Dr. Amanda Kemp has a theater background of performance in social justice, spoken word, and poetry, with a Ph.D. in Performance Studies. In 2007 she founded Theatre for Transformation and has taught at Cornell University, Dickinson College, The University of the Arts, and Franklin & Marshall College where she chaired the Africana Studies department. Dr. Kemp is a bestselling author of Stop Being Afraid! 5 Steps to Transform your Conversations about Racism, and Say the Wrong Thing, a collection of personal essays about racial justice and compassion.
Drawing on her academic study of race, her teaching experience, and life lessons in an interracial blended family, Dr. Kemp pivoted to another way of teaching about racial justice and created Racial Justice from the H.E.A.R.T., a system that builds skill and capacity of compassionate change-makers, facilitators, and coaches worldwide.
“Many of us want to do good, but we’re so afraid to say the wrong thing that we don’t say anything. Meanwhile many people of color who do speak up get exhausted. I teach people of all races how to feed their spirits and have joy while they stand for racial justice so they’re not exhausted or scared.”
We hope you are as impressed with Dr. Kemp as we are!
Meet Dr. Amanda Kemp!
What inspired you to launch a web-based business? COVID made the in-person impossible and forced us to be more online than we were. Instead of working in-person with a small number of highly committed people, on June 1st, 2020 we moved fully to online education; working with a larger number of people who are willing to make the monetary commitment to transform their hidden racial bias. We now have a wider impact and provide private mentorship, mostly to women, who want to be more effective as facilitators and leaders for inclusion and equity.
What do you love most about having your own business? I love being the business owner instead of the trainer for another business. I get to learn about lots of things! How to create a sales funnel. Creating programs that can serve more people, giving context vs. content
The community of practice, a community of commitment dedicated to self-compassion and self-care as we support each other.
What is most challenging about running a business? When I don’t sleep well. Hard to be balanced and refreshed. The challenge for me is how do I become more of a manager and less of a doer. How to empower my staff to do more in the business. How to have them assist more so it’s less of a heavy load for me. What would it take for them to do this without me?
What’s something you do every day in the name of self-care? Because I had to pivot from doing in-person live training to online versions in June, I am working on creating a system to respond to requests that have come in. I want to make sure that we prioritize working on a sustainable level and still support small budget community-serving organizations.
In order to do this, I created the class to be three afternoons in a row, focused on hidden racial bias as well as self-love and self-care. There is more emphasis on team teaching and more small group discussions with facilitators with increased interaction for those 3 days. There is less participant to participant contact, so less opportunity for struggling to work things through. I continue to look at what else can be done by our facilitators.
What are your goals for transforming conversations about race? For average people of European descent to stand up and say, “wait a minute” and notice inequity. We want white folks to raise the questions amongst each other and hold each other accountable even when people of color aren’t in the room.
- For people of color to learn to treat themselves with compassion and wean themselves from the value system of white supremacy culture. Interested in liberation and values that serve them.
- Also for people of color to honestly talk to each other and acknowledge ways they have socialized to see each other as less than or more than, or the enemy, competition.
- I really want people to let down their defenses and be super present bare human beings with each other.
How are mindfulness and self-care helpful in social justice work? Self-care and boundaries are critical in this work. Holding space for transformation is an important part of this training – unconditional love and unconditional acceptance.
And we do a breathing exercise:
Both feet on the ground; Breathe into your heart center – 4 counts in and 4 counts out. Repeat to yourself: “I am unconditional love, I am unconditional acceptance.”
It’s important to bring this listening and energy to the conversation with a Black person about race – acknowledge our feelings and accept them, and investigate them further with a mentor.
Create a space for honest and real conversations; a foundation of truth. It lessens your nervousness about saying the wrong thing when you come in with this calmness.
What’s the best way to start on a journey towards racial justice? It starts with checking in with yourself and finding out more about your hidden and implicit bias. “Tell on yourself in the spirit of learning.”
Then you take steps, and with each step you get a little more information that you can pass on to others. You don’t have to have it all figured out, you are on a journey. “Each one, pull one”
Check out this FREE online master class for people who want to have a strong voice for racial justice AND take care of themselves:
What You Will Learn:
- 5 Simple Steps to an Effective Conversation about Racism
- How to Overcome Fear
- How to Take Care of Yourself
- How to Have a Voice
- How to Be an Ally
“Holding space for transformation gives you a way to have conversations across the color line… it shifts the conversation from being a debate to being a journey and a discovery of blind spots, assumptions, connections, and compassion.”
— Dr. Amanda Kemp / TEDx Wilmington