe’s largest pride celebration for LGBTQ people of colour, and the executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, the UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBTQ people across the Commonwealth. She became widely known as Lady Phyll, after she turned down an MBE from the Queen, to protest the UK’s colonial impact and legacies.  Frank Mugisha is a Ugandan LGBTQ activist. He’s the founder of Icebreakers Uganda, a support network for LGBTQ Ugandans, and is the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG, an alliance of eighteen organisations supporting and advocating for the Ugandan LGBTQ community. Frank is a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the Rafto Prize, the International Human Rights Film Award at Cinema for Peace, and has been recognised by th
01/12/202128 minutes 57 seconds
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Tobi Ajala and Yasmina Kone – Live at Black Tech Fest 2021

Tobi Ajala is the founder of TechTee, a complete lifecycle digital agency that specialises in software development and design within fashion and luxury industries. And Yasmina Kone is Senior Partnerships Manager at Beam – the world’s first crowdfunding platform for homeless people. We came together at Black Tech Fest 2021 to explore navigating and excelling within industries that can be inhospitable to Black women, addressing and redressing some of the barriers that prevent those experiencing homelessness from re-entering the job market, challenging assumptions that we all have equal access to technology and therefore equal opportunities, and their advice to young Black people who see a world they want to help change. You can support Beam's current campaigns here and sign-up for TechTee's Device Scheme here. About Black Tech Fest Black Tech Fest takes place annually during Black History Month here in the UK and exists to inspire and create space for powerful conversations around techno
10/11/202148 minutes 41 seconds
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Langston Kahn – The World Needs You

“A part of each of us, our essence, is timeless, has never been harmed, and carries a dream it is waiting for us to bring into the world.” These are words from my guest today, Langston Kahn, whose new book, Deep Liberation, brings together the shamanic wisdom of ancient spirituality with the needs and demands of modern-day life— he wants to help us transform the emotional patterns that hold us back from healing.  Langston is a queer Black teacher and shamanic practitioner who specialises in radical human transformation. We began our conversation in the usual way, with me asking how his heart is, but for all the wonder of technology in the 21st century, we experienced some digital interference. So, we jump right into the meat of our conversation which explores grief, his journey towards Shamanic healing, connecting with our felt sense, our individual purpose as contribution to the fabric of the universe and using our voice in service of our vision. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Blac
27/10/202153 minutes 23 seconds
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Koritha Mitchell – Living Out Loud

Koritha Mitchell is a firebrand and one of my favourite people to follow on Twitter. She’s Professor of English at Ohio State University and the author of two books: Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship; and From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture. Among much else in our far reaching conversation, we discuss why she pursued and expanded upon a connection between the lynching of Black people post emancipation and anti-LGBTQ violence now, the ways white people reaffirm their dominance with what she calls “know your place aggression”, how Black women have continually redefined success and citizenship in America and why it can feel so utterly satisfying to point out white mediocrity. As she says, we’ve been surrounded by whiteness our entire lives and we have not been surrounded by excellence. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer
20/10/202157 minutes 13 seconds
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Dr Francesca Sobande – The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain

Dr Francesca Sobande is an author and academic whose book, The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain, explores the myriad ways Black women in Britain thrive, influence and are erased as they navigate social media platforms. We discuss disentangling a distinct digital experience for Black women in Britain, her ongoing interest in borders, citizenship and diaspora, and whether expressions of Black women’s interior lives are possible on platforms designed for public performance. She cautions against a limited understanding of Black women’s digital lives as always and only subversive and she reflects on the role poetry played in helping navigate, inform and shape her work—both as personal journal and vehicle for collaborative dialogue. About Dr Sobande Dr Francesca Sobande is a Lecturer in Digital Media Studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University, where she is Director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme. She is the author of The Digital Liv
13/10/202159 minutes 36 seconds
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Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu – The Muscle of Our Imagination

Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu wants us to unleash our imaginations. A playwright, actor and director of Ghanaian heritage and raised in South London, he’s committed to telling stories that are wild, seasoned and passionate. He’s the director of a new play, For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy, in which six young Black men meet for group therapy, and let their hearts – and imaginations – run wild.  Our conversation explores the limitations put on expressions of our anger, building support for mental and emotional health in the process of theatre-making, exercising the muscle our imagination, a limitless Black Britishness and what he hopes we take away from the work he puts out into the world. About Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu is a playwright, actor and director. He’s written for The Royal Court, directed at The Young Vic and performed at The National Theatre. He’s received awards from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Roehampton Univ
06/10/202153 minutes 41 seconds
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Lazarus Lynch – The Return

Lazarus Lynch is the multi-hyphenate artist behind Busy Being Black’s theme music. He’s a dear friend and someone I share a spiritual connection with, and I admire so much his ability to harness his creativity to create spaces, moments and music in the world that nourish, heal, provoke and soothe. Our conversation is a meditative exploration of our shared histories in the Black Church, the pursuit and expression of our individual songs, unlocking our hearts, building community, faith in ourselves and in others and the bravery and vulnerability it takes to kneel before someone else and wash their feet. About Lazarus Lynch Lazarus Lynch is an entrepreneur, author, musician and multimedia host. He is a two-time Chopped champion and the host of Snapchat's first-ever cooking show, Chopped U, and the Food Network digital series Comfort Nation. This year, he’s one of the chefs selected to cater Vogue’s 2021 Met Gala. He’s the creator of Busy Being Black’s theme music and his new album, Sanctu
25/08/202154 minutes 17 seconds
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Territorial – The Calling of the Spirits

Content warning: This episode explores imprisonment, police brutality, homicide, sexual violence and mental illness. Please listen with care.  I believe in the abolition of prisons, and while I’m still learning about imagining and building societies that prioritise care, restorative justice, and people over profit-making, I know that we should not be locking people up in cages.  Michael Tenneson, Kevin Woodley, Dane “Zealot” Newton, Phillip “Archi” Archuleta, Gilbert “Lefty” Pacheco, Jose “8Bizz” Talamantes and Frankie Domenico are seven men imprisoned at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon City, Colorado. They are the musicians, from completely different walks of life and serving differing sentences, who make up the band Territorial.  Their new album, TLAXIHUIQUI (Tla-She-Wiki), is the first recorded music to make it outside the forbidding walls of Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility into the free world since it was founded 150 years ago. TLAXIHUIQUI (which tran
10/08/202125 minutes 21 seconds
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Ted Brown – Live at UK Black Pride 2021

Ted Brown is one of our most important and formidable elders. He's an activist and change maker, who’s been fighting for the rights of black and LGBTQ people for over 50 years. An original member of the Gay Liberation Front, Ted was instrumental in organising the UK’s first pride March through London. He’s been at the forefront of campaigns to demand better treatment of LGBTQ people in the media and he’s been a vocal advocate for addressing homophobia within Black communities and racism in the LGBTQ community. Ted and I sat down for a live conversation at UK Black Pride’s 2021 virtual pride celebration, Love and Rage, to explore the sparks that ignited his activism, our shared connection to Bayard Rustin, what he’s learned about love and rage, and his advice to a new generation of activists and change makers. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK, The
17/07/202148 minutes 49 seconds
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Shiloh Coke – Recognition

I’m in conversation today with Shiloh Coke, a composer, musician, actor and writer who stars in a new audio play called recognition. In it, she voices Song, a Black woman composer who stumbles upon the work of Afro-English composer and conductor Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The play, and their conversation across space and time, asks important questions like: How do we honour the forgotten whose work was once celebrated, and who gets to decide which work stands the test of time?  In our conversation, Shiloh and I explore how she’s carving her own space in industries dominated by white people, her close relationship with her grandmother, coming into herself as a queer Black woman and how music offers her space for safety, joy and love. We discuss the importance of orienting ourselves and our work in our purpose, pursuing impact over recognition, and the conversation she hopes a queer Black woman will have with her work in the future, long after she’s gone. About Shiloh Coke Shiloh Coke is a
29/05/202148 minutes 24 seconds
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Written on the Waves – A Conversation Across Space and Time

How do we honour the forgotten, whose work was once celebrated, and who gets to decide which work stands the test of time? These are questions we’re asked to consider in a new audio play called recognition, which explores the story and legacy of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor – an Afro-English composer and conductor born in London in 1875. The play brings Coleridge-Taylor to life in conversation with Song, voiced by composer, musician, actress and writer Shiloh Coke.  recognition is one of eight plays forming Written on the Waves, an audio project presented by 45North. 45North champions, develops, and produces outstanding work by female-identifying and non-binary artists. Listen to the full audio play here: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/05/202110 minutes 53 seconds
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Abdul-Aliy Muhammad – My Body Leads Me

One of my favourite quotes is from Civil Rights icon Bayard Rustin, who said the proof that one truly believes is in action — and there are few who embody Bayard’s words as wholly and unapologetically as Abdul-Aliy Muhammad (they/them).  An organiser and activist born and raised in West Philadelphia, Abdul-Aliy has grown into a firebrand. Whether standing up for queer Black and brown communities in the face of systemic violence, or holding leaders in politics and at not-for-profits to account, Abdul-Aliy’s work is loud, considered and high-impact.  Today we discuss the on-going impact of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE headquarters in West Philadelphia, the moments they were radicalised, what they learned about how people view those living with HIV, after they went on a medication strike as part of their organising action — and learning to trust when their body tells them what to do in defence of what’s right. About Abdul-Aliy Muhammad Abdul-Aliy Muhammad is a "Magical Black Queer", organ
02/05/20211 hour 3 minutes 37 seconds
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Taitu Heron – The Year of Our Lorde

Content warning: Today’s conversation includes references to sexual violence. Please listen with care.  I caught up with Taitu Heron in December 2020, as a way of bringing to a close a difficult year with one of my favourite people. Taitu is a development specialist, human rights advocate, scholar and performance poet and we first met in St Lucia in February 2020, on the eve of the onset of the global pandemic. In St Lucia, we spent long nights righting the worlds wrongs and she offered wisdom and insight that would prove so helpful as 2020 unraveled around us. She shares her thoughts on leaving behind those people and habits who no longer serve us, creating more space for ourselves and those we care about to thrive and to breathe, and how we balance our professional, personal and creative obligations.  We dive into the complexities of silence, including her thoughts on what Audre Lorde meant when she wrote Your Silence Will Not Protect You. We discuss what it means have personal power
17/04/20211 hour 1 minute 17 seconds
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George M. Johnson – All Boys Aren't Blue

“Let yourself unlearn everything you thought you knew about yourself” is one of the many important life lessons George M. Johnson shares with young readers in their new book, All Boys Aren’t Blue. George calls the book a memoir-manifesto and in it, they grapple with sexuality, gender identity, assault, consent and Black joy – and I found it to be an utterly invigorating read.  We discuss the lessons we are being called to learn and to metabolise from our journey through an immensely challenging year, the important work of making ourselves whole and love as the starting point for friendship. George shares their thoughts on vulnerability as a necessity for storytelling (and how in doing so we let other people know they’re not alone), and why they felt it so important to open the book with a rather bold affirmation: I want to be immortalised. About George M. Johnson George M. Johnson is a writer and activist based in New York. They have written on race, gender, sex, and culture for Essenc
06/03/202158 minutes 50 seconds
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Jubi Arriola-Headley reads "Every God Is a Slowly Dying Sun"

My conversation this week is with queer Black poet and storyteller Jubi Arriola-Headley. Among his altogether brilliant debut collection of poetry is the tremendous "Every God Is a Slowly Dying Sun" — a heartbreaking reflection on Jubi’s relationship with the late poet Craig G Harris.  original kink is available now from Sibling Rivalry Press. About Busy Being Black Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK, The Tenth, Schools Out and to you the listeners. Remember this, your support doesn’t cost any money: retweets, ratings, reviews and shares all help so please keep the support coming.  Thank you to our newest funding partner, myGwork – the LGBT+ business community. Thank you to Lazarus Lynch – a queer Black musician and culinary mastermind based in New York City – for the triumphant and ancestral Busy Being Black theme music. The Busy Being Black theme music was mixed and mas
06/02/20218 minutes 34 seconds
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Jubi Arriola-Headley – Original Kink

I have fallen in love with the poetry of Jubi Arriola-Headley. Exploring themes of manhood, vulnerability, rage, tenderness and joy, his work speaks such truth to those of us reckoning with who we’ve been and who we want to be. Jubi is a queer Black poet and storyteller and his debut collection is called original kink. Our conversation explores his relationship with his late father and his intimate and profound friendship with the late and great Craig G Harris. We discuss carrying on a legacy, gifts and grief, how we create the thing we wish we had, and Jubi’s coming-of-age during the AIDS crisis. And in a moment of particular resonance for me, Jubi talks about what it means to bear witness to our own failures. Jubi opens our conversation with his poem Peacocking. "I want to live the rest of my life with an energy that ignites and irritates, burns and bubbles, soothes and inspires until it bursts from the atmosphere, dissipating into the cosmos." – Craig G Harris About Jubi Arriola-Hea
06/02/202158 minutes 8 seconds
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Jeffrey Pickering – Living with Love, Pragmatism and Passion

Today I’m in conversation with one of our elders, Jeffrey Pickering. Born and raised in Barbados, he moved to the UK at 16 to pursue further education. He went on to become a nurse and cardiac physiologist and shared his life with his partner Michael for 36 years, until Michael’s passing in 2011. Jeffrey spoke to me about his reverence for his mother, his first love, his career, his assiduous pursuit of culture and education and the moment, in 1974, he first laid on eyes on Michael. About Opening Doors London A survey on the impact of Covid-19 on older LGBTQ people reveals some startling and heartbreaking insights: 37% of older LGBTQ people feel more lonely than usual and 27% say they hardly ever or never have someone to talk to. Opening Doors London is the leading charity offering support to our LGBTQ elders. They run a number of essential interventions to combat loneliness and isolation, and the charity needs our help to keep their vital services running. Please join me in letting ou
30/01/202159 minutes 37 seconds
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Professor Therí Alyce Pickens – Black Madness :: Mad Blackness

Professor Therí Alyce Pickens is Full Professor of English at Bates College, and her newest book, Black Madness :: Mad Blackness, has done nothing short of set me alight. In it, she explores the relationship between Blackness and disability, showing how Black speculative and science fiction authors craft new worlds that reimagine the intersection of Blackness and madness.  We spoke just before Christmas about her book, which led to a really enlightening conversation about analysing the spaces between what happens and what we can know; intersectionality; the trouble with allies; the multiple purposes of silence; and ghosting as a form of discipline. And before we begin, I want to send a very special thank you to my friend and co-conspirator, Lazarus Lynch, for reimagining the Busy Being Black theme music, which makes its debut today. About Professor Pickens Professor Pickens is Full Professor of English at Bates College, specialising in African American, Arab American and disability lit
23/01/202157 minutes 42 seconds
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Anthology/Appendix: Me and My Old Man

As part of this special series funded by the European Cultural Foundation, I’m delighted to be working with artist and activist Isaiah Lopaz to share exclusive first-listens to his new project, Anthology/Appendix. Anthology/Appendix is a multimedia project centred around queer Black fiction and includes readings, rituals, discussions and performances. Today’s story is “Me and My Old Man”. The love that they have for one person places two men – one a friend, the other a lover – in constant conflict with one another. While waiting to celebrate the achievements of a person they both love deeply, two people have the most honest conversation they’ve ever had. What are the unspoken words hiding behind half hearted greetings, snide remarks, and silent displays of resolve? “Me and My Old Man” explores class, ageism, jealousy and the secrets which often remain quietly kept – and is voiced by Isaiah Lopaz. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/11/20209 minutes 42 seconds
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Dr S Chelvan: A Future Beyond Labels

In this final episode in this series supported by the European Cultural Foundation, I'm in conversation with Dr S Chelvan, a globally recognised legal expert on refugee and human rights claims based on sexual or gender identity and expression. His Difference, Stigma, Shame and Harm (‘DSSH’) model is a positive tool to determine an LGBTQ asylum claim, which is now used globally and is endorsed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In 2014, Newsweek Europe described the DSSH model as ‘a simple starting point that cuts across borders’. We explore Dr Chelvan’s entry point into the UK and into law, and he shares with us his motivations for defending the human rights of LGBTQ asylum-seekers. He discusses his adolescence – a young brown man encountering his sexuality in the age of Section 28, his role as storyteller and translator, the development and importance of the DSSH model and how he’s learned to be human from those he empowers and serves. This conversation forms part o
28/11/202056 minutes 26 seconds
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Anthology/Appendix: The Return of the Prodigal Father

As part of this special series funded by the European Cultural Foundation, I’m delighted to be working with artist and activist Isaiah Lopaz to share exclusive first-listens to his new project, Anthology/Appendix. Anthology/Appendix is a multimedia project centred around queer Black fiction and includes readings, rituals, discussions and performances. Today’s story is “The Return of the Prodigal Father”. An email from a long lost father consisting of four words – “Hi I love you” – conjures worry, doubt, anger, and unrest. What does he want? The son’s theories point to one answer which consistently appears after each equation: whatever his father asks of him, it shall be done. The “Return of the Prodigal Father” explores loss, unyielding love, family, and forgiveness and is voiced by Isaiah Lopaz. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/11/202021 minutes 52 seconds
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Fatima El-Tayeb: The Impossibility of Europe

Professor Fatima El-Tayeb is professor of Literature and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her work deconstructs structural racism in “colorblind” Europe and centers strategies of resistance among racialized communities. She’s the author of three books, was active in Black feminist, migrant and queer of colour organisations in Germany and the Netherlands and was one of the co-founders of the Black European Studies Project. Today, she expands upon the connection between Black uprisings in Germany in the 80s and the movement for Black lives now; the differences between European and American racism; the moments she was radicalised and the importance of correcting the historical record. She explains the importance of a queer of colour critique in our thinking, organising and action; sheds light on the construction and function of Islamophobia in Europe; and shares a story about meeting and turning down a dinner invitation from the late and great Audre Lorde. This
15/11/202055 minutes 14 seconds
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iki azaid funes: Nosotrxs No Escogimos Este Futuro

Today’s conversation is with iki azaid funes, a Venezuelan migrant and anti-racist activist currently seeking international protection in Spain. She’s a survivor of Covid-19, and her experience fighting Covid-19 and the regime of white supremacy in Europe offers important insights to help us all understand how people like iki, and many in our communities, so often fall outside the bounds of what is considered human and thus protection, solidarity and citizenship. She describes her experience in Europe so far as existing within a plantation reloaded and says that the notion of human rights is a fiction reserved for white people. She suggests the pandemic we’re living through now began with the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, pushes back against assumptions of the inherent radicality of Black trans bodies and says that pursuing love and pleasure is an essential part of her resistance. Throughout this conversation, iki and I speak in both English and Spanish, a testament to our co
31/10/202049 minutes 56 seconds
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Anthology/Appendix: On Not Dying In Germany

As part of this special series funded by the European Cultural Foundation, I’m delighted to be working with artist and activist Isaiah Lopaz to share exclusive first-listens to his new project, Anthology/Appendix. Anthology/Appendix is a multimedia project centred around queer Black fiction and includes readings, rituals, discussions and performances. Today’s story is “On Not Dying in Germany”. While waiting for her sons to visit, an old woman speaks to her long-gone husband about the secrets shrouded in their union, her desire to die at home and her fear that she will be buried not once, but twice. “On Not Dying in Germany” explores secrets, assimilation, colorism, and loss and is voiced by Isaiah Lopaz. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/10/202018 minutes 25 seconds
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Olave Nduwanje: Bearing Witness

My conversation today is with artist, author, legal scholar and activist Olave Nduwanje. Working across anti-racism, LGBTQ rights, anti-capitalism and disability movements, Olave brings to this conversation a wonderfully expansive understanding of Blackness, queerness and trans identities. Olave calls us to an understanding of Blackness that is capacious, that contains within it the possibilities of everything we are and can be – and she offers that so many of the ideas we’ve internalised about our Blackness are inherently anti-Black. Olave discusses how her trans body is read by white and Black people alike, as an indication of some promised future; how she’s using her artistic practice to explore intra-communal conversations about intimacy and race; and why solidarity isn’t solidarity, unless you’re willing to give something up. Olave suggests that when we die, we’ll care more about whether we showed up for people than the things we surrounded ourselves with. Be sure to check out "
17/10/20201 hour 4 minutes 30 seconds
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Anthology/Appendix: In the Eyes of Our Mothers

As part of this special series funded by the European Cultural Foundation, I’m delighted to be working with artist and activist Isaiah Lopaz to share exclusive first-listens to his new project, Anthology Appendix – a multimedia project centred around queer Black fiction which includes readings, rituals, discussions and performances. Today's story is "In the Eyes of Our Mothers". On opposite ends of the city, one mother attempts to atone for not accepting her daughter as they play tv catch up, while another battles and belittles her daughter at a family dinner. Both daughters live peacefully and poetically together, but must separately navigate the visions of the women who carried them. "In the Eyes of Our Mothers" explores love, compromise and family ties, and is voiced by Isaiah Lopaz. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/10/202014 minutes 39 seconds
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Adeola Aderemi: Softness Is Our Birthright

Adeola Aderemi is a multilingual Afro-Greek and multi format artist, scholar, activist and healer, who spends a great deal of time amplifying the voices of and fighting for marginalised women. She is the editor in chief of Distinguished Diva – a community of Black women storytellers – and is currently working on raising awareness among the general public on issues such as human trafficking, gender equality, women's health and equal representation for Black women in media. We discuss her research on violence against women, her key learnings during her John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta and the moment she became Black. Adeola is now based in Brussels and pushes back against the narrative of Europe as a post-racial project. She suggests that Europe does its Black citizens a disservice by pointing to problems abroad it has yet to address at home. As well as her insights about fighting for and defending the Afro-Greek identity and the ways conversations about citizenship and representation di
03/10/202053 minutes 31 seconds
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Anthology/Appendix: A Wednesday Affair

As part of this special series funded by the European Cultural Foundation, I’m delighted to be working with artist and activist Isaiah Lopaz to share exclusive first-listens to his new project, Anthology Appendix – a multimedia project centred around queer Black fiction which includes readings, rituals, discussions and performances. Today's story is "A Wednesday Affair". In a foreign land two women vow to remain together as they discuss flight, rescue, tragedy and chance while waiting in line to see if they will be admitted into an exclusive club. A Wednesday Affair explores migration, faith and mental health, and is voiced by Isaiah Lopaz. Anthology Appendix launches 1 October 2020. Find out more at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
12/09/202012 minutes 33 seconds
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Liz Fekete: The Cradle and the Fist

Liz Fekete is the Director of the Institute of Race Relations and head of its European research program. She has worked with the Institute since 1982 and specializes in contemporary racism, refugee rights, far-right extremism and Islamophobia across Europe. She is advisory editor of the Institute’s journal Race & Class and is the author of A Suitable Enemy: Racism, Migration and Islamophobia in Europe and Europe’s Fault Lines: Racism and the Rise of the Right. We discuss her nearly 40 years working for the UK’s leading race relations educational charity, her mentorship under the late and great A Sivanandan and how the anti-racism movement here in the UK has changed since the 1980s. Importantly, she provides some necessary historical and sociopolitical context for our current moment, including how the rise of the far-right in Europe over the last 30 years has made our communities more vulnerable to Covid-19 today. This conversation forms part of a special series funded by the European C
12/09/20201 hour 3 minutes 28 seconds
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Eddie Bruce-Jones: Race in the Shadow of Law

Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones is a legal academic and anthropologist, based in London. He is the Deputy Dean at Birkbeck School of Law, the author of Race in the Shadow of Law: State Violence in Contemporary Europe (Routledge, 2016) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute of Race Relations and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group. He’s on the advisory board of the Centre for Intersectional Justice in Berlin, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law. And he’s an Essays Editor at the literary magazine, The Offing. His research, writing and our conversation focuses on migration, racism, sexuality, colonialism, state violence and citizenship. --- Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe; doing so lets others like us hear the voices amplified here. --- Thank you to our partners, UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK and
11/07/20201 hour 4 minutes 27 seconds
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BL Shirelle: Assata Troi

BL Shirelle is a hip-hop artist and activist who uses her music to share her experiences with police violence, addiction and the realities of prison for Black women. Her debut album, Assata Troi – which translates to “she who struggles is a warrior” – is described as a timeless hip hop classic that speaks of hope in our era of mass incarceration and systemic racism. In addition to her own music, BL is the Deputy Director of Die Jim Crow Records – the first record label in the United States for formerly and currently incarcerated musicians. We explore how 20 years in and out of prison has shaped her identity and informed her activism, and the lessons she’s learned from her elders within the prison system, who helped inspire and nurture her throughout her adolescence. --- Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe; doing so lets others like us hear the voices
04/07/202055 minutes 41 seconds
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Lama Rod Owens: Bad Buddhist

A self-titled bad Buddhist, Lama Rod Owens is an author, activist and authorised Lama (Buddhist Teacher) in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. He's a comforting, honest and straight-talking queer Black man, who’s considered one of the leaders of his generation of Buddhist teachers. His new book is Love and Rage: The Path to Liberation through Anger – and he opens the first chapter like this: “Since the 2016 presidential election, shit has been hard for some of us. For the rest of us, shit has been hard for a while.” From his rearing in the Black Church to his self-discovery through Buddhism, our conversation is one of deep reflection and a frank exploration of the ways in which our unaddressed anger prevents us from not only a psychic and physical liberation, but from connecting meaningfully to ourselves and to others in every imaginable part of our lives. --- Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, p
06/06/20201 hour 25 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Dr Oni Blackstock

For the sixth and final episode of Theory in the Flesh, I’m in conversation with Dr Oni Blackstock, the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV at the New York City Department of Health. In 2018, doctors diagnosed 1,917 people with HIV – a 67% decline from the number of diagnoses in 2001. --- I reached out to Dr Blackstock to understand what precipitated such a historic drop in new HIV diagnoses in New York City and how she and her colleagues at the Bureau of HIV have been able to intervene so successfully in the lives of those disproportionately impacted by HIV. We discuss the years-long work of building trust among marginalised communities, the many ways the city addresses and accounts for structural inequalities and disparities in HIV outreach, and the parallels between Covid-19 and the ongoing HIV epidemic. Dr Blackstock makes clear that it takes large teams working at the city level, substantive funding at all levels of government and consistent engagement with and funding of
22/05/202050 minutes 19 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Bakita Kasadha

Bakita Kasadha is a writer, researcher and poet. She is a Black woman living with HIV and as a health activist holds different national and international advisory roles. Her recently completed dissertation critiques and challenges knowledge production at the research level, and asks important questions about who is and is not involved in research that aims to uplift and support at-risk and marginalised communities. --- We explore the problematising of Blackness, the laziness of those who call Black and other marginalised communities hard to reach and how top-down approaches to health research, that do not contextualise lived experiences, limit the success of interventions and can even cost lives. She believes health researchers, medical practitioners and funding bodies should be ethically engaging communities in the shaping, delivery and involvement of healthcare initiatives. --- We open with Bakita’s reading of her poem, Numbers Game. --- Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how
16/05/202059 minutes 52 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Charity So White

In a powerhouse TedTalk, The Problem with Race-based Medicine, social justice advocate and law scholar Dorothy E Roberts says: “Race is not a biological category that naturally produces health disparities because of genetic difference. Race is a social category that has staggering biological consequences, but because of the impact of social inequality on people's health.” The novel coronavirus, COVID19, is not racist. It is a highly contagious virus that moves with ease from person-to-person and which takes advantage of compromised immune systems. COVID19 is hitting Black and Minority Ethnic communities the hardest because of racism. As long as medical institutions, scientists, researchers and the public continue to ignore the institutionalised, structural and everyday racism that makes us vulnerable to ill health in the first place, our communities will continue to be disproportionately impacted - as we have been historically - time and time again. Today, I’m in conversation with Cami
25/04/202052 minutes 7 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Ben Hurst

In countries like England, where young Black boys - irregardless of sexuality - are disproportionately impacted by school exclusions, where the prison population is full of Black men and where mental health services for Black people are increasingly rare, how are we as queer Black people and queer people of colour acknowledging and showing solidarity with our presumably heterosexual Black brothers? Cathy J. Cohen’s seminal essay “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens” cautions us against a queer politics that does not include those whose sexuality may be different to ours. She writes, “My concern is centred on those individuals who consistently activate only one characteristic of their identity, or a single perspective of consciousness, to organise their politics, rejecting any recognition of the multiple and intersecting systems of power that largely dictate our life chances.” And so my conversation today is with Ben Hurst, who is doing transformative work with men and boys around the
11/04/202055 minutes 19 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Moud Goba

On the 26th of March, Frances Webber, the Vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations’ Council of Management and a former barrister specialising in immigration, and refugee and human rights law, wrote of the self-isolation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19: “Those without homes or privacy cannot distance or self-isolate; nor can they observe strict hygiene, without access to hot water and soap. For homeless people in night shelters or on the streets, for prisoners and immigration detainees sharing overcrowded cells or rooms, toilets and communal canteens, and for asylum seekers living in destitution there is no escape from the infection.” Today, I’m in conversation with Moud Goba of Micro Rainbow, the charity working in service of LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. From a culture of disbelief at the Home Office to having to survive on £37 per week, Moud takes us through the many hurdles our LGBTQ siblings encounter when they come to England seeking refuge. Moud dis
04/04/202051 minutes 55 seconds
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Lady Phyll and a Busload of Black Lesbians

When Lady Phyll and a busload of Black lesbians travelled down to Southend-on-Sea in 2005, they couldn't have imagined what UK Black Pride would become. I called Lady Phyll, the executive director and co-founder of UK Black Pride, to understand how she's feeling after the recent announcement that UK Black Pride 2020 is postponed. -- @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives, If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe; doing so lets others like us hear the voices amplified here. #busybeingblack Thank you to our partners, UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK and our newest partner, Schools Out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/03/202021 minutes 58 seconds
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Theory in the Flesh with Professor Rusi Jaspal

Much is researched, written and said about sexual racism in our communities. "No Blacks, no fats, no femmes, no Asians" are all terms any of us who’ve used dating apps have seen and those of us caught in the racist, fat- and femme-phobic crosshairs, we feel the pain acutely. My guest today, Professor Rusi Jaspal, is finding that what has become an ostensibly casual digital discrimination has real world implications on the lives of those that discrimination impacts. Professor Rusi Jaspal began his research career trying to understand how British Pakistani Muslim men reconcile their religion and their sexuality, and has since gone on to lead the way in the UK on research specific to the lives of LGB BAME people. Professor Jaspal is truly unmatched, both in the scope of his research and the depth of his understanding of what it means to live - and oftentimes be invisible - as queer people of colour in Britain. Among much else, his research finds that Black and Minority Ethnic men who have
26/03/20201 hour 25 seconds
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What's Wrong, What's Worse?

After our conversation on stage at OUTing the Past exploring queer Black histories, Sea Sharp and I took a walk through the countryside to continue our conversation. I had a particular question about themes in their work that speak to a desire for invisibility, but as we approached a group of fenced-in and curious cows, our conversation took quite a turn. -- @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe; doing so lets others like us hear the voices amplified here. #busybeingblack Thank you to our partners, UK Black Pride, BlackOut UK and our newest partner, Schools Out". -- OUTing the Past: The International Festivals of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History is an international celebration through a series of events throughout the year and around the world, and a conference and gathering for academics and activists once a year in February. Learn more about
22/02/202017 minutes 27 seconds
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Sea Sharp: Black Cotton

In their poem Misogynoir, Sea Sharp writes, Maybe mama knows I’d rather burn my leather / than wear it another day for her, would rather / slice this skin in slivers, rip off my flesh like a grapefruit peel. In this poem, which explores a contentious relationship between mother and child, between Black skin and freedom, Sea touches upon one of the profound conflicts queer Black people can contend with when confronted with the trumpeting of the importance of coming out and LGBTQ pride: telling the world we’re queer hardly helps us if we don’t even want to live in our Black skin. Sea Sharp is a Pushcart Prize-winning poet whose latest collection of poems, Black Cotton, is a powerful interrogation and soaring exploration of the wild and vast interior of a queer Black person coming to terms with their identity, sexuality and race, against a backdrop of rural Kansas and south England. Sea’s work is emotionally-charged, confrontational and humorous, gut-wrenching and healing - all at the sam
22/02/202045 minutes 59 seconds
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Did You Know You Were Marrying a Black Man?

In my conversation with Chantelle Lewis, she shares with us some of the initial findings in her doctoral research into Black mixed race families in the midlands. I thought it a great opportunity to sit down with my mum, Josephine, to find out more about her experience married to a Black man and raising mixed race children. She discusses her first encounters with racism, the moment she realised what her children would contend with and the parallel journeys we've been on to understand our responsibilities in the world more fully. -- @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe; doing so lets others like us hear the voices amplified here. #busybeingblack Thank you to our partners, UK Black Pride and BlackOut UK. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/02/202014 minutes 36 seconds
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Chantelle Lewis: De-essentialising Mixed Race

How do we have more nuanced conversations about being mixed race that account for more than an internal struggle with the binary Black and white? Chantelle Lewis is an activist, researcher, sociologist and podcaster based at Goldsmiths – and this her beat. Chantelle’s work is focused on structural racism, accountability, and class inequality and her doctoral research explores Black mixed race families in a predominantly white town in the Midlands. She takes us through some of the initial findings in her research, including how a lack of racial literacy in these families results in children who don’t speak about the racism they encounter in the world. We discuss what led her to this research, what she’s learned about how she navigates the world as a mixed-Black woman and names the people and comrades who have helped expand her understanding and her scholarship. She says that we must look beyond our individual identities to understand what our mixed-race identities afford us, what our pr
08/02/20201 hour 2 minutes 7 seconds
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Liv Little: Unafraid to Love

Liv Little is the founder and tour-de-force behind gal-dem, an online and print magazine written by women of colour and non-binary people of colour for all to explore. Today we’re in conversation to discuss the genesis of gal-dem and how she’s learned to separate herself from the business she’s built. We explore how gal-dem is helping women and non-binary people of colour navigate our fraught political moment, and why she and the team at gal-dem published I Will Not Be Erased, a project offering words of wisdom to their teenage selves. Liv discusses baking, feeding people she cares for and falling in love with writing again, and how she stays focused on gal-dem’s ultimate mission of revolutionising the publishing industry. She also discusses living life unafraid to love, and how she’s unlocked the little box she put away when she was sixteen after having her heart broken. -- @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what
25/01/202049 minutes 56 seconds
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Rav Bansal: Encountering My Divine

Today’s conversation with Rav Bansal is a beautiful exploration of the private and public considerations we make on our journeys of self-acceptance and self-love, and what it can mean for ourselves and the communities we represent if we decide to come out. Rav is a baker and broadcaster who rose to fame as a contestant on Great British Bake Off in 2016. In June of this year, he came out publicly, after years of questioning and exploring who he is, what he believes and what he wants to achieve in the world. Rav discusses his parents’ reaction to his coming out, the incredible emotional support he received from his sister, and why he decided to share himself with the world. We explore the role Sikhism has played in his life and his outlook, his work with the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and why he’s embarked on his newest broadcasting venture, Do You Wear That in the Shower?, a podcast where he and his guests challenge some of the widely held myths and misconceptions about Sikhs
23/11/201957 minutes 15 seconds
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PJ Samuels: Black She

PJ Samuels is a poet, educator and LGBTQ human rights activist whose work interrogates issues of race, gender, patriarchy, identity and belonging. I first encountered her searing, moving and beautiful poetry in the Sista! Anthology, a collection of essays and poetry from women-loving-women of African and Caribbean descent. She is an emotional and intellectual force. Today, we discuss her relationship to God and with Christianity and the way both religion and Blackness have historically been weaponised against Black people. She elaborates on her refusal to make her life and her Blackness performative, and how she does this through a tenacious yet gentle pursuit of joy. She takes us back to her origins in rural Jamaica, how her experience as a refugee made her reevaluate all of her relationships, how she remembers to engage her wonder and her curiosity, and her thoughts on roots, freedom and love.This conversation is big and it is beautiful. There are some long pauses throughout this con
04/11/20191 hour 15 seconds
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Jeffrey Williams: Pilgrimage

Few people have touched my soul as tenderly as Jeffrey Williams. From late-night cross-continental FaceTimes to voice notes full of support and encouragement, the friendship Jeffrey and I have cultivated is a testament to the very real connections that can form across cyberspace. Jeffrey Williams is a designer, stylist and creative director whose visions of beauty are made manifest most regularly on the bodies of musical duo Lion Babe. We begin our conversation with Jeffrey’s memories of childhood and late mother — a person Jeffrey describes as a beautiful, kind woman who helped Jeffrey understand how to listen and love. We discuss Jeffrey’s life-changing years in Italy, embracing our fears, the mantras Jeffrey uses to survive and, of course, spirituality, creativity and finding beauty within ourselves and in the world. Jeffrey is a spiritual and beautiful wonder in a world in desperate need of more people like Jeffrey.  This conversation was recorded in New York City during World Prid
19/10/201950 minutes 27 seconds
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Repeat Beat Poet: For Coloured Boys

Hip-hop is a cultural touchstone both misunderstood and rightly held to task for misogyny, homophobia and sexism, but are the problems of hip-hop reflective of issues in society at large and what space is there for queerness in hip-hop? Today, I’m joined by Peter “PJ” Johnson, more widely known as the Repeat Beat Poet, for a discussion exploring hip-hop’s radical roots, the queering of the genre and how hip-hop has allowed, in the past and the present, a confrontation with expressions of Blackness that have historically been (and continue to be) policed. We explore where and how PJ finds inclusivity in hip-hop, reckoning with the many valid criticisms of the genre, the capitalist interest fuelling the continued and remarkable growth of the art form, hip-hop’s political importance and finding freedom for people to speak. We also explore poetry as a vehicle of investigation and archiving, echo chambers and moving away from an implicit heterosexuality. — — Peter “PJ” Johnson is the Repeat
12/10/201957 minutes 31 seconds
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Live: Josh Rivers and Campbell X at London Podcast Festival 2019

In this conversation recorded at London Podcast Festival 2019, Busy Being Black's creator and host, Josh Rivers, is interviewed by celebrated filmmaker Campbell X. Together they explore nationhood, identity, diaspora, masculinity, Josh's short-lived role as the first Black editor of Gay Times, calling out and calling in, healing, love and joy. — — @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe, doing so lets others like us hear the voices amplified here. #busybeingblack — —  Thank you to our partners, UK Black Pride and BlackOut UK. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/10/20191 hour 3 minutes 34 seconds
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Fran Tirado: Content Across Differences

It was my encounter with Hello Mr in 2016, the magazine about men who date men, that inspired me to throw my hat into the LGBTQ media ring; for the first time, I saw what was possible and I was hooked. I turned to the masthead, saw Fran Tirado’s name and emailed him. We connected, we bonded and he’s since become one of my friends and queeroes.  In this conversation, Fran and I discuss the ever-evolving landscape of LGBTQ media, the end of white twink idolatry, enjoying your own company, working in service of a greater purpose and extending and expanding the modern queer cultural canon. We recorded this conversation in New York City during World Pride 2019. Thank you to the team at Acast NYC for all your help. — — Fran Tirado is the former executive editor of Hello Mr and the former deputy editor of Out. He’s the co-creator of Food4Thot, co-host of Queerly Beloved and has recently started his new role at Netflix where he leads the brand’s editorial and engagement strategy for LGBTQ cont
28/09/201951 minutes 50 seconds
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Kadian Pow: Embodied Experiences

It was her love of blogging about Scandal that led my guest today into a rabbit hole of doctoral research in “Black women’s fandoms and the intersectionality of TV discourse.” Kadian Pow is a student, teacher, intellectual and entrepreneur born in Jamaica, raised in the US and transplanted to the UK, whose life has been one of seeking out and exploring community both online and off. Her research and teaching interests include intersectionality, the sociology of Blackness, Black feminism and pop culture and, as regular listeners will have already guessed, this enlightening, enriching and energising conversation hits every single one of those points. We also discuss her views on living and loving in interracial relationships, the emotional labour of teaching the embodied experience and the genesis of her beauty and haircare brand, Bourn Beautiful Naturals. — — @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't c
03/08/20191 hour 2 minutes 9 seconds
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Linda Devo: Creating Myself

From her beginnings in Ghana to coming of age in south London, Linda Devo’s life has been one of encountering, exploring and constantly creating who she is. Alongside being a mother, artist and an out and proud dyke (her word), she’s also the founder of Kiki, a club night and conversation for QTIPOC in Bristol. We explore the positive results of owning your intentions and desires, expressing her identity through her art practice and the assertiveness that comes in middle-life. We also discuss her affinity with Nichiren Buddhism, her decision to take herself out of London, and what she thinks we need to do as a community to move forward together towards a future we deserve. — —  Linda Devo is an artist, mentor, mother and teacher who founded Kiki, a club night and conversation for LGBTQ people of colour in Bristol.  — —  @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the
22/06/201958 minutes 50 seconds
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Jason Jones: Walking Tall

I was on a bustling street in Soho, hugging my friend Liam as he cried with joy after hearing that Trinidad and Tobago’s highest court had just ruled that sections of the Sexual Offences Act were unconstitutional. For Liam, it was a moment that couldn’t come soon enough. Like many, his family encouraged him to move away from Trinidad so he could live as himself. Today, I’m in conversation with Jason Jones, the intrepid activist who filed the historic lawsuit in the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago, and who successfully challenged the constitutionality of Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act.  We begin our conversation at the moment Liam and I read the ruling and wind through Jason’s fascinating and globe-trotting life. From singing Neil Diamond on the beach with Nina Simone to changing homophobic laws across two continents, Jason Jones is living proof of how the world can change when even just one of us recognises our inherent potential and value and when we embark on future-
08/06/20191 hour 4 minutes 43 seconds
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Seyi Newell: Ecosystem of Change

Seyi Newell is the effervescent and dynamic founder of Tribe, an organisation dedicated to helping Black women explore, excel and thrive in everything they put their minds to. She founded Tribe because she was angry at the very visible lack of inclusion in the spaces she was invited to and after her mentor told her she should do something about it.  Seyi is a delight. We discuss imposter syndrome, defining success for ourselves and understanding the role we each play in what she calls the ecosystem of change. We also discuss how she process the pain she encounters through her work, her thoughts on self-love as a combatant for shame and how she helps Black women take up the space they deserve to occupy in this world.  —  @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn’t cost any money; your retweets, ratings, reviews, shares and feedback all help, so please keep it all coming #busybeingblack Of course, if you
18/05/201950 minutes 41 seconds
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Sandy Pianim: Queer, Black and Kinky

This episode contains strong and suggestive language. — —  Sandy Pianim is the brand director of Recon, a platform for men and their fetishes, and he’s been on a journey over the past five years to help make Recon a more representative and inclusive platform for men of colour. We discuss the moment the ball-gag dropped and he realised the impact of his work, cleansing his sexual aura and fetish as an opportunity to connect socially with other men in ways that don't always end up with sex. We talk about the ongoing conversations around consent, the central role that communication plays in fetish and using our kinks as a way of understanding ourselves and exploring our capacity for intimacy. — —  @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any money; your retweets, ratings, reviews, shares and feedback all help, so please keep it all coming #busybeingblack Of course, if you want to and have the means
03/05/20191 hour 3 minutes 10 seconds
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Seyi Akiwowo: Fix the Glitch

Research conducted by the European Women’s Lobby to better understand online abuse uncovered some startling, if not entirely unsurprising, statistics:  In Europe, 9 million girls have experienced some kind of cyber violence by the time they are 15 years old; and despite the rapidly growing number of women experiencing online violence, only 26 percent of law enforcement agencies in the 86 countries surveyed are taking appropriate action. Seyi Akiwowo is working hard to change that. She first came to international attention when a video of her calling for reparations at the European Parliament Youth event in 2016 went viral. But more than the content of her speech, it was the torrent of racist and sexist abuse she received that became the focus of media attention. She says that in that moment she had the choice to fight or run. She chose to fight. In the weeks that followed, she founded Glitch — a not-for-profit to end online abuse — and became the very visible face to an emerging and im
24/04/20191 hour 2 minutes 26 seconds
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Alexander Leon: Bridging the Divide

Alexander Leon is a rising star in the community and his new YouTube channel is a Godsend. His searing yet bubbly takes on LGBTQ life are a welcome counter to the often toxic conversations we hear in the media and he is such a fabulous example of what happens when we lean into ourselves. Today, we explore how he navigates his mixed-race identity, what he feels is his role as a mediator between cultures, ideas and beliefs and how he’d like the conversation around the mental health crisis in the LGBTQ community to change. Importantly, he calls us to consider how we create space for different approaches to a common problem because what we may consider divergent approaches to our activism are perhaps more complementary than we think. As you do when you’re chatting with friends, our conversation takes a few tangents, including into a discussion about Louis de Berniere’s magical realism trilogy and the celebration of mestizos in Colombia. —— Head over to Alex's YouTube channel, where you can
20/04/201953 minutes 37 seconds
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Amber Hikes: Eight-Stripe Hustle

When the city of Philadelphia announced in 2017 that they'd adopted a rainbow flag that included black and brown stripes, they ignited a global debate. Many of us finally felt seen. Others felt the international symbol of pride had somehow been ruined. But the adoption of this flag is the result of what my guest today calls a 30 year conversation. Amber Hikes is the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia and she leads the team that initiated the move to a more inclusive flag. She says the eight-stripe flag is a way of demonstrating the city’s commitment to tackling inequality, discrimination and racism within the LGBTQ community. At the Mayor’s office for a city that is 44% Black, Amber fights for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community. From advocating for anti-discrimination legislation at the municipal level to the launch of a citywide LGBTQ Community Conversations initiative, she helps facilitate local and internatio
07/04/20191 hour 4 minutes 15 seconds
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Marcus Daniel: Media Diversified

Media Diversified was established in 2013 to help change the conversation in the media and foreground the voices of writers of colour. Media Diversified is a powerhouse: two books, Bare Lit Festival, the Jhalak Prize and a newly appointed editor-in-chief, Marcus Daniel. Marcus joins me in conversation today to discuss combating the overwhelming negativity of the British media, creating space to amplify Black voices and reclaiming our time from racism. We also touch upon his view of what it does and doesn’t mean to be mixed race, the formative impact of queer Black social groups and what he hopes to achieve at the helm of one of the most important media platforms in the world.  —— Marcus Daniel is the editor-in-chief of Media Diversified — a non-profit organisation working to enrich, engage and improve the UK's media landscape. The organisation was founded in 2013 with a mission to challenge the homogeneity of voices in UK media, through addressing the under-representation of minority c
09/03/201954 minutes 32 seconds
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Dylema: When I Named Myself, I Became a Poet

Poet and singer Dylema says she became aware very early on that she would be unhappy trying to live up to the patriarchal expectations put upon her. She’s since been on a journey in pursuit of her freedom. From changing her name to coming out to her mother, Dylema says that finding herself, understanding who she is and what she wants has been the key to finding peace and living fully in her truth. We explore why changing her name allowed her to imprint herself on Igbo culture, how she helps others flip their pain into poetry through The Pancake Business, her ever-evolving and expanding ideas of what it means to be a feminist, her mother’s reaction to her coming out and the practical steps she’s taking to be true to herself. — —  Dylema is a singer and poet, founder of both The Dylema Collective and The Pancake Business, and the creator and host of the newly-launched podcast, What If a Black Girl Knew.  This episode features clips of The Dylema Collective performing Knight for Tonight a
09/02/201949 minutes 56 seconds
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Ben Ellis: Pansies

Today’s conversation will be triggering for some. What follows is a candid discussion which touches upon mental health, suicide, sexual violence and conversion therapy. Please listen with care. Included in this episode’s show notes are links to UK-based charities and services for each of the sensitive topics discussed.  Ben Ellis describes himself as a belligerent queer Black man. He's a poet who writes about survival, Blackness, Queerness, fuck boys and the layers of our identity, layers that he says are impermanent, transient parts of ourselves that we sometimes shed throughout our life.  We explore the emotional cost of his poetry, surviving conversion therapy, his ongoing battle with his mental health, religious trauma syndrome and the journey he’s on to use his pain to help prevent or alleviate the pain of others like him. But, as is so often the case when we come together to share the deepest parts of ourselves, this vulnerable and raw conversation is punctuated with so much laug
02/02/201949 minutes 10 seconds
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Patrick Vernon OBE: Museum of Grooves

When it comes to British national treasures, Patrick Vernon OBE is high up on the list. An activist, historian, former politician and cultural curator whose work spans decades, he’s one of the Black Britons who has been instrumental in uncovering a Black British identity. From fighting against systemic and societal inequalities to his Afrofuturistic exploration aboard the SS Sankofa on his podcast Museum of Grooves, Patrick’s continuing impact is felt wide and far. Today, we discuss his formative beginnings as an activist, the enduring impact of Enoch Powell’s 'Rivers of Blood' speech, why Afrofuturism is a tool to better agitate for our future today and the many manifestations of our activism: he says activism is not just protesting and lobbying; it’s also the visionary and creative reimagining of our lives. —— Patrick Vernon OBE is an activist, creator, historian and agitator for justice whose podcast, Museum of Grooves, is a must-listen. This episode features David Lammy's electrify
26/01/201951 minutes 5 seconds
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Alex Reads: Healing Is the Only Option

Today, I’m in conversation with Alex Reads, host of the award-winning podcast Mostly Lit and of his own and new show, What Matters. In all of his work, Alex demonstrates his capacity for a deep and searching self-reflection, that most vital of exercises in living a good and fulsome life. What I perhaps love most about Alex is his ability to help us in holding up a mirror to ourselves, to understand better who we are, what we want and where we’re going. In a searching and probing conversation, we discuss whether (and how) we exist outside of our Blackness, the meaning of life and the vital and ongoing healing work necessary to ensure our happiness.  ——  Alex Reads is the podcaster, writer and content creator behind What Matters and Mostly Lit. —— @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn’t cost any money; your retweets, ratings, reviews, shares and feedback all help, so please keep it all coming #busybei
20/01/201950 minutes 37 seconds
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Jean Lloyd: Emancipating the Human Spirit

We all have those voices in our head that hold us back. The voices that tell us our past precludes our future, that too much has happened or that we can’t make a difference. But we all have those voices that dream and imagine the impossible and that provoke and encourage us to create the world we want to live in.  Jean Lloyd, the communications provocateur, invites us to focus on and nurture those positive voices and to remember that language is a tool used to create, not destroy. The conversations we have with ourselves, whether self-defeating or emboldening, shape the world around us. Jean is a communications master who has spent her life deeply committed to the emancipation of the human spirit, and she suggests that reaching our goals and surviving and thriving in the world really all comes down to communication.  To start the year, we explore the difference between talking and communication; forgiveness and making peace with unanswered questions and missing apologies; the urgent, i
01/01/20191 hour 1 minute 24 seconds
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John Amaechi OBE: Everyday Jedi

John Amaechi OBE is a respected organisational psychologist, best-selling New York Times author and CEO of Amaechi Performance Systems a consultancy that partners with organisations to help leaders move from being transactional to transformational — he’s also an openly gay Black man. Praise be! Today, we talk about his love of libraries, why the LGBTQ community isn’t really a community after all, the attendant anger that comes with any awakening, his take on the Golden Rule, why it's a good thing for Black people to achieve success within The System and the moment he realised he could be a Jedi.  ---- “The Golden Rule is actually the Narcissist’s Charter. I never treat people how I want to be treated because I want to be left alone with wine. The best charter is the one where we treat people the way they need to be treated.” "Being in the system is powerful because it shows that there are pathways for being ordinary and successful — and the narrative for Black people is if you’re not e
09/12/201859 minutes 18 seconds
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Otamere Guobadia: No Redemption in Masculinity

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I believe it, Otamere Guobadia is the James Baldwin of our generation. His writing is searing, prescient and beautiful, striking at the heart of issues we battle with everyday. He’s also a friend and confidant and I hold him in high esteem and so understand my estimations of him may sound grandiose. We discuss the taxonomies of magic, the violence of compromise, misremembering our pasts, hypermasculinity, the boundaries of our queerness and hope, love, romance and beauty. ---- @otamere is a writer whose work is published regularly on international platforms like Dazed, i-D, them and Huck. Links to some of my favourite pieces are below: Black Queer and Under Scrutiny Lady Phyll and Kimberle Crenshaw Talk Intersectionality, Solidarity and Self-care Gay Nightlife's Violent Femmephobia Needs to End ---- @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any mo
10/11/201851 minutes 8 seconds
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Campbell X: Visible

Today, I’m in conversation with another of our queer Black icons, Campbell X. He’s an award-winning filmmaker whose work often explores queer masculinity and desire, and our conversation covers everything from understanding ourselves away from the white gaze (and gays) to the importance of exploring our own desires, the dominant lenses through which we see the world and ourselves, and the never-ending importance of seeking out intergenerational connections. Our conversation takes place at the tail end of Black History Month in the UK and so we explore the cynicism and performative nature of the month, in political and social climates that make us question our place in this country’s past, present and future: “We feel we have to prove that we belong in Britain. We don’t have to prove anything. What we have to do is feel entitled to claim that right. We have the right to be here because we built this.” ---- @campbellX is an award-winning filmmaker who’s debut feature film, Stud Life, bec
28/10/20181 hour 18 minutes 13 seconds
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Kelechi Okafor: Go Back to the Source

Kelechi Okafor is a fitness guru, a personal trainer, womanist, twerk innovator and pole dance instructor whose podcast Say Your Mind is one of the most hilarious, delightful and enlightening podcasts I listen to. I came into our conversation thinking I’d get the Kelechi we see on social media. The Kelechi who tells people to get a straw to suck their mum, the one who calls out caucasity when she sees it and who’s built a following and a brand not giving two sh*ts if people think she’s an angry black woman. Instead, our conversation is a deep-dive into the spiritual and the numinous, of those from the physical and psychic worlds who help guide her everyday. We also go deep into experiences that have had traumatic effects and how she’s come out of and through them a stronger, wiser, more formidable and more compassionate woman. "The titles that you're forcing on my head aren't ones I've chosen for myself." @kelechnekoff —— @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how w
06/10/20181 hour 1 minute 27 seconds
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Christania: Build Your Own Table

Today, I’m in conversation with Christania, the editor and chief of queer Black online magazine AZ Mag. Together with a small group of queer Black women, Christania set up AZ mag because she didn’t see herself reflected in mainstream LGBTQ media. AZ Mag is a triumph and what Christania has helped create is a much-needed and remarkable platform that is bringing together the queer Black community in the UK. Like so many of us, though, this isn’t the only thing she does. Christania is launching Qmmunity Pod, a podcast exploring the past, present and future of the LGBTQ community. Today, we discuss her thoughts on the damaging effects of comparing ourselves to others, how she’s breaking free from self-policing, what she’s learned building her own business and what she tells herself everyday. @dereshacm @azmaguk @qmmunitypod —— Our queer Black brother, Adam Lambert, has his debut performance on Friday 9 November at Canada Water Theatre. Let's go support:
22/09/20181 hour 1 minute 27 seconds
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FKA: Too Black, Too White

FKA is a globe-trotting drag superstar. Raised in the cradle of boarding schools in middle England, their subsequent education in the ways of the world, and how their race informs their work, has been a source of considerable growth and introspection. From understanding their Blackness in its proximity to whiteness, to the role mixed race kids play at the intersection of colliding cultures, FKA’s life and work is one of straddling two often opposing sides. Alongside drag as art and how FKA has learned to thrive in their gender fluidity, we dive into sex, drugs and desire; the validation we’ve sought in the arms and beds of white men; and what they’ve learned about the importance of loving other Black folk.  In figuring out their own place in a white gay world, one that relies so heavily on objectifying tropes and transactional attitudes, FKA asks themself and others this: is your body supposed to be enough? @allaboutfka Beats by FKA —— @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we
08/09/201859 minutes 12 seconds
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Shahmir Sanni: The Whistleblower

Shahmir Sanni was thrust into the international spotlight after blowing the whistle on Vote Leave’s law-breaking during the EU referendum. Shortly after the story broke in the Guardian, he was outed by Number 10 — thus putting in jeopardy the lives of his family back in Pakistan, his own mental and emotional health and his future. But like so many queer people of colour, Shahmir is resilient and brave. And while he’s been wounded and bruised, he’s certainly not been deterred. Today, we discuss his motivations for joining the Vote Leave campaign, the far-reaching implications of his public outing, why surrounding himself with queer people of colour is helping him heal and his hopes for his future and ours. Over the course of our conversation, I was so thoroughly impressed with Shahmir’s tenacity. Doing the right thing is often not the easy road, and he certainly could have stayed quiet and saved himself a great deal of pain — but he didn’t. Shahmir believes in democracy, in people and t
25/08/201855 minutes 46 seconds
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Dr Kehinde Andrews: Black Radicalism for the 21st Century

As I tore through Dr Kehinde Andrew’s new book, Back to Black, scribbling in the margins and highlighting passage after passage, I felt within me the fire I first felt reading Malcolm X and James Baldwin. In Back to Black, Dr Andrews calls us to revisit and reimagine the Black radicalism of yesteryear -- a Black radicalism that is too often conflated with cultural nationalism. My main question after reading the book was this: how do queer Black people adopt a Black radicalism that was historically exclusive and patriarchal? Indeed, after reading Back to Back, I immediately picked up bell hooks’ Ain’t I A Woman. In it she says this: “From their writings and speeches it is clear that most Black political activists of the 60s saw the Black liberation movement as a move to gain recognition and support for an emerging Black patriarchy.” But Dr Andrews reminds us that many of the leaders we lionise weren’t actually Black radicals and asks us to ask ourselves and each other whether the ide
18/08/20181 hour 1 minute 36 seconds
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Travis Alabanza: Black Bones and Cycles

Travis Alabanza is an electrifying talent and one of the most prominent and emergent queer voices in the crossover of arts and politics. They've performed at the Tate, had their poetry published on highly-regarded platforms and tours their work internationally, but their work runs deeper than the places they perform because their work comes from a place of searing honesty. Among much else, Travis and I discuss the overlapping oppressions of trans and Black bodies, the role of performance in survival and why they sometimes lean into parodies of themself when navigating white institutions. Travis opens our conversation with "Black Bones and Cycles" and closes with "Pride". Find out more about Travis at Travis performs with ALOK and Malik Nashad Sharpe on 17 August at Hackney Showroom: @travisalabanza Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. You can support this podcast by leaving a rat
25/07/20181 hour 7 minutes 51 seconds
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Reverend Jide Macaulay: House of Rainbow

Reverend Jide Macaulay is the theologian and spiritual leader behind the House of Rainbow, a welcoming and affirming community for LGBTQ people and our allies alike to join in the celebration of their faith. Reconciling our sexuality and our faith, though, is hard work. I, like many, spent years praying the gay away and have only just begun the long journey towards forgiveness. We discuss the misinterpretation of the Word, his own journey towards reconciliation and his message for those of us who have been harmed, emotionally and physically, at the hands of those who weaponised God's words against us. He argues that reconciliation is possible, but to do so, we have to let go: let go of the beliefs we internalised about who we are; let go of the pain that prevents us from rekindling our relationship to God; and let go of words God never said himself. @RevJide and the @HouseofRainbow are committed to helping LGBTQ people reconcile their faith and their sexuality and to leading a light-f
15/07/201859 minutes 37 seconds
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Lady Phyll: Mother of the Movement

At one of the lowest moments of my life, Lady Phyll reached out, literally held me and helped nurse me back to life. She's well-known as the co-founder and executive director of UK Black Pride and for turning down an MBE from the Queen in 2016 in protest of this country's colonial legacy. She is a mother, activist, lover, mentor and icon to many and her life is best described in her own words. We speak at length on resilience, rebellion and protest; the tender woman behind the activist; and what hopes she has for her daughter, for UK Black Pride and for all of us. Finding My Way Back Home Lessons We Learn From Our Sisters — — UK Black Pride is Europe's largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent. UK Black Pride 2019 takes place on Sunday 7 July in Haggerston Park. — — @_busybeingblack is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any money; your retweet
01/07/20181 hour 16 minutes 9 seconds
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Phil Samba: I Am Not a Stereotype

At just 28, Phil Samba is already a legend. When he writes, we read and when he speaks, we listen. His openness about both his sexuality and his sexual health means he’s often inundated by other young Black men who want to know more about him — how he’s cultivated his openness, how he’s come out and how he’s become the young man he is. Phil is already miles beyond where I was at 28 and sitting in conversation with him reveals a man who is leaning into his greatness. We speak on our relationships with our parents, the role education and representation plays in preventing homophobic beliefs taking hold — even within ourselves — and finding our strength outside of the prescribed strength tropes so closely associated to Black people. I highly recommend you follow Phil Samba on Twitter: @idiosyncraticXL Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any money. Leave a rating and a review and follow us on
25/06/20181 hour 7 minutes 53 seconds
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Tobi Kyeremetang: Permission

Tobi Kyeremateng is a theatre, festivals and live performance producer who focuses on carving out space for young black people in theatre. After seeing her first West End show, Wicked, she says she was in awe, but having not seen any Black people on the stage, didn’t walk way feeling like she belonged in that space. She’s since used her life experience and her passion for the arts to show young black people that their stories and talents do belong in spaces like the west end, even when they’re not readily represented there.  When I asked her what she most wants people to take away from our conversation, she said this: “Sooner or later, we'll come to realise that nothing really matters besides the way we feel about ourselves. At the end of it all, everything we do, everything we take in that nourishes us, and everything we stand for, has to result in us being truly happy.” Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of ou
22/05/201853 minutes 40 seconds
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Dean Atta: Black Flamingo

Dean Atta is one of my favourite poets, and one whose work has been commissioned by esteemed organisations throughout the UK, including the Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, and Tate Modern. His work is so deeply rooted in his experience as a gay Black man and through it, he tussles with, or extols the virtues of, what it means to live and love and survive while Black.  Throughout our conversation, we cover mental and emotional health, our often regrettable behaviour on datings apps, what death taught him about living his own life more fully, and how he’s learned to love himself — that most Herculean of feats for so many of us. Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any money -- please rate, review and share Busy Being Black. Be sure to follow us on social media and join the conversation:
14/05/201859 minutes 10 seconds
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Lili Ming and Kenny Jones: Transparency

Today, I’m in conversation with Lili Ming and Kenny Jones, founders of Transparency, a new video platform centring trans people and their experiences. Drawing from their own transitions, Lili and Kenny have created Transparency to speak to the multiplicities of the trans experience, and as a place where life-saving information and first-person advice is available for those who need it. Our conversation is filled with so much honesty and many hard truths, but it’s also filled so much joy and so much laughter. Among much else, LiLi and Kenny discuss measuring their personal success, defining their lives and their existence outside of societal norms, and how we own our responsibility to live in service of others. Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn't cost any money -- please rate, review and share Busy Being Black. Be sure to follow us on so
01/05/201854 minutes 41 seconds
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Topher Campbell: Fetish

Busy Being Black means we’re busy building our legacy. What can we create that answers the questions we have today and which provides a manual for those of tomorrow? Topher Campbell is a Jerwood Award-winning director of stage, television and film who creates generous works of art that allow us the space to see ourselves and draw our own conclusions about how we best make the most of our lives. Rukus! archive: Fetish preview: Invisible: A Raisin in the Sun: Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Supporting this podcast doesn’t cost any money — please rate, review and share Busy Being Black. Be sure to follow Busy Being Black on social media and join the conversation:
22/04/201852 minutes 34 seconds
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Micheal Rice: Black Diamonds in Ice Castles

This episode of Busy Being Black contains references to situations and substances some might find uncomfortable to listen to. Living in the fullness of our queer Black lives means learning to live in the messiness. This was a lesson I learned as I dealt with my emotional fallout after watching Micheal Rice’s documentary, #parTyboi. #parTyboi explores and exposes the crystal meth epidemic that is ravaging the queer Black community in the US, and the price we, as a community and as individuals, pay living beyond the margins. Micheal's documentary so clearly illuminates the spaces and places where black and white lives collide, and the attendant devastation that results from the purchase of Black bodies to satiate white desires. BlackOut, Team PrEPster and 56 Dean Street have launched a survey to find out how chemsex is affecting queer Black folk in Britain. #chemsexwhileblack Take the survey and spread the word: https://blkoutu
13/04/201844 minutes 12 seconds
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Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE: The Persistent Optimist

Busy Being Black means that those of us at the embattled intersections are often busy doing the life-giving work of loving ourselves a little bit harder. Throughout my conversation with the persistent optimist Rikki Beadle-Blair, I’m reminded of just how essential our point of view is. Are we able to look at our lives, at our selves, and see the beauty that abounds? Are we able to understand that our role on earth is to help move everybody forward? And if so, how much better and brighter is the day and the future for all of us? We speak on the AIDS epidemic, the loss of his life partner to suicide and how he maintains that contagious and effervescent optimism in the face of Trump, negativity and what feels like a growing global hopelessness. Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOut UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black
25/03/201856 minutes 44 seconds
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Marc Thompson: Possibility and Appropriation

Busy Being Black means the search for possibility and meaning in our lives is endless. In part two of my conversation with Marc Thompson, a gay Black elder, HIV activist and writer, we wax lyrical on everything from our favourite books to the role cultural appropriation can play in how we better understand and bump into our history. If you haven’t yet listened to our first conversation, I Have a Virus Older Than You, it’s a wonderful precursor to our chat today. Throughout this conversation, we’re a bit more profligate in our swearing, as the effect of our wine-guzzling takes hold. Busy Being Black is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOut UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/03/201852 minutes 43 seconds
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Marc Thompson: I Have a Virus Older Than You

Busy Being Black means we recognise we did not get here alone. Marc Thompson is a gay Black elder, an HIV activist and writer, and one of three founders of Black Out UK, a platform dedicated to amplifying the stories of gay Black men. In my first of two conversations with Marc, we discuss the gay Black experience in the 1980s, including the little known effects of the HIV crisis on our community. We also touch on the importance of intergenerational conversations, and our responsibility as a new generation of queer Black folk to pursue a connection with our elders, those who might better illuminate our path through the present. Busy Being Black is a podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOUt UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/03/201851 minutes 17 seconds
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Ryan Lanji: Hungama

Busy Being Black means cultivating a mindset that allows us to constantly embrace and celebrate cultures outside our own. Ryan Lanji, an art and fashion curator, was raised in Canada in a melting pot of cultures and realities that has left a lasting impression on how he sees and interacts with the world around him. His club night, Hungama, is named so for the Hindu word for chaos and bedlam — a word his mother used to describe the joy and revelry of big family gatherings. Indeed, it seems that so much of Ryan’s work centres around a collision of cultures that fosters a deeper cultural appreciation to help amplify our similarities. Busy Being Black is a podcast exploring how we thrive in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOut UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
03/03/201841 minutes 1 second
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Bisi Alimi: Angelic Troublemaker

Busy Being Black means we refuse to let wherever we come from define where or how far we will go in life. This is just one of the lessons I was reminded of in my conversation with Bisi Alimi, the activist and angelic troublemaker behind the Bisi Alimi Foundation. Bisi was born in Lagos in 1975 and came to international attention when he became the first ever person to come out on Nigerian television. His life since has been a veritable whirlwind, but as I learned in our conversation, the very moments that might have broken others became the moments in which he found his strength, an ability he believes lies within all of us. Busy Being Black is a podcast exploring how we thrive in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOut UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/03/201857 minutes 6 seconds
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A Statement of Intent

Busy Being Black is a podcast exploring how we thrive in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Thank you to our partners: UK Black Pride: BlackOut UK: Be sure to follow Busy Being Black: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/03/20185 minutes 30 seconds