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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to sex educator Haddi Ceesay about the horrors of abstinence-only education, Islam and finding your calling.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Haddi Ceesay, pronouns she and her. Haddi is a doctoral student at City University of London, whose research is centered on young people's sexual and reproductive health education in low- and middle-income countries. She also works as a sex educator and public health consultant. Haddi has experience working with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in both the U.S. and abroad, including female genital mutilation and early child marriage survivors. As a Black Muslim woman, her work centers the importance of culturally competent conversations about bodies and sex without fear or stigma and using sources that teach, instead of shame.
Kenrya: Thanks so much for joining us today, Haddi.
Haddi: Thank y'all for having me.
Erica: Last week we read a book that featured some Muslim characters, but it really didn't delve into how religion can impact sexual experiences and agency. We know that your work with vulnerable populations is informed by your identity as a Muslim woman. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it brought you here to this work?
Haddi: All right. I'm originally from the Gambia, which is like a really tiny country in West Africa. It's about a, I believe, 92 percent Muslim population. I grew up in a community where talking about anything sex or sex-related was really hush-hush. There's very little education even around periods and just anything that has to do with the body in general. When I had my period, I thought that I was dying.
Haddi: Yeah. Yeah. It's really, really hush-hush. Even when it comes to sex, you don't really know much until you get married. Or, they think that you don't know much until you get married. Nobody wants to talk about anything. I was always really curious, especially just about bodies and what bodies do. For me, a lot of my work just came from reading. I was a very voracious reader as a kid, and then you grow up and life happens. I still like to read.
Haddi: Just growing up, I was really interested in that which led me to public health. When I started college, I started taking classes on women's health, sexual reproductive health. It was like, "Oh my God, this is so cool." I would be the one in the front of the class just asking the teacher just all these questions because I was like, "This is really, really awesome." I just kind of knew that that's something I saw myself doing. All right, all right.
Erica: That's fine. Did you find that you became kind of the sex expert, the sexpert among your friends?
Haddi: Yes. Easily, too. For me, it's like, when I learn something I want to talk about it all the time. Being that I'm not really someone that shies away from certain topics, it was very easy for me to be like, "Oh, look, I learned this. I learned that." I guess talking about certain things helps cuts the stigma down quite a lot. I remember, honestly, it was like my first Intro to Public Health class and one of the sessions had given out condoms. I brought the condoms home and I was telling my friends, "Oh, I have condoms. This and that." For me, it was just so fun to talk about.
Erica: They were like, "Haddi on that shit again."
Haddi: I just became the sex lady among my friends and it's fun. Even when they have questions around periods, if something is irregular about their cycle, it's always they come and ask me questions. If I don't know it, I'll go and do some research and then come back to it. A lot of my sexual reproductive health work actually started around FGM. If the listeners don't know what FGM is, it's female genital mutilation. It's basically if any parts of the female reproductive organ, the outer parts, so the labia, clitoris is cut out for non-medical purposes. That's the easiest way to put it.
Haddi: In Gambia, there's like a 75 percent chance of undergoing it if you're a woman. Well, the FGMs rate is 75 percent. But, I come from the one tribe that doesn't practice FGM. For me, it was crazy that I was doing a lot of sexual reproductive health work and FGM was something I didn't even know about. When I was introduced to it, I was like, "Wow."
Erica: "Mama, can you believe these people?" "Yes, actually I can."
Haddi: It was like, "Oh my God. I'm here advocating for safe sex practices and all of that when people don't even own their bodies to begin with." They're already having a lot of their agency taken away at such young ages.
Kenrya: It showed you your privilege in that moment, right?
Haddi: Huge. Huge time. I was like, "Wow. I don't know nothing."
Haddi: Just coming from where I'm from and just being very inquisitive is really what brought me to this work. And, just not seeing a lot of people that look like me that were doing that.
Kenrya: I mean, it sounds like you really took to this very naturally. Was there ever a time where you wrestled with the idea of discussing sex and having a healthy sex life, wrestle with whether or not that was at odds with Islam?
Haddi: No. Actually, no. I think for me, I guess because I have that public health background, starting off, I just knew that, at the end of the day, my job is not to be judgmental or to act like I'm holier than thou or anything. My job is simply to give the facts and to make sure that people are doing stuff that is not harmful to them. That's really how I looked at it from the get-go. My stepdad is an Imam, and I remember I had a small discussion with him around that. I'm like, "For me, I'm always going to tell people about using condoms and practicing safe sex. That doesn't necessarily translate to me doing anything, it's just making sure that other people are safe and healthy whenever they're doing something."
Haddi: He's like, "Yeah, I get it. It's a part of your job. You can't really be telling people, "Don't have sex. Don't do this, don't do that," when you know that that's something that's gon happen regardless." Yeah.
Haddi: Also, I took it upon myself to actually learn what Islam says about a lot of things. For me, a lot of how I interpret my religion is that I believe in a very merciful God and I believe that quote, unquote, whatever sins that we commit, it's between that person and the God. It's up to them to interpret anything how they want to interpret it. My job is just to give you the facts and the information. I'm not a religious scholar. I'm not perfect, so it's not really on me to tell you, "Oh, you're going to hell for doing this. You're going to hell for doing that."
Erica: In your bio, you talk about the importance of cultural competency and sexual education. Why is that crucial for Black people?
Haddi: Even with the term cultural competency, culturally sensitive, a lot of them are just buzz words that we like to throw around to make us sound like we inclusive. We do that when really none of the stuff we are doing is rooted in anti-racism at all. We're just saying that so that we can sound like, "Okay, we doing something." But are we really? Are we really?
Kenrya: Come through with the word.
Haddi: It's definitely crucial because I think, first of all, even starting with the fact that there are a lot of power dynamics at play that continue to marginalize Black women and contribute to our ill health. Understanding that even though it can be a lot of information out, "You need to do this, you need to do that," but having that information doesn't really grant you access to a lot of resources. You can know something, but that doesn't mean that you can do anything about it. It's just as simple as, "Okay. Yeah. Don't get raped." But are you telling the rapist that? What can I do?
Haddi: Also, even just basic stuff like knowing that you're understood. If you see somebody that looks like you, I feel like you'll be less inclined to shy away from what you're really going through and how you're really feeling about certain things. You're most likely to open up and just know that someone understands what your background is. Because, at the end of the day, I can have all the education in the world. Or, actually, not even that.
Haddi: If I see a white woman, for example, coming to me to tell me stuff, I'm like, "Okay, yeah. But you don't know what I'm going through." There's class dynamics, there's the race dynamics, there's a lot of privilege and other things at play that don't really give me the openness that I would like to talk about certain things. I just like making sure that as, still as a young Black woman because I'm only 25, but I just like making sure that people like me see that there's someone that you can talk to and look up to and someone that understands. I'm still at that age where I'm still doing dumb stuff.
Kenrya: Girl, we still at that age.
Erica: I'm almost 40 and I'm still doing dumb shit. That's the fun shit sometimes, though. It's okay.
Kenrya: You got to have balance.
Haddi: Honestly, honestly. Even with that, it's just knowing that you have someone that's advocating for you. Because, you can tell somebody, "Okay, go to the doctor." But, first of all, do you live in a community that you can easily access a doctor and easily access birth control and other contraceptives? And, even if you go there, do you have health workers that are taking you seriously? Do you know what questions to ask your health workers? We already know how Black women are disproportionately affected in the healthcare system, in general. Well, everywhere, but especially in the healthcare system.
Haddi: You're already going through that and then you already know that Black women have higher rates of violence and are still hyper-sexualized and still fetishized and just so many different things. It's like, how do you really advocate for yourself? How do you talk to... Who do you even talk to? Is there someone that you can talk to? I feel like having Black women... Sorry. Just being culturally competent, but having curriculums and having people that really know that these things are at play really helps out a lot in terms of just young, Black people, young Black women, queer women, trans women. All of us have some kind of knowledge and access to our sexual reproductive healthcare.
Kenrya: I mean, that actually leads to the next question I want to ask. You just talked about how there's a lot of talk about cultural competency. Putting on your public health consultant hat, what I know is that there's a lot of bias that is just built into the system when it comes to every part of the healthcare system. What are some ways that me, trying to get care for myself, that I can kind of push back against that anti-Blackness to make sure I'm getting the care that I need?
Haddi: That's interesting. I saw this thing on Twitter one time where it's like, "If you're asking your doctor for some kind of testing or anything and they're not listening to you, make sure it's documented." Make sure that any kind of healthcare that you're asking for that you're not receiving is documented. Again, know what questions to ask. Be very specific about all of your symptoms.
Kenrya: In our first season, we read Song of Solomon from the Bible and we had a conversation with a minister about the ways that anti-Blackness creeps into the way that people interpret Christianity. And, yes, we know that you are not a scholar of Islam, but I am wondering, are there ways that people interpret Islam in terms of anti-Blackness that make your job harder? Like, when you're dealing with populations that are directly tied to the religion?
Haddi: I mean, honestly, I will start with the fact that in a lot of religious spaces, there's this idea that you have to divorce yourself from your Blackness. They try to tell you, "Oh, Islam is colorblind." Instead of recognizing what our differences are and that bring us to together and recognizing that our different backgrounds have an impact, it's more of just, "Okay. Yeah, just don't come here trying to make it a Black thing." When, at the end of the day, as a person who is Black, who is Muslim, who is a woman, who also has an immigrant background, I can't really divorce myself from any of those identities. They are very integral as part of who I am. Sorry y'all. Being in the UK and the U.S. at the same time, sometimes my accent be a little...
Kenrya: There was a word you said earlier, I was like, "Oh, listen to that accent coming out."
Haddi: It be coming out at the wrong moments.
Kenrya: There's no wrong moment.
Haddi: The thing is, for me, as an African and as an immigrant, I didn't really have to, I guess, deal with a lot of anti-Blackness that comes in the religious spaces until I came to the U.S. because I'm from a country that's over 90 something percent Muslim. Yeah. I know Black Muslims. That's all I know. Then you come here and it's like, all of a sudden, it's not even that we're minorities, but if you see a Black Muslim, it's like, "Oh, they must have been a convert. They probably don't know what they talking about. This, this, and that." Yeah. I guess it's something that I'm still understanding and dealing with. I think maybe people that are Black-American and Muslim might have a better or fuller answer or understanding of that.
Kenrya: I don't think they have a fuller one, they just have a different one, right? Different experiences.
Haddi: Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. You right. A different one, yeah.
Erica: Thank you for that. I'm currently training to become a sex educator.
Kenrya: Y'all can't see, but they doing a little shoulder shimmy. It's like a little sisterhood of the sex educator shimmy.
Kenrya: Black sex educator shimmies.
Erica: One of the things that I'm struck by is how white it is. The program I'm in is has a really intentional social justice background and is very inclusive, and that's why I like it. But, I'm still struck about how I am usually the only Black chick in my class or in the program. I've been lucky enough to meet really dope Black sex educators through this podcast. What do you think and how do you think anti-Blackness plays in the field of sex education and how do you think we can go about eradicating it? I know it's a big question.
Haddi: It's a big one, but it's a necessary one. For example, with my research, I read this really interesting article that I can actually share with you, a research article. It talks about how even teachers that are teaching sex education in schools have this concept that Black and Latina girls are the fast ones or they don't have access to sex education at home. Even before you're teaching or you're imparting knowledge, you already have this misconception that these are the ones that are already suffering, so these are the ones that I got to pay more attention... not even pay more attention to, but just assume that they're long gone.
Haddi: Racism, obviously, continues to be systemic. Regardless, Black women are the ones that bare the brunt of a lot of BS. It's automatic assumption that these Black women are hypersexual, that they're already having sex or they're doing stuff that they're not supposed to be doing. You're already discounting their experiences because you think you know what their experience is. It's quite heavy. It's definitely something that's heavy. Especially even with like queer women and trans women and women that are already so marginalized to not have anybody that's teaching them sex ed that actually recognizes their experiences. It's quite a lot.
Haddi: Even in with a lot of anti-Blackness in sex ed, it just starts with looking at Black bodies as less, as bodies that are dispensable. We need to, I guess, start even with just teaching the Black girls that they're recognized and their bodies are beautiful and they're not just somebody's fetish. Just get rid of the shame of enjoying your body and not allowing anybody to shame you for your body either, because, for someone that's Muslim and also raised in the south, the sex education that I was taught was just... I don't even think I'm going to call it sex ed, because-
Kenrya: It's just abstinence and that?
Haddi: Yeah. Abstinence-only is not sex ed. It's really not because you're in a classroom where you're teaching kids, "Don't have sex. You have sex you die," but half the class is already having some kind of sex.
Erica: Don't make me laugh. You're like, "Uh."
Haddi: So, what are you teaching? Yeah. What exactly are you teaching? It's not realistic.
Kenrya: Yeah, I have... Oh, sorry. I have a question because I don't know. Is there like a Black sex educator's organization or something?
Haddi: No, not that I know of.
Erica: Not that I know of. Not that I know of. Opportunity.
Kenrya: Sounds like a thing to start.
Erica: There's this really great organization I learned about very recently and their mission is to overhaul, change the way sex education is taught in schools and they're doing some really cool work. One of the things that I really appreciated in my program, the first class that we took, the woman teaching it was like, "I try to be intentional about the pictures that I post, just in the examples. We're going to look at different types of labias and different types of penises. They're going to be Black and brown and white." Now, with that being the first class, I pay attention to it so much more. I did a class yesterday online and the guy that taught it had nothing but white people in it. It stood out that much, it was like, "Oh my goodness." It was about seniors and sex. It's like, "Okay, so only the old white people have sex. Great. That's good to hear."
Haddi: Yup. Literally, that's it. Those are the images that permeate all our textbooks and all the research and reading. It's a lot of just white people. You don't even see your body. Also, that's why I think it's hard for a lot of Black... not just Black people, but I guess where I'm from, too, it's very hard to assume that sex ed is for you when you're not seeing bodies that are like you. It ends up being like a whiteness thing or something that's like telling you don't need to have sex.
Kenrya: Yeah, because that's for white people. Right?
Haddi: Yeah. It's for white people. Yeah.
Erica: That's weird white people shit.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Haddi: Exactly. Exactly. These are a lot of things that really need to be deconstructed continuously, so I think we need Black educators, Black researches, just more people listening to Black women about their bodies and reading things from Black women. That's one of the few ways that we can really dismantle anti-Blackness in a lot of sex education spaces within our communities. At the end of the day, I think, honestly, with anything in life, the one advice that I have always is just listen to Black women.
Erica: Listen to Black women.
Haddi: That's it. That's it.
Erica: We told y'all. We told y'all.
Kenrya: We tell them repeatedly, they just don't like to listen.
Haddi: Listen to Black women, that's it.
Kenrya: What's your favorite thing about what you do?
Haddi: So much.
Kenrya: I love that.
Erica: She has this big ass smile on her face, she just lit up.
Kenrya: No, but there's so many people hate what they do.
Haddi: Oh my God, I love it.
Kenrya: I'm so excited to see you smile.
Haddi: I love it. That's the one thing that always puts a smile on my face, whenever I'm talking about the work that I'm doing because it's an experience to learn and teach at the same time. I love learning. My friends be clowning on me all the time. They're like, "I'm sure when you're done with your PHD, you're going to go ahead and get another degree."
Haddi: I'm like, "I just might."
Erica: Get you some graduation dollars again.
Haddi: I just enjoy having people come and ask questions because a lot of the time people don't know where to start. As a researcher, I do a lot of qualitative research so it's a lot of focus group discussions, a lot of interviews and stuff like that. When I'm doing focus group discussions around sex and sex ed, it kills the whole myth that young people don't care about sex ed and that young people don't care about what's going on. They do, but they just generally don't know where to start. They want a lot of reform around sex education and what's being taught, just making sure that it's relevant to them.
Haddi: I really just enjoy learning about other things and knowing what other people are learning too, I think because, again, learning is a continual process. So, just knowing how to make things better at the end of the day, I really love that. Also, working with HEART, one of the organizations that I work for right now is really, really fun because it's a non-profit but it's run literally only by women of color.
Kenrya: That's dope.
Haddi: Yeah. Just having a space that ensures that all Muslims have resources and language and just the choice to nurture their sexual health and confront sexual violence, it's just amazing. It's one of those things where I wish I had more of growing up. Because of that, I just want to make sure that everyone else has access to that and we don't continue to repeat cycles of mental drought, where people really get the opportunity to learn and not be judged. I feel like, sometimes, a lot of faith-based organizations are also very abstinence-only. If you do this, you're going to hell. You're dying. You're doomed. This and that. You don't got to do all that. It's not necessary.
Kenrya: We can hold a couple of things at the same time.
Erica: At the same time.
Haddi: Yeah. We can hold a lot. Just having that space to learn and to push people to learn, for people to feel like they can come and learn without being judged. I think that's so important. I think doing that, for me, it just makes me really happy.
Erica: That's great.
Kenrya: I'm having such an Auntie moment.
Haddi: I'm going to add to that, because with the work that we're doing with HEART, right now we actually have a survey that we're doing and it's on sexual violence in the Muslim communities. Again, just trying to learn exactly how pervasive sexual violence is and what sexual dysfunction looks like in the Muslim community just so that we could learn more and then be able to provide better services.
Kenrya: And where can people find that survey?
Haddi: It's on the HEART pages, but I can also share the link to the survey with you. We also working on a book that I've been editing, which is also so fun.
Erica: Okay, we'll make sure we put it in our show notes.
Haddi: It's on sex ed, too. Yes. The book also is on sex ed. It's called "Sex Talk." There's a reproductive aspect and it also tells you what to expect on your first time having sex, the health of a relationship. There's a whole chapter on keeping up with your sexual health, too. Just the stuff we're talking about, what to ask if you're seeing a doctor, how to really advocate for yourself and other stuff like that. That's really interesting. It's actually been one of the things I've been most excited about for a really long time. Working on it has been so fun.
Kenrya: So dope.
Erica: That's really great. I like the idea of a book because, as a soon to be sex educator... Well, actually, I'm a sex educator.
Haddi: As a sex educator.
Erica: Well, as a sex educator, I think it's great. Part of the reason that I want to do this is, like you, I want to educate young people. And, I was like you, one of those young people looking at all the books like, "Oh, this what a penis look like. These are the glands." Not everyone lives in an environment where they can have these people and a book that they can get from the library or sneak from they older cousin or whatever sounds really great. That can at least give you a basic foundation, so you're not out there just running wild.
Kenrya: That's literally what I did. I used to take those books out of the library whenever my daddy wasn't there and I would read them.
Kenrya: Yo. Okay, Erica, you probably had this, but I wonder if you, very young person, had this. Remember when we would watch the videos and the companies that made the sanitary napkins would come in and show you the books? I had all the books and then I ordered the little kits from the back of the books. I ordered like twice, then I had a whole bunch of pads for my first cycle so I had a month before I had to tell anybody and get help. That was how I learned. We had sex ed at school but it was what it was. I didn't get it at home. Those books were really super duper instrumental for me learning anything about my body.
Haddi: Yeah, we didn't have that.
Erica: Back in the old days, that's what we had.
Haddi: But, also, though, maybe they did. For me, I grew up in Gambia until I was 13. That's when I moved here. I didn't really have that.
Kenrya: I think we got the books in my school in Cleveland in fourth grade and then we had sex ed in fifth grade. So, what's that, 10?
Erica: 10. 11.
Haddi: 11. Yeah, we ain't have all that. Sadly.
Kenrya: Now you're creating a resource that folks can use.
Erica: That really makes me excited. That's pretty dope.
Haddi: It's necessary. I mean, I know quite a few Black sex educators but it's not enough. I think, as Black people, there's nothing that we have that's enough anywhere. The more of us in different fields, the more of us doing different things, the better because we need to be out there. We need to just do what we want to do, be who we want to be without any fear. We got to do what we got to do and feel good about it.
Erica: What do you wish more Black people knew about sex and sexuality, at the top line?
Haddi: More Black people. I think, honestly, what's most important is just feel comfortable with your body. I think, at the end of the day, there should be no shame in being who you are and who you want to be. I think we need to just stay away from imposing certain values and restrictions upon ourselves, especially as Black women. Because there's constantly, "You need to look like this, you need to be like this, you need to have sex but not too much. And then there's also the idea of the Madonna Virgin complex. You still have to be sensual enough but how dare you be around having sex and doing all these things?
Haddi: Just do you. Be happy. Be safe. That's really, I think, what's important. Even, especially, I guess, too, for Black Muslim women and Black Muslim people, I think we often forget that Islam is actually quite a sex-positive religion in terms of the prophet encouraged questions around sex, orgasm, around birth control. Fun fact, if a woman wants to get a divorce from her husband... Obviously anybody can get a divorce, but there's been cases in history where she can get a divorce if she's not being sexually fulfilled. That's a valid reason to get a divorce.
Kenrya: In the eyes of Islam?
Haddi: Yeah. Having all of that and knowing that and still have this assumption that Islam is not sex-positive is kind of wild. What's important is you learn for yourself. Don't be afraid to learn for yourself because we're in such a patriarchal system that it's always men interpreting things for you. You know if they interpret it, they're going to sprinkle little things in there that'll make sure that they keep you subjugated.
Erica: Sprinkle the patriarchy.
Haddi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). All over. We're in communities where there is still remnants of colonialism. Obviously, there is still white supremacy everywhere. Yeah. There's these patriarchal and capitalist structures that need to be dismantled and a lot of the dismantling starts from education. It's not even formal, you don't got to go to school and have all these degrees, really you just got to be willing to learn. There's so many resources out there that if you just take a second and read for yourself... This is also just thinking about J. Cole. Stupid ass.
Kenrya: Oh my God, girl.
Erica: I woke up like, "What is happening?"
Haddi: Oh my God. I just thought about that and I got so angry.
Erica: They cost you nothing to read. Shut the fuck up.
Haddi: Oh my God. Just read. Read a book.
Erica: Or, if you don't want to read, don't say shit about it.
Haddi: Exactly. Like shut up. Shut up. You ain't got to do all that. Just don't. Yeah.
Erica: Sorry about that.
Haddi: No, it got me heated a little. I'm not even going to lie. I just thought about it. I was like, "Oh, damn. What is wrong with niggas?"
Kenrya: A whole lot. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). What you just said, you were talking about how there are resources and folks need to tap into them. What books or other resources would you recommend for our listeners who want to delve into their own sexuality, who want to teach their children about sex, or who want to expand their minds around the concepts of sexuality and religion?
Haddi: HEART, for example, has resources on their website. They have upload on the website called resource center. They have a lot of publications even around talking to your kids about sex from a general perspective, from a Muslim perspective. A lot of videos, a lot of publications and research on the website that is always quite detailed. That is always a good starting point. There's this lady that I just really love. She's a Black Muslim woman sex educator and on social media she goes by The Village Auntie. She is somebody that everybody needs to listen to. She is amazing. It's somebody that I look up and she has also a lot of great resources.
Haddi: There's this book on sexuality by this lady called Emily Nagoski, it's called “Come as You Are.” If you're looking for a specific Muslim example, too, there's this guy called Habeeb Akande and he has this book called “A Taste of Honey.” It talks about sexuality and erotology in Islam. Really, again, apart from the HEART website, the one person that I recommend that everybody reads and listens to is the Village Auntie. She's really dope.
Erica: Great. I literally just found her and followed her. Yeah.
Kenrya: What are you reading right now?
Haddi: I am reading “The Will to Change” by bell hooks. It's on men, masculinity and love. It's different for me. Basically, she talks about a lot of masculine concepts and, I guess, why men are the way they are. For me, a lot of my reading is just very women focused, just all women, again, to be inclusive, queer women, trans women, all the womens. I have a very hard time thinking past the notion that just men are trash and ain't it half the time. So, this is a book that's really opening me up to not just a different perspective, but really taking the time to understand and see what bell hooks is talking about. At the end of the day for me, I believe the revolution and just everything in life needs to be rooted in love.
Haddi: A lot of what she talks about is very, very ingrained and deeply rooted in love. At the end of the day, even if I decide that I don't want to date, I don't want to be with nobody, I still have men in my life. They're friends, brothers, fathers, uncles. It's really good to still try to understand and love men but still in a way that obviously is not harmful and detrimental to you. Don't put these niggas above yourself.
Kenrya: Spoken like a true saint. [crosstalk 00:37:39].
Erica: I'm with this. I knew that. If I paid attention to that at 25, I would be... yeah. But, anyway.
Kenrya: That'd be a whole new world.
Erica: But, you know what, it's okay. It's okay. I learned.
Kenrya: We get the lessons we need to get when we get them.
Erica: Okay. So, speaking of reading. Question for you. Would you rather only read one book for the rest of your life? Or be unable to repeat any book you've read no matter how much you love it?
Haddi: Oh. That's a good one.
Kenrya: I don't know.
Haddi: That's a really good one. Huh. I'm a go with the one book because sometimes it's quality over quantity.
Erica: Okay. Do you have a book in mind?
Haddi: Okay, I'm all about bell hooks.
Erica: See, it's going to take 10 years to figure out which book.
Haddi: No, it's not actually. I am all about bell hooks. Completely. My favorite book, and it's the one book I tell everybody to read at all times is “All About Love.” Again, my whole philosophy is that the revolution is rooted in love. It's such an amazing book and it be slapping you in the face, though, half the time, because she really be coming for you.
Kenrya: Oh, my neck.
Haddi: I'm going to take a break from this.
Erica: I did not plan on getting cussed out if I read a book.
Haddi: And she be doing it so nicely. It's like, dang. For me, that's really the one book that I always go back to.
Kenrya: Wow. I would just read a different book. Yeah. I'm a nerd. You can never read too many books.
Haddi: They really can't, though.
Kenrya: Yeah. I be like, "Oh, I love this book. I can look at the cover and remember and read another book." What about you, E?
Erica: I think I'd have to do a different book every time.
Erica: Yeah. I love variety and even though I have favorite books, but I don't even have them. I've bought The Bluest Eye-
Kenrya: How many times?
Erica: Easily like 10 to 15 times, because I love it so much and then someone comes over, I'm like, "Oh my God, this is my favorite book. You have to read it." Bam. Then I buy another one.
Kenrya: You also got a lot of my books down there.
Erica: You know what, ain't nobody ask you about that. I think you just talking to you.
Kenrya: And it be shit that I be looking for and I can't find it because you was the last person to use it.
Erica: Anyway. Haddi, so next question.
Haddi: It's true, though.
Erica: Can we get back to what we talking about?
Kenrya: Sure. That's our last question.
Haddi: Is it? I was having such a good time, y'all.
Kenrya: So are we. I'm so glad that you were able to join us today.
Haddi: Well, thank you for having me. When y'all sent the email, I was like, "Oh, a new podcast," because I hadn't heard of y'all before. Then I just went down a rabbit hole of listening to so many episodes and the more I listened, the more excited I got. I was like, "Oh my God, I can't believe that they thought I was cool enough to be on here."
Kenrya: Oh my gosh, that makes me feel great. Of course you are.
Erica: Every time an interview guest confirms, I'm like, "Oh. It was not no. They must not have figured us out yet."
Haddi: Yeah. Y'all have a new fan. I don't know if you know that. Just letting it out there.
Kenrya: Yay. Thank you.
Haddi: I really enjoyed it.
Kenrya: We're also fans of yours, and we know that everybody listening is now a fan, too. Where can I find you online?
Haddi: I do most of my talking on Twitter @haddi_cee, H-A-D-D-I C-E-E with an underscore, I believe. I be on Instagram, but it's just mainly trying to look cute.
Erica: Ain't no trying.
Haddi: Yeah. So, I be on Instagram looking a little cute and baking and stuff like that.
Kenrya: Yes. What are the accounts for HEART?
Haddi: HEART is @hearttogrow, so H-E-A-R-T-T-O-G-R-O-W on Instagram.
Kenrya: And that's on Twitter?
Haddi: And Twitter and Facebook.
Kenrya: Dope. And what's the website?
Haddi: Our website is HeartWomenAndGirls.org. It has just so many resources and so many publications, it's a really, really good resource. We also have a YouTube, which I believe is Heart to Grow, but if you search Heart Women and Girls, it'll come up. We have this series called Heart to Heart, it just delves into different aspects. It's basically a sex ed tool, so there's stuff about periods, STIs, FGM, maternal health, maternal nutrition and just so many, so many different things. On the website, you have an opportunity to ask health educators questions. There's three of us right now and you can just look at the person who you think will have more knowledge about what you're looking for and send us a question and we will answer it to the best of our ability.
Kenrya: That's dope.
Erica: That's really great.
Kenrya: It's like having a little sex educator in your pocket.
Haddi: Yes. And everything is anonymous, so you don't got to worry about nobody.
Erica: A big sister that know it all. I love it.
Haddi: And if she don't know it, she'll go and research it and come back to you.
Kenrya: Even better, because sometimes big sisters make things up.
Haddi: Yup. Everything is from a place of knowledge. Again, no shame, no nothing. Whatever you want to ask, we're here for you.
Kenrya: That's beautiful. Yay.
Kenrya: Well, thank you for coming on and thank you all for listening. That's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. We will see you next week.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all. Send recommendations for books you want us to read on the show and all the questions that you want us to answer related to sex and all the other stuff. You can send those to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take a moment to review the show, five stars only please, and subscribe to us in your favorite podcast app. Then, follow us on Twitter @theturnonpod and Instagram @theturnonpodcast and head over to theturnonpodcast.com to find links to the books that we feature, transcripts to our shows, and info on all the guests that we talk about. Bye.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.