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Verna Odoom
Thank you for coming. We basically are here to talk with Kya a little bit. If you did watch her Podbites. You saw her really, really strong story about the fact that she has a multimedia company where she is working on situations just like this about representation and about having people of color, blacks and other people of color as central characters. And her company is called RainbowMe Inc. and she is just really really an advocate of trying to figure out and create spaces where people of color are seen and so that is why we kind of... I invited Kya Of course. And then I had seen different stories about, with Naomi Osaka and just was a little disheartened about the rough time that she had been getting which is nothing new you know for for folks, but it really made me want to get together and talk about it. So Kya is there anything else that you want to say to introduce yourself? I would love to let you do that yourself.
Kya  8:52  
Okay, hi, everybody. I'm Kya. Can you hear me okay? 
Verna Odoom  8:56  
Yeah, you sound great. 
Kya  8:57  
Can you hear me okay?
Verna Odoom  8:58  
Yes. Sounds good. 
Kya  8:59  
Okay, okay. Great. Okay. Thank you for your invitation again, Verna. And yeah, you know, you you hit the nail on the head. Representation is the catalyst behind what what RainbowMe, Incorporated. RainbowMe Kids is about, especially for kids. Naomi Osaka saga. [I guess a good] way to say it is fairly recent of many that women of color, people of color, and definitely women of color, have to experience, and overcome in everyday life.
Verna Odoom  9:40  
Yeah. And I think I'm going to open... I'm going to invite you all up on the stage because it's a small room if other folks show up. You know, we'll just do what we do. But this is a recorded room, by the way. And so I'm going to just invite you up, feel free to come up. Hey, Robin, I'm inviting folks up. We're just kind of going to have a just a little bit of dialogue for a few minutes. Let me see. If I can invite and if you guys want to come up, that's great. And if you want to stay down there, you're free to do that and listen. Don't feel obligated to come up. But, we were just saying that this is recorded room, by the way, and I'm using it for the Podbites website, so that I'll be able to kind of extend some of the information. People will ask questions, or they'll send me a quick note, and I'm just like, you know what, you could hear more from this specific person about this thing. So as things come up, I just love coming to the space and having time to have more of an open conversation. And the rooms have gone from really flowing, you know, some rooms have been kind of quiet, where the, the guest is doing a lot of the talking, which is fine. So this room will become whatever it is, whatever it's meant to be. I just appreciate you all being here. And joining us. And again, Robin, just to catch you up. I know you already saw the episode, but Kya, of course, is here. She has a multimedia company that she owns, and that she started because she wanted to see more people of color as central characters. And I always talk about that, you know, in regard to even my children, I know Maika, or picture says Mrs. Maika has three girls. Angela, you have... Angie has to. and Robin has niece, you know, nephew. And so, you know, it's just one of those things that you really think about how people are able to feel good about themselves, you know, they're they're all sorts of, there's all sorts of marketing that goes on. And I think some people who are not affected, just don't get it. So some sometimes people say, Well, why is it important? You know, why is it important that we have this? Naomi Osaka Barbie? I'm like, are you? Are you kidding right now? I mean, I and for me, that's kind of where I sit in that I'm like, I think it's great that you have a cross section of Barbies, but somebody that the child who looks like, you know, Naomi, or looks like has brown skin can kind of have a good feeling like, Hey, you know, there's a doll that I might want to add to my little doll collection. I mean, I don't know. It just seems like there's such a push back with certain, I guess, groups of people. What do you think about that? 
Kya  12:18  
Oh, yeah, you know... 
Verna Odoom  12:31  
Your mic is breaking up. your mic is breaking up quite a bit Kya. If you can hear me I'm not sure. Can you try again? 
Kya  12:37  
Oh, no. 
Verna Odoom  12:40  
I can hear you now. 
Kya  12:40  
Can you hear me now.
Verna Odoom  12:41  
Yep, you sound good.
Kya  12:42  
Can you hear me okay, now?
Verna Odoom  13:19  
Kya  12:44  
Okay. Okay, sorry, I hadn't moved. I've tried to stay in one place, [where my signal's good.] But there's a there's a quote, and I said, I'm gonna misquote it, but it's essentially saying that when you're used to being at the center, when you're used to being you know, at the top, equality seems to be diminishing to you. And it's not, that's not what it is at all. It's just trying to give everyone a chance. So going back to what you were saying about? Why? I think your question was, why is it? Why do certain people not recognize the importance of diversity is essentially, what what you're saying.
Verna Odoom  13:35  
Mmhm. Yes.
Kya  13:36  
I think goes back to, I think it goes back to that, quote, if you're used to, if you're used to seeing just yourself,
Verna Odoom  13:44  
Kya  13:46  
you know, then you don't see any problem with you don't see the problem with with the status quo.
Verna Odoom  13:53  
Right, right.
Kya  13:54  
But now, all of a sudden, when we're just trying to get an opportunity to be seen,
Verna Odoom  13:59  
Kya  13:59  
it feels as though your center is being taken away from you. 
Verna Odoom  14:03  
Kya  14:03  
And I think that's what that's where that's where the antagonistic attitude arises from.
Verna Odoom  14:11  
I would think so you know, and as I just listened to folks, and I think about, like you said, if you're in the position that you don't have to think about this, then it becomes one of those things that you kind of poopoo off, you know, it's just kind of like, Oh, what, why are you all worried? Like, don't we... I even think of Black Lives Matter.
Kya  14:28  
Verna Odoom  14:28  
I know that when I spoke to you Kya, we were coming out of the, I think it was the verdict for the George Floyd case. And so as I sat there, you know, and people were like, Well, why is why do black lives? Of course, Well, yeah, but what about (other lives). And it's not that other lives don't matter. The point is that because there's been so long that there's just been this, I guess, just an ignoring, you know, just kind of like you said, just kind of. Since you. are in the majority. And since you are seeing yourself everywhere, you don't notice who else you're not seeing, and maybe you do, maybe you do notice that, but it's not very important to you. And that's the thing that's concerning.  
Kya  15:11  
Verna Odoom  15:11  
And it goes from the top to the bottom, it goes from the boardroom, it goes from, you know, the school system, it goes from, where are those circles, where we're able to go. people of color, and you are actually... 
Kya  15:25  
Verna Odoom  15:25  
We always talking about this table this table. I mean, do we build a new table? Because, you know, many times, if you're in a situation, and you're working at a company? And are you in a position to say, Well, I'm just going to do my own thing? So that's what you did Kya, you did your own thing.
Kya  15:40  
Right, right
Verna Odoom  15:40  
Is everybody in that position? And does everybody have an opportunity to do that? And if not, should we just be satisfied with what we get?
Kya  15:51  
So the simple answer is no, everybody is not going to have the opportunity to do that. Everybody's not gonna have the opportunity to build their own table, but I don't think you should be okay with what you're given either. We have a... that's tough that's tougher, because, you know, there are people, we still have a situation where, unfortunately, for the majority, especially like the larger corporations, larger companies, were at the bottom of the totem pole, they're still there's still a lack of leadership, that reflects a lot of times the people that work under them. 
Verna Odoom  16:40  
Kya  16:41  
And in companies, corporations if you, a lot of times requires kind of someone up top to be on your side, when there is a concern when you're trying to voice like hey. This is this is not, this is not equitable, or this is not fair for you know, for someone who was different than the person that looks at looks, that looks like the top person, right. But if you don't have anybody at the top that can help you. It becomes hard.
Verna Odoom  17:14  
Mmh Mmhm Mmhm Mmhm
Kya  17:14  
Right? Right? I mean, you have these, these leaders, and then sometimes too and I hear this a lot, a lot more than I wish I didn't, sometimes when there is somebody at the top it's one or two people, and they're not trying to ruffle feathers either.
Verna Odoom  17:31  
And that's where it gets complicated, because you're right. Sometimes when we get to that position, it's like you feel I guess, so... I hate to say fortunate 
Kya  17:40  
Verna Odoom  17:40  
or you feel so you just don't have the support. 
Kya  17:43  
Verna Odoom  17:43  
And so you're there and it's like, yes, I can't do but so much like I can't help you, man,
Kya  17:48  
Verna Odoom  17:49  
because I'm trying to stay afloat myself.
Kya  17:51  
Verna Odoom  17:51  
And that's, you know, that's an unfortunate situation to be and I wanted to let folks know as well, Kya, in addition to having that that company RainbowMe Incorporated. And RainbowMe kids. She also is an attorney. And she is in. She practices law at a law firm with her father and her sister. And you told me on Podbites about a situation that I thought was just... oh my gosh, I'm just like, Are you for real? But tell tell that situation? Again, we were talking about when you went into... you were working a case? Can you tell us about that?
Kya  18:28  
It was, I think a reference to just a case that we had with one of my first one of my first cases I had in front of a jury and opposing counsel. [It was] one of those cases where opposing counsel would like a group of older white males. And it was an arrogance. It was just an arrogance that they were... that there was no competition.
Verna Odoom  18:58  
Kya  18:59  
And this was going to be an easy case that okay, she's.... and you know, I had kind of the trifecta. The trifecta of stereotypes with me, right? I was that was black. I was young, and I was a woman. That was you know, it could be one or all three.
Verna Odoom  19:14  
Oh wow.
Kya  19:18  
You know, as as not a threat... And ended up winning the case with a record breaking jury verdict,
Verna Odoom  19:26  
Oh wow. Oh wow.
Kya  19:27  
and the time for that type of case.
Verna Odoom  19:30  
Kya  19:30  
But and they were they were flabbergasted. I mean, it was you could tell just the whole time. They just were not anticipating [my] preparation. They were not anticipating my defense. That was undervalued and underestimated as soon as I walked in the door.
Verna Odoom  19:51  
Mmhm Yeah, and that's the story that you hear so often. Maybe not that specific one. But in so many cases, people just aren't expecting what they they many times get. And then there's also the thing of what pool are people, you know, kind of fishing in 
Kya  20:08  
Verna Odoom  20:08  
or, you know, you're just trying to figure out, there's always that conversation. And I'm going to actually encourage folks down in the audience to come up, because I know especially, you know, Robin, John, Angela, Maika, all of you, I'm sure have something that you could offer to the conversation, if you want, of course, there's no pressure, like I said, but as I talk to folks, you know, there's this whole concept of just, we are kind of made, sometimes people are made to feel as if you are just, like we said, fortunate to be there, and there's no place that you can find qualified folks. So, like, I don't know where to find... You know, but those are the kinds of conversations that you might hear. And again, you know, folks that work in corporate America, I don't, I did work, you know, outside of the house in a television station for a bit. And there's, I mean, that place is just, you know, I could go on for days about just how that system works. And you know, how people come in, and, you know, you're the, you're kind of a test person, 
Kya  20:38  
Verna Odoom  21:13  
let's say sometimes, now, sometimes, you know you can, you can get in there and get a foothold, and people are, are allowing, but if you look at even today, if you look at the news, you are not seeing people of color, in roles and hours, think of the times that you see folks 
Kya  21:29  
Verna Odoom  21:29  
think of the shows that you see, think of how they are used during political races, the big stories, I remember one time I was on a story, and police officer had been had gone to a domestic case, and he had gotten shot at point blank range. And for whatever reason, you know, we all try to approach the family. And for whatever reason, they took a hankering to me. And so they really, really, you know, would only tell me their story. And so for my station, that was a problem. And I remember them coming to me and saying to me that they wanted me to give now they say why. 
Kya  22:06  
Verna Odoom  22:07  
You know, of course, this is a senior anchor, you know, and they want me to give her my contact and give her the story so that she could get the story. And I wouldn't have the story. I'm sitting here like, why would I do that? I'm like No, no, I can't do that I'm sorry. No I'm not sorry, I didn't say that. But you know, I'm not gonna do that. And this was a it was a very interesting... and so actually, they called the officer and this was after, I mean, he's going through his recovery. I mean, I followed it from beginning to middle to end. And, you know, they called him and he's like. I'm not talking to anybody. If you don't send Varna you won't get the story. 
Kya  22:40  
Verna Odoom  22:40  
And literally the the basis and that the annoyance that I was going to be doing the story. That I again, I covered from the beginning. But once it you know, now that we see the guys talking and he's he's willing to now we want to take it and give it to our... and if you look at like I said, if you look at any any of the stations, you'll see that that's the case that when the story gets, quote on quote, 'good', is going to the folks that they you know, that are deemed to be people that they want to cover the story.
Kya  23:10  
Verna Odoom  23:10  
So I always found it interesting. I'm going to ask, I'm going to reset the room. Oh, Angie's come up. And I just want to remind people that we are in a recorded room. And this is just going to be used for the Podbites show that I do the podcast so you'll be able to hear more content over there. Angela, thank you. I keep calling the Angela because I see your name is Angela, though I call you Angie. Thank you for coming to the stage. Yeah. Do you have something. I would love to hear from you?
Angie  23:38  
Hi, guys. Yeah, I think Verna, when you mentioned. Hi, I'm sorry, Kaya, is that right? 
Kya  23:46  
Kya. It's Kya like the car.
Angie  23:48  
Kya. Okay, sorry.
Kya  23:50  
Its ok.
Angie  23:50  
My daughter has, a friend and she spells it the same way. 
Kya  23:53  
That's ok.
Angie  23:53  
And so I always make the distinctions. 
Kya  23:57  
No prob.
Angie  23:57  
But just to you ladies talk about the idea. I guess there not being a pool in which to choose from, for a lot of companies and different things when they make those comments. We're actually dealing with that. In my company. They are constantly telling us that they would like to have more diverse hires, but they're just not able to find a lot. And it's very interesting to hear that when we're an AG company. 
Kya  24:41  
Angie  24:41  
And we happen to reside in a city that houses a university that is an agricultural and technical State University. And so for them to say that, you know, we can't find people Color is, it just doesn't ring true. And so we've been going through the process of challenging that, and trying to work with the people within the company that are in charge of those kinds of things, and get in their ear and help them understand first, just the optics of it, 
Kya  25:23  
Angie  25:23  
and how bad that looks when you're going to Iowa State or to Purdue, or wherever. But these are places where I'm not saying we we would not be. But I think you all know, I think they know that we're not going to be there in the same numbers that we would be at an HBCU or other schools possibly. And so that that is a is a frustration, I guess and Verna knows I can I can go on and on about the many frustrations that you encounter. But this is one that just kind of hits close to home because to what you were saying as well about having certain faces in places that you would think there would be some influence and some opportunity to make inroads, you're getting the same responses from them as well. So it's disheartening, and I guess you don't want to lose heart. But when you see it happening as often as it does, it just tends to be frustrating. And so opportunities like this, to talk about it and at least give it a voice it maybe in I don't know, give some new energy to the fight and all of that, because that's essentially what it is. We can't stop pursuing what should be, but it does get it does get very tiring, trying to make it happen. 
Verna Odoom  26:59  
And that is a word. 
Kya  27:01  
That's so interesting.
Oh I'm sorry. 
Verna Odoom  27:02  
No, you go ahead Kya.
Kya  27:04  
Ok, I was going to sat say that. That's so interesting to me, especially in an advertising environment, where and I say that because I mean, you look at statistics as regarding who are the consumers. And [when] you look at the majority of the consumers and, not only the majority of consumers now but where the numbers are going. And this is consuming pretty much everything. It's people of color. But I don't... it's interesting how they how it's justified, Angela that they can't find they can't find this talent, I guess to fill the fill the spaces. But I think to me, it seems like it would be a bottom line question. Like you're about to you're talking to a group of people in advertising, as consumers that, you know, are not reflecting the people who are talking. And they're going to recognize that especially now with social media. I think people get new here. You see companies can call out about that all the time now. That's interesting.
Angie  28:16  
Absolutely. And I think I may have misspoken because I know I've, I've kind of been in a bubble all day to day, but I'm actually in the agricultural industry. And so...
Kya  28:30  
Oh okay.
Angie  28:30  
but I completely agree, because I do know, people in the advertising industry that are 
Kya  28:37  
Angie  28:38  
hearing the same thing. So the I guess the sad part of it is you can find it in any string. 
Kya  28:46  
Yeah, right.
Angie  28:47  
you just... and that's sad, 
Kya  28:48  
Angie  28:49  
because it should be because we do everything.
Kya  28:53  
Angie  28:53  
There's nothing, we don't do. 
Kya  28:55  
Angie  28:55  
So to say you can't find us. It's because you're not being intentional. And I personally think you just don't want to look for us, 
Kya  29:05  
Angie  29:05  
because it's not comfortable. You're going to have to step outside of your comfort zone. And you're going to have to think about who you truly are. Because when you're in an environment where you're able to speak freely, and do you as they say, you don't have to think about what you say what jokes you tell and those kinds of things. But when you're in an atmosphere where you've got... [or an] environment where you've got many different ethnicities represented,
Kya  29:40  
Angie  29:40  
you're going to have to be a bit more careful about what you say, when you are not who you present yourself to be in select instances, I guess. So you just have... it's just more work for many. 
Kya  29:59  
Angie  30:00  
And it's unfortunate that we're still dealing with it. But I'm in a place now that I'm not here to make you comfortable. 
Kya  30:10  
Angie  30:10  
I'm going to let you know, when you are saying or doing something that is out of order, and something that shows your ignorance, and hopefully I can help educate you. But I'm not going to be made to feel uncomfortable in those situations any longer, that's not going to happen. 
Kya  30:32  
[I love it]
Angie  30:32  
So I don't know if there's an age thing or wisdom thing but maybe its a combination. I don't know
Verna Odoom  30:39  
No I think it's great. I mean, the whole point is, you know, there's all this conversation, I think, from what I understand about people coming as their authentic selves. But I don't know that anybody really, who was in the managerial level really means that because as you are speaking about this, you know, we're still talking about these closed tables, these closed rooms, places and spaces where people that don't look like us might be in decision making positions, and maybe there's one or maybe there are two, but definitely not enough. Another thing that you had brought up here that I was thinking about was when you talked a little bit about consumers, and that were consumers, and the sad thing to me, is, it almost becomes one of those things of how can you not be a consumer. I'll give you a for instance, my daughter, I talked to Angie about this, John Of course knows, because that's, you know, their dad, but, I talk about this that, you know, Makaila loves baking. And I cannot for the life of me find, you know, a little girl who's doing a baking show or doing something you know, so I get online, I'm looking looking looking that looks like her? And so do I keep her from reading these books do I keep her from... So no, I'm not keeping her from that. That, to me is the challenge because you end up doing what you do, you're consuming. 
Kya  32:03  
Verna Odoom  32:04  
Because you don't have an option. And I know that Kya, you are working on those options, but you can't work by yourself.
Kya  32:10  
Verna Odoom  32:10  
I mean, you cannot feel every stage. And that's right. And... 
Kya  32:14  
I'm gonig to send you some information over and about that there's some social media [people] I'm going to send to you
Verna Odoom  32:20  
Thank you. Because I'm serious. That's awesome. Because, you know, and there, there are things out there, you know, we all have seen them. There are books out there that will talk about, you know, I am black, or [My] hair, my and those books are needed, that stuff is needed. But I'm looking for sometimes just somebody who is a veterinarian, that's her other things she wants to do, you know, oh, she's a veteran or a gymnast, you know, we're so and we have books about gymnast, which is great. A lot of, you know, girl gymnast, as opposed to the the guys, African American guys. And they're. To be honest, when I look around when you look at the gymnast and that I'm talking about that because of my son, our son, but when you look at that, there's just not a lot out there either. So you're just kind of wanting there to be... So we come back to the question of what do we do? And are we able to create? And I know, Angie, you're saying 'What I'm not going to do.' which is great. And what you want to do and what you're starting to do and what you're feeling comfortable doing. So as we're having those discussions, and I can ask you that Angie, what are people saying? So what is is there pushback when you do that when you come back? Because I know people want to look as though maybe they're being inclusive? 
Angie  33:28  
Verna Odoom  33:29  
Is it actually the feeling that you think people are being genuine and that you're seeing change.
Angie  33:36  
And again, I don't want to sound like a pessimist. But I am a realist, and just in my interactions and working with the group of people that I do. We've got an African American leadership group. And they're probably about, I don't know, maybe 10 to 15 that are just really in [the] air and are constantly having conversations and those kinds of things with others. And we are all kind of coming away with the same feeling that it's one of those things where there's a lot of lip service being given. But the passion is not there. And even aside from the passion. The actual action is not there. The intention is not there. We're still talking in very aspirational ways. And so there's nothing concrete that's being put out there. We're asking that we see higher so we see candidates at the very least coming in, in higher numbers. And we would like to specify what kind of numbers what kind of percentages, we'd like to see what increase. And at this point, there's been no appetite for numbers. It's just, hey, we're trying to create an environment that is welcoming. So let us know what we can do to make our company more inviting to people of color. But there's not that actual, hey, we are putting our, our money and our resources behind this. And we are going to go out and we have put as one of our goals for the year to secure 'X' amount of potential candidates, or at least those that we can interview a pool of people, a different pool of people, we don't have anything like that. So that's why I say, I think there's a lot of lip service being given and just not a lot of tangible types of commitments. That something quantifiable commitments, I guess.
Verna Odoom  36:06  
Okay, okay. One word I often hear from people of color. And Kya, I'll let you jump in here in a second is, I'm tired or a phrase, you know, I've gotten tired. 
Angie  36:18  
Verna Odoom  36:18  
And I wanted to see, you know, kind of what everybody feels about that, like, I know that. I know what it means, obviously. Some days, I think it. But then I also wonder if not... if we want to get to a place where there is this understanding there is this, we're ready for we're knocking the door down. We're not asking anymore. We're like demanding that there be change. You know, we're here, we're working, we're doing these things we want to see change. You know, what is the responsibility that we have on our end? As far as you know, you have a friend who is asking you questions. Are we tolerant of that? I'm just curious. I'd love to hear from... Angie, I know you have something to say about it. And i'd love to hear...
Angie  37:10  
I was being quiet. Let others speak
Verna Odoom  37:12  
And I'd love to hear why. No, no. You're like, don't get me started. No, but seriously, I'm at Robin, you've come to the stage. I'll go ahead. And I don't know if you want to answer that if you want to jump in on something else. But go ahead. And then we're gonna circle back to you, Angie, go ahead, Robin.
Robin  37:26  
I was gonna say that. I don't really have an answer for that particular question. But just think about the diversity and inclusion pace. I've gone from being at a HBCU to a PWY it's been an adjustment for me in my new space, although I feel [unintelligible] I feel hurt I feel supported. So I am just trying to navigate myself in this new place. Coming from an HBCU for 12 years and coming to a PWY but all [unintelligible] institution is doing is.... {Audio drop out}
Verna Odoom  38:07  
Robin your...
Robin  38:08  
designee for the Department of athletics. The NCAA has initiative now on all college campuses to have a designee in athletics. So now I'm more conscious about what impact I can make concerning the DNI issues in athletics. So I just wanted to say that tidbit.
Verna Odoom  38:33  
So that's awesome. Thank you for that, Robin. Because that's important. I mean, I just, I'm trying to figure out where we go from here. As far as like I said, when you're trying to get folks involved, and Robin stick around. So I do want to ask you a little mental health piece, because I know with Naomi, Osaka, there's that conversation we want to have as well, really quickly. But...
Robin  38:56  
Verna Odoom  38:57  
Oh, and if I could ask everybody to mute your mics if you're not speaking because there's just a little bit of feedback we're getting. And then we can go from there. But yeah, just wanted to know if if we are in a position. And there's... you have folks in your life, who you can help influence. And we talk about that word, that phrase, I'm tired. What do we do with that? Do we do we try to to help people? Or do we feel like hey, at this point, you should pretty much know what to do. I'm not talking about people who are not like us, people who are of majority will say people who are not black or brown, what do you do? Kya. Angie, anybody?
Kya  39:42  
You know, if we were in the early 90, 80s, I was, you know, we have a different answer, but in the age of Google and so much at your fingertips, and accessability and the fact that this is a record that we have played for a very, very long time, and there's enough accessibility for people to learn, who want to learn, without having to continue to burden the people who are already overburdened.
Verna Odoom  40:19  
Mmhm Mmhm Okay. 
Kya  40:22  
It's so funny, there's a mediator and she's so sweet. And she became enlightened, like a lot of people did over the last year. As to what, you know, everything that was going on and, and she, you know, she did enquire with me initially, and and I let her know, you know? Yeah, like, what, this is not new. You know, I think because everybody was at home. By law before at the stay at home people finally, you know, a lot of people's eyes were open. I was like, but there's a lot out there a lot out there, [though], that you can look... and I kind of pointed her to a couple of things. I was like, This is not new, I look at the Tulsa things that were already in the media anyway. I look at the Tulsa riots and look at you know,[unintelligible], she's, she's in North Carolina, like, look at look at these, you know, Wilmington, there, you're looking at Greensboro riot, like there's, there's so much out there that can you can look at, to get an idea as to why we're here today, and where and why things are the way they are? And how this is not anything new. So I mean, there's your question Verna, you know, people have access to information, and then they should use that access.
Verna Odoom  41:49  
I agree. I hear that. And I agree. And I guess my question too, then would be, as you are interacting with folks, and these are, I get that there is stuff that we can read, because you're right, there are stuff out there. But then it becomes that personal thing, that thing of the actual person. So now I've read a book, it's kind of like the school learning, compared to the real life. And I just wonder if there is a space for both. Where you are able... I have. I'll give you a for instance, I have some friends who are not black, and they're not Brown, and lots of you know, different... And I'm sure we all do. And when there was a conversation that came up, and I think I told this to a couple of people in the room. Conversation came up as to how can I be a better supporter of you. And this was obviously after, you know, George Floyd and you know, the all the marching and everything, the protests. And what I said was, that one of the things is to just normalize life with a person of color. So how often do you have a person I don't even think they thought about that. So it's like, I've read books, I've done this, I've done that, but I don't feel like I'm, I still get it. And I'm like, how often have you had a person of color just come to your house, like for a regular not like a special occasion or something just like... or that person's in your circle of friends that you talk to when you're making a job decision? Or whatever you use your friend group for. Your friend circle? Or how often have you watched a movie? And I think you talked about this, Kya, obviously, with your your company watched a movie that has a person of color as a main character who's not, you know, in some illegal activity, you're just on and on and on. So I don't think it became practical to her. And I'm not saying that she doesn't, because I honestly think she's very sincere in wanting to do something, and I think she's doing it. So though I think those are the kind of conversations I'm wondering, do we have a tolerance for those? Not just, you know, the person who, obviously the people who are just like, 'I don't get it wha what are you talking [about].' you know, that that's, you know, they're out in left field. But is there a place where both of these things can happen? Yes, we're tired of having those conversations. But somebody who has honestly tried to do the work, the footwork, the legwork of getting to know, you know, the experience, because you can never walk in somebody else's shoes. How do I learn to to understand, you know, your situation? And is there a place for that? That's what I'm asking. Anybody who wants to jump in on that Kya or Angie or Robin?
Kya  44:20  
Yeah, I think that's a great point or and I think that's a can normalize. I like exactly how you said it to normalize putting people of color in your in your life, like in your every day. I think that's an excellent point. 
Verna Odoom  44:34  
Kya  44:34  
And I think... 
Verna Odoom  44:35  
Kya  44:36  
I don't think that that requires too much of an extension of you having to put a lot a lot out there when you're tired. 
Verna Odoom  44:47  
Yeah, and I don't want it to sound like... I get tired because somtimes I'm tired too. I mean, come on. But I'm just saying, you know, I'm wondering if there's if there is that space, so we can do both. Go ahead Angie.
Angie  44:57  
[it...] And I see Well, go ahead, Robin. 
Robin  45:02  
Well, I was just gonna say, when we think about implementation, I was fortunate enough at my new institution to have a DNI, temporary coordinator that had those conversations. So beyond telling your friends or colleagues of not of the predominant race to go read white fertility. Let's talk a little bit more about that. So what she did was she had scenarios where we actually had the conversation and this was right after all the George Floyd situation happened so I think, yeah, we can talk about the definitions. But let's have a conversation within companies and organizations to have actual scenarios to really help those have a clear understanding. And I can also say that my colleague and my office, I'm a director of counseling, I was fortunate enough to have a white colleague, part time colleague that really was very supportive during the situation and asked me questions. And we have really good conversation, and she was very sensitive and very open. So I think to kind of answer your question, Verna, I think it's more than just having a DNI workshop on the definitions, but let's have some scenarios and actually have some breakout into groups and have conversations to kind of peel the onion, so to speak. 
Verna Odoom  46:32  
Yeah that. I like that. Yeah, go ahead, Angie. 
Angie  46:37  
Yeah, and that is great. Robin, I like that. And it sounds like you did small group work, as opposed to the larger, like Town Hall type things that we do
Robin  46:49  
Yeah this is with our division of Student Affairs
Angie  46:52  
Robin  46:52  
and Angie This is doing COVID 
so we have to do it virtually 
Angie  46:55  
Robin  46:56  
But, yeah, but you could just see the faces like, you know, I'm all into the non verbal. So the predominant people, when we were having these hard conversations, some of them looked very uncomfortable. 
Angie  47:09  
Robin  47:11  
And very awkward, because they can see us two or three brown people were like, really not not like angry face, but they could see the pain. 
Angie  47:20  
Robin  47:21  
That we were in. 
Angie  47:21  
Yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree with the educating and not being too tired to pay attention to the fact that you've got an opportunity to educate somebody who may not understand for whatever reason, and I just completely agree also, that there's enough information out here if you want it, if you want it, that you can educate yourself to a large degree in terms of just knowing historical types of things, and learning about events, and all of that. So I think we definitely have to keep some space open for that, and to be able to kind of meet people where they are to a point. And I say, to a point, because what I don't want to have happen is that we use all our energy up, trying to educate and change the hearts and minds of these people. And not look at what we as a people can do, as a collective to improve our situation for ourselves, and the things that we can do the way we can take back the education piece. And if they don't want to teach certain things in schools, or they're teaching it the wrong way, or whatever the case may be, we have the tools we and if we don't have the tools, we work together to get the tools that we need to do these things ourselves. And so kind of what you said earlier, Verna about creating our own tables. And I think if we can get back to a place of more communal, communal thinking, if you will, we're not even thinking but the action, working together and, and just moving silently, some loudly, however you need to move but just take the opportunity to educate ourselves and do the work that we need to do as as a group as a collective. And I think when we come up against some of the things that we have to deal with out here in the world, if we're better educated, we're better equipped. We are ready and able to handle these things. Those that come our way, we've got some strategies in place, we've got some plans in place, we're not just putting all our energy to making people like us and understand and see... We don't want to hurt you. I mean, those kinds of things. We've done enough of all of that, I think, and I'm not saying there was anything wrong with that. But I think we need to get back to kind of grassroots type stuff. And in educating ourselves again, because I'm learning so much about our history that I had no clue about, and I thought myself to be pretty well educated in the area, but I'm just learning things that I never knew before. And it is empowering. It takes a lot of this, well, we should be able to do this too, or we should be able... I don't need to be in your space to do my thing. And for us to do our thing. And for us to thrive. I don't need to have your validation, if he will. And I just want us to get to, I guess more of that way of thinking. And at the same time, educate those who are interested in learning and doing the work that they need to do to get, I guess, to be better. citizens, I guess better corporate citizens. And so we can all get along in this world and stop I don't know having our knees on the necks of other people. And it is it's overwhelming. It really is when you think about it, because there's a lot of frustration, a lot of frustration, because honestly, sometimes I don't want to have to talk to a another person about something that I've been dealing with, or I've known about my whole life, and you have not had to think about it, not one day. So it just becomes frustrating. But you try not to lose heart, you try to stay optimistic, but at the same time, keep your eyes on the prize, and just continue to educate yourself and grow and teach the next one, teach those in your circle, help them understand what their things about us that are out there that we can be proud of the things that we can stand on. And as we're educating some of the others about things, we're also able to educate each other about some things that many of us, I don't think even realize. So. 
Verna Odoom  52:47  
I think thats great.
Robin  52:48  
yeah i agree.
Verna Odoom  52:49  
I think one thing and I'll let you jump in here, Robin is when you talk about coming to a room like this, hopefully, like you said, or other places, not just this room, but other places where you're able to talk to folks, we're able to talk to folks get fill get re energized, like you said, maybe get re invigorated to do something, then I was thinking we have to at some point, come out of the talk and figure out action items. So I really liked where you were talking about maybe coming together taking back the educational piece. I mean, when I think about the kids and the schooling, and don't get me wrong, I went through, you know, my brothers and I went through public school. So I'm not I'm not down in public school, public school has a lot of a lot of positives a lot. But one of the reasons we wanted to homeschool our children was because we were concerned that they weren't getting or they were getting the same kind of lessons on history of brown and black people. And that bothered me. And even with the homeschooling part is not perfect. So me trying to find pieces of this and pieces of that, to teach them so that they are, you know, they still have to be able to do testing, you know, which is very standardized. But I also want them to have a good feeling of self and to have information that maybe, you know, like you said, Angie, I'm learning stuff as I'm teaching them stuff. I mean, but it doesn't have to be this these are the 10 people that we want you to know who were black that contributed anything. So they're only 10. I want you to I want us to talk about science and as to just throw in scientists that are of color of various colors. I want us to talk about you know, poetry and throw in stuff about, you know, poets of various colors. That to me, is full learning. And so those things are important to me. So I really would love if we came out of this at all, and would be able to come out maybe with some sort of action items, because I think it's important to talk. And I think we all know that. But then it's like, what are we going to do after we finish talking where where is each of us going to go? And I just love to think about that. Robin, I know you've been trying to jump in here and I just wanted to remind everybody because I'm supposed to say this. I know Maurice, you just joined us. Thank you so much for coming. I want to let everybody know and please feel free to come up on the stage. By the way, Maurice, if you feel comfortable with what we're talking about, and you've gotten into it enough and But you're welcome to come up. But it's a recorded room. And we're just using this for of course, Podbites. And the website that talks to different people that have I think everybody in this room has been on it except for John, and Maika, but your time is coming. Okay. Let's keep going. Robin, you had something you wanted to say?
Robin  55:17  
Yeah, Angela. You brought up so many good points. But one thing that I would say is being on a college campus, when all of this was going on with the social unrest, and the racism, I'm really, really proud to see how college students did the marching, supporting each other, you saw very diverse groups supporting. And for me, going through this whole situation, it was really heavy. I think I might have mentioned this in the room before, I only watched about one minute of the actual George Floyd clip, because it was not healthy for me, it was making me very sad, very angry. And even as a counselor, I knew I had to do had to do my own self care. So why we're doing this work, we need to be very mindful about those things that we can can and cannot handle, and how to set boundaries and how to delegate task and how to be supportive. I may not be on the front line. But there are some things that I can do behind the scenes like like case scenario, with the students, you know, marching downtown, and just seeing them come together, I knew my place in supporting was not going to be on the front line. But to be in the background, offering those safe spaces virtually, to have discussions. So I just wanted to say that.
Verna Odoom  56:45  
Oh, yeah, as we talk about, I mean, mental health kind of goes through every aspect. I know, one time, I was speaking to john, and I, you know, he said, wow, you know, we end up in a mental health space with a lot of the rooms. And I said, yeah, because it just weaves through everything. And I know that with us talking about and so many people... I'm not picking on your Angie, because you know, you we talk all the time, every day, probably, you know that 
Angie  57:08  
Verna Odoom  57:09  
Yeah, exactly. That that people are tired. You know, we talked about hear people talking about being tired. And I get it. I mean, I say it sometimes too. And so Robin, you know, as folks are, you know, having these conversations, and I mean, you know, Naomi, Osaka talking about, I'm not going to do any interviews, how about that? And actually, I'm going to pay the fine. And actually, I'm going to just withdraw? How about that? You know, because I am not in a place and a space that I know this is healthy for me. And I don't know, you know, I'm not saying what her underlying, you know, thoughts were and and obviously, she came out today and you know, she lit the cauldron at the Olympics. And you know, she's she's gonna be there competing in Japan, you know, but just talk really quickly, Robin a little bit about that with folks who are in a position where they are feeling, you know, overwhelmed at some points about this whole thing of, Hey, I'm overlooked, you know, at work. I'm always trying to get to that next place. What kind of encouragement and what kind of strategies? Do you have any that you could offer for folks?
Robin  58:24  
Well, I think Naomi, that was just a perfect for someone of her being an athlete, a national athlete and being able to have enough courage to communicate. Hey, I'm not okay. And how her stepping up and saying that really ignited a lot of conversation, a lot of support, in making mental health more "normal", quote on quote. So I think when we think about how mental health weaves through a lot of the conversations that we're having, especially within the past 18 months, it makes us notice that we have to be mindful and know that that there is support out there. For those that are concerned about their mental health. I don't know if I really answered your question. But I think Naomi, being that visual example has helped people to normalize mental health and normalize that it's okay to use your EAP sessions. It's okay to talk to a professional counselor. It's okay because we as human beings are not one entity. You know, we're mind soul, body and spirit and we have to make sure that we acknowledge all those parts of ourselves to be a healthy holistic team.
Verna Odoom  59:45  
That's great. And I know I threw out some stuff about action items. If anybody has anything that they think of, you know, or Angie, what you were talking about the educational piece, we've been talking about helping people to kind of get a better understanding of the experience without becoming overwhelmed and that sort of thing. Feeling that tired overwhelming feeling, but just any kind of action items, I would love for you to shoot them to me over at the website, you can look on my... everybody here would know how to reach me. But you know what I'm saying, you can look over there and send it to me, I would love that and just try to maybe put some of that stuff out on Podbites to let people know, hey, this is what came out of this meeting. And these are some things that these folks are going to do, what are you going to do? What are we doing? And people are doing things? So I'm not saying everybody's just talking? And talking is a begin, obviously, but what happens after that? Am I you know, what am I going to do? Am I going to go now and try to find some more stuff for my kids, it might just be that some more of the things that I've been doing for, you know, their Language Arts, let's say or whatever I need to do, to let them see those images. You know, Kya, obviously, let folks here know about your great products. I know we talked about, you know, overall, what RainbowMe and RainbowMe Kids does. But I mean, you have folks in here who have who are connected to young people who you know, you have these books, you have these incredible resources that are I mean, just you know, the the IT stuff that you're doing the you know, the stem stuff that's going on with RainbowMe Kids is just phenomenal. So can you talk a little bit about your products, and about the things that you do that you have out your your, your different products, your books.
Kya  1:01:24  
Sure yeah of course I love talking about RainbowMe. So what we... RainbowMe we create technology enabled children's products that celebrate folklore and fairy tale characters of color from around the world. And so our first two products we have are actually children's books. And the first one introduces characters from A to Z. Again, folklore and fairy tale characters from countries like Nigeria, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, so literally all around the world, all characters of color. And then it incorporates augmented tech, augmented reality technology. So with our app with our RainbowMe Kids app, when you wave your mobile device over the over the characters in the book, they come to life, animate and tell you a little bit more about their country of origin. They speak in they speak English, but with with an accent that is native to their country of origin. And they introduce themselves in the second book. That first book is called O is for Oshun. And the second book is how Kofi Amero became the hero of Amero. And it celebrates the 'K' character in the Oshun book. So that those are our first two technology enabled products. And we are expanding that as we grow.
Verna Odoom  1:02:58  
And if you get on Kya's website, I mean, you'll see that she's had read alongs with all sorts of people that you would know names he would know. She's had different meet and greet events, of course, COVID shut some of that down.
Kya  1:03:11  
Verna Odoom  1:03:11  
But I don't know are you getting? Are those coming back to life? Or where are you? Where do you stand on those.
Kya  1:03:19  
We've been able to Vend a couple of places, keeping an eye out on everything that's going on with this delta variant. We have something scheduled down the pike, but I'm not I'm really not sure how that's going to go. We were actually going to have a live book reading event at the end of this month. But I decided to make that virtual just because of the Delta variant issues I didn't want to risk. Especially with kids.
Verna Odoom  1:03:47  
Okay, if you can get that to me. I'll let people know how to to hook into that. Also, can you give your website just so people can find out themselves if they want to go that route?
Kya  1:03:59  
Sure. Yeah. It's 
Verna Odoom  1:04:04  
Kya  1:04:06  
Rainbow, like, you know, the colors Me. 'M' as in Mary 'E' as in elephant. 
Verna Odoom  1:04:13  
Okay awesome. All right. Well, I really appreciate everybody coming. I don't want to shut down if there anybody has anything on their heart that they feel like they need to say, please come up to the stage. As I said, it's a recorded room. And this is a breakout from the Podbite site. So what I do is try to invite folks who have been guests, and I was doing them directly after shows but there's some folks like Kya, like Maurice, that I didn't have. Angela I'm trying to think Did you... Robin, Angie, but Robin's on a lot of shows which I appreciate her giving that mental health perspective. But yes, so we've had a. No angie you were on a show. We did have that show. But we have done this to try to let people ask questions. And again, I'm working on how to promote and I'm taking a break. We're actually going into Season Finale this weekend. And so I'm going to be taking a break and trying to take some courses and do some things. So we're having a season break. So it'll be about a month, and then we'll come back with new shows, and hopefully some fresh ideas and all sorts of things like that. So I really appreciate the support, I appreciate you all showing up and the input, and just being out there doing things to try to help in this regard with bringing forward people of color and pushing forward the notion that we're here, and that we are going to definitely not be going anywhere. So I don't know I'm trying to figure out a good way to put that but yeah, that we have some expectations. And I think that that is something that we all talked about today. So thank you so much. I appreciate it. We'll be back here next Friday. And I'm trying to think of who I have Friday. I'm I'm trying to have the pastor who was arrested{ and served time for a crime that he said he didn't commit. And he is supposed to be coming on. We had a little snafu last week when he was supposed to be on so that should be coming out next Friday if he's available. So I'll get information out to everybody. But thank you so much for coming tonight. All right, everybody. Take care and I am going to close the room now. Thank you Kya okay bye bye
All  1:06:12  
Thank you! bye bye.
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