Today’s 2-part conversation is the first of The Nasiona’s new series showcasing the authentic voices of Women of Color writers. The Nasiona teamed up with the Women’s National Book Association’s Authentic Voices Fellowship Program and the Women of Color Writers organization to publish their inaugural first anthology, entitled The Roots That Help Us Grow: An Authentic Voices Anthology, Volume 1. Check our website at thenasiona.com for more information on the anthology.
For our podcast series, I interviewed everyone we published in the anthology to present you with an in-depth exploration of their individual literary journeys, their relationships to authenticity, experiences where they learned that language and their stories have power, obstacles they have experienced as Women of Color writers, the stories we included in the anthology, and much more.
With the Authentic Voices Fellowship program, the anthology, and this podcast series, we seek to bring BIPOC women to a deeper level of inclusion in the publishing industry and the literary world at large. Through the words of these inaugural fellows, the reader and listener may understand how telling these stories – despite the tragedy, trauma, injustice, political movements, language barriers, and grief involved – allows one to root more deeply into a heritage that helps us grow.
Today’s episode is special episode with the visionary behind the Authentic Voices program: a bad-ass chingona who goes by many variations of her first name – Nat, Natí, Nato, Natalie, or Natalia – but who I like to refer to as President Obando as a sign of respect. Natalia Obando has worked in the world of book publicity since 2008, is the founder of Do Good Public Relations and the grassroots organization Women of Color Writers Podcast and Programming.
She is the current national president of the Women’s National Book Association, overseeing all chapters nationwide. As the first Latina president of the Women’s National Book Association, her goal has been promoting diversity in publishing via grassroots efforts through both organizations. She has since been a panelist and speaker at some of the most well-regarded literary conferences in the industry, including the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, The West Coast Writer’s Conference, the Central Coast Writer’s Conference, as well as conferences that focus on diversity in publishing, such as Centering on the Margins. When she’s not championing for others in the book world, she is writing novels and screenplays rooted in Latinx folklore and magick. You can find her on LinkedIn as Natalie Obando and on Instagram as @dogooderbookgal
President Obando and I spoke on November 27th, 2021. This is the first of our two-part conversation, where we discuss her own experience in the literary world as a Latina, along with the origin story and breakdown of the Authentic Voices Fellowship Program. We then transition into a discussion on the White Gaze in publishing and how she’s using her influence to transition us out of it so we can become more authentic and reflect a more realistic representation. We end Part One of the conversation dissecting the pros and cons of code-switching and how through us coming together in solidarity we can gain more power and lift each other up.
So let’s get to it. I’ll drop you in where President Obando is discussing some of the stories in the anthology. Thank you for listening.
Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him/his/él) is a bilingual, multiply neurodivergent, Colombia-born storyteller, public scholar, and culture architect with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. For two decades, Julián has worked toward humanizing those Othered by oppressive systems and dominant cultures. He is the creator of the social justice storytelling movement The Nasiona, where he also hosts and produces The Nasiona Podcast. He’s a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions nominee; a Trilogy Award in Short Fiction finalist; a McNair Fellow; and the author of Marx’s Humanism and Its Limits and Reporting On Colombia. His poetry collection, Ninety-Two Surgically Enhanced Mannequins, is available now. His work appears in PANK Magazine, Into the Void Magazine, The Acentos Review, Novus Literary and Arts Journal, Havik 2021: Inside Brilliance, among others. Julián is also a senior DEI consultant for Conscious Thrive Consulting. Julián holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from the University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.
The Nasiona Podcast amplifies the voices and experiences of the marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, as well as gives you a glimpse into Othered worlds. We focus on stories that explore the spectrum of human experiences—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. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López.
Original music for The Nasiona Podcast was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Joe Sparkman and Marcus Allen, aka The Heavyweights. Joe Sparkman: Twitter + Instagram. Marcus Allen: Twitter + Instagram.
The Nasiona Magazine and Podcast depend on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners like you. We hope the value of our work to our community is worth your patronage. If you like what we do, please show this by liking, rating, and reviewing us; buying or recommending our books; and by financially supporting our work either through The Nasiona’s Patreon page or through Julián Esteban Torres López‘s Ko-fi donation platform. Every little bit helps.
Thank you for listening and reading, and thank you for your support.