PODCAST & BLOG

PODCAST & BLOG

This week, Kerra Bolton joins me to discuss her intriguing story to learn to swim, dive, and map sunken slave ships and overcome her fear of swimming in open water. As she shares her story, you’ll hear her explain the process of working through her fears and learning to respect the water and trust herself. We also dive into the layers and history of epigenetics and mtDNA and how our past can help us to understand our current state of being.

Kerra is a writer, filmmaker, and CEO of Woodbine Films. She specializes in first-person, personal narratives that excavate joy from trauma. Currently, she is directing her first feature documentary, Return of the Black Madonna, and writing a book, Water in My Bones, about her epic quest.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • Kerra shares her experience of learning to swim, dive, and map sunken slave ships; as someone who is fearful of water and swimming. (9:14)
  • Kerra’s passion with diving for sunken slave ships. (15:31)
  • Restorative practices: what they are and how they can help strengthen relationships within communities. Plus, how Kerra became a filmmaker in her 40s and the challenges of bringing stories to screen (31:50)

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Kerra’s website 
Donate to the Return of the Black Madonna
Detroit Rising: How the Motor City Becomes a Restorative City
Make Some Noise Holiday bags
Make Some Noise free nameplates – have you received yours?

MSN is supported by:
Green Chef – Click here and use code kickass125 to get $125 off including free shipping.
Skylight Calendar – Click here and use code noise to get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Calendar.
Better Help – Click here and use code kickass to get 10% off your first month.
Find a complete list of our sponsors and their offerings visit andreaowen.com/sponsors. Thank you for your support!

Kerra Bolton is a writer, filmmaker, and CEO of Woodbine Films. She specializes in first-person, personal narratives that excavate joy from trauma.

Currently, she is directing her first feature documentary, Return of the Black Madonna, and writing a book, Water in My Bones, about her epic quest to learn to swim, dive, and map sunken slave ships with Black marine archeologists. The film is now in production.

Kerra co-produced and starred in award-winning documentaries about restorative justice in unlikely places. DETROIT RISING: HOW THE MOTOR CITY BECOMES A RESTORATIVE CITY follows Black community leaders as they implement restorative practices to transform the city's culture during a time of racial reckoning. The five-part docuseries was featured in January in the Denton Black Film Festival and won “Best Web Series” in 2020 at the Cyrus International Film Festival and “Special Mention” in the Best Documentary category at the Venice Shorts Film Festival. Detroit Rising was an “Official Selection” last year at the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival.

FINDING HOPE: IN THE FACE OF RELAPSE follows a teenage girl in rural Pennsylvania struggling with self-esteem while reaching for her mother's love immediately following a drug relapse at a youth treatment center. It was an “Official Selection” at the Flicks4Change and the Media Film Festival. It won “Honorable Mention” at the Nassau Film Festival.

Both films are being translated into Dutch and Portuguese.

A former CNN.com contributor, Kerra examined the intersection of race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Kerra’s articles have been named among the year's top culture stories, featured on CNN's international channels, and translated into Portuguese.

Kerra is based in a beautiful beach community in the Mexican Caribbean, where she loves to eat and sing at Mexican karaoke.

Right-click to download the .mp3

 


SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Kerra 00:00
With 2020 happening, life kind of blew up around us, and we each have an opportunity to create the life that we want and it takes hard work. And sometimes it takes breaks in the test from the universe. When I first moved there was like this whole like jump and the net will catch you and I'm like, that's so wrong. It's more like jump, and the net may or may not catch you, but you have to learn how to get up and walk.

Andrea 00:27
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 418 with guest Kerra Bolton.

Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hello, everyone, I am so excited to have you here. Feel like I haven't talked to you in so long because I was gone for almost two weeks. At home, I missed my dog so much. Oh my gosh, I went straight from a speaking event in Florida flew to San Diego for unfortunately a funeral. I spent some time with my family there and then drove in a rental car to Las Vegas to spend it with my mom and my stepfather. And we were just gone for a long time. And it feels good to be back at work. Today is my first day back in my office chair, talking to you all. And I'm excited that you're here.

One thing I'm really, really pumped about is next year. Next year 2022, I am going to switch things up a little bit on the podcast and I think it might be better. And I tend to have a lot of ideas and just run with it. Someone who's halfway through I'm like, this was a terrible idea. I've been that way my whole life. Alright. However, for the podcast, I am going to do the themes of each episode in themes. So for instance, when we kick it off in January 2022, it's going to be a therapy theme. And the question I'm going to ask each of our experts and guests is how do we heal ourselves? I know it's a gigantic, enormous question. But I'm going to have people on who are going to talk specifically about trauma and how to heal ourselves from that. I mean, I have a list of guests that I haven't even invited yet. So I hope they say yes. So tell you talking about the mother wound, I want to have a guest on to talk about emotional regulation and boundary setting. So many, so many really cool things that we've probably I've probably interviewed people on the show about that. But I want it to be specific, so that you can listen, you know, I know a lot of you like go back and binge and you can listen to all of them. And they're all on one topic. Instead of having this sort of mishmash. You never know what you're going to get when you come and listen to the show. Then the following the following theme, probably around March is going to be all about relationships. Doesn't matter if you are if you are partnered up or not. And we're certainly not just going to talk about heterosexual relationships. I want to talk about all of our relationships, friendships, etc. We are going to have a theme on spirituality and creativity and how that helps us. Self-care, specifically women's health, we're gonna have a theme on feminism anyway. I'm really pumped about it. I hope that I hope that it goes well. I can't see why it wouldn't. But I'm really excited for that. So stay tuned. S

ide note, this might be a little bit of a long intro. Sorry, not sorry. I will maybe talk about this at length later. But I just got to throw this out there like can you relate? Have you ever gotten off an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant in your life? I have done it once. And it was misery. This was back in I believe. I can't even remember it was sometime like in the mid 2000s. Somewhere around there. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. And I don't say this to discourage people from getting on them. They are life changing. They are absolutely the answer to many people who have mental health challenges like myself. So I am getting off of one right now and it's been about a week and I tapered off of it. Please please please see a doctor before you do this. Don't quit cold turkey. I've tried that before and it was a complete disaster. But anyway, you have to taper off and I totally done it's been about a week and I thought that it would subside by now and it's not and it's they call them brain zaps. My girlfriend and I way back in the day used to call them isms we didn't have a name for it, but it's the weirdest feeling. And I'm still having them. And I really wish that I wasn't, I really wish that it would go away. Anyway, I just wanted to put that out there because I like to overshare.

Alright, what do we have next? I am so excited because it is going to be limited quantity. Who needs a Christmas gift for that person in your life who is into personal development and you don't know what to get her or them or him. I am offering only 10 of these. It is a bag, a tote bag, reusable grocery bag shopping bag, if you will. And it has the Make Some Noise logo on it. It's so cute. There's a picture of it on my Instagram, and all three of my books 52 Ways To Live A Kick Ass Life, Hot To Shop Feeling Like Shit and Make Some Noise, all signed, personalized to whomever you want me to personalize it to, plus a little special gift note in there. And unfortunately, because shipping is so astronomical to other parts of the country, and I only have 10, we are going to have these available only to us addresses only. AndreaOwen.com/holiday. It's a great holiday gift. If I do say so myself. And I will do my best I will do everything in my power to get it to you before the Christmas holiday. So AndreaOwen.com/holiday.

And then the last announcement I have is that if you missed getting your personalized nameplate, it's a sticker that goes inside of your book. It's it says Make Some Noise on it. But you don't have to put it in your Make Some Noise book. You can use it as a bookmark, you can put it on your refrigerator, you can put it on your bathroom air, if you like to put stickers on your mirror, which I know a lot of people don't let you know there might be some of you out there who do. I will personalize and sign it to you. I know some of you missed it. Some of them came back to me by the way, if you didn't get yours and you're like hello, I put in my form. Some of them came back to me and then we emailed people or we didn't hear from you because if spam and stuff like that, so just I'm sorry, fill out the form again, AndreaOwen.com/MSN. And those of you that missed it, head over there, get your free sticker, I will snail mail it to you. No matter where you are in the world. And it's free. It's totally free. You only have to put in your receipt number on that form if you bought five or more copies because there's special bonuses for that. So if you're just getting the nameplate all we need on the form is your name, your email, where you purchased the book, because we're just curious, and we're just nosy like that, and your mailing address. That's all that is all AndreaOwen.com/MSN stands for Make Some Noise.

Alright everybody, thank you for your patience with this longer than usual intro. I had a lot of words to get out. And I'm going to tell you about our very fascinating guests today. Kerra has such an intriguing story about the project that she has taken on so let me let me read you her bio so you can hear a little bit about it. And we talked about it in the interview. Alright, for those of you that don't know her Kerra Bolton is a writer, filmmaker and CEO of Woodbine Films. She specializes in first person personal narratives that excavate joy from trauma. Currently, she is directing her first feature documentary Return of the Black Madonna and writing a book Water In My Bones about her epic quest to learn to swim, dive and map sunken slave ships with black marine archaeologists. The film is now in production. A former CNN.com contributor, Kerra examined the intersection of race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Kerra’s articles have been named among the years top culture stories featured on CNN International channels and translated into Portuguese. Kerra is based in a beautiful beach community in the Mexican Caribbean where she loves to eat and sing at Mexican karaoke. So without further ado, here is Kara.

Kerra, welcome to the show.

Kerra 09:12
Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

Andrea 09:14
I am so excited to have you. I am acquainted with you via Charlie Gilkey who always sends me the most amazing people and and I finally clicked on your website and was reading about the projects that you have. And I was like, okay, I have so many questions. And this was like two weeks ago. Just excited to dive in and hear more about this. And so I want to start with…I want you to tell us about the projects that you that you do. And I'm also interested in, so you had a fear of was it open water or swimming in general?

Kerra 09:55
Both both swimming and fear of open water? Yes.

Andrea 09:59
Okay. And so you I dove into it, no pun intended, honestly, dove into this project that that entails that so I'm going to let you talk about it. What did you do or surrounding that fear?

Kerra 10:10
Okay, well, there are a couple things that I'm doing around it. I'm learning how to swim, dive and map for sunken slave ships.

Andrea 10:18
By dive you mean like scuba diving, scuba diving.

Kerra 10:22
And, okay, I am documenting these journeys in a book called Water In My Bone and a feature film documentary called Return of the Black Madonna.

Andrea 10:34
Okay, so how did it, take us, I would, I would love to, for you to take us like a little bit of a play by play like the first did you learn how to swim in a pool first? Or did you just go right into the water? Like, what was that like?

Kerra 10:47
No learning how to swim actually. Because of COVID. I've now on my third swim instructor. And so I started in the pool, and then like COVID hit, and we were all in quarantine. And so I was basically sticking my head in a pot of water to learn how to breathe. And then like, so that was part of it that like current swim instructor who's like the best, she started me out in a pool and we tried different kinds of balls. And then she's like, well, let's go to the ocean. And I'm like, that sounds really scary. And so she and her husband have a boat, and they took me out to this gorgeous lagoon and I could touch my feet on the ground and so I learned how to be in the ocean for the first time in December. And so then we go out, we went out to the lagoon a couple times to different lagoons. So she's trying to get me to swim in different kinds of environments.

Andrea 11:44
Okay, so like, how's it going? Is it going pretty well with the being in the water and learning how to swim?

Kerra 11:50
It's scary. Like, I go through the same thing. And because my swim lessons aren't consistent because of the weather, and just, you know, life happening. But usually, it's kind of like I reorient myself to the water. She sets a goal for me, like backloading is the scariest thing for me. It's just like, there's nothing holding me up. Right? Yeah.

Andrea 12:11
And your ears are under the water. And yeah, hear very well. Yeah.

Kerra 12:15
So she sets a goal. And I'm like, I'm afraid and she says, guess you're afraid. And so we sort of acknowledge what the fear is. And then I try it, whatever the thing is, and then I do it. And I do it a couple of times, and then we go on to the next thing. So it's a very peaceful process and the fact that the fear is acknowledged, I find my courage, and I continue to move. And Liggett is a fantastic swim instructor because she really knows my strengths and weaknesses. And so for example, my arms aren't being as active as they could be. My legs are like these powerhouses. My arms are kind of like, we're just hanging out. And my legs are like, we are not drowning. Not on my watch.

Andrea 13:05
What's it called the eggbeater in water polo? Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Kerra 13:10
So she says like, use the strength of your arms, don't think about your fear, use your strength in your arms. And so when I'm in the water, I think about that strength and I come up and so there's like… I still have a lot to go because like I kind of swim for a little bit and then I forget that I need to breathe and I haven't like mastered like lifting my head from the water and then going back down yet, so there is a lot and then I've got snorkeling, and then I have like 30 guys, like it's a whole process.

Andrea 13:41
It's a whole process well, well, I share that fear with you. And I also decided to… fear of open water and I also have something super strange called submechanaphobia where it's its fear of partially submerged manmade objects. So I especially am afraid of pool drains, any kind of like water treatment centers, even just talking about it makes the hair stand up and on the back of my neck. Anyway, I decided to sign up for a sprint triathlon to face my fear of open water swimming. And it is scary and especially, I have found with swimming is that if you panic, it's not the best place to be when you panic. And I imagine scuba diving, you have to really be not okay just with the water but also with the apparatus and the breathing, and, I guess I'm trying to say like, you have to be very well with yourself management coping mechanisms.

Kerra 14:47
Yes. And so. So one of the things that Lydia says is respect the water but trust yourself. So all the skills that she's teaching me to swim, is just in case something goes wrong on know what to do. And then my dive instructor will be Natalie, who's a fantastic instructor. She was my swim instructor, but she had to leave to take care of her parents during COVID. She's also sort of teaching me that like, how to be comfortable, and if something goes wrong, what can I do to really kind of give you that comfort level that I can solve my own problems.

Andrea 15:23
Excellent. Okay, I love that trust the water or no? What is it? Trust the water?

Kerra 15:28
It's respect the water, trust yourself.

Andrea 15:31
Trust yourself. Oh, I love that. Okay, so tell us about diving for sunken slave ships. So is this something that you'd want to do wanted to do for a long time? How did you come about having that be a passion of yours?

Kerra 15:44
Well, this sounds kind of crazy but I have been sort of haunted by images of my ancestors since I was a little girl. And it got…

Andrea 15:54
It doesn’t sound crazy at all to me, like, probably the majority of the people who listen to this show.

Kerra 15:59
And I don't mean like it was like Poltergeist, it's like these kinds of visitations so to speak. And I never said anything, because I don't want to sound like a crazy person. But in 2016, they intensified. I was filming my first documentary web series called Detroit Rising. And I was in a museum that had a replica of the slave ship and it had like the noises like the sounds that mannequins that were like, packed in, and I fell to my knees, and I started crying. And I was sobbing in this public place and I was so embarrassed, because I'm like, What if people come by and they see me just crying. So I picked myself up off the floor and I went on with it. But it was just like synchronicity events, like, someone sent me a documentary link of there's a National Geographic short documentary about women who are diving for sunken slave ships. And I was like, I want to do that. And so in these strange experiences all lined up, and I decided, like, I thought I was filming one documentary, and I'm like, yeah, so remember that idea that, no, we're not doing that. I'm going to learn how to swim dive in for sunken slave ships. That's what this film was gonna be.

Andrea 17:17
I watched your, your short trailer about the project and, and I, I found it so I had a moment where I got teary eyed when you were talking about how, you know, so many people know who their ancestors are, or at least you know, their lineage, especially with the popularity of DNA testing, and things like that, but and that you don't know yours and that was another reason you were you were drawn to this.

Kerra 17:47
Yes. And so I'm actually between that time and now I have done some genealogical research. And I found, for example, that on my both my mother and father side, that I had, like, great, great, great grandfathers who were among the first African Americans to register to vote after the Civil War, they voted in 1867, they registered to vote in 1867. And that is huge to know that my lineage includes among the first black men to vote in the United States, from Georgia. That's like, amazing. Yeah. And I just took the matrilineal DNA testing.

Andrea 18:29
How did that go for you?

Kerra 18:32
Well, I mean, I'll find out between May and June about what my results are. And then I'm going to do another test that like, further narrows it down to like the communities where I might possibly be from.

Andrea 18:44
Oh, my gosh, I would love an update. Does it take that long to have that done?

Kerra 18:50
It takes eight to 12 weeks, and my guess is that my family's from Senegambia, because of their port of entry. So most of my ancestors are from the Carolinas and Georgia. And the captive Africans brought to those ports were from Senegambia, because those were the Africans in that part of the western coastal region of the continent were good at growing rice, and beans and things that became staples part of the Southern diet in the United States. So I'm guessing that's where my family is from, but we'll find out.

Andrea 19:31
Oh my gosh. How emotional I imagine it is even just the waiting. I can't remember where I was or what I was doing. I had I had my, you know, my DNA tested and I wasn't that surprised of what it said. That's when I got interested in the MDNA. And for people that don't know what that is, it's, it's tracing back your mother's mother's mother's mother all the way back to quote unquote, Eve, to the, you know, the first one. And I thought to myself when, I posted actually about it on Facebook, and there was so many different people who had done that I was, I was really surprised. And there was one of my Facebook friends had called, she was like, she's like a biologist ao she has some background and understanding it. But she said that when she got the results, it was like this map, and you can Google it and you'll, you'll see examples. It's this map that shows the migration of all of your mothers across all of the lands, and she called them to find out how to read it, because it was super confusing. And it was so fascinating and it made me think these women, what they have gone through, especially black women who are descendants of slaves, indigenous women, so many, even just give like bearing children where that when there wasn't running water and electricity. And, and you know, and so much joy and love and all of those fantastic things too. But the trauma and the hardships that they must have dealt with, like blows my mind. And it makes me emotional, if I think about it too long. So and I'm imagining it's the same for you.

Kerra 21:21
Yeah, I mean, because if you think about it, when my ancestors arrived to the United States, they were property. So they were automatically sold, and so their children didn't belong to them. So in the transatlantic slave trade, most of the captive Africans went to the Caribbean and Brazil. But in the United States, there was a lot of forced breeding. And that's why we have such a large population in the United States compared to other places. So my foremother's lives were not their own, their children were not their own. They could be sold at any time their bodies were bred. They were often tortured. So that's kind of the reality of the trauma. And yes, there's joy and creativity and humor and food and all of the good things. But you know, that trauma is very much the part of it.

Andrea 22:15
Is that part of the quest for diving for sunken slave ships is sort of, to for your own healing, or in or is it more than that?

Kerra 22:25
It's good. Yes. And because, in my research, I found that there's a slice of epigenetics, that deals with black communities, and that there have been adaptive behaviors as a result of the slave trade and what is called American Chattel slavery, by Dr. Joy DeGruy, who was the person who wrote the post, I think she calls it the post slave distress syndrome, but it's PTSD, basically. And, and so I believe that our fear of swimming and open water, which is many African Americans, and black people have that fear, we share that. I think it's an adaptive behavior. So in learning how to swim and then diving, I'm essentially trying to change my neuro pathways and my heritable DNA, so that I can literally write a new story for my family, even though I don't have children. And I'm the last of my line, I'm still doing this for legacy.

Andrea 23:28
I love that so much. I mean, obviously, I don't have the origin story, but just and anyone who's unfamiliar with epigenetics, please google it and read some of the research that it's so fascinating and important to know about.

I'm interrupting this conversation to bring you a few words from some of our sponsors. One of the things I've noticed that helps my energy levels now that I've gotten a little bit older, is increasing my protein and it can be challenging to find recipes, plan them, shop then cook and that's where Green Chef has come in to help tremendously. With Green Chef you get handpicked organic vegetables, and premium proteins so you can feel great about what you're eating and how it got to your table. They save you time by taking care of the meal planning, grocery shopping and most of the prep for you week after week, so you don't have to Yes, please. Green Chef offers 35 nutritious and flavorful options to choose from every week, which I feel like is the perfect amount to choose from featuring premium clean ingredients that are seasonally sourced for peak freshness. Green Chef is America's number one meal kit for eating well, with dinners that work for you. Not the other way around. Go to GreenChef.com/kickass 10 and use code kick ass 10 to get 10 free meals including free shipping. That's GreenChef.com/kickass 10 and use code kick ass 10 to get 10 free meals including free shipping.

Are you looking for the perfect gift idea of are they organized or maybe someone who wants to be organized person in your life? Let me tell you about the Skylight Calendar. The Skylight Calendar displays your family events on a simple touchscreen device and lets everyone in the family know what's going on. It's super easy to use and syncs to already existing calendars like Google outlook and Apple calendars. It's an easy way to keep family members in the loop the kids will know when they're going to soccer practice your partner will know when you have dinner plans. It's all in the calendar for everyone to see we keep ours on the kitchen counter, everybody walks by it, everybody sees that Skylight Calendar. You can also use it to manage your grocery list chores meal plans to do list, and it's 100% satisfaction guaranteed. If you don't love the Skylight Calendar, you'll receive a full refund. I've been really dying to tell you about this because I'm obsessed with it. And now as a special offer, you can get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Calendar when you go to SkylightFrame.com/calendar and enter code noise That's right. $10 off your purchase of a skylight calendar, just go to SkylightFrame.com/calendar and enter code noise that's S-K-Y-L-I-G-H-T-F-R-A-M-E.com/calendar promo code noise.

So you all have heard me be very candid about my mental health journey. And the challenges that I face. Many of the guests that I interview here on the podcast are licensed therapists. So it's obvious that I encourage everyone to go to therapy and have that support. And that's why I'm proud to have BetterHelp as one of our sponsors, because there's so many things I love about their service. When you sign up for better help, they'll assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist, you get timely and thoughtful responses. Plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, it doesn't just have to be via text. It's more affordable than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available. licensed professional counselors specialize in depression, stress, anxiety, relationships, trauma, anger, family conflicts, which I know can get a little wonky over the holidays, LGBTQ matters, grief and their service is available for clients worldwide. I want you to start living a happier life today. And as a listener, you get 10% off your first month by visiting our sponsor at BetterHelp.com/kickass join over 1 million people who have taken charge of their mental health again, that is BetterHelpH-E-L-P.com/kickass.

And by the way, if you ever forget any of the codes or the URLs, you can go to AndreaOwen.com/sponsors and everything is there. And thank you so much for supporting our sponsors, because that in turn supports this show.

I'm curious, what do you plan on doing, I mean, I know you're gonna you're gonna make the documentary and write the book, and, do you have plans after that? Like, is it a speaking tour? Do you want to go into schools and talk about this? What are the plans?

Kerra 28:11
I would love to do all of the above, you know, to really talk about their to impact campaigns that I will have as part of the film. One is to promote strong, safe swimming in black communities. And there's a group that's called the Black Swim Moms. And they're often the moms who take their kids in for swimming, but they don't go swimming themselves because they may be afraid of the swimming in the open water. So if they see me and my like 47, 48 year old body in the water, then maybe they'll feel encouraged that you're never too old to swim. And then the other part that I went into is trauma informed care for black women and girls because there is a tragedy that happened to me when I was 17 years old. That kind of that, I talked about in the film, I don't talk about it in the book. And so it's a form of trauma that I'm trying to work through through learning how to swim and dive.

Andrea 29:10
Okay. Okay. And I'm just out of curiosity, are there are there slave, I'm assuming that they're slave ships that that certain are they called? What are they called the people who, who like map underwater?

Kerra 29:25
Yes, so the marine archaeologists, so the group is called Divers with a Purpose and they're predominantly African American, although it's a, you know, mixed race group of marine archaeologists who are dedicated to heritage and conservation. So just like making sure that those slave ships like they're documenting what's going on with them. I haven't gotten anywhere near the training yet because I'm like, I just need to qualify it, you know, so I'm going one step at a time. Otherwise, I just get freaked out.

Andrea 29:57
Yeah. When you dive for and you go see these, you leave them alone. It's just about, like you said preservation are they do they take anything out in terms of like wanting to study them or anything like that, they just leave them alone?

Kerra 30:10
They just leave it alone if they have a course every year that you have to apply for and of course you go down and I think you just kind of document what's going on and they have bit different factors that you're supposed to look out for. So like, during the mornings, they teach you what you're to look out for in the afternoons you do the dives.

Andrea 30:30
Okay. So you wrote an article for CNN, and then kind of the universe intervened. And will you tell us about that in the docuseries?

Kerra 30:37
Oh, yeah, my world went crazy. So basically, I was a political communications consultant in Raleigh, and decided that that was no longer the life for me and came to Mexico and I moved here about 10 days after my mother died. So I was kind of like a nervous wreck. But I had all my communications consultant, my clients, everyone's like, yes, you know, well, within the year, all of them basically fired me. And they're like, no, we want someone local. It's like, you could have told me that, but before I left, so that I could find new business. So I lost all my clients. Within a year, I was on Facebook of all places, and I responded to a friend's article about Eminem criticizing Donald Trump and I made this little comment and it, lo and behold, my friend was also the breaking news editor for CNN web page. And within an hour of saying something snarky about that ahead of contract to write for CNN.

Andrea 31:43
Oh, my God. God is a woman. And she…

Kerra 31:50
It's so funny. Thank you. Yeah. I wrote an article called How Black Women Saved Democracy and Alabama and so a man named Ted Wachtell who was a restorative practices pioneer in Pennsylvania, he founded the graduate school, it's called the International oh, gosh, I just forgot it. It's IIRP, the International Institute for Restorative Practices. And it's the world's first accredited graduate school that is dedicated solely to restorative practices. And I can explain that in a second. And so he's let you know, he called me up and he's got this thick, New Jersey, Pennsylvania accent he's like Kerra, like I, you know, can you write for me? And so I started working with him. And so restorative practices is sort of an it's called The Science of Relationships and it's really about you can use it proactively in terms of like, instead of having boring staff meetings, like doing check ins, you can have check ins at home with your family. It's like a range of, I would call it like questions and protocols that can either be proactive or responsive to when harm has occurred. And you use them to restore relationships, repair harm, build social capital among people. And so it's basically like, how do we relate to each other, especially when things go wrong? How do we resolve conflicts between each other, and ourselves? So he sent me to Detroit, to research how restorative practices are practiced in the city of Detroit, which is going it's on track to become the United States first restorative city. And which means that they are committed to using restorative practices in nearly every sector of the city. So schools, courts, the police department, especially in community policing. And it works with the premises that people are willing to accept the authority and make positive changes, when those in authority work with people rather than doing things to or for them. An so in a community policing sense, it's more of we're all in this together to create a safe neighborhood, not us versus them. From a parenting standpoint, it's, we're here to create a solid family and how do we do that as a family, not parent versus child or husband, or spouse versus spouse. So that's how it works. And so it's head then came up with the idea to film some of what I discovered and that became a five part docuseries called Detroit Rising. And we really went in, we went to Hope Academy, which is a charter school in Detroit and we filmed student teacher interactions. we filmed administrators, we went to the court systems. So we really got a chance to show people what restorative practices looks like in everyday life.

Andrea 34:58
And well where can People watch that docuseries.

Kerra 35:01
It's on Vimeo. It's available for rent. I'll give you the links for that.

Andrea 35:05
Thank you. And it sounds, so was part of the documentation. So other cities can see it and hopefully, okay. And Detroit, and they were, they are, and please forgive me if I'm not understanding, but Detroit really sort of fell apart for lack of a better term, wasn't it in the 80s when, the 70s, you know, because they were, 70s and 80s when they were a thriving city, and then everything. They were the car capital of, of the United States. Yeah. And one of the wealthiest cities I from what I understand.

Kerra 35:45
Yeah, yes. And people, there was mass migration out of the city and there were a lot of boarded homes, crime and poverty, and they had redlining that they suffered from. So it was like this whole volatile mix of forces. It's easy to go into Detroit and do the pain porn, which is to point out all of the bad things that were happening. And I was really intentional about telling a positive story, because these are people who are in the trenches day in and day out and they're doing wonderful things and positive things, and you hardly ever hear about them and I really wanted to shine a light on them.

Andrea 36:24
restorative practice sounds similar to when Brené Brown talks about power within versus power over, sort of leveling the playing field when it comes to power and sharing it versus wielding it over others in like a, like a dictatorship type of way, so that's amazing. So interesting that the universe was just like, Kerra, look over here!
Kerra 36:48
I literally was on the beach, wondering what I was going to do with my life. I had no money. Like, I started this online course for activists. No one's signed up. And I'm just like, I don't know how I'm gonna make money, and I'm crying, and I get a call from Ted on the cell phone, like you want to work with me.

Andrea 37:09
Is that amazing? Oh, my gosh. Okay. So the documentary, if I'm not mistaken, is called Return of the Black Madonna. Is that correct? Can you tell us about that title?

Kerra 37:21
Well, it the title really is about transforming pain into purpose, because of the trauma and it's symbolized by the Black Madonna, who, for different people symbolizes different things, but mostly hope and regeneration. And so when I say return of Black Madonna, for me, it's return of hope. And rewriting the story both genetically and within my spirit.

Andrea 37:47
That's so beautiful. I absolutely love that. And so tell us more about this documentary.

Kerra 37:53
I consider it both an offering and service. And it's the full length feature documentary, we hope. And it follows me as I learned to swim and dive in that sunken slave ships, we are in early production because of COVID and we've had some changes, but I have a new director of photography that I'm super excited about, because he's also skilled in underwater photography. We are shooting in June. It'll be our first underwater shoot. And we're going to do some oceans, we're going to do a couple of pools we're going to do with some cenotes. And to get those gorgeous underwater shots that everybody expects from a film like this. And I'm just really, really excited about it. I couldn't, you know, I just I couldn't be happier to be to have this as part of my purpose.

Andrea 38:41
I saw that you were because documentaries are very expensive to make.

Kerra 38:49
And they're not very glamorous, because it's a lot of paperwork like I wish I did. Yes. It's like I'm doing paperwork, applying for grants. And you know, filming is such a small part of what I actually do.

Andrea 39:02
And from what I've been told, grant writing is no joke, like it is its own craft, all on its own. And we'll definitely put the link in there. I'm happy to donate to the documentary. I think it's such an important project. And so how is how is your book, which is called Water in my Bones, Water in my Bones? And was that different from the documentary?

Kerra 39:23
Well, in the, in the book, I go more into the epigenetics piece. And I talked about the history of the relationship between captive Africans all the way to African Americans in the United States and our history to water and why, because a lot of people will say, well, I don't know why black people don't swim. They don't want to get their hair wet. But it's so much deeper than that and there's so many more layers to that. So I talk about those layers and I talk about the history and then the epigenetics and then within my own family and the trauma, not around swimming in open water, but the bodily trauma that we've experienced. And so it's more of, I guess I would call it with a memoir and a personal issue book. But there's lots of good stuff in there about history and science and all these places of intersection.

Andrea 40:19
I am excited for it to come out. And in the documentary as well was there before we close, was there anything that you want to circle back to even if it's a new topic that you want to make sure that you say, to feel complete?

Kerra 40:33
I think that, you know, a kick ass life is available to anyone. You have to make the sacrifices in order for it to happen. When I first came to Mexico, there was a line like, you don't want to blow up your life, and you know, the 2020 happening, life kind of blew up around us, right? And we each have an opportunity to create the life that we want. And it takes hard work, and sometimes it takes breaks and the test from the universe. But you know, when I was when I first moved, there was like this whole, like, jump and the net will catch you and I'm like, that's so wrong. It's more like jump. And the net may or may not catch you, but you have to learn how to get up and walk.

Andrea 41:17
So that is very true. Sometimes, then that does not appear.

Kerra 41:21
No, I begged for this net but then, you know, if something happened, I didn't have to fall forever. So I learned that I fell on my face and I continue to fall on my face. But I get up and I walk.

Andrea 41:34
Yes. I love that resilience; I have found that resilience is the key not expecting a net.

Kerra 41:38
Yeah, yeah, it really is. And so, I mean, I know it's not, you know, we didn't talk about it. But yeah, I think that we have to be resilient, and call on our community for help and rest when we need to.

Andrea 41:51
100%. Yes, absolutely, positively. Thank you so much for being here. Where do you want people to go exactly to learn more about you, or the documentary or the book? I know you're at KerraBolton.com. We'll put that in the show notes, for sure.

Kerra 42:04
Film Collaborative is my fiscal sponsor, and so they can go donate to the film through tax deductible donations. And I will give you guys the link for that too.

Andrea 42:15
Perfect, that will be in the show notes. And everyone thank you so much for your time, you know how appreciative I am of that and that you choose to spend your time with me and my guests. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye everyone.

Hi, there, swinging back by to say one more thing. You know, I'm always giving advice over here on the show and on social media, and a couple of those things is that I'm always telling you to ask for what you want, be clear about it, and also ask for help. So I am taking a dose of my own medicine and I'm going to do that right now. It would be the absolute best and mean the world to me if you reviewed and subscribed to this show Make Some Noise Podcast on whatever podcast platform of your choice. And even more importantly, it would matter so much if you shared this show. Sharing the show is one of the few ways the podcast can grow. And that also gives more women an opportunity to make some noise in their lives. You can do that by taking a screenshot when you're listening on your phone and sharing it in your Instagram or Facebook stories. If you're on Instagram you can tag me @HeyAndreaOwen and I try my best to always re share those and give you a quick thank you DM and also you can tell your friends and family about it. Tell them what you learned, tell them a really awesome guest that you found on the show that you started following. Whatever it is I appreciate so much you sharing about this show.

Like this Post?
Sign up for updates!