Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 43 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 1

Most environments are not designed to include and value everyone because they fail to center the concerns of those in the bottom rungs of our class and caste systems. I speak with Vanessa Weathers, Founder & Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, to further explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We critique the desire to build teams based on cultural fit, and we dissect the difference between managers and leaders. Musical guest: Mallika Vie. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 42 – The Philosopher of Authenticity: Fernando González (El filósofo de la autenticidad: Fernando González)

Given the centering of Euro and Anglo authors, thinkers, artists, etc., our education systems in the US and Canada are still forms of colonial assimilation and propaganda. In the spirit of decolonizing our education, we introduce you to Fernando González, the philosopher of authenticity. To learn more about one of Colombia’s most influential and controversial writers, we speak with Gustavo A. Restrepo Villa, executive director of Corporación Otraparte, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and amplifying Fernando González’s work. […]

Disability & Mental Health Series

Episode 41 – Intersecting Oppressions of Race, Disability, and Mental Health During COVID-19

As a Black-Filipino United Statesian man with multiple sclerosis, Joe Sparkman talks about the “Scarlet Letter” of his diagnosis, the challenges he has faced getting a job, interactions he has had with doctors, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his life and mental health. This is a candid conversation about the realities and the insidious nature of intersecting systems of oppression in the United States. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 40: Mobs, Insurrections, & the Radicalized

In the US, we’ve been radicalized to assume ourselves as great, at our detriment. Our superiority complex will be our downfall if we do not course-correct immediately. A turbulent future is here and on the horizon. The intensity of that turbulence will depend on how we prepare and act today. On today’s episode, I share an editorial I wrote following the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol, and play an audio story that takes you through the different turbulences and warnings of the 20th century. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Episode 39 – Kwatsáan: Ancestral Land, Myths, & Reparations

Deborah Taffa, a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma Indian) Nation, shares two personal essays. In Act 1, she tells the story of a Native woman who leaves her ancestral land and lands in Missouri, where a disappearing lake and the confusion of a binational marriage force her to examine the relationship between motherhood and community. In Act 2, she speaks of a daughter’s familial connections to the land. As she leaves her mother’s hospital bed, Taffa reflects on healing and prayer, her tribal myths, and the injustice of tourism in her homeland. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 38 – In Between: Races, Languages, & Religions

“When you’re mixed-race, someone’s always telling you who you’re not.” That’s the first line from Tamara Jong’s personal essay, “In Between,” which succinctly captures the essence of what it means to be mixed-race. Tamara Jong is a Canada-born mixed-race writer and cartoonist of Chinese and European ancestry. In November of 2019, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with Tamara about her experience of being in between races, languages, and religions, and her journey to find a footing, identity, and community.  […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episodio 37: Serenidad y Paciencia

Nelson Torres comparte varias historias personales sobre sus experiencias cercanas a la muerte y como esas experiencias lo transformó y le dieron forma a su vida: un caso de identidad equivocada que casi hace que lo asesine la policía, un suspenso literal en el precipicio de una montaña mientras estaba atrapado dentro de un carro, un vuelo surrealista sobre el Triángulo de las Bermudas, y esa vez que se perdió en el Caribe después de apostarle a su hermano un equipo de sonido que podía nadar de una isla a la otra. […]


The Right Wing May Have Lit the Fire, but the Left Wing May Dig the Grave

In the US, we’ve been radicalized to assume ourselves as great, at the detriment of ourselves, our country, and the world. Our collective arrogance, self-absorption, and superiority complex will be our downfall if we do not course-correct immediately. A turbulent future is here and on the horizon. The intensity of that turbulence will depend on how we prepare and act today.  […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 36: The Sisterhood of Teatro Luna, Part 1

Teatro Luna is an ensemble of Latina/x femmes and Women of Color creating empowering theatre, media, and training for social impact. On the 18th of June, 2020, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with three of these radical culture makers and got a glimpse into Teatro Luna’s history, evolution, values, and sisterhood: Christina Igaraividez, Alexandra Meda, and Liza Ann Acosta. Here’s the conversation. […]


Episode 35: Isolation, Grief, and Sisterhood While Incarcerated, Part 2

Ra Avis joins Julián Esteban Torres López again, this time to discuss how people do not rehabilitate via isolation alone, her experience dealing with grief and trauma while incarcerated, and the shocking aspect of realizing that one of the only women-run societies in the world is a women’s prison, which was one aspect of incarceration that she found herself missing after she was out. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 34: Incarceration and Prison Abolition, Part 1

Do prisons get rid of social problems, or do they create a lot of them? Should we abolish the prison system? What are the biggest barriers to prison abolition? What should people know about the prison system that most do not know? This is part 1 of a 2-part interview where I speak with Ra Avis to get a glimpse into incarceration and prison abolition. Ra Avis is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, and a generational storyteller. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Episode 33: Journeys: Inbound, Outbound

Today we showcase the work of two essayists — Stephen D. Gutierrez and Morelle Smith. We selected these pieces to share with you today because of the kind of inner world exploration many of us have been experiencing during the pandemic lockdowns, while simultaneously craving for a time when we can travel freely once again. Today’s episode takes you into two kinds of journeys: the inner world of the Self, and the external world of traveling through a foreign land. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 32: Imaginative Biography: PLACES & NAMES

We showcase Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, and speak with the poet. His poems coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy greater than either fact or imagination. The people who inhabit these places—as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh—become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 31: Global International African Arts Movement, Part 2

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. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 30: Global International African Arts Movement, Part 1

Julián Esteban Torres López speaks with the two complementing spirits behind Victory & Noble, a storytelling company. In this 2-part conversation, Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell reveal their legacy project, and their energy and determination are sure to inspire, educate, and transform. They both move us forward with a critical optimism rooted in both the real struggles of our past and our present, but also a futurism grounded in the belief that we have the power to harvest a tomorrow that is brighter than today. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 29: Protesting the Publishing Industry’s White Gaze

In the previous episode, Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joined Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the publishing industry’s white gaze. In today’s episode, they discuss how we can protest the industry, and other institutions, and how we can gain power and find power in our everyday lives to dismantle and rebuild the world anew, even when under the yoke of systems of oppression like racism.  […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 28: Interrogating the Publishing Industry’s White Gaze

Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joins Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the white gaze of the publishing industry. They challenge its myths about Black and brown communities; call out its performative allyship; expose its diversity, equity, and inclusion problem; and hold it accountable. They also center, elevate, and amplify Black and other People of Color writers, especially women. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 27: To the Border Crossers

On this episode, we showcase the following four poets out of dozens who took the stage during “Cruzando Fronteras”—an event on immigration and border crossing—to share their personal stories: Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, and Diana Castellanos. Then, Julián Esteban Torres López shares his keynote speech, which tackled the role of storytelling as a tool of empowerment that can disrupt the status quo, confront caricatures, change politics by first changing culture, and help shape new paradigms. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Episode 26: ‘Where Are You From?’: The Wrong Passport

In this in-depth interview with Yaldaz Sadakova—creator of and author of The Wrong Passport: Memoir Stories About Immigration—we unpack the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, its limitations, how it’s a micro-aggression, and a better question to ask; Yaldaz speaks to how she found new emotional and intellectual anchors after leaving her birth country and how she found her creative voice in a foreign land; her feelings of shame and distress about forgetting her mother tongue; becoming estranged from her Turkish Muslim heritage; we interrogate our hesitation to correct people when they mispronounce our names; she elaborates as to why she’s convinced borders are a form of injustice; and much more. […]