Yael R Rosenstock Gonzalez (she/her) is a sex educator, sex coach, researcher, author, speaker, curriculum developer, and workshop facilitator. As a queer, polyamorous, white-presenting Nuyorican Jew, Yael has always been interested in understanding the multi-level experiences of individuals. This led her to found Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC, a company dedicated to supporting and creating spaces for individuals to explore and find community in their identities. Through her company, she facilitates workshops, develops curriculum, offers Identity Exploration Coaching, and publishes narratives often left out of mainstream publishing.
This episode we explore:
Honoring boundaries in community spaces and navigating POC spaces as a white presenting person
Finding belonging and claiming identity as a multi-ethnic person
Diversity in the Jewish diaspora
Promoting inclusive representations of human experience in publishing
Hello and welcome to another episode of Body Liberation for All. I'm your host, Dalia Kinsey, holistic registered dietitian, and the author of Decolonizing Wellness.
My work is centered on amplifying the health and happiness of LGBTQI+ and BIPOC people. And that is also what we do here at Body Liberation for All.
I wanna remind you, I am hosting the Decolonizing Wellness Eco-Luxury QTBIPOC retreat in Bali in March. So if you are a person who loves the plan way in advance, like I do. This is when you want to book. This is a great time to give yourself plenty of room to break the trip into payments and to get all of your ducks in a row.
If you aren’t going to be able to join us, but you know someone who this retreat could be life changing for, please make sure you share it.
Substack makes sharing so easy on their platform. So if you visit daliakinsey.substack.com to listen to this episode you'll see it's just a click of a button.
Today's guest, the Yael Rosenstock has so much knowledge in different areas that we cover a lot of territory in this conversation. There was still so much more that we could have dug into that hopefully at a later date we'll get to revisit.
Today we explore a little bit of the lived experience of being a white presenting person who lives shoulder to shoulder with POC within the family, but out in the world is not having the same experience as the family members that have a darker complexion.
Since we already know race is not actually real from a scientific perspective, it's totally a social construct, your skin color itself will to a large extent determine how much lived experience you have as a person of color or as a white person, regardless of what the socialization inside of your house is like because so much of the POC experience, if you're living in a colonized country, if you're living in a country that has its roots in white supremacy, so much of the experience is informed by the anti-Blackness or the anti-POCness that you're going to encounter out in the world.
That does not in any way invalidate the cultural uniqueness of people who are in these very blended families and happen to have pale skin or white skin. So it's interesting to me to hear directly from somebody having this experience. It's an interesting concept to look at on an individual level. What does the fact that race is fictional and totally social have? How does that all play out - when you know you are culturally different from the white folks who do not have POC blood relatives that they live with and are close with but at the same time you know that you're not experiencing the same level of marginalization. What is that like?
I rarely bother to claim my Latinx heritage. Because the anti-blackness that I have encountered in a lot of Spanish-speaking circles here in the US is so intense it doesn't make any logical sense for me to keep trying to be somewhere that I don't feel welcome.
Some of these themes that Yael shares, the feeling of not enoughness when you are more than one thing or when you've only been presented with a narrow definition of what it means to hold a particular identity, is so relatable. I know not just to us, it's so relatable to so many people, because the ways that we define certain identities are so narrow it naturally leaves out a large number of people.
The work that Yael is doing to promote the authentic representation of a wide variety of human experience at her publishing company feels like such a natural extension of this lived experience that she has of knowing how difficult it can be to really claim and embody our identities when we haven't seen anything similar reflected back to us.
I love this. Entire conversation. I know you will too. Let's jump right into it.
Body Liberation for All Theme
Yeah. 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 is.
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 born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So, I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.
Dalia: I definitely wanted to cover the concept of white passing fragility. But then I want to definitely talk about your other projects and just what you're doing with intersectionality.
Yael: Okay. I do want to warn that there's a very good chance that that will not. Some people will really like that idea of the white passing fragility, but others won't because right. The author of that book has become super famous and super rich off of a book around racism as a white woman. And just giving you a fair warning that this may or may not be taken so well.
Dalia: And then that's so interesting too, because it seems like people should be compensated for good work or things that they do with good intentions.
Dalia: But so often people who are in social justice are on the struggle bus financially, but, and that almost seems to be the expectation. Like you have to be a martyr to break down systems of oppression. But then I also am conflicted because it seems like all the time, white people continue to profit off of pain from people of color and especially Black people in this country. Even when you look at who makes money off of depictions of just Black suffering in general, whether it's another movie about slavery, even if it's a "fun" spin on it, like the Django or something, which I refuse to watch, I just don't understand how we're not seeing how problematic that is, but at least hers originally started out with intentions that seemed more educational.
Dalia: Like I think it's a little more sketch to create a film or a piece of entertainment that centered on Black pain. And then all the money goes to somebody who's not Black. I mean, not at all, but the majority, most of it, right. It seems less sketchy, but it is sketchy nonetheless.
Dalia: And I've been having a lot of feelings around these white savior complexes that are popping out these days. And people not understanding that, hey, maybe people want to be the hero of their own damn story and guess what, maybe they are ready are.
Yael: But you're in the way
Dalia: I know. Right? Or like you just exhausting people showing up to the March and explaining to everybody how, you know, you're being white the right way. I don't know if you've seen that play out in real life where people try constantly schooling other white people on how to be more. Down, I guess is the expression, but it doesn't really translate, but it's so rare that people confront people like that because their competition or the people that you have to compare them to you sometimes are so problematic that by comparison, they seem amazing.
Yael: Yeah, I like this better.
Dalia: So it's like, should I even say anything?
Dalia: So I don't know.
Yael: Considering that most of my spaces are POC and or Latin. I don't have that many white saviors.
Dalia: Smart. Okay. Is that by design or is that coincidental?
Yael: Well, I think at first it's coincidental, right? Just like growing up in a mixed neighborhood with a mixed family.
Yael: It just is what happened. I was in a school with folks of different groups. And so that just continued. And then when I did reach middle school and there were white people who were just white, not Latin, like, I mean, there were a couple in elementary, but not many. And. I just felt really uncomfortable in the space.
Yael: And that was like my assigned group. Cause I wasn't dark enough to be in the Latin group, I think. And also like the Latin group was like ghetto fab. Like I also wore my hair back slicked back. I also had the lip liner, and I had the big hoop earrings as well,
Dalia: But like it wasn't enough.
Yael: It was a, it was a browner Latin group. And so I felt like I shouldn't be part of it. Like I was friends with them, but I shouldn't be part of it because I didn't look the same. And so I just like ended up, even though I was friends with all the other groups, I ended up in the white girl group and I was just like, this is uncomfortable. Like, I don't agree with the things they say.
Yael: I like rebelled a bit and basically got kicked out. And so I think after that, I was just like, I'm going to try and choose. So I don't think I've ever been like, I'm unwilling to be friends with white people because that doesn't seem nice either. But the same reason that folks have affinity groups, right?
Yael: The same reason we hang out with queer people as queer people, the same reason you hang out with Latin people if you're Latin or Black and Black is because you don't want to have to explain certain things. And I'm tired. And so I don't go into all white spaces cause I get nervous about why are they all white?
Yael: Like what's the intention behind this group. Is there an ulterior motive and I, yeah, I just like, I don't want to have to explain things that I end up becoming that white person, the white savior being like, that's not how. I joined a book club once. And they were talking about how, like, it didn't make sense that this person was referencing their dreams.
Yael: Like it's not like a real thing. And I was like, this person is Mexican. And I don't know that much about Mexicans, but in like Caribbean culture dreams can be really important.
Dalia: Oh wait. They were saying like a literal dream, not goals that they were struggling with finding meaning in their dream and they thought that was weird?
Yael: Yeah. He was writing a memoir and he was referencing how he thought his dream was related to the, like what was happening in his life and that he had seen a Wolf or something. Right. He has indigenous culture roots, right as a Mexican-American. But they were just like, no, that's like, he's just making that up from the memoir.
Dalia: But no, because that's extremely common.
Yael: Yeah. Like they couldn't fathom it.
Dalia: That is fascinating. So this is so interesting, can you share your marginalized identities? Because I think the experience of being white presenting is interesting in that you may be exposed to things that I might never hear, because I didn't even know that, I didn't even notice that white people weren't doing that all the time too.
Dalia: Because at work at the moment I'm working in a majority Black office. And people are constantly talking about, you know, oh, I saw this, I wonder if it's a sign and we all have different religious backgrounds too. Somebody even started wearing a hair net because they're afraid somebody might get some of their hair that was shedding and put roots on them. None of us thought that was weird. We were all like, oh, if you feel it's necessary, you do that. You make sure you're not,
Yael: You save yourself. It may or may not be real. It may or may not be. I'm always like, I rather be careful then sorry.
Dalia: Exactly. Absolutely. Nobody said anything when I came into the room to sage it because I thought that we had some bad mojo in there.
Dalia: People said, make sure you get my desk.. Someone came in with holy water. Like we had a very problematic coworker , and we were like, get all the stuff we're clapping in the corners.
Yael: I was friends with one of the custodians where I used to work and she's an older woman. She was like the age of maybe like between mother and grandmother.
Yael: And she brought me a bracelet because she was. You're very joyful and you're pretty. And I just think that someone's going to send you a curse. made me a bracelet to protect me from maldiciones. She just didn't want me to get hurt.
Dalia: And you immediately put it on. You're like, okay, thanks.
Yael: I mean, first off, like I appreciate that you're caring about me and no, I don't think it's weird.
Yael: I've worn, evil eyes before, you know, like, to me, I think that the bigger thing for us is like whether or not we participate or whether or not we're like, yes, this is real when I talk about ghost stories, I share all the ghost stories. I know. Was I there? No. Was it real? I don't know. Cause I wasn't there, but it could be .
Dalia: It's so dismissive to be like, oh, that's so dumb. What? Who says that -only people who are very sheltered and are under the impression that their way is the only way.
Yael: This was a group about social justice. The people are lovely and the ones who hosted, I actually adore. They are fantastic.
Yael: And they weren't the ones who were having this question, but I remember one person in particular, she was just totally dismissive. And I was just like, I don't understand. And I didn't show up for a couple of years, but then I came back and I was like, okay, my role is going to be giving the perspective of not these people in the case that this comes up again, because they keep reading books by people of color. And like, I don't have the same perspective. Like I said, I'm not Mexican. I don't know what they do. But I have a feeling that this is like something that's shared, like it's a native American thing.
Yael: It's a Latin thing. It's a Black thing. Like I just feel, you know, Asian cultures, everyone, actually.
Dalia: I know this is whats so bizarre.
Yael: There are definitely white people who also have that as a practice and Jews, a lot of us who do pass it are white or pass as white, like that's also part of our culture.
Dalia: And that's another thing. So this is one of my big questions. So, you identify as Latin X?
Yael: Yes, I'm Latina
Dalia: You're Latina and you're Jewish. And so does that mean your mother is your Jewish parent.
Yael: That is actually, so...
Dalia: does that matter or is that like out of date or…
Yael: No, that is an excellent question. My parents tried to enroll me in what's called Yeshiva because they didn't like the local public school.
Yael: And so they wanted to put me in a Jewish school and I got rejected because my mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish. And as you like are insinuating, like the religion follows the mother. Now that school accepts muts like me of my form. They no longer discriminate against us, but because my parents couldn't put me in the Jewish school.
Yael: I went to an Episcopalian school.
Dalia: Oh, wow, you were all over the place.
Yael: Yeah. So I got a good Christian education .
Dalia: Oh, and how did your dad manage,, was he a little heartbroken? Like, Ooh, not what I had in mind.
Yael: Well, it was a small school. There wasn't a religion class, but like every morning we started with prayers and every Wednesday we had mass and I just, I didn't know they wanted me to be Jewish. I thought they were saying, here are our religions. You go to Sunday Jewish school. You go to day school with Christians. Figure out your path. And so I very confidently figured out my path. I was like, I am Jewish. And like, I am now very knowledgeable about Christian stuff. But actually they did want me to be Jewish and they had warned the school that that was what they wanted.
Dalia: I was under the impression, and this may not be accurate. Is that like a modern Jewish person may be a little more secular and maybe they know some of the traditions and then maybe they go to synagogue for special events or, but still feel that strong cultural identity.
Dalia: And then don't really feel, I feel like they should be dropped into that white American bucket with everybody else because they're separate as an ethnic group. Whereas other white ethnic groups (in America) gave up their separateness for the most part.
Yael: Interesting. So I haven't done much study into the question, but I have a friend who sent me, who sends me lots of articles, Catherine.
Yael: And she sent me an article about whether or not Jews are white and my coworker, Asia Gray, who does our anti-racism curriculum and what have you. One of the books was, how antisemitism was the original racism. And so that's part of the way that she talks about oppression and like structural oppressions and what have you.
Yael: And she starts that story there and it's like Jews became white if you are white, but there are Black Jews. There are like plenty of Middle Eastern Jews that have more color there are Russian Jews, the Sephardic Jews, the Mizrahi in general. So there are plenty of Jews of color and then they're like me Ashkenazi, which are of German roots, right. German and certain parts of Russia, roots and Poland and all that kind of stuff. And so, yeah. Yes, it is a different, I agree. It's different ethnic group. Like you can trace us back when I did that blood test, I literally come out 49% Ashkenazi. I'm from Germany, even though I can, I can trace my roots on a family tree that's physical to the 15 hundreds. It says I'm Ashkenazi. Wasn't mentioned Germany because the Jewish blood is what it picks up. And so, yes, I agree. Like there's like this ethnic thing there and that's why you can be a secular person of a religion.
Yael: I mean, there are plenty of secular Christians, right. That celebrate Christmas and what have you. But there's like this certain level of like the foods that you eat and the mannerisms that you have and like certain cultural values. I don't identify it as a secular Jew I identify as reform, which is like a less observant Jew.
Dalia: Now, how did you feel your queer identity meshes with Judaism? It's rumored to be an easier mesh. Is that true? Are Christians just being jealous?
Yael: I think it is an easier, easier. I mean, I know plenty of Christians that are queer, but my synagogue, I don't remember how old I was, but she bat mitzvah'd me so young enough for that had a lesbian rabbai.
Yael: And she got married at our synagogue and we were just a regular reform synagogue. Right. We weren't like, ah, where the most social justice progressive synogauge, we were just a reform synagogue. And we did lose some of the older parishioners and I imagine some other age ones, when she joined as the rabbi, but for the most part, everyone was like, love who you love.
Yael: Right? Like that's not an issue. And she was a woman rabbi and my next rabbi was also a woman, right? So like that's super common. It's even starting very slowly in the Orthodox community, which is one of the more observant sects of Judaism to have women rabbis. And so overall I think that shift is, is more common in our space .
Dalia: The idea of there being Jewish people of color is interesting to me, because it seems like in the states, people are under the impression that that's not a thing. Can you tell us about the work that you're doing for representation, and as far as intersectionality goes as a very fair skin person of color.
Yael: Sure so I think the most thing that the thing that directly relates is that I'm part of the diverse bodies project. The idea is a nude photo interview series, intended to increase representation of who gets seen and photograph naked and how you want to be represented.
Yael: So it's not that you had to do a sexy shot or you had to do a serious shot that people get to bring their personalities in through the photographs and show who they are. And that was really important to us and something that we did because it's been taken us forever. But the mini books that we've already released is the Jews flying the rainbow flag mini books.
Yael: And so it's got five different Jews and we had plenty of Jews participate but featured five different Jews ranging from like early twenties to, I think, sixties and out of the five of them. Two of them are Black. One of the Black Jews is also Latin, so she's Afro Dominican. And the point of that was to be like folks exist, you know, and it's so common for you to be like, this is what a Jew looks like when.
Yael: Yeah, sure a lot of us do look like me. There are Black Jews. There are Latin Jews, there are Asian Jews, there are all the types. And so that was really important to us that we highlight that these are two queer Black Jewish women and they get as much space in this little book as anyone else.
Yael: I will say part of my work and that's what we got into the white white passing fragility talk is that I don't identify as a person of color. And who knows, maybe I'll change that at some point. I choose not to identify that way. Cause it feels appropriative. And to be like, just because I have another language or just because my family may have a bunch of people of color and it doesn't mean that I'm existing as a person of color.
Yael: And so when I walked through the street, people see me as white and that's just true. But I do enter, and I was asked this question recently, so why do I enter people of color spaces? And it's cause I'm, I'm feel safer there. I feel more connected there. I don't feel blegh there. And so if people are willing to have me, which they generally are, most people of color spaces are open to white presenting Latin folk. Then I just asked permission and I join.
Dalia: That's interesting and I knew that, and I forgot that when I said that, because I know I'm very used to- anybody who says they're a person of color. I was just like, okay, like, it's the response? Because especially, you know, Black American, no, actually.
Dalia: Latin people even more than Black Americans come in all kinds of shades and colors, and you can't look at somebody and have any clue what even their parents look like. And that a lot of times really informs their experience as far as how they were treated growing up, because it is funny to me how depending on who you're sitting beside, people may perceive your color differently, which just goes to show how arbitrary our understanding of race is..
Dalia: Like number one, we know it's not a real biological thing, but like you said, it's the experience that creates the cultural differences. It's the lived experience that matters. So if, when you are out in the world, people treat you as though you are white well then you are having the white experience.
Dalia: And that is really the key difference. But I have biracial friends who, if they were with their brown parent, they get treated differently and are even perceived differently versus with the other parent, which I just think is fascinating.
Yael: Well, my parents are both white. My dad is white Ashkenazi and my mother is a white presenting Latina.
Yael: My uncle, my abuela they would have been identified as POC, but not my mother. And so when I'm with my mother, it was the same thing. People don't realize she speaks Spanish. She's been spoken about by people who were like checking her out.
Dalia: Well, it's just interesting to me. And I don't know if this happens everywhere or if it's some of our American brainwashing, but like all the time people act as though Spanish is. Secret language. And I'm like, what is wrong with you? It is so, so common. And the people who speak it look so many different ways and you don't have to only speak English, your heart language, or your first language.
Dalia: Like, that's another thing I'm like, you do realize that maybe she can speak Spanish as a second language or not all latin people look the same. I really don't understand the disconnect with that because I've been spoken about in Spanish to my frigging face so many times, and I do speak Spanish. And usually, I mean, unless they're saying something really rude, usually people are trying to guess whether or not the person I'm with is my husband or my what's the male form of mistress.
Dalia: I bet there isn't one, right? Oh,
Dalia: Yeah, it just goes to show like, if there isn't a word that connotes, not a legitimate partner, because you're not married to them that's some more sexist shenanigans, but yeah, it's just interesting to me that people make that assumption so often. So what has your experience been like trying to stay connected to your Latin roots when so often people are very narrow about what they consider to be Latin?
Yael: So it's funny because all of our countries have folks, all the Latin countries have folks that look like me. And like most of the countries have folks that look like you, right? It's not, we're not anomalies in these spaces.
Yael: And so I actually, I was convinced I needed to prove myself. Like my mother, I felt counted as real Latina because she was raised in Puerto Rico. Her first language is Spanish. Like that seems to me like check that counts. But me I'm half Ashkenazi. I look, the way that I do my Spanish for awhile was pretty crappy.
Yael: And so I, I felt the need to prove myself. All my friends were Latina and I was like, I must be more Latina. I must speak this fluently. And I must eat the food. And I am an incredible salsa dancer at this point. So, but that was all me. Right. And perhaps white people and perhaps Black people who weren't Latin.
Yael: Right. And that, if I said I was. The response was always like, oh really? Unless I turned around and then they're like, I see it in your butt now I know that you're Latin because of your butt, like, literally the number of times people have been like, I believe you because of your shape. Otherwise I wouldn't have counted you.
Yael: Whereas on the flip side with Latin folks, there's really not much surprise. They don't assume I'm Latina. But if I start speaking Spanish or they see me dancing or whatever, like they ask me, where are you from? They don't ask me, are you at the end of the ask me? Oh, okay. Yeah. Right. Assume that I am. And they're right, because for them, it's not so surprising to see someone who looks like me, but I think, and it's when you think of immigration, you're going to assume that more white Latins are going to migrate because of mean.
Yael: Whereas you have browner and Blacker people migrating because of need. And so if you're hanging out with folks from your same social class, which will end up being also your same racial categorization, because those are very linked to whether or not we all want to admit it in the Americas as well.
Yael: And all the Americas. So like, I think that that's part of it, right? You're used to hanging out with other brown people. And so even though your country has plenty people who look like me, you never associated with associated with them. Either. They were from a different region or they were from a different social class.
Yael: And so they went to different schools and they had different access. And so I think that's more it, but like Latin people never not include me.
Dalia: Oh, that's interesting. So it was really more just internal.
Yael: Yeah. I was like in TV, none of the Latinas looked like me. All of my friends were darker than me.
Yael: And so I was like, I need to be darker. And my abuela ? When I went to go visit her, she was like, no sunscreen. We need to get you more dark.
Dalia: That is so interesting to me because that I've seen more often the opposite experience. So first I think when I turn on Univision, everybody's white and the housekeeper looks like she has some indigenous ancestry.
Dalia: She doesn't get to say anything, except like, let me get that for you.
Yael: They're white almost. They're like what I call exotic white. Like they have, what's considered what I consider the stereotypical, Latin of means look, which is like, they have very heavily European race roots, but they were at some point mixed with other races.
Yael: And so they have like olive tone skin, dark hair, like certain whatever. And I don't have. It's like, I'm actually just white passing.
Dalia: Yeah. Oh yeah. That makes sense. That distinction. Yeah. I can see that for sure. Like a Sophia Vergara type of, yeah.
Dalia: But at the same time I'm sure when she is home, she would be called white, but it's just, when you weave and you come here, then you you've turned into some exotic white.
Yael: Yes. And that like that to me is like an interesting thing too. Like if in your own country you are white and then you come here and you're like, I'm a person of color.
Yael: What changed? And it's true. Our racial dynamics are very different in each country, but it's interesting to me that, like, I mean, you don't necessarily, people don't identify necessarily as white or Black or what have you. That's not part of, most of the country's ways of self. They just don't do that. And then some countries that like became illegal like you don't put that stuff on the birth certificates, like you just don't name race. But in my head, I'm like you can recognize hopefully that people look different in your country and that you're having different experiences based on that. So when you come to this country, why do you claim this identity?
Yael: Or if your family came to this country, why do you claim this identity when you were still white passing?
Dalia: Well, yeah, that is really interesting. And what is funny to me, especially for Dominicans, just because I hear this from them more than anybody else, that your race, it feels like it did change during the flight because your treatment was completely different.
Dalia: And maybe back home, you were part of the dominant group culturally and power structure wise. And this is the first time people are treating you as though you're an other. And so maybe your identity will shift them because race really is a social construct. So you can make a flight and your race changes.
Yael: Yes, totally agree. But also those are Afro Dominican, right? Then being put into a category that is on the lower end of, or possibly the lowest end of our racial categories in the U S. And so they're going from being the norm to going to being the most marginalized population in the country. Whereas if you are a light skinned or white passing Latina you were going from being the highest, probably social class in your country to be not too far down. You might feel like you're all of a sudden, like super oppressed, because you're not used to any form of oppressio n
Dalia: that see, that really says a lot. And it is the author, speaking of white passing fragility, the writer of white fragility says, you know, like 97% feels like a horrible loss or injustice when you're used to a hundred percent.
Yael: Oh, wow. Nice quote.
Dalia: And I say that, and I'm like, she probably said some other numbers, but don't look it up. Trust me. I love the idea of that perspective of asking for permission to go into these other spaces because you feel comfortable, but then also not internalizing the rejection. If somebody says, I really, I don't think it's a fit.
Dalia: How did you get to that point? And how do you suggest other people who are white presenting, but feel more comfortable in browner spaces? How should they reconcile that?
Yael: So I think there's like tying back with like that white savior thing that like, I need to be here.
Yael: Don't get me wrong, communities are important. And again, like a lot of my community is POC and that is important to me. And also I recognize that not every space is for me. If you were going to have a men's group, I don't belong in it. When I was helping facilitate a peer sex education group, I was like, we need a leader for the abstinence and virginity group, because I am neither abstinent nor identify as a virgin, but I am a super sexual human being.
Yael: And so I don't belong in this space. It does not make the space safe. This is a group led by and for folks with a certain experience. And so when you recognize that that's the point, right? Like women's groups, you don't want men. And normally we don't question that we're not like, oh, how exclusionary what's exclusionary is if you don't allow all women.
Yael: All women belong in women's groups, whether they're CIS or trans. But you don't allow men because it's a woman's space. And the point is to create a space that feels safe for that population. So they can be heard, feel seen and not have to explain things that they would have to explain to someone who doesn't understand.
Yael: And so to me, that is what often POC spaces are. And there's so much I can understand because I'm surrounded by POC and because my family has POC and there's so much I can't understand because I will never live it.
Yael: And so if the space would be safer without my presence, then why would I want to put myself in a spot that will cause others harm when then the intension is for them to have a good space.
Yael: Not every space is like that, right? Like if you go to school, if you go somewhere most spaces, unless you're like at historically Black university, right? Like you're going to be surrounded by white folks and like, no, one's questioning that. And so why shouldn't you get to be surrounded by the people you want to be surrounded with for this time period that is yours. It's your time, it's your space. And so I think for me, it's just like thinking about what is your intentions about entering it? Are you trying to contribute in a way that is helpful and wholesome and caring and supportive. Great. Is it wanted? Yes. Enter. Is it not. Go somewhere else. You can still hang out with those same people just not in that particular space that was designated at this time for this purpose.
Dalia: And when you say it that way, not at this time and not this space, because I feel like a lot of people who seek out those spaces, that isn't how most of their day is, you know, it's just a little refuge and it certainly isn't that they don't want to have a fully integrated intersectional life.
Dalia: Like you said, it's a break from having to explain certain things. And what's interesting is when sometimes you try and make things more and more broad. There's just more potential for issues because I have seen more on reality TV than in real life. Yes. White presenting, Latin people using certain racial slurs saying it's okay for them because they're down or whatever. And I'm like, yeah, but you're not of the group that gets to use that word and they just kept on defending it. I'm just like, okay, we're just, you're canceled. We're moving on. So there are, there can be issues where people who you would expect to not be problematic come in and are.
Dalia: And so maybe some people have been burned. A few times, and now they're just, they're exhausted and they don't want to put the energy into fielding out who is safe and who is not safe.
Yael: And there's nothing wrong with that. Like it's not necessarily personal, it could be personal if you're one of those people, but even the question, right?
Yael: Like I wanted to advertise a job position and so I seek to advertise them first in places of color and queer spaces. And so I contacted several different groups. Oh. And then, sorry, I remember there was a posting for a DEI position at a Jewish organization. And so I started to contact the admin of different POC, Jewish groups, like a Black Jewish group, or what have you.
Yael: And I said, listen, I filled out their form to enter, but I was like, I don't actually want to enter. I'm wondering if you can share this link. So folks can see the job. I am a white presenting, a Latino Jew. I ended up getting messaged even by the Black group. And they're like, oh, you can join. I was like, Black is not part of my identity.
Yael: Like we, because of the Caribbean, we have those roots as well. But like I don't claim that.
Dalia: It's funny. I do feel like Black people in my experience. That's why I was so I've been surprised when people have told me, they were bullied. Black kids in school who are other POC is it's always surprising to me because the town that I was raised in and the part of the south that I'm from, people still were in that space of, if you we're different enough to maybe not be able to get into a whites only area, or if the clain would have targeted you too, cause clan is not down. They're very antisemitic, they're anti everything. But then you were welcome. Like if you wanted to sit at that table, you were always welcome. Just anybody who is being othered the policy was come on in. If you have nowhere else to go, we'll take you.
Yael: That's lovely. I definitely know that that's not always true. And again, it's okay. I mean, the bullying is not okay. Deciding who's in your space is, but yeah, exactly. So like I was welcomed and obviously everyone's Jewish because it's a Jewish group.
Yael: And so it's, it was specifically a space built for Jews, Black Jews and some Jews of color to have a reprieve from the white Jews. White Jews often mean, well, right? Like we fill up social justice spaces, like hardcores. I've spoken to people about this, that like insofar as percentage of folks who are involved in social justice by group, I imagine that our group is one of the most heavily social justice oriented.
Yael: Cause we're so small and people are like you're everywhere, but it doesn't mean that we're doing it well or that we're doing it right. And so it can be exhausting to have white Jews around because we are those white saviory types.
Yael: And yeah. So I was, I was surprised and I was like, well, okay. Like I will post it myself then afterwards. And she had, she had posted already and she had written my name and giving me credit. And like I said, this person wanted to let us all know about this job.
Dalia: That's very cool. It's nice to find community, but it's also very nice to know that when you're trying to create a safe space around certain parts of our identity, that there are people who understand and support, because I'm sure it's hard for some people to hold that space.
Dalia: And to not feel guilty about saying no sometimes. So it's nice to know that even if not everybody understands, some people totally understand and they're not gonna lose any sleep over it. They're just going to move on to the next Facebook group and they'll be fine. And maybe you'll run into each other in another space.
Dalia: That's centered around an identity that you have in common.
Yael: Yeah. Exactly. And so I think that's just like, it's kinda like building resilience and you might actually be in another POC group together, but not necessarily that one.
Yael: And make everybody safe because I would hate to go into a space where I was told, Hey, women are welcome. Like this happens a lot. Well, not now that everybody's at home groups are really growing and there's like a group for everything. But previously it just felt like, like in the nineties, everything that was gay or LGBTQ was CIS male dominated.
Dalia: Tell us about your company and what made you want to form a publishing company and what your vision is for that company?
Yael: Sure. So my company's name is Kaleidoscope Vibrations, LLC . And for anyone who's an owner, kaleidoscope is it's like this toy that had all these like gems on the bottom and you'd move your hands in opposite directions around this tuby thing. And you'd look inside and it would be create new, pretty color combinations.
Yael: And so the idea is that every vibration or event in your life creates a new beautiful you, and that our identities are always forming and they're always developing. And the reason I created this company was because I was this like Jew that wasn't Jewish enough. I was this Latina that I didn't think that I looked enough or counted enough.
Yael: I was queer, but not queer enough. You know, like there are all these ways and this, I, I didn't feel like I should count. And that's, that's different, right? Like that's different than choosing whether or not you belong in a space as to whether or not you feel like you matter enough to be in a space or if you, you belong.
Yael: And so I created this company to help people find confidence in their identities and find their communities. So maybe. You don't belong to blank community, but you do belong to another one and then you can find the people that you need so you have a supportive, loving environment that understands you.
Yael: And so I do workshops, I do identity coaching, curriculum development like inclusivity in the workspace across different identities and what have you. But we also have a publishing sect, and that's the purpose is to uplift different narratives that aren't necessarily heard. And so the first book was mine, which is An Intro Guide to a Sex Positive You.
Yael: Sex is not necessarily something you think of and you're like, oh, this is not inclusive, but it really is. And so my book, I know I had someone read it, who was like, I've been looking for a book that validated my experiences as a queer person while reading it that wasn't heteronormative, right. That wasn't geared towards straight people.
Yael: And it's not that my book has hetero exclusive. You can be whatever matched you with. I just don't assume what you're going to match. And so I don't add genders into my conversations in the book and that like that in and of itself, apparently at the time was somewhat revolutionary for some folks. And the next book was Luna, Luna Si, Luna.
Yael: Yes. Maybe it's that Luna? Yes. Luna Si. And it is a book about two little sisters who are Latino it's in English and in Spanish. And the younger sister has autism. And she is 40% verbal. And so we often see representations of savants, right? So, and they tend to be white males. And so you have these kids who have really incredible abilities to count numbers or to memorize things, or what have you.
Yael: And they often do have very good verbal capacities. They have awkward social cues because they have trouble reading it, but that's like the extent to how they represent autism. Whereas in this case, like you see how she, how she is able to communicate the form that her language takes. And you do learn about like the kinds of things that she can do.
Yael: You learn about stems. So like ticks that people do to keep themselves calm and well. And that was the intention, right? link that autism comes in all colors, all ethnicities, that there are varying levels of how much people can communicate and what, you know, how much need or help they might require.
Yael: And yeah, and it just, that's, it it's a story about sisters and how they love each other and how they communicate and also one of them has autism. And so that intention of bringing those to the surface and yeah, we're working on a bunch of other different possibilities as well. Another one's about anxiety.
Yael: So another bilingual book, but a little girl's anxiety and what that's looked like for her.
Dalia: That's really helpful. I think that more and more children are experiencing anxiety earlier. So that's definitely needed. And it is interesting how ableism racism, xenophobia, how it all plays together and how you really don't see representation of people living with a diagnosis that aren't white it's. I mean, it's almost always going to be white to the extent that when you meet someone with something as common as down syndrome, who's Asian, you're like, wow. Like, oh, I didn't know. Obviously we can all get whatever we can be born, any kind of way, human diversity, it's just what we choose to feature. That makes it seem like we aren't as diverse as we are.
Yael: But then it's also the like racism that exists within the publishing space. And so even when you do have some books that are more representative in that, like the pictures have kids of all different colors, it doesn't necessarily that the author is a person of color.
Yael: And so with my company, you have to have either the identities that you are discussing or someone in your like close family, someone in your close life, and you have lived this with them, right. That you are experiencing this with them. So like the author of the book autism, t he person with autism, didn't write this.
Yael: She doesn't write. But her sister wrote it. And so she has lived with her sister, her, the younger one's entire life, the one who has autism so entire life. And so that was like the perspective that we were able to take. And so it's very important to me that the people who are writing the stories also have lived experience.
Yael: And it's not just about like, oh yeah, we need to mix A and B and with number 3 so that we can count in this diversity world where like, you're supposed to do this. Now it's about like, this is my story, and I want you to hear it.
Dalia: And the way that people tell their own story is so different from how it's told by an observer.
Dalia: And people can feel that difference. Sometimes it's so subtle, but you definitely, some things just they're very difficult to fake and so right now, a lot of companies. In all sectors, not just publishing people are faking the funk right now, and it's not pretty. So it falls flat. It's all kind of, oh, this just came to me.
Dalia: Did you see that woman who has been saying that? She's...
Yael: who said that she was Black from the Bronx in the Bronx and is a white Jew from Kansas.
Dalia: Yes, she got the hoop earrings, she got the tan and she was like, I'm ready to rock. I do not understand how this has happened more than once in such a widely publicized way in my lifetime.
Yael: So I actually, let's, let's break that down a bit. So first off, she's a, she is a white Jew, right? My friend is also a white Jew. Neither of them actually presents white. Like, if you look at them, that's not the identity you're going to give them because they were darker skin tones. Right. And so it's also interesting how whiteness works that like, because they are Jewish, they are given.
Yael: Right. It just, that is also so interesting. But I remember someone commented, like how did no one realize like Afro Latinas don't come that light? And I was like, hold up a second way lighter than that woman. Right. There are people who identify as Black. That is their identity. Who are way lighter than this faker.
Yael: And so my thing was, you should not fake who you are, but the fact that people believed her makes total sense to me.
Dalia: But it seemed like to me, what was the most damning is how. Some of her clothing choices and accessory choices, maybe they speak to her, they were so sterotypical. It just seemed a little performative.
Yael: She faked three different identities.
Dalia: Oh, I didn't see that part.
Yael: Afro Latina was her latest identity. The one before that was Black American, the one before that was north African. Okay. She moved across the globe.
Yael: No one tracked this?! Like at one point she was north African and now she's Black and now she's Afro Latina from the Bronx specifically.
Dalia: That's interesting too, that extra, that, that was so important for her to feature that what trips me out about it. And I think what really troubles a lot of people about it is to know that.
Dalia: Race is not real to the extent that whatever you say could literally change your experience. You just have to keep saying it and buy some hoops and you can be another person. Like, it just, she went overboard with the, just so stereotypical, but you're right. It easily could have been true going off of skin color alone.
Dalia: And some people do still dress that way, even though it's not the nineties anymore.
Yael: But I love my hoops in the nineties.
Dalia: I did too, you know, but they're like more modern with the embellishment. It has that like handcrafted feel. I don't know what happened with the hoops. It went out for me with letting my eyebrows finally try and grow back in, but I did use to be so, so into that. But at one point I also had a Jheri curl.
Dalia: So I really shouldn't talk about anybody else's since its style, I've made many mistakes over the years. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective and coming on. Where can people find you? Sure.
Yael: So my main thing is that I'm @yaelthesexgeek I'm a sexologist, sex coach, a sex educator.
Yael: @yaelthesexgeek on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. My website is sexpositiveyou.com, so pretty easy. And then my company is kvibrations.com. And so you can find most of my things through there.
Dalia: Awesome. You are doing so many different things. We didn't even touch on the sex positivity, maybe that's for another day.
Dalia: Are you thinking of revisiting that book now that you know, we're kind of all in a different place as a country and as queer people? Or are there things you'd like to add? Are you going to revise that addition or write something new?
Yael: Yeah. So the book is only two years old, but things change and shift so much, right? Like now there is so much more language outside of queer spaces around pronouns, but I think even in 2018, like the idea of talking about pronouns outside of queer spaces was still foreign for most, so. Yes, there are definitely, I've looked back and I'm like, oh, overall, I'm like, this is a good book.
Yael: Just so you know, like people love my book and I go back, I'm like, oh, this was, this was better than you thought it was. Yes, there are, of course things I want to change, but I I'm looking into doing a teen workbook version of it. Because I wrote it for my 14 year old self, but I don't think parents of 14 year olds would be thrilled to have their kids read this book..
Yael: And I think it's more of like a 16 and up kind of book. And I want to be able to reach people when they're younger because sexual trauma and boundary making and self pleasure and all of that is important before you are 18 or 16. And I also started, but I'm not going to have time right now, the nerds guide.
Yael: So this is the intro guide and the nerds guide goes into the socio historical and psychological backgrounds. And so when you talk about things, Gender. I want to be able to talk about that are six sexes and genders are present in the Talmud in ancient Jewish text, rich and written 1500 years ago. I want to talk about the hijra in India, and that they have like that as a third gender that's established that how different native American communities have two spirit or don't have two spirit identities.
Yael: And like, what does that mean and how do they conceptualize it? And just like, recognizing that there's so much more beyond what we talk about.
Dalia: Yeah, that sounds really fascinating.
Yael: Yeah. But that's going to take awhile. It's going to take research and I'm doing a PhD right now.
Dalia: The list just keeps going.
Yael: And that's on the back burner, that's like maybe if someone gives me a book deal, I'll work on that.
Dalia: I love it. Oh, excellent. Thank you so much for coming on.
Yael: Thank you for having me.
Yael: I always, I really enjoy talking with you and Dalia.
Dalia: Same here. Same here. You'll have to come back when you finish your nerd book or I'm sure, actually you're doing many things. I'm sure it'll be before then. Sounds good.