Listen to our 2-part conversation with Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell of Victory & Noble on The Nasiona Podcast‘s episodes 30 and 31 “Global International African Arts Movement,” which are both part of our Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series.
In the second episode of our 2-part conversation, Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell of Victory & Noble continue to unpack what it means to be a prophet in the Global International African Arts Movement, as well as what it means to be an evangelist, a seer, and a manifester; they open up about their most memorable conversations with cultural icons and how these conversations transformed them; they challenge the Hollywood industrial complex and push forward to reclaim our voices and tell our own stories.
Julián Esteban Torres López, Tori Reid, Patrick A. Howell
In the book you break up or organize the book starting off with the prophets. We also go into the evangelists, which Tori’s a part of, and the seers and manifestors. Can you talk a little bit about that? How that organization came about? Did you have an idea of the organization of the book in the beginning or as…
No, I didn’t, I just kind of looked at…I mean, I had an idea of prophets and evangelists for a while inside of my mind. But I didn’t have an idea of the book being organized in that way until I was told by my publisher that I needed to organize the book in that way. And then I looked at who I’d interview. And then, there’s people like you Julián that are insistent upon getting a very specific message out to people in terms of the stories that they tell themselves. Well, that is an evangelist. That is somebody that is not MSNBC, that is not Fox News, that is not CNN, that is not the endless tweets, that is not the endless Facebook. That is not the, you know, the social media. And that whole complex. Saying, well, I want to give a voice that is very specific. And I want to help, and I want to heal. That there’s an intention behind it. That is not salacious, that is not marketing, that is not branding. It’s organic, and it’s organic to the human spirit. So that’s an evangelist.
Prophet, as we were talking about with the Dr. Harry Edwards. As we were talking about, you know, with the Abiodun Oyewoles, (one of the last poets) or the Nikki Giovannis, Jaki Shelton Greens, Ingrid Baars, Sevan Bomar. Prophets are people that…you know, in some ways, they’re architects of the culture. You know, they’re so powerful: what they say and what they know and what they do. You know, if you’re going to talk to Jaki Shelton Green, who was another mentor, – and I call her godmother – who’s the poet laureate of North Carolina. And I said: you know, Jaki, you’ve got to be the poet laureate of the United States. She would sit there and tell me: “I don’t care.” And she’s like: that’s not why I do what I do. The reason why I do what I do is because it’s healing. That’s why I engage in poetry. That’s why I teach poetry to postmen, to housewives: because it’s healing. That’s why I do that work here in the United States. And I do it through Sister Sister, because I want people to heal themselves.
And so it’s really, you know, it’s kind of, um…you know, a prophet is something somebody that is, in many ways, unimpeachable in their integrity even though they’re humans. You know, I don’t want to, you know, lift these people up to, you know, stations and things that… they have an integrity over a period of time. Their life transcends. The life of an individual person, per se. And they become symbols. They become, you know, if you say, James Baldwin, he symbolizes something. He means something to somebody that’s outside of the person that he might have been. You know, who is the author, the fire, the next time, whatever. He symbolizes something to people. These people like Nikki Giovanni, like Jaki Shelton Green, they serve something that is greater than them. And they do it with the spirit of service. And they do it consistently. You know, you know, mentioning Muhammad Ali and throwing such reverence upon his name. But at a certain time point, he was hated in American society, he was absolutely vilified. And now everybody looks at him as a hero. You know, the guy who lit the fire, the torch at the Atlanta Olympics and had Parkinson’s and this kind of a thing. But at the height of his power, he made a decision that had nothing to do with power. It had nothing to do with his well-being. It had everything to do with his love for his people. And that’s why he’s the champion amongst champions.
So there’s something about a prophet that is prophetic. And it’s very, it’s not, you know, you know, Bible thumping, you know, don’t do that. It’s not that. It’s: look at what they did. And look at what they represent and look at what they say. And look what happens because of what they say. Look what happens from what they say. You know, Nikki Giovanni’s sister predates the Coronavirus by two years in terms of what she’s saying. Even when it sounds completely irrational at the time: that’s a prophet. So that’s prophets and evangelists. Seers, you know, folks that work with mediums as Tori does, as Mobolaji, does – another filmmaker, an award-winning documentary filmmaker. And in Pasadena, as so many different filmmakers work, are artists that are painters are sculptors. These are people that work in visual modes of communications and these visual modes convey something to the spirit of an unlimited future. Art conveys something from where we’ve come. And it conveys that message as plain as day for everybody to see that. You may not comprehend it, because you’ve got the harness on of the Hollywood industrial complex, but your spirit begins to respond to it in very specific ways. You begin to feel a sense of awe, or you feel a sense of inspiration or you feel a longing to the past, or whatever. And these visual artists, like I said, whether they’re painters sculptors, whether they’re filmmakers, whether they’re paint…. you know, drawers try to, you know, work in comic book drawing, illustrations or whatever, they illustrate a future that is unlimited. And you see it in the here and now. They just plainly put that up for everybody to see.
And then in the last section – after prophets, evangelists, seers – is that of manifestors and they are people like, like myself, people like yourself with Nasiona – people like Tori Reed, creating her company Victory & Noble – are creating different pieces through entrepreneurial or enterprising activities. And they create these things almost out of nowhere. It comes from a place that’s deep inside of them. It’s not even dependent upon the structures that are outside. It’s not dependent upon legal, financial, whatever. It’s like this thing will be created no matter what. Now, it can be created within the context of laws with crowdfunding, it can be created or…whatever. But you know, these things are going to happen because there’s a vision inside of them for which they create. The people like the Van Jones are, you know, creating. You know, people that create like gardens inside of urban neighborhoods and make that into something where people can enjoy the fruits of their labor and that kind of thing. And they create these new realities. So that’s a manifestor. Not explicitly an entrepreneur, enterprising person, but somebody that is aligned with that energy. So that was kind of me just looking at who I interviewed and saying, well, this is what these people do. And this is, this is this is how it works. And this is what I see. And some of these ideas I’ve had in my mind for decades and some of them were just more recent. You know, as manifestors are seers and having the opportunity to interview people like Malik and Karen Seneferu of the Bay Area. And understanding that they are visual artists that work in painting at the highest levels. But at the same time, they’re actually activists inside of their communities. So yeah.
Having spoken with so many people – and this is for both you Tori and Patrick – whether it’s conversations, life experiences, interviews for the podcast, or the book, what would have been some of the most surprising or enlightening takeaways from all those conversations for you? How have they shaped you?
I’m gonna, yeah I’m gonna let Tori, have that one cuz she’s had some amazing conversations with global icons in the past nine months. And if, if you need me to, I can do some, but I want that to be your answer, so…
Well, uh well of course I have to, I have to begin with Phylicia Rashad. For me the most powerful moment I’ve had – impactful, self-actualizing, inspiring moment was Phylicia Rashad. She was someone I met in my 20s. And just being around her – and we spoke about it on the podcast – it was on the set of the movie “When we were…” “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored” and you know, it was…it was one of those experiences where my father was the director. One thing about my father, which he’s admired for it, he always makes sure that he has…you know, there are a lot of films you’ve seen, where, you know, above the line talent you’ll have people of color, but below that line talent – high end camera crew, BP, zappers, grip, craft services or PA, whatever – you don’t see people of color. And so he’s someone on his journey that’s insured that he usually has over 50% people of color below the line down, or at least half. And so in this instance, you know, on this project, it was such.
And so we always, well, he always laughed and said “Okay, we got the black people equipment.” Because we always had some piece of equipment breaking down. Something was always breaking down. And that was, it created a lot of chaos and confusion. Because of course, you’re trying to stick to this budget and you’re trying to stick to the shooting scheduling after you get certain pages in the can before the end of day. So, long story short, Phylicia, being one of the leads – along Al Freeman Jr, (the late Al Freeman Jr,) Paula Kelly – she would come on to the set and she, in the midst of stuff breaking down and you know, things going awry…and she would just sit. She would just be basically. And I’ve never met anyone quite like her. But at 20 something, I didn’t know what that was. But I said “I want to be that.” That is, her presence is so strong. It’s so spiritual. It feels so good, so right and it changes things around. That energy just changes things around her.
And so, in any event I wanted to be that. So fast forward. We’re doing a podcast in December of last year. And as I knew I would say to her again, just going with the flow: the podcast was, we had titled it “What makes Phylicia Phylicia” because she is this this powerful spirit. And she’s definitely a spirit first, human being second, third, what have you. And so I was looking at her and I was like “you, you…” I said, “I know you’re not perfect. I know you have flesh around here somewhere. But you seem to do everything just right.” You know, and I said, “you, you’ve always, since I’ve known you, you just have this Zen, you have this this glow. You, you just do everything right. And you just have this beauty you…” And I was just saying all the things how I see her. And she said, she like before my eyes and Patrick’s like it was just the three of us in this room, in this suite in Santa Monica. And she’s like, she answers like: “But dear, oh dear.” She becomes like Glinda from the Wizard of Oz. There’s this wand all of a sudden, and it’s like the glitter and sparkle around her. And she’s like, “oh, but dear you have it, too”. And she’s like, “all the things you see in me, you are them. That’s why you see them.” And she’s, and she’s just telling me about me. She like slowly rolled up the mirror. And she’s…now basically, the rules are reversed. I’m no longer the interviewer quote unquote. And she’s now telling me about me through her eyes, someone that I looked up to and said, that is who, out of all people I’ve met in my life, that is who I aspire to be. She’s basically saying, you are already those things i.e. the red slippers you’ve been wearing them all this time.
And so that moment, I mean I have tears in my eyes. That she of all people is telling this to me. And I’ve heard, of course I have loving parents and friends and family and people that told me “Tori you’re beautiful, Tori, you’re a good person.” But it was something extra when the person you aspire to be is telling you that. And so for me, back to your question, it’s been moments like that during this podcast, have literally changed my life, have awakened me. And the wonderful thing is, we had comments on the podcast. I got calls with people saying “oh my gosh, Tori,” women calling me saying “she was speaking to me too,” you know. And so, other lives were touched and I believe changed in some way because of that. And so that…even Blair, you know, we sat down with Blair Underwood this week, this past week Wednesday. And one thing that I’ve always seen in him, he’s always comfortable in his skin. He has this vibe, he has his energy. Just how he moves, how he talks. So those are the things, and what I always say, you know, to people, when people ask me “what is, what is your podcast like?”
Our podcast, what we wanted to do was something different and special. There are a gazillion podcasts. Podcast is the thing right now. So you can’t walk without stepping on several of them, or you know, them popping up on YouTube or what have you. But, I wanted to do something, Patrick wanted to do something different. We spoke to Walter Mosley last week. And so you can Google Walter Mosley and find out his advice to writers. What a first-time writer should do or you know, you want to hear about fiction. That’s out there. Well, why should we spend time on our podcasts just repeating the same thing. And what we’re doing and I think we’re doing it exceptionally well – I’m proud of it. I know Patrick’s proud of it. What we’re doing is, not to sound corny, but it’s like getting to the heart of the person. We want people to know the person behind the acting, or behind the writing, you know. And that’s something that, that we’re focused on. So when you listen to our podcasts, no matter who it is, whether it’s Nikki Giovanni, Blair Underwood, Walter Mosley, major Rachel Cargle, as you mentioned earlier, Julián who you are fond of, it’s like we’re focused on learning about the person. And what that looks like, what their spirit is. We want to hear from their spirit. Well, I hear from their heart. So when you have that approach to a podcast and you’re hearing that, from that perspective, you can’t help but walk away with so many things for yourself to incorporate in your own life to feel inspired. And that’s, and that’s our, in our description of the podcast. The first line is, “Are you looking for inspiration?” And we did that purposely because that’s what we know you gain from our podcasts. So…
What beautiful moments.
Yes. Yes. Yeah.
Patrick, how about you? Any of the most memorable conversations or…?
I mentioned Nikki Giovanni already. Obviously, you know, Tori and I was…that’s one of the profiles that’s in the book. And we’ve grown from that conversation or conversation similar to that. Of business that we’re very proud of, and, and, and engages us full time and gives us the opportunity to do really incredible things in the world. You know, one of the conversations that will be had that are, that are kind of interesting with the book was, there were some…you know, my publishers, you know…one of the profiles that I included was, was Tariq Goddard’s. And, you know, he’s English, of Turkish background and English background. And he said, “You know, I’m a white, guy” he says. “Why would you include me in something that’s called Global international African Arts Movement?” And I said, “because it’s a spirit.” And I’m very clear about that. And there’s nothing inside of me that’s exclusionary say, well, you know, as black, black, black. It’s, it’s the spirit, you know, it’s Clarence Thomas really, of the African Diaspora. You know, Clarence Thomas posted the Supreme Court art.
Any number of different folks. And one of the folks that I interviewed was Tom Lutz. And that was actually a conversation that led to a great many other realities that are unfolding. We’ve had the opportunity to work with the podcasts on The Los Angeles Review of Books before with Tom Lutz, who is the founder of that platform – also a faculty chair at UC Riverside. The honest view, every single conversation that I had was transformative to me, every single one. And that book covers 58 profiles. I’ve probably done pretty close to 100 of them. And every single profile, every single conversation…this conversation is transformative in and of itself in terms of the information that is received in terms of listening to you listen to us. And receive the information, understanding that we had the opportunity to, you know, have our voices heard to an audience. Every single address for every single conversation that I’ve had has been transformative in some way shape or another.
Going back to the – love what you said Tori about focus of your podcasts. And it really going to seeing the human, the individual behind the, whatever, the front stages of how we know that person. Turning the mirror back to you, how did you become who you became, Tori? Like, how did you become this evangelist, the manifestor?
Touché. Um, well, I think it’s personal. I think…Well, my evangelism begins with writing. And I think I started writing, and I began writing, I wrote books on it. And I started journaling very young. And I found that journaling was my therapy. And I can work through anything when I journal. And so there were things early on in life that I that I talked about, you know, in my book. A lot of, you know, self-sabotage that I’ve gone through in my life. Trauma, I’ve journaled about that. I’ve written about that. And I think that once I started writing, evolving through it, on that journey, I think for me, I wanted to share it. I’m like, because along the way when I was trying to work through my, let go of my baggage and work through my stuff. There were certain things that I needed that just weren’t there. It may have been a book that I just couldn’t find. It might’ve been the right voice that I never came across.
So that’s why I journaled and that became the best listener. Someone who listened that just couldn’t, didn’t have at the time. And so I think for me, as I evolved through it – and it’s our journeys never end, right. I wanted to inspire other people, I wanted to support other people. I wanted to be a big sister, or as Patrick sometimes calls me, Big Mama. You know, I wanted to be that friend. So anything that I do, whether it is, you know, my portion of the podcast, my involvement in that, and whether it will be my book when it’s released. It’s always with the hope that it can show people, the reader, the listener or whatever, whoever, that they’re worthy of all the gifts that come with self-love, and loving yourself. No matter what life says to you, and has done. I think that is my, that is, that is one of my goals.
That is a part of my purpose, to help people really kind of champion themselves through their own lives. I always say what’s most important to me is self-evolution. You know, besides peace, love, health and strength, what have you, is self-evolution. One thing that I do that I think a lot of people find difficult to do and is difficult for me sometimes is to hold up my own mirror, to look at myself, to take responsibility for myself. So, for example, if I’m in a, you know, relationship, it goes awry and breaks up. On the average, people are going to say, “Well, he did this and she did that. And then if she didn’t do that, and duh duh duh duh,” I’ll stop and say, put that aside and say, “What could I have done better? Where should I have turned left instead of right?”
You know, it always comes back to me because what I’m trying to do is grow from it so I can get better, and be better in the next situation, go-around relationship with whatever it may be. So that’s kind of always how I’ve approached things. And so, um, so I’m, I’m always trying to get people around me, people in my circle or whatever, to do the same for themselves. You know, to take responsibility. So that they can learn and grow. And so that’s, that’s pretty much been my journey and so…and I have no problems being an open book. As uncomfortable as it is, and once it’s my time with my book to be out there talking, what have you, you know, I’ll reveal a lot as I did in the book, and I…to me, I feel like that’s what people respond to. That’s what people need. Hence going back to evangelists. Being an evangelist, the raw truth, threading the raw truth, that’s how you roll, that’s how you learn. You know, people are human at the end of the day. So, why not share that. People are trying to feel normal as a spirit. In a body, on this earth. You know, that’s crazy. We’re all spirits. We’re all souls in a body. People are just trying to make sense of it. And so if I can, if I can help in any way, then that’s what I’ll do.
Being interviewed is difficult for me. I love interviewing, being on the other…
Yeah, I’m with you on that.
Yeah, I was gonna ask how that experience has been for you. Like it’s…Because you got to open up and be vulnerable in a way that usually you don’t have to be on the other side.
I know. I know. That’s what…yeah, like maybe 20 minutes ago. I’m like, wow, this is odd. I’m not in my comfortable place right now. But I’m enjoying it nonetheless.
Good, good, good. Oh, I know. I’ve been in your shoes. I know it. Especially not knowing what kind of questions are gonna come.
Patrick, how about you man? How did you become who you became?
It was basically in most fundamentally and first and foremost, my two parents that they had…anytime I think about like even that idea of Global International African Art School, like, where on God’s earth does somebody get an idea inside of their head that they can just put together something and call it that. And that’s, that, that comes from decades of being parented by two extraordinary parents. But it also comes from those parents never giving up those roles. Ask that from my mom and they’re saying, you know, you came up with some really good ideas when you’re kidding. You kind of roll your eyes up your head and say, I know you think I’m great. And then later on having an album and be like, I can actually be great. Because your mom said that.
So no, I…yeah, I just I look at my parents, first and foremost, and always and through and through and up and down. I just think that they did a masterful job and I tried to emulate and do the same thing with my son. And then there’s lots of um, there’s lots of experiences where you come into play. And then you kind of go down a rabbit hole. You might have, wait a minute…that was Nikki Giovanni. And she said that. And you’re like…and it doesn’t have anything to do…sometimes its stature and who that person is. But sometimes it’s the profoundness of what they do and how they do what they do. It might even be, you know, I’m hanging out on Nasiona, and we’re having this conversation. And we’re at a very real time and point in American and world history. And we’re inflecting and we’re choosing to go in this direction together, and there’s no chances upon…
Yeah, so I could be influenced by you, Julián, to a great extent, and have courage because I’m like, “Well, I’m not in it by myself. We’re not doing this by ourselves. We’re not, you know, we’re reinforced, we’re supported by others.” So, you know, first and foremost, my two parents. And then after that there’s any number of incredible creatives that live their lives valiantly, that live their lives fearlessly, that live their lives free. That aren’t afraid, are intimidated, by current circumstances and are in our… marching to the tune of their own drummer. And that’s really inspirational. So, yeah, I think basically to answer your question most fundamentally, by comparison you know being Patrick Howell, my mother Louisa Jacintha Howell.
So we talked about how we be…how you became, we became. How about, you know, any advice for anyone listening or even for yourselves? How can we chart our own course? How can we be better?
I would say first read dispatches from the vanguard. Cheap, cheap. Look, really, it’s something about reading power, reading strength. Reading people that walk-in purpose. I would say for me something that I’m cozying up to the notion now…and it took me a while: It really is about this being you. Your authentic, beautiful, messy, all over the place. However you see yourself. Whenever that is, everybody has their own way of doing things. Same thing, creating things, making things. That’s like number one. For me that’s key, is staying true to yourself. And being you. Because you, think about it: the people that we admire, the people that we celebrate – Patrick mentioned Muhammad Ali – we can go down the line, you know, whether it’s Bob Marley, whether it’s, I don’t know, Grace Jones, whether it’s Frank Sinatra – he did it his way – whether it’s, you know what I mean? We can name all the people that we admire. Jimi Hendrix, you know. Jimi Hendrix played for himself. You know, great for you and I, if we liked it,oh. But it really wasn’t about us. He was making himself feel good playing music he wanted to play.
And so we admire these people, but yet find it so difficult to do what they did or kind of walk in their shoes or walk parallel to them. And so, I think staying true to true to self and being who you are is not easy. I’m not saying it’s an easy thing because we do get caught up in approval or, you know, what will this person will like. “I really can’t say that. Well, that’s too far”, you know. You start censoring yourself. And these people didn’t. At least when it came to, I don’t know about their lives in totality, but I’m talking about what they did, their talents. There was…they don’t censor themselves. I would say that.
I agree with that. And I would just say, most fundamentally, just be committed to changing and becoming your best self and it will happen. You oftentimes fail, but you always succeed too.
You got to be comfortable with the discomfort as you move forward.
Yeah, it makes me think of sometimes watching David Bowie. And he was talking…actually Tori sent that to me, she sent me a video with David Bowie. And he was talking about his expressions as an artist. And he said, “You always have…” I’ve actually, I’ve actually thought about it a couple times during this conversation. And it was, you know, it was you always as a creative, you’re in the best position where you’re kind of going out into the waters. Which you are just one step beyond where you are comfortable. And he says, he finds that those are always the best expressions. If you have to risk something.
You have to be willing to sit there in risk, as you were saying just now Julián. You have to risk your own discomfort. In order to change, to grow, to evolve. You have to put something on the table and say, “Well, you know, I’m gonna….I’m gonna do this in this way. And I’ve never done it and I have no idea what the outcome is – positive or negative. And I’m just going to do it.” And there has to be that element to that. So yeah, let’s make a commitment to change and then the discomfort that comes with it. Because whether it’s a positive change or it’s a negative change, you know, all change is extremely uncomfortable. If you go get you a million dollars tomorrow given to you inside of a duffel bag, you know, you’re going to be really happy initially, but now you got to figure out what to do with it and who to tell and how to tell. It’s change. And all that changes. I think that is a very superficial example. But I think yeah, you just have to be committed to that discomfort and you have to accept that growth is sometimes, are oftentimes, or many times, very uncomfortable. So yeah.
Well, I’d like to add to that I, you know, use myself and my discovery as an example. The podcast that we created, you know, I have said to Patrick and not realizing what I was doing – I’m saying it to a manifestor, as well as my business partner – I want to do a podcast. Well he’s off, he’s gone. He’s like making it happen. I was just saying the words. So he’s like, “Okay, this is it. This is what we’ve got, we’re gonna do it. Okay, this Thursday…” I’m like, “woah woah woah woah, I gotta…” I’m a Virgo, so I’m a perfectionist. I’m about order. So I’m like “no I have to do this…okay, I’m not ready. I’ve gotta wing it.” It was literally like he just shoved me into the floor. But, you know, I look back on that, you know, quietly by myself. And I laugh to myself, I smile. And for me that was a personal lesson. And basically what it was saying…Had I done it my way, I don’t know we’d be talking about podcast right now. I might be still trying to pull things together, or trying to gain some confidence, or still reading about it and watching tutorials. It took just taking that leap. And, and I was so uncomfortable the first time. Oh my gosh, I was so uncomfortable and I didn’t like my first podcast. And oh so many things…
Which was excellent, by the way, her first cast….her first podcast is excellent. Yes.
But it was just so many things I would change and do better, wanna do better. But in taking that leap I look at who…I mean we’ve spoken to Walter Mosley, Nikki Giovanni, Phylicia Rashad, Rachel Cargal, like…Blair Underwood. Like, and it’s, and that’s only because we took the…well I took the leap. You were ready to go. And it happened. But it…you know.
Well we keep taking the leap whether it’s on, you know, it’s calling Jane Fonda’s publicist.
Like Jane Fonda’s publicist is going to speak with us and then the next thing you know it’s “Yeah she does have a book tour coming up.” And we’re like, “oh, see now.” You know even having the audacity to sit there, reach out to various business entities and speak about sponsorship and develop your business model in ways that maybe you weren’t thinking about before. And maybe you never thought you could do it. And just like, okay, well, this is really uncomfortable. I don’t know. You have to risk failure.
And that is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable failing. But even understanding that you never really fail unless you just stop altogether. And that most of the things that you try, you will be successful at. You have an element of success as long as you keep going, as long as you keep persevering.
You know, there, you got to give yourself credit too, right? Because sometimes it feels like you’re thrown into the pool as if you don’t have any kind of autonomy. But, you know, with the very same conversation you’re also saying “You took the leap, there was an intent.”
And you got to give yourself credit for that. Like, it takes…there’s a certain kind of courage to take that leap. To embrace the discomfort. And to be okay of not being perfect. You know, if you’re waiting for that perfection or that extreme comfort, you’re never going to get it. So you’re never gonna start the business, you’re never going to start the podcast, you’re never going to apply for that job because you don’t fit all of the ideal requirements. And it’s through that experience that you end up getting better and better and better. So yeah, you got to give yourself credit like, it’s not easy. It’s not easy.
No it’s not, but it’s opposite impulses.
On the one hand, you are, you’re in the pursuit of perfection – which is what a creative always is. That’s why Tori’s like, “No no, I’m not ready to start yet. I need to stay, keep doing background.” She’s still doing the research now on what she needs to do. She does it for every – I watch her do it every podcast. I’ve actually been very debilitated by “this is your job Patrick, to formulate these questions.” And then to find that Tori’s out there for like, you know, for two hours a conversation, maybe 10 to 13 hours’ worth of research. And to, you know, she’s still perfecting her craft. So you know, there’s equal and opposing. Like on the one hand, I want to perfect what I want to do. But on the other hand, let’s just do it.
And those are two opposite impulses. Like just do it, but I’m not ready. I mean, maybe sometimes you really shouldn’t do something if you’re not ready.
Maybe it’s really not a good idea. But knowing, you know, like, you know, I don’t know how it all comes about. But I do know that, like, in our in our coordination with one another – whether it’s on the podcast, or whether it is in the context of Victory & Noble, or even in this conversation that we’re having – I know that I’m picking things up right now. And I know that that’s done by, you know, there’s a cooperative or a mastermind that is taking place. Whether it’s implicitly or explicitly. And me saying, “Well, okay, well, Julián is doing this like this. So I participated in it with him. So I guess I can do it too.” And having the courage to be able to move forward. So a lot of times, it’s equal and opposing things. And like I said, I really enjoy that advice from David Bowie where it was just, you know, you have to go one step beyond where you were comfortable. Sometimes even five steps.
And what I often found is that the thing that I thought would kill me for sure, didn’t. It elevated me. Now, not every single time. There’s been times where I was like, I really shouldn’t have done that. And that’s real. But you know, more often than not, I can say with confidence: the majority of the time it’s been well I want five steps to go out and do. Not only did I not die, I was elevated. And it was sublime.
From the sounds of it, looks like Victory & Noble is in good hands.
Yeah, thank you.
Good partnership, good opposing forces that complement each other. So excited to see what else you to come up with. And how else do you ever find…
We’re looking for projects. We’re really excited. Yes, Julián. Thank you so much for that. Yes.
Are there any specific stories you want to tell?
Yes. That’s, that’s not the right question for the end of the interview.
I have another one.
Because we can, I can go on for a couple hours on that. Tori can as well. But, you know, like one of the models that we really respect, or I could say, you know, one model specifically: like HBO. How you can go from Sex in the City to Game of Thrones to The Sopranos, to Curb Your Enthusiasm. And they’re all different modalities of human expression that are exceptional. They’re not only exceptional in terms of the verb.
You know, like Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s about a grunchy, it’s about a grumpy old, you know, you know, older gentleman and it’s about, you know, say who cares about that. But it’s a great storytelling, great production value. Versus Sex in the City, same channel. Different production vibe altogether versus Game of Thrones versus The Sopranos versus The Wire versus you know….What was the name of that show that they had the orange jumpsuits, the jail….
Yeah, I would say that, that our model and our aspiration would be something like that. Where you can go from Black Panther to The Cosby Show, to any modality of expression that expresses a story that hasn’t been told. And sometimes it could have been a story that has been told before, but it wasn’t told from the right vantage point. A lot of times so many of our stories are told from a culture, a mechanism that I like…like I said, I like to say the Hollywood industrial complex. And it’s like, that’s our story. But that’s not how we felt. Well, that was going on. That’s your version of what I felt. Let me tell you what the real story was. Let me, as a matter of fact, consult with some of us. Let me bring on actors that look like us. So let us bring on writers that look like us, that sound like us. And let’s talk about how that really felt.
I mean, that was something that I thought was kind of interesting. But the first installment of the Madam CJ Walker self-made paid. Which was produced by Spring Hill Entertainment. And I thought that the first installment of it, I thought that – there’s five parts, I haven’t seen the last four. But the first one I was like, that’s a little bit interesting. I do feel like oftentimes, our story is told, like, you know, like, “Well, you know, and the black people, they did really good. And they tried. And they did really good.” And it’s like, well, that’s not the story that we’re telling. The story that we’re telling is I’m actually a three-dimensional person. And these are some of the hardships that we had. And this is the real fleshing out of the story that’s already been told. You don’t even know the story. And so I could literally talk to you on a whole different show about the storytelling that Victory & Noble aspires to do and is in the process of doing right now. And that’s a great. That’s a great question. I’ll just cap it right there.
Yeah. Maybe we need a round two in the future.
Yeah love that.
So I do have one final question. This is to kind of tie up some things. Both of you mentioned: Tori, when I asked you about who should read the book, you mentioned some great people. We also… you mentioned children and that we should also read the book to them or talk about these issues with them. And then Patrick, you talked about parenthood and the responsibility to our children and our future. I was born in Colombia and moved to New Hampshire – predominantly a white space. For grad school I went up to British Columbia, Canada – also a predominately white space. And one question that I really don’t, or a topic that I really don’t see white parents really pouring up with their children is race.
For people like us, it’s like one of the first, you know, it’s on our minds all the time because we have to survive in a, in this kind of society where white supremacy reigns. But, for them, they don’t feel like it, like race is part of their lives. Even though it is part of their everyday lives because they benefit from it every single day, right? So a lot of times I have conversations with them, you know, the parents who have kids, and they’re like, “Oh, no, I don’t think it’s, they’re ready to, for us to talk to them about race.” Or “Let’s wait till later”, etc., etc. What is your view on that? Like how early an age should we be discussing race with our children? Regardless of our backgrounds and race and ethnicity, etc. Because we do have a responsibility to our children and our future.
Yeah. I mean, it’s…to be honest with you, it’s really individualistic. I don’t agree with any of those Caucasian parents that are saying “we don’t have to discuss it.” Don’t discuss it if you don’t want to. There’s a part of me that is very, you know, what you see is what you get. And if you don’t want to discuss it, then don’t. My son has had it discussed with. And you know, if he discusses something with your son, and it’s something that you haven’t discussed with him – that if your son is not towards life like my son, my son understands how to deal with it. And so don’t discuss it if you don’t want to.
I…like I said, there’s something…you know, now they’re saying 2044, that’s the browning of America. I think it’s already there right now. I think like I said, I never forget for one instant that yes, Donald Trump is a reality. This is where we all live right now. And things like George Floyd can actually happen in America. Matter of fact his was just the only one that was caught on camera and for every time he’s caught on camera there’s 100 to 1000 that are not. And that is the reality of where we live.
But I never forget for one moment that, like I said, November 4th, 2007, Barak Obama was elected to the highest office and prior to that, that could have never happened. Many people knew that to be a fact. And so, in terms of raising and parenting kids, there is a…there is a period of time – and I would love for Tori to also speak about her experiences with her niece Skylar and what she’s done because it’s pretty incredible. But my experience is advice on a very personal and it’s very…you know, there’s a time point where I was like, “Wait a minute, if I don’t, if I don’t discuss race with him, he’ll have no concept of it.” And I remember, I remember there was a period of time when Barak Obama was elected – and from 2008 to 2010. And everybody was talking about post racial society. And all the talking heads, all the intelligent talking heads…Trey, you know, any number of heads on MSNBC: post racial, post racial, post racial, post racial, post racial, post racial society. And it looked like it for a couple seconds. And I think that we’re heading into that reality. I think that that will happen. I think that that was a shiny quarter in the in the beach, and we just have to keep walking the line. And I think at a certain time point, there’s gonna be a pile of quarters and dimes. And I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, wow, if I don’t discuss this with my son, he’s not going to know it.”
And then, you know, a couple things happened. Number one, you know, you read about building your son or your child or your daughter to have a self-esteem, a healthy self-esteem in this environment, where they’re being attacked all the time. Subliminally, subconsciously. Right in front of their face television, you know, they’re absorbing all this stuff right now to us. It’s like, you know, you know, and to them it’s background but they’re absorbing all of it. It’s their background. The same way you know, you growing up in Colombia and, and coming over to the United States. Recreating the future we have a responsibility to…it’s a multi-faceted question. But the bottom line, for me, in terms of raising my son is like, here in America.
I mean, I honestly didn’t think this America was possible in the 21st century. That’s the truth. I thought it would be gone and that would be eliminated, but it’s here. And there’s a couple sides to the question. I mean, on the one hand, you know, you want a child with a very healthy self-esteem racially. But on the other hand, who cares about race, it’s not really a real construct. That’s a very nuanced, delicate line to kind of, to kind of walk. Like, you know, on the one hand, I want you to understand that racism is affecting outcomes in terms of how people are behaving with you, how they’re socialized, or conditioned to behave with you. But on the other hand, I want you to not care at all. And I want you to just do what you’re going to do outside of that construct. Because it’s not real, it’s something that…You know, Kareem Abdul Jabber said, “The tricky thing about race is, it’s a pretend thing masquerading as a real thing.” And I’m like that’s, that’s right.
And so we’re all engaged in our element, in a game of madness, as it were. It’s insane to think that, you know, we don’t see what’s similar between us. We don’t see what’s likely between us, because we’re so busy studying how different we are. The things that are different about us aren’t really even consequential. Like they’re not relevant at all. You know, you can travel to Colombia, you can travel to Cape Verde, you can travel to Japan, you can travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, you can travel to Ethiopia – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – and these things don’t matter at all. Like it’s not even…it’s an American construct. That technology of race as it were. So I think it’s individualized, I think is personal. I wouldn’t dare presume to tell another parent what to do with their child as it pertains to it. But for those Caucasian parents that think that they don’t have to teach their kids about anything, don’t. And enjoy the results of that. Because my son is being trained how to think about it and how not to think about it simultaneously. And even though that’s a very daring and scary and, you know, kind of unnerving exercise, it’s one that’s real. So yeah, that’s my answer.
I don’t have any children. I do have nieces and nephews. One niece in particular who’s 17 and she lost her mother at a very young age, when she was a few months old. So I kind of took that role for a while in her life. So I would say she’s the child that, that I didn’t have. But um, I would say one, I think…should parents tell their children about racism? I would say yes, but it depends on the child and where they are, you know, as far as their maturity level. You know, it’s interesting. I wish we didn’t have to, though. I honestly thought for some reason, because I looked at, I looked at when President Obama was elected, I never thought it would happen. And I think because I was raised, and my parents came up at a time where they didn’t think it would happen. So I was taught about racism and all that I took on what my parents felt, and that was we’ll never, I’ll never see a black president in my lifetime. You know what I mean? Oh, that’s what. But once that happens, I said, “Oh, my gosh.” But then I looked at my niece, who was a few years old at the time, and I’m thinking how wonderful. She’s going to come up in an era where she doesn’t, in my mind – I don’t know why I thought this – but I’m like, she’s gonna come up in an era where racism won’t be out front because what’s going to overpower it or overshadow it is that a chance of a black president. So she is now coming up, and same with Patrick’s son. Like you can have a black president, what’s the big deal? You’re gonna have a real president, what’s the big deal? Because it’s already happened.
So I thought it would be different than it actually is unfortunately. The other thing was, you know, I remember my brother was, we were living in San Diego. And he was, I guess, 12 or 13, I think eighth grade. And he was called the N word. He was coming out of the library. I was in the car. I did not hear it, thank God. But it was traumatic for him at that age. And so, I think that, you know, I always said that if I had children – when I have children – I will not raise them in this country. And I always said that because I don’t want them to have to deal with that. I just don’t, like I really don’t. And so if it’s in my power to do so, then I’ll make that happen. But if for some reason I have to be here for whatever reason, then yes, I would definitely teach my child about it.
As soon as…you know, I’m one of those people that I want a child to be a child as long as possible. Never going to be an adult or dealing with adult things for the bulk of your time on this earth during this experience. So let a child just not have to worry about all this garbage. But I think it shifted when I came up to, when children are coming up now because it’s like: yeah, I can raise a child and want a child to be a child but once you know you have the internet, you have things that they can easily see on social media or you’ve got their friends or you know, so exposed, and wilding out. And then they’re influencing your child. So you can’t really protect a child as much as you think you would like to be able to. So you do have to equip them with knowledge and information. But like I said, if I had it my way and in that situation, I would, I would be outside of this country. Wow.
Time’s up. Is there anything – last question – is there anything I have not asked you that you wish I asked you?
That’s all for me. I’d love for our conversation to continue. I’d love to have the opportunity to, as we go along with Victory & Noble specifically and we start having other projects. I would love to have the opportunity to continue to grow with you, provide a platform for you to discuss what it is that you do and put you in the hot seat. And show what we do. And so that’s, that’s, that’s about it. I mean, I really feel that I can go on with this conversation all day long. Maybe not all day, maybe for a couple more hours and be completely within the element of comfort and intrigue and interest and feel like I’m growing. Yes.
Well, thank you. Appreciate that.
It would be nice to, before the end of the year, have you on our platform. Cause we’re gonna have a couple other shows that are up and coming and I think that you’ve got a lot to say in terms of the culture that you are making, and that you are helping to create. And then second of all, it would be nice for us to have a different minded conversation on business alliances, and how we can help one another. Because, you know, we might have access to certain platforms and things and conversations and distribution, that kind of thing, and be like: all right well, let’s just plug and play. I just sensed that there’s a strong synergy so I want to be able to add who we know – our relationships that we have so that we can help elevate and build your platform as well.
I appreciate that, thank you. Well, yeah, sign me up. Amen.
Well, thank you so much, Tori. Thank you so much, Patrick.
Oh, thank you Julián.
We’ll keep this going.
All right, cool. Thank you Julián.
Tori Reid is the consummate Hollywood insider and producer with extensive entertainment experience in film and television programming from concept to release. She has an eye for original, revelatory content and a love for filmmaking. Tori is proud to be CEO of Victory & Noble, a storytelling company, as well as host/producer of V&N’s podcast, Here’s To Life with Tori Reid: Inspiring Conversations with Icons, Culture Makers and Outliers. She is also completing her debut nonfiction work, Love Yourself Through It. Her mission is clear – to inspire, educate, and transform others globally through film, television, literature, and digital media.
Tori’s forthcoming book, Love Yourself Through It, is an intimately candid memoir with a conversational tone that takes the reader through the beautiful struggle of finding one’s center and indefinable truth. It shows how much we’re all the same, experiencing highs, lows, and the “why am I here” moments, only to realize the whiplash of it all is for the soul’s purpose of achieving peace, freedom, and the power to champion one’s own life. Love Yourself Through It is like that best friend who comforts you through the tough times, and then asks the tough questions that require you to be honest with yourself out loud. Love Yourself Through It helps to show how we are all worthy of the gifts of self-love… no matter what life is saying to you.
Patrick A. Howell is an award-winning banker, entrepreneur, and writer. His first work was published with the UC Berkeley African American Literary Review and Quarterly Black Book Review. Mr. Howell, is a frequent contributing writer to the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and has been cited in national platforms as equities.com, NBC BLK, and The Grio. Howell’s integrated book of poetry-design, Yes, We Be, was published by Jacar Press in February of 2018. His non-fiction book Dispatches from the Vanguard: The Global International African Arts Movement versus Donald J. Trump was published in the summer of 2020 by Repeater Books in London and distributed by Penguin Random House. Last summer he graduated the Leopardi Writer’s Conference in Recanati, Italy, to complete work on Quarter ’til Judgement Day, a coming of age experimental fiction work.
In his new book, Dispatches from the Vanguard, the public academic, author, and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargle writes: “There has never been a time of great uncertainty that didn’t produce a windfall of brilliance from the Black community. Dispatches from the Vanguard has collected the wisdom, depth, creativity, insight, joy, critique, hope and brazen boldness from the current windfall being borne out of the crisis that is the current administration. And why does a collection like this mean so much? Because it allows us to transcend by way of the words of those voices we value so much. They lead us, they teach us, and they remind us what is possible. This is a book for those who, in the words of Audre Lorde, are ‘deliberate and afraid of nothing’.”
Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him) is a bilingual, Colombia-born journalist, publisher, podcaster, author, researcher, educator, editor, and culture worker with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. He’s a Sr. DEI Consultant at Yardstick Management. Before founding the social justice storytelling organization The Nasiona, he ran several cultural and arts organizations, edited journals and books, was a social justice and public history researcher, wrote a column for Colombia Reports, taught university courses, and managed a history museum. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee and has written two books on social justice. Torres López holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.
The Nasiona Podcast amplifies the voices and experiences of the marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, as well as gives you a glimpse into Othered worlds. We focus on stories that explore the spectrum of human experiences—stories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López.
Original music for The Nasiona Podcast was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Joe Sparkman and Marcus Allen, aka The Heavyweights.
Joe Sparkman: Twitter + Instagram. Marcus Allen: Twitter + Instagram.
The Nasiona Magazine and Podcast depend on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners like you. We hope the value of our work to our community is worth your patronage. If you like what we do, please show this by liking, rating, and reviewing us; buying or recommending our books; and by financially supporting our work either through The Nasiona’s Patreon page or through Julián Esteban Torres López‘s Ko-fi donation platform. Every little bit helps.
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