Julián Esteban Torres López is the host, producer, and editor of The Nasiona Podcast, where he shares stories that explore the spectrum of human experience and glimpse into foreign worlds. We focus on stories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover.
Our theme song for episodes 23 through the present is “Lat Dior” by Abdoulaye Mboup—a beautiful song by a classic Senegalese artist, lamenting all of the beautiful culture that has been lost through colonization. Our theme song for episodes 1-22 is “Into the West,” courtesy of Tan Vampires.
Filmmaker Colette Ghunim on her first feature-length documentary: “Traces of Home tells the story of what happens when we as first-generation Americans go back to our roots to find out how where we come from shapes our identity. Through Traces of Home, I am telling my own personal story. I’m half Mexican and half Palestinian and both my parents were forced to leave their homes as children, and they both never returned since then. So through my film, we’re going back to Mexico and Palestine to try to find the original houses and to talk about why people are leaving and immigrating and why refugees are leaving as well, during a time when we need to hear it the most.”
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When Irma Herrera gives her name its correct Spanish pronunciation, some assume she’s not a real American. Her play, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?, is one woman’s journey from a small segregated South Texas town to California’s multicultural mecca. In this wide-ranging interview, we explore her Chicana identity, colorism, linguistic isolation, cultural hybridity, class migration, her social justice work, how her play is relevant to current events, and her transition into becoming a playwright.
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Even after Brown v. Board of Education, race is still a contentious topic in education. In fact, we’re more segregated today than we were in the late 1960s, but most people wouldn’t know that from their high school history classes. Race is still something we don’t teach in school unless it’s firmly placed in the past. Going against the grain is historian James Shields from Guilford College, a sought-after educator and speaker on anti-racism, community engagement, and Underground Railroad history.
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Most TV and movies portray adoption as a white parent adopting a child. This is true in such mainstream shows as Friends, Glee, 90210, Modern Family, Sex and The City, Grey’s Anatomy, and Parenthood. This representation is often how people think of adoption, something that can get frustrating for Nishta J. Mehra, an Indian woman with a white wife and black adopted child.
Minimalism is intentionally living with only the things you really need. Minimalists maintain that there are benefits to minimalist living, like reduced anxiety, lower expenses, increased productivity, and living a more fulfilling life. But not all minimalists go so far as to reduce their possessions to live out of a van … for years … intentionally. My guest today is author David Soto Jr. and he is (or maybe was) one of these van life minimalists. Listen to glimpse into van life minimalism.
In addition to being multiracial, many mixed-race Americans are also multicultural. Naomi Raquel Enright is one such person, and she writes about her own experience with race and racism in her book, Strength of Soul. Interwoven with her own story of being born to a Jewish American father and an Ecuadorian mother in La Paz, Bolivia, Naomi also proposes her own strategies for how to fight racism and introduces readers to what it is that exacerbates systemic racism in the US.
Publishing has a race problem. Entertainment Weekly reported that only 7.8% of romance authors using a traditional publisher were people of color in 2016. For that same year, NPR found that only 22% of all characters in children’s books were characters of color. This, in a country where people of color are expected to make up more than half of the population by 2044 according to The Center for American Progress. For this reason, writers like Anika Fajardo and F. Douglas Brown are more important than ever.
In 2017, editors Sean Frederick Forbes and Tara Betts, along with co-editor Cathy Schlund-Vials, published a volume of essays entitled The Beiging of America: Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century. This collection joins others such as Jesmyn Ward’s The Fire This Time and A Race Anthology, edited by Dan Moulthrop and R.A. Washington. Still, books about race, especially about being mixed-race, are few and far between. In this collection, nearly 40 authors told their stories about being mixed-race in the U.S.
How can memoir be a political act? When living under oppressive systems, the simple act of standing up and sharing personal stories that go against the mainstream is a political act. Mireya S. Vela and Julián Esteban Torres López meditate on this issue. Vela speaks from the perspective of an author, while Torres López forwards his experience as a publisher. They both explore inequities and injustice and use memoir to challenge, expose, and defiantly try to break down systems of oppression.
Much of the already small disability representation in the media focuses on white people, and often men. Although we would never know it from TV and movies, the CDC reports that 19.67% of people of color have a disability compared with 20% of white people. In many spaces, people with disabilities aren’t welcome regardless of race, often unintentionally. Mia Ives-Rublee, a transracial adoptee and the founder and coordinator for the Women’s March Disability Caucus, is working to change the norm.
Since European settlers brought enslaved Africans to the United States, there has been passing. In terms of race, passing means presenting as a race you don’t identify as, such as when former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal made headlines when it came out she was a white woman passing as black for many years. Not all passing is intentional, however. Sam Manas is white and Panamanian, although because he is much lighter-skinned than most people from Panama, people tend to think he’s only white.
In 1958, married couple Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were jailed because they violated the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. In 1964, the couple sued the state of Virginia. Their case reached the Supreme Court in 1967, and the court struck down all state laws forbidding mixed-race marriages. Several decades later, this ruling allowed people like Zyda Culpepper Mellon, who is African American, to marry her white husband, and for Ricardee Franks, who is mixed, to also marry a white man.
Mixed-race families are becoming more and more commonplace, as evidenced by everything from The Pew Research Center’s data to the latest Census reports. In this episode, we continue to talk about the experiences of those who come from mixed-race families, like Katie Bullard and Jesse Chen.
Mixed-race U.S. Americans are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States. In 2017, 10% of all children in the U.S. were mixed-race, up from just 1% in the 1970s. Evidence indicates that this number will only go up: In 2016, it was reported that “47% of white teens, 60% of black teens, and 90% of Hispanic teens said they had dated someone of another race.” It is for these reasons that interviewees Justyn Melrose’s and Danielle Douez’s experiences are becoming more common.
Four daughters lose and find their mothers, engage and disengage with them, learn and unlearn who these women are and who they were before they came along. These daughters, intentionally and unintentionally, look for meaning and identity in the women who gave them birth; because whether we like or barely tolerate them, whether they put us together fragment by careful fragment, or whether they undo us with the tug of an errant string, who they were tells us everything about who we will become.
A portrait of a Burmese woman’s quest to piece together the fragments of her identity and how she’s helping empower the people of Myanmar with social and emotional intelligence through her psychological consulting firm so they can heal, transform, and grow to reach their fullest potential and contribute to the development of their country. Author, educator, psychologist, and social entrepreneur Su Su Maung was born in Burma, grew up in Singapore, immigrated to Canada, and settled down in California.
Motherhood has often been considered a pinnacle of wisdom and serenity, a sort of joining together of all those parts of ourselves in lesser focus. But in truth, motherhood opens more doors than it closes. It is an endless series of complications and ambiguities that are put into sharper relief by the arrival of a daughter. What emerges from the following four stories is this precise push and pull, pondered through the lens of devotion and loss, of privilege and resentment, of injustice and forgiveness.
Why is it so hard to change people’s minds and behaviors with new facts? We explore this question through pediatrics. In 2015, after a landmark medical study proved that the early inclusion of peanut in the diet of infants prevents peanut allergy, Ron Sunog, MD, set out to develop a great first peanut food for infants. When most physicians and parents did not embrace this important new information, Dr. Sunog was determined to understand why. Dr. Sunog joins me to discuss his new book, Eat The Eight.
We speak with Leah Whetten-Goldstein about her experience being adopted from China into a white, Jewish family in North Carolina. We discuss side-effects, critiques, misunderstandings, and assumptions surrounding transracial adoption, as well as the beauty of being in a mixed-race family. We get a glimpse into Whetten-Goldstein’s struggle to find an identity growing up in a predominantly white community as an adoptee, and she shares the wisdom she’s gathered along the way.
We share four essays included in Mireya S. Vela’s forthcoming book, Vestiges of Courage, Collected Essays—a collection of personal essays that explores inequities and injustice. Mireya S. Vela discusses how the systems in her family and in society worked to create an abusive environment that felt crushing, confusing, and hopeless. In her book, Ms. Vela delineates her experience of living through sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Ms. Vela wants to know how and why abuse thrived in her family.
Ep. 3: Mixed-Race Families (Being Mixed-Race Series)
Journalist Nicole Zelniker, author of Mixed, takes us on personal journeys to help us glimpse into overlooked worlds so we can more fully grasp what it means to be mixed. Zelniker spoke to dozens of mixed-race families and individuals, as well as experts in the field, about their own experiences, with the hope to fill a gap in the very important conversation about race in the US today.
What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? Mireya S. Vela is that woman. In this long-form interview, we discuss her art, creative nonfiction, social justice, motherhood, womanhood, being marginalized in the United States, and her new book, Vestiges of Courage: Collected Essays, which we, The Nasiona, are happy to be publishing in April of 2019.
Do the stereotypes about chess and chess players have any validity at all? Through the eyes of John Donaldson (International Master and chess writer, journalist, coach, and historian) we get a behind-the-scenes look at the most popular game of all time to see if chess really does transcend language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background.