68 episodes

Navigating our way through this complex, challenging time requires taking a clear look at the issues we're confronting. Join Omkari Williams and her guests as they take on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Stepping Into Truth: Conversations on Race, Gender, and Social Justice omkariwilliams

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.7 • 29 Ratings

Navigating our way through this complex, challenging time requires taking a clear look at the issues we're confronting. Join Omkari Williams and her guests as they take on some of the most pressing issues of our time.

    The Impact of Incarceration on Loved Ones with Alesha Monteiro

    The Impact of Incarceration on Loved Ones with Alesha Monteiro

    Alesha Monteiro

    Season 4  Episode 2

    When someone is incarcerated there are impacts that land far beyond those to the incarcerated person. People without partners, children without parents, communities without those who may fill critical roles, and the elderly without a caregiver to name just a few. 

    The truth is that it's rare that we even think about the people left behind. My guest, Alesha Monteiro, knows exactly what it's like to have an incarcerated spouse. She knows the isolation, the shame, and the ripples of impact that are too often ignored.

    With all of this Alesha is very fortunate. She found a community of women experiencing what she is, Essie Justice, and in that community found a place of welcome, support, and understanding. 

    In this conversation Alesha and I talk about what life is like for those with someone on the inside and what she believes we need to do to address our broken criminal justice system.

    The impacts of mass incarceration affect all of us whether we know an incarcerated person or not. At the very least, our tax dollars are going to support this inequitable, flawed system when they could be better spent in many other places.

    Have a listen and deepen your understanding of what mass incarceration and the way our justice system works (or doesn't) means for all of us. 

    About Alesha:

    Alesha Monteiro is a social justice advocate, and a dedicated member of the Essie Justice Group, a black feminist organization that supports and uplifts the experiences and solutions of women with incarcerated loved ones. Alesha is a prison abolitionist who believes that there is a very different, much more humane way to respond to the consequences of actions that hurt people.

    Alesha's Action Steps:
    1) Learn the message and push the message. Educate yourself on what is happening in these systems and then work to change that.
    2) Donate your time, money, or both to local and statewide groups working in this arena.
    3) If you know someone with an incarcerated person in their life, check in on them.

    For a written transcript of this conversation click here.


    Essie Justice

    Connect with Alesha:


    • 35 min
    Complete Picture with Rebecca Grace and John Gray

    Complete Picture with Rebecca Grace and John Gray

    Rebecca Grace and John Gray

    Welcome to Season 4 of Stepping Into Truth.

    I can't believe that I've been doing this podcast since 2018! This season I have some remarkable people as guests on the show. Season 4 starts with Rebecca Grace and John Gray of Complete Picture.

    Imagine that someone you love has been convicted of a non-violent felony and is awaiting sentencing. Typically the sentencing judge gets a dry document that talks about what is likely the worst thing this individual has ever done and that's all. That information is what they base their decision on. 

    Based on their own experience of John's prison term for a drug felony, they decided that they needed to find a way of showing that those awaiting sentencing were far more than the worst thing they had done, and Complete Picture was born.

    Rebecca, John and their crew of formerly incarcerated people go into the homes of those awaiting sentencing and create a film that shows the scope of the individual, the complete picture. Presenting a judge with a full perspective makes all the difference as sentences have been reduced and even commuted.

    This conversation brought me to tears. It can be so easy to harshly judge those who have been convicted of a crime. John and Rebecca reconnect us with the humanity of these people and, by extension, our own.

    Have a listen.

    For a written transcript of this conversation go here.

    Action Steps:
    1. Listen to peoples’ stories with curiosity rather than judgement.
    2. If you are able, make a donation to completepicture.org.
    3. If you have skills that would be useful to the work Rebecca and John are doing call them at 323.683.5689.

    Connect with Complete Picture:

    • 39 min
    Restoring Justice with Drew Willey

    Restoring Justice with Drew Willey

    Drew Willey

    Season 3   Episode 23

    Imagine going to law school with the intention of becoming a tax attorney and then doing an internship with the Texas Innocence Project and completely scrapping your previous plan. Meet Drew Willey.

    Some time back I was fortunate to be in a group studying Joel Goza's book, America's Unholy Ghosts with Drew Willey. Drew and his wife Jessica founded Restoring Justice to provide needed legal services to the indigent population of Houston. 

    How Drew went from studying to be a tax attorney to fighting for the rights of those caught in the legal system and most in need of help is itself fascinating. But even more interesting is what Drew has to share about how the system actually works, what the needs of his clients and so many others, actually are, and ways that we call can be of help.

    That our criminal justice system is broken is not news. What most of us don't know are the specific ways in which the rights of individuals are violated every day. Drew and his dedicated team are modeling ways to restore justice that we can replicate and expand upon.

    I left this conversation with Drew both angry at the system and encouraged and inspired by the work that the people at Restoring Justice are doing each day.

    Have a listen and then pass this conversation along and, if you can, take Drew's action suggestions and let's make the difference we can.

    For a written transcript of this conversation go here.

    About Drew:

    Alongside his wife, Jessica, Drew Willey founded Restoring Justice. Drew left a career as an accountant to attend law school at the University of Houston Law Center. An internship with the Texas Innocence Network showed him firsthand how the legal system dehumanizes poor people, people of color, and those with mental health conditions. 

    Drew became a criminal defense attorney, primarily working on representation of the indigent. This work eventually led Drew to found Restoring Justice to not only provide high-quality, holistic counsel to those who need it the most, but also find ways to expose, disrupt, and fix the systemic racism and discrimination in our criminal justice system. 

    Drew’s work as a public defender and as the founder of Restoring Justice has been featured in publications like The New York Times, Texas Monthly, Texas Tribune, and the Houston Chronicle.

    Connect with Drew and the Restoring Justice 

    Restoring Justice

    • 39 min
    Making Poverty a Focus of U.S. Policy with Clint Borgen

    Making Poverty a Focus of U.S. Policy with Clint Borgen

    Clint Borgen
    Season 3   Episode 22

    When Clint Borgen was a sophomore in college the war in Kosovo broke out. In 3 months the fighting had killed 10,000 people and displaced 800,000. Borgen decided that he needed to do something so he found a group to volunteer with and went to the region. That experience changed the direction of his life.

    Being a witness to war and the impacts that it had on the populace made him aware of how little it actually takes to improve the situation of people living as refugees. He also got to see where the US did and didn't step in to help people in these situations. 

    He recognized that as the world's global superpower the US has the capacity to direct the conversation about what is happening and from there, funding and support to people and regions in crisis. 

    He decided that what he would do was essentially act as a lobbyist for poor people and try to get addressing global poverty on the agenda for members of Congress. He came home and founded the Borgen Project and has been working on behalf of the world's poor ever since. 

    I learned a lot from this conversation including how little it can actually take to get an issue on the radar of a member of Congress and how small actions in this arena can have an outsized impact.

    If you think that what you do doesn't have make a difference, listen to Clint and find out how much power you actually have. Then, let's go out and change the world.

    About Clint:

    Clint Borgen is the founder and president of The Borgen Project, an organization working to bring U.S political attention to global poverty. Borgen works nationally with congressional leaders to build support for legislation that improves conditions for people in developing nations. He's widely regarded as one of the leading poverty reduction campaigners in the United States.

    For a written transcript of this conversation click here.

    Connect with Clint and the Borgen Project:
    The Borgen Project
    On Twitter

    Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

    • 43 min
    Talking with Healer, Therapist, and NY Times Best Selling Author Resmaa Menakem

    Talking with Healer, Therapist, and NY Times Best Selling Author Resmaa Menakem

    Resmaa Menakem   
    Season 3  Episode 21

    The week of April 19, 2021 was brutal. People around the world, but especially here in the U.S., were waiting on a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. But then there were other killings that same week of Black bodies by police.

    It was almost too much to process. But this conversation with healer, therapist, and NYT best selling author Resmaa Menakem gave me a deeper perspective. 

    Resmaa and I spoke a few hours before the verdict in the  trial came down. We talked about George Floyd, we talked about other Black bodies murdered by police. We also spoke about trauma, Black trauma, white trauma, and the trauma that is held in the bodies of those in blue.

    We spoke about white body supremacy and what we all need to do to heal that for the sake of all people. We spoke about the role of community in the healing process and how we all need people who not only care for us but hold us to account.

    In the context of the trial of the murderer of George Floyd hanging over us, this conversation was especially powerful. After speaking with Resmaa I had a more comprehensive direction for future action and I believe you will too.

    For a written transcript of this conversation click here.

    Resmaa, Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP, is a healer, therapist and NYTimes bestselling author of My Grandmother’s Hands. Resmaa Menakem is a visionary Justice Leadership coach, organizational strategist and master trainer. To help Justice leaders really realize their potential in the areas of Equity & Race, Resmaa created cultural somatics, which utilizes the Body & Resilience as mechanisms for growth.

    Resources mentioned in this episode:
    My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, available wherever you buy your books
    Resmaa’s Wyser App 

    Connect with Resmaa:

    Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

    • 43 min
    The Boston Legacy of Martin and Coretta King

    The Boston Legacy of Martin and Coretta King

     Did you know that Boston played a major role in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? I didn't. Turns out Boston was where he got his PhD, studied with his mentor Howard Thurman, and met Coretta Scott.

    Clearly, Boston was a significant place in both their lives. In 2022 a sculpture will be installed on the Boston Common in honor of them both. But that is just one part of what is happening. 

    King Boston, an organization dedicated to uplifting the role that Boston played in their lives, is creating numerous initiatives and programs with the goal of continuing and expanding the work that they were both so dedicated to.

    In this conversation I speak with Tammy Tai and Greg Ball of King Boston about Martin and Coretta King as well as about what their vision is for how they can move Boston from being one of the most racist cities in the country to a city that honors and lives out the vision of the Kings.

    In this conversation Tammy and Greg also give us insight into Dr. King as he truly was rather than the incomplete, and perhaps more palatable version for some, that most are familiar with. 

    I loved talking with them, I love what they are part of, and I think that anyone who holds Dr. and Mrs. King up as models and icons owes it to themselves to hear what King Boston is doing. 

    For a written transcript of this conversation go here.

    Three Action Steps:

    Connect with them at KingBoston.org (especially if you live nearby, get involved with their initiatives).

    Spread the word about the work they are doing.

    Financially support their work if you can.

    King Boston

    Connect with Tammy and Greg:

    Connect with Tammy on LinkedIn

    Connect with Tammy at King Boston

    Connect with Greg on LinkedIn

    Connect with Greg at King Boston

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
29 Ratings

29 Ratings

ArlieLP ,

So grateful for this resource!

This podcast is so important! The critical conversations that Omkari Williams facilitates are inspiring, engaging, and enlightening. Stepping Into Truth should be required listening… don’t miss it!

Sloucks ,

Amazing Content

The content is inspiring as it speaks to the activist in each one of us. Powerful truths in how the story we care has value in the world of activism.

Cantgettopanem ,

These are the important issues...

Omkari Williams leads meaningful discussions and asks thought-provoking questions. I thoroughly enjoyed listening.

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