Have you ever wondered if a gem dropped in the woods makes a sound? Well, I can say from experience that a gem dropped in a room full of Smart, Funny & Black enthusiasts makes waves as it resonates, then is met with a series of claps, "mhmm's" and hysterical banter like, "OK master's degree!" or my fav– "oop! put that on a shirt!"
I had a chance to attend Amanda Seales' book tour for Small Doses: Potent Truths For Everyday Use and there's something so refreshing about the way she captures a room with vulnerability, authenticity, and of course, humor. The 30-minute session was hosted at Book Soup, an intimate local bookstore in Los Angeles, and moderated by her longtime friend Demetria Lucas. The proximity of this friendship set the tone for the refreshing honesty that followed.
The seats in the room were filled in advance which was shocking since tardiness is embedded in LA's DNA. My friends and I nestled in the standing-room-only section between bookshelves and got comfy as we collected gems until our cups runneth over. The conversation covered cultural appropriation, racism, sexism, relationships, and so much more.
We know Amanda is no stranger to a viral moment, so stay tuned for some of her advice that has yet to make the social media airwaves.
On important advice for artists...
"Surround yourself with people who believe in you more than you believe in you."
In a world chock-full of artificial intelligence and airbrushed bodies, it's becoming increasingly rare to engage someone in a heartfelt manner. My favorite part of this discussion was the level of genuity in every response.
When Amanda was asked how she keeps glowing despite adversity, she carefully admitted, "I'm in a dark time right now. I'm up here and I look fly, but that's just because I know how to look fly." We all have these moments but often shy away from the opportunity to speak on them in an open forum. Her courage to answer such a personal question amongst strangers was impactful and she was immediately thanked for sharing by the active audience.
This shocking realization was followed up with the importance of having a tribe who believes in you because, "if you're not careful, you will let people who don't know you convince you that you don't know you." Finding those people that "understand the molecular structure of your soul" to remind you of who you are and what you're capable of is fundamental.
"We're caught in the middle of a transition, where women are existing in a way that we've never existed before."
For someone on a dating hiatus (*insert 'I'm MF tied' meme), I connected with Demetria on a spiritual level when she matrixed a question about dating that was posed to both her and Amanda.
Amanda tackled the question with personal anecdotes about her relationship, mentioning that men are having to relearn how to engage with and be great partners to women who are entering new territories and defying every status quo placed on their heads. She playfully imitated men who are often left pondering dichotomies like, "So you independent...but you still want me to open the door?" Shouldn't be a tough concept to grasp, amiright?
On intersectionality, diversity & feminism...
"If you don't acknowledge the intersectionality of feminism, I don't want any parts."
When asked to speak on intersectionality, Amanda prefaced her response with a reminder that as a black woman, she identifies as American but also Caribbean, having a mother from Grenada. She dug deeper into the intersectionality of feminism, the responsibility to acknowledge that feminism has many different faces and isolating or neglecting the multi-faceted nature of oppression doesn't help anybody.
"At some point, diversity turned into anybody that's not a white man and that is not diversity. When you look at the intersectionality involved you have to acknowledge, if these people are still accessing white privilege, it's not diversity." Amanda explained, "That's how I feel. If you are a white gay man, your voice should absolutely be included, but I don't think that's an example of ticking the diversity box."
On something she’s working towards...
And at this moment, the inevitable happened. On the heels of Amanda's latest viral social moment, an audience member posed a question around how the author deals with a lack of acceptance from some members of the black community.
"It's very stressful for me, very sad and distressing…because I love my people."
Her method for tackling this lack of support involved building a home in love, making sure to know yourself as well as love yourself. She explained, "The way that I've come to manage it is to rest and build a home in love. And understand that not everyone understands my show of love, because that's the other part." Recent experiences have also challenged her to return the favor of "doing more calling in versus calling out", or replacing the urge to blast someone on social media with a thoughtful conversation, instead.
On the hardest section to write in her new book...
"The Side Effects of Insecurity...you gotta deal with your insecurity, so it was a bit cumbersome."
Amanda delved into how each section of her book brought unique challenges but the chapter on insecurity forced her to take a deeper look at herself. While the chapter about being a multi-hyphenate managed to flow, dealing with insecurities is a very different journey. She shared, "I'm a black woman and this book was written from my particular black woman experience, as well as considering other perspectives. I wanted to make sure that I considered that, thoughtfully."
On her tense conversation with Caitlyn Jenner...
Many of us have experienced the groundbreaking footage where Amanda schooled Caitlyn without taking a breath. If you haven't, make sure to check out Katy Perry's "A Dinner with Discourse" (name proposed by Amanda who veto-ed Katy's initial 'Dinner with Friends'). She gave us some insight on working with her therapist to "practice the pause" and listen to what someone is saying before responding in order to get the outcome you desire.
She mentioned that she had the time to effectively use the "economy of language" in a way that effectively got her point across, despite Caitlyn's scoffs during the conversation that almost took things to another level. (audience: uh uh, flip the table, sis).
You can cop Amanda's new book, Small Doses: Potent Truths For Everyday Use here right now!
Featured image by Instagram/@AmandaSeales.