October 28, 2021
Comedian, writer, and truth-teller Amanda Seales joins Jameela this week to discuss her pandemic breakdown, how she is treated on the internet due being a black woman, light skin privilege vs white privilege, shrinking yourself vs finding your tribe, and persisting.
You can follow Amanda Seales on Instagram and Twitter @amandasealesAnd listen to Amanda’s podcast – Small Doses with Amanda Seales: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-doses-with-amanda-seales/id1333316223
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website. I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
Jameela is on Instagram @jameelajamilofficial and Twitter @Jameelajamil And make sure to check out I Weigh’s Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for more!
82 — Amanda Seales
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil. I hope you’re well. I’m all right, other than the fact that humanity continues to be a big, smelly dumpster fire. I am somehow managing to find some of the light. Speaking of light, I think my guest this week is definitely one of the people who illuminates and lightens up the internet for me. I’ve been following her for years and I really admire her. She’s definitely one of the more divisive people on the internet. She’s a she’s a woman and she’s a black woman at that. So it is no surprise that she would be someone that everyone has a lot of opinions about because she does herself to have a very strong opinion, many, many strong opinions, and she does not hold back. Her name is Amanda Seales, and you should definitely follow her on Instagram, and you should definitely listen to her podcast. It’s called Small Doses with Amanda Seales. I’ve been following her for years. I met her at an audition, I think, and just instantly was like, Who the fuck are you? She’s just a very, very powerful and self-assured and immediately so fun to play with. And since then, I’ve mostly just been a kind of a fan watching her on the internet, and I’ve watched her go through a lot, in particular in the last year and a half, and wanted to talk to her about those things. She similarly to me, someone who is very, very open about the way that she feels about everything, but also about what she’s going through in her life. And she did not hold back in this episode. We talked together about how critical the internet is of her and of the women, in particular women of color, in particular black women, and how having her own committee in her own inner personal life really helps her. Because she she has she doesn’t listen to the internet. She listens to the people who know, who actually know her and who actually care about her, and that’s who she takes her guidance from as to when she needs to, you know, change course or when she needs to keep going. She talks about her experience as a light-skinned black woman and the difference between white privilege and light skin privilege. We talk about the importance of finding your own tribe and not shrinking yourself for others, something I think a lot of us need to hear. We talk about using grace as a currency, especially in personal relationships. We talk about the importance of atonement. And mostly, I think it’s just really nice to have two very strong, very passionate women talk about the painful and the glorious side of telling the truth and of speaking your mind. And I feel very grateful that she exists in this world. She’s someone I admire a lot, and I really like the fact that she learns publicly and owns up to her shit and and continues to grow in public. I was admire anyone who does that because it’s really fucking hard and people really punish you for it. I think she’s very cool. So this is the absolutely excellent Amanda Seales, I hope you like it. She is a stand up comedian. She is an actress. She is a writer. She is a TV host. She is an extraordinary social commentator and apparently, according to the internet, she hates all black men. Welcome, Amanda Seales. Hi.
Amanda [00:03:21] Hello. Hello. The internet almost gets it right, you know?
Jameela [00:03:24] Oh my word. And just to clarify for anyone who isn’t familiar with Amanda, she does not hate all black men. That is just one of the many stupid fucking rumors about her that can exist over the internet. And I think internet rumors or something I would love to talk about with you today, among many other things. It’s been a fuck of a year and a half.
Amanda [00:03:45] Yes.
Jameela [00:03:45] In particular for yourself. How how have you? How have you been?
Amanda [00:03:49] It’s been a eventful time. I think it like right before the pandemic, I had kind of I had like reached a breaking point where I had like a whole breakdown. It was a whole thing.
Jameela [00:04:03] What kind like what kind of a breakdown are we talking about? Was this to do with what was happening in the world at the time? You know, we had a pandemic. The everything came to a close.
Amanda [00:04:11] No, the pandemic hadn’t happened yet. This is more so just from being in this industry. And like I had achieved a certain level of success that I had been yearning and fighting and grinding for for my whole life. And then with that success came just a lot of negative byproducts that I hadn’t anticipated. And among those were just. The trail and lies and deceit and all the failings, and you’re just like, oh my gosh Biggie was right. More money, more problems. It affected me like very deeply. And it just made me question like my whole purpose, and if I even wanted to be here because I was just kind of like, if this is what it’s going to be like, if I’m myself, then I’m not sure if I want to continue to, like, be here on Earth in this physical form. And that’s not a unique feeling that a lot of like I know, like, that’s just not a unique feeling. I think, you know, more and more people talk about it, but it’s. And I will say like, I don’t suffer from depression in the way that a lot of people do that are medicated. But I do have doubts that are. You know, a bottom that I would rather not go to, but like I have a friend who suffers from depression, and she’ll say, you know, the difference between you and I is that you have a bottom. She said, I only have a bottom if I take meds. If I don’t take the meds, then my bottom is bottomless and I just continue going down a spiral that inevitably can end up in me harming myself.
Jameela [00:05:54] You know you’re a you’re a sensitive human. And I think there are many contributing factors, you know, to how brutal people are with you on the internet. And like, you know, I exist in a kind of sort of similar space. Both of us present is quite tough, you in particular, you know, because you’re very blunt and you don’t pull any punches and you talk about social justice and you talk about so many different intersections of social justice, aside from the fact that you’re also just a prominent woman an outspoken woman, an opinionated woman, a successful woman. You’re also a black woman on the internet. Do you think that your race and the fact that you present, you dare to present as unapologetic as why people are so tough on you and presume you don’t get sad, you won’t get sad?
Amanda [00:06:34] I think that’s definitely part of it. It depends on who’s doing the slanging of the hate. I think when it comes to like outsiders, and when I say outsiders, I mean, people that are not a part of the black community. I think there’s definitely that idea. It’s like, Oh, she’s, you know, she’s speaking confidently and she’s a black woman and so she can take it because there’s definitely this stigma of like the strong black woman and this this energy around us as being impervious, you know, and like that that if we’re if we’re speaking from a place of conviction that it’s toughness versus intellect and thus it’s supposed to be met with other toughness, you know, like that’s a definite constant when it’s coming from within my community, though, I think it has a lot to do with privilege. And I have lighter skin. I, you know, some might disagree, but I benefit from what people tell me is pretty privileged. I think I’m pretty.
Jameela [00:07:40] I think you’re pretty.
Amanda [00:07:41] Thank you. And I just been like, very fortunate. Like, I grew up in a middle class, you know, experience and I’ve had access to really like high education. So I have like all these like spaces of privilege that I exist in that I think for some people, it makes them for some people, it feels like if you have all of that privilege, why are you unhappy about anything or why are you like? Why are you complaining about anything? And oftentimes when you were speaking intellectually about challenging things, it gets seen as complaining or nagging or irritating verses, you know, as like a genuine concern. And that’s it’s it’s a it’s definitely not everybody, but I think that that’s where some people come from. And then some people also just like, you know, just don’t like, what the fuck I’m talking about. So they say, I don’t like that shit.
Jameela [00:08:35] And that’s I mean, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. People are also entitled to be frustrated with privileged people.
Amanda [00:08:41] They’re also entitled to be quiet. You’re also entitled like they’re entitled to be quiet. Like they have a right to like, just keep shit to their group chat. Like I don’t need to know about what everyone thinks about me. But wifi says accordingly.
Jameela [00:08:56] I know, and I totally know. But then do people sometimes level that argument about you of like, why don’t you stay quiet? I’m aware of why you don’t say quiet, because you’re aware of the privilege that you have and you are trying to leverage it to make sure that you are continuing and stoking the fires of important conversation. But I guess there are some people who are like, You have all the shit to shut the fuck up, stop pretending to care like you can move on, you don’t have to
Amanda [00:09:18] But that’s so dumb.
Jameela [00:09:19] No, I agree. I agree. I agree.
Amanda [00:09:21] It’s also just this assumption that like, people can’t care, it’s like. And that’s and that’s a part of like the paradigm of this society we’re in, you know, like so many people can’t even fathom that people who have things might actually care about people who don’t.
Jameela [00:09:39] Because they haven’t.
Amanda [00:09:40] Right. So it’s an anomaly to some people, you know, and so you’re ending up sometimes fighting against stuff that has nothing to do with most of the time you’re fighting against stuff that has nothing to do with you. And that’s creating enemies of folks that are actually like on the same side of you. And so it’s. But but I. I’ve had to really, like learn how to strengthen my boundaries and my skin and just my filter in terms of what I take in and what I push back out in order to not let all of those other projections from people affect, like what I am viewing of myself.
Jameela [00:10:19] So, OK, so let’s break this down, for starters. You and I both get almost more shit from our own than we get from the opposition. It hurts my feelings more than it would when I’m receiving even racist or deeply sexist abuse online. It hurts me more when people who look like me or are fighting for the same causes as me are trying so hard to derail my work with dishonest with, by spreading lies and by hyperbolizing things that I’ve done or inflating things that I’ve done. What does that feel like for you?
Amanda [00:10:58] The same feels the same. It feels very I mean, that’s what that betrayal, you know, element is. You know, it’s. There’s a certain level of vitriol that I expect from the opposition, because that’s why they’re the opposition, right, like you’re just like, Oh, I see you over there ok yeah. Sling the arrow, I’m going to dodge it, whatever. But when it’s like friendly fire, it really does create a paradox, because I guess I’m expected to still love you because I understand why you have this friendly fire, it is a result of actually the opposition’s work. But goddamn like this doesn’t feel good and this hurts, and it makes me want to be like, Fuck you. And so there’s a certain like extreme level of emotional intelligence and shit and just like health that you have to have to be able to move and operate from that space, particularly when you’re in a public position and it’s coming from so many people and it’s coming from strangers. You know, it’s it’s like. It’s like you can’t like the bullets are like, I feel like when it’s coming from somebody you know, you can kind of dodge the bullets because you can see, like, you know, them well enough to be able to identify, like where the source point is coming from. But sometimes I genuinely just I’m like, Oh shit, that was a blind side. And it hurts your feelings and it makes you really like question. Your purpose sometimes, so I’ve had to do a lot of, you know, recalibrating.
Jameela [00:12:34] Yeah this happens so much in like girls schools and in all schools. But like in even like I’ve got friends who are working and kind of regular jobs and marketing, one of them speaks out about something that’s happening and goes to H.R. and then their own friends and allies and colleagues in the same office are facing the same abuse, witnessing the same abuse victims of the same toxic work culture and turn on those friends. So this is like a it’s it’s not just a celebrity thing. This is just a putting your head above the parapet thing. And and I was wondering, I feel like it’s super valuable considering that you’ve come through all of this shit gone from not wanting to be here at the beginning of last year to now being in, you know, from when we spoke the other day like a relatively good and, you know, stable place right now. You talk about those boundaries and thickening your skin. How are. How have you done that? Because I think a lot of us could stand to learn from that.
Amanda [00:13:31] I mean, at first when I like came through the other side of this like nervous breakdown of crying and just like fantasizing about taking my own life, et cetera, my therapist was the first line of defense and she was really good at just immediately focusing it from this like, overwhelmingly daunting energy space that I was dealing with and really just making it very tangible and very manageable by saying, Well, what’s happened is your confidence has been completely shot and we have to build it back up. That sounds a lot different than like, well, you know, the world hates you, and we have to figure out how to not make them hate you. You know what I’m saying like it just makes it a way more manageable thing to move towards and.
Jameela [00:14:24] Well because you’re dealing with yourself, you’re being responsible for yourself, you’re not making yourself responsible for everyone else’s feelings and behaviors.
Amanda [00:14:31] Exactly. And it’s just like, Oh, so this isn’t like the universe I’m not going to have. I’m I’m not battling the universe. And she’s like, I mean, no, it’s like it can feel like it, but we’re going to deal with you. And so some of the very like, just pragmatic ways where one I started doing affirmations and I really thought affirmations were very corny. Like, I just,
Jameela [00:15:00] Yeah I struggle with affirmations.
Amanda [00:15:01] It’s like because it feels like this is dumb. But I and I think it’s also like depending on like where you’re getting the source point from. But for me, I started listening to Paolo Coelho’s Warrior of Light and I would listen to it on audio book like on surround sound like loud in the house. And it would be like a warrior of light never accepts the unacceptable and I would like pause it and be like, a warrior of light never accepts the unacceptable. And the book is very much just like these like phrases and kind of like, you know, affirmations of sort. But it comes from a place of you as someone who is moving through the world as this like wielder of light verses, as somebody who’s like trying to crawl up from the bottom. And I think that felt like a better place to do affirmations from like, like, I have power, I have strength and I love The Alchemist, and it has been like my one of my favorite books and like books I go back to every so often. And so like this from the same author. So I was like, OK. But also, I think that was coming to look at affirmations more as just declarations of gratitude and coming from that place also feels a lot because affirmations can also feel like very egotistical, like I’m going to do better and I am the best and I am the greatest and I am. But sometimes, baby, you need to get that ego back up like. Sometimes, I mean, no one has no ego like, you just need to have a healthy amount because this world is just way too brash and vitriolic to not have any ego. Now the matter of it is like, when does it show up, you know, and how do you carry it? But you definitely, I feel like, have to have a certain sense of self. And that’s what ego is. And like you can tell yourself, I’m the bomb. You can tell yourself I’m pretty. You can tell yourself I’m smart, you can tell yourself I deserve without having to feel like ashamed of that or like embarrassed of it. And I feel like that’s what I was feeling about affirmations. But I was calling it corny, but I was mores o feeling like, Oh, like, I can’t say that. Like, that’s not that’s not modest. That’s not that’s not humble. And it’s like the world’s doing enough humbling for you. Like, I don’t need you to also be a part of that
Jameela [00:17:21] Yeah that’s so true and the attacks and the attacks that you get like, Oh, so many women, especially women of color, get online were so, so, so personal. So it’s so easy to just be like, God, are they right? Am I? Am I nothing?
Amanda [00:17:32] Yes! Like maybe I really do need to shut the fuck up and kill myself.
Jameela [00:17:38] Yeah, that’s what they’re telling us explicitly to do. Yes, I’m very glad. I’m very glad that you. I’m very glad that you didn’t. You occupy also like.
Amanda [00:17:47] Thank you.
Jameela [00:17:47] As a as a as a privileged person, as a slim person, as a beautiful person, as a wealthy person, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You also occupy the and you know, forgive me if I’m overstepping overstepping the mark here. But as a light skinned black woman in the last year and a half, I know that this has been the case for some of my friends who are light-skinned and biracial. There’s suddenly been this kind of divide, an understandable divide in our community.
Amanda [00:18:14] Oh it’s not sudden at all.
Jameela [00:18:15] But no, I know. I mean, just it’s become more amplified online. I know it’s not sudden, but it’s become much more amplified online in the last year of much more vocal expression of the 400 year system of nightmare abuse and hell in America. But even like friends of mine who are very like known activists online who were very, very supported by the the entire kind of diaspora of their communities who would speak about these issues suddenly last year found themselves reckoning with the fact that people were kind of like, you know, actually shut up because everything you’ve been saying has been right and and important. But also you’re speaking from a place of privilege where you don’t even understand our experience and you’re speaking for you’re speaking for all of us and a lot of us, you can’t relate to our experience. So there was like a kind of do you know what I mean? Like the temperature was turned up in the last year.
Amanda [00:19:08] No, definitely. But I also feel like, what are you going to do? You know, I mean. I’m not going to not speak. I also think that there’s sometimes a myth appropriation of what light-skinned privileges in aligning it with white privilege, and it is not. And so I think sometimes that that distortion, which, you know, white supremacy has just an uncanny knack of distorting things.
Jameela [00:19:41] Who do you mean? Like how is white supremacy?
Amanda [00:19:45] Because white supremacy is what defines light-skinned privilege. White supremacy is the assumption that light is right, that anything closer to white is better. So they’re by nature of that concept, creates a fissure within a black community amongst who is deserving of more discrimination than other. However, even if you are a light skinned black person, you are still not a white person. And so that is a very, very, very, very important distinction. And it is sometimes I feel like blurred and and that that it’s not a nuance and nuance is much more subtle. That’s like a very hard line distinction. And I think sometimes in the protection of black culture and of the black experience and of the groups of black people who may and the groups of black people who are far more discriminated against because of their because of the amount of melanin their skin. There’s an idea that there isn’t a space for lighter skinned black folks to continue to speak as a part of this community. I don’t agree with it.
Jameela [00:21:10] I understand that. No I understand.
Amanda [00:21:11] And you know, and I don’t agree with that. I mean, I think ultimately it’s being black in this world is a very multifaceted and wide spectrum experience. And ultimately, it is, in my opinion, the responsibility of all black people to speak against racial discrimination and the white supremacy that continues to be perpetuated throughout this world.
Jameela [00:21:38] The frustration, I guess, is the fact that it’s the same thing within the fat community. I’m no longer a fat person, but I still speak against fatphobia and the same structures that were oppressing me then, now, even though I no longer am oppressed by those structures. But I also understand the frustration that then. Fair enough. We all have a duty to speak out about this. But it is fucking frustrating that my voice can be heard louder than theirs. And by the way, I’m not discrediting the fact that you are also extremely good at getting points across to people. You are remarkably effective, and I feel like that gets taken away from you sometimes because people are just like,.
Amanda [00:22:15] It’s also bad!
Jameela [00:22:15] No, you communicate in a way that I can’t communicate. Like I like a lot of my friends can’t communicate. A lot of my friends look to you sometimes to learn how to articulate a certain nuance of a situation that you’re very multi-pronged in your breakdowns of things on the internet in a way that I really like I have long appreciated the way that you break shit down. Listen, neither of us get everything 100 percent right. I’ve watched us both end up in hot water.
Amanda [00:22:37] Nobody does though that’s also the thing.
Jameela [00:22:38] But you also just to give you some credit here. You get shit right 90 percent of the time Amanda.
Amanda [00:22:47] Thank you darling.
Jameela [00:22:47] And I get really pissed off that the 10 percent of times that you get something wrong, it’s just like everything she says is fucking worthless. Nothing, she says, can be. And I’m not saying, that’s not the general vibe you’ve got a million followers on the internet who adore you and hang on to every word. I’m not saying that that is the general vibe about Amanda. Amanda does not like globally hated. I’m just talking about the fact that this kind of rising tide of it’s cool to shit on you or it’s cool to shit on all these different individuals now have become kind of like acceptable punch lines. I’m certainly one of them. But, but you, you really.
Amanda [00:23:20] But even the idea of what’s wrong is like, sometimes I’m like, Was that wrong? Or was it just not like worded the best? Was it wrong?
Jameela [00:23:31] And there can be harm in, there can be there can be harm in like misrepresentation. There can be harm in not wording things the best. I’m owning up to owning up to that myself. I recognize that I can misinform, I can misrepresent. And therefore I’m, you know, and I really would love to talk to you about the way that you are starting to kind of like heal that within yourself. I really want to stress that the fact that, yes, you are beautiful. Yes, you are thin. Yes, you are well-educated. Yes, you are light skinned, but you are also, like honestly, really, truly remarkable at communicating.
Amanda [00:24:03] Thank you Jameela. No that that means a lot. That means a lot, because that’s. Because, you know, if I if I didn’t have any of these other privileges, being able to communicate ideas, you know, is like, that’s the most important, you know, being able to synthesize like what I’m thinking and seeing in a way that inspires others, that empowers others, that ignites like a fire of intellectualism in others like that, it feels like a superpower. And then to be able to do it through humor feels like like a crazy gift.
Jameela [00:24:52] So you’ve been doing this for such a long time. You’ve been in this since you were eight. Did you always plan on becoming someone who is extremely outspoken about so many different issues? Was this always the kind of goal from when you were younger or were you planning on just being funny and entertaining and just enjoying making people feel good? When did this kind of ignite in you?
Amanda [00:25:17] This is going to sound very like cheesy but it wasn’t a goal, it was a calling. Like, I remember being 11 and like I had a UNICEF calendar, my mom would always get me a UNICEF calendar every year and I remember being 11 and just having this epiphany and saying like, Oh. I’m going to be an important person. I need to write down what I do every day so that. Like, when I’m an important person, people can look back and see what I was doing at this time in my life.
Jameela [00:25:55] What? That’s so precocious and hilarious.
Amanda [00:25:59] So I need to like so that I can like chart a course and so I would literally write down every day like
Jameela [00:26:04] You were preparing for your documentary, basically.
Amanda [00:26:07] Really. No. But like, I’ve had awareness about that, like early, like, Oh, and I also am a cancer. So just by nature, I collect. I preserve, I archive. So I mean my house.
Jameela [00:26:22] What do you think you were going to be important for? Did you have an idea?
Amanda [00:26:27] I just knew I knew I wasn’t a jackass, I mean, I’ve always known like, I’m smart because I was teased about it incessantly. So I was always like, aware, like, OK, you got something, you got something different with you, because that has always been the narrative, you know, like, you’re weird, you’re different, you’re bad, you know? And so for a time, that was actually something that I was really like. Well, you know, this is this is inconvenience, but eventually it became something that I really, you know, honored about myself and then as an adult, it became inconvenient again and then it had to fall in love with that again. But throughout that path, it wasn’t that I was
Jameela [00:27:07] Wait why did it become inconvenient as an adult?
Amanda [00:27:09] Because the same things that make you a precocious child make you a difficult adult.
Jameela [00:27:15] How did that manifest?
Amanda [00:27:18] In being a perfectionist and being meticulous in being
Jameela [00:27:22] demanding,
Amanda [00:27:24] demanding and being and being in being of high moral standing and demanding that of the people around me like, I’m not trying to judge you, but like, don’t be around me if you on that fuck shit, you know, don’t and being outspoken about my preservation of self like, Hey, that hurts me. So can we not do that like, you know, being able to being speaking up for yourself. All of these things were always considered to be like, like, Oh, like, you’re different in that way, you know, and too much. And so as I when I, you know, as an adult, it became like, again, we’re back to this thing of people being like, Oh my God, like, it’s just a lot. You know, you’re difficult. You’re a lot, and then you’re just like. So it’s like the person I am a turnoff, because how do I turn off those things then? But then you know what, you ultimately realize it’s like, Well, you just haven’t found your tribe.
Jameela [00:28:25] Exactly. Oh, exactly. I’m so glad that that’s how you ended that, because that’s that’s something I really feel about so many of the people that listen to this podcast, like so many of them write me such deeply personal letters, and they often talk about shrinking themselves or having a gift and feeling afraid of that gift, you know, or being afraid that men won’t be attracted to them. Women won’t be attracted to them. This is other women not being attract I think generally, men find not always that women can find their gifts more attractive than not, but reverse in the gender. I know the way things are. It doesn’t always work out that way. I’m sure that’s happened to both of us in love. But so many people trying to make themselves smaller or feeling apologetic, wishing that they weren’t different, wishing they didn’t stand out being turned on by their own best friends or family members because of their gifts. And. And I so, so so subscribe to the idea that it’s just OK to operate differently. It doesn’t mean you have to say you operate above or below. You might operate, alternatively, and you will find those people where they’re just they’re just not really they’re just not judging you either way. They’re just enjoying you for your humanity. And there are people out there like that. And at the same time, they’ll also be friends who celebrate your successes, who are interested, who have, you know, maybe a line in your in their talents or a line in their space. It’s important to have those people, but just don’t deny yourself finding out how special you are because you’re afraid of, you know, sticking out and being punished for that.
Amanda [00:29:54] I always say, you know you, you find people who love you for what you love about yourself. And that’s like not what the public necessarily sees, you know, but to answer your question from way back, no, I did not know like what I was going to be known for. I just knew that I wanted to be purposeful and that I wanted to be a an empowering force for the black community.
Jameela [00:30:29] Right? I think that’s great. Who were the people that you looked up to when you were younger?
Amanda [00:30:36] My mom. My God sister was eight years old. She is eight years older than me, and she was like, cool. So that was like, whoa, like she was giving you 54 Elevens. She was giving you overalls. She was giving you, you know, fashion. So she was giving you, you know, word up posters on the wall of New Kids on the block. Like all the rap, all the hip hop I was, I was immersed. I looked up to The Cosby Show, like just as like a was like it was like Narnia, The Cosby Show and a Different World existed for me in this very sacred space, like and like my punishment, I was never grounded, like, oh, go to your room. Or you can’t go out and play like my grounded was, you can’t watch The Cosby Show and it was like, This is this is cruel and unusual punishment. Like, I don’t even understand what I did to deserve this. That’s how important it was to me and I looked up to like, I wouldn’t say that there were like icons in that time frame in the same way there are now that I felt like I had access to idolize. I think that in this day and age
Jameela [00:31:59] Who are those people now?
Amanda [00:32:02] I don’t look up to anybody now, because now I know better. But I appreciate
Jameela [00:32:10] What do you mean? Is that because you met a lot of them and you know, what’s really happening?
Amanda [00:32:15] Yeah you just meet people you’re like. I mean, like I look up to LeVar Burton, like I like I, you know, sometimes meeting your heroes is like, Oh my God, I’m so glad I met my hero like. But sometimes you just like, Ooh, I should have kept that one in the back pocket. But the real thing is more so just understanding that like people are people and you can appreciate and acknowledge without feeling like you’re looking up to them. And I guess that’s more so where I’m at at this point. I mean, I am 40, you know, so I’m not looking up to anybody as much as I am inspired by and in admiration of folks that are some who are my peers, some younger, older, you know, all over the place.
Jameela [00:32:57] And I’ve learned to cherry pick the things that I like about certain people. Obviously, if they’ve committed a crime, then I’m probably I’m out. But other than that, like I’ve learned to not, I don’t like the deification of any figure, politician or whatever. Like, I think it’s really unhealthy. It sets weird expectations for them, but mostly it’s because it reflects them back on us. It makes us then set weird expectations for ourselves if like, Oh, I can never be like them, they’re so excellent and I’m so shit. I think it’s all just really unhealthy. I think just cherry picking parts of different people that you like. But we do this with our own friends. We’re like, You’re the friend that’s good to go out with, but maybe not the friend who’s good for a six person dinner party. You know what I mean, like, it’s OK to you’re like, you’re the colleague who I want to do this team work with. You’re not the colleague that I want to plan this event with. You know what I mean or who I want to delegate to because I don’t trust the I’ll do that right, but I find you very fun and engaging to work with. We do this in every area.
Amanda [00:33:53] Like I’ll invite you I don’t want to plan it with you.
Jameela [00:33:55] Yeah, exactly. So I think that we need to do that more. If we’re going to look up, look up or look out towards anyone that feels like a much more balanced, sustainable way of being able to to learn from each other because otherwise we’re just going to like turn our blinkers on to everyone. So like, you’re not perfect, fuck off. You’re not perfect fuck off but I think that’s scary.
Amanda [00:34:15] But I think that’s what cancel culture is. To me, that’s like the trouble with cancel culture. Cancel culture portends that an error by someone can be completely devoiding of their existing and their existent.
Jameela [00:34:27] And defining in their entirety.
Amanda [00:34:29] Yes. And and and. And also often times is attached to things of the past and doesn’t acknowledge like someone’s ability to have grown or be more informed. You know, and I am a very big believer that you know better, you do better. So like, there are absolutely, I’m sure, things I’ve said in the past that seemed ignorant because I didn’t have the information and now I have the information.
Jameela [00:34:53] Do you practice that yourself like you and I both have a track record for calling other people out very explicitly. Do you feel as though you then are able to show them grace later upon seeing better behavior? Do you practice that yourself?
Amanda [00:35:09] Yes. Rarely is that taking place but.
Jameela [00:35:13] No I feel the same way.
Amanda [00:35:14] But yes and I also and I also make a practice of particularly within the black community, calling people in versus calling them out and you know,
Jameela [00:35:24] what’s the what is the difference in how that looks?
Amanda [00:35:27] Well, that looks like me having a side conversation with you versus a social media excoriation. So, you know, in the past, it may be like, why the fuck would you say that? Like, you know, just because I got too loose on the social media thing and also because I think that I for a long time really forgot, like how many people are watching. And I also want to extend the grace to others that I would want for myself and and consider that, you know, maybe you really just didn’t know. And that also is a part of like, that’s healthy, that’s healthy relationships throughout. Like when you get into like an actual romantic relationship with someone that you’re really, really building something with like grace becomes to me like your biggest currency because it’s two humans trying to move through the world together and sometimes like you really just like you maybe did not know the way they were coming from, but you were coming from someplace and now you’ve taken us down a road. And so it just saves so much energy and time to start from a place of So where did this come from?
Jameela [00:36:31] Come from? Yeah, I think that I love that about grace being a currency. I think that’s very true. I’m not big on forgiveness, but I’m OK with like in my own personal life. I’m not good on forgiveness. I it’s not something that I’m very good at, but I am good at grace. And I think that there is a nuance.
Amanda [00:36:50] What makes you not good at it?
Jameela [00:36:51] I just don’t really. I don’t. I think we’ve all got different meanings of forgiveness maybe but I don’t really. I can’t really forgive when someone’s done something really bad, when I can see someone’s done a harmless thing that is a product of the environment, that’s different. But when someone has like, harmed me or harmed someone I love. I can rarely show grace later because I’m a petty bitch, but but but I I can’t forgive even the people that like I love who are still in my life when they’ve done a big thing that’s hurt me. I’ll never forgive that thing. But I can find a way to move on and learn to appreciate the new sides of themselves, provided they are actually making a change. But forget this feels like some sort of like erasure, it feels like the slate is never cleaned.
Amanda [00:37:36] Yeah. And I don’t like that definition either.
Jameela [00:37:39] It’s never cleaned. Never with me.
Amanda [00:37:39] It’s never cleaned. No, it’s true I’m with you. I like I don’t forget. But to your point like this slate isn’t clean, but if you do enough work to, like, repurpose that smudge and maybe make it into a flower and you know, you can move forward, you know? But that’s effort. And I feel like that’s the frustration I have when I see folks, and I’ll just be like, I forgive you. You know, when I see black people in court being like, I forgive you to these like racist ass motherfuckers that be just wiling, I’m like, What are you forgiving? Like, they didn’t ask for forgiveness. They haven’t done any efforts towards forgiveness. If you’re saying I release the anger that I have because I don’t want to carry it. Say that. But the idea that you’re forgiving them, I promise you, is this idea that like, OK, I don’t have to be accountable for this anymore. And atonement is a real thing like forgiveness and atonement are two different levels. You know, atonement is not just like I want you to be ok with me.
Jameela [00:38:45] Well atonement is the thing that the person who is, you know, looking for forgiveness has to do. Like forgiveness is the thing that can be doled out by the person who’s been harmed.
Amanda [00:38:54] Yes exactly. And that’s my thing. It’s like, they’re not. There’s no atonement, but people are like, Oh, I don’t have, I don’t, I don’t have that.
Jameela [00:39:01] But I think that probably is steeped more from religion and like a feeling of I was I always wondered that I’m not saying this about the people that you’re describing, but sometimes I feel like when people are like, I forgive you. It comes from a place of then hopefully being a forgiving person has been something that has been like even I’ve had, like family members in my life been like, You must forgive, you must forgive. As if like that is a virtuous thing to do, as if I will be virtuously superior to other people if I forgive and I’m like, No, we are being manipulated into that so we’ll forgive a bunch of bad people? So we’ll clean a bunch of like dirty slates like this. This turn the other cheek shit like, what if I don’t turn the other cheek if I look you right in your eye, then headbutt you in your face?
Amanda [00:39:44] Yeah, it would be a bloody mess, and that’s fine.
Jameela [00:39:46] I like a bloody mess sometimes I need it, but also I can move. I can move. But not always, but I can move past it. I can learn to appreciate the ways that sometimes someone grows from an awful thing where sometimes they become more profound than they were before because of I think I’ve become not profound necessarily, but I think I’ve become a significantly better and more wholesome and more empathetic and more careful person and a more appreciative person for all the shit that I got wrong, that I got called out on. What do you think about yourself?
Amanda [00:40:23] I don’t feel like I’ve gotten called out on legitimate things.
Jameela [00:40:29] Right. None of them legitimate?
Amanda [00:40:32] By social media standards, no, like I’m sure, like my man has called me out on some legitimate things. You know, like my peers, like my, my team, you know, like, I wasn’t being a good leader and I was definitely like, I needed to check how I was handling my the people that were working with me. And I needed to approach them in a far more respectful manner and in a far more conscious manner about just like morale. And I had to get checked about that in and it it completely changed the dynamics of my creative space.
Jameela [00:41:14] So do you feel like you’ve grown from that?
Amanda [00:41:18] But that’s what I was going to say, so like, that stuff what? What I mean. One million percent, 1000 percent going from that. And I feel very fortunate that I was checked about that and not just.
Jameela [00:41:31] Given up on.
Amanda [00:41:32] Abandoned. Yeah, because I’ve had that before, too, where, you know, someone is not communicating to me what their issue is and they just disappear or they just do some weird shit. And then you’re left to be like, Well, I don’t really know what that is. It’s far more effective for me, for someone to tell me, like, OK, so let me sit you down and say this, and you know, this is what the thing is. And then that also taught me how to do that with other people. Right. It taught me how to do that in a much more effective way to sit people down and say, OK, so here’s where my issues lie versus like, let me tell you what the problem is, because it’s like, that doesn’t necessarily get the outcome that you want, either. So it’s taught me to be far more effective in expressing like where my actual demands are, which changes the idea of demanding, you know, and it takes it takes the edge off and it takes the edge off. And some of it is just good old-fashioned maturity, right? Like some of that is also just being a self-aware person and moving through the world with more age and experience. But in terms of social media, nah, like there’s people that call me out that that call themselves calling me out on social media for things. But more often than not, it’s uninformed. It’s reductive. It’s my opposite.
Jameela [00:42:47] I can relate to that. I understand that.
Amanda [00:42:49] It’s like you, but you think you telling me something, though, like, that’s what it’s like. All you told me, and
Jameela [00:42:57] I know, I know, and I know what you mean.
Amanda [00:43:00] But you said something earlier about like, how do you do? Like, How do you kind of deal with like and forgive yourself about like when you misstep and you know, all of that. And I mean, I’m not the person who tells myself, like everyone makes mistakes like, I think that’s a cop out sometimes, but I am the person who says like, well. I know I didn’t come that I know it didn’t come from that, from ill intentions, and let me explore how I can course correct. And I and and I will ask the committee of people, you know, like what did I where did I step on this?
Jameela [00:43:31] I love the idea of an Amanda Seales committee.
Amanda [00:43:34] There is.
Jameela [00:43:35] Well, your Instagram followers think they are they Amanda Seales Committee?
Amanda [00:43:39] They’re not.
Jameela [00:43:39] No, I’m I’m aware I. But you have shifted your approach. You’ve been talking about this like lately, you’ve shifted your approach and how you communicate online, what you filter in what you filter out. You mentioned that earlier on the internet. So where’s that come from? Where’s the difference in like the way you maneuver? Do you feel like you are less bold on social media? Do you feel like you’re less involved? Do you jump on ship less quickly because you used to jump on it immediately? Always like you would be the when I would even hear rumblings of something happening, I would immediately go to your Instagram because I’m like, I bet she’s done a 45 story.
Amanda [00:44:14] Also, I was just like more tapped in.
Jameela [00:44:18] Your Instagram stories used to have like just like that.
Amanda [00:44:20] Mad dots. Just dots.
Jameela [00:44:21] It was crazy. I’d never seen anything like it, but I was also like compelled by it because you were so fucking entertaining and so often you had a very great take on it. But I also know that you jumped in sometimes like maybe sooner than you wish you had, like upon reflection. And so do you feel like you jump in less fast? Do you feel is that and does that come from a place of fear? Or does that come from a place of growth of like? No, I’m not jumping in now because I don’t want everyone to, you know, judge me, but I’m also I’m not going to jump in because I want to see where this goes. And maybe I will, upon learning new information, have a different opinion.
Amanda [00:44:52] Well that’s a perfect example with like what was happening with Palestine at the when was that at the end of the year? I have no end. I have no sense of time right now.
Jameela [00:45:05] I think it was more recent than that. It was this year.
Amanda [00:45:07] It was this year. And honestly, like the fact that like Gorilla Glue Girl was this year, like, I can’t even conceptualize. So like that was January and like we’ve just
Jameela [00:45:20] Oh my god. Bless her bless her.
Amanda [00:45:22] But like when because that was around, you know, May, June, and I was being pressured by many followers I have that are Palestinian to speak, I to speak out against what was the atrocities that were taking place, and there was a misinterpretation of my silence as support and even when I.
Jameela [00:45:48] Zionism.
Amanda [00:45:48] Yes. And even when I very clearly was like, my silence is not support. My silence is me not speaking on something I don’t know about until I know about it, it would be like, Well, why don’t you know about it? And it’s like, Well, you know, I mean, even as a black person in America, I’m still learning about my own culture that was hidden and lied to me about for the duration of my life. So like, give me a second. But the reason I brought that up, though, was because when you were asking like, you know, how do I approach things now, I for that particular scenario, like I really dove into research and to getting understanding. And I have people on the committee that are well-informed and like my stepsisters and stepmother, well my step brothers and step mother and my stepsisters, they’re all Palestinian. So I was also able to just have a very like immediate access point to having more than just a point of view, but actually having like in-depth understanding from a number of different perspectives. And at the end of the day, with that scenario, like once you actually look at the big picture and you do the math, you’re like, Oh, this is I’ve seen this before. OK. And so there’s a quick there can be quick math.
Jameela [00:47:12] Wait what do you mean? What do you mean?
Amanda [00:47:16] It’s colonialism. It’s imperialism, it’s easy to say it may be called something different, but you’re like, Oh, it’s like when you learn like a dance that these new kids have made up here. Like this is just the Cabbage Patch. And it’s like, Oh, like, I recognize this, but I say all of that also to just say, like on a basic note, it’s just like, oh, like make a choice to speak from information, not emotion.
Jameela [00:47:41] So you’re saying that you got criticized because of your silence, you were taking that time to go away and speak. And then when you did come and speak, you came from a hugely like informed directly from the source.
Amanda [00:47:53] I wouldn’t say hugely but
Jameela [00:47:53] No, I mean as in like sorry as in like hugely like more able to access directly from the source, rather than a lot of people who were just like reposting infographics.
Amanda [00:48:02] Youtube.
Jameela [00:48:02] Yeah. Yeah. You know, you actually had people who’ve lived there who have people still on the ground. They will tell you explicitly what’s going on, not through a media medium, you know what I mean?
Amanda [00:48:11] Correct. A media medium.
Jameela [00:48:15] Yeah exactly.
Amanda [00:48:15] And like I have a friend who was banned, like literally like banned for speaking about Palestine at the UN, like. So like his whole life was ruined for. I mean, it’s only just now like turning around and for simply speaking on like, hey, like. These are these are the, these are the things that I’m seeing here.
Jameela [00:48:39] So what you’re saying is that you’re so that as an example of you now being more careful.
Amanda [00:48:44] More careful and just more conscious.
Jameela [00:48:44] Like being willing to handle the fact that people are saying your silence is complicity and just taking not not feeling pressured to then jump in and speak or did you jump in and speak?
Amanda [00:48:53] One thousand percent. No, I didn’t.
Jameela [00:48:56] You went to the committee.
Amanda [00:48:56] I refused to jump in and speak, and this was at the chagrin of many folks on my Instagram. You know, just like, Oh, you’re yeah, you’re so quick to talk about Black Lives Matter, but you’re not talking about this. And it’s like, Well, I literally lived that existence, so I’m going to be able to speak about that from a far quicker response time than something that for all intents and purposes, is literally foreign to me because I haven’t, you know, had I haven’t had the like, even though my stepmother’s Palestinian like, we haven’t had these conversations. You know, and then I had my sister come on my podcast and speak, and she brought stories from her grandparents and from her grandmother, I mean, from her mother, et cetera, et cetera. But in general, like just as a life practice, I’ve just worked on pausing.
Jameela [00:49:46] Do you think you were caving to pressure before to speak on stuff, to jump on stuff?
Amanda [00:49:52] Sometimes. Absolutely. Yeah. And sometimes the pressure wouldn’t even be explicit as much as it would just feel like. I guess I speak on this because everyone’s talking about this. I don’t want to be on the wrong side.
Jameela [00:50:03] I’ve just stopped now. I so much of the time. Yeah, but that’s tribalism. That’s tribalism. That’s like, I don’t want to get kicked out of the tribe.
Amanda [00:50:12] Well, there was this woman who this like young woman who was like in Jamaica and she like, made these videos accusing this hotel of like holding her hostage and blah blah blah. And like then people I knew were like, Yo, like, this is serious. Like, this could be concerning. And from my place of just like wanting women to be safe. I was like, Hey, like, I’m not sure what the truth is around this, but if it is serious, like we need to call attention to it. And and then turned out that she was a fraud. And, you know, that was that. But then people were DMing me like, how dare you support this fraud? And it’s like, Well, I didn’t know she was a fraud.
Jameela [00:50:55] So you’ve become you become more, you become more discerning, you’ve become calmer in your,
Amanda [00:51:01] But also just happier. I mean, that’s part of it, too.
Jameela [00:51:04] And what does how does the happiness impact the way that you engage publicly
Amanda [00:51:08] because you just have inner peace, you have more peace
Jameela [00:51:10] and that gives you more space to make better decisions and to be more. And to also encourage more peace in your interactions online. I still find this to be a tremendously. Like on the pulse of everything. I don’t think you’ve dropped off the radar. I haven’t dropped at the rate we still talk about shit that is important and vital. But I do definitely see like more of a more of a calculation. Maybe. I’m trying to think of the word.
Amanda [00:51:35] It’s really thoughtfulness.
Jameela [00:51:38] It’s thoughtfulness is the word I’m trying to say. Calculation has a bad rap now, but I meant it.
Amanda [00:51:43] Yeah it has like a measured.
Jameela [00:51:43] I know, but I but I do think, I think when you have a big platform I do like, I don’t consider it, but I think I am now more calculated in that. I think that we are required to be more measured, to be more thoughtful, to be not manipulative. It doesn’t always have to mean manipulative, but I think we are supposed to be more analytical of like, what is the cause? What is the effect of when I speak to several million people?
Amanda [00:52:05] Absolutely. And I have to be very conscious of like certain words like but and and you know, you think like, Oh, what? What does she mean? Well, if you say da da da da da, but da da da da da you just erase everything that you said before the but.
Jameela [00:52:21] Yeah.
Amanda [00:52:22] So you have to have a certain consciousness about like, I want this to be received a certain way. I mean, ultimately, I think it’s really just about being mindful. And I think what you’re calling calculated to me is just sounds like mindfulness and self awareness.
Jameela [00:52:37] Totally. But also just please know that my calculator doesn’t come from the same killer place that yours does.
Amanda [00:52:42] Thank you. Good to know.
Jameela [00:52:53] It’s really nice to see you happy. And I’m really, really sad to see like what kind of the spiral of controversies of 2019 and for me, 2020 did to us. And I’m glad that it hasn’t completely erased the fire in us and in the other people have had to go through that shit wherever they’re at school office, work place, if they’re working in government. It makes me happy to see people persist. And you are a great role model for persistence.
Amanda [00:53:24] Thank you. It’s so funny you say that because there’s a board somewhere in this office that says Persist Bitch and I actually don’t know where I just moved. So things are still a little in disarray. But my makeup artist at The Real that was our, well, she’s my makeup artist in general, but that when we were at The Real that was our like motto, like our mantra every day persist bitch. And it really becomes part of the affirmation because so much of this life is just sticking around for the good part.
Jameela [00:54:05] 100 percent and believe in the good part will happen. So what advice do you have for young, outspoken people who might be facing resistance in their university or in their workplace? People who are wanting to be more vocal about things that they think are fucked up? Was your advice someone who’s kind of been through the been through like the mill and also been a part of really informing and making other people feel very seen? What advice do you have to those people about what’s coming good and bad?
Amanda [00:54:32] The earlier you come to accept that the world is constructed by and large, on a on a phoniness that you don’t align with, then the quicker you’ll come to understand that your tribe is about quality, not quantity. And sometimes it can feel very lonely when you’re an outspoken person, can feel very isolating, it can feel like I’m just always the one who’s in the confrontation. I’m always the one who’s having all the guns pointed at me. Why is it always me? And it’s you. Because your different. And that difference doesn’t have to be the death of you. It’s the strength of you, actually. And it just means that you are going to find people who appreciate that from different sources, then you may have originally thought. So invite yourself to open up your or invite yourself to shift your focus to like just loving you and the law of attraction comes in that way in a very real way. And I again, I will say like. It’s not about being popular, it’s being it’s about being appreciated. I felt for a long time, just very, very lonely. Like, damn, like I’m just like out here by myself, like, is this really what it’s going to be? Because I really don’t like this? And it it took a shift in consciousness to really understand that it’s like you don’t need anybody to like you. You need, like six people in different forms, as we talked about earlier.
Jameela [00:56:19] I live with all of mine.
Amanda [00:56:22] There you go. And that’s that. And I think there’s a misconception, particularly because of social media that says it like you got to have an abundance of people that are like getting you and understanding you and liking you and loving you and all of this. And it’s like. Don’t be a prick. Treat yourself kindly, treat others kindly, keep it movin.
Jameela [00:56:44] Great. Before I let you go, because you’re so busy. Will you tell me, what do you weigh?
Amanda [00:56:51] I weigh how I treat my friends. That means a lot to me, and I do a lot of self checking about that because I know I’m a very big personality and so I try and make it. I try to be very self-aware to not be monopolizing and one sided in my in the way I show up in my friendships. I weigh my art, so the craft that I partake in, whether it be visual art or writing or performing, I it matters to me greatly that I show up in that space consciously and and freely. I weigh like how I’ve shown up as a daughter. Like that is like, very important to me that I’ve shown up as a daughter in a way that makes my mom feel like she did a good job.
Jameela [00:57:45] That’s great.
Amanda [00:57:47] And I weigh my empowerment of my community, whether they like it or not.
Jameela [00:58:00] That’s great. Everyone go and follow Amanda and watch all of her dots on Instagram. And you read her book and listen to her podcast and watch her TV shows. You really are just a very unusual and interesting and wonderful woman, and I’m very pleased to have had a chance to sit down and talk to you about this stuff, and I think it’s very helpful in a time where demonizing is just becoming more and more hyper normalized. And I think it’s important to arm people with a way to know how to handle that, whether it means editing yourself a little bit, maybe checking yourself, but also learning how to survive that. And so I appreciate you, and hopefully you’ll come back sometime.
Amanda [00:58:48] Yes, I shall. Thank you so much for having me. It was fun.
Jameela [00:58:51] Thank you. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnigan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson, and the beautiful music you are hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Asked Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month to Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code, I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [00:59:45] Hi, Jameela, and everyone on this lovely podcast. I weigh my ability to do things and move forward through my life, even though I never know what the fuck I’m doing. I weigh my engineering degrees and my career in space and satellites that is providing critical information on the health of our planet. I weigh my compassion for individual people, despite being jaded and frustrated by society as a whole. I weigh my love for swimming and biking in my 30 years of having type one diabetes, which I am controlling better now than I ever have before. And I weigh in my family who love and support me and I them.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.