Racial identity has been a part of Sara and Misasha’s story from the beginning: The two met while students at Harvard University when they both walked out of a discussion about what it meant to be half-Asian. But it wasn’t until the spring of this past year that they began sharing the discussions they were having—Sara, a life coach and author, lives in northeast Denver with her husband and two daughters, and Misasha, a lawyer and fitness instructor, is raising two sons with her husband in the Bay Area—about race and social justice with a wider audience.
“My husband is Black, from the South, so my boys are very mixed-race—half Black, a quarter Japanese, a quarter white,” Misasha says. “You think about your hopes for your kids, your fears for your kids, and one of my biggest fears was that they’d walk out the door one day and not come home because of the color of their skin. Sara and I realized that a lot people weren’t necessarily having those conversations, if that wasn’t their reality.”
Motivated by a desire to spotlight issues like racial and educational equality, women’s rights, and criminal justice in the runup to this November’s presidential election, the two launched a website and weekly podcast called Dear White Women in April 2019. “My own mother was like, ‘Why did you call it Dear White Women? Couldn’t you have called it another name, like, Let’s Talk About Race?’” Sara says. “But we wanted it to be provocative and challenge some assumptions people might not have had to think about because of their race and privilege. The title is meant to push you from the start.”
From there, Sara and Misasha (who prefer to not use their last names) have recorded episodes covering a wide range of topics and perspectives: They defined and discussed intersectional feminism and microaggressions; interviewed Crystal Echohawk, a member of the Kitkehahki Band of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and executive director of nonprofit IllumiNative; and spoke with Ji Seon Song, a former juvenile public defender. And although the conversations force listeners to confront difficult realities, they’re meant to be educational, encouraging, and empowering, with the goal of helping people make anti-racism and activism a part of their daily lives.
“Ideally, our target audience is educated white mothers, or women, who have the power of influence they don’t even realize,” Sara says. “They can interject into that conversation at the dinner table, they can talk to their kids about it, they can mention it at book club. We want to provide that different narrative or perspective they might not have otherwise picked up on.”
They haven’t surveyed their listeners since public protests erupted over police brutality and the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement began dominating headlines, inboxes, and Instagram feeds, but based on feedback and social media, they believe there has been a “huge upswing” in the number of white women tuning in to the podcast. “People are more invested and more interested,” Sara says.
Particularly resonant for those in the Denver area (a significant contingent of the show’s listenership) is episode 60—titled “The Hard Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids with Antonio Wint”—recorded after Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American, was shot and killed by a white resident of the Georgia neighborhood he was jogging through in February. The CEO of IT company Syn Ack Fin, an avid runner, and a Black father raising a son in the predominantly white northeast Denver neighborhood of Stapleton (currently being renamed due to its namesake governor’s KKK ties), Wint shares the meticulous planning that goes into every element of his runs, from routes to time of day to the clothing he wears; how he’s trying to raise his 10-year-old to respect authority as a matter of survival; and ways to talk to your children about race. (Tip: TV shows like Black-ish and Mixed-ish can be great conversation starters, no matter what your family looks like.)
Another popular recent release, called “How To Be An Ally, Even When You Feel Overwhelmed,” outlines the dangers of white fatigue (which Sara and Misasha define as “the effect of the incredible yet overwhelming amount of resources, suggestions, and places to support that are emerging now”) and also gives listeners tools to combat it, including an anti-racism breathwork session with an energy healing expert. “People are looking for intentional ways to keep this going, and it’s so important to not just go all out at the start and not know why you need to educate yourself, or why you want to think about how privilege affects your life,” Misasha says. “If you don’t step away from it for a moment and just breathe and be very purposeful about what you’re doing, the change won’t last. It’s a gradual process, but we’re on that road. Our goal is to keep that road going and all of us progressing.”
To that end, Sara and Misasha are launching an anti-racism book club with monthly Zoom meetings, which you can join for $10 a month through Patreon. “We realized that people are actually looking to have conversations and not just sort of passively hide behind their earbuds and listen,” Sara says. “Our energy is to make this as welcoming of an uncomfortable space as possible.”