Julián Esteban Torres López is the host, writer, interviewer, producer, sound engineer, and editor of The Nasiona Podcast, where he shares stories that explore the spectrum of human experience and glimpse into Othered worlds. He focuses 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, he believes that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover.
You can also find the podcast episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Several episodes have also been co-produced by Aïcha Martine Thiam and Nicole Zelniker.
Original music for episodes 28 through the present was produced by the Grammy Award-winning team of Joe Sparkman and Marcus Allen, aka The Heavyweights. Theme song for episodes 23-27 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. The theme song for episodes 1-22 is “Into the West,” courtesy of Tan Vampires.
Please follow The Nasiona on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for regular updates: @TheNasiona
Julián Esteban Torres López lays out The Nasiona’s Earth Day Manifesto: “We are standing on a fault line. We’re at what can become a historic crossroad and turning point, or simply a return to the status quo … a status quo that will only continue to degrade our planet and the vast majority of its inhabitants. Our soil is ready for a new harvest. Our seeds need to be watered.”
Julián Esteban Torres López speaks with Dr. Parisa Mehran, founder of Women of Color in English Language Teaching (ELT). They discuss passport privilege and the barriers for international students. They also speak about obstacles to legal immigration, why POC international students may not finish university, share their own experiences of the impact of being called terrorists, and much more. Musical Guests: Aroe Phoenix & Mallika Vie.
We speak with Dr. Parisa Mehran, founder of Women of Color in English Language Teaching (ELT), to explore how white supremacy is at the heart of ELT and how the industry functions as a racist propaganda machine. We discuss how native-speakerism and passport privilege can be forms of racism, and we shine a light on some of the detrimental consequences of racism in ELT, such as racial abuse and its effects on mental health. Musical guest: Stephanie Henry.
Carlos Carrasco: Actor | Director of Panamanian Int’l Film Festival LA
Robin Harwick, PhD: Scholar | Writer | Founder of The Pearl Democratic High School
Kimberly Douglass, PhD: Scholar | President-CEO of Remote Learning Solutions
Kanchan Gautam: Third Culture Kid
Vanessa Weathers, Founder and Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, joins us to explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We discuss how marginalized folks may be better positioned for leadership roles. We unpack questions, such as: What’s behind the claim “diversity is white genocide”? Where is power truly rooted in an organization? How can we design local politics to get the best results and to get people in the right roles? And much more. Musical guest: Samantha Pearl.
Most environments are not designed to include and value everyone because they fail to center the concerns of those in the bottom rungs of our class and caste systems. I speak with Vanessa Weathers, Founder & Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, to further explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We critique the desire to build teams based on cultural fit, and we dissect the difference between managers and leaders. Musical guest: Mallika Vie.
Given the centering of Euro and Anglo authors, thinkers, artists, etc., our education systems in the US and Canada are still forms of colonial assimilation and propaganda. In the spirit of decolonizing our education, we introduce you to Fernando González, the philosopher of authenticity. To learn more about one of Colombia’s most influential and controversial writers, we speak with Gustavo A. Restrepo Villa, executive director of Corporación Otraparte, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and amplifying Fernando González’s work.
As a Black-Filipino United Statesian man with multiple sclerosis, Joe Sparkman talks about the “Scarlet Letter” of his diagnosis, the challenges he has faced getting a job, interactions he has had with doctors, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his life and mental health. This is a candid conversation about the realities and the insidious nature of intersecting systems of oppression in the United States.
In the US, we’ve been radicalized to assume ourselves as great, at our detriment. Our superiority complex will be our downfall if we do not course-correct immediately. A turbulent future is here and on the horizon. The intensity of that turbulence will depend on how we prepare and act today. On today’s episode, I share an editorial I wrote following the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol, and play an audio story that takes you through the different turbulences and warnings of the 20th century.
Deborah Taffa, a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma Indian) Nation, shares two personal essays. In Act 1, she tells the story of a Native woman who leaves her ancestral land and lands in Missouri, where a disappearing lake and the confusion of a binational marriage force her to examine the relationship between motherhood and community. In Act 2, she speaks of a daughter’s familial connections to the land. As she leaves her mother’s hospital bed, Taffa reflects on healing and prayer, her tribal myths, and the injustice of tourism in her homeland.
“When you’re mixed-race, someone’s always telling you who you’re not.” That’s the first line from Tamara Jong’s personal essay, “In Between,” which succinctly captures the essence of what it means to be mixed-race. Tamara Jong is a Canada-born mixed-race writer and cartoonist of Chinese and European ancestry. In November of 2019, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with Tamara about her experience of being in between races, languages, and religions, and her journey to find a footing, identity, and community.
Nelson Torres comparte varias historias personales sobre sus experiencias cercanas a la muerte y como esas experiencias lo transformó y le dieron forma a su vida: un caso de identidad equivocada que casi hace que lo asesine la policía, un suspenso literal en el precipicio de una montaña mientras estaba atrapado dentro de un carro, un vuelo surrealista sobre el Triángulo de las Bermudas, y esa vez que se perdió en el Caribe después de apostarle a su hermano un equipo de sonido que podía nadar de una isla a la otra.
Teatro Luna is an ensemble of Latina/x femmes and Women of Color creating empowering theatre, media, and training for social impact. On the 18th of June, 2020, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with three of these radical culture makers and got a glimpse into Teatro Luna’s history, evolution, values, and sisterhood: Christina Igaraividez, Alexandra Meda, and Liza Ann Acosta. Here’s the conversation.
Ra Avis joins Julián Esteban Torres López again, this time to discuss how people do not rehabilitate via isolation alone, her experience dealing with grief and trauma while incarcerated, and the shocking aspect of realizing that one of the only women-run societies in the world is a women’s prison, which was one aspect of incarceration that she found herself missing after she was out.
Do prisons get rid of social problems, or do they create a lot of them? Should we abolish the prison system? What are the biggest barriers to prison abolition? What should people know about the prison system that most do not know? This is part 1 of a 2-part interview where I speak with Ra Avis to get a glimpse into incarceration and prison abolition. Ra Avis is a once-upon-a-time inmate, a reluctantly-optimistic widow, and a generational storyteller.
Today we showcase the work of two essayists — Stephen D. Gutierrez and Morelle Smith. We selected these pieces to share with you today because of the kind of inner world exploration many of us have been experiencing during the pandemic lockdowns, while simultaneously craving for a time when we can travel freely once again. Today’s episode takes you into two kinds of journeys: the inner world of the Self, and the external world of traveling through a foreign land.
We showcase Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, and speak with the poet. His poems coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy greater than either fact or imagination. The people who inhabit these places—as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh—become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition.
In the second episode of our 2-part conversation, Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell of Victory & Noble continue to unpack what it means to be a prophet in the Global International African Arts Movement, as well as what it means to be an evangelist, a seer, and a manifestor; they open up about their most memorable conversations with cultural icons and how these conversations transformed them; they challenge the Hollywood industrial complex and push forward to reclaim our voices and tell our own stories.
Julián Esteban Torres López speaks with the two complementing spirits behind Victory & Noble, a storytelling company. In this 2-part conversation, Tori Reid and Patrick A. Howell reveal their legacy project, and their energy and determination are sure to inspire, educate, and transform. They both move us forward with a critical optimism rooted in both the real struggles of our past and our present, but also a futurism grounded in the belief that we have the power to harvest a tomorrow that is brighter than today.
In the previous episode, Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joined Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the publishing industry’s white gaze. In today’s episode, they discuss how we can protest the industry, and other institutions, and how we can gain power and find power in our everyday lives to dismantle and rebuild the world anew, even when under the yoke of systems of oppression like racism.
Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joins Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the white gaze of the publishing industry. They challenge its myths about Black and brown communities; call out its performative allyship; expose its diversity, equity, and inclusion problem; and hold it accountable. They also center, elevate, and amplify Black and other People of Color writers, especially women.
On this episode, we showcase the following four poets out of dozens who took the stage during “Cruzando Fronteras”—an event on immigration and border crossing—to share their personal stories: Alondra Adame, Eva Gonzalez, Gustavo Martir, and Diana Castellanos. Then, Julián Esteban Torres López shares his keynote speech, which tackled the role of storytelling as a tool of empowerment that can disrupt the status quo, confront caricatures, change politics by first changing culture, and help shape new paradigms.
In this in-depth interview with Yaldaz Sadakova—creator of Foreignish.net and author of The Wrong Passport: Memoir Stories About Immigration—we unpack the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, its limitations, how it’s a micro-aggression, and a better question to ask; Yaldaz speaks to how she found new emotional and intellectual anchors after leaving her birth country and how she found her creative voice in a foreign land; her feelings of shame and distress about forgetting her mother tongue; becoming estranged from her Turkish Muslim heritage; we interrogate our hesitation to correct people when they mispronounce our names; she elaborates as to why she’s convinced borders are a form of injustice; and much more.
Nasiona podcast producers and editors Aïcha Martine Thiam, Nicole Zelniker, and Julián Esteban Torres López explore why it’s so difficult to discuss race, how race differs in different countries, race in publishing, share personal anecdotes, and give our take on Jordan Peele’s “documentary” Get Out. We also have a post-production conversation about The Nasiona’s Being Mixed-Race podcast series: what hit home for us, what we learned, and what surprised us.
Today’s guest is the founder of Tono Latino, Sylvia Salazar—a Colombian immigrant and a computer engineer turned political activist. She is determined to change Latino representation in politics and in media. Tono Latino is a progressive platform that informs and educates Latinos about politics in the United States and encourages them to become more involved and vote. Why should the Latinx community get more politically involved? What are the potential consequences if we do not? Listen to find out.
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.”
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.
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.
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, who is Colombian and white, and F. Douglas Brown, who is African American and Filipino, are more important than ever. Both were contributors to The Beiging of America, mentioned in our last episode.
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.
We take you into the world of a Burmese woman’s quest to piece together the fragments of her identity as Su Su Maung. We also learn about how that quest led her to found the Myanmar-based psychological consulting firm, Citta Consultancy. Citta helps empower the people of Myanmar with social and emotional intelligence so they can heal, transform, and grow to reach their fullest potential and contribute to the development of their country.
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 continue our episode 3 discussion on mixed-race families by digging into transracial adoption. Nicole Zelniker—whose book, Mixed, was the focus of that episode—joins me to interview 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. Ms. 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.
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. Vestiges of Courage is a collection of personal essays that explores inequities and injustice. Raised between two cultures and two languages, Vela discusses how the systems in her family and in society worked to create an abusive environment that felt crushing, confusing, and hopeless. She delineates her experience of living through sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. This book is much more than a collection of experiences, though. Ms. Vela wants to know how and why abuse thrived in her family. She digs deep to understand why these things happened and how she survived.
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. We also get some interesting anecdotes about Bobby Fischer from his biographer, as well as try to answer the following questions: Is chess a sport, art, or a science? What is the role of computers in the game? How much do privilege and belief play into improvement? How has who plays chess today changed over the decades?
Creating content for the podcast is costly in terms of time, energy, money, and lost opportunities. For example, it takes Julián over 30 hours to produce one episode of The Nasiona Podcast by himself, since he writes, interviews, hosts, edits, sound engineers, produces, and markets each episode.
To continue to develop new content so he can center, elevate, and amplify these the stories of the exploited, marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, Julián asks you to consider donating whatever you can either monthly or as a one-time donation. The future of the podcast depends on your support. To secure Julián‘s and The Nasiona Podcast‘s independence and provide you with free content, please become a patron and donate. As of right now, the podcast is predominantly being funded by Julián himself, which is not sustainable.
The Nasiona Podcast depends on voluntary contributions from listeners like you. He hopes the value of his work to the community is worth your patronage. If you like what he does, please show this by financially supporting his work through his Ko-Fi donation platform.
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