110 episodes

Busy Being Black with Josh Rivers is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives.

Busy Being Black W!ZARD Studios

    • Society & Culture
    • 3.8 • 72 Ratings

Busy Being Black with Josh Rivers is the podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives.

    Prince Shakur – When They Tell You to Be Good

    Prince Shakur – When They Tell You to Be Good

    In his essay, "Nothing Personal", James Baldwin writes: “One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for; but everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith.” What light do we see in ourselves and in each other amid the literal and metaphorical darkness of our time? And what do we need in order to answer Baldwin’s call to be light bearers?
    To encounter our light, we often need courage, which my guest today defines as “acts that bring something necessary to the surface.” Prince Shakur is a queer, Jamaican-American author, journalist and videomaker, whose work is steeped in his commitment to Black liberation, prison abolition and queer resilience. His memoir, When They Tell You to Be Good, was released in October and won the Hurston/Wright Crossover Award, which honours probing, provocative and original new voices in literary nonfiction. Connected by our love for James Baldwin, Prince and I explore how our anger can often feel like a reaffirmation of our Blackness, defining and cultivating the courage we need to live according to our beliefs and how his desire to create spaces of transformation for others acts as a transformative force upon himself and what writing his memoir taught him about telling the truth.
    The music for this episode was provided by 3CNB.
    Busy Being Black listeners get 50% off at Pluto Press, and 30% off at Duke University Press and Combined Academic Publishers.
    About Busy Being Black
    Busy Being Black is an exploration and expression of quare liveliness and my guests are those who have learned to live, love and thrive at the intersection of their identities. Your support of the show means the world. Please leave a rating and a review and share these conversations far and wide. As we continue to work towards futures worthy of us all, my hope is that as many of you as possible understand Busy Being Black as a soft, tender and intellectually rigorous place for you to land. 
    Thank you to our funding partner, myGwork – the business community for LGBT+ professionals, students, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality. Thank you to my friend Lazarus Lynch for creating the ancestral and enlivening Busy Being Black theme music. Thank you to Lucian Koncz and Stevie Gatez for helping bring new Busy Being Black artwork into the world.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 52 min
    Nakhane – Do You Well

    Nakhane – Do You Well

    I've been drawn to expressions of art and life that speak to a wisdom shared with me by mentor: "Your ministry is in your DNA". The work we choose do in the world, the people we choose to be against the odds, is how each of us does the ministering necessary to ensure we and our communities can thrive. We live as an expression of our truth. And the ministry we're engaged in is one that requires defiance, which my guest today offers through a prodigious kaleidoscope of artist expression.
    Nakhane is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician from South Africa whose music, writing and film-work strikes an unusual balance between vulnerability, rage and the erotic. Nakhane grew up in the throes of Christianity and felt compelled to renounce their sexuality in order to do what was asked of them. But the religious community Nakhane gave up so much for was not there when Nakhane needed them – their queer family was. And so our conversation today explores what their excommunication from the church taught them about their capacity for love – and to be loving, their refusal to abide by the dictate that Black people should always take the high road, the importance of understanding our chosen art forms as both multi-faceted and as a calling to be taken very seriously and their advice to those who are resisting against a world that wants them to be anything other than who they are.
    Pre-order and save Nakhane's new EP, Leading Lines, here. Listen to Nakhane's new single, "My Ma Was Good", here.
    Busy Being Black listeners get 50% off at Pluto Press, and 30% off at Duke University Press and Combined Academic Publishers.
    About Busy Being Black
    Busy Being Black is an exploration and expression of quare liveliness and my guests are those who have learned to live, love and thrive at the intersection of their identities. Your support of the show means the world. Please leave a rating and a review and share these conversations far and wide. As we continue to work towards futures worthy of us all, my hope is that as many of you as possible understand Busy Being Black as a soft, tender and intellectually rigorous place for you to land. 
    Thank you to our funding partner, myGwork – the business community for LGBT+ professionals, students, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality. Thank you to my friend Lazarus Lynch for creating the ancestral and enlivening Busy Being Black theme music. Thank you to Lucian Koncz and Stevie Gatez for helping bring new Busy Being Black artwork into the world.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – The Disordered Cosmos

    Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – The Disordered Cosmos

    Can we look at the stars queerly? And if so, how might queer star-gazing help orient us towards earthly liberation? To help me answer these questions is Dr Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – a theoretical cosmologist and particle physicist. Her book, The Disordered Cosmos, presents a Black queer feminist challenge to the dominant understanding of physics and calls for a more robust and intersectional approach to ensuring the sciences and the night sky are available to all. 
    Three lessons in particular stand out to me from this conversation: The first is that science is queer. If we understand queerness as a refusal to aspire to the norm, then the insatiable curiosity that queerness demands is well-suited to a science like physics. Indeed physics – perhaps the most difficult and ever-changing of the sciences – could be the queerest science of all. Physics is for us. The second lesson is personal. Ahead of my conversation with Chanda, I told her I was feeling nervous because I’m not a scientist: do I have what it takes to hold space for her enchantment with something I don’t fully understand? Chanda assured me that I don’t have to pass a physics test to understand what lights her up or to read her book, and so I was reminded of something Mary Oliver wrote: “the touch of our separate excitements is another of the gifts of our life together”. The third lesson is that physics is the science concerned with how the universe behaves; and whether through scientific inquiry, poetry or lived experience, is that not also the work we’re engaged in together here?  
    Our conversation explores how Star Trek upholds and challenges ideas about who is representative of the human race, how queer Black feminisms have taught Chanda to look to the stars in more generative ways and why dreaming of a future where every Black child has access to the dark night sky requires robust interventions across culture and society right now. 
    Busy Being Black listeners get 50% off at Pluto Press, and 30% off at Duke University Press and Combined Academic Publishers.
    About Busy Being Black
    Busy Being Black is an exploration and expression of quare liveliness and my guests are those who have learned to live, love and thrive at the intersection of their identities. Your support of the show means the world. Please leave a rating and a review and share these conversations far and wide. As we continue to work towards futures worthy of us all, my hope is that as many of you as possible understand Busy Being Black as a soft, tender and intellectually rigorous place for you to land. 
    Thank you to our funding partner, myGwork – the business community for LGBT+ professionals, students, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality. Thank you to my friend Lazarus Lynch for creating the ancestral and enlivening Busy Being Black theme music. Thank you to Lucian Koncz and Stevie Gatez for helping bring new Busy Being Black artwork into the world.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 hr 3 min
    F*ck / Sunflowers by Inua Ellams

    F*ck / Sunflowers by Inua Ellams

    My conversation this week is with artist, producer and educator malakaï sergeant. During the recording of our conversation, malakaï flagged the carceral geographies many of us have become so accustomed to – limiting and murderous as they can be. In the moment, I grabbed one of my favourite books of poetry, The Actual by Inua Ellams – an incisive, fiery and tender defence of Black liveliness. My favourite poem in the collection is "F*ck / Sunflowers", which speaks with such stunning heartbreak about the realities so many are forced to endure when robbed of the soil that could sustain us. With Inua’s permission, I’m reciting it for you today. Content warning: this poem infers death by suicide.
    The Actual is published by and available from Penned in the Margins.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 4 min
    malakaï sargeant – I Sparkle When I Sleep

    malakaï sargeant – I Sparkle When I Sleep

    In 2020, as we enclosed ourselves to protect ourselves and others from the ravages of Covid-19, I noticed for the first time in a long time the resonant chorus of birdsong. Without the sound and smog of vehicles, the natural world around us began to sing more loudly. As I discovered through a conversation between Krista Tippett and sound ecologist Gordon Hempton on the radio programme On Being, the return of birdsong – to the world around us and to our consciousness – is much more than something beautiful to listen to: humans have evolved to not only detect the faintest birdsong in the distance, but to move in its direction because birdsong is the primary indicator of habitats prosperous to our survival. 
    But the birds of our ancestors sang in a very different jungle. The concrete jungles we inhabit now are increasingly inhospitable to our survival. And as malakaï sargeant explores with me today, tapping into and utilising the ancestral and evolutionary wisdom within us is urgent work. What else do we know? In order for us to survive and to do for others what our ancestors have done for us, malakaï says we must continue to dream outside the carceral geographies of the cities we can feel trapped in. To help themself and others do this, malakaï does dream-enabling work creating and holding space for queer Black creative expression in the arts. From theatre-making to artistic direction, poetry and performance, malakaï enables art that not only challenges the carceral limitations of our world, but which offers what Katherine McKittrick might call “liberatory clues”.
    I caught up with malakaï ahead of their pilgrimage to Jamaica where they reconnected with their liveliness through a closer proximity to land and lineage; and our conversation today is one of diasporic tensions, cultural knowledge, queerness as cosmic and ancestral gift – and how malakaï knows they sparkle when they sleep.
    This conversation was made possible with funding from the AZ Creative Fund.
    Busy Being Black listeners get 50% off at Pluto Press, and 30% off at Duke University Press and Combined Academic Publishers.
    About Busy Being Black
    Busy Being Black is an exploration and expression of quare liveliness and my guests are those who have learned to live, love and thrive at the intersection of their identities. Your support of the show means the world. Please leave a rating and a review and share these conversations far and wide. As we continue to work towards futures worthy of us all, my hope is that as many of you as possible understand Busy Being Black as a soft, tender and intellectually rigorous place for you to land. 
    Thank you to our funding partner, myGwork – the business community for LGBT+ professionals, students, inclusive employers and anyone who believes in workplace equality. Thank you to my friend Lazarus Lynch for creating the ancestral and enlivening Busy Being Black theme music. Thank you to Lucian Koncz and Stevie Gatez for helping bring new Busy Being Black artwork into the world.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 56 min
    Come Into This

    Come Into This

    Busy Being Black is the award-winning podcast exploring how we live in the fullness of our queer Black lives. Each week, I have conversations with academics, artists, activists, thinkers and change-makers who help me and listeners understand ourselves as complex and complicated, messy, beautiful and vibrant people making the grandest and noblest attempts to thrive. Whether we’re searching for our place in the vast expanse of the universe or tracing our ancestral lineages through dance, guests on Busy Being Black bring their hard earned wisdom to your ears and heart each episode. From Black Trans Feminist theory to poetry, HIV/AIDS activism and questions of Black masculinity, Busy Being Black centres queer Black hope, as we discuss what it means to show up as ourselves against the odds. 
    Busy Being Black is by us, for us.
    In the words of poet and activist PJ Samuels: "Come into this; it’s flavoured, fully seasoned. Taste. Look what was made for you."
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    • 59 sec

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
72 Ratings

72 Ratings

Kidd97 ,

The Art of Creating Space.

In searching for the words to describe this authentic and beautiful way of storytelling - the word that came to mind for describing this oeuvre’s embodiment was nuance. Nuance in the same way that a photo might have many different shades of gray. Rivers uses his lived experience, as well as those of others, to frame and articulate what it is to be a black queer body in this world. Being black and queer is not a monolithic experience and these in depth, evocative, conversations are a testimony to just that. There is something for everyone to glean and hopefully in that process you can learn to live in the fullness of your identity.

ronrxns ,

A Must-listen Podcast

Josh Rivers and this podcast is my respite from the foolishness that is in this world. I feel heard, seen, and understood! Please listen and let Josh and his guests show you what doing the Lord’s work really is!

LazEli ,

The best black queer podcast ever

I stumbled upon “Busy Being Black” while researching black and queer content, and my ears and heart could not be more satisfied. Josh Rivers, the smart, curious, and dynamic host, curates a wide range of black/POC queer experts discussing a diversity of issues from race and sexuality, empowerment and liberation, to self-care and spirituality. Rivers takes listeners on a journey, unpacking so many layers to the black queer experience. Rivers also shares his personal stories with listeners, offering a richer texture to the interviews and dialogue at large. Nowadays, when people ask me how I’m doing, I often find myself saying “living my best black queer life,” or simply “busy being black!” Thanks to Josh Rivers for doing such culture-shifting work and for sharing light, one conversation at a time.

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