Transcript: Ep. 0 Who Raised You?

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<intro music, synth beat melodic repeating medium tone voice singing "ah, ah, ah ah...">

Karen: You’re listening to Who Raised You Podcast? A Kitchen Table Conversation between Karen Jia Lian Yang and Treasure Shields Redmond.

Treasure: Unfurled and unafraid, we’re centering voices of color from flyover country. And we start every podcast with a poem.

<music fades out>

Treasure: This is Karen Jia Lian Yang reading “Water”

<poem>

My mom thinks I’m like water” [said in Mandarin Chinese]

From a young age

She’s seen the way I make myself

fit the containers others set before me

It’s true;

My report cards always said,

“Karen needs to focus on her own work;

She’s too easily distracted by others.”

And this worries her.

But she has containers for me, too.

And this is why we fought.

Especially in my teen years.

Because she saw her reflection in my water,

And she wanted me to flow the way she flowed

And fall upon her God,

The rock that she found in this foreign land.

My father?

He knows I have two graduate degrees,

Social Work and Divinity,

And he’s still telling me to be a nurse,

To work for Facebook,

To move back home.

Be a social worker in Stanford.

They don’t know that in St. Louis,

I’ve learned that I am one drop in a sea of resistance!

And that anger is not always a fire,

But it is sometimes a righteous waterfall.

And this, too, can erode

At the seemingly impenetrable

Insurmountable

Cliffs of empire.

I’m rushing, all the time.

There are so many fires to put out!

So many seeds to water!

And though I never want to be stagnant,

One day,

I want

To be a pool,

And reflect all the cycles of ancestors,

And the worlds beneath my surface.

Karen: This is Treasure Shields Redmond reading “For My Daughter”

<poem>

I must apologize beforehand.

Settle yourself with the fact

You will never really know me.

Women have some beast of ourselves

That is permanently captive.

Our rage is sent away

Like a door-to-door salesman,

Or transferred,

Like a subscription.

We push it down for our daughters’ sakes.

But they just find it when we die.

Right now, you lick your whole hand,

Rip off your diaper,

And bring it to your nose.

Sweet oatmeal, applesauce, raisins, milk, hot fried tomatoes

All taste better from the floor.

You sample hugging your brother;

Then you slap him.

Both make you laugh.

I tell myself these things

Will not be taken from you.

<music fades in>

{Song lyrics: Sometimes what I say ain’t right

Givin’ you such a hard time (time)

Ain’t nobody said I was perfect (perfect)

But baby, good love is worth it all and I won’t let you go <fades out>}

Treasure: What if a black poet from Mississippi and a Taiwanese-American minister from Silicon Valley had a podcast?

Karen: We’re about to find out!

Treasure: We might even blowuptuate.

Karen: We probably will.

Treasure laughs

Karen: Karen: You’re listening to Who Raised You? A kitchen table conversation between Karen Jia Lian Yang (that’s me!) and Treasure Shields Redmond.

Treasure: Whoop whoop!

Karen: As we explore how culture, family, and intersecting identities pave our way toward liberation, we wanna know: who raised you? We’re curious, and sometimes irritated. Sit down, we have lots to talk about.

Treasure: Today, we are the hosts and guests of Who Raised You? Season 1, Episode 0. In this episode, you’ll hear all about how Karen and I decided to start a podcast. But first, let’s hear from our parents! This is a phone call I had with my father, Eugene Redmond.

{Phone Call Begins}

{Music plays softly in background throughout}

Treasure: I am here with my dad, Eugene Benjamin Redmond. And he will be turning 80 years old in December! December 1st.

Eugene: December 1st!

Treasure: Yes, this is happening! My dad is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois, and he is the poet laureate of that city, and has been so since 1976.

Eugene: The oldest-serving, the longest-serving poet laureate in that municipality the United States.

Treasure: Oh, fantastic

Eugene: The research has been done by other poets laureate. <laughs>

Treasure: Mmmm.

Eugene: --state side, yeah

Treasure: That’s wonderful. So for anybody who continues to listen, they will find out that I am also a poet and a former English professor. So I went into the family business, because my dad is also a professor emeritus at SIUE University, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. And today, Dad, I’m supposed to be asking you about what I was like as a child. So, what was your first impression of me, the first time you got a glimpse of my personality?

Eugene: Um… that you were… a girl with your own mind.

Treasure laughs

Eugene: That’s what stands out. That’s what stands out to me about your childhood—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Eugene: --and what stands out to me about you now.

Treasure laughs

Eugene: That, um, you had a vocabulary beyond your years. And, um, I remember biographies and autobiographies in your bedroom when you came to me.

Treasure: Mmhmm

Eugene: Um, stayed with me in your summers and your early teens, your early pre-teens. And, um, I put this stack of books in your bedroom, and I arranged them so that you would begin to read, um, child biographies and in progress to larger ones, to the older ages. Especially Katherine Dunham.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Eugene: And the biographies were usually written by somebody else. You know, the child biographies.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Eugene: And every time I went in there, you had rearranged the order of the books! So that, uh, you wanted read about these people at elders as opposed to starting. And I was—

Treasure: Mmmm!

Eugene: We had a couple of conversations, more than a couple—

Treasure laughs

Eugene: --and you said that, uh, you wanted to read the adult biography. And I would rearrange—I would arrange them in the way I wanted you to read them, and you would rearrange them.

Treasure laughs

Eugene: So, I knew you were pretty grown.

Eugene and Treasure laugh

Eugene: Um

Treasure: Oh, man

Eugene: And you had a great vocabulary. Your mother and I both talked with you about, um, how you, your vocabulary would sometimes get you in trouble!

Treasure laughs

Eugene: And—

Treasure: Oh my!

Eugene: --we would say something like, “Well, just because you have the words doesn’t mean you have to use them.”

Treasure laughs

Eugene: And um—

Treasure: Oh, my goodness

Eugene: I was, uh, remember one time, I was—I was there, I was down visiting you in Mississippi, and somebody said, we were walking, and there was somebody passing, somebody passed us and said, “Everybody’s so friendly, everybody’s speaking to everybody!” And you said, “Oh, that’s indigenous to the south.”

Treasure laughs

Eugene: And the people started to say, “In-what?”

Treasure laughs

Eugene: The adults said, “It’s in-what?” <laughs> And you said, “Indigenous to the south!”

Treasure laughs

Eugene: And I just couldn’t—you know, I never met a 14-year-old girl—

Treasure laughs

Eugene: --who not only knew the word, but put it in a complete sentence like that!

Treasure: Right!

Eugene: So, those are some of my—my, um, fondest and most, um, angst-creating—

Treasure laughs

Eugene: <laughs> --memories, among, yeah.

Treasure: Mmm. Well, I guess I’ll ask you one last question. Um, are you surprised at how I’ve turned out?

Eugene: No. I’m not surprised at how you’ve turned out. Um, I would’ve been surprised if you hadn’t--

Treasure laughs

Eugene: --turned out the way you turned out. I—

Treasure: Right

Eugene: --I was a little fearful when you left college.

Treasure: Mmmm.

Eugene: You know, after I had paid the tuition—

Treasure: Yes, you should’ve been fearful. <laughs>

Eugene: --and took off with Hammer.

Treasure: Mmhm.

Eugene: Um, took off with a rap group!

Treasure: Mmhm

Eugene: Um, everybody was saying, “Where is your daughter going to college?” And you know, that’s the kind of thing, and I had to come to grips with that in my head, like—because I’m a college professor, people just making assumptions—

Treasure: Mm

Eugene: --“Oh, she’s going to college, where is she going? Harvard? Yale?”

Treasure: Mmhmm

Eugene: “Jackson State? Uh, Spelman?” You know, and—

Treasure: Mmhm

Eugene: --so, but you turned around, and I knew that you would one day turn around. Especially if you didn’t shoot out, if you didn’t go out into the ozone as—

Treasure: Mmm

Eugene: --as a hip-hop rap artist. Or an actress, you know, those things could’ve happened.

Treasure: Mmmhm.

Eugene: So, no, I’m not, I wasn’t surprised at all. And, uh, it’s um, these are great moments for me.

Treasure: Mmm.

Eugene: You know? To see what you’re doing. And to go all the way back, and I can see it! I can see it moving. I mean, I saw from very early. And, uh, this is kind of, um, a glorious mischief.

Treasure: <laughs> It’s true!

Eugene laughs

Treasure: It’s true! And that I believe I got honest from you.

Eugene laughs

Treasure laughs

Treasure: So, on that note, I will, uh, conclude this brief interview about one of the influences who raised me.

{Phone Call Ends}

<music fades in: synth beat melodic repeating medium tone voice singing "ah, ah, ah ah...>

<music fades out>

<Translation of Mandarin Chinese conversation with Chengfen Frances Yang provided by Karen Jia Lian Yang>

Jia Lian: The questions are what I just said. So when I was a kid, what was I like? My personality? My interests?

Chengfen: Oh, this you should ask your dad! He’ll have a lot to say.

Jia Lian: That’s just it. Dad would say a lot, but you might think more about it. What he says might be about me as a kid, but you might have a more accurate response.

Chengfen: Oh. Yeah, I thought that was a child from God. I had a dream about you. Then when you were born, Daddy said your face was really beautiful. Like, anyway, I thought it was precious. Before you went to college, I returned you to God. I felt that along the journey, God was leading you. You could study at Christian college, study at seminary. God was preparing you to be God’s instrument. This is a very important point. Yeah, your little sister also thinks that being in a Christian environment is good for you.

Jia Lian: Little sister also said?

Chengfen: Uh huh, that’s it.

Jia Lian: So did you think podcasting is also good for me? Did you think that I would do this?

Chengfen: I think podcasting… I’m not sure. I think you should be directly used by God. If one day you could use your podcasting experience and make a radio program about God, that would be even better. Like someone named Peng Meng Hui, who is an American. At some age, someone told her about China, China. Then she went to China. Afterward, during the Second World War, she went to Taiwan. She felt very urgent. She found a radio company, a broadcasting company. She said I want to make a program for you. I can talk about God and teach English. Eventually, the radio company said, “Ok, then you come do it!”

There she made a program called, “Heavenly Music Classroom,” The Class in the Air. Actually, in Taiwan there were a lot of students who studied English with Heavenly Choir Classroom. Even my dad studied English using this program. When I was in Taiwan, I heard her radio program. There was a period of time when she was teaching English.

Since she had musical talent, she started a choir, a singing worship team. So her program had songs, English lessons, and lessons about God. She’s still in Taiwan and she’s 90 years old. She’s really great. Her name is Peng Meng Hui. I hope that one day this broadcast will really ultimately be for talking about God.

That would be more consistent with the vision I had for you when I gave birth to you. You are a child that God gave me. Yeah, that would be even better. This is my perspective.

I don’t know what kind of vision people have for raising their children, their different ideas. These are Mom’s ideas, ah!

< Jia Lian laughs>

Jia Lian: You supported me a lot through studying social work and divinity. When I first graduated, I worked for a church with children. And now this job is no more. Do you think I failed or were you disappointed in me?

Chengfen: That job was also given by God. All of these jobs are in God’s processes. When you didn’t have money, God gave you a job where you could earn money. Then, God also gave you these experiences, like going to Canada. You can use these experiences in your next job. Like when you went to Texas and worked in a hospital, when you worked for New Life Church as a youth intern pastor, what you learned in seminary, and at Pepperdine, when you were a Spiritual Advisor... Spiritual what?

Jia Lian: Yeah, Spiritual Life Advisor.

Chengfen: Yeah, all of these things are a foundation. God won’t say, “Ah! Karen, you failed! Okay!”

< Jia Lian laughs>

Chengfen: God won’t, ah. All of these things are a part of learning. Learning, learning, and you get more and more mature. God can use you even more. Like right now, don’t I have a Bible study?

I feel like I’m still learning. It’s not like I’ve already accomplished everything and everything is done.

Jia Lian: Mmhmm.

Chengfen: No, I’m still learning. I’m also still learning. Like a guinea pig, I’m learning, learning, learning. I’m learning English. When it’s my turn, I’m learning how to lead others. When it’s not my turn, I’m learning how to fill in the gaps when others teach. All of these things are a process, my learning process. And one day, we’ll be more like Jesus.

We don’t want to look at small, small things. So I tell you, God wants to give you something bigger. God expects you the better. Yeah, always expect you the better. There’s still something better.

Jia Lian: Mmhmm.

Chengfen: When you’re doing small, small things, know that God is in the future. There is something better in the future. Yeah, this is just one part.

When you help Mama Cat cook, this is also one part. How you serve God, serve people. Everything won’t fail. God won’t fail. God will use everything for good. Right? Doesn’t the Bible say this?

Jia Lian: Yes.

Chengfen: God uses everything for good, right?

Jia Lian: Mhmm.

Chengfen: “In all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to God’s purpose.” Let those who love God receive good things. In verse 28… which chapter and verse. I cannot remember that address.

Jia Lian and Chengfen laugh

Jia Lian: No problem. I know usually you remember. You write in the whole Bible, inside, there’s red ink everywhere.

Chengfen: Okay, my time is about up. My friend is about to arrive. I need to prepare. I love you!

Jia Lian: Thank you for talking to me.

Chengfen: Hope you live positive. Know that in the future, there is something bigger. You and Harrison need to encourage each other to be positive.

Jia Lian: Ok, I love you.

Chengfen: Ok, I love you, drink more water!

Jia Lian: Ok, bye bye.

<music fades in: synth beat melodic repeating medium tone voice singing "ah, ah, ah ah...”>

<music fades out>

Karen: And we’re back! <laughs> After listening to these lovely phone calls from our parents!

Treasure: Yes, that was a trip!

Karen: Where we both learned some things. <laughs>

Treasure: <laughs> Yes

Karen: Um, do we wanna talk through our poems? I just heard your poem for the first time, and you heard my poem for the first time.

Treasure: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.

Karen: And when we were thinking about our—our podcast, one of the things that we said is that we wanted to start every podcast with a poem.

Treasure: Mhmm.

Karen: And that goes to Treasure’s background as a poet!

Treasure: Truth, truth. I thought it was interesting the way our poems kind of bookended each other. And I am eating Halloween candy, because it was Halloween two days ago now? Two days ago now. Um, I thought it was interesting the way our poems bookended each other, because yours is about being a daughter, and I experience you very much as grappling with your mother’s expectations still--

Karen: Mmm

Treasure: --which is what the twenties is about.

Karen: That’s embarrassing still!

Treasure laughs

Karen: I can’t—I can’t believe it’s that obvious!

Treasure: I think we’re all there, right? That’s what the 20s are about.

Karen: That’s true. <laughs> That’s why—that’s why we all need therapy.

Treasure: Um, you know, I’m—I’m an elder in training, so I’m biologically old enough to be Karen Jia Lian Yang’s mother. But spiritually, I have the spirit of a 19-year-old.

Karen: I mean!

Treasure laughs

Karen: You should see the way that Treasure uses Instagram! Like, that’s why she manages that for us.

Karen laughs

Treasure: But, um, yeah, and I really loved the image of the water. Um, could you tell me what the words you said at the beginning meant? In Chinese?

Karen: Yeah. Um, so… I said… “Mama shuo ni xiang shui yi yang,” and that means “Mom says you’re like water.”

Treasure: Mmmm!

Karen: And that’s something that she would tell me on and off, like throughout my childhood. And it usually was if I was doing something that she wasn’t really approving of. <laughs>

Treasure: Really?

Karen: Yeah, and it wasn’t like I was doing—like, up to no good, necessarily, but it was that she saw that I was easily influenced by other people.

Treasure: Mmm.

Karen: And that I was really social.

Treasure: Mm-hm.

Karen: More like that, because, um, you know, as I mentioned in the poem, there was kind of like, sometimes a tense relationship between us.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Karen: Because she would like, try to rein me in and try to tell me what to do, and I hated that, like I hated her telling me what to do, I hated her like, scolding me, like I—even if I felt eventually that something was the right thing to do, like, I wanted to come to it on my own.

Treasure: Mmmm.

Karen: Um, so, yeah, so she has often told me that, like, you know, that I’m like water, that I’ll take on the shape of any container that I’m put into, or she’ll also give me some advice about, like, taking compliments and how that I should pretend it’s like perfume and just, like, smell it but not, like, drink it.

Treasure: Mmmmm!

Karen: Yeah.

Treasure: Interesting.

Karen:  Yeah.

Treasure: I’m not sure how to feel about that.

Karen: <laughing> Why’s that? From—from a personal perspective, or as a parenting perspective?

Treasure: I—well, you know what, your—my relationship with my mother was very different from yours—

Karen: Sure

Treasure: --um, I was an only child, and very, very doted on.

Karen: Mmm

Treasure: In almost a strange way…

Karen: Okay

Treasure laughs

Karen: Did it go through to your head, is the question?

Karen laughs

Treasure: I don’t think it did.

Karen: Okay

Treasure: And you know, sometimes I think, with the level of doting my mother did, for me not to be a raging narcissist, I must’ve had some deep need in me to be bolstered.

Karen: Mmhmm, yeah

Treasure: Because I think for a lot of children, that they would’ve been ruined and not been able to be a decent human.

Karen: Mmmm

Treasure laughs

Karen: Yeah, sure

Treasure: My mother, every morning when I woke up, she’d literally be like, “You’re a genius.”

Karen: Yeah

Treasure: And people would be around us, and they would just be like rolling their eyes, like what the hell?

Karen: Well maybe those are the—

Treasure laughs

Karen: --forces that she had to counteract, because—

Treasure: Mmm

Karen: --there are people around you that are, like, assuming that you’re not a genius.

Treasure laughs

Karen: And, clearly, you know, there’s something to work with there, right?

Treasure: Well, I’m like, what is it, Kweisi Mfume that used to be head of the NAACP, I think? He said, um, In the human—in the human world, you know, most of us are average, a couple of geniuses, and a liberal sprinkling of fools.

Karen and Treasure laugh

Treasure: So I don’t think—

Karen: <laughing> I don’t want to be the liberal sprinkling of fools!

Treasure: I don’t think genius is that common. I mean, I feel good about myself, but genius, I think, is going a little too far.

Karen: I mean!

Treasure laughs

Karen: I will say, though, that your poem read distinctly different from mine.

Treasure: Mmm.

Karen: And it was—and part of it is that you’ve been a poet, and you’re probably inheriting some—some poet-ness from your dad.

Treasure: Mmhmm!

Karen: And there—

Treasure: <snapping fingers> Come through, poet-ness!

Karen: Yeah, right?!

Treasure laughs

Karen: Like, the images were really vivid, and like, mine was like, I’m talking to you, with spaces in between! <laughs> Um, and then also, whenever we’ve talked to our podcast guests, I’m always struck by how much you bring in as well. So, whether it’s, like, questions, or your—you have some thoughts, or you just come up with some ‘what are you saying?’, you know?

Treasure: Mmmm.

Karen: Just like, yeah, like, you have a way of, like, getting right to the words, which, um, goes to the conversation that we had with your dad about how words came early to you.

Treasure: You know what? I really appreciate that, Karen Jia Lian Yang, the world’s greatest Taiwanese freedom fighter!

Karen laughs

Treasure: And I, you know—my poem is about being a mother, and yours was about being a daughter.

Karen: Right

Treasure: And I think that speaks to the stage of life that we’re both in.

Karen: Mmhmm

Treasure: And also, now that my mother passed away in 2005, and my daughter was born in 2006, so there was definitely a baton-passing. Like, I completed being a daughter—

Karen: Oh, that’s interesting!

Treasure: --before I became a mother.

Karen: Because I was gonna say that I would speculate that you never stop being a daughter. And you never stop being a mother. But it seems like for you, when like, you became a mom, that—that superseded the daughter-ness?

Treasure: I would say for me, it did—

Karen: Uh-huh

Treasure: --because my mother loomed so large in my life when she was alive. Like I said, I was an only child, we were really close, um, but you know, it was not without complications, because she was quite frankly mentally ill.

Karen: Mmhm

Treasure: And oftentimes the symptoms of her schizophrenia—that was one of her diagnoses—would just overwhelm her.

Karen: Yeah.

Treasure: So in some ways, I felt like her mother.

Karen: Mmm. Oh! It—it’s parentification—

Treasure: Mmhm

Karen: --I experienced that as well.

Treasure: Mmmmhmmmm!

Karen: Not because of mental illness, but like, me and my sister, there were times—I mean just being a daughter of immigrants alone, the fact that from a very young age, like, you’re answering the door—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --because you can speak English—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --or you’re, like, answering the phone, or you’re translating at the doctor’s office? Like, that’s a huge thing—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --because, I mean, doctors’ offices are where you make big decisions or—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --or like you’re learning some things for the first time, possibly. Um, and so there’s that, and then also some family dynamics, where we just in some cases felt like we needed to raise ourselves. It might be anything from, like, preparing food to navigating like—I remember, really distinctly, this time when I was with my mom outside of Rite-Aid, which is like our CVS, Walgreens, you know?

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: A pharmacy. And that was when I had just gotten into college, and I was just so anxious and frustrated? Because I found out that I didn’t know how to pay for it. So, um, you know, I had to navigate the FAFSA on my own, which kinda speaks to, um, what we’ll discuss later, which—

Treasure laughs

Karen: --is your job of getting the acceptance letter!

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: GetTheAcceptanceLetter.online

Treasure laughs

Karen: #plug Um, #ad <laughs>

Treasure: Right

Karen: Um, but anyway, so, I didn’t know how I was gonna pay for college, and I didn’t know how to choose between these three, like, beach schools.

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: What a hard problem <laughs>

Treasure: Mhmm

Karen: Um, and I was really upset, because all around me were friends who had more money in their family and also seemed to have things more together. And it was just, like, a given that no matter where they wanted to go, they would be able to go.

Treasure: Mmm.

Karen: And I remember, like, shouting at her and just being like, “Why—why don’t I know what to do? Why can’t I just, like, go?” You know, like, “Why don’t we have a way to pay for this?” And—and I was like, “Did you not think that I would grow up?!”

Treasure: Mmmmmm!

Karen: And she was like, “Well, when you have a kid, like, you’re just thinking of them as a baby.” And that made me so mad.

Treasure: Mmm!

Karen: And like, now, I’ve gotten more perspective about, like, how life is and how complicated it can be and just all the circumstances that lead to parenthood. Um, and so I’m more gracious and forgiving of that, and I also don’t necessarily think she was in the wrong at all necessarily, now.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Karen: But at the time, I remember feeling very betrayed.

Treasure: Wow!

Karen: Yeah, so <laughing> My entitlement peeking through!

Treasure: Hmm! Well, you know, it’s interesting, because I think part of the reason our conversations, um, flow so well is because we have these points of connection. So, I—I don’t know, maybe—maybe if I unpacked it in therapy, there is some feeling of betrayal—

Karen laughs

Treasure: --up underneath my relationship with my mother. But I can say that I definitely switched places with her early on. Not because she was an immigrant for whom English was her second language, but because she was ill so often, in a way that prevented her from interacting with the world in a responsible fashion.

Karen: Mm.

Treasure: So like, I remember the exact same college I went to, she had gone to in fits and starts, a couple of times, trying to complete a degree.

Karen: Mmhmm.

Treasure: And her symptoms would become too overwhelming. So she owed all this money to the school. And she was upset about it to the point of tears, and I sat down with her, and I must’ve been somewhere between the age of 11 and 13.

Karen: Mmhmm

Treasure: I sat down with my mother and went through her receipts and discovered that she had paid them back maybe one and a half times.

Karen: Wow.

Treasure: Because she kept sending money orders every month.

Karen: Wow.

Treasure: So, we got all the money orders, made a copy of them on a sheet of paper, wrote a letter. I remember we walked down the street to this place where you could fax and write letters?

Karen: Mmhmm

Treasure: This was like, pre-FedEx Kinko’s?

Karen: Yeah

Treasure: So this was somebody’s business?

Karen: Yeah, right

Treasure and Karen laugh

Karen: Bob in the mailroom, if you're listening!

Treasure: So—right! So, parentification—

Karen: Right

Treasure: --most definitely. Which brings me to the name of our podcast, Who Raised You?

Karen: Who Raised You?

Treasure: We must be haunted, we must be haunted, Karen, about our rearing.

Karen: I know. And—and we, mind you, anyone who’s listening, right now is the season of Halloween, so we’re—

Treasure laughs

Karen: --thinking of haunting right now—

Treasure: OoooOOOoohhh!

Karen: OoooOOOooohhh!

Treasure laughs

Karen: Um, but yeah, so earlier on, when we were talking what should we name our podcast, we threw a lot of things out. Speaking of which, the kids are home!

Treasure: Who is that?

Karen: Who goes there? <laughs>

Treasure: It’s Ramses!

Karen: Hi Ramses! I’m Karen!

Ramses: Hi, nice to meet you, Karen!

Treasure laughs

Karen: I steal your mom sometimes and we have a podcast. Did she tell you?

Ramses: Eh, no

Karen: What?!

Ramses: Er, yes, she did!

Treasure laughs

Karen: Okay, good, ‘cause I know you’ve sometimes thrown the pizza in when she’s at my house too long.

Treasure laughs

Karen: So—

Treasure: Right? <laughs>

Karen: --sorry, and <laughing> there’s more pizza!

Yaa: The door’s open!

Karen: And is that Yaa?

Treasure: Yeah, that is Yaa.

Karen: Hi, Yaa! It’s Karen!

Yaa: Hi!

Treasure laughs

Karen: Hi! Whose gecko is this? Whose Mr. Stripes?

Yaa: Ramses

Karen: Ramses is responsible for Mr. Stripes?

Treasure laughs

Yaa: Yeah

Treasure: Mmhmm. How was school today, sweetheart?

Yaa: Good.

Treasure: Alright. I hate to shush you all up, but we’ve gotta finish this podcast. It won’t be much longer.

Ramses: Okay.

Karen: 15 minutes

Treasure: <laughing> Ramses is like, “Okay, I’m out of here!”

Karen laughs

Treasure: Okay, so on that note, with that sweet distraction of the two kiddos—

Karen: See, this is how you all know that this is real. We are actually at a kitchen table!

Treasure: <laughing> Yes, we are!

Karen laughs

Treasure: Um

Karen: So, um, we’re talking about parentification—

Treasure: Yeah

Karen: --we’re talking about being haunted—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --I want to talk about this concept we had about how Who Raised You? can be taken in so many ways. That question—

Treasure: Mmmm

Karen: --can be really curious, like: “Who raised you?”

Treasure: Yes.

Karen: And it can be also angry, like frustrated: “Who raised *you*?!”

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: Like, wolves??

Treasure laughs

Karen: Is the implication. We can also think about “who raised you” in a very broad sense of, like, in some ways our country has raised us.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Karen: In some ways, our society has raised us. We have some queer folx on our podcast and they talk about their families of choice! And even if you’re not queer, you may have families of choice as well. Um, so there is influences all over that raise us. And I remember at one point, trying to think of, you know, I think sometimes it’s nice to just ruminate on different concepts, and you think of all sorts of things. And at one point, I was thinking, “America’s a bad dad.” Or, “Uncle Sam is a bad dad.”

Treasure: Mmmmm.

Karen: In some ways.

Treasure: Yeah, yeah. Um, the parenting influences of culture, um, they are so overwhelming, and you can’t see out of them oftentimes. That’s what a lot of us are grappling with now during this current presidency, with President Trump. As we continue to talk to people that we love and realize that they live in a totally different family than we live in. And we thought—we thought we were experiencing family in the same way. But there is a family for wealthy people—

Karen: Mmm

Treasure: --there is a family for cis white people, there is a family for queer people, for immigrant people, for Muslim people, uh, there is a family for Black people that’s different than the family for white people. So yeah, this idea, this query, this question Who Raised You? is so, so resonant during this time.

Karen: Yeah, and I’m thinking also about how technology impacts things as well.

Treasure: Mm.

Karen: So there’s a generation that was a little bit, like, you know—I don’t know that radio necessarily did this, but I do know that, like, TV has raised people—

Treasure: Oh yeah

Karen: --for sure, right?

Treasure: Definitely

Karen: And then, um, well, and not necessarily radio, but we can talk about how music raised people, right?

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: And that comes up in your conversation with your dad, about how important music was. You could hear music in the background—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --as you were talking to him. We talked about how that was Billie Holliday.

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: And then how you also had, like, a breakout career, and you were? Or were almost signed by a label?

Treasure: You know, I had this high school rap group, and we were signed by a label. We were signed by MC Hammer’s label. Um, but yeah, when you talked about how music raises us, I think about, for many people, ideas about resistance come forward first through music.

Karen: Mm.

Treasure: When you think of the cliché of the rebellious teen in their room, they always have loud music on, whether it’s hip-hop, rock’n’roll—

Karen: Oh, that’s true! Right! And the door is closed! So it shuts every—

Treasure: Exactly!

Karen: --one else out.

Treasure: So they’re listening very closely to that parenting influence—the beat, the guitar, the lyrics—

Karen: Yeah!

Treasure: --all of that, yeah. So—

Karen: And on—

Treasure: --I guess we can pull in music as a parenting influence.

Karen: Right. And on the flip side, we are gonna hear from KB Frazier, Dr. KB Frazier. And he is featured in an episode called “The Sound of Dissent.” And so, they have music happening out on the streets, not shut in a room. And that’s going to be our first episode after this origins episode that’s gonna come out.

Treasure: Mmmhmm

Karen: Pretty soon, we’re doing a launch November 12th, and we’re excited about that! And then coming to you in the new year, we’re looking to release episodes hopefully every week!

Treasure: Mmhmm!

Karen: And we’ll have a whole season just of amazing people centered in the Midwest, particularly starting out in St. Louis.

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: And they’re really great, from all different perspectives, talking about who raised them.

Treasure: Yes. Centering voices of color. Um, and you know, people often call them marginalized voices. But I wouldn’t call these voices marginalized. I would call these voices from the center--

Karen: Mm.

Treasure: --speaking to the margins. Because what’s at the margins right now is a lot of fear, um, a lot of clinging to old ideas, and clinging to spiritual regimes--

Karen: Mmm

Treasure: <laughs> --that kept a lot of us in bondage. Not just physically, but in other ways, too. So it’s wonderful to center voices that focus on freedom.

Karen: Well, I also like that you say that these voices are not necessarily marginalized. Not because that might not be true, but because I think that really speaks to the attitude toward which we’re doing this podcast.

Treasure: Mmhmm.

Karen: Because really early on, when we were talking about how important it is to have media by and for people of color—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: --from the Midwest, or flyover country, whatever you want to call it, because so much media is owned and created by those who are not people of color, who are from the coasts, for example.

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: Or even—so, what you get is people talking about places and people that they don’t really belong to or aren’t really from, or can really speak to.

Treasure: Truth.

Karen: And I think we’re getting to a point—you can see this in literature, you can see this in religion, you can see this in society, especially with technology, too, where we understand that we all have perspectives. And that’s fine. We don’t have to pretend to be this non-partisan objective—

Treasure: Mmhmm

Karen: perspective.

Treasure: I don’t know if you guys heard the doorbell ring in the background as Karen was saying those brilliant words, but kids are coming now to ask for my daughter. She’s the social hub of our neighborhood. <as doorbell chimes again>

Karen: Well, we better get that doorbell!

Treasure: <laughs> Right! So, you know what, on that note, I think that we’re gonna close this one out.

Karen: That’s a good one.

Treasure: I want to tell people that Who Raised You? is an undiscovered gem right now. But we’re expecting to shine it up and blowuptuate.

Karen: We’re going to blowuptuate!

Treasure: <laughing> So this is Treasure Shields Redmond signing off.

Karen: And I’ll sign you out after talking to you for a bit. You can visit WhoRaisedYouPodcast.com to learn more and support us, book us, or donate to buy us a cup of tea and support media by people of color in flyover country. You can like us on Facebook and Instagram or email us at WhoRaisedYouPodcast@gmail.com to suggest poets, guests, topics, and to help with transcription. This is co-hosted by Treasure Shields Redmond

Treasure: Whoop whoop!

Karen: --and Karen Jia Lian Yang. We have consulting by FarFetched Collective. You can contact WeAreFarFetched@gmail.com to learn more about how they can help you launch or expand your project, business, or non-profit with their agency framework. We have tea from Teatopia. Today we have Wu Yi Oolong. It steeps multiple times, and it is especially roasty. You can visit TeatopiaSTL.com and have a graceful Teatopia experience. Thanks to Eugene Redmond and Chengfen Frances Yang for being guests on today’s show.

<music fades in>

{Song lyrics:

Baby I just need you to know

Your essence is beautiful

Yeah

I’ll always love you so (Oh)}

<music fades out>

--