Lisa Woolfork 0:10
Hello stitchers! Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax and get ready to get your stitch together.
Lisa Woolfork 0:37
Hello, hello. Welcome to the Stitch Please podcast, and like I say every week, this is a very special episode. But this one is for real, like, very special episode because we are welcoming two people who I consider podcast possibility models. I think they are creative geniuses, I think they are possessed with the kind of strong radical love for Blackness and that in and of itself is groundbreaking. In addition, their show Tea with Queen and J. where they are two womanist race nerds talking shit over tea, dismantling white supremacist, patriarchal capitalism one episode at a time. How is the reason that the Stitch Please podcast is here. They are the reason, I heard their show back in October of 2018. This was one year after surviving a white supremacist terror attack, it was a lot of anniversary stuff, it was a lot of exhaustion, fatigue, and I needed something. I needed to not be in the position where I was always teaching, which is what I do at work, I needed to not be in the throes of organizing, which is its own form of exhaustion. And this show was exactly what I needed. It was two fierce loving, creative advocates who thought deeply and carefully, who were deliberate in their care and prioritization of Black people, who were unapologetic and weren't trying to fit in, who were really being their full and whole selves. And that was what I needed. And that was just the permission I felt like, I needed and listening to them helped me to develop my own voice. And that is why the Stitch Please podcast is here. And so I want to say welcome and thank you so much to Tea with Queen and J. this fantastic podcast, and to welcome Queen and J. here with us today. Welcome you both to the Stitch Please podcast. Thank you for being here.
That was the best introduction I've ever had in my life.--
Right! Oh my god, we're gonna clip, that--
Lisa Woolfork 2:50
We're gonna clip that and renew that! That was wonderful, and like.--
Oh my God, just for anybody who doesn't know, Lisa speaks this way to us off camera too. Not that we've encountered a lot of not genuine people with it. But the way that you talk, it's always so flattering. It's always so kind and generous. And like, you know, sometimes I'm like, we've met before. You did this already.
Every time she sees us she's going to pour in--
We need and appreciate that affirmation. So thank you so much for seeing us that way. We really appreciate it.
Lisa Woolfork 3:23
Well, I'm so grateful to y'all. I'm grateful for all that you do. And I'm really grateful that y'all are here. We have met before. We have met in a variety of fun ways. Look at this cute picture at your pod meetup that you had back in May of two....
Lisa Woolfork 3:38
PodinLiveNYC we did it in 2017, 18 and 19--
Lisa Woolfork 3:43
And 2019, that was where I met y'all. And I did come to the live show. Y'all had a live show in December of 2018, which was amazing. And then you did the pod and I was like, then I'm gonna do something else! I was so excited. My sister in law dropped me off or walked me over whatever. And I had a notebook. I had a notebook. She was like, Are you bringing a notebook to a party? And I was like, Yeah, cause I gotta like, learn what I need to make a podcast. And then I can also get people's autographs. So why wouldn't I bring a notebook to a party? Yes. Who doesn't do that? That seems totally normal. Do you not bring notebooks to parties?
Such a educator.
Lisa Woolfork 4:24
Isn't it? I know, I'm such a nerd. I can't help it. And then also the really wonderful live show that y'all did as well. Just the way that you kind of give back and at every single juncture, at every single event y'all were y'all. Y'all were who you are. You were how you were. You let people be who and how they were. And again, I just think, that kind of really powerful love is all I can say just that kind of connection. It really does shine through. I didn't even put any pictures up. Oh y'all, if you're a Patreon supporter, you will see how amazing we look and you'll see these really great pictures. I didn't talk about the wonderful, that you did in 2020, you had a Juneteenth meetup. It was a party. That was so great, n the detail was excellent and y'all were just amazing.
Thank you. We started that I think in 2016. I think, I think we did four those but yeah,--
That was like our first event.--
Lisa Woolfork 5:14
Yeah, the goal was at the time, nobody was doing anything Juneteenth outside of like educational events or things for like young children, street festivals, vendors kind of thing. And we wanted to have a party for millennials and Gen Z like, and make it what Juneteenth is now. Like that was the goal is to make it that, so.
Lisa Woolfork 5:35
And so y'all were early adopters. See y'all started early. And now the rest of the world caught up.
You know, story of our lives, story of our lives. What can you do? I mean, you can't help it. That's just the way things turn out. You can't help but be excellent. You just wake up and the excellence is there. Shit. What you're gonna do? And what a surprise y'all I was, at Essence, I was with my sister, and we, you know, we go pretty often. And I was walking through the food court on the way to the bathroom. And these two wonderful people are like, "Hey!", and I was like, "Oh, wait it's y'all!" and y'all, my reaction. I'm enthusiastic as bitches! Y'all know y'all listen to this show. You know how I am. You know how I am. What did you think I did, when I saw the two of them sitting at a table saying hi to me? I lost it entirely. I think I spun around into two or three circles. I think I covered my whole face. I was like, "Oh my god, oh my God!" My sister was like, "What is happening here?"
I had to tell your sister, I was like, you know, we've met her before. This is not like the first time,--
Like, a few times.
Lisa Woolfork 6:35
And my sister was like, oh, yeah, I know.
That's what I was thinking when I saw your reaction. I'm like, at this point, we know each other. What's happening?
Lisa Woolfork 6:43
Well, I was happy because y'all came to Essence, and I have been waiting forever for y'all to come to Essence, just so I can see what you would think. That was the whole point. And that is why y'all, I just had to see, what will they think? What will they say? What is this gonna be like for someone who already does a lot of work in community and cares about building Black community? And what kind of feedback would they have? And what your experience would be like? Oh, yes, so I was excited. And I was really hopeful that y'all would do an episode so I was really glad that you did that. I was really glad. It was very, very enjoyable. So this is me like seeing them and be like, Oh my gosh, look excited, I am this is amazing.
And that's me saying or thinking, "We have met before Lisa!" Calm down.
Lisa Woolfork 7:31
Like it's been a long time. I haven't been outside very long.
Yeah, it has been a minute.
Lisa Woolfork 7:34
It was a beautiful time. It was a beautiful time and made even more so by seeing y'all. But thinking about Essence now that, you know you've done it you've been, what are some of the things that like stuck out to you the most? I think on the episode talking about how straight it seemed. You didn't see like any queer uncles. It's like, you know, you didn't see anything that kind of stood out to you, especially for a very queer forward city, like New Orleans. It's very queer in almost any other of its iterations.
Yeah, that was a thing.
I think that was the main thing that kind of stuck out for us because we're expecting queerness that was like, you know, we were ready to romanticizing New Orleans. And I had already and although Essence is its own thing, it's not like a reflection upon queens, obviously. But we already created what it was going to be in our heads. It was so gendered and binary and woman, man, it was just like so different, cause that's not the world that me and J. generally navigate. I guess it's helpful for us to remember like, you know, that's mostly what they doing out there. I think that I forget that. I think that. --
Lisa Woolfork 8:38
Yeah, so that did stand out most for me.
I felt the same way. It was shocking, especially for our school. You know, we live in New York, and also generally surround ourselves with other queer people. And so yeah, it was shocking. I will say, it was a bit jarring. I wasn't surprised, but it was jarring to like, experience it, you know, so, to be specific, I didn't see anyone who was visibly queer. Obviously, there were queer people there. I didn't see any visible representations of queerness. I did see lesbian couples, but I also didn't even see like a group of visibly lesbian women hanging out or whatever. As a New Yorker, as a Black person, I'm not used to that. I'm used to seeing queer folk somewhere, even at the, quote unquote, straightest of events, there's a corner of queer folks somewhere, visibly queer folks. And so that was concerning. And while I did not experience any overt, or witness any overt anti queerness, or queer phobia, the absence and the omission felt, like it was very loud.
Lisa Woolfork 9:51
It was very, I know Big Freedia was there. Janelle Monáe was there. Megan Thee Stallion was there. There was queer representation of sort but what was there just felt really like pushed to the side. And so for an event that is so Black centric, Black queer folks are a thing, are a huge part of our population as Black folks. It was a lot to take in.
Lisa Woolfork 10:15
I see. And I'm wondering if this has to do with Essence and the way that it has been a women's magazine, and as such, seems to rely on a gender binary, and I'm wondering if that might have played a role perhaps. I also got the sense that they were trying to meet the needs of multiple constituencies, like the way they were working really hard to reach young people. I remember when I came in on the airport, they had this, this is gonna be an 'Auntie-Free Zone'. I think y'all mentioned this in your episode as well. And I'm like,--
How they gonna get there? How you gonna drop off the 16 year-olds and whatnot? Like,--
What are you talking about? And so it just made me wonder, like, it's also so huge. It's hard to explain. But I think you all ran into a white person at Cafe Du Monde, who was like, "You two remind me of what Essence used to be!" But you're not sure what Essence used to be. And it used to be like, so much smaller. And it was so much more like, we actually ran into Ledisi at Cafe Du Monde, one time after her performance, which didn't start at one o'clock in the morning. Boy, I was so tired, I was--
Lisa Woolfork 11:21
Oh my god.--
so frikkin tired, it kinda felt a bit more intimate. And I think that that is something that has changed as it's grown and got bigger and got more money and more responsibilities that it has to its own corporate contracts, et cetera. It feels like it's trying to meet the needs of lots of different people. And so I think that they're saying that they're just not gonna think about there are absolutely things that they are not going to think about. And maybe that was one of them. And that's something--
Yeah, it's just interesting. And then also, I imagine a tone has been set. Cause if you look at like the audience, I guess, how do you create a scenario where visibly queer folks feel comfortable showing up to this huge Black event? It was a lot to process. But when you mentioned the Auntie fest thing, we wanna talk about that later, or?
Oh, yes, we're talking about it right now. So I think this was a few years ago, I heard someone refer to Essence as Auntie Con, as Auntie Con, not ComiCon But Auntie Con and I was like, I can definitely see that. I can absolutely see that. And I feel like, as many of us, at least myself, has like aged through the Essence, I would come to Essence when I was in my late 30s. And when I was in my early 40s, it was in my late 40s. like I came through all of those stages.--
I hear you.
And so, I started to see more things like, groups of men coming to just hang out because it was a place to hang out. And the festival itself, according to I think the new publisher or CEO of Essence, has said. "It's not just the largest Black festival. It is the largest festival in America, period, of all the festivals that there are." And so I think that means something as well. I'm not sure and I definitely have some thoughts on the impact that it has on the city and on the residents cause I know y'all asked about that in your episode, but what was your, in terms of the flavor or the vibe, in that context?
Well, I know of Essence because I remember friends in our late 20s going to Essence, you know what I'm saying, going to Essence fest so I love it as this thing that happened and everybody that I knew was gonna go at some point. So I guess I became a little bit confused when it emerged that we're starting to be labeled as this thing that is for older folks. Right?--
And it feels like anytime we are inclusive of older folks, then it's like oh, that's some old shit.
Lisa Woolfork 13:39
To me it feels like, how you say it's the largest festival you know, is all type of people there, there's families there whatever, there were younger women there, like it was all different people there. And so it just feels like anytime the elders are included in something, then it's just labeled as, "Okay this is the thing for old niggas", because I feel like so many other events are coded to a certain group of people. Youth usually, are youth-coded.--
Yes, very youth-coded, yes.--
Anyone else who participates, if, you know if older folks or their whatever, it's ancillary, it's not really considered, their needs are not considered, or it's like okay, well, this is 'a young people thing' you just happen to be here, whatever so,--
Lisa Woolfork 14:17
It feels like because this is intergenerational, it gets this kind of older label when from what I've seen, it feels like even the set list, and you can speak to this more than me, but it seems like people who have played at Essence, it seems like it's been a variety.--
Lisa Woolfork 14:34
And ages you know, over the years. It's a little bit confusing to me. And then I think when I got there and I saw, this is Auntie-free zone, and Auntie this, and Auntie that. It also reminded me of you, and kind of us having this dialogue about the term 'Auntie' because I know there are people who leverage it as a negative thing, but I had never really internalized how many people do that.--
Lisa Woolfork 15:00
And how intense that is, because even in the saying of, 'this as an Aunti-Free Zone', it didn't really feel 'tongue in cheek' like,--
Lisa Woolfork 15:08
To me, at least, you know, it didn't really feel like, "Hey, this is where the young people are at" didn't feel like that. It felt like that was the point. Tell you, old niggas, listen, y'all, don't come on here--
Lisa Woolfork 15:19
Don't come over here!
I don't necessarily think it's bad to say that this space at this festival is for younger people. But I do wonder, is there a way to do that without using 'Auntie' as a slur?--
Lisa Woolfork 15:32
Right, right. Can you do it without the stigma? Can you do it without--
Lisa Woolfork 15:37
the stigma? Can it still have value?
Right! At minimum, we at Auntie Con. Should it at least, at intergenerational event, can we at least avoid this being a place where ageism is a thing.--
Lisa Woolfork 15:49
Essence know how to do that. So like, I'm listening to you all talk. And if we think about it, for a lot of these younger people, even for me, Essence has always existed, has always been around, has always been a magazine in your house, it's always existed. So you probably do see it as some kind of older entity cause you don't remember life before it even existed.--
Lisa Woolfork 16:11
It is legacy media.
Lisa Woolfork 16:14
And it's print media, which is--
Lisa Woolfork 16:15
old this for these younger people. So I think in a context of Essence, not the festival, but just Essence all together as a entity. It is, like a legacy. It is older. it is all of those things, but I don't think Essence has done a good job, from my vantage point, of kind of evolving with how media exists. It hasn't done that well. So it does look like something old and archaic to younger people. Essence has exist all of this time. And to my knowledge, maybe there was attempts behind the scenes or whatever, but you're just now attempting to make a younger version of Essence when--
Lisa Woolfork 16:53
being younger and being like, "Y'all how come there's no Teen Essence?" I remember--
Lisa Woolfork 16:57
thinking that, and feeling that. That magazine, when I was younger, was for older women. It wasn't for me,--
Lisa Woolfork 17:04
eventually I grew into the demographic.--
Lisa Woolfork 17:06
In to it--
but I wasn't always a target. I mean, my age grew into it, but they were not something I was usually related to. But they didn't do much, like the festival is intergenerational, because Black people made it that way. Because I'm gonna bring my kids, I'm gonna bring whatever, but I don't think that's something--
Lisa Woolfork 17:22
that Essence did with an intention. And now they're--
Lisa Woolfork 17:24
trying to do it. And it's like, all late, in it looks all clumpy, and it's all like, you know, whatever. So if I was in my 20s, I am going to look at Essence like that, because like, what is Essence?--
Lisa Woolfork 17:37
So, I didn't think about it till I'm hearing you guys talk about it. Cause that sense is more than just a festival, it's like--
Yeah, it a institution.--
It's media institution. And I think that those are the pieces
Lisa Woolfork 17:55
The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. And now we're bringing it to you in a new way. The Stitch is a newsletter from Black Women Stitch and I am delighted to tell you about it. What do you get when you sign up for the Black Women Stitch newsletter, you get to hear what's happening with Black Women Stitch, n the Stitch Please podcast, events that we've had, events that are coming up, contests for prizes, live shows, social media meetups, IRL meetups, episodes of the podcast that you might have missed, as well as opportunities to learn and sew in community with other Black makers across the country, and across the world. You'll learn also about some actual stitches, we will help you get your stitch together with continuing education for your sewing life. Oh my goodness, y'all, I am so excited for this newsletter. It's always things I wanna tell you, you know, bout. Well, now we have The Stitch, sign up using the link in the show notes or on our website. We look forward to helping you get to a stitch together soon.
Lisa Woolfork 19:10
And I love how you said that Black people make it, so I'm thinking of one memorable time we went to Essence and we brought our mothers. And this was just a few years ago. So my mother came and then one of my sister's good friends, her mother came and it was the sweetest thing. We all had floor seats, but we weren't sitting together. So we sat the two moms together elsewhere. And we were just kind of teasing and saying "Okay, y'all keep your shirts down. Well. they're not throwing a beads in here, Mama, we've had this conversation. I need you to keep your shirt down." And these two young men, they maybe were in there, maybe in their late 30s, one of them had to go to the bathroom. They said, "Oh no ma'am. Come on, we'll go." And they walked them to the bathroom and waited for them to come out, and walk them back to their seats. Nobody asked them to do that, nobody said anything. And it just really touched us cause we had clearly left them to their own devices cause we had better seats elsewhere. And we was like, "Be here when the lights come on, and we'll take you back to the Airbnb." But like it was that kind of thing. It's like the community activated to provide a kind of care. And I think that that is something that you really can't harness. Or you can't force you know what I mean? You can't make somebody walk your mother to the bathroom because they wanna look out for somebody who is elderly, you know what I mean? Did invite them to come back this year, and they were like, "Uh uh, once was enough, it was too hot."
No, they didn't want to come back.
Lisa Woolfork 20:37
But there was a space for that. And there should be the same kind of space on the other end.
Mmhmm Mmhmm. Yeah, I don't mean to pivot, but it did have a community feel to it. Like, aside from that feeling of like queer omission, that aside, it did have like a lightness to it. It was like, everybody was happy to be there. It was like a known thing. Like we're not here this weekend for shenanigans. We're here to have a good time together. Like some of these woke meetings that I participate in, you know how like, the ground rules will be like, assume good intent, you know what I'm saying? Assume that intent, and it just felt like, at Essence, everybody that I came in contact, least like basis was that we're all here to assume good intent of one another. You know, that's tricky, as niggas that go to a lot of festivals that are in spaces where it's a lot of people, that's a tricky thing to do when it's crowded, it's hot. There's so much for somebody who maybe doesn't like being in crowds, or whatever the case may be.--
Lisa Woolfork 21:33
There's so much for people to potentially be a little bit agitated about, but everybody is so happy to be in this Black space. And I think there is something about it being woman-centric, that also takes the negative edge off, perhaps. I don't know what that's about.
Lisa Woolfork 21:50
I don't know. Maybe it's not related to it. There was just a lightness about it. That felt really nice.
Yeah. And I think of all the times that I've gone over the last 20 years practically. I have not seen fights. I've not seen things like that. And I think it's because people are there to, like you said, assuming good intent, having a good time. Yes, it's hot. Yes, the line is long for, what are we in line for again? What are they giving out? Sunscreen. Okay, great sunscreen. Or, Oh, you said you got to try the Coca Colas from the Coca Cola, you trying--
the cokes from around the world.
I had vanilla Coca Cola, I had regular Coca Cola. I think I had a diet vanilla, all delicious. I was just happy to be there. That feeling of 'Yes, I will try all the Coca Colas." That was brand activations. It's a good time, it's like--
Lisa Woolfork 22:37
Disney World. I had a good time, I enjoyed it,
They had brand activations, and they had like, Kimberly Crenshaw's organization, that African American Policy Forum was there. They had reproductive rights voting, they had a lot of different Black girls, Black women type thing. Even the AP was there, I got to fuss at them for taking off the standards for the African American AP exam in Florida, cause they did that, the College Board did that. And I thought that was really crappy. And I was like, "Why did you do that? That was crappy." And so like, those kinds of things, because the way that the convention center was set up toward I guess the north end was all the like nonprofits. And then in the middle, they had all the corporate things. And then at the other end, that's where the beauty stuff was, and all the different vendors.
We had the north, we started on the north side, that's where we got our drinks. And then we walk, in it was like, Oh, this is a church aisle, and we skip that. And then we--
There was a lot of those.
Yeah, if church is your shit, that's the place to be! Plenty--
Black Jesus, you know.--
Plenty. Yes. And I love also how the vendors were rather diverse in terms of some of their offerings. You know who else was there? I just happened to bump upon her. is it Bernadette Peters, who played Thelma from Good Times. She was there signing pictures, and you could take a picture with her for like $10. And then like, she would sign it. And so that was really cool.
That's a awesome concept. I love it. That's the same thing that happens at ComiCon you go you see, the last dragon be sitting there. You can take a picture of him, or whatever the heck. I relate to the Auntie Conism, or it being called that, at Essence, n I think someone who didn't have such a negative experience with the term, honestly I thought it was cute. You know what I'm saying? But then you get there, n the language, you see, oh, people are leveraging this word in this kinda weird kinda way, but stuff like that. It's like Where else can you do that? Where else is she gonna show up and do that? You know what I'm saying? That's awesome and adorable.
Lisa Woolfork 24:25
Exactly. Exactly. And then how, Queen, you said you did not like the shirts and how she followed you to--
Lisa Woolfork 24:31
make sure, as you were having a private conversation about the apparel.--
Cause I didn't want her melanin shirts. Yeah, it was weird. It was weird.
Lisa Woolfork 24:40
You don't like my shirts? You're supposed to say, "what?" that's like, no, no, I'm gonna tell the truth. Even though you're standing here.
I don't like those shirts. Shouldn't matter. It's like 1000s of people here. Why do you care if I like your shirt or not, your melanin t-shirt?
Lisa Woolfork 24:52
You can't please everybody. And I don't know why you would track down one person to try.
There was more than one person who didn't like that shirt cause he would have been sold out! If everyone liked your dam melanin shirt, they would've been sold out.
Lisa Woolfork 25:06
I wanna do some market research really quickly. And I also need you to make me feel better bout what I'm doing right now. Help me please!
You know what was also interesting, just as another pivot to some of the critiques of the performances after the fact. And it was so funny. I was actually rather shocked that Indie Arie had something negative to say about Meg the Stallion, or about Janelle Monae because all I kept hearing was, "I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations."
But she is doing.--
Right. I soul that lives within. And I'm like, wait a minute, I thought you believed this.
maybe you did not believe it? Because nobody could believe in her packaging.--
Generally believe in her packaging. And, that song came out when the video vixen era was. So she was saying that to say, "I'm not my hair. I'm not my skin." Like "I'm not these, one of these bitches", like--
Lisa Woolfork 25:58
That's a good point.--
Cause if you think about that time when that song came out, she was affirming, and it's fine for her to affirm that for herself, but if you look at the media landscape at that time, where video girls and women are making top money just to be the sexy person in a music video. You're not even singing. You don't even have, in quotations, I think they have talent. But most people don't think people have talent. And they making top dollar just to shake their booty next to a rapper.
Lisa Woolfork 26:22
Oh, I did not realize.
To me, I think that was, "I am not my hair. I am not my skin. I'm a soul, I'm just a soul. I am not..." But I think that's what she was doing with that. So it actually does make sense that she would--
Lisa Woolfork 26:36
No, I think you're right. I think you're absolutely right. I had not thought about the oppositional nature of that song. I did not realize, -course, I remember the context- but I didn't put the two and two together. I definitely just thought it as a self-love anthem. And that everybody got to sing it. I did not realize (and of course that makes sense) that she would be someone who could be like, wait a minute, these people, they're not performing in the same way that I am. And they are allowed to do something that I would not be allowed to do or that I would choose not to do. No, I think that does make sense. But I think that these performances are gonna age really well. I really enjoyed this one. Those boots are adorable. Like really? What's not to love. The boots are really cute. I love that she has some meat on her bones as they say. I find her extraordinary. I really liked Megan a lot, but I actually did have to leave early because I was so tired.
Lisa Woolfork 27:28
I was like, listen, if y'all gonna call it Auntie Con or whatever. Some people wanna go to sleep.--
Lisa Woolfork 27:33
Some people wanna go to sleep at night and I don't have to go sleep at 9:30--
and that was the Sunday night. There was someone in our row who, we said it on our episode, but like, three nights of this shit, I'm outta here!
I can't take it anymore.
Lisa Woolfork 27:49
Stop playing with my emotions.
Did it used to run that late, like what, has that changed? What's up with that?
Lisa Woolfork 27:54
I think it has changed. I think the acts come on later. I think that Jill Scott and Janelle Monae were both surprises when they came on. So I think that that's a new thing they're doing. Little Wayne was not scheduled to be on. So like that was a big surprise to see him. I was really surprised to see Jill Scott and Janelle Monae cause I didn't realize that they were on, and I was just happy to see Lauryn Hill because, real shade, I didn't think she may or may not come. I had never seen her before.--
Lisa Woolfork 28:20
And my sister had seen her a couple times. She's like, "I really hope that she does The Miseducation since it's really about celebrating the album, etc. cause I have seen her do some things." And I was like, "Did you write that in the car on the way in? Cause it's not working." But I thought that she was great. And I think it has to do with some of the helping to pay some bills, you know, they didn't have so many corporate sponsors before. And those require, let's preview this film, let's see this, so that all of the different acts inbetween the acts are, you know, meant to be entertaining. There's like, you know, McDonald's given out scholarship money, like all of these things, you're not saying out loud with McDonald's given out, I'm like, it's just like a really long church program, you know that there were some moments when it was like, and now we will have everybody who submitted so and so, come on stage. And you know, they're not just doing it to meet corporate obligations. This is clearly benefiting the event or benefiting the community overall. And so that's all wonderful, but I think they might have overestimated what the audience could actually sit for. One thing that I saw that was new, and I guess maybe this was something they might have done. I think you mentioned this in 2020, when they did some kind of live streaming. And so they were live streaming some of the show on Hulu, and we were seated near the sign language interpreters. So they had Black sign language interpreters, who were like signing the show and the songs and the music and the dance and man! they looked so joyful. The interpreters, they got Black folks to do the signing, and they really looked, I don't understand sign language, but they looked very joyful. And like they will do an actual sign language and not like somebody at one of those press conferences that gets up there and starts doing the robot. They were really talented performers. And so that was something I thought was good.
I forget the woman's name who signs but she was on The Circle on Netflix this past season.--
Lisa Woolfork 30:16
Oh, wow. Yeah.--
Yeah, she was on that, if you like that competition show (I watch it all the time. I love it). Yeah, she was on that. And she's known for like going viral. She did a really good signing of WAP when that first came out, that went viral. She was one of the signers there. Yeah, she's awesome.
Lisa Woolfork 30:31
Oh, that's great. I didn't realize that. Oh, so that's really awesome. Now I'd love to talk about again, some of the other things that you all appreciate it or not appreciate, but like your experience the food and Janicia has this phrase that I can't get out of my head not just going, "zatarain"
Why did you bring that here? "zatarain"
Lisa Woolfork 30:50
Janicia called it 'sweet dinner.'--
'Sweet dinner' Yeah.--
Lisa Woolfork 30:53
What on earth is sweet dinner?
Sweet dinner are sweet foods that are not dessert. Sweet foods that are not dessert. So like barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, anything that has either a overt or covert sweetness to it, is not my shit yo, it's not my thing not into it.
What you're looking at right now. This is a lunch that I had at Cafe Amelie, it was really delicious. It's a shrimp and grits with some extra corn, like a corn maque choux or something like that. And it was so good. And also to do grits and corn really feels like you're doubling down because grits are corn, but like I really loved it. And so this would be sweet dinner.
I think those French words that you said, I'm learning. I feel like a lot of them mean sweet aftertaste. You know what I'm saying? Yeah, it's possible. This is something I would order and then eat it and be like, Oh, this has like some sort of weird sweetness at the end.
Lisa Woolfork 31:47
And also, you'd have to use a spoon which you don't love. You don't like using spoons.
I don't want to eat all my meals with a spoon. I do like shrimp and grits. I don't like some of it. I ordered this dish. I just wasn't expecting everything to be spoon food. You know what I'm saying? It was like three bowls of rice and then soupy rice and then this, everything was spoon food.--
Lisa Woolfork 32:06
Didn't you get a flight.
I did, spoon food, flight of sweet dinner spoon food. I did it on purpose. I didn't know it was gonna be sweet dinner. But I did want to try all of those French word foods that go down in New Orleans and Louisiana. And now I know for sure it's not really for me.--
Not your thing.
But this actually I'm curious. I do want to try that.
Lisa Woolfork 32:26
That was delicious. Now this is something that, my sisters love these. I don't like oysters. I just don't like them. But like, these things, we're looking at some chargrilled oysters and they throw them on the fire. They throw fistfuls of salt, they burn them up, and apparently they are delicious. Did y'all have some of these as well?
Yeah, I has some. I like oysters in general. And so this was just like, Okay, let's just do more oysters. Like let's do it.
It was a new way to eat it.--
Cause we don't do this in New York. We're near the water. So we do seafood. We do oyster.
Never had them charred.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they're fresh. Are they raw Queen?
If they're charred, then I don't think so. They're charred.--
Lisa Woolfork 33:06
Yeah, I think they're cooked.
No, these aren'y raw, but the ones that we eat. Those are raw? Is that what that means? They're raw and slurpy.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, okay. Yeah.
Yeah, I'm not familiar with this kind. But it was good. We had those.
Lisa Woolfork 33:18
My spouse and my youngest, they both like them, like oysters on the half shell. And it's like, "It tastes like the ocean!" And I'm like,
I live for that shit.
Lisa Woolfork 33:26
Doesn't it? It looks like, really terrible. It's the texture thing, it's me, bananas as well. I have a thing about bananas. I consider bananas violent non foods. I hate them so much.
Got it. Got it. Yeah, some people have a texture thing. I don't have a texture thing with food. But I do have to stay away from things that are non food like if I'm watching TV and something weird is happening, slimy, texture, any kind of weird... That freaks me out because I have accepted all different textures of food in my life. And if you show me something that's a weird texture, that's not food and reminds me of something, then I get like just grossed out in general. So I don't know.
Lisa Woolfork 34:00
I understand, that makes sense.
Lisa Woolfork 34:05
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Lisa Woolfork 35:16
And so, I wanted to talk a little bit about what y'all were up to. And again, I don't wanna keep y'all long, which is the biggest lie that preachers will say, they really do wantna keep you long. But I just wanna again, just thank you for what you do. And thank you for your show. And thank you for the teaching that you do. They have done presentations at Afros and Audios, and also the way that to tell people that the market is saturated that there's room for your voice, there's room for your story. Queen, can you talk a little bit about that about like why it becomes important for us to be reminded of this
As a marginalized person anyway, you're always thinking about the deficit. You're always thinking about the scarcity. You always,on purpose, you already to think there's not enough for everyone so you don't ask for more, right? If it's not enough, you won't require more. If it's not enough, you won't expect more. Like, that's just what you are just start your throat as a marginalized person just period. Just as, not even as podcaster, just period in life, right? It is important for us to remind everyone, like the market can never be saturated. mean which in itself is exclusionary, it's to make not wanna do it, to make you not think that it's possible for you to be in a space. How can it be saturated? If there's enough people to listen? doesn't make sense, but it's a part of the indoctrination of you thinking that, too many already, so I guess I can't do it. So then now your voice isn't being heard. Now, the story isn't being told. Something is being erased because podcasting is also, an al this storytelling that we do, podcasting, YouTube, blogging, Facebook status, all of that stuff is a record of your existence. And if you tell people, "I don't think you should", you don't say that to other professions. You don't say there's enough nurses, there's enough doctors, there's enough garbage here, right? Like. No, it's true. That is very true. No one does that. But when it comes to a lot of creative spaces, you always wanna, like create this false idea of, it's enough, it's filled, no more, we don't need any more when it's like, it's infinite, you know.
And that was literally being said, when it was open, more free for independent creators to get involved. Right. So that's when, as corporations started to get into it, that's when that language started to be spread. And that was right before, we've had several booms, but that was right before corporations flooded the market, corporations showed up and started buying everything up and getting into podcasting. So people don't think of all the players in capitalism and how invested corporations are in keeping independent creators, entrepreneurs out of the space, right? So if I make you think that there's scarcity here, and you shouldn't get involved, you're already gonna listen to me because I've been in radio or TV for however long and you think as an independent creator, that you're working your way up to being accepted into this corporate space, right. And so you gotta listen to me when I tell you, Hey, I've been working in media for you know, since the Golden Age, and the market is fucking flooded. You know what I'm saying? Meanwhile, two years later, three years later, five years later, here comes corporations buying everything up, buying everything up, closing everything, buying, opening, closing, they want the market to be for them. So the market is not flooded. They want to control the market. So they will tell you the market is flooded until they're ready to play. Then it's like, oh, no, this other thing is happening. Oh, no, this sort of thing is happening. You know what I'm saying? Like, there's a lot of forces at work to keep individuals from playing whatever the game is.
yeah. And then if you're in the game, so let's say you're in the podcasting space independent or in the corporate realm, it scares you are less inclined to like wanna change or disrupt or saying this is not right, or say, actually, it should be done like this, because it's like, "Well, I'm just happy to be here. I'm just happy that you let me in, because this market is flooded anyway. And you let me in" even as an independent podcaster, you might not shoot for the stars, because it's like, "Oh, you know, I'm this independent..." it's like a cycle of that, a symptom of capitalism, but like it keeps you indoctrinated, and the system that allows for the money to control everything in terms of podcasting.
And you'll take whatever scraps they give you. So that will impact the deals that you make as an independent podcaster. If somebody approaches you, it'll impact the deals that you make, it'll impact how you conduct yourself when you're hired within a corporate space. It impacts that I've seen people say, "Oh, well, this is how it's done" and not be able to tell me why. They just showed up there. And this is how it was done. And so that's what we're doing. It's like, No, you're in the space. You can say, from my experience, this is how it should be. No, you can't tell me why we've been doing the same old thing, the same way since radio, then like, what are you doing? There's a lot of that trying to maintain the status quo. And that is a symptom and a function of maintaining the capitalist state. All of these little things work to the benefit of those on top of the financial hierarchy that we have. That is power. And people, me and Queen always say that there is no such thing as a conspiracy theory, like all this shit is real, white supremacy is not a conspiracy. It's not a conspiracy. People think of conspiracy theories in the sense that, oh, it's the secret thing. And then the corners of the pyramids unite. And that's where they meet, and so they have meetings in there. And then the light comes out of your eyes. Yes, no, it's all very much in our face. It's all in our face. It's happening. It's not covert. It's not a fucking secret. When you think about the actors in the writer strike right now. And it's like,--
Lisa Woolfork 40:44
I can't let go of any of these coins as this huge corporation who's been sucking Hollywood dry or whatever, I can't let go of this power, this money, whatever. And they're saying the quiet parts out loud. These are conversations that happen across industry, you know what I'm saying? So all of these things play into the psyche of individuals to hold us and keep the masses in check. So that whole conversation about the market being flooded so early as corporations are sitting aside watching and waiting to pounce, all of that was to make it suitable and better for them. You got me started on my podcast shit now.
Lisa Woolfork 41:19
But listen, no, but it's facts, it's facts.--
The podcast facts. But anytime you see an article about the state of podcasting, you have to really be careful. (And this goes for anything. I'm just talking podcast shit right now.) But where's this coming from? Who sponsored this? I'll see people on LinkedIn, post "Oh, I'm so excited that we were covered in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." Okay, you were covered because your work is so important or whatever, like, maybe it is. But often times, these are tools of publicity, right? So I wanna publicize the work that I'm doing, or I wanna publicize an idea. And there are corporations who are publicizing ideas that they want to infuse in the mainstream that are not based in what's actually happening in industry, you know?
Lisa Woolfork 42:03
Absolutely. And I think the question to ask is, who benefits? If you count yourself out, if you take yourself out of the game before you give yourself a chance,--
Lisa Woolfork 42:14
Who benefits from that? You are not benefiting? Because you're not following something that you're excited about? Don't count yourself out. Don't push yourself out. Because you're afraid. I mean, there's plenty of room for me when I started this podcast, it was just like, when I created Black Women Stitch, I built what I needed, I needed to know that there were other Black women, girls, and femmes out in the world doing things with needle and thread. That I did not have to turn to the sources that were crafted by white people for the benefit of other white people, but told to me like, yes, you can do it too. But if it doesn't fit you, then something's wrong. None of that is the case, you know that there absolutely is, not just a history of us in this tradition, but also us being like great innovators and making things that are completely new, and to also leave something behind for those who will come next. And to make sure that that door is propped wide open for more flourishing to continue beyond just what's happening right now. And I think that anything that we can do to kind of make that more of a regular practice, I think will be to the good, I really do. So I'm going to ask you one last question. So the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. And so I'm gona ask each of you just for some advice to help us get our stitch together. It doesn't have to be sewing advice, obviously, but it could be but essentially just some wise advice that you would share with our listeners to help us get our stitch together. J., you've already shared quite a bit, everybody has, but I'll just like to think about it. That's the slogan, 'we'll help you get your stitch together'. What kind of advice would you offer to our listeners to help us get our stitch together?
I don't know, I'm deep in my podcast bag. I just want everybody to stop putting record scratches in their podcasts, like stop it, you know stop it. Two an episode, tops. Two, three if you have to. If you have, like a shit ton of segments. If you have like seven eight segments, you can give me three records stretches.--
Oh my God, you know what's so funny on our last Essence, there were two women, I told them to take it out, the editor, like we don't need this.
Oh, we don't do that shit.
I was like, we don't need this. There was--
two of them, and I was like, we don't, we don't need this.
We're not doing it. And it's a thing for a very specific podcast ears, like people traditionally, any podcast that was not a narrative podcast, right? Like narrative meaning like we're reporting or we're telling you a story like a storytelling kind of podcast or whatever was not valued or not respected. Right? It was so an interview podcast, what they used to call chat shows which was what me and Queen do, us talking or whatever it may be, having segments and doing different topics. It wasn't respected. So there's a code that we understand as a language, that if you've been doing, a quote unquote chat, short interview podcast, or these kinds of subversive renegade podcasts, you know that this is fucking remedial, certain shit is remedial. So I've encountered producers who have worked on narrative storytelling for years. And then they show up to my interview podcast, and they wanna put a fucking record scratch in it, because they don't know that there's a code, there's a quality, there's something to this too. There's a craft, and having these kinds of edited conversations that we have, these are crafted, well thought out, edited conversations, not put your fucking record scratch in my podcast! It's one of those things that like, if you haven't worked in this area of podcasts that you think is just oh, people just turn mics on, microphones on. And it's not anything. I mean, I know people do that now. But a lot of our podcasts that were chat shows or conversational shows that came up earlier in podcasting and gained success. Were not just us turning the mics on, or at least are not that anymore. You know what I mean? And that's my thing. I feel like a lot of newer podcasts, a record scratch is such a easy solution to like a transition or whatever. And so just to make that more relatable in life, don't cheat your way through life with a fucking record scratch, okay! Find a way to make a transition, figure it out. A record scratch is not the answer. Okay? Everyone, give yourself in life and in podcasting, two to three records, scratches, tops, that means that you could've put record scratches in 20 spaces, but you brought it down to two or three. It's quality content here, quality content, that's the advice that I have. It drives me fucking nuts.
That is so, I mean, my sure I did, was like--
Editor, take these out.
Yes, I've been giving whole lectures in what are working are like, hey, scratches are to be used extremely rarely. And here's why. Here's why. Anyway, Oh!
Lisa Woolfork 46:51
I love it. I love it. That is excellent advice. And I will absolutely not put a record scratch anywhere in this episode.
Thank you so much.
Lisa Woolfork 46:59
Not before or after what you just said,
Thank you. I know it's gonna happen. It's fine.
It's a lazy thing to lean on. I get it,
A lazy edit.
It is it's like when I'm trying to advise students to write like, enthusiastically but no exclamation marks. Don't use exclamation marks. They are meant to be very loosely, none of this is exclamation mark. And so like, that can be a bit of a challenge.
Yeah, it is, right it is.
So, think about that. Like, a record scratch it's like with exclamation mark.
Yes. Do better dig deeper.
Also nobody challenges it or if they just let it go, then you know, here you are. So it's good to challenge that.
Lisa Woolfork 47:37
I agree. I agree. Queen, do you have any advice to help us get our stitch together
You know since we're just gonna go into our gripes, I'ma follow J.'s lead I like it. I've been doing, so, a lot of work this week around transphobia, so, stop doing it.
Lisa Woolfork 47:57
Yeah, that's not--
Stop it. You're a cis woman, it's okay. It's been being taken from you because the C and the I and the S. Calm down. It's disappointing that you are marginalized person and don't see how you're marginalizing someone else. Let's just stop. It's not cute. It's not becoming. It's not poppin. I just don't understand. Well, I do understand why, but it's just annoying that this little inkling of power that you do have as a cis Black woman, you are using it in this way. Stop doing that. It's late, it's late. Stop doing it, read a book, listen to some podcasts, learn something. None of y'all are biologists.
Lisa Woolfork 48:40
The thing that always gets me about how we're all connected and that you know, none of us are free unless all of us are free. I don't understand how we don't appreciate that. You don't get to just be a little bit racist. You don't get to be a little bit oppressive of other people because it makes you feel better or because you think you have good reason for it. That is not the way to wholeness. It's just not the way.
And you're not thinking. There's no abundance in that, there's no growth in that. How are you like reimagining the world or whatever the hell, how are you creating the world or the peace. We always want to find our peace, there's no peace and any of that, in limited thinking and thinking that anything outside of you is just wrong. It's frustrating, so I just wanted to put that out there. Just stop being transphobic. it's not cute. multiplied being cute, so I'm gonna assume..
Lisa Woolfork 49:37
Oh, y'all, thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us where people can find you on the socials?
You can find us, Tea with Queen and J. on Instagram and the Twitter's @teawithqj. We can find our podcasts wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts Tea with Queen and J. , a womanist race nerd podcast, my personal socials on Instagram and Twitter @thequeenspeaks. You can find me there. You can find me on YouTube Ms Vixen I do a lot of the conversations we're having here there there also Yeah, both ways you can find me and us and there's more ways you can find J., J. can let you know though.
You can find me there also, we're both always on the Tea with Queen and J. social media platforms. So @teawithqj everywhere, and you can find me personally @janiciaf and that's J A N I C I A F. and then I'm also working on Drapetomaniax's podcast and I know that's difficult to spell but it's Drapetomaniax: Unshackled History and that's a podcast hosted by Michael Harriet. It is a narrative, storytelling podcast. It's Black history. And we are telling untold stories, untold histories, little known histories, in a really fun way. So definitely check out Drapetomaniax: Unshackled History. Lisa, I don't know if you have a show notes because that's a difficult spelling for people who haven't heard of it, but it's Drapetomaniax with a X at the end. So I'm really excited about it. It's been really fun.
Lisa Woolfork 50:58
We will put the links to all of that in the notes so that people can find your socials, people can find that really great show, people can follow you and join the YouTube channel. We will put all of that good stuff in our notes. Thank you so much Queen and J. for being here today. I am so excited and hope that we have another opportunity to connect and again, thank you so much for being here. This has been wonderful.
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Thanks so much, Lisa for having us. This was so fun. And we're so excited about you and your podcast and your rapidly growing social media following. Okay, sewing. Okay, Black people sewing, I'm like people sew like that? Okay.
Absolutely. You know what I do, I put my home girl onto your page and she loves it. She loves everything you do. So like Yeah.
Lisa Woolfork 51:44
Excellent. Excellent. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Y'all are just the best, the best.
Thank you, Lisa.
Lisa Woolfork 51:52
You've been listening to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week and every week for stories that center Black women. girls and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community, with giving levels beginning at $5 a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support, and come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.