Eps 443: Enjoying the holiday season AND our families with Chad Lassiter

Episode 443

My guest today is Chad Dion Lassiter, and he’s here today to talk with me about how the holiday season can be a great time for parents to model the practice of tolerance, empathy and understanding their kids will need to be successful in our multicultural world. 

I ask Chad how we can prepare our kids emotionally for messiness with extended family during the holiday season, and he shares ideas on how we handle heavy conversations and how we set the tone of our home. I bring up the trickiness of when your core family unit feels one way, but the extended family feels differently, and good practices for parents who are advocating for their child.  We talk about the hard conversations that arise during family get-togethers, how to “host like a diplomat,” being present, & seeing the beauty in all people. 

Guest Description

Mr. Lassiter is a nationally recognized expert in race relations, peacemaking, social work and parenting. 

He is the current executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, where he has legislatively delegated authority to investigate complaints filed alleging unlawful discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and commercial property, education and/or regarding public accommodations

Mr. Lassiter is a co-founder and current president of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice’s Black Men at Penn, the first Ivy League Black male group of social workers. 

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Takeaways from the show

  • Families are cultural carriers 
  • The holidays as an opportunity to visit & connect with your adult children 
  • Winter holidays come with spoken & unspoken expectations 
  • How can we prepare our kids for the messiness of extended family gatherings? 
  • Encouraging our kids to participate in intergenerational conversations 
  • Advocating for your child when extended family has different beliefs 
  • How to “host like a diplomat” 
  • Families socialize us into being who we are 
  • What kids need “in their back pocket” for a holiday get-together 
  • Families can have a heated conversations while still holding truth, love, & kindness at the core 
  • Seeing the beauty in all people

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family, conversations, talking, people, rituals, love, parents, chad, home, work, thanksgiving, person, kids, young, white, good, moment, dad, festivities, casey
Chad Lassiter, Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:03
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent needed spreadable. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:26
All right. Welcome back listeners. I am excited to introduce my guests today I will be talking to Chad Deon Lasseter. Chad is a nationally recognized expert and race relations, peacemaking, social work and parenting. He is the current Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, where he has legislatively delegated authority to investigate complaints filed alleging unlawful discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, commercial property, education, and or regarding public accommodations. Chad is a co founder and the current president of the University of Pennsylvania's school of social policy and practices, black men at Penn, the first Ivy League black male group of social workers, today we are going to talk about how the holiday season can be a great time for parents to model the practice of tolerance, empathy, and understanding their kids will need to be successful in our multicultural world. Hi, Chad, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having me. And thank you for what you do, you do have an extensive bio, I didn't even share all of it. Talk to me about how parenting fits inside of the context of the work that you do. Well,

Chad Lassiter 02:44
first and foremost, let me just reiterate, I'm humbled and I'm honored to be here. And I say with the extensive bio foundational and fundamental to who I am. I'm just a servant leader that sees the possibilities and all humanity on every side of this gender line, as people, you know, identified themselves and certainly on all sides of the color line. So I think I start from the standpoint of families, our cultural carriers, and some of the most intense but also some of the most rewarding conversations happen around our rituals, our family gatherings around a nice mill. And so looking at families as cultural carriers, I think it's both and not either, or, if we're talking about Thanksgiving, if we're talking about a Christmas, if we're talking about Memorial Day, we're talking about Labor Day, whenever we're talking about family gatherings, I think it's an opportunity for parents and the space that we're in now, a lot of college students just ended up coming home for Thanksgiving, we'll be coming home for Christmas. It's an opportunity for parents to one check on the psyche of their children. I think touch is a great thing, being able to hug your children, as soon as they come through the door. Certainly you wanted to ask them about how their grades are. But what about the psyche of who they are? How are you coping when oftentimes they have social media readily available at their disposal, as it relates to some of the challenges we see solely in the Middle East challenges that you may see in the democracy challenges that they may see within themselves within their friends. And so I think it's very important for parents to have conversations with their children of all ages about hey, we're going to be entertaining but you're part of this context as well. So extended an opportunity for them to invite their friends over and possibly their friends, families over parents over as well I think is very essential. I

Casey O'Roarty 04:38
love that phrasing families as cultural characters. Is that what you said carriers not characters. I wrote it down as carriers. Right. Yeah. And I really appreciate to my listeners, our parents of teenagers and some of those teenagers have left for college maybe for the first time and yeah, we are coming into this space of getting to receive them back in the home and see them and be with them. And I love as I was listening to you, you know, I was thinking, Yeah, we get to see the whites of their eyes, right, we get to really tune in, you know, through communication through energy, and really feel out how things are going. And I work with a lot of people whose kids are going off to college and are really struggling. And so creating that home culture, that home environment, as one of, you know, curiosity and acceptance and love, I think is so powerful. And it happens, you know, even before they walk through the door. And yeah, family gatherings, I mean, we are in the holiday season, and I just want to acknowledge to listeners, whatever the holiday is that you center during this period of time. You know, we have expectations, and we have expectations that are spoken. We have expectations that aren't spoken that we're not explicit about. And man, there are all sorts of ways that our expectation of cheer, you know, can actually turn into kind of some messy drama. And then we're like, what, why does it always end up like this? Right, you're

Chad Lassiter 06:13
right. And I think it's very important that we focus on how the genuineness of the enjoyment of the moment that the primary goal is to enjoy one another's company, right? Certainly, you gotta have those conversations, because, you know, once again, families, as cultural carriers may be saying, What do you think about the Middle East? What do you think about Trump? What do you think about the ever growing demographics, young people who are coming back from college may actually engage in those conversations against the backdrop of what their major is. So if I'm in college, and I'm majoring in sociology, and I come back home, but it's a rural areas, suburban area, whether it's urban area, and I'm learning about gentrification, I'm learning about redlining, I may go against what my family is saying at the table with regards to no I think that you know, then putting up the new affordable housing is good. I may say no, you know, they're putting up affordable housing, but are they don't feasibility studies around environmental toxins or environmental racism? Well, I think it's good that conversations like this occur, but it's okay to say, let's enjoy one another. Let it not be heavy. Get out the monopoly. Get out the Scrabble, get out the UNO, get out the Pictionary. You know, let's put our phones down. Let's have an algorithm of love or algorithm of Pisa algorithm of fluid and organic conversation. And we're not talking about we need to stay away from those polarizing conversations. But I think during the holiday season, young people are always on go parents are also oftentimes aren't go, I think we do need to create the space for young people who are coming back from college or, you know, coming back from, you know, the military and various other places to share some of the enthusiasm or some of the pain, some of the anx some of the things that they may be dealing with. I think all of that is important. And context, I don't think that we should have script anything, nor do I think should we run away from quote, unquote, the racial, the gender, or the economic elephants that may be amongst us. But I think that there's ways that, you know, we can discuss some of these high level things, and we can do it with levels of truth, levels of kindness, and ultimately levels of love.

Casey O'Roarty 08:22
Yeah, well, and you shared with me, you know, something that was important for you to talk about is how to have conversations with our kids, because all of this is emotional, right? Like I think about my own experience with my parents, and especially coming home from college after having taken some classes around feminism. And I remember trying to have a conversation with my dad, and he can like, quote, The Economist, and I'm all emotion, right? And in this space of how can you not feel the way that I feel? And he's like, Well, here are some, you know, facts, according to him. And that's kind of like the extreme. You know, I don't bring up feminism around the Thanksgiving table. I know I'm now 50 years old, I you know, recognize that there are certain things that can launch me back into my 19 year old self that I have evolved from and that dynamic. But, you know, what are some ways because kids will, you know, be exposed to family members. And while I believe that the listeners of this podcast and the people that are in my community, the joyful courage community really are focused on growth and acceptance and love and perspective. You know, that doesn't mean the entire extended family has been in this ongoing personal growth and development workshop. Yeah. And so, sometimes, you know, unintentionally, or maybe intentionally, but I think unintentionally, I think everybody is kind coming from a place of love as they know it. Kids can find themselves in conversations that are, you know, they don't even have to be political. They just could be pushing on places that our kids feel really strongly and grandparents or extended family don't really realize how hurtful sometimes things come out. How do we prepare our kids emotionally? For maybe messiness in the extended family gathering?

Chad Lassiter 10:27
That's a great question. I think first and foremost, one of the things that we need to do is before we get into the high level conversations, the conversations that may be polarizing the conversations that may be uncomfortable, certainly a young person may be coming home, depending on the politics of the family. They may have grown up under the guise of angle conformity, acculturation, Americanization, they're coming home, and they're just like, hey, listen, I'm learning in terms about white privilege. I'm learning terms about white demographic shifts, someone else may come home, and they're saying, Hey, listen, you know, I know that we grew up in this kind of household, and this type of community. But you know, I'm learning more about justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, African Americans may come home, young person may come home and say, you know, when Pastor when I was growing up, mentioned that God made Adam and Eve, and he certainly didn't make Adam and Steve, and he certainly didn't make even Evelyn, that's homophobic, but I've been doing some research, and I'm kind of learning mom and dad, you know, aspects of the black church is deeply rooted in homophobic behavior and hate speech. Oh, and by the way, I'm LGBT. Right? I think we don't run from those. But I think one of the things we do is, let's do an internal check in right. Before the festivities began, we can ask young people, Hey, how's your academics coming along? How are you negotiating and multiple identities of being in a fraternity or sorority, sports team, working, you know, a job taking four classes, how our stress levels, go to school, have outlets for you to you know, really talk to someone, if you're faced with with stress, we move from there to let like fun things like it's good to see you, you know, give me a hug, you know, give me a high five. And these are just mere suggestions that I've done with my family, you're letting the young people know that you're going to be a host, we want to make sure that you understand the importance of it, we're going to have all these conversations you want to have. But we're also going to have our traditional rituals. So in my family Thanksgiving, we pray, we also recognize that we have people who are at the Thanksgiving table, Casey, who are atheist and agnostic, we embrace that. We then go into a rendition of what are you thankful for, you'll have some family members that say I'm not thankful for anything. And that's their expression.

Casey O'Roarty 12:32
Ah, I feel so sad for those people. I

Chad Lassiter 12:34
do. Remember, there are people who come to these festivals, and they come to these family rituals, and they come with broken and for whatever reason, maybe that person just went through a divorce, or maybe every Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, they've come to the household with their significant other and now they're going through something and that's perfectly fine. So I think with young people, we're pushing them to recognize that their holes that they're diplomats that, you know, we're going to have some fun, we're gonna embrace some of the family rituals. But then I think we do set space for having conversations. And I think that one of the things about families is no matter how volatile the conversation is, I think the main thing that's in the room is a person who will allow for cooler heads to prevail. Right. So when I went away to Johnson, C. Smith, in 1990, it was a historical black college university, I was learning a lot. I come back home and I'm like, Mom, Dad, let me tell you about Martin Luther King and I to be wells and Fannie Lou Hamer, and WEB DuBois and all this stuff. And my mom said, Go ahead, son. She didn't seem excited. And I said, Mom, you don't seem excited. She said, You learned this here in our home. And we learned this in our community, but seems like you want to kind of like, share with us that you kind of know some stuff. So go ahead. And so I stopped and I said, Mom is good to be home for Thanksgiving and give me a hug. You know, because we're excited. You know about a lot of things. Yeah. The other thing that I would recommend to your listening audience is that it can be heavy, or it doesn't have to be heavy. You set the climate, right. You set the climate, but I think whatever the rituals are some rituals for Thanksgiving is the traditional Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers game, you know, the traditional Dallas Cowboys America's team, though I'm in Philadelphia, Go Eagles, e a G L. Yes,

Casey O'Roarty 14:23
I know about you

Chad Lassiter 14:26
know, but I think one of the things that I like is the intergenerational dialogue. And so I would share with your listening audience, that we encourage younger family members to participate and those family rituals, they should be able to bring the food that they like, they should be able to integrate that they should be able to talk about topics. I think as elders, the elders should be able to listen to the young people because oftentimes we say, well, we didn't do that during our generation. Okay, well, your generation was a foregone generation, but it's still an appreciated generation. The young people will they have some context to some With a pretext of some of the things that they're doing in the moment as well.

Casey O'Roarty 15:08
I have a question for you. So I'm thinking about, I have clients that are in my mind right now who have a transgender daughter, and their extended family is pretty conservative. And I know that there's other families that are in this exact situation, right? Where the parents, the child's core unit, there's acceptance, there's curiosity, there's full, you know, we are here for you, we love you no matter what, or not, we love you, no matter what, we love you. Right? And we know that now we're going to step into this larger family gathering. And I've talked with parents about their fear for their child, you know, do you feel like that it's important for parents to and these aren't kids that have gone to college and come home, but like, 14 1516 year old? Do you feel like it is an important role for parents to reach out to extended family members and kind of give a little heads up? Or is it more of an in the moment facilitation of conversation? What are your thoughts on, you know, some good practices around how to be an advocate for your kid while navigating these kinds of gatherings?

Chad Lassiter 16:19
Yeah, no, I think everything you said is powerful. And I think that each family has to decide what's beneficial for them, based on having a pulse on their particular family. In the African American tradition that I come out of, I've had occurrences where a person in the family would come over with Thanksgiving with their same sex partner, and the family was blown away, like the families like nobody ended up giving us a heads up. And the response was, Well, why do we have to give a heads up? We didn't give a heads up when, you know, Carl came in with Michelle. You know, nobody gave a heads up when Wayne came in with Amber. But then there have been other occurrences within our family, where someone would say, hey, I want to let you all know that, you know, Kenan is bringing a white girl by and you know, my grandmother would say, or my mother would say, oh, what's the big deal? You know, and the young lady comes through, and uncle's like, oh, man, that's an attractive white girl. And our tradition is not visa vie attractive, versus a black or black young lady. It's just, you know, cultural norms and things are accepted. I think that one of the things we have to really focus on to your question is that we live in an unpredictable world, then that combined with social isolation, and alienation are at the heart of a lot of conflict. And so the family member whose conservative towards the 12 year old with a 14 year old, who last Thanksgiving may have identified one way but identifies differently, I think that family should, you know, address it to the best of their abilities, some families may address it straight on, right head on, we're gonna unpack just for the families. It's just an unwritten rule. You don't address that because you know, we're Catholic, or we're this or we're that my advice would be utilizing the family rituals in the conversations to simply say, we're going to have a discussion, what's people's perspective? And then what we're going to do is, we're going to tell you what our perspective is. And I think the child at their comfortable from a strengths based perspective needs to be in that position. Once again, I think your question is very poignant. And it's difficult for a lot of people not really difficult for me, because I'm a licensed clinical social worker, I'm a therapist. So my family is the opposite. My family is like, listen, we're just trying to enjoy Thanksgiving, no therapist, ISIS. But I think that, once again, we want to have young people be part of the festivities, we want them to know that they are the hosts, we want them to be diplomatic. We want them to know that there's levels of courtesy. So you know, the young people can answer the doors. The young people can take the coats, they can hang up the coast, the young people can do some of those things. With the conversations, I think that the young people should have a degree of conversations that they want to talk about, Hey, mom, dad, you know, grandma and grandpa and uncle. I think one of the topics that we should talk about as a family is how every time Kenny comes over with Keith, you know, the family seems to ostracize him or whenever someone comes over, and they don't have children, and the reason why I'm touching upon that is because, you know, in my own family, there are couples who they get married. And the first thing some people in the family say is when are you planning to have children? Men Inc is not even dry on a marriage certificate,

Casey O'Roarty 19:42
you know, right. And they may not be planning on having children

Chad Lassiter 19:46
may not be planning or if you've been married five years. When do you want to have children? What if the response is we can't?

Casey O'Roarty 19:51
Yeah, we can't or we're not Yeah, I love thinking about. You brought me this language like How to Host like a diplomat I love that. And I think that sometimes especially, I was just talking to somebody else who's a middle school teacher. And he was commenting on, you know, just that he's taught middle school for 25 years, and just the change in young people's ability to communicate because of these little devices that we're spending so much time on. I think there's also and I want listeners to remember, we make a lot of assumptions, when we just say, hey, you need to make sure you talk to your grandparents, or you need to make sure you talk to so and so you know, there's families that spend time together a lot and see each other throughout the year. And then there's families where it's just these big holidays. And so there isn't necessarily a solid relationship that's been built. And something that I talk about with my kids is like, hey, let's talk about how it could sound to strike up a conversation with Grandpa like, here's what I know is going on in his life, to kind of given my listeners know this language, to give them some things to have in their back pocket so that when the opportunity does present itself, they can think, oh, yeah, I practiced this with mom, or I talked about this with mom, I know that Grandpa loves golf, which he does, or he loves fly fishing, so that, you know, I could ask, When was the last fishing trip? And how did it go? And what do you love about it? Right. And so I think there's some taking time for training that can happen as well, when we're talking about these big family gatherings. Because I know, I know, because I have a 18 year old and a 20 year old, I know that I have expectations, and I am making assumptions about how they're going to interact. And it is always useful to bring that up beforehand, like hey, you know, it's like an aunt Arlene's. You know? Is there anything that you are feeling uncomfortable about? Or? No? Yeah, to kind of open up those conversations? Yeah,

Chad Lassiter 21:55
I agree with you wholeheartedly. And some of those in my back pocket things could be families having conversations, the person that you mentioned, and Darlene, she got a promotion, you may want to congratulate her, you may want to ask her, you know, how does it feel that she may partner in a law firm, you know, if the grandmothers coming over? Hey, listen, your grandmother is gonna return 90, you know, we're having a hard time with her seeing the benefits of having a 90th birthday party, she loves her grandchildren, her great grandchildren, this is what we want you to do. So we're coaching, but to the whole aspect of what you and I talking about, we're really talking about joining, but we're talking about doing it in a very joyful way. We're really talking about making sure that our young people have a space and a language where they can have the courage to have the conversation and the courage to muster up the courage is not just a sticking point. It could be something where, you know, I can speak to my aunt, as a 18 year old who's gonna be graduating from high school that I don't want to go to college. Right. And so we also should be talking to the adults in the family that hey, when you come over, you know, Susie has been kind of down lately, you know, her and her boyfriend broke up that I can say, Susie, let me tell you something, you know, I mean, times, yeah, I'm broke up with young men. When I was in high school, you're going to be in love, you're going to fall out of love, but hopefully you're going to find love, right? And so once again, those are those kind of rituals, and every family has that go to person. Now, I'd be remiss for you listen to audience if I didn't talk about other things that you should have in your back pocket, in your back pocket from a therapeutic standpoint, you have to also look at the interactions of young people from multiple ages. Oftentimes families will say, go over there and give me a grandfather hug over there and give you a grandmother hug over there and sit on Uncle Johnny's lap. A lot of families have hidden secrets. They have pathologies. There may be a generational sexual assault, generational sexual molestation, when a young person says no, no, no, no, and that parent is born. observed that young person, that young person may not want to hug Grandpop maybe Grandpop has done something young people, they have a queasy feeling, they kind of know certain things. And then just in full disclosure, and my berry family about fixing years ago, maybe 20 Casey and listen audience, my grandmother would oftentimes tell one of my great uncle's to pray over the turkey. And I was 16. And I said, this is the last Thanksgiving he should be able to pray over the turkey. He's molested for women in the family and him praying over the turkey is not going to change the context of what he's done to the women and his family. I never knew that I had the courage. And maybe that was what four minute me to recognize the first rule of social work within the code of ethics, which is confidentiality. You know, I kept their competences while I was growing up, but I breached confidentiality from that standpoint at the dinner table, but it wasn't like I said, which of the four women they were, but the older adults, Casey and listening audience, they knew who these adults were. Yeah, so My other uncle said about my Great Uncle What, and they asked him to leave, but Thanksgiving, and he got the help that he sort of sorely needed. So I think that the last thing I'll add to having things in our back pocket, we need to make sure that we have Yes, and thank you and generosity and good to see you. And if we genuinely mean it, Hey, Grandma, I love you. But we should definitely turn off our phones as best we possibly can. Because we're so attracted to technology. And we should also have a moment of silence. I know a lot of families, they have a moment of silence. We did one last Christmas, where we had a moment of silence for the world. We had a moment of silence for the country, we had a moment of silence for where we live in Philadelphia. And then we had a moment of silence for ourselves. And within ourselves, we just sent it ourselves through a moment of silence and balance. And whatever people were going through, when we finished a moment of silence, some people were crying. It was painful, because we learned of a loved one who had pancreatic cancer. And we wrapped our arms around that person. And then there's been other rituals where someone has reported, we're having twins, someone else has reported that they got a promotion, someone else has reported that they're moving to another country, or they're moving to another state, or that they got to house. So I think we create those spaces. And I think that once again, not only our family's cultural carriers, families also are the ones that socialize us, oftentimes into being who we are. And so you may have a young person that comes out and says, Hey, listen, I no longer believe in God. You may have a young person who says everybody else is atheist, agnostic and Scientologists. I actually want to take my Shahada, I actually want to become Christian. Whatever it is, we create the level of centeredness around these moments. And lastly, I think we can use these moments as a catalyst to say, we should not only meet when it's the festive occasion, and certainly we should not just meet in certain traditions, when it's a funeral, there can be hosting parties where, you know, based on our schedules, we can simply say, as a family beyond Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're going to try to meet quarterly, and it's going to be at Casey's house, there's going to be an uncle Chad's house is going to be at Maria's house as well, whomever. And I think that once again, it's an opportunity to love on one another. We don't always have to agree. And my family we have Republicans, black people are not a monolith. And my family, we have individuals who say, Black Lives Matter and uncle will say welfare matter why they killing one another ad nauseam in the city of Philadelphia, he gets heated, but at the core of it is truth, love, and kindness. Mm

Casey O'Roarty 27:47
hmm. That makes me emotional Chad, you know, and I think it's so interesting to I mean, considering the work that you do, and the work that I do, it just feels normal to have these moments that are really deep and emotionally connected. And when I'm sure this happens for you, as the therapist of the family, when we present this opportunity, it's so interesting to watch how people sit inside of these opportunities to go deeper with each other. I was at my dad's I think 75th birthday. And I brought these little cool deck of cards that I have that prompt everybody, you know, you pull a card, and it's, you know, tell the oldest person at the table for things that you appreciate about them. I slid a card under everybody's plate, they didn't know they were there till after dinner and I said, Hey, I want to play a game, look under your plate. And it was both like, deeply uncomfortable, but also, like, so appreciate like, you could just feel that the invitation is typically not there for us to connect underneath all of these things. Know the cultural things that you know, live inside of the family or live inside of, you know, however we identify and then to kind of break through all of that, and facilitate opportunities to really see each other is so powerful. And there are tools like these little deck of cards, there's so many different ways that we can facilitate that. The other thing that I am hearing the through line of everything you're saying, and I've talked about this a lot lately on the podcast is the invitation to be present, just to be present and to really like break through the armor or you know the humaneness of us yeah to connect Spirit to spirit soul to soul essence to essence and to be with these people that we are related to our relating to our In relationship with and to come with this place of curiosity and wanting to connect and that belonging and significance piece, right, we're wired to belong, we're wired to know that we matter. And that is equally as true for, you know, the grandparent who is set in their ways as it is, for the Gen Z 15 year old who is large and in charge around, you know, the issues that are Gen Z. And like, I think when we can play with and help our kids really understand that, like, I remember when Obama was the first round of him running for president, I was canvassing, I had the kids in the wagon. It was so exciting. And I was getting regular emails from my dad, just about how terrible Democrats are basically. And first, I said, You take me off of this list, like, I don't need these emails, I love you to know, thank you. And then I just had to stop talking to him during the election season, and which broke my heart. I'm the oldest, I feel like I'm daddy's girl. I don't know if he thinks I'm daddy's girl. But I want his approval. Right? I just I do. And my brother said, you know case, you and dad are the same. You're just on opposite ends of this political spectrum. Yeah, but neither one of you want to budge, both of you want to be seen in your truth. And that's what's keeping you from being able to relate. In this context, you are the same and it was the perfect thing for him to say to me, we're still not very good at talking politics. But knowing like the reason it's hard for us is because we're so alike. Yeah, kind of lightens the heaviness of like, I don't understand your point of view politics. So I mean, just that belonging and significance piece, we all are wired for it. We're all wired for it. Did

Chad Lassiter 32:05
you feel your scenario? Casey? I think about and these terms that I'm getting re articulate are not germane to a form of religiosity or spirituality, but grace and mercy. Right. And my family. Oftentimes, I struggled specifically with those in college when we're talking about things because not only did I go to HBCU, I went to a PWI. It's a PWI, predominantly white institution. Okay,

Casey O'Roarty 32:29
we have our own acronym, I did not realize that.

Chad Lassiter 32:35
I have family members who will talk about the benefits of the HBCU, historical black college university. And I'll talk about both and how I use undergrad for Johnson C. Smith HBCU. But it also prepared me to go to a all white institution where maybe at the time that I went to Penn, there was not a lot of diversity, there was not a lot of equity, there was not a lot of inclusion and belonging. Sometimes those conversations can be a polarizing, right? Because not every family member has read what you read, like the example that you just unpackage between your dad and yourself, in certain communities, the whole entire family. I work out of Harrisburg, I know some of my staff, where they come from around the state, the entire family is Republican. And here this daughter is working for a Democrat governor, and I'm talking about one of my staffers who formerly worked for Governor Wolf, if you look at what happened with Derek Chavez, and George Floyd, certain communities, people say when the police tell you to do something, you do it. Why was he resisting arrest? Other communities will say, well, in our communities, it's because of fright. And so you know, where one person is simply saying, you know, something from the perspective of why is that person running from the police officers, someone else may say, Well, why is that particular police officer patrolling while races, right. And so, you know, you're gonna have law enforcement and your family's specific to the African American community. I have law enforcement in my family, but I'm doing Canadian TV on what happened to George Floyd, and we're setting the dinner table and they're not saying anything about George Floyd. And then prior to that, they didn't say anything about Mike Brown. And prior to that, they didn't say anything about Tasha MacKinnon. But then we also have family members, that we go with their homes and the conversation is centered around a nephew, who's 24 years old on his third child by three different women. And, you know, the Great aunt, she sat down she's like, go when do you want to stop being a breeder? Oh, she just go.

Casey O'Roarty 34:36
Oh, my God, families are so crazy. There's such this micro chasm of mixed bag like you just Yes. Thank you for that. Because it is it is and I'm hoping that everybody that's listening is like, Yep, we've got all the people to we've got all the people around the table, and everybody's got a lived experience. Everybody has, you know, opinions that have been formed through our lived experiences through our exposure to whatever we choose to read and listen to and watch, right? Yeah, all of these things are true. And we're here to celebrate Thanksgiving, or, you know, like, let's watch a football game.

Chad Lassiter 35:16
And that's the beauty of it. All right, is that, you know, certain communities have certain binocular doesn't matter where we come from, right? And in my community, when we're eating someone's macaroni and cheese, so I may say, Man, peaches, she put her foot in that macaroni and cheese was just as a euphemism for man, she really killed it right? The food is really good. But when I brought white colleagues over and white friends over for some of our rituals and festivities, chat, why would you eat her macaroni and cheese that she put her? Right? Oh, when I've taken me over to their homes for festivities and rituals, you know, everybody's a hugger. Everybody's a kisser in full transparency. Our family of late has learned how to hug and kiss, primarily because some of the touches, and the last that are in Paterson family, as you can see, I'm super transparent, has not always been good touches. And so when I started going over to other cultures, that Hispanic culture, some of the white culture of South Philadelphia, where Italian grandmothers are grabbing me by my cheeks and kissing me, and I'm looking at one of my buddies, and I'm just like, Yo, Leo, your grandmother, yo, I love that, right? Because my grandmother's they showed their love and affection through comments and not hugs, right? And so then I will learn from other cultures, how to hug. And with my family. My mom is 82 beautiful woman. She raised us my dad raised us but they were not huggers, right? About a couple of months ago. And I've been doing this often a couple of months ago, my mom has Parkinson's. I leaned and she was fussing about something. And I'd say, Oh, her life alert. That's a family ritual for Thanksgiving. I say, Mom, you need to have your Life Alert. If you're not coming to Thanksgiving, with my wife still in I, I don't need Life Alert, I just leaned down. I kissed her on the cheek, I put the Life Alert around her. And her eyes just lit up. And so I learned that from a Italian culture grown up in Philadelphia, I learned that from Jewish culture. I learned that from Hispanic culture Rizzo and my family, once again, not a lot of touchy feely. So I think what you and I are trying to really say is the joyful courage that in these dark and decadent times, some people are going to see the Middle East conflict, the way they see it, some people are going to see the challenge in the nation the way they see it. Not every member of the family who is supportive of Donald Trump is a racist. Not everybody who's supportive of you know, not voting. It shouldn't be ascribed to play them. Well, you know, people guys said, You gotta have the right to vote. We are cultural carriers. But we are part of a individual way. There has to be beauty in our individualism, right? So there's beauty and being collective, there's beauty and seeing things similar. But to your point, at the end of the day, you still love you that for your listening audience. There's a professor at both University of Penn in Westchester, at West Chester University, we have an assignment, and that Simon is a personal paper, a personal reflection paper, interview, the oldest adult in your family, ask them a series of questions, namely the following. How would they feel if you marry same sex or data, same sex? How would they feel if you did interracial dating? How would you feel and in certain indices Casey, and a listening audience, and I would always say the following, you're going to find out that grandmama is probably prejudice. a bigot engages in discrimination, or has some form of xenophobia, love her and eat her peach cobbler. Same thing with African American mothers who would tell my brother and I, my mom in particular, and African American mothers, some of them not sure lies and stereotyping. If she can't take the comb, don't bring her home, meaning the curling iron. So we stayed on our side of the color line. It wasn't I went to Johnson C. Smith university, that it reinforced that because it's an HBCU. And then I go to University of Penn, and I'm around a diverse community. And my white classmates who say, Chad, you do great when you're doing presentations, but every time we talk to you, you never look at us. And I'm just like, you know, I was kind of socialized, you know, look at White women and white young ladies in the eye. And when I started looking at him, I started seeing the beauty of all people, all people right. And so I think that that's what we have to do as cultural carriers of the way we socialized. Not everyone was socialized into love, some households are socialized into Noelle has escaped go hypothesis, blaming someone else, right? Yeah, my state of Pennsylvania is ever changing demographics is becoming Brown. We're looking at an increasing world where privilege is being confronted. People are doing anti racism. They're becoming allies and accomplices. Young people are coming home Now they're like, No Mom, Dad, I disagree with you. You're xenophobic, you're homophobic. Young people are coming home now. And parents are saying to them, and this household, if you are not straight, this family, this owns you. And so that's increasingly leading to homelessness. There's a lot of things that get swept under the rug. But once again, for you and I, and joyful courage, and for the listener, audience, Martin Luther King Jr. has a quote, he said, We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. So I'm hopeful that the joyful courage and conversations are similar to a beloved community with a safe space, a brave space that people can be heard. Oftentimes, depending on culture, people talk over one another. But when I talk about hearing a person, hearing them with their spirit, that my family and the last one in Paterson family, you're not going homeless. We're gonna let you know that in this family, there is a moral compass in the moral imperative. We don't castigate whites, we don't castigate Jewish individuals, we don't engage in Islamophobia. So in our household, aside from his rituals, but also because of these rituals, we bring out in our back pocket, the theme of love the theme of truth, the theme of kindness, the theme of looking at people through a kaleidoscope, that we're all part of the human family. And it gets it's why we do it, and we grow up and we eat, and then we nuke the food and we eat some more. Somebody may drink and be married, somebody might drink and trip over themselves. My wife, she doesn't drink. So but her is just about being as we all become. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 41:37
Beautiful. Oh, Chad, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your work and just this conversation. I think it's a really important conversation. I mean, we're all wherever we are on that continuum of relating with our extended family and our community. And I think that, you know, a lot of what you've shared is really important pieces to be thinking about as the weeks ahead, unfold. So I really appreciate you. Thank you so much. Thank

Chad Lassiter 42:08
you and I in the same way I started, I was humbled and honored to be in this space with you, Casey and to listen to audience joyful courage. Enjoy your festivities, your rituals, embrace them, promote them, share them all with the theme of bringing family together because family at the end of the day, is that sustainable unit that gets us through the happy times, the grief times and some of the challenging times. Thank you so much.

Casey O'Roarty 42:31
Yeah, if people want to get in touch with you, how could they do that?

Chad Lassiter 42:35
I'm on Twitter at Chad Lasseter. My email address is C Lasseter, si le s s i t [email protected]. I'm on all social media, but primarily Twitter. And that email address is my State email address. I would love to have people engage so that we can share with them the wonderful work that we're doing at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, where the top civil rights enforcement agency in the state of Pennsylvania, even though there's a surge of white nationalism, and white supremacy in the state of Pennsylvania, there's a lot of Pennsylvanians who are working on themes of peace and justice. And that's what I'm excited about. I'm not trending on one side and upset about where the current condition of Pennsylvania is, or even the world because the world is comprised of more people doing good, reducing the lesser challenges increasing our greater angels Chasey stay in touch in any way that you want. I look forward to you know, just continue this conversation but with my family, beautiful,

Casey O'Roarty 43:30
beautiful thank you so much, and everybody the links and ways to contact chat will be in the show notes. Alright, have a beautiful day.

Casey O'Roarty 43:42
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at B spreadable.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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