Partial Transcript: Alright, so let's get started early on.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim describes her childhood growing up in the West End of Lexington, Kentucky. She talks about her relationship with her family, the effect of her sibling's death, and the bullying she experienced in school.
Keywords: All-black neighborhoods; Bullying; Car accidents; Car wrecks; Changes; Children; Death; Family; Friends; Middle class; Mourning; Parents; Race; Schools; Siblings; Skin color
Subjects: Childhood; Families.; Race discrimination; Racism
Partial Transcript: Um, then I went off to, um, college.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about her initial career goals before attending the University of Louisville. She talks about how she entered the field of social work and her career in the child welfare system. She talks about learning about the concept of secondary trauma and the difficulty of social work. She talks about her interest in social justice from an early age.
Keywords: Activism; Careers; Child welfare; Colleges; Dreams; Family team meetings; Fathers; Goals; Hair; Influences; Internships; Justice administration; Makeup; Parole officers; Pledge of Allegiance; Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Protests; Racial justice; Racism; Schools; Secondary trauma; Self-care; Social work; State jobs; Style; Systems; Trauma; University of Kentucky
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Childhood; Education, Higher; Psychic trauma in children--Treatment.; Psychic trauma.; Public welfare.; Secondary traumatic stress.; Social case work.; Social justice.; Social service.; University of Louisville
Partial Transcript: You mentioned systems overlooking or not realizing, um, the nuances and the complexities of what people are going through.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about her experience with various systems, including education, criminal justice, and healthcare. She talks about how they are all connected, and how people can be negatively affected by these systems, particularly people of color.
Keywords: Behavior; Childbirth; Children of color; Connections; Criminal justice system; Differences; Education system; Effects; Healthcare system; Inequality; Internalizing; Labels; Patterns; People of color; Punishments; Race; Racial bias; School to prison pipeline; Schools; Suspensions; Treatment
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Childhood; Psychic trauma in children--Treatment.; Psychic trauma.; Public welfare.; Race discrimination; Racism; Social case work.; Social justice.; Social service.
Partial Transcript: You talked earlier about neglecting self-care--
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim describes her experience being the only woman of color working in the child welfare system. She talks about how it affected her work with clients, as well as the dynamics of the office.
Keywords: Child welfare; Culture; Eastern Kentucky; Families of color; Hair; Micro-aggressions; Office dynamics; People of color; Racial slurs; Self-care; Treatment; Women of color
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Childhood; Education, Higher; Psychic trauma in children--Treatment.; Psychic trauma.; Public welfare.; Race discrimination; Racism; Secondary traumatic stress.; Social case work.; Social justice.; Social service.; University of Louisville
Partial Transcript: You were talking about how, um, during your early twenties you hadn't found your voice yet.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about finding her 'voice' after coming out. She talks about the process she went through to find the right label for herself. She talks about her family and friends' reactions to her coming out, and the idea that coming out is a perpetual process. She talks about when she realized the applicability of intersectional theory to her identity, as an individual who is both black and queer at the same time.
Keywords: 'Performing straightness'; 'Queer'; Acceptance; Authenticity; Bisexuality; Black spaces; Camp Pride; Camper's Pride; Campuses; Changes; Children; Coming out process; Dating; Dentists; Education; Engaged; Experiences; Exposure; Family; Family events; Fathers; Friends; Gay spaces; Graduate schools; Hesitation; Homophobia; Impact; Intersectional; Intersectional theory; Intersectionality; Jobs; Labels; Learning; Married; Meaning; Mothers; Perpetual coming out; Personality; Queer identity; Queer people of color; Queer women of color; Reactions; Realizations; Relationships; Romeo; Terminology; University of Kentucky; Visibility; Voice; Wife; Work
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Education, Higher; Families.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians--Identity.; Parents of gays.; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual orientation.
Partial Transcript: Um, my next question is hopping topics a bit but obviously we'll get back to--
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about the role of religion in her life. She talks about her family's involvement in the church, as well as her own 'break up' with the church after coming out. She talks about the difference between organized religion and spirituality in her life. She talks about the role of church in black communities.
Keywords: 'Breaking up'; Acceptance; Attitudes; Black communities; Culture; Deacons; Fathers; Hair; Interests; Makeup; Mothers; Organized religion; Parents; Pastors; Safe places; Slurs; Spirituality; Style
Subjects: African American churches; African Americans--Religion.; African Americans--Social conditions; Coming out (Sexual orientation); Families.; Gays--Family relationships.; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality--Religious aspects.; Homosexuality.; Lesbianism.; Lesbians--Identity.; Parents of gays.; Sexual minorities' families.; Sexual minorities--Identity.; Sexual orientation--Religious aspects.; Sexual orientation.
Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me about your current position at UK.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about the various positions she has held at UK, focusing on her current position with the VIP Center as the Bias Incident Response Coordinator. She talks about how the university responded to students' protests, leading to programs held to assist the community in healing after the Pulse nightclub shooting and other traumatic events. She discusses the social and racial justice work being done on campus, as well as what still needs to be done.
Keywords: Bias Incident Response Coordinator; Bias Incident Response Services; Campuses; Careers; Changes; Childhood; Dominant identities; Employment; Events; Evolve; Facing Change Week; Family; Future; Impact; Institutions; Jobs; LGBTQ community; Marginalized; Marginalized communities; Negative; Non-profit organizations; Official reporting structures; Orlando shooting; People of color; Police shootings; Political climates; Privilege; Programs; Protests; Pulse nightclub shooting; Racial healing events; Racial justice; Relationships; Responses; Rewarding; Shifts; Social justice; Social justice educators; Students; Students of color; Trauma; University administration; Violence Intervention and Prevention Center (VIP Center); Work
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Homosexuality.; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racial profiling in law enforcement.; Racism; Sexual orientation.; University of Kentucky; Violence
Partial Transcript: Tell me a little bit more about working in VIP.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about once again being the only woman of color in her office and discusses the negative impact this had on her life. She talks about how she found no support while dealing with the trauma of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting and trial.
Keywords: Black women; Challenges; Characterization; Damage; Expectations; Ferguson (Mo.); Ferguson protests; Ferguson riots; Ferguson shooting; Harm; Ignoring; Impact; Marginalized; Mindful; Offices; People of color; Police shootings; Racial trauma; Reactions; Relationships; Response; Seen; Support; Treatment; Violence Intervention and Prevention Center (VIP Center); White women; Women of color
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racial profiling in law enforcement.; Racism; University of Kentucky; Violence
Partial Transcript: Tell me about your supports and your social circles now.
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about her support system, including her wife, as well as a group of women who call themselves The Committee.
Keywords: Experiences; Friendships; Micro-aggressions; Microaggressions; Not The Only One In The Room (NTOO); People of color; Social circles; Support systems; The Committee; Trust; Wife; Women of color
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Social life and customs.; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racism
Partial Transcript: What would you consider your relationship to be with queer and LGBT communities?
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about her relationship with the LGBTQ community, which she says is conflicted due to the tokenizing of people of color and the tendency of organizations to disregard issues of economic disparity, race, and in particular the needs of trans women of color. She talks specifically about the harm caused by tokenism.
Keywords: Blackness; Committees; Conflicts; Conversations; Damage; Disparities; Events; Harm; Identity; Intersectionality; Issues; LGBTQ community; Laziness; Movements; Organizations; People of color; Privilege; Queer community; Race; Racial justice; Social justice; Tokenism; Tokenizing; Trans women of color; Transgender women of color
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; African Americans--Societies, etc.; Gay community; Gays--Identity.; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racism; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority community.; Sexual orientation.; Transgender identity; Transgender people--Violence against; Transgender people.
Partial Transcript: How have you navigated, um, 'outness' on UK campus?
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks briefly about her experience of being out on the University of Kentucky campus. She talks about how Kentucky has changed over the years, particularly in regard to safety of LGBTQ individuals. She describes the first Pride Festival held in Lexington and its normalization over time. She talks about places she does not feel safe, particularly in church. She talks about her fear of law enforcement as a person of color.
Keywords: 'Passing'; Bars; Blackness; Campus; Changes; Churches; Energized; Evolution; Evolved; Experiences; Fears; Fortunate; Freedom; Friends; Intersectionality; Kentucky; LGBTQ community; Law enforcement; Lexington Pride Festival; Location; Marginalized communities; Marriage equality; Mindful; Normalization; Outness; People of color; Police; Police shootings; Privilege; Protection; Safe spaces; Safety; Slurs; Stagnant; Unsafe
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Gay community; Homosexuality--Social aspects.; Lexington (Ky.).; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racial profiling in law enforcement.; Racism; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority community.; Sexual orientation.; University of Kentucky; Violence
Partial Transcript: So naturally the subject of our country's current administration comes up a bunch--
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about the political climate in America at the time of the interview. She talks about racism becoming more publicly acceptable, and talks about the trauma people of color experience just by existing. She talks about the work that needs to be done, particularly by people with dominant identities, to change the social climate. She talks about how younger generations are being affected and her hopes for young people in the future.
Keywords: 'Boxes and walls'; 'Make America Great Again'; Administration; Awareness; Children; Dominant identities; Emmitt Till; Facing Change; Fixing; History; Hopes; Narratives; Nazis; People of color; Political climate; Power; Privilege; Safety; Students; Trauma; Uncomfortable; University of Kentucky; Work; Young people; Younger generations
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racial profiling in law enforcement.; Racism; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority community.; Sexual orientation.; Violence
Partial Transcript: So I've run through the gambit of all my pre-planned questions--
Segment Synopsis: Taylor-Shim talks about her experiences of being in interracial relationships and the different dynamics that come into play based on race. She talks about her relationship with her wife and tells the story of how they met. The interview is concluded.
Keywords: Concerns; Connections; Dating; Dating apps; Dynamics; Friends; Grindr; Hawaiian Chinese; Hypermasculinity; Internalized hatred; Interracial relationships; Meeting; People of color; Preferences; Softball fields; Support; Wife
Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions; Race discrimination.; Race relations; Racism; Sexual minorities.; Sexual minority community.; Sexual orientation.
SISKO: This is Adriana Sisko, and the date is May 1st. I'm here at the NunnCenter with Carol Taylor-Shim. Carol, thank you for joining me.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Thank you for having me.
SISKO: Not a problem. Now, I'll ask you first just to tell me a little bitabout yourself.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Sure. So I'm, uh, originally from Lexington, born and raisedhere, lived in the west end of Lexington. I always have to shout out. The West end, the best end. I went to undergrad down the road at a school whose name I should not say. But it was the University of Louisville. There, I said it. (laughs) And then came back here, worked in child welfare for a while. I can talk about that a little later. But I'm the youngest of five kids. Been married-- Oh, my lord. I'm gonna be in so much trouble. Got married in two thousand-- Been married 11 years. There we go, 11 years. But only legally 00:01:00married since 2014. So, yeah, my wife and I, my wife's name is Kim, she's not from here. She's actually from a lot of places. She was, uh, she's a military, part of a military family, but she's Hawaiian Chinese, which makes for interesting things because there's not a ton of Hawaiian Chinese folks living in Kentucky. So, yeah, so we've got two little dogs. So, yeah, that's-- that's just the general kind of stuff.
SISKO: All right, so let's get started early on.
SISKO: So we'll start with-- you had a lot of siblings.
SISKO: What was your childhood like?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, it was great. It was awesome. I grew up middle-class. Both ofmy parents worked for the federal government. My dad worked at a federal prison here in town and then my mom worked at the V.A. hospital. So was super middle-class. I grew up in an all-black neighborhood. There were maybe two or 00:02:00three all-black neighborhoods in Lexington at the time. You know, did the same kind of normal stuff, played around, had a lot of friends. You know, had a lot of neighborhood friends. Took, you know, all those weird kinds of vacations that at the time seemed like really good ideas. But once you decide, oh, let's drive across the country from Kentucky to California with a 7-year-old. No, yeah, a 7-year-old and a 14-year-old in the backseat. So it was a lot of that "Get off me," "Stop touching me," "aaah," all of that kind of stuff. So it was pretty normal up until I was twelve. And then my, the second youngest of all of the five of us was killed in a car wreck in 1984. And so that really sort of-- sort of, as you can imagine, shifted so much for me and for my family. And so 00:03:00watching my parents try to navigate that, that's a, that's a type of mourning that I don't wish on anybody. But I think my parents got super protective. And so then I was like, "Aah, I'm 13, I'm trying to go out and I'm trying to, you know, just be a regular 13-year-old." And I think because they'd already lost one child, there was a lot of like, "Let's keep, let's stay at home." And so it was-- there were some adjustments to make. But that was probably the most traumatic thing that happened. Short of that, I mean, I had a great, a great childhood. I did experience some bullying as a kid, and it was usually around skin tone or skin color. And this notion that because both of my parents worked for the federal government, that we were somehow 'rich' - we were not. So there was a lot of that probably in my freshman 00:04:00year up until they, the bullies, graduated. And so was a lot of, you know, just rumors and just being nasty on the bus and all, you know, that stupid stuff that bullies do. But it, but it's always interesting when I see them or I hear about them as grown people and I'm like, "Ha ha, karma hit both of you in the face." (laughs) So not that I'm, you know, I'm not that petty of a person. I'm slightly petty. But, but knowing all of the things that they did to me and not just me, but to other kids, there was a certain kind of "Huh. Your life didn't turn out all that great. Maybe because you were being a bully. Maybe. I don't know. I don't know." And then I went off to college. I graduated from Bryan Station Senior High here in '89, went off to undergrad, had a great time there. My GPA, my graduating GPA reflected how good 00:05:00of a time I had. Very good. But I really didn't plan on going to-- like college wasn't my thing. Like I knew people were going but I didn't necessarily wanted to go. Like I really wanted to do hair and makeup. That's what I wanted to do. And I remember there was this show. That used to come on like 11:00 on Saturdays on CNN and then it was called "Style with Elsa Klensch" and she gave you a tour of like all of these like couture fashion shows and fashion houses and did interviews with designers. And I was just like, "That's what I want to do." And so I'm talking to my parents about it. My dad's like, "I'm not paying for that." And I was like, "but why?" He's like, "I'm not paying for that." And so that's essentially how I wound up going to college. My dad said, you know, you can go anywhere you want in the state with the exception of UK. He'd had some bad experiences here. 00:06:00They're really rooted in kind of racist behaviors. And so he didn't trust me coming here, but he was completely fine with me going to U of L (University of Louisville). So I had a good time there, had a, you know, made a lot of friends, did the usual, you know, partying your brains out, but still managed to graduate. But I started out as a marketing major and then realized that there was a lot of math in that. And I'm not good at math. Like, I'm terrible in math. And so I was like, "Aaah, let me pick something that didn't have a whole lot of math." And it was justice administration. And so at some point in my life, my young life, I had planned on being a parole officer. And I got over that really quickly. (laughs) I did a couple of, you know, internships. I worked for two summers here at the, our local probation parole office. And then I worked one summer at U of-- at Jefferson County's. And that was a completely different, completely different scenario. Totally 00:07:00different scenario. And then I just realized, "Okay, maybe this is not what I think I want to do," but I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do at all. No clue whatsoever. So I sort of fell into social work. My dad was friends with, whoever the governor was at the time, the secretary, his secretary. And my dad asked, you know, like, "How do you get a state job? My daughter just graduated. She needs a job." And so I went to Frankfort and applied for all of these jobs. Had no idea what I was applying for. And then accidentally became a social worker. And so I worked in child welfare for roughly about 20 years, which is probably way longer than anybody really should work in child welfare. And so I did that for a while, for a really long time. (laughs) I did lots of different things in that system. So I started out as an ongoing worker here in Fayette 00:08:00County. That was really odd because at that time I was the only black female social worker working for the state doing that kind of work in the city. In 1994, I was the only one. There was one other black guy who worked in juvenile services, but there wasn't anybody who was doing child welfare, so that was a little odd. And so I did that for a couple of years and then went to the training part of it. And I really just kind of bounced around and did some policy work, did some program development. And then probably the last eight years that I spent in that system, I was facilitating something called family team meetings, which essentially meant I was the referee between the kid-- the families, kids, and the system. And so those eight years, my unit, we did almost 4000 of those meetings. And so I saw people at their absolute worst and that 00:09:00really, really helped me understand how systems impact people's lives in ways that-- that the architects of the systems have no-- no concept of. And so it was really, really a great experience but it was some of the most traumatic, work that anybody can do. Because you do see the worst out of people. You see autopsies for-- from child fatalities. You see kids with broken bones. You see kids who are traumatized because they've been sexually assaulted by, you know, a family member or, you know, mom's boyfriend or something like that. So it was a lot of, of holding a lot of trauma from people. And, and at the time, child welfare was not really talking about secondary trauma. And so all of us who were doing this work were just walking around with PTSD and like all kinds of anxiety disorders because we didn't realize that you can't 00:10:00absorb someone else's trauma and not like hold some of that. You know what I mean? And like, you can't wash it off at the end of the day. It sticks with you. And so that, that there were some times during that period that my self-care didn't look real good. You know, insomnia was, was a big thing. That's when I started smoking. And so I look back on that time and I'm like, "Whew, if I had just known that I needed to take care of myself while I'm trying to take care of other people, I probably would've done a much better job at that." I just thought that you just kept going because that's what I saw other people do. You know, but it was probably some of the most fulfilling work that I've ever done. But it, it,-- but it is hard. It was absolutely hard. It is difficult to watch people struggle. It is difficult to watch systems not recognize that even in the worst of situations, 00:11:00some of these parents did have some strengths. And so it's just you know, you're watching people at the lowest points in their lives. You're watching people navigate rampant substance abuse, domestic violence, dating violence, their own sexual abuse histories. But it helped me have a whole lot of empathy for, for other people, because I think just having seen people go through so much, there's-- it's hard not to develop a sense of empathy just for the human condition. And so I think that-- that's helped me as I've moved along. I have always sort of been in like social justice, racial justice, activist kinds of things. I think I led my-- I did my first protests, I think in third grade, think it was? Yeah, I was having a day and I was like, "I'm not saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Not saying it." "Why not?" "Because America doesn't treat black people well, so I'm not saying it." And the next thing I know, I was in the office, of course, and I was like, 00:12:00"call my father. Go-- Call-- You want me to call him? I'll call him for you" because I knew, I knew I was not in trouble. Now, I wouldn't advise third graders (laughs) necessarily to-- to engage in that level of activism, but that-- that's what I did because I grew up in a household that really valued knowing the accurate history for African-Americans in this country. And so my dad was-- was very much an influencer in my life when it comes to social justice and when it comes to trying to dismantle systems that aren't treating people well. So this-- this kind of work, social justice, racial justice, I feel like I've sort of-- that's been a natural kind of place for me to land. And I think partly because I do-- I have seen so much trauma from people who have been mistreated for lots of different reasons. 00:13:00I've had my own experiences with race. And so I do think that--that--I was telling somebody a couple weeks ago, I was like, "I'm not sure I know how to do anything else, but like social justice and racial justice kind of things." Because I have a lot of faith in people. I have a lot of faith that at--at peop-- at our core as human beings, like I believe that people are good at their core. What they're exposed to along their life and during their lifetimes is what makes it harder to tap into that. And so some of us can tap into it a lot easier. Some of us have built up lots of walls and barriers that make it look different so that we don't recognize that humanity in ourselves and we don't recognize it in other people. But I am hopeful for folks. That much, I am.
SISKO: You mentioned systems overlooking or not realizing the nuances and the00:14:00complexities of what people are going through--
SISKO: And I want to ask you to speak more to that--
SISKO: What kind of systems?
TAYLOR-SHIM: So let's take the education system. And so what we know aboutthe education system is that across the nation, black and brown kids are much more likely to be punished for behaviors than a white child could get in-- they can engage in the exact same behaviors. White child gets, like, a talking-to. Black or brown kid gets sent to detention, get suspended, may catch-- may get charged with something. And so it starts this kind of pattern for a person's life. And so when you've got a system like the education system that is so quick to punish children of color for things that white kids don't get punished for, you start to set up this-- is that school to prison pipeline. And so because of the way, like-- like kindergarteners get suspended. 00:15:00I'm like, "What? They're five! Like, you-- what's happening here?" And so for a 5 year old to get suspended instead of get assessed is the way that the system looks at people differently. Because if a white kid that's 5 is acting out and doing all kinds of stuff, then people like, "Oh, there might be some mental health issues there. Maybe it's this, maybe it's that." If a black or brown kid is doing it, it's detention. And so it's this inherent kind of thought that black families or Latino families or any family that's not white are just naturally more abusive and neglectful. And because that that is the narrative that has been placed in everyone's head, that's why it's so much easier for people to look at little black kids and go, "Oh, well, you're a troublemaker. Oh, 00:16:00were you doing this? Oh, this, this, this and this. Oh, well, let me suspend, you know, this 7 year old girl for talking out and talking in class." I mean, come on, a suspension for that kind of stuff? And so when-- when those kinds of things start to happen to kids at young ages, like they start to internalize what those messages really mean. And then, you know, teachers will, you know, kind of pass along information about other students as they move through. And people can act like they don't do that. We all know that they do. And so it just becomes this label that you can never shake. And then that label turns into, you know, now being suspended from-- in high school. And now I'm in an alternative placement and no one ever gets out of an alternative placement. Like, you can't work your way out of-- they're not set up for kids to work their way out of it. But people don't understand, like, how all of that is linked. And so if I've got this pattern of being in detention or 00:17:00being charged with, you know, things that only juveniles can be charged with, I'm already in contact with the criminal justice system. The earlier I'm in contact with that system, the more likely it is for me to stay in that system. And people like-- people don't follow the ball all the way down. You know, people don't think about the impact of health care on marginalized communities, on stud[ents]-- on people of color. There is a video series called "Unnatural Causes" that I watched years ago, years ago. And it was so impactful because it talked about how a college-educated black woman is more likely to have a low birth weight baby than a white woman who has not graduated high school. And one would think, okay, college-educated, okay, that implies a job that has insurance. That means prenatal care, all of those kinds of things. And it turns out that, you know, it's the stress of being a person of color 00:18:00in this-- in this country. I mean, I think we're seeing more evidence and people are talking more and more about, like, the high rates of deaths for black women during childbirth in, like, 2018. And so it-- it's those kinds of things that when I look at how a person's life has unfolded, I'm-- I-- I-- there's something goes on in my head. I'm like "Mmm. I bet I know what happened when you were in school. Hmm. I bet you probably lived in a place that did not have the most healthy of foods because, you know, poor neighborhoods pay the most for everything." And so it is-- that's--that-- for me, that's how I understand people. And I understand people in relation to systems. And so I can see how, you know, students that I work with who have come from homes where there's all kinds of things going on. Like, I feel 00:19:00like I understand them a little bit better because like, I'm like, "I've worked with someone like you. I've worked with someone like your family. I understand this system. I understand how this all looks." So that-- for me, you can take any part of the system. Like anything. If a black person or a brown person is arrested for a drug charge, even if some-- even if it's a misdemeanor charge, it is so much harder for somebody to get a job. It's hard for anybody with that kind of charge, but it is exponentially harder if you're a person of color because then it comes with all of this other stuff that people are assuming about you. So these systems all work together. They work in partnership with each other, they're dependent on each other. But every system that we have has inequitable treatment and disparate outcomes and disproportionate effects on families of color. I mean, that's just-- like 00:20:00there's a ton of research out there on it, so. But that's-- that's-- that's what I've absolutely experienced.
SISKO: You talked earlier about neglecting self-care?
SISKO: When you're working in child welfare--
SISKO: And you seem to indicate that somewhere down the line, you realized thatself-care is important.
SISKO: So I want to ask you - when that happens, how that happens and what formthat took?
TAYLOR-SHIM: It was probably the last few years that I was working in thatsystem. So I realized it really late and I can't really pinpoint when it was or, like-- there wasn't some thing that happened. Actually, I'm lying. Yes, I can. I heard the term "secondary trauma" at a conference and was like, "Secondary trauma - what is that?" And I think that was the moment that I probably started thinking about, "Oh, that's probably what I have" or "I know that I've experienced that." But I didn't-- still didn't connect it to "self-care" as-- as we talk about it now. But-- but I think one of the-- once I realized it, I-- that it was okay for me to take care of myself, 00:21:00because I think that's one of the things that for some of us keeps us from engaging in anything that is really centered on meeting our own needs. It's like, well, if-- if I'm doing this, that means I'm not doing something for someone else. And so I think I spent a lot of time trying to give myself permission to take care of myself. And-- and that was a whole process in and of itself. But I do think once I did realize self-care was a thing and that secondary trauma was a thing, I think I got a lot better about trying to, you know, kind of distance myself from some work, not taking work home, not talking about work on, you know, the weekends. All of those kinds of things. I'm just trying to save a little bit of sanity.
SISKO: You also talked about during that time period when you were working withchild welfare that you were the only black woman doing that kind of work in the city. 00:22:00
SISKO: And you said it was kind of an odd experience.
SISKO: I want to hear more about what that felt like and what made it odd.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Well, just being the only person. Like literally just being theonly person. And it wasn't my first time being the only person of color in a space. Like I, that's a-- was a pretty typical thing. But what I found striking was how many families of color were in the system. And there was no one who really understood culturally how black families functioned. And so I found myself-- I think one of the things that I-- that in hindsight, I think I treated black families differently than-- than I treated white families. Somewhat-- some-- in some ways, in better ways, in some ways, you know, more punitive ways. But it was-- it was just really odd. It was just really odd. But I also was 22 00:23:00at the time when I started, and so I was just like, "Eh. But it's a job." And so it wasn't-- at the time, it wasn't that big of a deal. But in hindsight, I was like, "Wow, that's really-- wow." And it took a while for, like, more people of color to show up. They eventually did. But it just-- when-- when I was in it, I didn't notice it until I had some distance from it and I was like, "Wow, I really was the only one at that time." And so I think it--it, you know, changes office dynamics. I think. One--(laughs) that we had a secretary her-- she's a much older lady. Her name was Phyllis. And Phyllis' desk was right outside of my office and Phyllis was on the phone and I heard her say, "something, something colored girl." And I was like, "Who's she talk--? I know she's not talking about me." But maybe she was. Like, I didn't know. But to hear-- like, that was a word that I hadn't heard. And I'm like, "Who still says that?" But also being 22 and being the only female of 00:24:00color at that time, like, I didn't have my-- the same voice that I have now. And so I didn't-- there were probably lots of things that I experienced that I didn't even realize were things. Like microaggressions - I probably experienced a ton of those - but didn't really have the language or the maturity to really recognize that-- that that was a thing. And then, of course, you know, being the only person of color in an office, I distinctly remember there was a foster parent who had a little black girl placed in her home and she was afraid to do this little girl's hair. And so every time that little girl would come into the office, I was like, "Oh my God, her hair looks a mess." And, you know, she acted out about a lot of stuff. And I'm-- and part of me was like, "She probably mad because her hair is messed up and she 00:25:00looks, like, crazy right now." Like, it just was all over her head, matted, and all this kind of stuff. So we worked it out that once a week this foster parent would bring this little girl to the office and I would do her hair. And so, like, I kept all the black hair care stuff, the brush, all the stuff we need. And I would sit her down exactly like my mom did and I would do-- like my mom did me-- I would do her hair once a week. But I kept saying to the foster mom, like, "You can go to the beauty shop and have somebody do her hair." And this foster parent was like, "Oh, I can't go in there." And I'm like, "What? What--what do you mean you can't go in a beauty shop?" And I think it was moments like those that I was just like, "Oh, that's jacked up," you know? But I was so much more concerned about the little girl not feeling so different that I was just like, "Fine. I'll, you know, I'll see you next week. We'll do something different," all those kinds of things. But in hindsight, when I think 00:26:00back on that, it was-- that was one of those things where it was like, "Oh, well, we'll send her to the black lady," is what-- is what it sort of felt like. But of course I was the only black lady, so, like, it was-- it was a good thing and a bad thing all at the same time. But yeah, it-- it showed up in weird kinds of ways, like when I would have to go work with families who were from eastern Kentucky. And sometimes that went really well, and sometimes I got called the n-word even before it got in the door. And that's not to say that every single family from eastern Kentucky engages in that kind of behavior, but I'm well aware that eastern Kentucky is not the most diverse part of our state. And so there were a couple of times where I was like, "This-- like, I'm not-- I'm not going to continue to take this sort of abuse from you." And so that-- that did come up sometimes with clients would say, you know, 00:27:00"I don't want this black girl" or "this n-word." I got called the n-word more times than I can even think of. And so it just-- it just showed up in different kinds of ways.
SISKO: You were talking about how during your early 20s you hadn't have foundyour voice yet?
SISKO: When do you feel that did happen and how? Which is a big question.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yes, that is a big question. That's a really good question,though. It's a great question. You got me.
SISKO: Thank you.
TAYLOR-SHIM: I feel like I-- I started to find voice when I came out. And Ididn't come out-- I came out much later in my life. I came out when I was like 29? Twenty-seven, twenty-- late twenties. And so all up until then, I had been performing as straight very well, had been engaged twice. And-- and I think once I was able to live authentically, that helped me find my voice because I 00:28:00wasn't hiding behind some sort of other identity. I wasn't pretending to be someone else. So I just think just gradually, at least for me, the more I told people and the more I came out to people and the more I talked, I sort of settled into like, "Okay, well this-- no this is who I really, really am. And so it helped me figure out like what I have to say, what I wanted to say and how-- how I wanted to say it. Because I think prior to coming out, I was just pretty quiet, you know, sort of was-- sort of in the background. Which, you know, my friends that I have now, if they met me then, they would like, "Like you-- these are two totally different people." And they were-- they are two totally different people. I'm very, very different now than I was before I came out. But I do think that that acceptance of who I-- who I am and who-- what I am 00:29:00and how I identify, it was the-- was the start for me to be able to find my voice.
SISKO: How do you identify in terms of your sexual and gender identity? Likewhat terms do you ascribe to, if you ascribe to any?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah. So I identify as a queer woman of color. I alsoidentify as a lesbian. But queer woman of color just, I don't know, sounds better. Lesbian. Blegh. (laughs).
SISKO: When did you first start applying the word queer or lesbian to yourself,even just in your own thoughts? When did you start thinking like, "Oh, I think that word's, like, me"?
TAYLOR-SHIM: I think what I did was-- I distinctly remember--so--so--my comingout process was also at the same time that I was in graduate school. Perfect timing. Perfect timing. And I remember sitting at home trying to figure out if I 00:30:00was gay or if I was bi[sexual]. And I--and in hindsight, I think I sort of gravitated towards identifying as bisexual[ity]-- as bisexual, because in my limited understanding of bisexuality, and I mean very limited at that time, I was like, "Oh, well if I just say I'm bi in case I'm not really gay, I can just jump back or like I could just jump back to straight if it's if it's too hard." And knowing what I know now, I cannot believe I thought that, but I did. I absolutely thought that. And I thought that for maybe about a week and I was like, "No, that's not what this is. That's not what this is." So I think once I accepted and came out to myself, that's when I think I probably started using "lesbian" or "gay." I think I started identifying as queer much later in my life. But it started out-- I was trying to ease my way 00:31:00into it, I guess. But I've always, when I think about it, I've always been attracted to females and female identifying folks. I just didn't know that that's what it was at that time. And I didn't grow up in a household where people were like, "Ahh, gay people are bad." Didn't grow up around any homophobic-- never heard a homophobic thing in my household ever, ever. My mom talked about folks that she worked at-- that she worked with who were gay, that she loved. And, you know, she loved them dearly. And they just happened to be gay. I do remember my dad's best friend when I was growing up, I'm pretty sure was gay. Because I remember being little and going to-- to stay the weekend with him and it was him and "Mr. Charlie." And I would stay in Mr. Charlie's room and I was like, "Mr. Charlie's room is awfully clean. 00:32:00This kind of looks like a guest room." And it wasn't until much later that I realized like, "Oh, that's what that was." But I never heard any-- any anti-gay, anything in--in-- in my family, just that-- it just wasn't a thing. But I also didn't know anybody who identified as gay either. I take that back. I didn't know anybody who identified as a lesbian. I knew some people identified as gay. But I had no idea. What a les-- I mean, I sort of knew what a lesbian was like. Like, I didn't know any. So I just remember feeling like not lesbian enough for a while. You know, I thought lesbians were supposed to look a certain kind of way, and I was like, "I totally don't look like that. I don't know what this is called." So it was a whole lot of just trying to figure it out as I-- as I sort of went along. But the minute that 00:33:00I accepted who I was and owned that identity and became that identity and, like, started to live that identity like my entire life changed. And it's-- and I think other people could see it because I remember I ran into somebody that knew me before I came out and then they saw me after I came out. And the first thing he said to me was like, "Like what? You look different, like you--what-- like what's going on? You look super happy." And I was like, "I'm gay." (laughs) And he was like, "I know you look happy," and I'm like, "No, no, no. The other kind of gay." And so being able to speak that truth and--and not feel any shame about it was-- was the best gift that I could ever give myself because I freed myself in a lot of ways. Just to try to hide all of that is exhausting and I'm not a good liar, and so I felt like I couldn't lie 00:34:00about who I was. I had to figure out how I was going to come out. So I-- I didn't have the same-- my coming out story is mine, much like everyone's coming out story's theirs. But I don't ever remember that time of like being in the closet. I don't think I ever was in the closet. I was just trying to figure out how to tell people. Once I figured it out, I was like, "Okay, well, this is what I am. Boom. Now I have to tell people so that I'm not living a lie." But there was never this closeted experience for me. I just didn't-- that's not that wasn't part of my journey. Yeah.
SISKO: You used the phrase earlier "performing straightness".
SISKO: I wanted to ask more about that--
SISKO: --and ask how you felt you performed straightness at the time.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, I mean, I dated a ton of guys. You know, I presented I mean,much the way that I present now. But it definitely like--I, you know, I was engaged twice. With the intent of marrying both of them. And for me, that felt 00:35:00like a performance, like even talking about like having a family and all that kind of stuff. I don't really like kids. I don't like kids, you know what I'm saying, really, I don't like kids. I like the ones in my family and I like a couple other ones outside of my family. But short of it, I'm just not a kid person and I've never had that like, "I can't wait to be a mom." No. Abs[olutely]-- no, no, no, no. But, at the time when I was identifying as straight, I was performing all of those kinds of things. You know, planning a wedding and thinking about ahh baby names and all that kind of stuff. And I look back and I was like, "Yeah, that was a great performance" because I fooled myself into thinking that that's really what my life was going to be. That's what everyone else thought my life was going to be. And that's what I guess at some point I thought that's what it was supposed to be, too. And then I got free and realized like, "No, this is not-- 00:36:00my life is going to be different than what we all thought it was going to be. And that's okay." But it took a minute to be OK with it. I mean, you know, coming out is scary. Super scary. But it was my-- again, my journey was-- was far less treacherous than I know some other folks' were. There wasn't any family rejection. There wasn't that. It was actually pretty-- pretty easy in some ways, but I just know that, you know, I was real fortunate because it's not-- that's not the case for everybody.
SISKO: Were there ways that coming out impacted your relationships, whether itwas even in positive ways?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Mmhmm. I think-- there were some times where I think some of myfriends who I--who I had lived a straight life with struggled to really, really 00:37:00understand. And so, there were some-- there were some friendships that changed, there were some friendships that ended. And--and at-- but I was okay with that because I was like, but this is-- I felt so good about living honestly that if it meant that people who had been my friends for 15 years like, "you all decide to stop being my friend. Well, okay. Like, I'm-- but my life will continue. I will mourn the loss of that friendship, but like I'm not-- I'm not going to shift back into anything to make other people comfortable." So it did--it-- it had an impact on relationships and had an impact on some, you know, some family relationships. You don't, you know, get asked to the family events quite as often. And when you do get asked, people are like, "Are you bringing someone?" And the one time that I did bring somebody like that was a 00:38:00fiasco. It was just-- it was just like they were fine, but it was just, "So, y'all live together? So, y'all bought a house together?" And it just seemed a little invasive in--in-- in a way that I was just not comfortable with. But yeah, it did-- it did impact lots of relationships. I think it shifted-- I won't say that it shifted my work, but-- but my first girlfriend and I worked at the same place, and so that was-- was something. That was definitely something. But yeah, I think, you know, once I came out, my life got a whole lot better, a whole lot better.
SISKO: I think that for many people, coming out can be a perpetual process.
SISKO: It's not a one and done deal.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Right, right.
SISKO: Do you ever find yourself coming out still and in what sort of scenarios00:39:00does that happen?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. So I came out to my dentist about two years ago. My dentist.And I've had the same dentist my entire life. And I came out to my dentist because my wife had an abscess or something. And so she needed to go to the dentist. We have the same last name. And even when I changed my last name to my married name, I'd never said I'm married. Like, I never said to the--to anyone in the dentist's office that I was married until she needed to go to the dentist. And I was like, "Well, I should probably let them know." And I sort of just slid it in there because I called and was like, "So this is Carol," you know, they knew me, "and so my wife is having some-- some dental issues." And they were like, "Oh, okay. Well, we--" And they just-- it was just like that. But I thought to myself, "I'm well in my forties and I'm still coming out to people?" And my dentist? Like, did I-- what did I think my dentist 00:40:00was going to do? I'd never heard him say anything that would make me feel like I wasn't going to be safe there. But I do think that for me, there's still this hesitation sometimes where I'm just kind of like, "Alright, I'm going to say this. I'm going to say--I'm gonna talk about my wife and see how you react to that," because I think I still am feeling people out in a lot of ways. And I think now, especially now in the climate that we're in, I do that even more. But I distinctly remember getting back in my car after a dentist appointment, and like, "I cannot believe I just now came out to my dentist. My dentist. Like there's other dentists in town, you know?" But, you know, he was our family dentist and I, so I also didn't want, you know, my parents to be treated any differently. And so my dentist was probably the last person I came out to which is-- still boggles my mind. 00:41:00
SISKO: When is it that you adopted the word "queer?" Because you said that kindof came--
SISKO: --later than when you initially--
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah, yeah.
SISKO: --were using the word "lesbian."
TAYLOR-SHIM: So I remember--I think it was probably 2014, maybe? I had gone tosomething called Camp Pride and it's run by an organization called Campus Pride, which is the largest organization in the nation that really centers their work on the experiences of LGBTQ folks in higher ed. And so they have this thing called Camp Pride. And one part of it is for students. The other part of it is for staff or faculty who are kind of serving in the role of serving that community at their institutions. And at the time before we got an office of LGBTQ resources here at UK, I was doing that work. And so I went to this Camp 00:42:00Pride. And my mind was absolutely blown the entire time because I saw people live their truth in a way that I had never seen before. And I mean, everybody just came the way that they see themselves every single day. And I was just like, "this is amazing!" And that's where I learned the, you know, the whole phrase of like "queer people of color." There was a person, their name is Romeo. And Romeo-- Romeo has-- holds a special place in my heart because Romeo was one of the first people that I ever saw live openly and like live their truth and embody who they are in a way that just seems so natural. Now I know a little bit of their backstory and was it-- like there was definitely a journey 00:43:00to get there. But I just remember looking at them and thinking, "You mean I can be black and gay at the same time, in the same body, in the same space? That's a thing? Like, you can do that?" Because up until that point, I had been like, "When I'm in black spaces, I'm just-- I'm black." And so I sort of temper the gay down. And when I was in gay spaces, it was so much about me being gay and really nothing about me being black. And so when I saw Romeo, they live fully at that intersection all the time. And for me, that was one of the most pivotal moments of my life is that I could show up in spaces in my full-- as my full, authentic self, which means my blackness, my queerness, my woman-ness, all of that can-- can exist and be present in a space at the same time. And so that for me, was a game changer. It was absolutely one of the 00:44:00biggest things that impacted me. And so I learned a whole lot about myself during that-- during that time. I got to see other queer people of color. I got to meet trans people of color. And I was just like, "this is awesome." And so I think probably around 2014 is when I really sort of grabbed hold of the idea-- of the identity of being queer. And I distinctly remember the first time I said it on campus. I was doing a presentation to a group about maybe 100-120 staff, faculty, administrators, and it was a presentation on, you know, kind of the state of LGBTQ students on campus at the time. And I just remember like it sort of fell out of my mouth and I was like, "Oh, I just said it in front of all these people." And I distinctly remember saying, "Well, you know, as a queer woman of color myself." And I had never-- that was the first time that I had 00:45:00ever publicly used that language about myself. And so for me, like once I said that, I was like, "Well, that's-- that's-- that's what we're going with." And so it hasn't been that long. You know, it hadn't been that long that I've sort of, you know, taken ownership of that identity for myself. But I do think I've had some beautiful experiences att-- at critical times in my life where I saw, engaged with, and met folks, and connected with folks all across that spectrum. And I-- for me, those interactions were such gifts because it did-- all of those folks along the way really helped shape who I am today. But-- but I-- I always think about Romeo as one of the first people that I ever met that just lived authentically. And-- and 00:46:00I distinctly remember thinking, I want to be like that. Like, I want that level of freedom in my life. So, yeah, that's probably when it started.
SISKO: What does the word queer mean to you?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Not-- not straight. Like that-- that's-- that's reallywhat it-- for me, that's really what it is. And so queer can be whatever. I just know that it's not straight. It is not--it is not heterosexual, not rooted in heteronormativity, none of that. It is just--you're just not straight.
SISKO: My next question is hopping topics a bit. Obviously, we'll get backto all of this,
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah.
SISKO: But it's a question that I thought to ask earlier, but I kind oflike lost my chance because I was listening.
SISKO: So you mentioned that you used to have this interest in hair and makeup.
SISKO: And like pursuing that. But then that didn't end up being the careeryou pursued--
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah.
SISKO: --for various reasons, as you described. Have you ever been able to get00:47:00back into that interest in any way?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, just on myself. Just only on myself. I've had a couple ofpeople ask me, like, "I want to do my makeup," and I'm like, "Mmm. Mm-mm." I've done makeup for a couple of weddings for friends. But that's not really--like, I do that for myself, not necessarily for other-- for other folks. So I figured out how to color my hair and I still need to color my hair. I figured all that stuff out. I figured out, you know, makeup stuff. I'm still interested in it. I still like it. But it's just not-- it doesn't hold the same sort of fascination for me now that it did years ago when I was trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life. And I think now that I found what I want to do with my life, that's not-- that doesn't really come into play anymore. Yeah.
SISKO: And another question I wanted to slip in earlier was what role, if any,00:48:00did religion play in your childhood?
TAYLOR-SHIM: So my dad is a deac-- was a deacon of our church. My cousin was thepastor of the church. My mom, you know, all the little kids loved my mom. So religion, you know, was there. But I think once I came out, I distinctly--I remember when I broke up with the church. The church and I broke up. And I broke up with the church the moment that I heard the word "dyke" and "fag" come from the pulpit and I was like, "Well, it's been nice. Not really, but it's been okay that we can't be friends anymore because it's not being a safe place." And I think I've always sort of struggled with organized religion and spirituality. And I think one of-- one of the things that did happen when I came out is that my connection-- spiritual connection got so much 00:49:00stronger because I dropped the organized religion kind of part of it, because I was not going to go sit somewhere for two hours on a Sunday just so you can say hateful things about me. Not gonna do it. Not gonna do it. Because I don't have to. Don't have to. But I do think that being black and knowing how central the church is in black communities, I think there was this-- I think my parents probably got some-- some flak. I know my mom did and she handled it like a trooper because that's how she is. And so there was this like, you don't want to be the gossip of the church, but everybody winds up being, you know, part of the gossip of the church anyway, because that's how churches function. And so religion, organized religion, was not a safe place for me. Spirituality is really where I landed, and that my relationship with God is 00:50:00a direct relationship. So there's no middle person anymore. And-- and I think I've lived a much better life. And been just a much-- a better human to other people without that part of the, you know, of our culture. But I will say this. It is something that I do miss because it is so much part of the black community that sometimes I feel like-- like I sort of got kicked out a little bit, but then I'm like, "But just remember, like, it's not safe. It's not safe." Every so often I will run into the pastor of the church that I used to go to, and he always does this: "You know, we're praying for you." And I'm like, "Good, because I'm praying for y'all, too." It's like every time I see him, he says that to me. And I, like, I know what that means. I know exactly what that means. And so, like, if 00:51:00that's--like, if we're in Kroger and that's what you're saying, I can only imagine, you know, the things that you would say from the pulpit if I actually showed up in church. And so, I used to go on like Mother's Day and Father's Day and that kind of stuff. But that was only because, you know, for my parents. It wasn't because I wanted to go. So religion is--is-- religion's been a-- been a tricky thing for me, but I also think it's a tricky thing for lots of folks who are part of this community. And I think especially if you are a queer or trans person of color trying to navigate some level of acceptance from a church. I think some people make that decision and they incur that harm because they still they-- still want that connection to community and they still want to be part of that church family, even though that church family is highly abusive. And so, like, I 00:52:00understand that. I get it. I just choose not to subject myself to it. I think it's not-- it's just not safe for me. Yep.
SISKO: Tell me about your current position at UK, how you ended up there, andwhat it is you do.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh. (laughs)
SISKO: Is this a story?
TAYLOR-SHIM: My entire life is that everything is a story. So I worked for UKfor, I mean, goodness, how many years? I worked for UK for eleven years and then I got laid off in 2012. And sort of just kind of floated around a little bit and went to work for a nonprofit. And non--when-- when they say nonprofit, they really mean nonprofit, like nonprofit like non-salary. It was-- the pay was awful. And I wasn't happy at that job. I mean, I was doing it, but it just 00:53:00wasn't-- it wasn't fulfilling anything for me. And my mentor at the time who worked in the court system sent me a job posting and it was for a social justice educator for the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center here at UK. And I just saw "Social Justice Educator" and was like, "Boom, my job. You just saved me from this nonprofit death that I'm about to experience." And so I started at the VIP center in 2013--13? Yeah, 2013 as the social justice educator, so my role was to make sure that marginalized communities were connected to the work of the VIP center. Because marginalized communities, communities of color, LGBTQ communities experience interpersonal violence at higher rates. And so the institution recognized that there was a huge disconnection between folks who are experiencing at higher rates and the center 00:54:00that is supposed to respond to that. So I came in and again was the only person of color at that time, which has its own set of stuff. But my job was to make sure that-- that those-- especially student groups, were connected. And what happened was that I wound up getting really connected to students and, you know, was seen as kind of a-- of a-- as a safe person for folks. And so I have been able to kind of be there for students in ways that I don't necessarily thought-- at the time I took the job, I was like, this is not --I didn't expect to be holding space for these kinds of things, you know? And so I was at the VIP center for, I don't know, two, three? Three years maybe. And then back in 2000 and-- maybe '14-'15 academic year, it was that year where, like the University-- 00:55:00the Mizzou protests happened and like there was just a lot of demonstrations on college campuses really centered around the way that students of color were experiencing whichever institution they were at. And UK was no different. You know, we had lots of protests. There was a, you know, lots of demands made. And I distinctly remember there were two that black students here made amongst the list of lots of things. One was they wanted a place like VIP to go when these instances of bias, racism, hatred, all that kind of stuff happened. And the other thing that they wanted was they wanted an official reporting structure. So we were asked by the provost, the provost-- Provost Tracy, at that time, to develop these services and to establish this reporting structure for the institution. And so that's how I became the Bias Incident Response 00:56:00Coordinator for UK. That's also how my office, Bias Incident Support Services, started. And so it's really because that's what students said they needed. And I really appreciate the administration for being responsive to those kinds of demands, because the easiest thing for the institution would be, "Well, y'all have the counseling center. Just go there." But our administration and President Capilouto definitely recognized that this kind of trauma is different. And it is one of those things that, you know, when people experience instances of bias and racism and homophobia and all those kinds of things, this place doesn't feel safe anymore, and this doesn't feel like home, you don't feel connected to it. And so it has been really an honor in a lot of ways to be part of helping students maintain 00:57:00themselves here, but also helping shift the campus culture so that no one has to experience anything that makes them feel like they don't belong here. And so it's an ever-evolving kind of thing, but it is, I feel like, some of the most important work that I've done, because I do see some changes on campus. I do see changes in language. I love it when I'm working with students and I see somebody get that-- have that "a-ha" moment. Like, "Oh, I hadn't thought about such-and-such." And so this-- this is-- this is where I'm supposed to be and I think this is the work that I'm supposed to be doing in my life right now. So it's been good. It is-- it's been challenging. I think the current-- both state and national and international political climates have definitely shifted what people are experiencing on this campus. And it's definitely shifted how people are expressing themselves so 00:58:00openly now where, you know, five, six years ago, people weren't so open with their hate and their racism and all those kinds of things. But now it's--now it's a field day and it's all protected speech. So that's a whole 'nother thing. That's a whole 'nother show. (laughs) Whole 'nother recording.
SISKO: What have been some of the most important or standout or even rewardingmoments you've experienced in your current position?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Great question. But there's been a few things. So when I wasat the VIP Center still doing this work under that umbrella, the shooting in Pulse happened-- in Orlando happened. And I remember saying to myself, like, "We have to do something. Like, we have to acknowledge that this happened and we have to create some community and some space for people to be in community 00:59:00together, because there are so many people on this campus who are part of that community." And for myself, when I saw what happened, I was just like, "That could happen at any gay club anywhere. That could happen to me when I go to the bar, like I'd go to Soundbar and the same thing could happen." And so we put together sort of this really quick event that was really rooted in healing and like acknowledging that this had happened and-- and people coming out and being supportive of the LGBTQ community here. So that was a great-- that was a great moment. And then about like a month later, then you've got Alton Sterling and Philando Castile who were murdered. And then we, again, recognized like, "We have to do something," because now you've got people of color, black people in particular, who are holding this trauma and it's ongoing trauma. And so we did a healing-- a racial healing event that the president spoke at. 01:00:00Lots of administrators were there. But the most important thing was that folks who were so impacted by police shootings had an opportunity to be in community together. Folks who identified as allies or accomplices, those folks had an opportunity to be together. And there was some resistance to that because it really did broke out along racial lines. It was some-- some folks were like, "Wait a minute, you're going to do what? You're going to separate the black people and the white people?" "Mmhmm. Yeah. Because those conversations are different right now. They're very, very different." But it was what was needed. And so to be in community with other black people and we were all sort of carrying that same burden of like, "What happens if I get stopped? What happens if some-- if my child gets stopped? What happens, you know, if my friend gets stopped?" And so there was something very beautiful about being in that 01:01:00space that was really pulled together because there's so much pain. But those are two really big things. And then this past semester, this, well, this semester we did Facing Change Week was which was our first annual Facing Change week, we had 16 different social justice centered programs. And talk-- like that was the best-- one of the best weeks I've spent on this campus the entire time that I've worked here, because it--it-- it proved to me what I know about this campus and that there are so many more people here who would never engage in any kind of biased racial--any-- who would never do any of that. They just wouldn't. But what we as an institution have to do is give those folks more opportunities to be in community together, to-- to connect with other people, to learn about other people, to learn how they can stand up for each 01:02:00other. And so to see people's reactions to the different programs that we-- I think was one of the highlights of my career here at UK. I was just so proud of the work that we did, but also really, really proud of how the community responded to it. You know, there-- there's some--some-- some wins in this work. But I think wins look different when you're trying to do social justice work or racial justice work. Wins look different. They're sometimes not super big. They can be small, but they can be really, really impactful. But those were some of-- just off the top of my head-- so those were some of the most impactful things I think I've been part of in this role.
SISKO: When you think about the future of your current job position--
SISKO: --what do you imagine? What does it look like? You know, sort of like theroad ahead.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah. I think the road ahead-- it's really hard to say.01:03:00It's really, really hard to say because this is-- it's a very different nation now than it was when we first started this. And so I think the work that comes out of our office has to evolve in some ways. When we first started, it was really just, "Well, let's be responsive to people who've been impacted." And then it quickly evolved into "How can we impact change on campus?" And now we again, there's-- there's a shift of "How can we engage folks who hold dominant identities in this work?" because we do a good job of responding to marginalized students, staff and faculty, but we don't do a good job in getting folks who identify as white folks who identify as straight, folks who identify as Christian, whatever those "dominant identities" are in this country. We don't do enough to pull those folks in. 01:04:00And when we don't do that, it--it-- they're just out there floating. And so everybody's got to be a part of this work. So I think for us, that is our next kind of focus is how can we get the people who are impacted by these things differently based on the privileges that they hold? And how can we get people who do have the most privilege to understand how they can how they can use that privilege and leverage that privilege to shift things on this campus for everybody? And I think in facing change, we've really showed us that there are so many people that that's where they're thinking. But we just like--somebody-- we got to give them something to kind of get them started. So, yeah, I have a lot of faith in this campus. Absolutely do. I cannot do this work if I don't have faith in people. So the minute I lose faith is--is--is-- that's when you'll see my resignation. But I'm not there. 01:05:00Still have a lot of faith.
SISKO: How would you characterize your relationship with UK? It seems like youhave a lot of faith in the institution.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Mmhmm. I've had a love-hate relationship (laughs) with UK in alot of ways. I think I grew up-- and it-- and mostly because I grew up in an environment where I've had family members who have gone UK who did not have good experiences. And so I've heard-- growing up, I just remember hearing like lots of bad stuff about black people coming to UK. And then once I started working here. Like I saw a different kind of UK. And not just-- you know, I want us to be the best institution that we can be. I want us to be the place where people are coming and saying, "How did you all shift your culture? How did you all do X, Y and Z?" So I have a lot of affinity for this institution. I mean, I'm a graduate. I got my master's in social work from here. So this is 01:06:00my institution. So I don't just work here. I mean, I'm from here. So it is important for me on lots of levels, personal and professional levels, that UK evolves in a way that is-- that is equitable and that is just for everybody.
SISKO: Tell me a little bit more about working in VIP--
SISKO: --particularly as the only black woman, I think you mentioned. Is thatright? Yeah.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah, I think-- I think with black women there are certainchallenges that that we have that other women do not have. And I think we get characterized in ways that are dangerous. And so if a white woman says a black woman has done something to make them feel uncomfortable, no one's asking any questions about "Well did this other person do anything to make the black woman uncomfortable?" It is always, "Oh, the black woman must have been 01:07:00aggressive. The black woman was a bully." And so I've had those experiences in lots of places. And what it does, it really damages, at least for me, the trust that I have in other white people, white women in particular. And so I think it was rough. It was very, very rough. I remember the day that the Ferguson non-decision came down. And I just remember how heavy everything felt and how hard it was to come to work that day and how hard it was to walk in the office and not just dissolve into a ball of tears. And I mean, we were having a staff meeting and there was this thing that we used to do, like we would, you know, write something down, we would celebrate each other. You draw names, you celebrate each other for something. And, like, I wasn't really in a 01:08:00celebratory mood right then, and I thought it was odd that like nobody was talking about it. Like, "Y'all know, we all know what just happened, like no one's no one's talking, no one's talking about this, no one's talking about this." And so I remember sitting in that staff meeting and, you know, folks are just going on like nothing's happened. And the more I sat there, like, the more injured I got because I'm like, "Y'all know this stuff is happening and nobody's saying anything. You ain't saying nothing. About nothing." And then I distinctly remember saying "I don't really feel like celebrating anything right now. Like, I don't feel like there's a lot for me to celebrate. You know, just been confirmed that, like, police can shoot a black person and nobody goes to jail for it. So, like, I don't have a lot to celebrate right now." And then a tear fell. And then another two. You 01:09:00know, like one falls and then you like, "Aww great, now I'm crying." And I distinctly remember at the time when my coworkers slid a box of Kleenex over to me. Nobody said a word. They just slid a box of Kleenex. And I was just like, "I need to go. And so I remember I left for the day. Because not only was I dealing with the pressure knowing that, like, you know, what had just happened and what had been happening, but then to be in a space with folks that worked-- with folks who-- who had been traumatized by things, who'd been traumatized by violence that was related to a marginalized identity and not-- and not be seen was devastating, was absolutely devastating. And I don't know that I ever got over that but-- but that was-- that was often kind of a common kind of 01:10:00thing. And so I think when-- when black women in particular speak about how they're feeling or how they're being treated when a black woman names, like, "I don't feel like I'm wanted here" or "I feel isolated here." Nope. People don't really take that seriously. It was my experience that it really wasn't taken seriously and I just--like, I-- I cared about these folks because we had helped people-- helped each other through lots of other things. But when it came to issues of race, then--then-- then I really felt like, "Oh, no, I'm the black girl here." And so that, you know. It was hard. It was really hard and was very, very hard because I was dealing with my own racial trauma. I was dealing with my own racial battle fatigue, which, you know, looks 01:11:00a lot like some of the behaviors that survivors of sexual violence experience and nobody saw that. No--like, nobody saw that. I was just the angry black girl. And so, you know, that damaged some relationships and ended some friendships and it was just hard. It was super hard. And I don't for a second think any of those folks that I worked with at the time were doing anything intentional. They weren't in--they-- they would never do anything intentional, but it was just-- what felt intentional was like ignoring me in the midst of all of that trauma. You know, every time-- because there were so many people getting killed left and right. No one came in my office, asked me a question about how I was feeling. And so I'm just like-- I just--I just didn't understand how we could hold space for each other and all these other like intensely personal traumatic experiences, but this one thing like you all can't help or you 01:12:00all won't help. And so it was just-- it was just-- I was just very, very mindful that I was the only black woman there. And it--and it-- in the ways that that played out. Yeah.
SISKO: You mentioned that to you the ignoring felt intentional. Why do you thinkthat was?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, I don't think it was necessarily intentional, I thinkthat's just what I was thinking. Because that's what it felt like. Like I'm sitting in pain, like I'm in my office crying every single day and no one's saying anything. Like no one's like, "Oh, my God, what's going on?" Like nobody. And so again, I don't think anybody was intentionally out to cause harm. But I think probably what happened is people didn't know what to say so they didn't say anything. And that silence really translates in-- into like, "I don't care enough about you to learn 01:13:00what to say or to figure out what to say." And that's what it felt like. Like, "I don't I don't care enough about you to see you." And I think most of us know how detrimental it is when people aren't seen. You know, lots of us had those experiences where we haven't been seen. And so to be in that kind of a space with-- with folks who work around trauma and not have my own trauma seen and actually have my traumas seen as-- as, you know, some sort of racialized violence towards them, not physical violence, but like, you know, the concept of violence, was heartbreaking, was absolutely heartbreaking, you know? But I mean, it--it-- it was what it was. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about other people. Learned a lot about my own racial trauma and how that kind of manifests and how that shows up. And so really it-- in 01:14:00hindsight, it really helped me figure out who to go to with what and like who was safe and who wasn't. And that way I wasn't going into things with expectations that somebody was going to respond in a particular way. If I didn't know you that well, like, I didn't have any expectations on how you were going to respond because you weren't the person I was going to go to anyway. So I was able to figure out who were the best supports for me. But you know that--it-- there was-- there was some trauma attached to trying to figure that out. But-- but I think the time that I was there, we did some brilliant work. Like, I'm so very, very proud of the work that we did at the VIP Center. And, you know I saw-- I worked with one of the absolute best advocates I've ever worked with in my entire career. But, you know, not 01:15:00everybody-- not everybody does everything, you know. And so in hindsight, I probably-- my expectations for folks are probably way higher than what they were capable of, not because they didn't care, but they just-- like this just wasn't--this wasn't a thing, you know. And--and-- and they weren't encouraged to figure out how to make it their thing. And so I think one of the things that you have to do when you're in an office where there's lots of different cultures and when you're working with folks who are marginalized for lots of different reasons, I think if you-- if you want to nurture a really beautiful working environment, then-- then you have to create that and you have to be mindful of like what is going on in someone else's community because people don't leave that at the door. Like, I don't stop being black when I get in my car. You know, I don't-- I don't stop you know, getting anxious when-- when a police officer is behind me just 01:16:00because I work at UK like that's not giving me any protection. But I think when you work in an office with folks who have lots of different identities, I think that's-- for me, that's part of the obligation is, "How can I be the most supportive person in this environment?" And part of me being supportive is acknowledging and knowing what's going on in someone else's culture. Like, that's huge. It's huge. I just think it makes for a much better working environment. And I think it just makes you a better person. Empathy is not a bad thing, you know? And--and doing the work to learn about someone else is work we should be doing anyway. You know, we shouldn't be afraid to do that. But I think some people are. I just-- I just hope that, you know, people are starting to realize, like, how much harm is caused when you decide to stay 01:17:00comfortable when someone else is uncomfortable, when you pick your own comfort over someone else who is in pain. I think-- I think we make a lot of missteps when we do that. A whole lot. I've done it myself. I've absolutely done it myself. And so when I say that I'm not just talking about other folks, I'm talking about me as well, because there have been those times where I where I've dropped the ball on it, too.
SISKO: Tell me about your supports in your social circles now. Who do you chooseto surround herself with?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, man. So my wife, of course. But a few years ago, I gotconnected to this group in town called Not the Only One in the Room. NTOO. And it started because there were women of color who would find themselves in spaces and would be the only one in the room. And we'd be very shocked that they were only-- the only person in the room because they knew other women of color who were interested in whatever was going on in that space. And so we started to 01:18:00have like these quarterly brunches and it just exploded. And it--what--well it exploded in lots of ways. I think what it did for all of us is we knew that we could go into those brunches and talk about our experiences and not have to sugarcoat things. We knew that we didn't have to explain microaggressions to people. We knew that we didn't have to go through this whole, you know, "Well, are you sure that's what happened? Well, maybe they didn't do--" We didn't have to do that with each other. And so we held space for each other with no question. And so from there, because it got big quick, like it's--I don't know it's like 300 people in the Facebook group. So it's a ton of people. But a few of us who got even more connected in lots of different ways, sort of, you know, now there's sort of this offshoot of us 01:19:00and we call ourselves the committee. And it's about, I don't know, maybe ten or twelve of us. And so those women, if I needed something right now, I could send a message out and somebody would be there, no questions, no nothing. Like, that's just how--that's just how we work. Someone says they're having a rough time. All right. Committee meeting. And so they are the ones that really in a lot of ways have filled some gaps for me from people that I, you know, friends that I had years ago who sort of faded away. These are the women that I trust. These are the women that I trust with my life. And so anytime any one of us is going through something, like, that's the group that shows up. And so it's important for us, like we are important to each other. And so they 01:20:00have probably saved my sanity more t-- more times than they even realize. But I think everybody needs that. Everybody needs a committee. Everybody needs a squad. Everybody needs some people in their life-- in their lives that no matter what you're going through, even if you've made the biggest mistake, they're gonna be like, "Girl, that was dumb, but I still love you" and, like, "All right. How we gonna fix it?" Everybody needs that. And so I'm just very, very fortunate that I was able to find that and that we were able to find each other because we've you know, across the board, you know, all of us have--have-- have struggled with something and we struggle a little less because we know that we can lean on each other. So they've definitely-- they have definitely got me through some stuff for sure.
SISKO: What would you consider your relationship to be with queer and LGBT communities?
TAYLOR-SHIM: (laughs) That's. Oof, oof. To be honest, I think it's01:21:00conflicted. I have a very conflicted relationship. And the conflicts are usually centered around my blackness and organizations asking me, you know, to be on boards or to come to this meeting or to do this and I'm the only black person in the room. And so I'm like, "Mm-mm. So now-- now we're tokenizing and I don't speak for every single queer or trans person of color. I don't speak for every single black person. I speak for me." And so I see that. I see how certain organizations will show up for certain things and things that they don't show up for. I listen a lot to when folks are talking about, you know, what's up next for the LGBTQ community. If we're not 01:22:00talking about trans women of color and that, then we're doing it wrong. We're absolutely doing it wrong because they're the most vulnerable ones in our community. And so it is-- my conflict rises from feeling like I'm always the person who's like, "No, white LGBTQ folks. You need to care about when transwomen of color. You need to care about immigration issues. You need to care about anti-Muslim, you know, impact on folks. Not everybody is white. Not everybody's a gay male. Not everybody has a bunch of money. Like, we run the gamut." And I just don't think that the LGBTQ community does well with race. I think we are terrible at race. I think in my experience, I think I've-- I've talked to lots of gay folks who are just really fixated on just being gay and forget that, like, people are also gay and black. 01:23:00People are also gay and have disabilities. People are also gay and immigrants. It's I live at that intersection of lots of marginalized identities and some of the groups that I worked with were full of gay white guys with a lot of money. And so it's hard, like we're not even speaking the same language about things. Like, what they feel like is oppression, I'm like, "That's oppression? That's it? Huh. Huh. That's not what it is." And so I think there is a ton of racism that is rampant in the LGBTQ community. I think we like to pretend that it's not, but it is there. I think we don't understand disparities in other systems that impact when and where people show up. For example, if you're having a fund-raising dinner and your tickets are 100 dollars, you're not gonna have a whole lot of people color there because financially, people of color are probably, what? Ten, 01:24:00eleven, twelve times less wealthy than white people? So one hundred dollars-- my hundred dollars as a person of color, it looks different than your hundred dollars as a way--as a white male. Looks very different. But the fact that those conversations don't go on is troubling to me. It's very, very troubling, because then the narrative becomes, "Well, the black gays never come to anything." Now we have all kinds of stuff that we can afford because we understand economic disparities. Maybe y'all should be talking about economic disparities, you know? That's a handy topic to talk about because it's real. And so it just feels like the conversations around the intersectionality of racialized identity, gender identity, sexual identity, all of those kinds of things, no one wants to get in that conversation when there's not a person of color in the room. So if there's not a person of color in the room 01:25:00talking about it, it's not talked about. And that's my issue. Like that's my issue. It's absolutely my issue. I have gone 'round and 'round with folks about this stuff and it is-- it's painful. Because it's almost like-- it's like the LGBT community expects queer and trans people of color to pick an identity as if we can't be all the things at the same time. Because, you know, "mainstream" LGBTQ groups see-- are really only focused on those identities. No acknowledgement that people are living at intersections of lots of different things. And so I get-- my patience wears thin these days, you know, it just does. It just does. And I think more of my focus is working with organizations that are really rooted in racial justice for queer and trans people of color. I've done my time of trying to get other 01:26:00organizations to get their stuff together. And I think I'm at that point now where, like, "Never mind. Like, never mind, we'll just do it over here." But it shouldn't have to be that way. Like we should be able to exist in community, but also acknowledge that parts of our community have different issues. But they're still part of our community. So if like this group of folks within our community has an issue, then it should be the issue for the entire community. But we don't view racial justice as an issue in the LGBTQ community because then people have to confront their own racism. And, you know, LGBTQ folks are like, "But I'm gay" or "I'm bi" like "I've been discriminated against for my identity so I don't do it to other people." Yeah, you do. You absolutely do. Absolutely do. And so just because you date a black person, just because your best friend is Korean or something like that, just because, you know, my ex-wife was this does not, like, you don't 01:27:00get brownie points for that. And I think there's some folks who expect to get brownie points for that. I'm not giving you anything for that. I need to see you work. What-- what do you show up for? So when these smaller organizations are having events, I pay attention to who's there and who's not. And--and--I-- the same folks never show up but then are the same folks who want to call me and, you know, "Wanna be on TV?" or "Can you help with this?" or "Can you do this?". So my patience has run pretty thin with that kind of stuff.
SISKO: You've talked about experiencing quite a bit of tokenization. Andwhat damage do you think that creates?
TAYLOR-SHIM: For me?
SISKO: For you, or if you wish to speak to it on a broad scale, big picturesense as well.
TAYLOR-SHIM: I think-- I think big picture, it contributes to the laziness that01:28:00folks who have the most privilege have around fighting racial injustice. "Well, we've got such-and-such. We've got this one person on our board. So like we're diverse." I actually worked with an organization who I'd done some-- some training with. And the head of their steering committee made a statement to the effect of-- because my question was, "So how's racial justice showing up on this committee?" And the response I got was, "Well, you know, we have a black person on the committee so that's racial justice right there." (laughs) And I was like, "What? That's racial justice right there? 'We've got one.' So tokenism is now an act of racial justice?" And that that kind of stuff. It is not helpful and it's that kind of stuff that 01:29:00actually causes harm. Because if you think it is just-- all you have to do is have X, Y and Z. Like, you just need like one Muslim person, one Latinx person, one trans person, and one black person, then you're covered. Like, this isn't a box of crayons. It's not what this is. This is people's lives. This is people's communities. And so I think it hurts movement when you don't have a variety of voices at the table. And then it forces that one person who is at the table to sort of speak for everybody and that's unfair. I speak for myself. So I think it harms-- it harms the work moving forward. But it also causes harm to that one lone person that you continue to call for things because that's the only black queer person you ever bothered to know. And so "Let's just call such-and-such," "Well, we'll 01:30:00call such-and-such," "Well, let's just call such-and-such." Why do you all only-- why do y'all only know one person? Like, that-- that's always my question, "Don't y'all know other people? Have y'all not gone out and made yourself known in other-- to other people?" No. And a lot-- and a lot of organizations don't do that because they don't think it's necessary. They feel like, "If I've got somebody from that community, then I don't have to-- I don't have to do the work to get to know that community. I can just-- they'll just tell me what they need." That's -- it's a common mistake. It's a common mistake that I see lots and lots of organizations make over and over and over again. And they--they-- they never come out any better for engaging in that kind of thing. They-- they actually--they come out a lot worse in a lot of ways.
SISKO: How have you navigated out-ness on UK campus? Like--
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, I'm super out.
SISKO: --being a part of the institution. Oh really?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Super out.
SISKO: Has it always been that way?01:31:00
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Once I came out, I was out. Yeah. But I feel like-- I feellike I'm more out now, which is-- which is kind of odd to say, but I feel like I work into any workshop, any training, any kind of meeting, I will quickly identify as a queer woman of color in every space I can because that's who I am. And I'm not hiding that for anybody. And so--it-- I've-- I've had-- I will say this. I've been really, really fortunate in my life that I have never experienced any severe backlash. I have never experienced somebody calling me some slur, like I've not experienced that. But I also recognize that I have the privilege of passing for straight, or what people assume straight people look like. And so if I don't tell you, most people 01:32:00are not going to be like, "There go a lesbian." Most people aren't gonna think that. And so I recognize that the way I present carries its own set of privilege that other folks may not necessarily have. So I think that's-- that's provided me a whole lot of protection, which--but-- which also kind of makes me like, "All right. When's my time coming? Is--, you know, surely-- surely, it's gonna happen," which is a really weird feeling to have. Like you're kind of waiting for something bad to happen because you're part of a particular kind of group that typically has bad stuff happen. And so it's almost like you normalize that kind of violence. But I've just-- I've not had any kind of bad experience at all. Again, my experience has been so very, very different than so many people and I know how fortunate I am that it has not cost me-- like I've not lost any jobs. I've not, you know, been threatened. None of this stuff. None of it. 01:33:00
SISKO: How do you think Lexington or even, you know, Kentucky more generally haschanged or remained the same over the years? Like, over the course of your life.
TAYLOR-SHIM: I think I think Kentucky's changed a lot. And I think Kentucky'sstayed the same. I think you've got pockets of places that have really evolved and then you've got, you know, places that will never, ever change. But I don't think we're necessarily any different than lots-- any other place. I think all communities have that. I feel like it's safer in some ways to be out publicly. I distinct-- I remember the first the very, very first Pride we had in Lexington, the very first when and like how excited we all were like, "What? Are we having our own Pride? This is amazing!" But I distinctly remember going and watching the cars that were driving by and not 01:34:00because I'm just like I like watching cars, but like I'm looking, "Is that a Confederate flag truck? Is that a shotgun on somebody's gun rack?" And so I don't do that anymore when I go to Pride. Like I ju- I don't-- I just don't. So I think in a lot-- like we've evolved in those kinds of ways that I think are subtle for some folks, but really meaningful for a lot of other folks. I feel safer when I'm in Lexington as a queer person, but only my queer identity. Not--not in my black identity, with only my queer identity. And so I think-- I think there has been some-- some evolution for sure. But I also-- when I think about Pride, Pride's still very white. Still super white. You may have a sprinkling of, you know, person of color here, a person of color there, but it's still really, really white. 01:35:00So that part of it hasn't really evolved at all. So I don't know. It's-- it's evolved in some beautiful ways, but it's been really stagnant in some other ways. Yeah.
SISKO: Tell me some more about that first Pride event.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Oh, my gosh.
SISKO: Like, what year was that?
TAYLOR-SHIM: I can't even remember what year that was.
SISKO: Ballpark it. (laughs) TAYLOR-SHIM: I don't know, mid--mid-to-late--like 2005? 7? Something like that? I don't know. Somewhere around in there. But I just remember like it was the best-- like it was one of the best days of my life up until that point. Like, it was great. And I remember my friends and I, we were so excited. Think we got down there like 11:00. Partied our brains off, like, but in the best possible way. And that was just this sense of like freedom and safety and community, like all of the good stuff that you want to feel in a space is what we felt. Like, that energy was beautiful and it was 01:36:00exciting. And so many people from so many different places came to that. It was-- it was great. It was absolutely great. So I think about the first Pride and like just that energy of like, "We're finally having one." And then as we've had more and more, kind of like, "Oh, well it's Pride weekend." And so I don't know if it's that it's normalized now or is much more normalized than it was at first. I still love it. And part of it might be the fact that, like, I'm older now and I'm like, "Oh, it's all day. I need a nap. Like, that's that's an all-day commitment." But it just-- it feels like any other-- like any other festival in a way which is kind of a good thing and a bad thing all at the same time. But-- but I do distinctly remember that, like just how energized everybody was and how excited everybody 01:37:00was. When marriage equality was passed, it was a similar energy like that. Like, "Yay, everybody can get married." And like people, you know, were doing surprise marriage proposals on stages. It's not-- like it was-- it was that kind of excitement and energy. But it just feels like so much of that energy is attached to overcoming some sort of trauma or overcoming some sort of injustice. And then we get all energized again. You know, "We got marriage equality. All right. What do we fight for next?" I don't know. I know it's not trans women of color. I know what it's not. And so I just think that for me is--is--is-- what I've seen is the evolution of it. All this excitement and then it's like, "Oh, here's the second one." And then we kind of get used to it. And then there's this thing that we're all fighting for and we get it. "Ahh!" 01:38:00again. And then, you know, you go back and get used to it again. And so I don't-- I still love Pride, but I do think it-- I would love to see some-- some evolution with it. And I would love to see some more intention around acknowledging that folks are living at the intersection of so many different marginalized identities. I think there's those conversations that could be had, there are social things that could be had. It's like there's lots of things people could be doing. But typically what will happen is it'll be like "Well, he's--well, call such-and-such and see if they'll do it." And it's usually the person of color. And like, "Well, why can't y'all just, you know, think ahead? Just, you know, think ahead as we've told y'all this last year." So just, you know, being much more intentional in making Pride for everybody and not tokenizing like, "Well, we have this one black act, so there you go." But, you know, it's it everything is an evolution. Everything is 01:39:00in transition. So we'll see. But I'm sure I will still be at Pride, though. That I'm not going to miss.
SISKO: The first one, was it held where they're still held now, like thesame street?
TAYLOR-SHIM: No, it was held-- You know, where like Cheapside is now? Where thepavilion is? Well, that-- it was held there before the pavillion was actually there. So it was on the-- around the old courthouse. The very, very old courthouse with all the offensive statues that we were like, "Nobody cares about these statues. Actually, we're gonna put rainbows on them." Like the-- like we didn't-- we didn't care about location or anything like that. We were just happy to be there. We were just thrilled to be there. But yeah, it was it was it was smaller, there wasn't as many vendors and all that kind of stuff, but that energy was just amazing. It's absolutely amazing.
SISKO: What spaces do you feel have been welcoming to you? You like your01:40:00existence, your identity, this intersection you're in. What spaces have you felt welcomed in? Or safe in?
TAYLOR-SHIM: I usually feel safe in like the bar, you know, nightclub spacebecause everybody's just trying to party, you know? But I don't know. That's probably the place where I feel that the most. There are other spaces where I'm real mindful of blackness. There's a lot of spaces and I-- and times where I'm just real mindful of my blackness and the space in the sea of like white LGBTQ land, there's like, "Look, there's another black person over there." And so it feels like sometimes being outside of the community that--that you're actually in. Like you're marginalized in your own community in lots of ways. Yeah.
SISKO: What are some spaces that you don't feel, you know, in addition tothe stuff you were just saying, don't feel safe or welcomed or, like, 01:41:00fitting in?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Church is-- is a big one. And it's not so much that there--that there are like spaces that I don't necessarily feel safe. Church is the one space that I absolutely do not feel safe in. But there are just other times, like I'm telling you if there's-- if there's a cop around me. Nervous. So anytime law enforcement is in the space, I'm nervous. I remember I was driving into work one day and a police car was behind me and I was white-knuckling it down the road like I was just like, "Let me get on like [highway] 25." And all these things are going through my head and I pulled off. I pulled off-- off the street into a parking lot to let the cop go. And so that-- when police show up that-- I feel the most unsafe is when the police show 01:42:00up. Because I know that any-- at any point in time, you know, if the police say, "Oh, well, her earring look like a shotgun." You know, it's that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I think-- I think church is-- is the definitive place that I'm like, "Mm-mm. I know I'm not safe there for lots of reasons." But spaces where law enforcement are just-- are not real comfortable for me. And so like, if I needed to call the police for something right now, I would really, really be hesitant to do. And I probably would trying to figure out which one of my relatives I could call instead. Which is not you know, you should be able to call the people who are supposed to protect you. But the ones who like to shoot black people don't wear different uniforms. Everybody looks the same to me. And so I don't-- I don't--I-- I can't figure out which one is-- is the good one and which one is the one who's got the itchy trigger finger. And so that makes all of them unsafe for me, even-- even friends of mine 01:43:00who are police officers. And I think about-- I have one friend--he and I went to college together. And he's on the med-- he's on the local police force. And I often think, like, "What is it like for him as a black male? In this time frame and you're a cop? But how much like how much stuff are you carrying day in and day out, you know?" So, you know, I wish I didn't feel the way about law enforcement that I do. But I think, you know, lots of law enforcement agencies across the nation have sort of created this sense of "Eh. I can't trust you." Because eh, we can't trust you. Like, this--it's just real. Like, that's just the reality of it.
SISKO: How do you feel about police presence at Pride? Because every yearthere's always, you know, a couple cops there--
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah.
SISKO: They've got their car.
TAYLOR-SHIM: I understand it. Like in my in my queer identity, I'm like,01:44:00"Okay, I sort of get it." In my black identity, I'm like, "But you could still shoot me in this crowd." And so law enforcement for me is just not-- like I said, anywhere they are, I'm nervous. I'm absolutely nervous because I'm just like, "Y'all can-- you can say anything happened." And even if there's a body camera that shows something completely different, the likelihood that a cop who shoots anybody, let alone a person of color and a queer person of color? You are serving not time at all. You might not even get desk duty. And that-- and that, that's what's going on in America, and so people can act like that's not the truth. That's what's happening. Very rarely do cops who shoot unarmed black people or unarmed brown people or unarmed anybody that doesn't identify as white. Those folks don't go to jail. So many people don't even get charged. Like, I'm holding like a bag of chips. Like how's? What do you think, I'm gonna 01:45:00shoot you with Cheetos or something? Like, how does this happen? So it just--that--that-- yeah. Anywhere they are, I'm not trying to be at all. But it shouldn't be that way, but it is that way.
SISKO: So naturally, the subject of our country's current administrationcomes up--
SISKO: --a bunch in the interviews I've been doing, and so now I juststarted making it a question.
SISKO: Right? How do you feel about the future with regards to that? Withregards to, like, the country at large?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. So to be honest, I feel like this our last shot becausewe've been here before. We've been here as a nation before. And we didn't learn. We did not learn. And here we are again. And folks have voted in an administration that is hell-bent on destroying everybody who's not rich, Christian and white. And that-- so it means everybody has skin in the game 01:46:00now. Before, I think it was more black people had skin in the game. But n-- everybody's got it now. So I think, like, I'd tell folks all the time, "If we don't get it right this time, then forget it. Like, just hang it up." But I do feel like because things are so off the rails that more people are understanding the impact of voting. More people are understanding the impact of like worshiping idols and false idols and all these kinds of things. I think, you know, this whole "Make America Great Again"-- at what point-- tell me, what was the year-- what year are we tried to get back to? Pre--pre- or post-slavery? Because I feel like it's pre-slavery. And so this is just a really weird-- 01:47:00tt's a really weird time. And I feel like people of color, our job now is to like take care of each other and-- and to deal with the trauma of existing as a person of color in America. I think the folks who are responsible for dismantling racism are white people. I don't think it's us because you have to have some power to dismantle it. We don't have any power. We don't have any power in any organization, the higher up you go, the whiter and more male it gets. Anywhere. Those are the folks. Y'all figure it out since y'all have access to the power and you don't want to relinquish any of that to anyone else. So, yeah, I think-- I think folks of color are in this-- and I find myself doing it some, too-- like this kind of retreat mode, like I'm just-- I'm-- retreat back into community. I'm going to retreat back to places that I know are safe and around people who are safe. And 01:48:00if you are white, I think there is this--and-- this is-- this is what I'm experiencing now. I'm sort of like, "Let me figure out if you're safe or not or like what level of safety comes with you," because it is just-- it is just so out there now and people aren't afraid to talk about and to name their identities as racists or Klan members or Nazis or whatever. Like, people are naming it, like--like, wearing hats about it for crying out loud. And so, like, there was just a--what, a Nazi rally somewhere that they were burning swastikas in 2018 in America? Somebody is burning swastikas? Like that's what we are now? And so folks, we've got--folks, we've got work to do, but it's--it's not our work. Like, I-- we can't fix it. We don't have-- we don't have the power to fix it. But you know white people, people with the most privilege, 01:49:00Christian folks, folks who identify as heterosexual, like, y'all got work to do. The rest of us are trying to survive. Because I'm tired. Like, you know, try-- survival is tiring. So I think-- I think people have got to start to come to grips with why some folks made the decisions that they've made. Why some people backed who they backed. I think there's a lot of voter regret. A ton of it. And people are gonna have to reconcile themselves with that. I think about like people who have kids. And when your kids grow up and look back at this time, like, what are you going to say about what your role was in this? Like, did you contribute to this or were you like, what were you doing so it's not like this? I think a lot of people have a lot of questions to answer and a lot of work to do. But I think it's work that, you know, if you hold dominant id-- dominant identities, you don't want to have to face 01:50:00how that-- the privileges--like, how that influences other people's lives. I think people-- like it's scary to face that because then you have to be held accountable for your role in it. And I--and--some-- some folks are just not ready for that. Some folks are, but most folks aren't. But-- but that's only where we're gonna get anything done. It's like you got acknowledge, like, "We have screwed this up. In lots and lots of ways, they let us do the hard work to try and fix it." But so much of that is personal and like unpacking your own stuff. And I think it's-- it's scary to do that. I've had to unpack a lot of my own stuff in my journey and it was painful. And like, you look back and you're like, "What was I thinking?" But it's part of moving forward. It's the scariest thing that you'll ever do is to face yourself. But it is part of-- of becoming a new you and a 01:51:00better you. But, you know, folks who aren't used to being uncomfortable avoid that like the plague. And so I think folks with marginalized identities, especially racialized identities, are uncomfortable on a regular. So like it's not even uncomfortable anymore. It's like normal. But folks who are used to being comfortable all the time, anything that makes them discomfort-- that makes them uncomfortable, "Ahh I d-- I'm done. I don't want to do it." You got you-- got to walk through that.
SISKO: Speaking of kids, because you mentioned that a minute ago, how do youfeel when you think about younger generations like kids, teenagers, et cetera, living in this current political climate and context?
TAYLOR: SHIM: I think some kids are really aware of the climate thatthey're living in. I think about the-- was it Parkland students? I think they're very, very aware of the time that they're living in. But I also think that students, black students who protested gun violence in Chicago, 01:52:00those folks were really in tune, too. So I think there are young-- young people who get it. I also think that there are young people who, if they've not experienced anything, don't think that there's anything wrong. I think lots of folks don't understand history. Because if you hold power, then you get to control other people's narratives. And other people's narratives are shared in a way that whitewashes the-- the responsibility and the accountability for the folks with the most privilege. So lots of folks-- so during Facing Change, we had a person come who's related to Emmett Till. And. I was surprised at how many students had no idea who Emmett Till was. And I'm like, "How do you not know that?" And then I think, "Well, you know, 01:53:00they're 18, 19 years old." And because, you know, "We had a black president, everything's post-racial and we don't even talk about it." We always have to talk about that because that stuff is still going on. So I think, again, I have a lot of faith in folks, but I think we have to provide folks, young people in particular, with the most accurate context for things and with the truth about how things have played out in this country.
SISKO: What gives you hope these days?
TAYLOR-SHIM: Young people give me hope. Like students on this campus give mehope, because that's-- I love them more than anybody. Like, I love the administrators and all that kind of stuff, but I love students and I feel like my work-- I feel like I work for students. I get paid by this institution, but I work for students. So I have to have a lot of faith in them. And I've just 01:54:00seen, you know, people transform over the years. We were doing boxes and walls during--during Facing Change week and I was so struck by this young white guy who talked about the language that his grandfather uses on a regular basis that is rooted in racism and, like, the pain and embarrassment that you could hear in his voice. And I was like, "That's somebody that is like, 'I know this mess is wrong, but I don't know what to do.'" And so we-- there's so many more people out there like that kid. Sorry, that kid--young man. But we have to be able to provide opportunities for people to get on that path. And I think that that is what my office hopes to do. That's what I hope to do. I think there's lots of folks on this campus that really are trying to push people--not-- maybe push isn't the right word, but provide that path for 01:55:00folks who-- who really are trying to like understand how we got here as a nation. So that's who I have a lot of faith. Is-- is these young people, because I'm like, "You better get this right. Y'all better get this right, because when I get old, I don't wanna still be having to do this stuff. So I'm depending on y'all to get it together." But student-- students are just-- those are my favorite folks anyway. So, of course, I have a lot of faith in them.
SISKO: So I've run through the gambit of all my preplanned questions--
SISKO: --as well as the ones I wrote--
TAYLOR-SHIM: --as we were talking. So I wanted to, you know, before we finishup, turn it over to you and ask if there is anything else you wanted to say or bring up that we haven't had a chance to talk about yet.
TAYLOR-SHIM: One thing I think is the dynamics of being in an interracialrelationship. I think those-- especially in the in the LGBTQ community, 01:56:00I've just seen some odd things when it comes to like interracial dating and who will date who and who doesn't date this and all of these kinds of things. And I've only been in a relationship with one white woman. And I just remember feeling like-- like at some point it was going to be racial. And it never was. But I just know that entered into that particular relationship from a perspective of what if she says the word? Like, what if we're arguing over something and she throws it out? And like, that's not-- that's not how you should be thinking about somebody that you're in a relationship with. But I think it was very, very different being in a relationship with another person of color who is from a completely, you know, 01:57:00their cultural background is very, very different. And so I think for me, because my wife is Hawaiian Chinese and she's experienced lots of things in Kentucky, I think that helps us, excuse me, be more connected to each other in a lot of ways, because if I come home and say, well, you know, "I was at this meeting such as that she did this and, you know, I'm the only person of color in the room," like, she gets that. And so that's not someone that I ever-- I don't have that same concern. Like, what if we get into an argument and like she slings some word out, because that's just not-- she's just not gonna do that. Mostly because, you know, she loves me, but like, she's just not--that's not in her-- just not her, you know? And then I know some other folks who are people of color who are like, "I would never date another, like a black guy." And I'm like, "But you're a black 01:58:00guy." And so I see that internalized, like, hatred that's often rooted in hypermasculinity and not like, "I'm not going to date an effeminate man" and I'm like, "Well, everybody you've dated has been a little effeminate." And so I think there's just a lot of extra stuff that happens in interracial relationships, I think. I'm always fascinated by what people experience on Grindr and how like people like, "No this. I don't want this. I don't want this." And it just seems, I'm just like, "Ew. That seems a little-- like, I understand preference, but--or, like, attraction, I understand attraction. But this whole, like, "I prefer X, Y, Z" to me is just rooted in racism. Like you just don't want it, like just, you know, just say it. "But I-- my preference is--" No, you don't want to date X, Y, Z. OK, fine, fine. But like, don't try to sugarcoat it. Like it's 01:59:00something else. But I do think just my own experiences of interracial dating. It is-- there are things that come up that if people don't have those kinds of conversations all the time, I've seen some-- some not pleasant things happen with folks who've been in interracial relationships and someone says something and doesn't recognize the harm. And then they become super defensive and-- yeah, it's yeah. It can be tricky. Absolutely can be tricky.
SISKO: I actually do have one more question--
SISKO: --because I just realized that I never asked for the details on how youand your wife met--
SISKO: --which I need to know.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yeah. Yeah. The world needs to know this. I felt very cliché.Where do all the lesbians meet? On the softball field. But that is where we met. And I remember I was dating someone else. It's a--this is gonna sound 02:00:00terrible. I was dating someone else. I think she was dating someone else. And I just remember, like, I saw her and was like, she's not from here and she looks really, really different. And I think she's really, really cute. Like, so I had a crush on her for forever. And we were friends for like seven or eight years before we ever dated. And so, again, dating someone else, she was dating someone else and we hadn't seen each other for a really long time. We kind of lost contact with each other, saw each other at the bar. And I was just like, "Oh, I'm so happy she's here." And then I was like, oh, wow, "Now I gotta break up with somebody." Yeah, yeah. But she is absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I could not do this work-- I would not be doing this work this way without her because that's my safe place to land. And everybody-- I want that for everybody. I want everybody to have that 02:01:00safe, like find your person. And so she's definitely my person. But we've been together 13 years? Yeah, 13 years. Thirteen years in November. And so, like, I can't imagine walking this thing we call life without her. But you're totally on the softball field.
SISKO: I think that's a really lovely note to end on.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Yes. (laughs)
SISKO: That was great.
TAYLOR-SHIM: If you're looking for a wife, go to softball games.Look at why goto Starbucks.
SISKO: All right. Well, thank you so much for talking to me.
TAYLOR-SHIM: Thank you! Thank you.