Helping White Women to Uproot Systemic Racism
Misasha Suzuki Graham and Sara Blanchard on the Multiracial Experience and Allyship
Over 20 years ago an offensive racial identity discussion at Harvard pushed Misasha Suzuki Graham and Sara Blanchard to simultaneously walk out of the room and kick off their decades-long friendship. As biracial women and parents of multiracial children, they have been uniquely aware of the impact that our nation’s legacy of racism has on all racialized people.
In their book and podcast, “Dear White Women,” Suzuki Graham and Blanchard answer the litany of questions that seemingly well-intentioned White folks have been asking people of color throughout this second wave of the civil rights movement.
I don’t know about you but I’m tired of explaining that racism wasn’t solved during Obama’s presidency. I’m thrilled to have a resource to share/chuck at the next person that pretends they desperately want to be part of the solution but only if it requires less effort than a Google search. 🙄🙄🙄🙄
If you've ever asked or been asked "What can I do to help combat racism?" then Dear White Women: Let's Get (Un)comfortable Talking About Racism is a priceless tool you’ll want to add to your personal library.
This episode we discuss
Claiming your wholeness as a multiracial person in monoracial spaces
Balancing protecting your energy and giving grace to problematic “friends”
The legacy of anti-Asian sentiment in the US
The compound stress of racism and sexism
Harnessing the power of privilege to uproot systemic racism
Buy Your Copy of Dear White Women
Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation
Episode edited and produced by Unapologetic Amplified
Body Liberation for All Theme
They might try to put you in a box, tell them that you don't accept when the world is tripping out tell them that you love yourself. Hey, Hey, smile on them. Live your life just like you like it
It’s your party negativity is not invited. For my queer folks, for my trans, people of color, let your voice be heard. Look in the mirror and say that it's time to put me first. You were born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So, I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.
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Dalia Kinsey: Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Misasha Suzuki: We're so excited to be here.
Sara Blanchard: Thanks for having us. Yes, thank you.
Dalia Kinsey: I've been cyberstalking, both of you in addition to fawning over the book and looking at my favorite sections. Again, even though I'm not the target person for the book, it feels like a really good resource for me to share with other people who want me to explain to them how to not be problematic.
And just knowing that I have a resource for that feels like a relief because so many people act like they want to know what to do and will suck you dry energy wise, but if you tell them, you could probably find another resource for that. They'll come up with more ways to keep pulling on your energy, and I love that now I can just be like, no seriously read this, and if you're not willing to do that, you don't really wanna know. So that's very helpful. Can you tell us about why you felt like now was the time for your book?
Misasha Suzuki: It's a great question and I think we've had, so we've had the podcast by the same name, Dear White Women for close to three years now. It's hard to, hard to imagine, that when we started back in April of 2019, that anyone save like the five family members that we could have strong to listening to it.
Dalia Kinsey: You were able to get family to listen? It's literally impossible to get friends and family to listen.
Misasha Suzuki: As it was coming outta my mouth I thought well not immediate family. Ok. Sometimes my mom will listen. And then she'll be like, why did you say that? And I'm like, oh, ok, you listened to that episode I think we recognize that not all people are podcast listeners and I'm staring at one, on the screen right now (points at Sara)
Sara Blanchard: Sort of bad, I know
Misasha Suzuki: I'll still send her like episodes every once in a while and feel like 50 50 shot that she'll listen.
But we thought that also the message and the platform that we have was really important to get out to a larger audience. Besides just the podcast, right? In different mediums. And people learn different ways in different ways and people reflect in different ways. And so we sort of came to the realization around the fall of 2020 that, we wanted to do this book.
And of course, you know, there was just a few things happening in 2020. So, you know, Sarah asked me at that time cause we were homeschooling our kids and, you know, trying to handle everything else. If like why, why we should write the book. And I said in that moment, and it was my most honest truth in that moment that I think we should write it because I'm trying to save my kids' lives. And you know, it's one of those sort of responses when you're do the speed round of like questions. And it is, it is the thing that comes to your mind first. But that is, My truth. Right? And I, I feel to this day that if one person reads this book and that person has the ability in some way to make a decision as to whether my sons live or die, right? Or anyone else who looks like my sons live or die like that, and they make a different decision than they would have, that is enough, right? That is more than enough. And I think that about the podcast too. But the book is something that's so tangible and is similar yet different to the podcast that I feel like that's the goal.
That's a singular goal. And so that's why, yeah.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. That's a huge motivation. I know there are a lot of people who, when they get into activism, they. Motivators that are not stable or consistent. So like maybe they are empathizing with someone they're friends with, but if that friendship goes sour, they may also lose interest in the movement.
So it's certainly a different thing when it's blood relatives who you're worried about or whether it's just intrinsic to you to be concerned about everyone's safety, which is also another motivating force for a lot of people. And those things are stable, whereas just because someone you have befriended is suffering.
You know, I don't know that that's a motivation that would really last. And I've seen like fair weather activists, especially in 2020 that couldn't even hang in there for a year. And like you mentioned, you started the podcast long before this second wave of the civil rights movement.
Sara Blanchard: Ooh. I like that you called it the second wave of the civil rights movement.
The it, it
Dalia Kinsey: feels like, yeah, like no one WA was framing it that way. It was so interesting to me how many people acted like B L M was brand new when these are precisely the same issues that we've had since reconstruction, like the US loves to do. They say they're going in to. People that are suffering when it's really a play for money or resources, like they do that overseas over all the time.
That's also what it looks like. Maybe I'm biased because I was told it was a war of Northern aggression, which, you know, that's a whole nother thing. But like the perspective is, well they came down here for resources and for power, not for humanitarian reasons, which vibes with how the US generally is, and then left too soon as they always do.
Like before any area stabilized and people just started murdering black folks left and right. Any time they had two red scents to rub together and decided that maybe they should be treated like equals, it was always a problem. And the police have been part of enforcing systemic racism. In my part of the country, at least since reconstruction.
And so for anyone to think it was a new problem was just so bizarre to me when it's the same thing we've been dealing with since the beginning of this country being formed.
Misasha Suzuki: I I love, I love that you said that, and Sarah knows, like, I, I will continually like hammer this point home on the podcast because I, I think that people completely think this just came out of nowhere, right?
Or this is like, we were doing just fine cuz we had this civil rights movement in the sixties and like, we fixed it, you know, and, and once the Civil War was over, we also fixed that, right? And so there's periods that we've fixed. And so why is there such an issue now? And I think that shows up in, in, you know, a lot of different ways.
You're absolutely right in that it was sort of, it has been baked into the founding of our country. And that reconstruction in particular was sort of designed to be this fix, but it never, it didn't go down that way. And in fact, people were still trying to sort of create the world that, that existed before reconstruction, right?
Just without using the word slavery. And so I think that that is so important to understand that history because those are the cycles that keep repeating. And if we don't understand that, we're continually looking at it like it's this new issue. And that, you know, oh, we've got this new problem. We've got this B l m movement, or we've got, you know Asian hate and all of this is so new, but it's not.
And I think that, I, so I love that
Dalia Kinsey: you said that. That's a great, I'm glad that you mentioned Asian hate thinking that maybe that's new because I was not aware of, I, of course, I knew about, Internment camps and Japanese people being robbed of their property. But I didn't realize that the legacy of anti-Asian sentiment was even older than that.
And I guess I never fully processed that. The US never apologized or did any kind of reparations for that. And the idea that you can just steal people's property and no one have an issue with it. In a country that claims it's all about you being able to pull yourself up from your bootstraps and get what you've worked for.
But it's okay to rob certain people of what they've worked their whole lives to get so, It's interesting when you're not directly affected by something or you think you're not affected by something, how you will think something's brand new, and how frustrating that is for people who've been saying the whole time, this is a problem.
How did you experience that with. One Asian parent. I wanted to start with the book because, you know, with podcasts you never know if somebody's gonna hear the beginning, the middle of the end. So I wanted to let everybody know, dear White women is available for purchase. There's an excellent resource for you to share with allies or people who are pretending to be allies.
That need to show that they're willing to put forth some effort to make changes because it really is work to be sincere when it comes to anti-racism. This isn't just something you can do casually. It's going to require you read, be willing to read at least a book. Right. But going back to your motivation for starting the podcast and your experience as multiracial people, can you talk a little bit about what your experience with race and your Japanese culture was growing up?
Yeah, I think we have.
Sara Blanchard: Both similar and slightly different experiences with that. I grew up on the East Coast to a Japanese immigrant mom and a white dad. And I grew up going to Japanese Saturday school to like every Saturday at least 11 years of my schooling life I was spending in Queens or with, you know, in a different community than where I was growing up.
I would spend summers in Japan with my grandparents. So being Japanese and biracial was a very, like, foundational part of my identity. I was very clearly Japanese and white with, you know, eating my mom's, like the Japanese food that she made for our home and, and all of that sort of stuff. So I never really felt like I, I was always the quirky independent kid because I never really felt like I fit in with the kids at like western, like at American school.
but I was always liked enough, you know, and then I also had this other crowd where I wasn't quite Japanese enough. And so I felt like I understood that there were so many different perspectives and they, and by virtue of spending summers in Japan growing up instead of summer camp, my mom was like, you have to go spend time with your grandparents.
You're gonna go see them. And I would just go to Japan. I knew that the American way was not the only way from a very young age. When the anti-Asian hate came up, I have to say, like, even for myself, I didn't realize the history of it because where I grew up, Japanese people were like, there was a lot of Japanese people, like all these New York City had a lot of Japanese companies.
And at that point, Japan was at its economic heyday and it felt viscerally, like it was very respected. So the fact that I would be so scared that my mom was gonna go to the supermarket and I was afraid that she grabbed the produce that someone else wanted and they might punch her in the face, like I, I, it was really.
A different experience going through that during the pandemic. When, when this wave of vitriol and, and hate was retargeted at the Asian population in this country,
Dalia Kinsey: how did your mother respond? Because a lot of times I find when I'm surprised by intense racially motivated violence that the generation before me is confused as to why I'm surprised.
How was your mom's reaction? I
Sara Blanchard: mean, my mom does color her hair blonde. Like she's got light hair. Like she's, if you didn't look at her face you from behind, you wouldn't know. Right. From certain perspectives, my mom, she was an immigrant, so she or she is an immigrant, so it's not like she's had she's had the 40 something years of experience living in this country, but didn't grow up here to experience it in her foundational years, any racism against her?
And I think she was just kind of like, I'll be careful. I just won't go out to whatever places. And I, I'm just, she was careful because of Covid anyway. But I think not, no, I don't think she'll listen to this particular podcast cuz she doesn't necessarily listen to her. So I'll speak more freely. But, you know, I don't think she's ever felt like she fully belongs in the us.
I think after my dad died at her funeral, she was like, oh, people, people came and talked to me. Like, I'm not just the wife of like, they actually wanna maintain a friendship and a relationship with me. So I think th there was an element for her as an immigrant too, of not fully feeling rooted here. And, and I don't think she had explicitly racist things done to her necessarily when she lived in the us but I don't think that she ever felt like she fully belonged either.
Yeah. But I don't think she felt physically threatened being.
Dalia Kinsey: Where she is. Did you feel a sense of belonging when you would visit Japan to spend time with your grandma? I look so
Sara Blanchard: foreign to them. Oh, I remember being so by, they would send me to Japanese summer school. Like it wasn't summer school, it was the school year.
But they wanted me to experience school in Japan, and their school doesn't let out in the summer like American schools do. So I remember being there for a month and like walking with the kids to go to the local school and the principal like, like I, I loved my classmates. They were all fascinated at the scrunchies that American kids wear at that point and, and all this stuff.
But I stood outside with the school principal at dismissal one time because he wanted to make sure that other kids knew that I was there. And even in front of the school principal, they would shout out like, foreigner, go home. You don't like, you don't belong.
Dalia Kinsey: Oh, no.
Sara Blanchard: So, no, the Japan is a very homogenous society and especially if you get outside of the big cities, people literally may have never seen someone who's not ethnically Japanese in their lives.
So yeah, that, I definitely didn't belong there, but I guess in some ways, you know, the upside is you learn to navigate your own path pretty early on when you grow up in, in those sort of
Dalia Kinsey: ways. Yeah. My little brother lives in Japan and he and his wife just had a baby at the end of last month, and I'm just wondering what her experience will be like because his wife was explaining that there even are, there's a word for someone who is Japanese, who has lived outside of Japan.
So that even that makes you different, different enough for there to be a name for it. So it will, I think, require a lot of love and attention for that, not to damage the baby psychologically. What was your experience like Sasha?
Misasha Suzuki: Yeah. So as Sarah mentioned, there are some similarities in our experiences.
So I grew up in, on the west coast, and I'm the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father who happens to be six two as well, which is not so like from the start, our family is not sort of your stereotypic Japanese family, right. So, he's incredibly tall. The whole family is, which was great cuz like on subway platforms in Japan, I could see my whole family over everyone else.
Now people are getting taller, so it's not as easy. But anyway, you know, and, and to a white mother right from Seattle and who happens to be the, she was a daughter of a civil war historian. So that's also why I love like, just tying it to history. But growing up in Los Angeles, there was a very clear Japanese American identity there, right?
Because the of the internment camps and what had happened historically to Japanese Americans who were basically told when that executive order was signed by Roosevelt, that like, Hey, we know you're Americans, but we're, we're actually gonna just put you in camps and we're just gonna, you know, because we're at war with Japan, so we'll just take all of your property and you get a suitcase and you go and live in sort of these barracks like horse barracks.
We'll just do that till the end of the war and let's see, you know, how that goes. And so there was very much that cultural history in Los Angeles. And at the same time you have my father who's an immigrant, who grew up in post-war Japan. And so his. Japanese identity was very much not that right?
Not the Japanese American, cultural identity. So it's very clear in our house he was Japanese, you know, we were Japanese and American, but we were not Japanese American, if that makes sense. Just culturally. So, yes. Mm-hmm. , we spent a lot of time in Little Tokyo, which again was sort of different from my dad too because he was like, oh, this is very culturally Japanese American.
He is like, I want to go to the Japanese grocery store, you know, I want to go buy these things. And my dad was also going back to Japan and still does even through Covid, you know, like regularly cuz all of his family is still there and all my extended family, so I did spend summers in Japan.
I escaped Japanese school cause I was doing ballet on Saturdays. And so that was like my trade off as long as I was doing ballet. And I think then I sort of aged outta Japanese school, so. Managed well. Is your Japanese still strong? It is. But that was due to a lot of work later on. So I was, sad at the time, which is why my kids now are taking Japanese and have completely gone that same route and said like, oh, I will, I will never thank you for you know, this.
And I'm like, wrong, you will thank me later on. Maybe not today as you're writing your condu, like your characters like, but you'll, but I think for me growing up and having the last name Suzuki, right, it was everyone was kind of trying to figure out, and also my parents made up my first name cuz they thought like, you know, this'll be great.
All Japanese will think it's Japanese. All Americans will think it's American. And that was a total fail cuz all Japanese think it's American. And they're like, oh that must be, it's not Japanese names, it's probably American name. And all Americans were like, Hmm, that's vaguely Eastern European. Like, are you Russian?
And I'm like, all right. Like , no one wins in this scenario. But you know, it was my parents good after they had, they had some good intentions over there. So with the made up first name and a Japanese last name, like, first of all, you could always tell during roll call when my name would come cuz everyone would be like, mm.
Like hmm. And so there'd be a big pause and I'm just like, Hmm. Ok. But also it really. Roots you in who you are. Because like Sarah, I was not white enough for white spaces at times. I was not Japanese enough for Japanese spaces. I definitely wasn't Japanese enough in Japan. And then people would ask, you know, once I got to a certain age is your husband Japanese?
And they're like, no, my dad is. They're like, oh, so you're, you are Japanese, you understand the Japanese need for whatever. Which was very strange. So it was continually, people were trying to put you in a box. And once people, enough people try to do that, you're like, no, I'm just gonna build my own box.
So being very clearly rooted in both identities has been something that is, has been important for me, my entire life. And so it resulted in giving my kids Japanese first names, which everyone now I've done the same thing to my kids. Everyone's like, Hmm, this name, this kid, . I don't know what's going on here.
So in Japan, in the us like it is, it is a challenge. But they too are very strong in who they are. cause that's the gift I'm trying to give them. Although they might not thank me for that now either.
Dalia Kinsey: When did you experience that, that clarity, that even if the rest of the world is acting like we don't know what a multiracial person is, when there are lots of multiracial people, when did you realize like, you don't need other people to get it.
You are who you are and you don't have to explain yourself to anybody?
Misasha Suzuki: I mean, I would like to say like super young, right? But that, that's not the truth. I think it was probably really college, I think when I was very, I remember going to an Asian Student Association meeting when I was a freshman, like one of those, you know, welcome new students kind of meetings.
And I walked in and I felt people very clearly looking at me like, why are you here? And maybe some of that I projected but some of that I, you can feel right, you feel when people don't think you should be in a space and then I was like, why am I so concerned about how Asian they think I am?
Right? Because I know how Asian I am, right? I, I know. And so yeah, I think from that point on, I was very, very clear about wanting and clearly going to be both, rather than either or, you know, and trying to fit. . Yeah.
Dalia Kinsey: Now, since we're all in the US we've probably spent a lot of time in majority white spaces.
Did you feel comfortable in those spaces or did you generally have to deal with microaggressions or hearing people say nasty things about Asian people not remembering that you are also Japanese?
Sara Blanchard: I SOAs and I talk about the difference in our social circles sometimes because I, and I have to do some thinking on whether this was applicable, like pre moving to predominantly white states.
But I definitely spent a lot of time living in Midwestern to like, like Colorado is where I'm at now. They are very predominantly white states. I've never had a, like I have a lot of white friends. I have, it was only this year actually that I, was it this year? Yeah. Time warp. I think it was this year that Atlanta happened and I finally sort of recaptured my wholeness, if you will, could be, because I think the first half of my life was so heavily in Asian and multicultural settings.
And then I spent basically the last 15 years living in Arizona and in Colorado. And I think I just dropped part of my Asian identity. It was not it was sort of, you know, when you see what's reflected around you, like absolutely felt very comfortable. And I've never seen people say anything about Asian people in my presence at least.
You know, my kiddo has experienced that and I'm really impressed that she stood up to someone was like, what do you mean by that? And she's sort of 12 talking to her friends about race and the fact that she's Asian and leading that discussion. But, but to me, with adults, that's never happened. Oh, that's
Dalia Kinsey: nice.
Misasha Suzuki: So Sarah and I do have very different friend circles. I don't actually spend a lot of time in now by choice in solely white female spaces. It is not where I feel really comfortable. I think throughout the years I have though. But because of who my immediate family is it is less comfortable for me because I feel like there is a lot of judgment that happens in the, in those circles and ones that, I just, I feel like I can't really be myself.
So as I was telling Sarah, like I can code switch , you know, in, in those spaces, and I mean, I owned a fitness studio for a while, so I was definitely in a white female space in that, but yeah, whether I, I can move through those spaces and have sort of superficial discussions is one thing, but whether I feel really grounded in them is another.
So the people that are, except with the, a couple exceptions, the people who are largely like even at our, who come to our house, I mean, no one really comes to our house these days because of Covid, but the people who are in that closer circle are generally people of color.
Sara Blanchard: And I wanna add to that, what you just said, because I completely actually reflect or I feel the way you feel.
I'm not saying if I really am honest. It's not that I feel grounded or comfortable or fully seen, it's just those are the default people that I've hung out. For so long because of the kids' parents, you know, the, the people that are in our circles. But it explains to me a little bit why I think I've constantly been a little unsettled in our friend group since we moved out here.
And so I, when I have found, I do feel way more at home in many multiracial communities, I for sure feel better.
Dalia Kinsey: I love that you, yeah. You can hear, feel that and say it, because I think sometimes people feel guilt around not feeling super close or safe sometimes in white friends circles, but they're just so many things that you know, are not safe to discuss and.
It just feels so much more comfortable where you can be somewhere where you're just a multifaceted human being instead of the person of color who's like the authority on all P o C things or the person who can give you permission to use certain words. It's funny, when I was reer listening to other interviews you've done, I find it fascinating how many white people want to know why they can't use the N word.
And my question would be, why do you care so much like that sense of entitlement that you are used to having access to literally everything that you're going to lose sleep over? Not being able to use a racial slur without being criticized. Like seriously, let's look at the question, but the fact that people are asking that so often.
It's, it's trippy, and I have people ask me that, well, pre pandemic, but the stress of the pandemic, I was like, I don't even have time for the types of white, I used to call 'em friends. Now I'll say acquaintances that would ruin my Saturday night like that. I just don't have the. Energy for it, but it is very nuanced deciding who you want to make room for and who you have room to give grace to.
And for me it would have to be people who've also poured a lot of energy into me as an individual. So it's not that those acquaintances are canceled, there's just like a million other things I'd rather do than hang out with them
But you know, I feel like I was being kind by not telling them that to their face. And if they really feel like growing, I feel like they're bright people, they can figure it out on their own. It's about desire. How have you balanced that understanding that there's some people in your life that they're good people?
Cuz I mean, nobody's all good, nobody's all bad, but they're never going to understand your level of commitment or interest in social justice. They just don't care. How do you. Grapple with that or have you come to a point that you're just willing to accept some people as they are, but maybe limit your exposure?
Or have you been graced with not knowing anybody like that??
Sara Blanchard: I think you'd have to, I think everybody knows people like that in this, in this country. I think everybody does, but I think it's a tricky time for, for me to answer that question cuz I feel like the pandemic brought relationships like to the forefront where you could you, I really felt like I had very limited capacity to interact with a lot of people on a personal basis because my kids were constantly home.
My partner was constantly home. You know, we were all worried about health and some basic stuff. And so like you just said, if I would rather read a book by myself at night than hang out with you, like at this point I'm not making that time and effort. But that's not to say that I wouldn't be interested in people.
Like if you, if you run into people in passing, like I feel like I really do have a lot of love to give and a lot of care about what's happening and understand that there is a lot going on for everybody in this world. But I'm really still in the midst of reevaluating and rebuilding as we, I mean now with this next variant, like, I don't know where we are in this cycle of ability to interact with people regularly.
And I've been using almost like these virtual connections talking with you, Dalia, and like a lot of other people in, in places that aren't necessarily here where I'm at physically in as a human being in, in face-to-face interactions. And so there's been a lot of self-reflection about what it means to.
Healthier social circle, how much of that has to be in person versus can you get support that you need from people virtually, you know, what does the composition of that group look like? In order for me to fully feel seen and be able to be vulnerable and move forward in a really like, strong way, while also, you know, I, I kind of want people to add to my life at this stage.
Because, you know, there's a lot going on and, and my heart is with those that I love, my kids, my family, you know, like I, I want to live in a much more intentional way with new friendship groups included. That might have been a very long circum like
Dalia Kinsey: circular answer to that. No, I love that. That's so helpful cuz I think a lot of people are so depleted right now energetically because living through the pandemic is traumatizing by itself.
And like you said, that. Lack of energy is really revealing all the weak spots like everywhere in the office, in relationships at home. It's really bringing a lot of things to the surface that we typically could ignore and now we just don't have capacity for tolerating it. So I think it's more important now than ever to put your own wellbeing first.
Well, I think, cuz you said, and if that means you can't hang out with people, then, then, then you can. It's what? It's right.
Sara Blanchard: You want to be able to have the full bucket in order to give out. And I think all of the work that we do, I mean, Sasha and I regularly talk about the need for boundaries and how we're feeling because these are not light topics that we all talk about.
You know, I, I wanna get better at it. I used to do this cult like a community revision once a year, like a review of, and it was from this book take Time For Your Life by Cheryl Richardson. And you classify people in the six categories and you do that they can only show up in one category, whether it's friend, children, or sorry, family, children, your career community, spiritual community your acquaintances and your really close friends that you would pour your hat out to anybody like, about everything with.
And, and then once you list this conscious dump of everybody, you sort of go through and you're like, how do I feel about all, all these people? Do I want more of this person? Do I want less of this person? I did that at the start of the pandemic and then I just rediscovered the list recently and I was like, I think I wanna just burn this and start again cuz it feels so different.
Dalia Kinsey: Hmm.
Sara Blanchard: Having sort of hole into my survival cocoon for a while. And so I bet the acquaintance list would be very, very long at this stage for, for a lot of us probably. And who do we wanna move back into the buckets that fuel us again. And would those people meet our social justice? Like, like the open-mindedness.
Cause I think that, to me is the biggest thing at this stage, even if they're not interested in understanding the history of slavery per se, and how that has, you know, continued on to impact our institutions today if they're interested in introspection, in human growth, in connecting with humanity in a deeper way, in respecting people's pronouns in, in all of these things.
And I think that doesn't matter so much where they are on the journey, if they're, if they're practicing the soft skills to bring to this sort of work, I think is what I'm looking for right now.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. That resonate. That desire, that interest in connecting on a deeper level. They're just some people that don't live that way and that doesn't appeal to them, and they don't wanna make more space for other people to feel a sense of belonging.
They just want everything to conform to them. They're really self-centered or ethnocentric or, or just all about themselves. You know, I, I have no interest in spending a lot of time with that vibe.
Misasha Suzuki: When you ask that question, I think that what it fundamentally comes down to is that people who don't necessarily understand how I feel about this or why this work is there don't really understand.
Who I am, right? Or my family. And because it's so personal and those fears and the concerns and the warrior are so prevalent, the joy and the happiness and just celebrating all of who, my family is like you. I think one of the great things about humanity is that we really do have this curiosity about each other and want to learn about each other.
And if we don't have that, then they're, that doesn't make for a friendship, right? Or a relationship that I want to intentionally cultivate. I think that, you know, that is the thing about the pandemic, right? It has to be very intentional because you can't. You know, grab a coffee with someone necessarily without, you know, 12 steps that have to happen before that.
And, you know, that's assuming everything else is fine. So I have been very intentional about how I sp and I would say I, I am that way generally speaking, but it starts nodding your head like Yeah, obviously. But it's even more so now, right? Because I think that because of this work I need to carve out more space to make sure that I am okay.
So that I can show up for my family how I, how I need to show up for my family an extended family. And so who I want to spend time with are those people who I also wanna make sure that they're okay and they wanna make sure I'm okay, you know? And so, and we do that in, in different ways and at different times.
And sometimes it's not always an equal relationship, right? Sometimes I might be more concerned about them, they might be more concerned about me. But I think that we continue to know that we are there for each other. Those are the people that I want to, to cultivate. Not the people who will reach out maybe once like let's say in June of 2020.
And then, you know, disappear like, cause stuff gets hard, right? And you know, you, it's got stuff to do. not that, right? It is more like the people that I know, we are in this together, right? And they know we are in this together. And so we can, we, we have each other in that. .
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. As an introvert, did you find it was hard to balance needing people like that in your life who just make space for you and how overstimulated you were at home parenting with the partner in the house?
Misasha Suzuki: Like I have no better answer. I have to say my Kindle is like my greatest friend. Cause sometimes I'll just be like, just need some time. Like I've started reading my Kindle like first thing in the morning so that I can just, just sort of have these, this moment before everyone, you know, sort of needs something.
And I think for me it was really, cuz I am that type of person too, who even sort of cultivating those relationships at times is hard for me. Cuz I'm not necessarily the person who will. Reach out and be like, Hey, do you wanna get together? or Hey, do you wanna even get on a call? I'm not, I think I've gotten better at that for the people I really wanna see, but I, I am not good at that.
So I think that I got worse at it for a time because I just felt like so many people, like namely the three people who live in my house with me, just needed so much all the time, that if there was any time left, I would just be sort of in a corner by myself hoping that, or like a closet, let's say. So hoping that no one would find me for 10 solid minutes.
Yeah, it's, it's a tricky's
Dalia Kinsey: exactly how I imagine parenting
Misasha Suzuki: today. . It's all true. It's true. Like all the rumors, those are true .
Dalia Kinsey: But I'm sure like in hindsight, once your kids finally get to an age where they want personal space, they'll be like, wow, I just. Smothered mom smothered, no self-awareness,
Misasha Suzuki: like, I don't know.
Will they get to that stage? Like when is that stage give you some hope? Like
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe it depends on the person. Maybe they never will. That's hilarious. I, yeah. I had a question. I wondered if you noticed a difference in how gender roles played out in your experience of Japanese culture with one of you having a Japanese father and you having a Japanese mother.
I know in my house, mom pretty much is the one who determines food culture exposure. So there are all these southern dishes I have either never had, or I dunno how to make because my mom was the non-American in the house. And I know had it been different that, you know, the opposite would be true. Yeah,
Sara Blanchard: a hundred percent on the food side of things.
Totally agree and it's funny, when I go back to visit my mom too, I know I'm there because my breakfast selection is like fish with miso soup and rice and the pickled vegetables, like that's breakfast. And that actually agrees with my body way better than western breakfasts do, for example. And so there was a lot for me to unpack with gender roles and my mom.
And then growing up in America, because my mom was a stay-at-home mom, Japanese immigrant, did all the home stuff. And then as I was basically getting ready to like get my late teens, she went back to work. And then to contrast that with American culture, that was like, as a woman, you must work, you, your identity is tied to how and in this culture, like how much money you make and what your title is.
And especially because, you know, Meash and I both went to Harvard and that pressure also is, is real of like, I was told once when I left my corporate job to go be in just like to stop and, and reevaluate my life. After my dad passed, I was working in a coffee shop and several old colleagues were like, you're not living up to your potential.
Sara Blanchard: I'm not saying this is my life's aspiration, but if it was, what's wrong with that? You know? And who are you to judge that? And so there was both explicit and implicit pressure to like do what my mom had not done until she decided to go back to work when, you know, when the necessitated it for, for home stuff.
And so I still, I think, am unpacking that. I think there's a reason that I am enough is this, like the tag that's right there that resonates so much with me, Sonya, Renee Taylor's work on, you know, being inherently enough and that it's okay for us to carve out space so that we are functional in order to pull, you know, Pour our love into others and take care of others and do this work.
I think I have fallen down and, and continue to have to come back to remind myself that my bucket is worth filling up. And so that has been a great reminder and I continue to have to work on that. Every time I get to that place of like, Ooh, I should have stopped and before I got this flattened out.
Right. I, I should have kept my soul round, like my grandmother had beautifully told me a long time ago that, that that is what we want is to have a fully round soul so that you can just offer it around. I sort of pancake myself on several occasions and have to keep reminding myself to look.
Dalia Kinsey: That's a beautiful way to explain it. Fill up. Yeah. So that's a great visual. That makes so much sense. Yeah.
Sara Blanchard: So I don't know. I w I don't know how much of that is my mom's role, but like it's, it's how we see parents and, and all of that legacy does sort of affect us. And so without, I think examination, that was a great question.
I think you asked, I don't know. , there must be other ways that, that the j the Japanese, the immigration role has played in how my gender stuff has shown up too. Hmm.
Misasha Suzuki: I love that question cuz I love my parents. My dad hopefully my mom isn't gonna hear this one, but my dad is the better cook.
Even though my mom is the white parent, we had a very Japanese household and there was a lot of pressure that is sort of associated with growing up Asian in America, stereotypically that existed in my household and I didn't have the Asian female. Role model though in, in my family until I was sent to Japan for the summers, and then my aunts and my grandmother would just be like, oh, like you are Japanese, so we need to do all these things.
I did have was the very Japanese father who was so strict about anything related to like, I mean like curfew is the first thing that comes to mind because he would, he was like, well, I talked to his brother of my uncle and you know, your cousins had a curfew of seven till they were married.
And I was like, all right. Like, let's what ? And so like my dad was like, prom, what's this thing called prom? You know, like, who would, this just seems totally made up in this American, like, you know, ridiculousness. Like you're gonna be home at like nine. And so, you know, there was a lot of sort of that and being the oldest, which Sarah and I both are, and then my brother So I only have a younger brother, you know, sort of came through and they get away with everything.
It was completely like, oh, he didn't have that feeling. My brother's like rolling in it too, you know, like it's, yeah. Oh wow. Like, I mean, they could have just, maybe I continued to like, push their boundaries so much. They're like, whatever. Like he can just do whatever. Cause you know, we, we wore ourselves out with me, Sasha, but, but it was very, like, the expectations were very, very different.
And then it was really interesting cause I wrote my thesis in college on the equal employment Opportunity law and how women and men were being treated so differently in Japan and how this law was coming to like, sort of create this equality in the workplace. And like, my thesis was it wasn't gonna work because there wasn't enforcement principles.
And then I got to go there and live my thesis for two full years where I was like, oh. Funnily enough, it doesn't work. There are no enforcement, but it was for those two years, I really thought about how gender played a role for me in growing up. How it was playing a role for me in being in Japan and how did, how, if I am both white and Japanese, like how do I, how do I fit into these what I'm being shown?
That's a great question. Yeah. Now, is that going? I know
Sara Blanchard: I have all these thoughts that I'm unpacking now about how I was treated so differently than my brothers in that way. I do remember there being a lot of pressure as a girl in Japan, I had to look a certain way to be acceptable to leave the house.
And so I had to tuck, just to walk to the 7-Eleven. What I was wearing was not good enough, and I had to change and do my hair, oh boy. And then put tuck to shirt in. Like it had to be a certain. Appearance to be able to leave the house. And I don't think my brothers got any of that stuff they were about to roll out and whatever.
Dalia Kinsey: It's so funny, even now, I am still discovering ways in which my brother and I were treated differently and he didn't even know it either. Like I've never received a gift from my aunts, like I can't remember a gift, maybe like something small for graduation, but that's once in 18 years. And he recently revealed that he would get cash and gifts every time they visited, but he was the only nephew for years until someone else finally had a boy.
And it's super irritating because you realize. The levels of discrimination that you've experienced, they're so profound. You can't even know how much has happened to you. So for there to be anybody out there who's like, is sexism still a problem? And were you really harassed? Or why weren't you, why didn't you feel flattered when this person said that to you?
And why is it so offensive for someone to tell you to smile? It's like the depth of being treated different is so profound for anyone to question you. Getting touchy when someone reminds you. The fact that some of us have to fight for everything, not literally everything, but we have to fight a lot more than other people do.
It's just super. I don't have any other words. Yeah. Well, and it reminds
Sara Blanchard: me again about like the, the idea of our buckets and all the more depletion is happening when you have more of these marginalized identities, and so we have to pay even more attention. I love like the NA ministry comes to mind and just this idea of we want rest is an act of rebellion sometimes.
Dalia Kinsey: So necessary. Yeah. And you really realize during times of high stress how exhausted you actually are. So I think everybody's been having that learning curve this year. I only have a couple more questions. I know it's getting late. I wanted to know how you dealt with the stress of being told you're not Asian.
When you started coming into podcasting and speaking up about a a p I issues, or has that not been part of adulthood? Was that more of a childhood thing
Sara Blanchard: in adulthood For me I haven't, I was told things more explicitly when I was a child, and now I think a lot of it is either the echoes of those voices or subtle nuance, but it's in my head a lot of the time.
But I think, you know, massage and I, I love having her as my like sounding board. I don't know how people can do some of this work alone, because there's times where I'm like, literally, there's a Bipo Podcasters community on Facebook and I'm like , are we bipo? Like do we qualify? I don't know.
Are we Asian enough for the Asian American podcasting group? Where do we. Feel Okay, asserting our identity and where might it be more prudent if we say no? Like that group's intention is for really marginalized groups and we still have our foot in the door with the white cultures.
So do we want to impose our presence in some of these groups? You know? So even little things like joining face group book groups just do our work leads to heavy discussion. But I don't think anybody's explicitly said anything. I just have vibes that I pick up in certain settings. I
Dalia Kinsey: never even thought about, well, a couple of people did mention that to me in a.
Bipo group for entrepreneurs that they didn't know whether or not they belonged there. And I thought, well, of course you do. Just because I always thought that Asian folks were people of color, but that some Asian folks didn't know, like hadn't gotten the news, which I think happens when you're raised in a country for people who actually moved here.
If you got to be part of the majority, since race is a social construct, you wouldn't really know what all of those dynamics are like until you get here. So I could understand that, but then I, I don't know. It's really interesting the divisions between. Marginalized groups inside the US because I was excited to see Bipo as a big umbrella term so people could feel more cohesive under that umbrella.
But then I also hear people feeling erased by the umbrella. Like they don't wanna be, they think they're being sucked into, some kind of different label when I saw it as just an umbrella term, not a new term. Yeah. I think that, oh,
Sara Blanchard: sorry, go ahead. No, go
Misasha Suzuki: ahead. Go ahead.
Sara Blanchard: I mean, on that point, I think that's where it really feels like we have to remember that everybody's experiences, these terms and these labels and the sense of belonging and, and how they identify themselves individually.
Because I know some Asian people who've been like, oh, I don't really think about my Asian experience. I just, I, I hang out with a lot of white people, so I don't really consider myself Asian. I've heard that all the way to. , like I'm very much Asian and I lean into my, my identity as an, the child of an immigrant parent who moved over here.
And, and I think the same thing goes with, with terms like bipo. Some people want are comfortable with it and other people don't know, understand yet how they want to relate to that word in their own identities. So I just think, again, it just reminds me of that need for us to listen to people individually and not just lump 'em into a bucket.
Dalia Kinsey: Cuz it's easier for us, you know? But you can't scale that. So how will I make , I know, I know fast assumptions about people and do the least, and use like, no energy at all to socialize with marginalized folks.
Misasha Suzuki: It's a good point, right? If you, you can't scale it, so you will have to be intentional. And I know that's a turn off from some people along the way.
I agree. Maybe this comes with being in my forties too, where I don't particularly care how you are going to define me, cuz I'm going to define myself. And I think it goes back to that part of the conversation where it was, you know, people, especially with being biracial, right?
Or multiracial, everyone's always trying to even the census, right? Told 2000, you were other, right? Mm-hmm. you weren't, you couldn't even pick more than one race.
Sure you can, I mean, you can question, but I know who I am and I'm telling you who I am. So either you're listening and then we can have this conversation or you are not going to listen and then we're not going to be able to have this conversation. That's sort of like a, a good gauge for me, right?
If I can tell if people because then they'll look at my kids and my kids are, black, Japanese, and white. So then we have an even bigger conversation if we're gonna try to pick just one, you know? I am hopeful that as when Sarah and I were growing up being biracial, it wasn't common, right?
You would find like the couple people who were maybe biracial that you knew and sort of, recognize each other you know, yourselves than each other. But now it's way more common, I think, to be biracial, to be multiracial. And so hopefully, you know, it's not going to be people trying to fit people into a box so easily.
And I know we wanna fit people into a box, cuz you know, that's the way to generalize and that's the way to scale it and just make sense of, of things. But sometimes there are things that we shouldn't be making sense of, right? We can't. Bring it smaller. We have to make it larger. And so I think this race and identity is one of those things.
Dalia Kinsey: Yeah. Oh, that makes so much sense. But before we go, can you give everybody a little bit of a rundown of what the goal is of Dear White women? What transformation do you want your readers to experience? And also why do you focus on white women with your social justice work?
Sara Blanchard: I mean, I can, I'll take the first part of that about the transformation.
There has been this increasing divide in this country between people who expect perfectionism and abide by cancel culture. And this idea of you make a mistake and you'll be defined by that for the rest of your life. And what I hope is a growing trend of people who understand that there are a lot of nuances and that we can be heart led and that we aren't all taught evenly about our history, about ourselves, about how to think critically and so we can meet people where they are and move people along in a more loving manner.
And what we want people to understand who are new to this conversation about race or who want to level set again and understand a little bit more about people's stories, about our country's history and about what they can do differently, is that it doesn't have to be so difficult. You don't have to be so scared of making a mistake and being canceled because there's another way to approach this and we give you this.
It's like a, I've really appreciated Dalia, what you said at the beginning of this show about it being a book you can use as a resource. Because we go through scenario by scenario and we give specific action steps, which was something that wasn't coming out of a lot of the books after 2020 that was very theoretical.
And we really felt like we wanted to help answer the question we were always getting, which is, what do I do? And so we give you specific steps doing this, you know, that you can apply at your kitchen table that you can do in your, you know, your workplace right away. So it's not this big, scary, huge thing you're trying to do, but it can be little things that will absolutely make a difference and have ripple effects in your daily life.
And so we want people to feel both hopeful and armed with information to start making change right away. Hmm.
Misasha Suzuki: Love that. And Sarah always makes me answer the second part of this question, which is why white women? Right. While the book is not just for white women, , our platform is called Dear White Women, and that is the question we get asked the most, cuz I think people sometimes have a very hard time with, why are we singling out white women?
Or why are we calling people white in the first place as sort of this, baseline question that we get sometimes because we've been called racist for calling people white, which is confusing because I saw your, I'm sure, yes. . Yeah. I'm not sure what else we, we are gonna be calling people if we're okay calling people black and Asian.
They must be so
Dalia Kinsey: nice to like, for that to be like, your biggest issue with racism is that like, oh, people call me white. Like, really? Must be nice. That's all I can say to that.
Misasha Suzuki: Yeah, we have, we have sort of the similar eye roll but you know, so it's, it's kind of a twofold answer, right? First of all, we know by virtue not only of.
Being women, but also knowing women. The inherent power that women have in, in this society, it is often really undervalued, or devalued or, a lot of our lives we have sometimes been told that we are not, we don't really matter or, you know, we're not going back to that the gender and sexism issues.
We've always been put in this sort of box, but there is so much power that women have in their communities, right? In their homes at wor their workplaces with wallet power, let's, you know, even that controlling spending for their households to make change. And so that's something that we really, really wanted to tap into.
And secondly, white women, because white women, by virtue of being white in this country have white privilege, right? And. Experience life differently because they are white in, in, in this way that they are heard in spaces where other voices are silenced at times and sometimes they're the ones doing the silencing, but sometimes they, that the, that voice that they have can be a really powerful voice for change.
And white women have experienced that sexism that we've talked about but also have this power. So what if we could harness that power, right? This is a power that has that can really, you know, uproot systemic racism, which is literally the tagline of our show, like helping white women use their.
Privilege to uproot systemic racism. Because if we can hook, and I remembered it this time, like I didn't actually have to write out our tagline . That's why I'm smiling. I saw you smiling cuz I always think Sarah say the tagline cuz I always forget it. I'm like, there's a lot of words in there. But, but this is, this is that group that has for so long sort of been that connection, right?
Between sort of this white supremist supremacy culture and divesting from it, right? And I was just reading, you know, these Bell Hooks quotes this morning where she has this and, and like the first one that I was reading was really about that, that the role of white women, right? If we are going to be, if all women are going to be unified together, then that is an issue of white women stepping away from white supremacy and choosing a different path.
And so that's what we're trying to do here through education, through narrative through action, right? Because. because racism affects and hurts all of us. So we can, if we can get to that understanding, then, then we look forward, right? We look forward towards that change.
Dalia Kinsey: I know my upbringing would've been entirely different if I had come across women, white women who had done any kind of anti-racism work, because the white folks in positions of power that you mainly have to deal with as a child of color are white, female or femme presenting educators, and they were the ones saying slavery wasn't that bad.
And also knowing the age bracket of like the boomers that educated me. These were also people who most likely protested integration and clearly didn't want us there, even though integration happened maybe 20 years prior to my birth. In my town probably. That's about it. So the major role that white women have played in upholding white supremacy culture in this country has been downplayed a lot in the past, but I see now people being called to task and just the multitude of Karen memes on the net show us what violence.
Women who have bought into white supremacy culture are capable of. So this is really important work and I am glad you're here to do it because this is not, you know how you have energy for some types of activism and absolutely not for others. I absolutely , I can't. So glad y'all are here to do the work.
I can hand people the book and that's it. So where can everybody find out more about you and the work that you're doing and your show?
Sara Blanchard: Thanks for this. You can find all of our information lodged at our website, dear white women.com. And you can listen to our podcast on the website or anywhere you listen to podcasts, whether it's Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or Google Player, wherever.
You can read our book, and the best is if you can leave us an Amazon review after you read it. But you can buy it from your independent bookstores. And of course you can also buy it from any major, bookstore and you can request it at your library. And I think our social media handles.
That's right. Twitter at dww podcast and Instagram at Dear White Women podcast is where
Dalia Kinsey: you can find us. Thank you so much. If there was one thing you could tell everyone who's listening, they would understand it, internalize it, and carry it with them forever, what would
Sara Blanchard: it be? What I feel is coming up for me is that your life is better if you spend time.
reflecting on yourself and who you are and being the best version of yourself first, as opposed to just buying the story and the Kool-Aid from society about pursuing money and power
Dalia Kinsey: first. I love that. I thought you were gonna say you are now .
Sara Blanchard: Cause I should do that. , your bucket is worth billing. You are also Let's do that.
Yes. You are also inha. You are
Misasha Suzuki: inherently enough. Mine is gonna be, keep asking why. Cause I think a lot of times, and I have young kids, so I've found myself saying, yeah, I have one kid who will never stop asking that. But I've been thinking about this more and more and I think we have largely, as a society stopped asking why.
And we have just taken stuff that is being told to us and, but what we have also seen along the way is that what has been told to us, all along has not been the full story. Sometimes it's not been the correct the truth period, but at least most of the time it's not the full story. And I think if we continue to ask why, then we continue to look for something better, right?
The full, the full answer. We look to be inclusive of everyone. We start to question what is being told to us. That critical thinking skill is something that we value in kids and we forget in adults, and we absolutely cannot forget that as adults.
Dalia Kinsey: That's perfect. Thank you so much.