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May 15, 2023 60 mins

Can you heal pain by focusing on joy? 


Baratunde Thurston gave what’s been called “the greatest TED talk of all time.” He’s written about being Black in America, he’s got a podcast about community involvement called How to Citizen, and he’s got a television show that explores the beauty and diversity of America. 


There’s a duality running through all of this work, and in Baratunde’s personal life: mourning and celebration. From the early death of a parent, to men’s emotional health, to violence against Black men and boys, to the healing power of play and community, this week’s episode is a fascinating discussion of both grief and celebration - and why you don’t get one without the other. 


In this episode we cover: 


  • Baratunde says he’s “wired for optimism” - which makes identifying his own grief… complicated
  • Transactional emotions - for example, feeling your grief so you can “get beyond it”
  • The need for Black male role models
  • How you can lose a parent at a young age and not recognize the impact until you’re an adult
  • Why seeing other people be good parents can bring up grief
  • What it’s like to see violence against people who look like you - over and over and over
  • Black joy and mens’ community (plus the hashtag #BlackMenFrolicking)
  • Why is it hard to play as an adult - and find other adults to play with? 
  • How to use your powerpoint slides to keep emotions in check (and why Baratunde isn’t using slides in his talks anymore) 
  • The nature of our interconnectedness as a species and a planet 

Notable quotes: 

I'm looking at other joyful, hopeful ways of being that don't require waiting for someone to (change), or accepting suffering as the main narrative. Those don’t fit me anymore. And so I acknowledge parallel paths to freedom - things like joy and silliness.” - Baratunde Thurston


“We're about men's business which is stoicism and pain and suppressed human experiences. That's what it is to be a man.” - Baratunde Thurston


“My hope is grounded in our creative possibility, in our own creativity. We can be destructively creative, but I also think we can be beautifully, you know - hopefully, creative.” - Baratunde Thurston

About our guest:

Baratunde Thurston is an Emmy-nominated, multi-platform storyteller and producer operating at the intersection of race, tech, democracy, and climate. He is the host of the PBS television series America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, creator and host of How To Citizen with Baratunde, and a founding partner of the new media startup Puck. His comedic memoir, How To Be Black, is a New York Times best-seller. In 2019, he delivered what MSNBC’s Brian Williams called “one of the greatest TED talks of all time.” 


Baratunde serves on the boards of and the Brooklyn Public Library and lives in Los Angeles, California. Find more at

About Megan: 

Psychotherapist and bestselling author Megan Devine is recognized as one of today’s most insightful and original voices on grief, from life-altering losses to the everyday grief that we don’t call grief. She helms a consulting practice in Los Angeles and serves as an organizational consultant for the healthcare and human resources industries. 

The best-selling book on grief in over a decade, Megan’s It’s Ok that You’re Not OK, is a global phenomenon that has been translated into more than 25 languages. Her celebrated animations and explainers have garnered over 75 million views and are used in training programs around the world.


Additional resources:

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