Writing Black

The Person Behind The Viral Hashtag #DisabledandCute: Keah Brown

Episode 5

Maiysha Kai speaks with disability rights advocate and best selling author, Keah Brown, about finding her writer’s voice, being an advocate for inclusion and handling the effects of going viral on Twitter.

You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. 

Maiysha Kai [00:00:05] Hello, I’m Maiysha Kai, host of theGrio’s “Writing Black” Podcast. In West African tradition, to be a griot is to be a storyteller, one who carries and communicates the experiences and legacies of a people. As theGrio’s lifestyle editor, I’ve always been fascinated by how we tell our stories. That’s why we launched “Writing Black,” to explore the myriad ways Black writers craft stories and communicate our experiences. Thank you for joining us. Here’s an excerpt from this week’s guest. 

Sam’s Super Seats [00:00:37] Misty is the living room couch named after my favorite dancer, Misty Copeland. When we aren’t doing pirouettes before a dance class, we play “I Spy” and laugh at our silly answers. Misty loves to dance, and I know she loves me. She’s comfortable and graceful. That’s what makes her Super Seat. 

Maiysha Kai [00:00:57] This week. We have somebody very exciting with us. She is an actress, an author, a journalist, a screenwriter and a disability rights advocate. Keah Brown, welcome to “Writing Black.”

Keah Brown [00:01:10] Thank you for having me. I’m so excited! “When you reach out I was like, ‘Yes, let’s do this!'”

Maiysha Kai [00:01:16] Well, I was excited to have you. You are back with a new book. This is not your first book, and we’re going to get into that. But you were back with a new book for kids called “Sam’s Super Seats,” which, you know, we were talking about this before you joined us today. My producer and I were talking about this, that, you know, we look we really kind of overlook, you know, what’s missing in the in the children’s book space. Right. And particularly when it comes to narratives, including children with disabilities, it’s like. You know, if that’s not part of your daily reality, are you missing that? Are you thinking about it? And this is a book where the the heroine, just like you, has cerebral palsy. And her name is Sam, and she has a series of supersedes. What was the you know, obviously, there’s your own life story, but what what made you want to write a book like this? 

Keah Brown [00:02:13] And now I just kept thinking, like, what was the book that I wish I had when I was younger? I was like very laser focused on the idea of teaching kids about rest and the importance of listening to your body and letting rest to be an adventure. So what happened was my editors Sideny Monday shout out to her, she read The Pretty One, which is my first book, but we’ll get into later. And she really liked my essay on chairs. Now, all my life I have been giving chairs, names and personality traits and, you know, just thoughts and ideas because I spend so much time sitting down and resting my body and I thought, why not do that for kids? Why not give, you know, create this character who has super seats that make her feel comfortable and good and confident. And that’s really how the story came about, was just me wanting to make rest and adventure. 

Maiysha Kai [00:03:06] I love the idea of rest as an adventure, because obviously that’s something we could all use. I need more rest as an adventure and we do live in a very go, go, go society. And, you know, this is. So you’re hitting a lot of like you know, you’re hitting a lot of, like, sweet spots for me with this. I mean, obviously, she’s a Black female heroine. Um, she’s out with her friends. It’s a back to school narrative. I mean, I just. I love so much about this, and I actually did also love that essay. Cheers. In your first book, The Pretty One, which, you know, there’s so much your story is so interesting. You you’re a twin. Yeah. Right. So there’s that which already in itself, that’s a very unique experience. And you and your sister having very difficult, different physical experiences in the world, you have cerebral palsy. She does not. And so you really chronicled this through a series of essays in your first book, The Pretty One. Um, what that kind of coming into your self like for you? Tell me a little bit about let’s let’s backtrack a couple of years and talk about the writing of that book and really putting that together like, you know, especially in the format that you did because it’s not linear. This is not, you know, a typical memoir. This is an essay. 

Keah Brown [00:04:27] I jump around. 

Maiysha Kai [00:04:31] Which I think has gotten you know, that’s gotten a little more popular in recent years. But. You know, in terms of kind of patch working your life together to explain your experience. What was that like? Like what? What kind of drove that that that book? 

Keah Brown [00:04:49] I mean, it was really just excitement to tell longer stories. So I had been writing professionally since 2016, like 2015, really. And there was a lot of things in one of our articles or essays that I didn’t have the room to talk about. And so I really treated the pretty one, like an opportunity to talk about things like music and family and love and platonic love and grief and loss and all these things. I treated it like a a way to say all of the things that I wanted to but hadn’t had the opportunity to. And with the pretty one, I just wanted to talk about my relationship with my sister and how. For a very long time. I was jealous of her and jealous of her body. And I was like led to believe by society that that was the body of value. And I really took that to heart because even though I had so much love for my family and friends, I wasn’t seeing it on screen. You know, it wasn’t being reflected back to me in a way that I felt was tangible or non-biased. 

[00:05:50] And so for so many years, I was just jealous of Leah. We had a really rocky relationship because of it. And then, you know, I went away to college. We grew up, you know, I started to miss her and realized that like all these qualities that I have in my friends at school, Leah also has, and I was like missing out on them. I didn’t take the time to figure out who she was because I, I just saw her as my enemy. And I think with the pretty one, a lot of the things that I talk about outside of my sister, like the things that you don’t really get to talk about when you’re a marginalized writer and people give you a beat. So they’re like, Oh, your beat is the disability beat. So you can’t talk about music. You can’t talk about X, Y and Z thing. For The Pretty One I was just like, No, I’m talking about all of it. The importance of being emotional, how it means, like what it means to be loved by the people that love me, what it means to care about pop culture and not see yourself. Like it was very important for me to say, Hey, these are the things that matter to me and I hope you like them. I hope it works out. But if not, I’m happy with the book that I created. And so that’s how I really viewed The Pretty One is like a chance to stretch my muscle and show people what I could do. 

Maiysha Kai [00:07:02] Well, you’ve done a lot, so, you know, this is and I do think it’s important that our audience know this, you know, because I do agree with you. I think, you know, and I can only speak from even just being a Black woman on a beat, you know, like this is what you write about, right? But you’ve written so much. I mean, you know, what you accomplished in this, you know, I guess six or seven year span of time is incredible and enviable in its own right. So you might have been jealous of your sister, but I think there’s a lot of writers who would be jealous of you and your output. And, you know, you’ve written for Teen Vogue Glamor, Harper’s Bazaar, and not not just about disability issues, right? Like, you know, you’ve written about friendship, you’ve written about fatphobia, you’ve written about all kind fashion, you know, all kinds of things, you know, because this is a podcast about what it means to bring your identity, the page, and particularly intersectional identities, you know, whether that be the intersection of gender and race or gender, race and ability or gender, race, sexuality, ability, etc. And the list can go on and on as we know. When you are interacting with these editors. When you are pitching these stories, when you are, you know, how have you pushed them to see you more wholly and allow you to bring more of yourself to the page than just the disability narrative? 

Keah Brown [00:08:33] Yeah, I mean, it was a journey. I think at first, like a lot of people, when you’re breaking in, you’re like, I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I just need to get right foot in the door. And so a lot of my earlier work didn’t feel so much like me as I would have wanted it to. But I think after writing the pretty one in particular, I just started to see, hey, like people care about who you are fully. And because you wrote this book and it’s like you did okay, you have the ability to be confident enough to say, Hey, this doesn’t sound like me. I don’t like this word usage. Actually, this is, you know, a term we use in the Black community. This is the way we say it. It’s not spelled wrong. So it’s a lot of just finding confidence and having editors, thankfully, be open to me, pushing back and being like, No, this doesn’t work. This doesn’t sound like me. I don’t want to change this, you know, because very early in my career, I would say up until the book came out actually to 2019, I was like, Oh, you know, yeah, that’s fine. I’m okay with changing it and and that’s okay. And it’s different when you have an editor like a white editor versus like a person of color because there are things that they don’t understand. And so they’ll change it and be like, This is weird, and you’ll just be like, Yeah, it’s fine. But I think the further along I get in my career, the the easier it is to fully be myself on the page because I feel confident enough to say, Hey, this isn’t working, or like, I want to keep this, please allow me to keep this. If not, we’re going to have to part ways. It’s like being able to be in a place where I can say no has really helped me become myself on the page, but fully. 

Maiysha Kai [00:10:15] I mean, I think that’s valuable advice for all of us, because I think I think we, you know, marginalized writers in particular, we even well past the point of newness when we’re novices. You know, I think all of us had that story. I mean, I certainly do. I totally related to you saying, you know, a lot of my earlier work doesn’t necessarily sound like me per se. Right. It’s not necessarily what I’ve written. And I think, you know, we also know that we live in an era of hot takes. You know, I think, you know, now we’re getting a little I think we’re starting to get thankfully back more into opinions, calling them what they are, which is opinion pieces. But, you know, for a while there, it was very much about the hot take like that was it was a hot take economy. And if you were trying to break in and particularly if you were trying to break into Black media, I think, you know, that that was what you were expected to do. Is there a piece that you’ve written that you kind of felt was like a watershed moment for you in terms of I mean, obviously there was the book, but was there a specific article or a poem or just kind of a moment that felt like, aha, I am speaking for myself? 

Keah Brown [00:11:24] Absolutely. So. Um, a few years ago, via medium, Roxane Gay had Roxane Gay magazine and I wrote this essay called My Body on the Other Side of Hatred. And that was like, like I had been she had edited me. That was the first time. And I had just also seen and understood and taken care of. And she, like, pushed me to to make it genuinely who I was. And that was my watershed moment. I forget what year that came out, but I remember reading it and being like, That’s me completely. There is just me on this page and not anybody else. Not any, you know, marker I’m trying to hit. That sounds like somebody that I admire or not, you know, a piece of so and so. It was like this really feels like a queer Brown article as a queer Brown original. And that was my moment where I was like, I want this to be like, it is all the time, no matter who the editor is. But I was so grateful for Roxane for that reason because it was really, I think, life changing. It really changed the way that I. View my work in the way that I, you know, speak up for myself because it wasn’t like I had to do the extra work of being like I don’t I don’t agree with you, but, you know, like trying to soften the blow, quote unquote. Roxane was just like, no, this is your this is your piece. And, you know, if you have any thoughts or ideas like that, that’s what this is. We’re collaborating together. We’re here to make the piece the best it can be. And it just shifted everything for me, I think. 

Maiysha Kai [00:13:01] Well, shout out to Roxane Gay, who tremendous, tremendous writer and educator and editor. As you see. I love that story. I think that I mean, that’s kind of a dream. I love that story. All right. Stay tuned and we’ll be back with more Writing Black. 

[00:13:22] TheGrio Star Stories with Toure. Coming soon on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. 

Maiysha Kai [00:13:34] And we’re back with more Writing Black. I also really love your stories. I mean, I just do I think, you know, you have such an empathetic voice, I think. You’re obviously incredibly observant. And I just I’m curious about. How you would interpret the power of observation and how it has informed your writing. 

Keah Brown [00:14:03] Well, one. Thank you. That’s very kind. I think the thing that I always tell people is like, I’m a naturally nosy person, right? So that’s why I got into journalism in the first place. I love talking to people and asking questions and figuring out what makes them who they are. And so I think for me, empathy sort of has to come with that because you have to meet people where they are. Mm hmm. And I try to do, especially if I’m working on, like, a profile or like beginning of a cover story that I’ve done or like any profile interviews. I’m trying to get to the root of who a person is, whether that’s like them talking about their next movie or TV show or what have you. I’m like, Okay, I’m not going to ask you who you’re dating. I’m not going to ask you, you know how you got into your Captain Marvel suit, any of that, because like. Sure, I guess. But I just want to figure out who you are as a person. And I think you can’t show up to an assignment of any sort without having some sort of empathy. Even if it’s like. And I guess it’s easier for me to say that because a lot of the journalistic work that I do is like pop culture related. So it’s not like hard news stuff or people doing some sorts of crimes. So that must be like a harder element for them. But I find that I do my best work when I actually care about the things that I’m working on. And caring about the thing that you’re working on. It allows you to be more empathetic to the people that you’re talking to that are involved with the thing that you’re working on. So I try to look at it from that vantage point of like, if I care, it’s going to read better. And if I don’t, I need to pass it on to somebody who might care more than I do. 

Maiysha Kai [00:15:45] I entirely agree. And you know, I run the lifestyle section here at theGrio and empathy is one of my when I talk to people about how we try to report, empathy is one of my keywords that I always use. So I think and an empathy is really lacking. And so these days, I mean, we obviously just went through an administration where we were just literally preached. Preaching anti empathy 

Keah Brown [00:16:09] All the time. 

Maiysha Kai [00:16:10] All the time. 

Keah Brown [00:16:11] Like every day. And I think we’re we’re not going to even understand the implications of it for years to come, you know. Right. So many people just lost all sense of empathy and like, you know, the ability to be like, hey, let me give somebody the benefit of the doubt. 

Maiysha Kai [00:16:26] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Or at least consider what it’s like to be in their shoes. Or consider that there’s another perspective other than my own. Yeah, it’s been a really observationally speaking. It’s been a really interesting and in some ways tragic time to be alive witnessing this and in many ways feeling really helpless. But I want to talk about empathy as well from a language standpoint, because, you know, one of the things I think we have been confronted with in recent years, I hadn’t seen this since I was probably. I don’t know, in the nineties, you know, when I was like still, you know, in my teens, you know? Yeah. Where we were really talking about language differently. And, you know, people love to vilify any kind of consciousness around language as being, you know, overly politically correct or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

Maiysha Kai [00:17:19] But really. It is a pathetic language, right, to consider how your words might affect other people. I mean, very recently we had the whole thing with both Lizzo and Beyoncé removing a word that is considered an A-plus slur. Yes, but a lot of people didn’t recognize that way. And what I was really shocked by was actually kind of the pushback, you know, against it. Like, no, no. That’s like, you know, we use it like it was so important to hold on to this thing, you know, like it was some sort of point of identity. And oddly enough, I saw a lot of it from Black people. Like, that was like and I was, like, so shocked because I was like, really? Like, you know, like, so really, this is like, this is the this is the word you need to hold on to right now. And I’m not going to say the word. Yeah, but yeah, this is the hell, right? This is the hell that you were choosing to die on today. Yeah. And you know, I mean, you know, listen, growing up, I was I was going through that. I so I have a brother who was born with Down syndrome. And so the way that people would casually use like the R word, I would be like, yeah, now don’t do that, you know? So like, can we talk a little bit about like empathy of language and like what? And especially as Black people, you know, we I would think we of all people would be so empathetic to this. 

Keah Brown [00:18:40] You would think so. I mean, and I had written a piece about the Lizzo and Beyoncé changing the their words for Insider. And there was a lot of Black people upset before they even read it. They were like, Why don’t you ask this of white artists? And I was like, If you actually read the piece, I would say, one, I was glad that they changed it. And two, I felt like there’s a there’s a disparity in the way that while disabled people come after Black people in general, whether you’re in the community or out of it, which was the focus of my piece, but I did find it really interesting that I had upset so many Black people by saying like it was a good thing that they changed it because like you said, good language is empathetic language and it’s not a word that I think says anything powerful about who we are as Black people at all. And so to have that pushback and have people be so upset at the idea that they changed a word is is I was just floored by it because I was like, this is really that big of a deal for you that you like. You want to be able to say it in your everyday life. And I think it is really interesting to be a marginalized group like we are and and to not realize the sort of irony. 

Maiysha Kai [00:19:52] Right. I was like the irony of that. 

Keah Brown [00:19:54] All right, irony of it all. I was just like, okay, but the thing about language is that it’s supposed to change as times change. Yes. It’s not a it’s not a static, linear thing. It’s supposed to change as we do. Why is that such a problem? And also, it was just weird because it wasn’t like every in my everyday life I’m around Black people who say the word all the time. That too. You know, it was just a weird to be so angry about it and to just not be like, okay, well, good. They changed the word. It was just like, you know, threads everywhere. Yeah, they were coming from Black people. They were coming from white what people like. And I was like, okay, one the the racism in the white visible thread, whatever. Like, of course, I’m not surprised by it, but the, the sort of vitriol that came from Black people, I was like, this is really intense just for this word. 

Maiysha Kai [00:20:46] Mmhmm. 

Keah Brown [00:20:47] It felt like it felt almost like people were behaving and we were taking something from our own community. But by merely speaking about it. 

Maiysha Kai [00:20:56] Right. And this is a conversation we’re usually having about other populations in terms of this level of fear of somehow being disenfranchized or displaced or regulated in your speech or what or who and what you have to consider when you speak. I mean, that’s what the whole, you know, CRT argument is about, like, oh my gosh, how dare you ask us to consider this or to acknowledge this, you know? Right. It is staggering. And I think, you know. This this to me. And when we talk, I guess, writer to writer. This to me is one of the big challenges. I think that many writers, at least writers who are on the side of empathy, are facing right now in terms of. Just this kind of like, you know, even what you were just describing, this like myopia of like, no, you can’t do it to me. And not understanding, you know, how this correlates to so many other things that are threatening you. Right. How do you how do you interpret that? 

Keah Brown [00:22:06] I mean, I think I just try my best to remember that people often operate from a place of fear and that because the things that I create, I do, I try to be, as, you know, intersectional and as like aware as possible. So I really work hard in all the writing that I do to make sure that I’m not saying something that is like. Inherently offensive or harmful because. Like just for a shock value sort of thing. Like, I think for me, it’s like if there is a word that I think might upset people that I can’t change, I will change it. Like I’m not I’m not a person who is usually very tied to a certain word unless it’s like, you know, a cultural thing, you know? And I have like a white editor being like, what does what does that mean? Is that a real word? That’s different. But I think for me, so so it’s so to have that mindset and then to also have people, you know. Not do that is the thing that I think about all the time when I’m thinking about language and whether it’s like a long form thing, like a book which I have more time on, which is really nice because I think you can go through the editing process a few times and catch things you missed. But with a book like with a one off article or an essay, it’s like you have to do the work of just being like, Am I happy with this piece? Am I okay with whatever reaction comes of it? Then that’s how I try to go about whatever it is that I feel like as long as I’m happy with it, and I feel like I did the best I could in the time that I had allowed then, you know, that’s what I have to go with, because I think sometimes when you think too much about, you know, your audience or who you’re writing to or who might view it, then you sort of get lost and it doesn’t become yours anymore. 

Maiysha Kai [00:23:57] Yeah, you’re right. I mean, we do a lot of self-editing, a lot of self-censorship when that happens. I mean, that said, we also live in a society right now where, you know, and probably forever more where so much of our feedback is social media. Right. And, you know, I mean, you came to prominence in many ways, even though you’ve already been in the space you’ve been writing, you know, with the disabled, the cute hashtag. And so there is this natural it’s like you’re you’re compelled to build this audience, right? This online audience of then, you know, basically inherent critics, most of whom are not showing their faces and therefore feel free to say whatever they want to. 

Keah Brown [00:24:43] They’re hiding about American flags. 

Maiysha Kai [00:24:44] Oh, my Goodness. 

Keah Brown [00:24:44] Ford 150 trucks.

Maiysha Kai [00:24:47] Or hiding behind whatever. I mean, you know, they’re hiding behind, you know, pictures of celebrities wherever, you know, and and everybody has an opinion having kind of. You know, to a certain extent gotten a toehold and even a mastery of social media in that way. Is there a good way for us, for us as writers to interact with that, with those platforms? Is there is there a healthy way for us to do that when we’ve basically considered our, you know, either constructing our own echo chambers or our own, you know, our own. Lion’s den of critics. 

Keah Brown [00:25:24] Right. I mean, I wish I wish I had a pefect answer, because I think to me it’s like when #DisabledandCute went viral in 2017, like on Twitter. Twitter was still really easy in light and fun for me. You know, I’ll pop on, you know, talk about my favorite TV show or movie pop and, you know, pop back on. Talk to my friends for a little bit, leave again, you know. And then it was just it became very quickly and I think it was even more once lockdown started, it was just people being very firm about everything and and being, you know, downright rude because of whatever it was that was actually going on in their lives. And they were like masking and being angry. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:14] And it being an election year and things being so contentious. Yeah, yeah. 

Keah Brown [00:26:18] Yes. All of it has really changed the way that we interact with each other online. But I think before before that, it was very easy to just go on, you know, posted thing. Hey, I wrote this for The Times or I wrote this for Harper’s Bazaar, like, hope you read it and then you could ignore the person was just like, Oh, I hate this. You suck up a writer without even reading it. Or the person who was just like they read the headline that they assumed you had written. Even though, as you know, as a writer, we don’t really write the headlines. 

Maiysha Kai [00:26:50] Often, we do not. 

Keah Brown [00:26:51] Or have a say in what they are. And so it was much easier to ignore. And then, you know, Trump got into office and, you know, COVID happened and we went on lockdown and people were just nasty for the sake of being nasty. And so often now what I do to curate my own sort of joy on the Internet is focus on my joy on the Internet. It’s like if somebody has something constructive to say, like, look, I’ll read comments, but I don’t take to heart anymore. If somebody is like, this sucks or it’s terrible, well, it’s clear that they haven’t even read the article because sometimes you call people out like I called this guy out two weeks ago, I think. He had read the Insider article about the Lizzo and Beyonce thing that I wrote. And he didn’t read it. He just read the headline. And I was like, If you read the article, that answer to your question is in the first two lines. He’s like, Oh, I skimmed it. Then why are we? Why are we talking to each other right now? You know, and I think it’s just like having the wherewithal to be like this is constructive and this is just somebody angry to be angry because either they want what I what they think I have or they are just angry and want somebody to yell. And I think for me, it’s just allowing myself to feel joy and to be excited about things is the way that I counteract all of it. Because I think for a while there there was a time where I left the way that people said things to me on the Internet steal my joy. I wasn’t I didn’t allow myself to be excited about things like a new book coming out or a TV show or movie that I was watching. I didn’t allow myself to be excited about any professional, personal wins. 

Keah Brown [00:28:40] And then, you know, we were like a year into the pandemic, and I was like, No, they’re not going to rob me of the ability to be excited. I’m a naturally excitable person. And I think to to me, it’s important to take back that joy from the people who I had let take it from me, because they were saying nasty things under articles or just under random tweets. Like I’d be like, oh, the sky is blue right today. I mean, like, what do you mean it’s not blue? It’s a movie. And like, I know that’s dramatic, but they would just find anything to be upset about. And I think for me, it’s really important to create a space where people are supportive, but they can be and I hope people can be honest with me, you know, call me out, call me in, and also be the kind of people that, like, celebrate me when I need them to and like, I’ll celebrate them. So I feel like I finally have a community that feels like. You know, a community that I want to have in my everyday physical life. 

Maiysha Kai [00:29:39] Listen, social media takes curation to. So on the subject of joy, who do you read that brings you joy? What? What, what? Authors, writers, screenwriters, etc.? What brings you joy? What writers? 

Keah Brown [00:29:54] So obviously, Roxane, I mean, I read anything that Roxane writes.

Maiysha Kai [00:29:57] I mean. Right. It’s true. Yeah. 

Keah Brown [00:30:00] Like, let’s be realistic. Ashley C. Ford. 

Maiysha Kai [00:30:02] Yeah. 

Keah Brown [00:30:02] Is a fantastic writer. 

Maiysha Kai [00:30:04] Yes, she is. 

Keah Brown [00:30:05] I will read. I will drop whatever I’m doing and read Ashley. Morgan Jerkins is a fantastic writer. She’s doing like she does such her her deep dive reporting is so good that sometimes I’m just like I gasp when I read it. And my girl, you were in your bag. Okay. And I think like for me, so, so so those three writers, I’m going to always read like, no, I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and read. And then for screenwriters, like I love Jordan Peele’s work, I think that everything he does to some, for some reason it’s just like it just works really well. He has, I think it’s a great timing. Great, you know, the writing is great. I just think that like whatever he decides to create, I’m going to give it a go because I think that he has a sort of like his point of view is really. Unique and really special to me, and I think that he’s doing fantastic work. Gina Prince-Bythewood I will always, always watch her stuff. She’s brilliant. So there are a lot of people that I think and I think it’s a really nice time to be a person of color creating. 

Maiysha Kai [00:31:17] I agree.

Maiysha Kai [00:31:18] Because there’s just so many of us doing really interesting things and I think it’s really nice when you find somebody for the first time and it’s like people are like, Oh, I already knew who that was and I knew what they were doing. But you have to remember that every time somebody is watching something that you do or reading something that you’ve written, that that could be the first thing, that that could be their introduction and it could change their lives. So it’s not about who got somewhere first. It’s about who is here now and who wants to keep going on that journey with you. So like every time I write something, I try to treat it like, okay, this if this was a person who was reading my work for the first time or watching something that I’ve done for the first time, what would they think? Like, what would I want them to get out of it? And so at the core of everything I do, I want to talk about the importance of joy and like really allowing yourself to try your best to move away from cynicism. Because I was very cynical for a very long time. And so now it’s like my, you know, North Stars to just remember that joy exists in that not only that it exists, but that we’re allowed to experience it. 

Maiysha Kai [00:32:27] Well, I love that. And I love “Sam Super Seats,” which is for all kinds of kids, frankly. 

Keah Brown [00:32:35] Yes. 

Maiysha Kai [00:32:35] This is a great, great book. And it’s really, you know, I love this. It’s a little boring. I actually found it a little more like literative, I don’t know if that’s the right word right now. But then your typical children’s books. I really dug that. You know, this is a book that I would happily share with my nieces and nephews. And is there anything we should know about that’s coming up, Keah? 

Keah Brown [00:33:00] Yeah. So I’m focused right now on Sam Super Seats and hoping that it reaches as many people as possible because truly, I’m so proud of it. And Sharee Miller my illustrator. She was brilliant and really brought my dreams to life. But I also have I’m co-writing a musical. I don’t know when that will be, but I’m really excited about it. I have a young adult book coming out next spring, so you know, I’ll be posting about that as soon as we have like more information there. And I just I hope that you keep the audience and you maybe keep reading my work and, you know, there’s going to be any updates on anything. I’m very online. KeahBrown.com. Keah_Marie on Instagram and Twitter. Um, but yeah, I mean, I have a lot of hopes and dreams and I just, I think the fun thing about being a creative is that we can do, we can create across genre. And so, like, I want my stamp on everything poetry, fiction, nonfiction, film and TV, you know, I’m trying I’m jumping into that and taking acting classes, which has been really fun and just. I, I really, really like the idea of being excited to be alive and to feel and to figure out what it is that I want to do next. And so I’m on that journey alongside everybody else. And, you know, when things come up, I’ll be posting about them. But right now, like my big thing is self supersedes and hoping that you know him get to as many children need it. And also just remember that rest is our right. Not just for children, but all of us. Rest is our right. 

Maiysha Kai [00:34:44] Well, you know, that’s why this comes on on Sundays, so we can rest, relax, listen in. Writing Black and getting an infusion of joy from people like you. Keah Brown, thank you so much for coming on and chatting with me. 

Keah Brown [00:34:55] Thank You. 

Maiysha Kai [00:34:55] For writing Black. I hope it won’t be the last time. I always adore talking to you and thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Well, this is the time in our episode where I talk about books that I love and I’m reading, you know. And I got to say, we talked about this briefly during our interview with Keah, but I cannot say enough that you all should actually dig into her book of autobiographical essays, The Pretty One. I think that’s it for me. Reading it gave me so much insight even into the, you know, my own biases, my own projections and the really weird ways that we kind of interpret anything that feels different to us as well as obviously kids really, really, really intense exploration of her own inner life, her own, you know, her incredible bubbly personality that you got on on the podcast is runs right through this book and you can’t really walk away from it without feeling really, like, joyful and really like, you know, just uplifted. I really enjoyed the book. I think it tapped me into so much of what I love about pop culture, and she is a pop culture aficionado, so there’s that. But also, yeah, I really like how we all reckon with jealousy and comparison and how, you know, as I say, comparisons, the thief of joy. This is a woman who has really tapped into her own joy. And I think that this book really shows you that you’re lucky in that. The Pretty One by Keah Brown. Get it. Check it out. Enjoy it. And, yeah, she’s one to watch. Thank you so much for joining us for another episode of Rising Black. As always, you can find us on theGrio app or wherever you find your podcasts. 

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