The Power of No with Ijeoma Oluo

 Ijeoma Oluo on The Antidote

The Power of No with Ijeoma Oluo

In this episode of The Antidote, Amy and Grace connect with author Ijeoma Oluo about the importance of community, the art of make-up, and not shrinking back.

Amy and Grace share their bummer news of the week – A certain famous singer doesn’t want Virgo dancers on tour, and neighbors threw a note over the fence after hearing a woman having sex with her windows open.  They also share their antidotes: a new Netflix documentary about personal finance, and Trader Joe’s overnight oats. 

This week’s Creative Tap-In: 

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

-Maya Angelou


BetterHelp Online Therapy - - use promo code ANTIDOTE for $20 off your purchase of $100 or more plus free shipping

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Amy The world is a dumpster fire. I'm Amy.

Grace And I'm Grace. We're comedy writers in Los Angeles.

Amy And we want to help.

Grace As a reflex to the f---ing madness on the news, we're keeping it positive, uplifting, but opinionated.

Amy We talk about cultural moments we love.

Grace Talk to people we adore.

Amy Crushes we have.

Grace And self-care we stan.

Amy During these trying times. We all need a show that focuses on joy.

Grace This is The Antidote. Hi, everybody. Welcome back to The Antidote. We missed you so much.

Amy We missed you. It's been like a month. A month plus?

Grace I know. Like, what is the life without this podcast?

Amy I know what were y'all even doing. How did you even go on?

Grace Yeah. Like what happened? Like what happened while we were gone? Like, you know, send us a little message or something. We want to know what was going on.

Amy Well, actually, we did get a message from someone. Did you see?

Grace We did?

Amy An antidote listener who goes by at Writeous_Warrior and that's spelled W-R-I-T-E-O-U-S underscore warrior. That's right. They're a writer. They said felt my anxiety creep up a little this week, so I started working out on my elliptical again. I always feel better after that and I'm just going to go ahead and add hashtag. That's my antidote. And I love that they shared this.

Grace Oh yeah. I used to stand that elliptical machine that used to be like my main machine when I had the strength. And right now I don't even have the strength anymore. I used to be on that puppy for 45 minutes to an hour. So I am so happy that your elliptical machine brought you peace and joy this week, Writeous_Warrior.

Amy I also haven't seen a lot of you in the last month, so like what have you. What have you been up to, my friend?

Grace Oh, so much. Just, you know, catching up on some projects and you know, yeah, I'm going to do my Thanos, you know, I still love my son is going on my hikes, you know, just just having a little relaxing, little hiatus moment. But, yeah, I miss hours just like, what are we recording? Is it this week? Oh, no, it's not this week, is it next week. Oh, no, it's not next week. Oh, it's like four weeks away. Okay, I'll just chill. What are you been up to?

Amy You know, not enough. Not a lot of sleeping. Yeah. Girl went outside and outside, kept her up late. So, yeah, I've been celebrating the end of a rap. Sh--. I loved watching that show and celebrating its first season conclusion. I also, you know, took a couple of weekend trips and. Yeah. And then same like you like the day to day antidotes like polarities and making sure to say my affirmations and things like that. I've been making sure to soak that time up. And for anyone who missed it on our socials, Grace and I also posted some videos of our antidotes that we took during the hiatus. Well, if you love art and words and books and things, then you're going to love our guest who's coming up later in the episode. Author Ijeoma Oluo.

Grace Yes, we had such a lovely conversation with her, so we can't wait for you to hear it in a few minutes. Whew. Okay, so we wouldn't need the antidote if we didn't have something to get an antidote from.

Amy Starting now, up top with our bummer news of the week. First up, guys, this is hilarious to me. And like, if this rumor is true, it's it's out of we just got to investigate. But we heard a rumor we heard a rumor that Jennifer Lopez in the past didn't want Virgo dancers on one of her tours back in the day. Heather Morris, a former actress on Glee and former Beyonce, a backup dancer, spilled the tea on a podcast recently, and she said that after a long day of auditions, J.Lo entered the room where dancers awaited their fate, asked all the Virgos to raise their hands, and then whisper to her assistant before dismissing them. I want this to be so true. It's such a weird story. But apparently that Heather Morris is saying that apparently it's because J-Lo's ex, Marc Anthony, was a Virgo. So it was like Virgo Energy doesn't agree with her. And I guess it's a bummer because, like, I'm a pretty good dancer. So I'm a lil upset.

Grace Yeah, you used to dance. You used to dance dance.

Amy Maybe that's why I never made it. Maybe it's my Virgo nature. That turned people like J.Lo off.

Grace Well, the oppression to the Virgo community in the dance community, it's like it's like I guess this is a thing but you know what have thought you should wanted Virgo to be on your dance team. They're going to be very obsessed with getting those steps. They're going to hit those accounts hard. You know what I'm saying? They'll be up late at. I in this hotel room? Yeah, exactly. Although I don't know what this Virgo discrimination is.

Amy But, you know, I have to say, honestly, J-Lo as a Virgo, thank you for releasing me from the stress of your other dancers' imperfection, because I wouldn't be able to handle this. And honestly, I love that someone is against bad guys because frankly, sometimes I'm against me. I can be like, Oh, I kind of get it.

Grace Well, I would like to discriminate against f--- boys. Can we do that? You know, I got really excited when I heard about F--- Boy Island thing, but I thought that they were just going to put them on an island. So we knew where they were so they wouldn't infect society. But now it turns out it's just another reality show to waste our time.

Amy Oh, my God. Yeah. I'm going to join you in the discrimination against F--- Boys. Not in my dance troupe, not in my body.

Grace But again, it's just a rumor. Hearsay. We don't know that that actually happens.

Amy Exactly. Sounds like something from Glee was just hating, but is so funny that I was like, we have to talk about this. Yeah. We'll slap a big allegedly on this entire conversation.

Grace Allegedly.

Amy Allegedly. Now, this next bit of bummer news is not alleged. Okay. Apparently, neighbors in Yorkshire threw a note over a fence after hearing their neighbor having sex with her windows open. The neighbor in question, Amber O'Donnell from Yorkshire, was mortified after receiving a complaint from a neighbor who believes they heard her having noisy sex. She was so mortified that she shared her reaction to the note on TikTok. Wow. Read. If you're going to have animal sex during the middle of the day, please close your bloody windows ending with that. Oh. Apparently O'Donnell is an only fans model and in her TikTok video, she says she could never leave the house again. From the embarrassment in the video has been seen over 1 million times. And I'll tell you what, Amber Girl, you are the only one who saw that note. Now, a million people have seen it, so I hope your numbers are up.

Grace You know, that's what I'm saying. But it's smart marketing, you know what I'm saying? It's like, hey, you want to see this? Only fans. I'm real loud.

Amy Give the girl a break. Why don't you have, like, speakers in your house? Why don't you have headphones? Like, why can't you close your windows?

Grace That poor neighbor hasn't had an orgasm in five years and is mad because she got to hear somebody else's. I don't know, because to me it would be different if there was like kids around or something, but there was no mention of children. So I'm just like grown, recognized, grown, you know, like that sex is something that happens and that people do. So, you know, stop acting like, all prudish or whatever about it. Like, sorry, it's kind of like life.

Amy Completely.

Grace You know?

Amy I'm proud of her for getting an afternoon delight.

Grace And I'm proud of her for using this as a marketing opportunity for her Only Fans.

Amy I believe in you sis. I don't know if your sister. Actually, I've been to British girl. Anyway, how do you feel after discussing the bummer news, Grace?

Grace Well you know. Actually, the ones that we did today were kind of fun, so, you know, I actually feel pretty okay. But we still go talk about this antidote, right?

Amy Exactly. Like still life. And so let's get into the antidote. So this is the segment where we tell you about the culture we consumed and things we did this week that made us feel better about the bummer news. What was your antidote this week, Grace?

Grace Well, I watched a little docu-mentary.

Amy Ooh, smart. My friend is smart.

Grace Oh, you know, entertainment plus learning. So I saw this documentary.

Amy You heard it right here. That is a great advertising for a documentary. 

Grace Entertainment plus learning. So I watched this documentary. It's called Get Smart with Money.

Amy Oh, I want to watch that.

Grace And, you know.

Amy I like money.

Grace It was it was so cool. It was like these like I think it's like four different money experts talk to, like, real life people and they, like, follow them for a year, like after they give them sort of like a strategy to address their issues. And so it's very cool. Like they check in with them throughout the year to see like how integrating these strategies into their lives has improved their financial situation. And most of them, all of them really like changed all their lives and it was super cool. So there was the advisors were like, Tiffany Aliche who's like also known as the budgetnista.

Amy Oh, yeah. I follow her.

Grace Yeah. Yeah. So she was on there then a guy named Peter Adeney, aka Mr. Money Mustache.

Amy No, I don't like that. I mean, I want to support him, but what.

Grace Uh he's a guy he, like, retired at 30, so he, like, knows about the whole money thing. And this guy named Ross McDonnell, aka Ross Mac.

Amy Why do they all have nicknames? Is that part of getting a lot of money? Is having a nickname?

Grace Maybe. Okay, we'll come up with some nicknames for each other. And so it was really inspiring. And I got like a lot of little tips about money. You know, I like nice things, so it like, kind of dragged me a little bit. I was just like, Oh, yeah. And the thing that drag me the most is when the budget is there was just like, you need to separate your spending into needs and loves on one side and wants and likes on the other side. And then I realized I buy a lot of things that I want or that I like. But she actually said The great thing about focusing on your needs and loves is that you use your money more intentionally to make your life better, rather than wasting money on just things that you want or like. And the framing of that was so useful to me because I was just like, Oh yeah, like I bought like a bunch of dumb sh-- recently that I just liked or wanted. But if I were to use that money and like seeing stuff of, like buying wants and like, it's just like about getting rid of waste in your life. It's not about describing yourself of anything. It's about re funneling that money into things that you really love or that you really need. So I was just like, Oh my God, that will just that one little tidbit was so interesting. And I went out with friends afterwards and I told them about it and they're like, Oh, wow. And I was just like, Yeah, we as friends need to be talking more about money. Like, it's always such a quote unquote private topic. Yeah, but I think it's really important to talk about money and like, be more conscious, you know, bringing it back to, like, the true purpose of money, which is to support your what you want in your life. So. So that was definitely my antidote because I was just like, Oh, I feel good. I feel like I have a better perspective on money just from watching that one little. I think it was just like 90 minute documentary. So that was my antidote. What was yours, Amy?

Amy So mine was a little simple antidote and it sounds kind of like maybe like dol it ties to yours because sometimes while you watch Netflix, you eat out of sneak. And my antidote this week is Trader Joe's Vanilla Overnight Oats. Guys, this is not an ad. It's literally the fact that in the mornings I make myself breakfast in the morning. I like that the ritual of making myself breakfast. But the last time I went to TJ is I was like picking up like dairy stuff. And I saw these overnight oats and I was like, Oh, I don't make myself oatmeal very often because it takes a long time. And I actually like oatmeal. I'm like a grandma. I like old lady sh--, and so I like a meal. And I was like, Oh, I never make it for myself these days because I'm just so like work, work, you know, I'm just like in this period of being very, very work centric. And I haven't been able to enjoy, like, the practice of just making myself a bowl of oatmeal. And I was like, I'm going to buy these overnight oats. And they have vanilla overnight oats and then also almond butter, chia overnight oats. One has a little blue lid, one has a like brownish red lid. And I bought one of each and I was like, whenever I'm getting that little hankering for my grandma breakfast, I'll eat these. And it literally happened where I was like, I just want to have a warm bowl of oatmeal and I don't have the time because there's something about I will say there's something about oatmeal that is comforting to me because that's what my dad used to make for us when we were kids. Whenever my mom my mom would do like eggs and biscuits and pancakes and waffles and all these things. And my dad is not as much of a, quote unquote chef as my mom. So the breakfast he always made for us when we were kids was oatmeal. And I always hated it. When I was a kid, I was like oatmeal again. Dad is like, Can you do grits? Come on. And I was always annoyed. But now as I've grown up, I find oatmeal is very comforting because it reminds me of my childhood and reminds me of my dad taking care of us. But it's also emotionally like satisfying to me because it makes me remember like, Oh, this is one of the first meals that I remember my dad consistently making as a kid for for me as a kid and my brothers as a kid. So, yeah, I climbed into this vanilla overnight oats bowl and it made me so happy. And I just like the first bite. I was like mmm.


Grace So may I ask, are you a person that because I also love oatmeal, but I also love like a little add in to my oatmeal? Do you ever add anything to your overnight oats or you just eat them like straight up no chaser?


Amy What I actually do is I make them with almond milk and I chop up ginger like candy ginger. I chop candy ginger. And so I if I'm making it in the microwave, I'll do like a minute and a half, and then I chop up the ginger and put it in, and then I do another 2 minutes and then stir it all up. And then the whole bowl tastes like ginger.


Grace Oh, my God. I'm going to try that one. I love oatmeal to just be so full of sh-- that I can barely see. But yeah, I have to check out. No overnight notes, although that almond butter one sounds like more of my speed. It's good, too.


Amy I like them both. I can't decide which is my favorite because I always eat them so far apart that I'm like, this is the one. But so I always, well, I don't usually buy them. It's a more recent thing, but it really was kind of like an antidote moment. But I bought one of both, so I'll report back when I eat the new one.


Grace Yeah, I feel like. Like you could definitely do me and Amy's antidote this week, listeners, because you can watch this documentary on money. Get your money right, get your tips, you know, and then you can do it while snacking on some delicious overnight oats.


Amy Yeah, how cute. All this talk made me hungry. We'll be back after the break.


Grace Welcome back to The Antidote. We have a very special guest today. Who is that, Amy?


Amy Ooh, girl. You know, my chest is real puffed up when I get to introduce a Niger Sister.


Grace They don't carry less.


Amy No, we don't. And this queen hails from my problematic fave home state. That's right. She's a North Texas. Yeah. She is a writer, speaker and Internet Yeller. She's the author of the number one New York Times bestseller. So you want to talk about race? And most recently, mediocre the dangerous legacy of white male America. I but she learned a little bit about that in Texas. She has twice been named to the root 100. And in 2020, she received the Harvard Humanist of the Year award. Her work on race has been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post. And she once survived an interview with Rachel Dolezal. Please welcome another black woman just trying to heal America. Ijeoma Oluo.


Ijeoma Oluo Thanks for having me. I'm excited about this conversation.


Grace Thank you for being here. I mean, she is very impressive, but we're not here to talk about your many, many, many accomplishments. Ijeoma We are here to get deep.


Amy Yeah, let's check in first. How are you feeling today? Like, for real, not small talk. Is there anything weighing on you or bringing you up?


Ijeoma Oluo You know, I don't know. You know, I just. I just ordered a, like, therapy lamp.


Amy Ooh, tell me about that. What's that?


Ijeoma Oluo Born in Texas, we live in Seattle, and there is no sun at all. You know, like, we had, like, three days that look like it was turning into spring up all my winter clothes away. And now it's been like 45 degrees everyday and gray.


Amy No.


Grace Oh my goodness.


Ijeoma Oluo And it's sad and awful. And I like having to change my foundation color every month, you know? So I finally went like one of those, like, therapy lips that makes you feel like you have sun.


Grace Like it's sun.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah, it's supposed to, like, help you get through your day a little better because I can't afford a vacation every other week. And I know, you know, I can't get anything done.


Grace Yes. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think that's what it's called. Like when you suffer because of lack of light. Yeah, that's that's real.


Ijeoma Oluo And here in Seattle, there's a lot of that. So, yeah, today I just finally it was like, okay, you know, obviously I need I need to be able to function if I'm going to keep living here. But otherwise, you know, I'm doing okay. It's been a weird yeah, I would say these last couple of days looking at the news to be a black woman existing on social media in any sense. And so that's been a little overwhelming. Yeah, but I got it off my chest. Yeah. And I got to talk about it a bit, and now I'm just trying to get back to life.


Amy Well, we're here to help raise your vibration. We want you to feel good. This show is called The Antidote because life is hard, and we all need different antidotes to deal with the bullsh--. So what's your antidote this week? What's something non-work-related that's bringing you joy this week or this month or this year?


Ijeoma Oluo Oh, I did my nails. And I think.


Grace Oh, my God.


Amy Wait. Describe them. Describe them for our listeners.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah. So basically I, I like to play with nail art and I had some and I look and it's like white lines basically, and you just randomly kind of scribble with white and then you fill in the little sections that the scribbles make with different colors. So I've got like some of my favorites bright yellow, deep pink, chill blue. And I don't know, it just feels like bright and sunny. That was a fun project to kind of toss myself into.


Amy You did it yourself.


Ijeoma Oluo That's good fun.


Grace Wow.


Ijeoma Oluo Yes. Yes. I spend a lot of time on these little tiny creative projects. It's a lot of fun. And then we saw Ailey this weekend.


Amy What's it, Ailey?


Grace Alvin Ailey. Alvin Ailey Dance. 


Amy Oh my. I have always wanted to see them. I saw them in college once, but I've always wanted to see them again. I it's the end of that sentence.


Ijeoma Oluo It was beautiful and we haven't done things in so long because of the pandemic. And not only was it wonderful to do this beautiful thing, but also because at Seattle there was an overrepresentation of blacks. Yeah, yeah. You know, and this about coming through. And so we got to see people we haven't seen in over two years. And it was just such a lovely thing to see these beautiful, you know, black dancers and the celebration of a Black body.


Grace Yeah.


Ijeoma Oluo And a Black audience coming together for the first time in a long time. And we were all dressed up and. Yeah, it was. That was a lot of fun.


Grace Oh, that's beautiful. I mean, I've seen the Alvin Ailey dancers in New York a few times, and I used to live in New York and oh my goodness, the shapes that they can make with their bodies, like, I like, took a picture of theirs and I got it put on canvas and it's in my living room as part of my, my inspiration, all of like, you know, happy people that I have in my world that watch over me. But they are so amazing. It's like you take a picture. It's like. Like almost every move is a picture. Yeah.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah, absolutely. And the way. They do the lighting and everything. It's just I love it too, because, you know, if you go see The Nutcracker or something like that, it's like the stage in the set. But when you see the Ailey dancers, it's the dancers and this beautiful lighting that really highlights all of them, the.


Grace Skin, yes.


Ijeoma Oluo Reactions that they're making with their movement. And just that like a little tiny movement. And you see all these like ripples as their muscles move and it's just beautiful and you know, the music and yeah. So yeah, that was lovely. That was a really, you know, fun weekend. I saw there was a bus ad that drove by and it was like and I was like, Oh, no, no. I pulled over. And it's not like I just needed I needed like that hit of Black community that that can be really hard to find out.


Amy Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm so curious about that. Living in Seattle, one of one of our friends is is from Seattle and he's black and he definitely was like, yeah, like I have a weird, like, you know, connection to race and talking about race, which I feel like must have influenced some of your writing, like getting into the things that you write about.


Ijeoma Oluo Absolutely. I think growing up in a place where it's considered rude to talk about anything that might make white people uncomfortable, you learn to understand what isn't said. So this is not a place where someone's going to come up to you and say something blatantly racist. Yeah, they're going to smile at you and treat you so differently and you really have to figure out what's going on. And I don't know if I'd be the writer I am if I grew up in a place that actually just handed the racism to me, like, this is what it is, because I really did have to investigate and dove deep to to protect my sanity. Right. You know, in a space that will tell you it loves you and loves everyone and voted for Obama. And it certainly doesn't act that way. And you got to figure out how this how this works for your own protection and just to be able to function in the world. So yeah, it's definitely a space that can be really damaging. You know, I've lived here since I was two, three years old. And when I when I see other people who live here and grew up here, if you grew up in an area, you know, we had a couple of redlined neighborhoods. Like my partner was lucky enough to be born and raised in one of those neighborhoods where he was surrounded by black people. Hmm. That's a really unique experience. Yeah. If you didn't grow up in that, you either made a lot of compromises and you become an adult who doesn't know who you are. And you carry a lot of pain that you shut down. Or you become someone who got used to making a lot of people uncomfortable and saying whatever. And that's kind of me. That's kind of who I was when I was like, Okay, well, you know, this whole conforming thing isn't going to work. I might as well go out swinging. And that's kind of how I've been living my life for quite a while now, right?


Grace Well, that I mean, I can relate. Yeah, I grew up going to Catholic school in Michigan and yeah, it was the same sort of thing. I shrunk myself for a long time until I got to the point where I'm just like, okay, well done, shrinking. So you going to get these words? You can't get this, this, me or whatever. And if it makes you uncomfortable, it makes you uncomfortable.


Amy It became a little bit for me, like a conscious effort because I, I had never obviously growing up you never hear the term respectability politics or anything like that. And I, I'm Nigerian and like my family was always like, stand up, stand up straight, like, you know, speak correctly, enunciate and all these things. And but then I realized, like, one does not reject the other. Like, you can be whoever you are. And I almost made it a choice. As I got older, I was like, Oh yeah, I can be the Stanford girl who curses like a sailor and says n----- and like, doesn't censor herself in different spaces. And you're just gonna have to take all of me because I contain multitudes of Blackness like it just became so important to me to fully be myself. I didn't realize I was holding back until I entered more spaces where there were more Black people. And I was like, Oh, wait, I want to feel, yeah, real. I want to feel fully like myself all the time.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah. I think like a lot of our survival depends day to day when we can't escape, you know, like, like, like therapist psychiatrists will say that, you know, a lot of how you deal with stress depends on how much agency you've had in your formative years. So, like, if you couldn't escape a situation, then you will detach. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that a lot of us, a lot of black people and especially black women have to do that because we are not given a lot of agency in the world, especially as we're younger. And so we detach, but it's still there. And I think that once you touch that, once you get into that, you can't forget. It's like this flood that comes out and yeah, it's yeah, yeah. And that's it. That's there's no going back once that happens, you know. And I just figure that like, oh, I'm either going to get fired from every job I have from here on out saying something or I'm good after, like find my own way. And, you know, I lost almost every friend. I had almost every bit of community I had. And it was it was almost like, you know, cleansing with fire. And at the end, you know, I'm I am a more whole person, but I couldn't for a second shrink back. Like I don't even know how it's it would be absolutely impossible.


Amy Sounds like a fair trade to me, as Drake would say. Well, here's the thing. You've had a lot of conversations with white people about their whiteness and, you know, white people about their trying to be blackness, i.e., Rachel Dolezal. How do you keep on doing that? Like where do you find the patience to keep having these conversations?


Ijeoma Oluo You know, I think for me, I'm every time I'm looking for the potential benefit before I do it. So I say no a lot.


Grace Okay.


Amy Yeah, that's healthy.


Ijeoma Oluo You know, like once I when I interviewed Rachel Dolezal, which by the way, I only did because. Probably my favorite editor on the planet, Charles Moore, did ask me to and if it hadn't been a black man that I trusted, had worked with pushing me and telling me that he had a vision for this, that he thought I could really do this. I said no. The first time he called. He left me a voicemail. And I remember I was doing an event, and it was right after Rachel Dolezal had changed her name to catch me, which is my sister's name, by the way.


Amy Yes. I remember reading that and being like, oh, man.


Ijeoma Oluo And I was like, This bitch, I can't I can't with her. Yeah. And I just went, you know, doing this. And then I get a missed call from Charles. And I looked at it and I said, Oh, this asshole. He's going to try to get me to do something about Rachel Dolezal. I just know it. And so I avoided him. I didn't call him back and he called me. He's like, no, hear me out. Hear me out. Hear me out now. It's going to be amazing. Is this like Zimbabwean accent and this plan and. After I did that interview, which was draining and, you know, sitting in someone's house who hates you and and views you as a threat to this whole scam, even though, you know, for like eight oh, 8 minutes. I was there all day. I was so tired. Mm hmm. And after that came out and it was, you know, it made the mark that it made, which was bigger than I could have ever imagined. Suddenly, every single problematic white person, people were like, you should have be homeless. No, no, come on, y'all. Like, you have to love me. And so for me, I just look at it and say, like, do I actually benefit? Do I benefit from this to other black women benefit from this? And that's really, you know, unless it's someone in my life that I personally love. Yeah. Mm hmm. That's kind of the criteria I'm looking at in these conversations. I am not trying to better white people in any way, shape or form. I don't have time to mention too of them. Yeah, just. I'm outnumbered.


Grace So you got to state. Like, what did Jamar used to say? Save yourself this. Like, you got to. You also have to save yourself. Like, if you were just doing that all the time. And I love that you say no all the time because it you that's a way that you protect yourself from downloading everyone's feelings or having to answer the same questions over and over again. Because we don't have any education about race in this country, you know?


Ijeoma Oluo Mm hmm. I always try to remember that it's dangerous to carry around the pessimism of what white people are capable of. It's fine to be a realist of what they do well, but what they're capable of, that pessimism is something that whiteness leans into this thought like, Oh, if you were direct with me, I'll die, I'll fall apart. I can't handle it. I can't learn. Give me time. And here we are, thrown in the deep end of racism. From. From the womb. Yeah. Mm hmm. And figuring it out and building a language for it while fighting it. Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, I don't think it serves anyone to think, like, oh, me having the seventh conversation with this one white person is going to do anything. All it does is reaffirm the fact that they need to be hand-held through the entire process, and they don't. Mm hmm. And and also, like, I am worth more than that. They are not worth more than me. They're not worth that level of my time. And if I have to spend more time in whiteness than I spend in community, something's really wrong.


Amy Oh, my gosh. That is. Yes, that I, I so much is coming my head right now. Just even that if I have to spend more time in whiteness than I do in community, something is really wrong.


Ijeoma Oluo Publishing is overwhelmingly white and my first book, I was the only black person who touched my book and it went out into stores and and it's frustrating because you're fighting and battling. But if I had to spend all day.


Amy You're like at least it's just a phone call with an editor or two. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Well, I am curious. Like, you come from a family of amazing artists, like, not only your brother, I'm awfully his wife, Lindy West, who's also a writer and who we also hope to have on the podcast someday. And I'm curious, are you able to lean on each other through the creative process, or does it feel like are you more of a writer who's like, No, I'd like to just sort my sh-- out over here because I lean on Grace. So I'm curious about.


Grace And I lean on you.


Amy Your inner circle, even though writing can be an isolated process. Who you lean on?


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah. When I first started, I absolutely did. You know, Lindy had been writing much longer than me. You know, she she went that traditional path through, you know, English degrees and, you know, internships and things that I like as a poor, black single mom, young, single mom, like, did not have. And so when I first started writing, I was almost 30 and didn't know what a pitch was. I remember like, Oh, what's a pitch? I don't know. What is this? Meaning, I keep hearing it. I assume it means I'm tossing something at somebody.


Amy I keep saying I'm going to do it, but yeah.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah. I just need like.


Grace Do I need a glove? Do I need a special glove?


Ijeoma Oluo What part of this thing that I throw gets money thrown back at me? That's the thing. I, you know, you stand. And so, like, in the beginning, you know, I was so scared. Writing was really hard. I remember I had a full panic attack the first time I ever published anything.


Amy Yeah.


Ijeoma Oluo And I did have my brother read it. My sister in law read it multiple times, said, tell me. Because, you know, black women are told time and time again, don't make things about you. Don't take up this space. It's selfish. If you're writing anything that's not in service of others, then you are being selfish. And it was a really personal piece, my very first piece, and I literally was bawling snot coming out of my nose like, I can't do this. And then they had to tell me multiple times it was good. And so navigating early on, like my sister in law, absolutely helped me a lot. And there were a lot of other like women writers in particular who gave me advice, who read pieces. You kind of just pumped up my confidence. And then, you know, now I would say I don't really, you know, occasionally we'll talk shop like Thanksgiving, people. I want to go to Thanksgiving at your house. Look, all we do is complain about like our, you know, our publishing industry and complain about trolls on the Internet. It's so awful. It's so depressing. Like, you would think we're the most miserable people on earth because we, like, store that. But now, you know, I do actually like, you know, my my partner is a musician and a writer and a DJ. And so I talk with him a lot like we, you know, as a having a black man who, you know, I know a black person in the house who is in a creative field in public spaces. We, you know, he's the first person to read almost everything I write. And then I have other writers really across the country because Seattle is and have a lot of people in it to lean on who, you know, when we have a crisis and there's always weird stuff, you know, like when I got swatted and my mental health was really struggling, you know, it was black writers who were really like, remind me to eat, reminded me to take care of myself. And then when they would get attacked, when they got SWAT, you know, like, like when Damon Young got swatted, that was a phone call we had. You know, he was like, Hey, the weird club I'm in now.


Amy Longtime listener, first time caller.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah exactly. Yeah. I'm blessed to have community throughout the country that I work really hard to try to maintain. And and I'm super blessed to have a partner who gets it. My last book, because last book was hard, you know, mediocre was I in the middle of this pandemic, you know, in the middle of these uprisings? Yeah. I'm writing about the history of, like, the murder and torture of black people by white supremacy. And I was falling apart. And I just remember, as I have these big deadlines and usually, you know, you like stop showering. You just like, right, right. Right. And my partner stayed up with me for like three days straight, just googling anything I needed him to Google and just bringing me food, keeping the kids out of my way. And he kept looking to me, We're doing this, we can do this, we can do this and did not nap until the moment I turned that draft in. And then just like that, you know, the first book I wrote all by myself and I remember how awful that was. And the second book, like having someone in there like I can, I can go on about like. 


Amy Does he do house calls? Because I could use a hand.


Grace Do he have a brother?


Amy You want to come to LA. LA's sunny.I'm just saying.


Grace I need some of that in my life and I'm in the house all the time.


Amy It's mad sunny here. It's like, too much sun.


Grace You know what I'm saying. I'm still single, you know, out here trying to find a king that can support me, too.


Amy Exactly. Sit up by me while I watch Mean Girls for the 15th time and call it research.


Grace Well, I could just pitch dick dick jokes to him all day. I just like, did you like that one? Did that make you feel emasculated? Good, good. That's what I want you to feel that is so refined that you have and in an entirely separate page dedicated to your makeup does like what about makeup brings you joy?


Ijeoma Oluo Oh, man is always brought me joy like so I love art. Yeah you know. And I was always that artistic kid that was like, you should be an artist. You grab your ship. And that was never my desire. Like, I loved it. It was an outlet for me. And I love makeup since I was, like, four. Like, you know, my mom would give me all her old makeup, which is funny because my mom is white. So I like to mess, you know.


Amy You're just like the wrong foundation, the pinkest white face.


Ijeoma Oluo Oh, yeah. Like the ash, you know, the dead. Looking at the lips, like, that'll do it. Everything. Yeah. And I would smuggle it in the school and at recess, I would open up an umbrella and sit under it so that the playground teachers would see me and just cover my face and whatever makeup I had managed to, like, sneak out of the house. So I've just always loved it. And the more I write, the more it's turned into, you know, like I've said before, you can't think about white supremacy and that f--- up and winged eyeliner, so you just got to focus. And it's the thing every day where I'm focusing on myself, I'm doing something colorful and fun. And so I always that's always been a presence in my social media. And, you know, like, like you were saying, I mean, like before, like people didn't even know. Some people come to me like I didn't even know you were about yeah, I used to do it all the time. And then people wanted more of me and people kept feeling entitled. They were like, you know, I'm a I really come here for your brain and not for your makeup. Oh, well, they don't pay me anything, so I don't really care, you know? And it was just annoying and and I wanted a space where I could just be as into it as I wanted and flood the page and not confuse people. And so I just put in a separate Instagram where, you know, I can just pop it in there. And it's fun because I get to talk just about makeup and the ethics of consumerism too, but never not weird or boring.


Amy You're like, I'm still me. Yeah, I'm still educate you all. Just going to look real pretty doing it.


Ijeoma Oluo Exactly.


Amy But also, like I would say, during the pandemic, you're like because during the pandemic, like, we all, like, became mega slobs. I mean, the pandemic still there on let's be honest, people still dying. Okay? Like we know COVID is here forever, but during the year, during lockdown, like, I just became a full slob. Like, there was a moment I quit shaving my legs because I was like, What's the point? And then one day I went outside and the wind blew and I felt it go through the hair on my leg. And I was like, Oh, I'm going to shave my legs. This is feminism choosing. This is none of them. But your posts, like I like, reminded me I could be pretty for me. Like seeing your face and like there was one where you had this copper lipstick on and like, and I was just like, Oh, wow, she's in her house being beautiful because she enjoys that. And I was like, I can do that because so much of why I was so excited to chat with you is because of the joy you brought me during the darkness of the pandemic. And yeah, like literally makeup is in its own way. It is an antidote. It is like a thing that you can do just for you. It's like making your house beautiful. It's like, you know, painting your toes, painting your nails. These are things that you can just do for you. And I love that you have a separate Instagram devoted to it because you're like, It's for me if you all tune in and that's cool.


Ijeoma Oluo Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it's funny because the responses I get, you know, at first it was like, I love this thing. I'm proud of this. Look, I want people to see this cool thing I made. Yeah, that was it. But people come up to me at events crying about what it means to them. I've had people say, you know, I went through cancer and lost my hair and didn't think I could ever feel beautiful. And yet I watch how you just wear whatever makes you feel good and you're always trying something I would have never imagined trying.


Amy Ijeoma Wow. I feel so much better now that we've talked to you. Like.


Grace Yeah, like sh-- sucks, but it sucks a little less. Yeah.


Ijeoma Oluo This was lovely. Yeah. This little dose of, like, Black phone conversation at night. Yeah. Before I have to go into a board meeting is one thing. I'm going to go in so much more energized and I love that. This was lovely.


Amy Thank you. Do you have anything coming up that you want to tell us about? Anything you'd like to plug? It could even be something you just love, not something you created.


Ijeoma Oluo You know? I mean, I would say right now I am I am still really excited about my newsletter that I've been doing my substack just because when you're writing books, a lot of times you stop writing articles like I don't have the bandwidth on those assignments. So now I have every week a chance to like actually comment on things in a way that's more thought out than Facebook or Twitter. Yeah, but less formal than an article. And so if people want to check it out or, you know, are you used to following me back in the day when they used to click on these articles I wrote, that's the space where all of my hot takes. Personal stories, weird random complaints. Everything is drama oluo. I figure you learn that name. You shouldn't have to learn another. So Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. That's where you'll find me under. Ijeoma Oluo


Grace Yeah. And buy her books, y'all. Please. Bye. They're amazing.


Amy Bye.


Grace Bye. Oh, my God. I love talking to her. It kind of felt like her heart touched my heart. Is that weird to say?


Amy No, but I get it bitch. That was so amazing. I'm going to go subscribe to that substack.


Grace Okay. Now we're going to do our creative tap in, in which we tap, tap, tap in. Now to our creativity. Okay. You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. Hmm. That is by Maya Angelou. I'll say it one more time. You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. Maya Angelou.


Amy Hey. Maya Angelou. You said that. Should I? First of all, her. She should be a real good coaches. Like she should be stacking them quotes like.


Grace Yeah. I mean, poetess.


Amy Yeah.


Grace Activist.


Amy Quote-tress.


Grace Yes. Quote-tress. Yeah. A queen all around R.I.P..


Amy Yeah. I love that quote. And I'm so glad she left us with so much gold on this wretched earth. I'm glad that we have people like her to turn to to remember that creativity is limitless. I love this quote because it makes me think of the fact that, like, when when I'm not writing even and I don't want to say it, I'm going to procrastinate away because I think this is a procrastinate. But even if I'm not writing, if I'm doing something creative, I'm still kind of feeding my writing. So like as a kid, I actually was artistic in a lot of other ways. I used to dance, I played the flute, I did theater, and I did spoken word for a moment. No offense is not a word artist, but like, you know, so when I was younger, I used to do a lot of artistic sh-- and it led me to writing. And there was a while when I first got into writing that it was kind of the only creative thing I did. And I, it became like I used to come up with all these stories, but then when I was only writing, I literally couldn't come up with anything. And I realized I had to tap back into other forms of creativity to keep the channels open, I guess. So that that's what the quote makes me think of is just like the more you invest in your creativity, the more it invests in you, the more abundance of it you have. What about you? What does it make you think of?


Grace It makes me think of. Like there used to be a time when I used to think I was going to run out of ideas. Hmm. I was just like, what if I just have one script in me?


Amy Oh damn.


Grace Just have one. You don't know what to make.


Amy Biggest fear of my life.


Grace This is like. No, I mean, one hit, one real fear. Yeah, exactly. I was just like, because, you know, you see it happen all the time. You know, somebody just does one one film or one one show or one book or, you know, it's just it was something that I really struggled with becoming a writer, you know, because I sort of I started out as an actor and, you know, an actor, you're the material is generated for you and stuff like that. And I was like, Oh, well, I have like kind of an idea of what I want to say. But I was worried that that the more I did it, I was like going to have like a finite amount of ideas and that I was one day going to run out. But what I realized is, you know, Ms.. Angelo just said is that, no, actually your brain starts forming connections or whatever between things. Yeah. So you walk around in your living life and your brain is making it into stories. Yeah. And so in that way, you can't ever really run out of ideas because you're experiencing things every day. The cashier you interact with on the street, you know, the thing that you see, like on a walk, like sometimes you just see a random diaper on the ground and you're just like, What happened there? You know? So it's like. And then your brain starts making a story because you're practicing the art of writing in a so, you know, you just begin to do that. And also is reminding me that I used to do this thing. I used to do this book, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. Yeah. And part of, you know, you're creative. You know, as for creative recovery, I'm not in recovery. I make my living doing this. But, you know, it's sometimes good to, like, use some of those those tools to help. And the artists date with something that I used to really enjoy doing. So once a week you're supposed to take yourself on artist date, meaning doing something creative that doesn't have to do with your chosen form of art. So go to a museum, go to like, I think like a sticker store, or just like.


Amy You're supposed to be single. 


Grace I'm really good at it.


Amy I'm like. I can do that.


Grace Just going to consume other art, basically. Like, you know, I used to, like when I was like.


Amy Intentionally, not sadly.


Grace Yeah. Yeah. Like when I was in New York, obviously Broadway was there, and I'd been a big theater nerd since I was a kid. So I would, you know, even when I didn't have any money, I would just go and stand in the TKTS line or I'd do the lottery for tickets and I would just go and, you know, watch Broadway. You know, I was always targeting TV and film, but to watch a good play, to watch a good musical to to go to Alvin Ailey like gets just talked about. Yeah. You know to do yeah or just like go to go to the symphony, you know, just do some just consume art that's beyond TV and film, which is my chosen art form. It can just, you know, the more you experience creativity, the more you use your creativity, the more you have, as the quote says. And I truly do believe that.


Amy I love that. I mean I mean, we're in agreement.


Grace Well, thanks for listening to the antidote. We hope this injected a little bit of joy into your week. I know it did mine. How about you, Amy?


Amy I feel good, girl. We should do this again sometime. Oh, we'll be here next week.


Grace And in the meantime, if you'd like to follow us on social, follow me. Grace. At Gracyact. That's G-R-A-C-Y-A-C-T. 


Amy And follow me. Amy at AmyAniobi. That's A-M-Y-A-N-I-O-B-I. And follow the show at theeantidotepod.


Grace That's thee with two E's.


Amy If you like feeling good about yourself, please subscribe at Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcast and also rate us five stars. Goodbye and don't forget to moisturize. The Antidote is hosted by us, Amy Aniobi and Grace Edwards. The show's production team includes senior producer Se'era Spragley Ricks. Associate producer Taylor Polydore and Marcel Malekebu.


Grace Our executive producer is Erica Kraus and our editor is Erika Janik. Sound Mixing by Derek Ramirez.


Amy Digital Production by Mijoe Sahiouni. Talent Booking by Marianne Ways. Our theme music was composed and produced by TT the Artist and Cosmo The Truth.


Grace APM studio executives in charge are Chandra Kavati, Alex Schaffert and Joanne Griffith. Concept created by Amy Aniobi and Grace Edwards.


Amy Send us your antidotes at And remember to follow us on social at theeantidotepod. That's thee with two E's, y'all.


Grace The Antidote is a production of American Public Media.


Amy Oh we back.