iStock-1176842780.jpg

While we love a reported feature story here at Prism, often the best way to understand what’s happening in the world is through a conversation with the people at the center of the action. Over the last few weeks, we’ve published a bounty of interviews with established and emerging leaders in activism and organizing, art and culture, and journalism. In case you missed it, dig into our most recent Q&As below.

Mental health, defending Black life, and Black joy: Q&A with Patrisse Cullors and Kendrick Sampson

Kendrick Sampson: Patrisse, you were recently profiled in a new documentary by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg on mental illness and incarceration called Bedlam. How did the intersection of your journey and your brother Monte’s journey lead you to become passionate about mental health?

Patrisse Cullors: I think one of the things that I recognized growing up in a poor neighborhood, a working class community, was that much of what folks were doing was just surviving. There was no time for a conversation around care, let alone self-care. And as we grew up and as I got older and started to recognize my own struggles with depression and anxiety, and witnessed my brother having severe mental illness, I realized there was no support. There was nobody around to actually talk to us about our mental health.

Porn’s ‘seismic shift’: Q&A with director Shine Louise Houston 

Lex Alptraum: I’m still trying to work through what makes something queer—it does feel like one of those “I know it when I see it” things. Maybe it’s porn that’s in conversation with the established, heteronormative tropes.

Shine Louise Houston: Things that undermine the norms. Things that subvert, to use an overused word. You can do these things, but you have to be able to flip it on its head. You can do an interracial scene without it being fucked up and racist. You can flip it on its head while still giving your audience what it wants.

PBS docuseries spotlights women of color candidates: Q&A with ‘And She Could Be Next’ directors 

Anoa Changa: Can you talk a little more about the power of focusing on a collective of women of color, and women of color organizers, and how crucial that is for how we continue to tap into the organizer in all of us going forward?

Marjan Safinia: We often talk about this as an epic American political tale told exclusively from the point of view of women of color, which is not a story we’ve seen. We too are the New American Majority, so we couldn’t have told the story this way if it wasn’t us telling the story.

How families are affected by mass incarceration: Q&A with Author Sylvia A. Harvey on her new book 

Tamar Sarai Davis: You open and close the book discussing your own father, who was incarcerated, and the ways that impacted your life. Given your personal relationship to the subject, did you have a clear sense of the specific issues that you wanted to explore before you began reporting and writing?

Sylvia A. Harvey: Because I feel that there has been, obviously, coverage of mass incarceration, my original thinking was I wanted to report on children of incarcerated parents. What does that look like for the children? We’ve got 2.7 million children that have parents behind bars. And I think that it’s been a population that is largely ignored or unseen, so the question was: What’s happening to them? What does this look like in terms of education? What does this look like in terms of stigma?

Citizenship and colonization: Q&A with the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project’s Ola Osaze

Tina Vasquez: When I first started covering immigration as a reporter, “creating a pathway to citizenship” was a central ask in a lot of activism. The conversation seems to have really shifted. I don’t know if a pathway to citizenship began to feel too unattainable or if it has just become more important to address the daily conditions that make undocumented people’s lives hard, but I feel like the public narrative has definitely moved away from citizenship. Does that seem like an accurate read to you?

Ola Osaze: To quote my comrade Alan Pelaez Lopez, “Citizenship is a very small ask.” Let’s remember: George Floyd was a citizen. Nina Pop was a citizen. Tony McDade was a citizen. These folks were still killed. BLM’s goal is not about fighting for a pathway to citizenship. Part of our work is pointing out who stands to benefit from criminalizing and imprisoning us here in the U.S.

See you next week.

Ashton Lattimore

Ashton Lattimore is the editor-in-chief at Prism. Follow her on Twitter @ashtonlattimore.