What do writers Trevor Noah, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jay Z, and Mira Jacob have in common? Chris Jackson, legendary publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. He’s on today’s episode of the Beautiful Writers Podcast with Valarie Kaur, one of his star authors—or, as he prefers to see his writers, “superheroes.” After all, changing the country is not for the faint of heart, and Chris looks for formidable fighters. Kaur’s unique superpowers as a civil rights activist, lawyer, filmmaker, and author—with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale—have helped her win policy changes on the multiple fronts of hate crimes and racial profiling, immigration detention and deportation, solitary confinement, surveillance and Internet freedom, and more. But it was her speech in Washington DC at the Metropolitan AME Church in the wake of the divisive 2016 election—a speech where she invited us all to midwife a new nation waiting to be born from the darkness—that catapulted her into the spotlight. It garnered 40 million views and led to this stunning new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.
What an incredible read—this book! Van Jones calls it “a miracle, a blessing, a new paradigm.” Elizabeth Gilbert says: “In a world stricken with fear and turmoil, Valarie Kaur shows us how to summon our deepest wisdom.” I couldn’t agree more and couldn’t put it down.
I’m ELATED to bring you this powerful episode of the show, having taken time off to write. I hope you and yours are well and that you’ve have had the gift of quiet to rendezvous with reading and writing—not easily come by these days. This episode will help!
Chris Jackson’s list at One World includes some of the most talented writers, humanitarians and activists in the world, including numerous National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners. His mission is to bring to the forefront novelists, memoirists, journalists, poets, and artists whose fresh voices challenge or even subvert the status quo and help us reframe how we see our rapidly transforming world. Chris’s own writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Callalloo, The Atlantic(.com), and other outlets.
You could call Chris and Valarie literary soulmates. Their story, which you’re about to hear, will be a soothing balm for any writer feeling alone and unseen—wondering if and when the rest of their superhero team will ever hear the call. In fact, Valarie had been writing this book for nearly two decades before meeting Chris and had a truckload of journals to prove it. As you’ll see, it was worth the wait!
This episode is all about love: Love of ideas. Love for our histories and education—even when interrupted. Love for the systems that support us. And the ones that need to change. It’s also about taking action, even when we’re deeply afraid. Even when all we can do at the moment is love ourselves. Valarie now leads the Revolutionary Love Project, whose aim is to reclaim love as a force for justice in America. I can’t wait for you to get to know her and Chris. My guess is you’ll feel the love.
Welcome back. I’m so grateful you’re here.
PS. To close out this episode, a big thank you, Ani DiFranco and Righteous Babe Records, for allowing us to use a song they produced for this book and the Revolutionary Love movement, coming this fall. It’s aptly called “See No Stranger” and features Ani DiFranco, Justin Tranter, Ivan Neville, Milck, Raye Zaragoza, Zoe Boekbinder, Princess Shaw, and Gracie and Rachel.
PSS. I love hearing your thoughts about the show. Your five-stars on iTunes/apple podcasts (or wherever you listen to us) are hugely appreciated and help other writers find us. You can also leave a comment on today’s FB post. TY!