How To Make Minority Friends – A Collector’s Guide

Season 2, Episode 4

by Ashia R.
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In this episode:

Want to make a Black or brown friend?

Disappointed in the lack of disabled talking points at your party?

Wish you could say ‘I’m not homophonic, I have a bisexual neighbor’?

Join Ashia & Bellamy and learn how to collect a menagerie of minorities to show off to the people you actually care about.

This week, we’re talking about:

  • What does it mean to be a Collector, and why is it messed up?
  • How to stop tokenizing your friends
  • How to make actual friends, not Pokemon
  • Assignment: Go Forth and Befriend!
Ashia Ray
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Let's collaborate

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Guest Speakers

Bellamy (they/them) is the owner of a wealth of marginalized identities and founder of Revolutionary Humans.

As an essayist and community builder, they pull from years of experience with family services to help parents and educators become everyday advocates and activists.

 Support Revolutionary Humans

Visit their website at RevolutionaryHumans.com to learn more and connect with them.

Bonus Resources & References

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Episode Transcript

Bellamy
Hello. Oh, hi. Hello.

Ashia Ray
Okay, here we go on the podcast. Welcome, everybody to the Raising Luminaries Podcast!!

Bellamy
[laughter] air horn.

Ashia Ray
Season 2! Episode 4! This is Ray Ray and today we’re in cahoots with my partner in do-goodery, Bellamy Schoffner, of Revolutionary Humans. In this episode, we’re gonna learn how to make minority friends!

Bellamy
[laughter] Or not.

Ashia Ray
And then, which is like a little sneak peek into our spring collaborative work where we work together. And then we’re also going to introduce a new segment.

We’re getting very fancy with this podcast – Good Ideas to Avoid!

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
So I will quickly introduce Bellamy. So Bellamy is the owner of a wealth of marginalized identities and founder of revolutionary humans. They’re an essayist and a community builder and they pull from years of experience with family services to help parents and educators become everyday advocates and activists. So visit their website RevolutionaryHumans.com. To learn more and connect with them. Bellamy Do you have anything to add?

Bellamy
No, Hi. Happy to be here. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Okay, so what are we doing? Okay, so today we’re talking about how to collect minority Pokemon. So that way [unintelligible] so you can say , ‘Oh, I have a disabled friend!’

Or you can drop their name and conversations when you new meet new people with the same identity be like “Oh, you know, my friend *Levar…* he said…’

Bellamy
[burst out laughing]

Ashia Ray
I “just, just to let you know, I’m-a safe. I’m a safe person.”

Bellamy
[laughter] Sorry. The choice – the choice of name was so good and caught me completely off guard. [Laughter]

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] And then of course, you can show them off to your *regular* friends at parties. [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] Your regular friends. Your standard. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Standard regular! And of course, the basic use – use them as an easy bake oven to bake your own ally cookies. So. [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] Yeah, this is what we do with people, right? We collect them. Yeah, we make sure that they cover all of our bases, so that no one can accuse us of not being good people, right?

Ashia Ray
Yeah, you gotta catch them all.

Bellamy
Gotta catch them all. Yeah, that’s what we do. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
So I mean, I guess we don’t have to go into like a long diatribe about how this feels to be collected. [laughter] But both Bellamy and I have been been collected in the past. And what’s interesting, it’s sometimes it takes a little bit to recognize it, right? Because you would never meet a new person be like, “Oh, this person just sees me as this one thing.”

Because I don’t know about you. But like when I meet a new person, and they’re like, “Hi, I want to be friends!” and I’m like “oooh! New friend!” Not like, “Hi, would you like to be a part of my menagerie?”

Bellamy
[laughter] Yeah, it’s very hard to spot initially. And also without that, like, you have to have a certain level of jadedness, I think, to automatically assume someone is saying hello to you so they could collect you and show you off. So yeah, I think it’s really hard to recognize. And also it comes in a wide variety of, I will say like shapes and sizes, like it can happen many, many different ways. So.

Ashia Ray
Okay, so [laughter] let’s get into it.

So today… ahh, friends, we are going to cover ‘What does it mean to be a collector,’ maybe a little bit on why it’s messed up. How to Stop tokenizing your friends if you’re interested in maybe leveling up on the friendship?

How to make actual friends, not Pokemon. And then we’re going to send you out to the world with an assignment. So hopefully we have time for all of that today. But either way, we’ll have good time!

Okay, so when we’re coming up with the idea for this episode, the standard – the thing I was thinking about is like ‘What do I get the most concerned …what is the question and the challenge that members of our community with privilege propose without actually saying it out loud.’

Like they kind of tap dance around the issue. And this is like, clearly a main pain point or whatever, like they’re really concerned about this. But they’re almost too embarrassed or afraid to ask. Or they don’t really know how to ask.

Similarly, I have done consulting with anti racism trainers, particularly when these people are white or privileged. And they’re, they’re teaching about anti oppression work. Inevitably, there’s always like this, this section that says, like, “Here’s how to pop your your white bubble.” Or your wealthy bubble or whatever.

“Go forth into the world and tour!” [laughter] “And tour your urban areas!”

And I’m like… ahhhh…

Bellamy
Don’t do that.

Ashia Ray
Don’t, that’s not great. And it takes a really long time to explain to them why it’s not great. And sometimes we just walk away from that conversation with them being like, “Well, we were just gonna have to agree to disagree.”

And so I’m done having that conversation. So let’s just have it right now. So we can just link to it in the future. [laughter]

So here’s a common scenario where you have… I hate beating up on white people, but it’s just so easy. So like, you have white people saying “I want to pop my kids white bubble. We live in like a progressive area. We’re middle upper class, and we want to pop my kids bubble. So they get *exposed*”

They always use this word – EXPOSED. To other people, right? Like ‘the other.’

So basically, this involves a level of using other people unwittingly, for your own edification, or to educate your child like you’re visiting a zoo or a museum exhibit. And a lot of this involves invading spaces or safer spaces, where people are allowed to let their guard down and not constantly revolve around the most powerful person in the room. And then just invade that space and kind of ruin it for them.

While also still maintaining the distance of not being in community with them. And if we want to raise kind and courageous leaders, we need to, we need to teach them the difference between using someone versus being in community with them. This also is helpful if you want to identify and end the early stages of saviorism.

And then we’re going to talk about how you actually listen and support friends with less power and privilege without using them. Do you have anything. Any thoughts on that Bellamy?

Bellamy
No. My mind is kind of racing, but I’m going to reserve my comments for a moment.

Ashia Ray
Okay! So whenever I think about this – someone came up with this great term called ‘collectors.’ And it’s the the author of Real Social Skills, who, when I checked their website, just now they don’t have their name on it anymore. So I’m not going to name them. But there’s a blog post, I’ll put it in the show notes, called ‘Beware of collectors.’

And right at the top of the page, there’s this passage, it says, “Collectors like to maintain collections of people who they can manipulat. Often collectors target marginalized people, especially activists and advocates who are growing into their own voices and power.”

So the thing about – and this post goes into an extreme example of someone who’s actively gaslighting you and doing it on purpose. But it’s important that we remember that collectors – you can be an unintentional collector. You can have good intentions. You can genuinely want the best for the person you’re collecting. But there’s a certain mode by which we go about dehumanizing people that makes it a collection rather than a relationship.

Real life collectors are sneaky, like Bellamy said, there’s so many different ways to do it. And it’s usually less clear cut and less clearly abusive, especially in the early stages. [breath] So tell me, do you have any any thoughts on collectors?

Bellamy
Mmm. It makes me think of a couple things. One, when I first started the magazine that parenthood and social justice magazine, I had this guy tell me, I mean, I knew him, but we will never be friends. I had him tell me basically, like, “Watch out. All of the white people are going to take your work and use it against you.”

Or sort of grab at you for things. Or use you as the spokesperson for them to feel okay about themselves. And I think he said a lot of other things that were not great, but I do think that there’s some truth to that idea of… I put myself out there and became like a ‘safe Black person’ to talk to.

But not only like a ‘safe Black person’ to talk to. Someone who had the tiniest bit of stature, or clout – in the way that people needed for them to be able to say, “Oh, well I know Bellamy, so I can’t be racist.”

That’s the implication there. Or like…[laughter] “I talked to Bellamy so clearly I care about other people.”

So I have had that experience on a on a small scale. And then I’ve had it on a larger scale with a with a major decision – and being pulled into a major decision under the guise of helpfulness and kindness and friendship.

I would love to live in a world where I could forget that people are going to try to use me.

Ashia Ray
[laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] That would be very nice. Like, you shouldn’t ever have to wonder that someone’s not actually trying to help you. They’re trying to collect you.

And so I think it’s, I don’t know, I just think it can, like I said, it can happen on all different scales, in all different types of ways. And it’s never good. It’s never good.

And I don’t know – when you are looking at someone thinking, “Okay, well, my son has never played with a Black kid. So maybe Bellamy will bring her kids to play with my son,” like, “Maybe we will use them.”

Like what is going through your head?

Ashia Ray
[disgusted sound]

Bellamy
Like what? [laughter] How do you… How does someone justify that thought process? Is it conscious? Is it subconscious? Sometimes it’s so blatant that I feel like it must be a conscious choice.

I feel like I have had the experience of being sought out because my kids are are brown and they’ll provide someone else’s kid with a new experience. And it’s really gross.

Ashia Ray
I wonder, do you think – there has to be some self denial in there. Because when you think it out – that sounds gross. So I wonder if they think that there’s some benefit to you? Or is it just purely like that Richard Pryor movie, ‘The Toy?’ Right? Like, they’re just like, “This is an object for me to be purchasing… or luring into my play date.” [laughter]

Bellamy
[Laughter] Right, I think that there, I think there is some sort of denial or illusion that the ‘help’ that is offered is greater than any potential damage. Like that is a trade off. Or there’s some like reciprocation happening.

But if you are swindling someone into the deal, then it’s never gonna be a fair deal. It’s never gonna be a trade off. So yeah, there must be some, some part that’s like, “If I invite Bellamy and her sons to go out for ice cream, and I pay for the ice cream, then that makes up for the fact that I am inviting them for ice cream because I want my son, or my child, to be around Black people.”

Like I think there’s a transactional part of it.

Ashia Ray
Yeah,

Bellamy
Where it – where someone is able to justify it. Or make it seem like… or convince themselves that it is a genuine friendship. Because like, yeah, sometimes you treat your friends to ice cream. [Laughter] It’s like… mmm? Yeah. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] Like, on that show ‘Woke’ where there’s the guy that makes posters, and he’s like “Rent a Black person!”

Bellamy
[laughter] Yeah, yeah. It feels like that.

Ashia Ray
Well, it’s like ‘getting’ a disabled kid for your child’s birthday party, and let them come. And that’s the gift. Right? Their gift is being invited. It’s exposure!

Bellamy
[laughter] Exactly.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. So quickly wanted to talk about – I’m wondering if maybe, if you come from a place of privilege, where you have your pick and choice. And you like you said, you have to develop a sense of jadedness when you meet a new person. Like, “Is this a collector?” and I definitely have that.

At this point. I have definitely developed a jaded perspective. And I have had it for a couple of years now – about allistic parents with Autistic kids. Like I get very nervous around them. I’ve spent enough time in these spaces, to hear the terrible things that they say, especially when they don’t realize I’m autistic.

And then to hear – just to be in a space where I am allistic-passing, at least temporarily, and then hear what they’re saying when they think we’re not around. But then the things that they say to my face. About like, “You don’t know, because you’re autistic, you can’t fully comprehend how…”

Like that nonsense. So it’s, it’s gotten to a point where like, I am so jaded and so done, and so weary, that I tell other allistic parents, “Please don’t invite autistic adults into your spaces, it’s not safe for them.”

Unless you’re gonna prioritize their safety, and their emotional health. Don’t invite us. Because I think about – who is most vulnerable to being collected? Because none of us grows up thinking like, “Someone’s going to be using me.”

As much as you know, my mom prepared me that racists are going to be coming at me, they didn’t prepare me for the ‘friendly version’ of racism, right? She prepared me for poeple to call me slurs. She prepared me for people to chase me down the street. She prepared me to be murdered. But she didn’t prepare me for the people who sidle up and call me a friend, and then use me as an excuse to make Asian jokes. Right?

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
Or try and get me to be like an unpaid mentor, like a free mentor for their kid. So I think a lot about… who is vulnerable, right? Who is the most hurt in the situation?

Are the people who traditionally are left out of birthday parties. Like, I follow the ‘Am I the Asshole’ thing on Reddit, and at least a couple of times a month someone’s like, “Am I the asshole for inviting every kid in my kid’s class, except for the disabled kid?”

And I’m like, “Yeah?”

Bellamy
Yeah

Ashia Ray
So I mean, I admit, I was annoying. My kid is really fucking annoying. I understand why you don’t want him to your birthday party. Don’t invite him if you don’t want him. I don’t give a shit.

But the idea of like, we grow up within this sense that we are the ‘other.’ And we are not welcome in spaces. Especially growing up in Boston, where everything was monoracial. I wasn’t welcome in Asian spaces, I wasn’t welcome and white spaces, and I was autistic. And you grow up this sense of desperation, to belong, and to be welcome into spaces.

So people with targeted identities, people who are considered ‘the other’ are so vulnerable. And so looking for belonging and looking for welcome. And also, we usually don’t have well paying jobs, we usually don’t have networking opportunities. So at first, that dangling bait of friendship, is so appealing just to have some human connection.

And then to have it twisted, and corrupted into like, “Actually, you’re here as…”

[Laughter] Like, we talk about, like…. we’ll get into this later. Bit I have this fantasy personal of like, “If I was a white lady, what would my day look like right now?”

And I think about like, “I would be invited to the party as a guest. NOT the caterer.”

Bellamy
[Laughter]

Ashia Ray
Or as a guest speaker, right? Like, I would be invited as a guest to enjoy the party. And that’s not my life. So when people dangle that in front of you, being like, “I will invite you to my, to my world,” I think a lot of people aren’t recognizing how vulnerable people are. And they’re like, “Well, they can just say, ‘No.’ They don’t have to be my friend. They don’t have to come to this thing.” And they don’t realize the background behind that. Yeah, so just wanted to add that in there

Bellamy
Right. But I also think – I don’t know that they DO think they can say no. I honestly think that they believe that what they have to offer is so great. That of course you would – of course you wouldn’t say no! Of course she would want to be there. Of course you would want to do this thing. I don’t think ‘no’ ever even crosses their minds.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. And that is true. I’ve learned to say ‘no.’ I’m practicing saying ‘no,’ over the last couple of years and people get very aggressive about it. Like aggressive in a Nice Allistic White Lady way. Like “I understand. But can you, do you… I just want to check again? Are you sure you don’t want to come? Are you sure? Are you sure? I’m just checking in.”

And it’s like they beat you down? [laughter]

Bellamy
My least favorite type of aggression.

Ashia Ray
“I respect your ‘No,’ I don’t want to overwhelm you. But also – I just want to check one more time. Are you sure?!”

Bellamy
Mmhmm [laugher] Yeah.

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Like we do, of course. [breath] Okay. So let’s see. Do you have any – I have a lot of stories about examples of what it looks like to do collecting, or to be collected. I don’t know if you had any off the top of your head that you wanted to speak to.

Bellamy
[Sigh] I almost feel like I have too many. It’s a little bit hard for me to to narrow it down. Cause I do think sort of universally, I think I appear to be an….unintimidating? Is that a word? Like an unintimidating Black person when people are like… looking for black people!

Ashia Ray
[Laughter]

Bellamy
[Laughter] Like I think that I [laughter] I think I fit… whatever it is that they find, like more palatable? Or they think that I fit that. I don’t actually fit that. That’s the appearance I give.

So I just feel like it happens… all the time? Almost everywhere I go. I feel like it is very, like a pervasive situation for me. And I have to – I almost feel like I’m more fending off people who are trying to use me to make themselves look better, or to to collect me or add me to their collection.

Because people will do very specific things like – a friend will specifically wear their Black Lives Matter t-shirt to come see me.

Ashia Ray
[laughter]

Bellamy
[Laughter] One time, I was in a store, or was – or even when… Nevermind, I’m not gonna get into the t shirt. I’m gonna let that go. But one time I was in a store. My kids and I we went in the store and it was not that long ago. So I think it was the verdicts for maybe the people who murdered Ahmaud Arbery? I think it had come out while we were getting to the store. And the shop keeper just, you know, kind of emphatically said, ‘Yeah, well, I’m glad that,’ you know – he was just like. You know. This very performative, “Hi, Black person!”

Ashia Ray
Like you don’t want that on your mind when you’re looking for lettuce?

Bellamy
Right! I just like, I was looking for candles and chocolates. I was gift shopping. I was not looking for that… so I feel like it happens in these small ways. With people you’re never gonna see again, but who are – they’re not collecting you. But they’re collecting that, that feeling of representing what they think is progressiveness or inclusion. In your presence. They’re collecting that like idea of ‘When this when this person came in here. when this Black person came in here, I was a good white person.” [laughter]

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Feeling like you are like a mobile photo booth. And they’re collecting the experience.

Bellamy
Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly. And it’s so …as we’re talking about, I feel like, when is it not happening? That’s more so how I feel.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. Yeah. It’s so dehumanizing to the point where it’s just, it’s not even the person anymore, or the relationship or the semblance of relationship. It’s the experience of bouncing off of you. So they can say something to you, and then tell their friends later about how they said something to you?

Bellamy
Mmhmm.

Ashia Ray
Dragging you into this, like, “Hey, don’t forget, you can be killed on the street!”

Bellamy
Right!? Yeah! Yeah! Like, I’m in here with my kids. Like, we don’t – we’re not talking about that right now. We’re having a nice shopping Saturday, like we’re not… [laughter]

Ashia Ray
It’s almost like, I don’t know, I know that we we talked a little bit about like, ‘What’s it like to not have to talk about how to navigate whiteness and ableism?’ But… we don’t think about it 100% of the time. [laughter]

Bellamy
Right. Right. That’s the attempt to get away from it. Right? Like, it’s kind of always buzzing in the back of your head. But if you’re just going shopping, or if you just have a friend coming over – that’s the attempt to just be a human who was not thinking about all of the ways that humanity is trying to kill me. Like I just like [laughter] just can I get a few minutes and not do that?

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Just wanna get some chocolate. Yeah. So I was like, it is so pervasive, and it’s happening all the time. So I sat down for 20 minutes before this podcast and thought “What… what’s a few examples?”

They just tumble out of your brain, right? Because you store them up over time being like, “This is normal. This is normal….Wait, what if I had a framework for what this looks like?”

So I came up with five examples in a few seconds, which is – things like luring your vulnerable token friend into a space where they’ll be at risk, or re-traumatized, or just feel like the ‘other.’

Like, when you’re when you’re luring your disabled friend or friend of color, whatever, into a space where everyone else is the dominant group – they are going to always notice. They’re always going to feel it. They’re always going to have to center around it.

Or even just like dragging one person who you know is dangerous for them into that party. Like theycan’t relax and settle down in that in that space, because they’re gonna have to orient themselves.

Like – I was pulled into a party, being like “I don’t like this. I don’t want to come. No, thank you.” But you know, got the – “Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

And I ended up stuck for a weekend with an ABA abuser. And – no notice, like, on the drive there, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, and this person does ABA, I’m tryna fix them, you know…” And like, whoa! You don’t just like lure someone… you don’t be like “Oh, yeah, one of my friends is a Nazi, and like, I’m trying to talk to them about it.”

It’s like, don’t do that. Don’t lure your vulnerable friends into dangerous…

Bellamy
No.

Ashia Ray
Like sure, you might think that this person is safe. OR maybe that person might find out. I’m Autistic and call DCF and get my kids taken away. Who knows?!

Bellamy
Yeah, that’s a dangerous game to play.

Ashia Ray
Yeah, and then the same thing with outing you’re trans friends with your other friends. Like someone being like, “Oh, I have this friend, she’s trans.”

And like, don’t tell me that. You don’t know that I’m safe. You always get individual consent to out someone. You know?

And then there’s always like the… one of the things that comes off as the nicest, and it’s the hardest, like, “Can you stop that!” Is the one where they’re like, they bring you in, they show you off to the ‘regular’ friends. Like, ‘Ashia is like, so much better than us. Ashia is so great.”

And I think about like, in college, and they’d be like, “Oh, this is my Asian friend. They’re a ninja! They can kill you with one kick!’ Right? Like could you not? Could you just… can we just eat our salad? [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
Placing someone on a pedestal sounds like a compliment. But you’re you’re placing them on a pedestal, which is inherently dehumanizing. And everyone if they’re placed on a pedestal, they’re only being put there to get knocked down.

Doing that thing where you’re like – and this comes in the form of like, “Oh, but you’re one of the good ones.” Right?

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
“You have a sense of humor, you’re not like the other girls.” But it always comes with some sense of like, pushing them up to be superhuman. Without thinking about the consequences of an actual complex human being who either feels the need to keep performing, so they can stay in the group, or has to be in the uncomfortable place of saying like, “Can you not do that?”

And you can’t explain why that compliment… like it’s never a comfortable conversation be like, “Hey, when you call me that, when you like, make it sound like I’m morally superior, even – it’s so uncomfortable and dehumanizing.”

But then also another example of collecting someone is exploiting a friend’s experience to gain sympathy, right? Or like, “Oh, I have a friend who’s going through a hard time.”

And they use that with their other friends to get a “Oh poor you.” Or even to get a reputation for having these friends – obviously.

[laughter] I’m thinking of Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry and the…

Bellamy
Hah! No!

Ashia Ray
Like the way they have Asian people in the background…

Bellamy
Nope!

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Like decoration! [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] That’s…No!

Ashia Ray
Literally a profit – whether it’s financial, like literally financial like with Gwen Stefani or, or just an overall social profit for thier reputation, right? Or even just like, [laughter] they insert people into their conversation, where they’re like, “Oh, I totally understand that.” Like, you’re a single mom, “I have a friend who’s a single mom. And like, I have to listen to all the…” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] I hear – I hear it’s really difficult. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
It doesn’t come off as empathetic. It comes off as like a stereotype or like, I’m flattening you into this category.

Bellamy
Yeah, and as you’re as you’re talking – One, I’ve certainly had this happen with people who are not white. So I just want to call that out. I want to own that myself – that people of color have used my identity to help boost them up.

Still don’t approve. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Yeah, it’s really important to point out – this is not just a white person problem. This is a power dynamic problem. Right?

Bellamy
Right. Right. Absolutely. It’s not like I planned it, but I just have a lot of things stacked against me, that seemed really interesting when we are in this world of activist and wanna-be activists who are trying to make a name for themselves or trying to collect donations or do different things. Like I’m the perfect example of someone to use for that. And so yeah, it just feels very, just really rough. People are like..

Ashia Ray
“I’m gonna take Bellamy out to lunch. And I’m gonna use this as a Go Fund Me to pay my lunch.”

Bellamy
Exactly. Like, “Oh, we can get donations if Bellamy just comes along.”

And it’s like, well, that’s not the goal. And we’ve talked before, this is a little bit off topic. But we talked before about how that hinders my ability to ask for help when I need help or to reach out to people when it’s actually necessary.

Having someone use my identity, or use my existence as a way to further… other interests. It really it backfires for me. And it is unhelpful.

Yeah. I guess it all sort of ties in though, because anytime that you do something, and it’s not genuine, it’s not actually for the betterment of the other person, or just for the, the simple equity of friendship – If it’s not just because you want to be friends, I think you run into the opportunity to do more harm than good. And to maybe cost that person, not just money, but emotional distress and all of that. Anytime your motivations are not genuine.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. And I will say like, it’s a fine line. And I think the difference is consent, right? Because when I boost you, and I boost your stuff all over the place – like “THIS MY FRIEND!”

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
COME DO THIS COOL THING BY MY COOL FRIEND! But I get your consent first. I’m like, ‘Hey, how do you want to be boosted?’ And then ‘Can I boost this?’ Like, if I love one of your [private] essays, I’m not going to share it out and be like, “Send me money because I [laughter] know this friend

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
I’ll get your permission first. And then – in what spheres, at what level, and then boost it. Because we’re not saying ‘don’t support your friends.’ We’re not saying ‘don’t fundraise for your friends’ or arrange meal trains and stuff.

What we’re saying is – get consent first. Find out what restrictions and boundaries they have. A then boost it – with their supervision, right? Like with their permission.

Because I know a lot of people – they want to, they’re like “My friends having a hard time. I’m going to email everyone they know and be like, ‘Oh, my friend just got into a domestic violence incident.’ And I want to like, fundraise for them!”

Be like… you didn’t have their consent to do that.

Bellamy
Right?

Ashia Ray
Way to take away the power from someone who already doesn’t have power.

Bellamy
Right. Absolutely. You have to have consent. And you have to have an understanding of timing. And your timing, or what you think is right may not be what the friend thinks is right. And I’ve had people kind of like, lump themselves in with my identity and claim to be in a similar situation when they’re not. And use that for their own personal gain. Pretending it benefited me. What?

Ashia Ray
Rachel Dolezal

Bellamy
Yeah, a little bit like.. mmm…it’s not…

Ashia Ray
But yeah, that ‘Bellamy is having a hard time. I am KIND of similar to Bellamy. Therefore, like, pay attention to me!” Right?

Bellamy
Yeah.

Ashia Ray
Yeah.

Bellamy
Yeah, like, give money to Bellamy, and give money to me.

Yeah.

The person who is in…

Ashia Ray
It is so hard to ask for help. Like you had the run fund, right? It took a lot of talking you into accepting help, right. But you got to – past the level of danger, to be willing to ask because you’re like “Well, so many people have asked on my behalf without my consent before that. I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I have the goodwill leftover to ask”

Bellamy
Right Yeah, I didn’t want to take advantage of, or appear to be taking advantage of people’s generosity. Yeah, having other people ask for money for me without my permission, made it harder for me to ask for help when I needed it.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. And I will say, I had a health scare years ago. And it was probably my neighbor faced with me and said, “I’d like to organize people to drop off meals. What do you like? Is this okay?” That was lovely. Like, I love her. She’s so wonderful. I don’t want to name her without her permission. But like, that was just the kindest thing. Just to have – it was just a few meals were dropped off. She’s like, “Is it okay if I reach out to people?” And she asked first. It felt like caring and felt like friendship. And that was very different than if she had just started it without my permission.

Bellamy
Right. Right. Yeah, I mean, cause yeah, sometimes people might need help, but you don’t know what kind of help they need, who they want it from, or when they want it.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. [laughter]

Bellamy
Like, [laughter] there’s so many there’s so many factors.

Ashia Ray
There’s, there’s so many factors that go into being a targeted person where like, I work really hard to – I don’t want to lie about what kind of parent I am. Or lie about making things seem easier than theyare. But I also have to balance that with – If I appear incompetent, someone can call child services and take away my child, right?

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
Because all they have to say in court is ‘They’re autistic.’ That’s all they have to say. And you get one ableist judge who’s like, “Mmm! Yeah, that sounds like cause [to take kids into custody]. Right? So by asking people for help in exposing more information than I want exposed – that really leaves me more vulnerable in the long run.

Bellamy
Right? Yeah, that was certainly one of my, one of my issues, too.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. So let me see another example of what it feels like to be collected. Where like that check in we talked about.

Like “Do you…do you want this?” And you’re like, “No, not really.”

And they’re like, “Are you sure?”

[laughter] Yeah, I’m sure.

Creating that false sense of caring, they say stuff like “I realize you have sensory issues. I know you can’t deal with crowds. I know transitions are hard. But! I really want you there.”

And it’s that sense of like – you have to be in the spaces they want you in, but they never want to come into the spaces you ask them to come to? I’m like, “Can we do one-on-one Zoom chats,’ Right? Places where you can’t show me off to your friends?

And they’re like, “Nope. Not gonna.”

Bellamy
Right

Ashia Ray
Like, okay, that’s not a friendship. That is parading me around like a show dog.

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
And then like it’s always so much harder to say no to these people, because they have so much power. Right? If I get the wrong White Lady angry at me, all they have to do is publish a bunch of lies on the internet. And I lose everything. Right?

Bellamy
Yeah.

Ashia Ray
Because it’s so easy. Again, they put me up on the pedestal – to prep me. And it’s a cage. And then all they have to do is be like, “Actually, it turns out that Ashia… makes up lies, admits that I fart.” I don’t know.

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
And I’m crushed. So there’s no – there’s no out to say no. And there’s like, I don’t know, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t know how to get out of it.

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
[laughter] But so the other thing, the last one example of being collected is – using your friends to reassure you when you’ve done something problematic. So like, if you’ve done something ableist, and you show up at their door and be like, “I just did something ableist! I feel so bad about myself! I need you to tell me that I’m a good person.” Right? [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
That’s not… you don’t… you’re not safe. You can’t be like, “Well, no. That was… what you did, that was not okay.”

Bellamy
Right

Ashia Ray
You don’t know risks are gonna come with that. But you get that sense of being used, and it’s very different than being in a friendship, where you’re like, “For accountability, or just because I need to vent, can I talk about this thing that I did.” Right? Like I talked about, with you like my, my kids had a really racist thing. And I was like, “Are you okay with me telling you this?!”

Bellamy
[laughter] Right.

Ashia Ray
Because we don’t know what kind of past trauma triggers they have with that. But yeah, it’s those kind of hints that it’s not a friendship, it’s a collection. It’s a transaction.

Bellamy
Yeah, it’s a little… stomach turning. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
And it’s just everywhere. It’s everywhere all the time.

Um, okay, so why – I always like to add a ‘Reason why you should cut it out!’ [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
Why should we cut it out, right away? Why should we just not continue doing this?

We are raising kind and courageous kids. And we are raising kids to smash the kyriarchy. And you can’t do that through a lens of saviorism, or through a mode of like, one person has the power and the control and relationships, right?

So how do we model for our kids, the way that we are in working relationship with people? And are interested in developing relationships with people who are not like us, without using them. Without using them as tokens, right? So actually being in relationship with someone.

And then on the flip side – how do you raise your kids not to be the token friends? Right? Like, how do we even protect our kids against that? Like, for me, it’s a lot easier because my kids are closer to white presenting. [laughter] And my kids are so annoying. I don’t think they’d want them to be their token disabled friend? [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
I dunno. But how do you protect your kids from that? How do you protect your kids from being collected? I have no answers.

Bellamy
[laughter] Yeah, I don’t know. I think that’s a it’s a hard question to answer as a homeschooler, after a couple of years of pandemic. Because I think the way that they make friendships is just a lot different now, obviously.

And yeah, I don’t know. I think there’s something about building your kids up, and encouraging them to have the confidence to be able to identify when people are not treating them well. That’s something that I’ve had to learn as an adult, and I’m still learning, but I think it’s something that my kids don’t quite struggle with, in the same way. I don’t know, I suppose my kids are not as likely to fall for anybody’s ridiculousness. Or to fall for.. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] Get a bingo chart for kids. Be like, ‘Here’s how you can tell if someone is collecting you versus being a friend,’

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
Kids are terrible all the time. So you’d be like, you can turn it around, you can try and ask them to stop it. But I feel like… I guess I could model better. I could be a lot more transparent with my kids about the people who are difficult, that I’m afraid to not be in relationship with?

Bellamy
Mmhmm.

Ashia Ray
Versus who I genuinely like being in relationship with. Because I’m so afraid they’re gonna blurt it out, right? [laughter]

Bellamy
Yeah.

Ashia Ray
“MOMMY DOESN’T ACTUALLY WANT TO BE HERE!” Right? [laughter]

Bellamy
Right. I mean, one of my kids, you know, I have this interaction with someone that’s far too frequent, takes up far too much of my time. And I was listening to a message from this person. And one of my kids came up behind me and said, “Why do you even put up with that?”

Ashia Ray
[burst out laughing]

Bellamy
[laughing.] And I was like, Oh, shit. [laughing]

Ashia Ray
Can we train our kids to just do that every time? Like, “When Mommy, when mommy gets this face on, or when I give you the signal, I need you to walk up behind me and be like, ‘Why you puttin’ up with that?'” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] “Why are you putting up with that?!” Like, what are you doing? What are you doing with your life and your time mom? Like… [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Here, if anyone if anyone needs it, [laughter] like my friends need someone to be like, “This person. I don’t know how to…. I don’t know how to tell them what they’re doing is not okay.” or “I’ve tried and it’s not sinking in.” I can just have like a little like, I come in from the side and I’m like “WHY YA PUTTIN UP WITH THAT?!” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] Why you putting up with that?! It is so good. Like, I just I learned from them that I don’t know, I just wanted from them more so like how to not just not engage with people who don’t treat them well. Like they just know how to do it. And it’s not that. Well, thank you.

Ashia Ray
That’s good parenting! They weren’t born with that. I just want to…

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
You’ve talked about this before. How are you like…w hen people are treating your kids poorly, even though you were you are conditioned to be treated poorly – when people are treating your kids poorly, you’re like “No.” and you’ve been so good at that.

Bellamy
Yeah, it’s a hard line I draw there. And they seem to have picked it up. But also I still can’t do it for myself, so it’s very kind of fascinating. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Takeaways – we have to stand up for ourselves. It’s so much harder.

I remember the first time I ever stood up to someone was – when they yelled at my kid. They spilled somethin, andg he stepped in to clean it up for them, help them pick up some some papers or something. And they yelled at him.

And normally I’d be like, “I’m so sorry.”

But I was like – wait a second. He’s one, or whatever. And what is the choice that I make going forward about how we stand up to people? And it’s so much easier to stand up for our kids, but not ourselves. Because we’re selfish – because we love our kids. But also cowards. [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] It’s yeah, it’s pretty tricky.

Ashia Ray
Okay, we have a little bit of time before we get cut off. But let’s take a break, we’re going to do [laughter] an interlude. Let’s try this…

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
We’re going to name this segment… doo, doo, doo, doo doo… we need theme music: , “Good Ideas…To Avoid.”

Because we want to save the world and help everything. We want to do all these great things. But – we tend to spread ourselves thin, because we like doing awesome things, and so much collaboration work and cool ideas, and like so much fun, but we don’t have the time or the resources.

So I have this notebook that I’ve been keeping for about three or four years now. And it says ‘Good Ideas to Avoid’ and whenever I have that dose of inspiration of ‘Like, man, wouldn’t it be awesome! I could totally! I could pull this off! I could change the world with it…. But it would also derail me from every other thing that I’m doing.”

So I have to write it down in my notebook. And then once once every couple of months I go through and like “That was a stupid idea.”

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
I shouldn’t say stupid. “That was a… that was a bad idea.”

Or I was like “That would be great. I don’t have time.” Just being realistic about the focus. Like, if we consider focus the idea that you’re saying no to things that you want to do, to get the the thing that you need to do for the good of all of humankind.

Bellamy
Follow enough. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Bellamy and I come up with, I don’t know, like 5 to 10 awesome ideas every week.

Bellamy
It’s ridiculous. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] Like, I peed myself laughing at one of them a few weeks ago.

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] We’ll get into that one later. Stick around for the podcast and subscribe!

But we think about all the fun things that we don’t have time for because we have to navigate ableism and racism and foolishness, right? Imagine how dangerous we could be if we could do all these awesome things.

So you know what, since we can’t do it, we at least get credit for the ideas! [laughter]

[laughter] That’s right.

Run with it. Make the world a better place! So today’s idea… and we were talking about – I have these monthly reminders. Wvery year I go back and I look at the reminders to be like “This is the month when you always have a medical issue.”

And sure enough I’m in a sling right now. [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
And it’s like me from the past, slash the future, coming back to tell my present self like, “NOOOOOO!”

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
“INVEST IN A RETIREMENT ACCOOOUUNT!”

So reminder, and I have no memory of writing this. But April notes to myself from my past self was, “White ladies and autism warrior moms will be coming out of the woodwork with good intentions that will steal all of your mental and emotional fucks. This is a good time to scrape this fuckery off like barnacles and scorch the earth.”

Bellamy
[laughter] If only my notes to myself were so thorough. Good one.

Ashia Ray
[Laughter] in this term of ‘good ideas to avoid’ is – and I think this is going to happen to everyone – people are…. blooms are emerging and things are thawing, right?

And people are coming out of the woodwork to be like, “Oh, I have been still through this winter,” (Which is good. That’s great. Stay still during the winter.)

“But now I forget that there’s a transition and I want to hit the ground running and I want to solve racism! Right now!” [laughter]

So they reach out to people like us to be like, “Hey, you get shit done. Do you want to pair up on something?” Right? And because it’s usually allies with more power than us… we could be like, “Oh my gosh, you actually care about this now? Like yeah, I want to work with you if you finally care!” So we say yes. Right?

Like the default is like “Yeah, person with power. I always say yes to you.” But also they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. And I have this picture in my mind of like a goat just born.

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
Like awkwardly walking. They’re born with the privilege of being able to walk, but also they’re not great at it? Awkward. And what happens is these people tend to dump their their ‘Let’s collaborate’ ideas on my lap and then they don’t do anything.

And then because I’ve promised, and I’m like “Yes, I will do that.” I share it with my people, I’m like “We’re going to do this thing” – and then I have to build this entire initiative all by myself.

So this is my reminder – DON’T. So if anyone says “Hey, let’s collaborate this month,” Say “no,” Just don’t.

This is our advice. [laughter] Either – either you’re going to be left doing a fuck ton of work. Or, or someone you truly admire and genuinely like is also in that stage of awkwardness and they’re going to say, “Let’s collaborate.” And you’re going to say “Yes!”

And they’re not going to leave you holding the bag. Both of you are just gonna be like, “Aww…we let each other down….”

Bellamy
Yes. Exactly! [Laughter]

Ashia Ray
[laughter] So like, just be like, “I want to work with you. I can’t right now because I’m still thawing out.” So cool ideas to avoid – Initiatives. Don’t do an initiative right now.

Bellamy
Not an initiative.

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Do your own thing. Work on the thing you had planned to on all winter? Right?

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
Start the thing. Keep your keep your focus. Say no to all the shiny, awesome initiatives that would look cool on social media.

Bellamy
Yeah, that’s such a good idea of ‘good ideas to avoid.’ Because I’m thinking of one specific project that I got into and it was a miserable experience. And completely not worth it. And I just said, yes, because the people had more power and more influence. And it seemed good. And it seemed like the type of thing I should do. And I should have said No.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. And I’ve gotten pulled into like, I don’t know, 50? Fifty of these things?

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
And they always start in the spring and the summer, when people are like, “Oh, we’re going! We got this!”

Bellamy
It’s happenin’!

Ashia Ray
But yeah, like, No. We’re going to develop a relationship, first. We’re going to plan it for like six months to a year from now – and then revisit.

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
With the right to say “No, it turned out I am only working with one arm, and I’m working slower than before.”

And also, this is really important, particularly to those of us who have been collected and who are pulled into these.. where people are like “I’m going to be an accomplice and fight for your liberation!”

And you’re like, “Okay!!” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
But I think that that quote, “When you teach them to value you, you teach them the value all of us,” right? Our no – to like, I get invites to speak – for free, of course never paid, at hospitals and autism organization,s and stuff like that. And like, “Do you want the OPPORTUNITY to speak to our people and educate them about what it’s like to be autistic? We won’t pay you…. We can give you EXPOOOSURE!”

Exposure.

So like no, say no. And that means you might miss out on maybe a little bit of exposure or whatever, but you tell them like “No, this is inappropriate. So the next autistic person you reach out to, you better be offering them payment and compensation, not exposure.” Right?

Bellamy
I’m sorry, I just want to say I had a guy recently, he read my bios, I give him that. And so he offered to bring me pie if I showed up to an event.

Ashia Ray
[laughter]

Bellamy
No money, just pie. [laughter] At a very wealthy university, no thanks.

Ashia Ray
Leave, leave space in your calendar. Leave some fucks for yourself. And it’s better for them – if you if you truly do want the best for them. Let them find someone who has the time and the energy to deal with that. Right? It doesn’t have to be you. You’re the only person here who has to take care of the world.

And also the people that you genuinely like? Say no, so you don’t ruin your relationship with them. Right? So you don’t have to be like “Oh, no, I let them down”

Bellamy
Right

Ashia Ray
Or resent them for having to do all this work. So that is the end of our segment on …. ‘Good Ideas….to Avoid!”

Bellamy
Doo doo doo doo doo. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Okay, we have like seven minutes before our podcast app cuts us off. But here’s some capability. Here’s some tools, actionable tools that people can use to stop tokenizing others.

Don’t invade affinity spaces. And not just the the formal affinity spaces where it actively says ‘You’re not invited here.’ But like the spaces where we gather to not have to think about dominant people.

Like I think about Chinatown in the 80s used to be an affinity space. And now it’s full of white people… and it’s just not as comfortable of a place to be. Right? Just stop treating our spaces, our hair salons or whatever. Like don’t treat them like zoos and museum exhibits. Don’t come to our restaurant hangouts. I don’t go to bars. I assume bars are like that.

…Just to meet people who are… they call them ‘diverse people, diverse peoples.’ Not white not disabled. So I was talking to my partner who has all the privileges and he’s like, “So yeah, actually, I don’t have any friends…” he has a lot of disabled friends. Or neurodivergent friends, but no brown or Black friends. [laughter] I’m the only person of color he knows.

And so he’s like, “I mean, yeah, all my friends are white. So how do I make friends?” I’m like, “Well, why don’t you go do something that you care about? And then other people who also care about that thing – you can become friends with?”

And he’s like, “Well, but what if they’re all white?”

And I’m like, “You’re probably not doing something that matters.” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
Like I dunno, golfing? My partner doesn’t golf. But if the thing that matters to you is golfing, you’re not gonna find Black and brown people.

Bellamy
Right

Ashia Ray
But like, if you’re fighting for our shared humanity, if you’re going into a place like, a food bank? You know you’re actually working on…

Bellamy
Right.

Ashia Ray
But you have to care. You can’t volunteer at the food bank to meet brown and Black people. You have to go to the food bank because you generally want to see people fed. So it has to be something that comes from something like your own interior narrative about – what do I care about? And then you’ll meet your people. And some of them… might be Black or brown! [laughter]

Bellamy
Right! Yeah. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. Like, like the way you meet… [gasp] regular friends!

Bellamy
Right? Like just the same [laughter]

Ashia Ray
You don’t go to Chinatown and scoop up a family. Right?

Bellamy
Right. [laughter] Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Yeah, that’s how it’s supposed to work. You just show up. But also, I wonder, how often it is that white people might be in spaces where there are other people. And they actively, maybe subconsciously avoid the, you know, other people?

Ashia Ray
Yup.

Bellamy
Because sometimes I’m in spaces where everyone is white. But usually I’m not. You almost have to, like go out of your way.

Ashia Ray
What is funny is I have been in so many spaces with just white people, I went to engineering school. Spaces that are purely white. And it’s – you’re desperate for another person of color. We’re like, we lock eyes and be like, “Would it be weird if we talk? Let’s pretend this never happened.” [laughter]

Bellamy
Right, right. I understand that. I should rephrase. I have often been in spaces where everyone is white, but also, I’m not. So if I’m there. What’s stopping one of them from coming to talk to me? Or something like that? Like, I just don’t understand.

Ashia Ray
In a like, ‘How’s it going?” Or “Nice day out!” Like the small talk? That’s what small talk’s for – as opposed to “I’m so glad about the people who killed Armaud…”

Bellamy
Right, like a casual conversation, not the latest news story, or hashtag.

Ashia Ray
Yeah. It is funny how people like to be… I don’t know… greeted?

Bellamy
Yeah, [laughter] like…

Ashia Ray
I can’t say how many people… they greet me without saying ‘hello,’ Because I get a lot of people see that I’m not white and they assume I work places? Like, I can’t go to Target or Home Depot without someone being like, “WHERE’S THE LUMBER?” [laughter]

Bellamy
[laughter] You’re like ‘What’s lumber?!’

Ashia Ray
[laughter] Greet! Say your name!

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
Oh man this one guy got so angry when I was like, “I don’t know?” and he’s like [angry grumbling sounds]

[laughter]

[laughter] Ah, okay, so we only have two minutes. So I think we’ll wrap this up. But for our call to action, our assignment is:

Make actual friends. If you want to make Black and brown friends, if that’s a compulsion for you, it’s [laughter] actually important to you – and what’s funny is you can actually do justice work without actually knowing any Black or brown people.

The same way like, I don’t have any close friends who are profoundly Deaf. And yet, I still provide transcripts, right? Like you can still do that. And I’ve made Blind friends since I started providing image descriptions on my things. Funny how that works.

So pick one identity that you feel compelled to collect, right? [laughter]

[laughter]

Follow, or read a book by at least six people with this identity at various intersections. And you will discover [gasp] we’re not a monolith! We do not all believe the same things!

And then I was thinking like, okay, following six people is hard and also you want to move on to the *next* collection that you want to work on. So after like three months, trim it down to following one person you disagree with, one person who challenges you, and one person you actually genuinely like and would want to be best friends with right?

And then from there – get clear, what are you willing to do to show up as a friend? Like what would you do for a friend who is like you? Are you willing to do it for that other person?

Bellamy
Right?

Ashia Ray
And then when they call you to action, when they call you to donate, when they call you to show up – you know, do it. [laugh]

Bellamy
[laughter]

Ashia Ray
If that’s your capacity, if you identified this as “The way I would show up for my white abled friends” and you call this person your friend… show up the same way.

Like it seems kind of simple. But let’s let’s just make that into a little step by step framework. And then – when you show up, that’s where your future friends will be, right? Because they care about the same thing. They’re also willing to show up. Maybe all your friends are white, and that’s okay.

Bellamy
[laughter] It’s not a lost cause. [laughter]

Ashia Ray
Sometimes you just can’t force us to be friends with you, and you’ll have to be okay with that.

Bellamy
This is true. Make your peace with it.

Ashia Ray
Okay, so, Bellamy, do you want to talk quickly about your project? Or do you want to talk about that next week?

Bellamy
I can wait until next week.

Ashia Ray
Okay. So visit revolutionaryhumans.com Because there’s cool stuff coming! We’re so excited!

Bellamy
Very excited.

Ashia Ray
I’ve already joined!

Bellamy
A club of two.

Ashia Ray
This is where you can make friends.

Bellamy
This is where you can make friends. Yep.

Ashia Ray
Like – I also have a Luminary Brain Trust group. This is where you can make friends! And then I’ll add some show notes and some links and stuff like that. So visit revolutionaryhumans.com. You can also check out booksforlittles.com/podcasts if you want to get the transcript or any links and stuff that we add. And then next week, we’re going to get back and we will have another …’Good ideas …to avoid!’

Bellamy
Good ideas to avoid! Doo doo doo doo doo doo!

Stay Curious, Stand Brave, and (Don't) Collect 'Em All

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1 comment

Douglas Thadison July 24, 2022 - 10:17 am

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