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The Brave Educator Podcast

On the Brave Educator post, author, poet, Hip Hop artist, and education advocate Tim’m West will share a story, converse with someone he loves and continues to learn from, and he will close with some poetry. All are encouraged to submit questions on topics covered on the podcast to braveeducator@gmail.com. When possible Tim’m will answer these questions on a future podcast. About Tim'mTim’m T. West is an educator, poet, youth advocate, and hip-hop artist who has spent decades traveling the nation, speaking about issues at the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and social justice. A graduate of Duke University (BA), The New School for Social Research (MA) and Stanford University (MA), he is the author of several books and hip-hop projects, and is widely anthologized. He has also appeared in multiple documentaries at the intersection of hip hop and black masculinity. Prior to joining Teach For America in 2014, Tim’m served as inaugural faculty at Oakland School for the Arts, impacted educational outcomes as an English teacher and basketball coach at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School for Public Policy, and more recently as Director of Youth Services at Chicago’s Center on Halsted. A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Tim’m was named one of 31 icons during LGBT History Month in October of 2015. Tim’m currently leads Teach For America’s national LGBTQ+ Community Initiative, advancing safer and braver classrooms for LGBTQ+ educators and students in grades preK-12. He is also a Professor and Lecturer at Humboldt State University.

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Black Enough Man Enough

On the 7th episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend Gee Smalls. Listen as they talk about the challenges and trials Gee faced as a mixed race child growing up in the South, coming to terms with his sexual identity, and the many hats Gee wears as a husband, father, entrepreneur, author & advocate.The episode begins with the song "Heavy" from the album, "Gravel and Grit".  After the dialogue with Gee, the episode concludes with the song “Male” from the album "Snapshots".Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor. About our featured guest Gregory “Gee” Smalls, Sr. is a father, husband, life and relationship coach, entrepreneur philanthropist, author, executive chef and restaurateur.  He co-created “The Gentlemen’s Ball,” an annual black tie fundraising gala which celebrates the accomplishments of Black LGBTQ people and benefits “The Gentlemen’s Foundation,” which promotes holistic development of Black men in the LGBTQ community. Gee, his husband Juan and son Lil Gee live in Atlanta where they operate their first restaurant, Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar.www.geesmalls.com


10 May 2021

Rank #1

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Mental Health: A Family Matter

On the 6th episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his cousin, M. Denise Chambers. Listen as they have a conversation about family secrets and mental health. The episode begins with the prose "Chipping off the old block", a poem from the book, " Flirtng".  After the dialogue with M. Denise Chambers, the episode concludes with the song “After Midnight” from the album "Fly Brotha  ".Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor. About our featured guest M. Denise Chambers is a licensed social worker who earned her Bachlor's degree from Capital University in Bexley, Ohio and her Master's from The Ohio State University.  Denise has dedicated her last 10 years to restoring individuals with severe mental health and various addictions. Additionally, Denise has worked with individuals navigating their end of life experiences with  Zusman Hospice. She has worked in various residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs. Denise uses a robust therapeutic approach that starts where the individual is at and helps them work through their spiritual, emotional and relational goals.Denise in her core is a caregiver that she has shared with her three children, grandchildren and pets. It is this core that is the impetus for her longing to see individuals restored.  She will remind you that "When you pass through the waters, the Lord will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; he flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)M. Denise Chambers, MSW, LSW, LICDCdenise@duggantherapyllc.com


26 Apr 2021

Rank #2

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Making He-ART

THE BRAVE EDUCATOR PODCASTMaking He-ARTApril 12, 2021 SEASON 2 EPISODE 5 On the 5th episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend and fellow Duke University Alumnus, Mikael Owunna. Listen as they talk  about making Art and following your Heart. A simple phrase with a lot of significance, following your heart is something that a lot of people identify with but very few ever take action to make a reality.The episode begins with the prose "Coming to Rhyting", a poem from "Red Dirt Revival: a poetic memoir in 6 Breaths".  After the dialogue with Mikael, the episode concludes with the song “Stone” from the album "Gravel and Grit".Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor. About our featured guestMikael Owunna is a queer Nigerian-Swedish American multi-media artist and engineer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Exploring the intersections of visual media with engineering, optics, Blackness, and African cosmologies, his work seeks to elucidate an emancipatory vision of possibility that pushes Black people beyond all boundaries, restrictions, and frontiers. Owunna’s work has been exhibited across Asia, Europe, and North America and been collected by institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Equal Justice Initiative, Duke University, and National Taiwan Museum. His work has also been featured in media ranging from the New York Times to CNN, NPR, VICE, and The Guardian. He has lectured at venues including Harvard Law School, World Press Photo (Netherlands), Tate Modern (UK), and TEDx. Owunna’s first published monograph Limitless Africans was released in 2019 by FotoEvidence, and he was awarded as a finalist for the FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo. www.mikaelowunna.comIG: @mikaelowunna


12 Apr 2021

Rank #3

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On the 4th episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend and colleague Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, who is currently leading work at GLSEN. Listen as they discuss and give us the real “T” or truth about the topic of Intersectionality. A concept and framework created by Black feminist scholar, Kimberle' Crenshaw, Intersectionality is defined as the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups. (Merriam-Webster)The episode begins with "Ten”, a song by Tim’m that was featured on his solo debut album, Songs From Red Dirt. The song was originally written as a spoken word poem in his first book, Red Dirt Revival: a poetic memoir in 6 Breaths. After the dialogue with Melanie about their lived intersectionality as Black LGBTQ+ leaders in education, the episode concludes with the poem “Sixteen” which is also on Songs from Red Dirt and which appears in the second edition of "Red Dirt Revival: a poetic memoir in 6 Breaths”.Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor. About our featured guest:Melanie Willingham-Jaggers (They/She), is the incoming Interim Executive Director at GLSEN, a national non-profit that works to ensure K-12 education is safe and affirming for all students, including LGBTQ+ youth. Her vision for the next chapter of GLSENs work is rooted in the belief that education can and should be an experience that is safe, affirming and liberating – and that we can achieve that goal only when we build in racial, gender and disability justice into our education system as a key indicator of success.Before joining GLSEN in 2019 as Deputy Executive Director, Melanie served as the Program Associate Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. As a part of the leadership team there, Melanie worked to ensure the strategic, programmatic, and operational excellence of the Institute.She brings extensive experience in social justice movement and organizations as a manager and consultant with her, including curriculum design, facilitation, organizing within and beyond various marginalized and intersecting communities, including current and formerly incarcerated and underground economy involved people, LGBTQ+ community, youth, immigrants, people with disabilities and senior citizens. Melanie has a long track record of building and running successful high-impact programing, training and developing individuals and leading teams, as well as designing effective and values responsive infrastructure that drive high levels of performance and impact across the organization. Since 2018, Melanie has lectured at CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, in the Masters of Applied Theater program. They earned their B.A. in Politics, Peace and Justice Studies and Philosophy from the University of San Francisco, and their M.A. from The City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies in Applied Theater, where they lecture as an adjunct.From 2016-2019 Melanie served as board chair of The Audre Lorde Project, the oldest center for community organizing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color, in the New York City area. Melanie’s work on the ALP Board was rooted in the belief that as long as there are organizations connected to our freedom movements – those organizations must be internally safe, healthy and vibrant spaces, on which movements can rely if they so choose.


29 Mar 2021

Rank #4

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Learning from our Kids

On the 3rd episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend Elisa Hoffman. Listen as they engage in a conversation about what we can teach our children and what our children can teach us.The episode kicks off with "Happiness" a poem by Lily Hope, a student Tim'm has been fortunate enough to teach (alongside her twin brother Abbot) and also daughter of our featured guest.  After the dialogue with Elisa,  the episode concludes with the song " Prodigal Son"  from the album " Prodigal Son The Anthology".Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor.About our featured guest:Elisa Hoffman is the founder and Executive Director of School Board School, an organization that equips education advocates and aspiring school board members with the knowledge and network to drive systemic change. Elisa is a parent, former teacher, and education advocate who has worked for almost twenty-five years on issues of educational equity, including serving a four-year term on the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education. When she’s not working at School Board School, Elisa enjoys reading (just about anything), writing (mostly fiction), and hanging out with her husband and their twin 11-year olds.


15 Mar 2021

Rank #5

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Breaking Cycles

THE BRAVE EDUCATOR PODCASTBreaking CyclesMarch 1, 2021 SEASON 2 EPISODE 2On the 2nd episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend Cory George. Listen as they engage in a conversation and get at the deeper issues of self-healing, relationships, love, and the long-standing impact of sexual abuse.The episode kicks off with "Magnetix", a poem from my authorial debut "Red Dirt Revival: a poetic memoir in 6 Breaths" and also published in "Freedom In This Village: Twenty-Five Years of Black Gay Men's Writing" which as edited by his late brotha and Arkansan, E. Lynn Harris. After the dialogue with Cory the episode concludes with an excerpt from "Full Moon" from the album "In Security: The Golden Error".Tim'm would like to offer special thanks to Rayna Moore for her voice as Intro to the podcast, Frank Richardson III for his support as co-producer, and Ray Brown for his support as an editor. About our featured guestCory George, MS Appearances on media outlets such as Huffington Post Live, Season 7 of OWN Network’s Iyanla, Fix My Life and local radio & television outlets affords George the platform to inspire conversation on topics that he feels deserves more attention. All of George’s work can be traced back to at two of his areas of personal advocacies: mental health awareness the black community and childhood victims of sexual assault. He has attained certifications in Anger Management, Domestic Violence, and Clinical Trauma for Families and Individuals while completing his studies for his Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling; Crisis Response and Trauma. His desire is to continue to stand in the gap for those that are in crisis as well as those who are working hard to recover from traumatic experiences. In 2014, George created, hosted, and executive-produced Whispers in the Night, an acclaimed documentary that documents the full lifecycle of childhood sexual assault as experienced by three African American adult male survivors. Cory moderates a timely and painfully detailed conversation that speaks at the heart of men who still suffer the resounding effects of sexual assault and offers victims a portrayal of what victory and healing can look like for them. The documentary has amassed over 10,000 views online. In 2019 Cory George created and is the host and executive producer of the award-winning local Washington, DC talk show 1 on 1 with Cory George. The show focuses on the tough conversations that he hopes will benefit families and communities within the African American population. The show currently airs in Washington, DC on DCTV (DC’s Public Access channel). George’s manual for perseverance, strength, forgiveness, and self-love can be found in his 2015 release: SIT or STAND 2.0: Living Successfully Beyond Your Shadows. SIT or STAND has been described as an insightful and thought-provoking literary contribution inspired by the trials and triumphs of George.A native of Houston, Texas and Ville Platte, Louisiana, he and his family has resided in the metro Washington, D.C. for some time.  For more information about Cory George go to: www.CoryGeorge.com


1 Mar 2021

Rank #6

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Black Votes & Black Love

On the first episode of Season 2, Tim'm features his friend and colleague Brittany Packnett Cunningham in a thoughtful conversation about why people (should) vote, the power of the Black vote in 2020 and 2021 elections, Black inclusion, and the role that Black love plays in the fight for empowerment and liberation.About our featured guestBrittany Packnett Cunningham is a social justice activist, educator and writer. Leading at the intersection of culture and justice, she builds platforms to activate everyday people to take transformative action for justice. She is an NBC News and MSNBC contributor and host of UNDISTRACTED, an intersectional news and social justice podcast. She is the former co-host of iHeart Radio’s Best Political Podcast of 2019, Pod Save The People, and is the founder and principal of Love & Power Works, a full-service social impact and equity agency. Brittany’s forthcoming book, We Are Like Those Who Dream, is due to hit shelves in 2021. Her TED Talk on Confidence has garnered over 5 million views worldwide, making it one of the top ten most popular TED Talks of 2019. Brittany is a former elementary teacher, education executive, and policy advisor. In the past, Brittany held top roles at Teach For America, was a Congressional policy advisor, and a 3 time fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, leveraging her broad skillset on wide-ranging justice issues from public education to racial justice. Brittany was a member of President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force and the Ferguson Commission, helping lead the country and her community through change during times of tumult. Brittany graced the covers of British Vogue and Essence Magazine, been listed as one of Time’s 12 New Faces of Black Leadership, and has been honored by BET, Politico Magazine, Marie Claire, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, Higher Heights and more.  She serves on the Gucci Changemakers Council and lives with her husband in Washington, DC.For more information about Brittany Packnett Cunningham go to: www.brittanypacknett.com


15 Feb 2021

Rank #7

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To Be Protected

Those who follow the Brave Educator podcast likely noted when a week ago, June 15, 2020 there was no Monday episode. I called it "taking a week off," but the truth is, the episode was already recorded. Not unlike the poem or prose I skip over in memoirs about the sexual violence, the rape, that I survived as a child, it's sometimes easier to just try to forget. I met Amita Swadhin back in January 2016 at USC during an Education Summit I directed. It was the first time in an education space I heard someone talk about sexual trauma. It was uncomfortable, but it was among a few moments when I felt I'd encountered someone more brave than me; and so it pushed me to consider those strategic silences I held onto. I could talk about being queer, about being HIV positive, about racial trauma...but not that. The reality is that it's still scary; and the scars that the experience had on me as a young child, has been not just a part of my struggle, but my story. I'm not who I am today without it. In Season 1, Episode 7, Amita and I talk about why the sexual violence we survived as children, far from making us less capable as professionals, makes us better at what we do. It's 10:15 pm on the day I generally share the new podcast first in the morning. Maybe I'm still nervous about releasing it. Perhaps a part of me fears what exposing this may mean for how others view me going forward. Maybe they will see me as all the more brave. Maybe they will understand what it feels like to be on a life-long journey ... to be protected.Amita Swadhin is an educator, storyteller, activist and consultant dedicated to fighting interpersonal and institutional violence against young people. Her commitments and approach to this work stem from her experiences as a genderqueer, femme queer woman of color, daughter of immigrants, and years of abuse by her parents, including eight years of rape by her father. They are a frequent speaker at colleges, conferences and community organizations nationwide, and a consultant with over fifteen years of experience in nonprofits serving low-income, immigrant and LGBTQ youth of color in Los Angeles and New York City. Amita has been publicly out as a survivor of child sexual abuse since she interned at the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women in 1997. In 2016, Amita received a two-year Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellowship, allowing them to work full-time to end child sexual abuse and to help survivors heal. From March 2012 to September 2015, Amita was the Los Angeles Executive Director of Peer Health Exchange, a national nonprofit empowering teens to make healthy decisions. In the fall of 2015, they were the Interim Executive Director of API Equality-LA, whose mission is to build power in the Asian and Pacific Islander community to achieve LGBTQ equality and racial and social justice. Amita has held positions at Legal Momentum, Global Kids, Make the Road NY, Sadie Nash Leadership Project and Kingsborough Community College (CUNY), and served as the final Board Chair of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a national organization advocating for and with LGBTQ youth. Amita is also a published author. Their writing has been featured on The Feminist Wire and The Huffington Post, and in the anthologies Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press, 2014) and Queering Sexual Violence (Magnus Books, 2016). She holds a Master’s in Public Administration degree from New York University, where she was a Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.


23 Jun 2020

Rank #8

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On the Healing Journey... Sing anyway.

We have already reached Episode 6 of 8 in this first season of the brave educator podcast. Dawn Tallman’s voice is so magical; and if you don’t already know, Tim'm is happy to introduce the world to the power and healing wonder of that voice on the Monday, June 8th episode. In this episode, the two vocalists, songwriters, musicians, and househeads talk about how music, and especially house music, has held a special place in helping them through scars and bruises on the healing journey. The episode features two songs that have continued to inspire Tim'm: Wipe the Needle's "Release" featuring Dawn Tallman, and a song from her long-awaited and highly celebrated 2019 project, For Me, called "Celebrate Myself". As the two talk on the same day that countless protests were happening in the country in the fight for Black Lives, the episode also captures the raw emotion of Tim'm's experience, just before their interview, of being stopped and interrogated by police in what was an all-too-familiar instance that called upon his calm and composure amid such righteous rage. Dawn Tallman is marketed as "The Queen of Gospel Energy" by her record company. She was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, and started singing in church and later on was featured in a great number of R&B and dance recordings. She has cooperated with a great number of recording artists and DJs and made part of various ensemble groups traveling internationally. In 1997, she was featured on "Set My Spirit Free" with Kings Of Tomorrow (K.O.T.), in 1999 in remix of "Wake Up" remixed by Hex Hector and in 2000 in Soulstar Syndicate EP Take Me (Mind, Body & Soul). The song charted on SNEP, the official French Singles Chart. In 2005, she was part of U.D.A.U.F.L., an acronym for Underground Dance Artists United For Life, a collaboration of Dance music acts put together by the producer duo Blaze. In 2006, she was featured in DJ Disciple single "Work It Out", released under DJ Disciple's Catch 22 Recordings label, becoming a dance hit record. It was played in Ibiza in 2006, BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong the track appeared on a number of labels and compilations such as Xtravaganza (UK), Blanco Y Negro (Spain), Poole Music (France), Networks (Italy) and United (Belgium). It was a charting hit in Spain. In 2008, "Work It Out" was re-released with remixes by Klass for House Trained Records. In October 2006, Dawn Tallman released a single through West End Records entitled "Save a Place on the Dance Floor For Me" written by West End Records founder Mel Cheren and Warren Rigg and produced by DJ Gomi. In 2015, she was featured on Bob Sinclar's "Feel the Vibe" charting in France, Belgium and Italy, as well as going to number one on the US Dance chart. She released a long-awaited and celebrated project, For Me, in 2019.  #dawntallman #househead #blackgirlmagic #blackboyjoy


8 Jun 2020

Rank #9

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Healing Through Trauma

The 5th episode of the Brave Educator podcast discusses the stigmatization of therapy considering the trauma many already live with, and the way the current pandemic and the fight for Blacklives exacerbate and trigger trauma. How do we take care of ourselves in this moment? Dr. Thema is a friend of 30 years and a brilliant practitioner, spiritual leader, and creative.About Dr. ThemaDr. Thema earned her doctorate from Duke University, completed her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center, and is a past American Psychological Association representative to the United Nations.She has served as a mental health media consultant for numerous print, radio, and television media outlets, including but not limited to the Huffington Post, NPR, CBS, Oxygen, CNN, BET, TV One, Lifetime, and We TV.Dr. Thema has edited and co-edited books on recovery from sexual violence, spirituality and religion in women’s lives, and womanist and mujerista psychologies. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed books Tweets for the Soul: When Life Falls Apart, Thriving in the wake of trauma: A multicultural guide, Mangos and Manna and The Birthing of a Lioness and is the recording artist on the CD Sky: An upbeat black girl’s song. Her work is based in an interdisciplinary understanding of spirituality, gender, culture and psychology.Dr. Thema received her doctorate from Duke University in Clinical Psychology with a focus on the cultural context of trauma recovery, as well as the intersection of gender and racial identity. She completed her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. From 2001-2004, she served as Senior Staff Psychologist and Coordinator of the Princeton University SHARE Program, a counseling, education, training, and policy program aimed at addressing assault, harassment, and abuse. Dr. Thema was a faculty member at Lesley University in Boston and then the California State University of Long Beach. She is a tenured professor of psychology at Pepperdine University where she teaches on Trauma in Diverse Populations and Clinical Skills. She is a contributing author in the books The Psychology of Racism, The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women, and Featuring Females: Feminist Analyses of the Media.Dr. Thema served for three years as an American Psychological Association representative to the United Nations where she advocated for mental health and human rights globally. She served for an additional three years to the Committee on International Relations in Psychology; during that time she was elected chairperson and spear-headed initiatives in response to the crisis in Darfur. In addition, she was appointed the Global and International Issues Chairperson for the Society for the Psychology of Women. She later became president of the Society for the Psychology of Women, creating the society’s first film, CEU online program, task force on the trafficking of women, and task force on spirituality and religion in women’s lives.Using artistic expression, spirituality, psychology and culture, Dr. Bryant-Davis is an internationally recognized lecturer, performer, and minister. She has presented at conferences, universities, churches, community centers, schools and prisons throughout the United States, as well as in South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Dr. Bryant-Davis is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She leads a community mental health bible study at Walker Temple AME Church in Los Angeles and lives by words from her mother, Rev. Cecelia Williams Bryant, who states “God is speaking. My life is God’s vocabulary.”


1 Jun 2020

Rank #10