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March 6, 2024 23 mins

Today’s guest Michelle M. Miller, CBS News and NYT Best Selling Author – Belonging joins host Tommi A. Vincent on Radio Row during Super Bowl LVIII  to discuss her NYT Best Selling book Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity Through Loss & Love, using your platform for the greater good of society, embracing opportunity and more.

A few of Michelle M. Miller’s  highlights:

    • NYT Best Selling Author – Belonging: A Daughter’s Search for Identity         Through Loss & Love

  • Overcoming adversity and resilience
  • Groundbreaking coverage on social justice, race relations, and at the forefront of protest movements
  • Gracie Award recipient for her reporting about sex trafficking in “48 Hours: Live to Tell: Trafficked”


Host: Tommi A. Vincent

Guests: Michelle M. Miller

Produced by: Tommi A. Vincent, Dimitri Golden, and Motion Hue Productions

Music By: Stichiz - Big T. Music / Roj & Twinkie


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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Joining us at the table, we have Michelle M. Miller,
CBS News and New York Times best selling author of Belonging.

Speaker 2 (00:10):
Enjoy our conversation.

Speaker 1 (00:12):
Take your seat, get comfortable because it's time to stay
a while. I'm your host, Tommy Vincent, and today I
have joining me in the seat.

Speaker 2 (00:23):
We have Michelle M.

Speaker 1 (00:25):

Speaker 2 (00:25):
I love them. What does the M stand for? Marie M?
A R I?

Speaker 3 (00:32):
Which I always thought was unusual? Okay, but now I
lean into the unusual, the uncommon.

Speaker 1 (00:40):
Why do you lean into the unusual one?

Speaker 3 (00:42):
Because I am unusual and I am uncommon, and yet
I'm very calm.

Speaker 2 (00:49):
It's it's crazy.

Speaker 3 (00:51):
We were talking beforehand, she was prepping me for the conversation,
and you were talking about the qualified and how we
you know, we go through life and we think we're
not qualified for this, We're not qualified for that because
of our experiences, because of our origin story, because of

you know, where we stand. And you said, no, those
are the very things sometimes that qualify us, or the disqualifiers.

Speaker 2 (01:21):
In our mind.

Speaker 3 (01:22):
And for me, you know, finding my comfort zone and
finding my place, finding.

Speaker 2 (01:28):
My belonging, which is the name of my books.

Speaker 3 (01:33):
Was really being able to cut through a lot of that,
and I still, I mean, it's a constant process for me.
I don't know about you, but there's still rooms I
don't feel comfortable in one, and still places that I
don't feel comfortable entering. But those spaces I claim, I

feel the need to belong wherever I go.

Speaker 2 (02:01):
So when you say.

Speaker 1 (02:04):
Your comfort zone, tell me what's the difference between your
comfort zone and a comfort zone that becomes a danger
zone from preventing you to move forward and evolving life?

Speaker 2 (02:19):
Oh wow?

Speaker 3 (02:19):
So well, first of all, my personality is such as
I'm a move I move directly and fervently based on
instinct and and also ambition. I mean, there are places
I want to go, there are things I want to achieve,
and so there are a lot of I don't have
many filters, and sometimes I don't have with the borders,

sometimes the boxes. Yes, I'm not good at staying in them.
I don't like color within the lines. So I'm a
moving target in a lot of spaces that when you
ask like the danger zone, I think I think I'm
a little unclear as to what you're asking me because

I'm a fast mover and that is oftentimes save me.

Speaker 1 (03:13):
Okay, so when I respect when I say so, sometimes
the comfort zone can become a place of complacency because
you're comfortable. Oh, so that comfort zone can become I'm
never dangerous zone.

Speaker 2 (03:27):
I'm never comfortable. Okay, I'm never come. And it was
It's interesting because.

Speaker 3 (03:34):
I do a lot, and for the first time in
my life, I hit I hit a fatigue wall by
the end of last year where I was I really
had to sort of sit back, and I said to say,
you know, wait a minute, you gotta really prioritize because
I'm a high energy person and I do a lot.

Speaker 2 (03:53):
I do more than and often.

Speaker 3 (03:55):
As women, often as a woman of color, all of
us we're doing three times what others need to do,
have to do in order to, you know, claim our space,
claim our place. And it's just it's almost it's muscle
memory for me. So I'm moving so fast that I've

never really come. I'm never really comfortable in what my
job title is because I'm looking ahead. I'm never really
comfortable in you know, the places I've been because I
want to do and I want to be more.

Speaker 2 (04:34):
How did you know that you hit.

Speaker 3 (04:37):
This place of fatigue because I was tired, I was
extremely tired.

Speaker 1 (04:43):
It was where you're running tired for a period of
time and the fatigue became to the point where you
had to address it, like did you press through this?

Speaker 3 (04:54):
Yeah, you pressed through the fatigue, and then you get sick.
Your body said, if you're not going to slow down,
we're going to slow it down for you. So like
re re engineering and re engaging my health is key.
And then like finding that balance, so like work life balance.

I don't mean yes, it's a constant, you're seeking it constantly,
but there is a season for that kind of push.

Speaker 2 (05:26):
And that push.

Speaker 3 (05:27):
In particular came with the publication of my book, and
I wanted my book to be successful. I saw it
as an opening for me to like this, having an
opportunity to sit down and talk to people like you
tell me your experiences or the experiences that I cover,

and and really your experiences in many ways.

Speaker 2 (05:55):
Are things we need to be talking about.

Speaker 3 (05:58):
And I've had I've had experience is not similar to yours,
but I've had my own engagement in taboo subject matter
that I think people need to stand up and own
because everyone out there has it and feels sometimes shame
they're carrying it around in shame, and they're carrying it

around in a lonely place as if they're the only
people who experience these things. And so, whether it's you know,
you know your birthright, whether it's your choices in relationships,
whether you know it is being in the middle of abuse,

whatever it is, we need to talk about it because
we need to be healthy on the other end, and
we need to be also, as Ben Franklin said, you know,
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
if you know the tell tell signs, if you know
the signs, avoid, and and that's that's what that's what

we do is for one another's human beings. But you
have to talk about it, you have to be in
conversation about it, you have to be open about it.

Speaker 1 (07:14):
Sometimes for myself personally, because of how I was raised,
the environment I was raised in, and as a woman
watching the women navigate life, the things that should be
red flags for me were normal. So it wasn't a
red flag, was a green flag because this is what

we do. We know how to take life, sling it
over our shoulder and make it do what it did.

Speaker 2 (07:41):
Yeah, and it's learned behavior.

Speaker 3 (07:46):
You know, if you see it you can be it
that that's like a mantra for you know, moving ahead,
and that's also for some bad behavior too. But I
you know, I've I didn't let you finish your question,
but throw it in there.

Speaker 1 (08:04):
Yes, so, And that's fine because I appreciate having conversation.
In an organic conversation, we're just going to talk. It's
not the interview exactly. We're talking because this is what
and how the listening audience has an opportunity to glean
from our boss says, because we already paid the price.

That's really important to me. I believe that if.

Speaker 2 (08:27):
We talk more, if we share.

Speaker 1 (08:29):
More the things we're talking about in reference to the
behavior that we acquire in life as a result of
watching the examples we have before us. If there's anything
about that that is a miss and you hear it
in conversation, you could say, wait a minute, I do that,
and I need to evaluate that aspect of me because

it can lead me to this phrase of fatigue where
it's impairing my health.

Speaker 3 (08:58):
I had no idea I was going to talk about
my fatigue. I mean, but you know, it's a real thing.
It's a real thing, and you hear people over and
over say, I mean for me because I put everything
on Instagram. I'm a crazy instagrammer, and my kids think
I'm nuts there, like Mom.

Speaker 2 (09:16):
You know I g everything. I'm corny. No, well, okay,
so this I will say.

Speaker 3 (09:24):
It's really funny because like, I got no respect from
the kids until I started.

Speaker 2 (09:29):
I started leaning into their generation.

Speaker 3 (09:31):
And so last week I'm doing a piece for America
and Black BT's you know magazine format show which here
is in a couple of weeks, and it's on Keith Lee,
the food critic influencer, And we did I was in
the van with him and we were doing that little
taste test and we were rating it and uh, and

then he put it out on social media. I didn't
say a word to my children. Right my son's pen
these he's getting graduating this year. He texts me, he says, Mom,
he was like, you went viral two million views?

Speaker 2 (10:11):
What that you were? Then I was cool?

Speaker 3 (10:14):
Then I love it, but you know, like all of that,
it's but you know, everyone tells me, slow down, you
do too much.

Speaker 2 (10:24):
And and in my.

Speaker 3 (10:27):
Head, I don't know if this is the case with
you or with you. That's our producer right there, what's
your name?

Speaker 2 (10:34):
Sweedi minch meach mech Yeah.

Speaker 3 (10:40):
And and to me, if I'm not constantly moving, if
I'm not constantly doing, I feel okay, here's okay, here's
an epiphany that I am not earning my space and
I'm not earning my place.

Speaker 2 (10:54):
Right. I think we as black women in.

Speaker 3 (10:56):
Particular, have that's that's that's our infirm that's part of
our infirmary.

Speaker 2 (11:02):
But it's also part of our like our giddy up,
you know and so.

Speaker 3 (11:08):
But but last year I think was somewhat isolated because
I was I was so driven with a mission in
mind to make this book a success.

Speaker 1 (11:20):
And before you go further into that, can you just
share the title of your books?

Speaker 3 (11:24):
Everyone knows the title of my book is Belonging, a
Daughter's search for identity through.

Speaker 2 (11:31):
Loss and love, and it essentially my origin story.

Speaker 3 (11:35):
And it's not just my origin story, but it talks
about how the fact that I am the product of
a biracial union out of wedlock and how that impacted
my thoughts, my ideas, and my progress through life. And

what I think is really key and important for me
was I never thought it was a story that people
want to hear or read because.

Speaker 2 (12:04):
It's not a tragic story.

Speaker 3 (12:06):
It's not it's it's not as harsh as is the
stories of so.

Speaker 2 (12:11):
Many of us.

Speaker 3 (12:13):
And I've been successful, right, I've been I've had a
relatively amazing light. And someone told me, yeah, but that's
a story. A friend of mine said, your story is like,
it's not tragic, it's not uber successful.

Speaker 2 (12:30):
You're the rest of us. You're the middle.

Speaker 3 (12:33):
It is relatable in the sense and you're like us,
like the people in the middle who are like have
a moderate level of success and who are doing things
are amazing, and we're not uber famous, and we're not
in the gutter.

Speaker 2 (12:47):
We're like that middle of the road. I love that analogy.
But it's like the middle kid.

Speaker 1 (12:52):
It is.

Speaker 2 (12:54):
It is the middle kid.

Speaker 3 (12:55):
And so for me, I'm just expressing to folks who
I think are out there like me, with similar circumstances
surrounding their birth. And you'd be surprised how many people
live in the shame of the non nuclear I see

and Harriet kind and maybe that's not you know, Claire
and he touchable kind of you know, experience of childhood
and they carry that through life in a way that
that keeps them from doing the things that would make
them happy, doing the things that would make them successful.
And and I've heard a lot from people saying, oh

my gosh, I'm adopted, Oh my gosh, I come from
a very similar background. My mother doesn't acknowledge me, or
my father doesn't acknowledge me too, and have that burden.

Speaker 2 (13:49):
You carry that burden with you through life.

Speaker 3 (13:52):
And so that's the that was the impetus of this
story coming out, which the catalyst was to piece I'd
done on the death of George Floyd.

Speaker 2 (14:04):
A little piece.

Speaker 3 (14:05):
Of my origin story came out, and a story about
the death and the social justice protests that were happening
around his death over that period of time in twenty twenty,
dating back all the way to the LA Uprising of
nineteen ninety two that I lived through because I'm from

Los Angeles, I'm South central Los Angeles, and.

Speaker 2 (14:32):
I so clearly remember the Rodney.

Speaker 3 (14:34):
King incident where he was beaten by four LAPD officers.
So I say that because I think, you know you
have a story to share. We all have stories to share,
and we all can learn from each other through those stories.
And I loved it during conversation about them there's so

much power in our stories.

Speaker 1 (15:01):
For a very long time, I did not tell my story,
and I kept so many aspects of Tommy tucked away.
And it was when I started telling my story that
opportunity presented itself, because like when you're talking about your
book and my story is not the story of tragedy

or triumphs, but it's all in there somewhere. Yeah, there's
aspects of that in the story. For me, it was
not wanting to share because people won't feel like I
belonged at the table because of my background.

Speaker 3 (15:44):
Well, they look at you and they see one thing, right,
and they and they kind of make up a story
in their mind about like what your lifestyle was, like,
how you were, how you were raised, what you had,
what you didn't have, and that put you in a box.
It becomes the mantra of your of who you are

to them, and oftentimes we want to that's maybe that's
kind of like, that's kind of a nice little box
to be in. But it's funny you should say that,
because it was only when I remember there was a
reporter who told me.

Speaker 2 (16:26):
Be you do you trust you?

Speaker 3 (16:31):
And because I was always so like I kept everything
in and until I started to be me, be more
of me. That was when everything sort of clicked. It
clicked professionally, I clicked. Why that now as CBS just
the clicking of it. Authenticity is something that you know,

it's it's.

Speaker 2 (16:54):
The real deal.

Speaker 3 (16:56):
When you were truly who you are, people see it
and you can't fake your way in.

Speaker 1 (17:02):
Before the clicking happened for you, where you're like, Okay,
I'm going where I'm supposed to be going. What was
your state of mind as you were pursuing professionalism and.

Speaker 2 (17:13):
I was dogged?

Speaker 3 (17:16):
I did again, I did everything everything, I was in
touch with everyone, and I, to be quite frank, I
don't think my talent was as great as my determination.
And so I grew into the talent. The talent grew

into my dogged determination and ambition. And it still is
like I am constantly growing. I am constantly, you know,
yearning to be better, a better writer, a better broadcaster,
now a better streamer, utter podcaster. You know, it's it's

it's it's like in the pivot is so crazy these days.

Speaker 2 (18:07):
So who was I before?

Speaker 3 (18:09):
I was, you know, the journalist to try to be
like the perfect on air journalists.

Speaker 2 (18:17):
You know, and if I made a mistake, it would
like really get to me. Now.

Speaker 3 (18:22):
Like I make a mistake, I laugh through it, I
correct and just got to keep moving. I'm still, in
many respects afraid. I live in the moments, but like
state of mind. I'm yeah, I still am like running
through it, and I think the faster I run, I'm

able to beat off the negative.

Speaker 2 (18:48):
Is this bad? I mean, I'm.

Speaker 3 (18:50):
Sure that there's a shrink out there thinking, God, she
needs to slow down for real so she can feel No.

Speaker 1 (18:57):
Because you're talking about you talked about fear. Yeah, that
is that is real. Why are you laughing? He's laughing
at me? An'm you're talking about the fear? How do
you overcome fear?

Speaker 3 (19:15):
How do I overcome fear? I well, I'll give you
an example. I get stage fright, and I get stage
fright on set when I'm doing my work. Throw me
your pinky God, roll right, look at you can't catch.

Speaker 2 (19:41):

Speaker 3 (19:42):
So fear is nervous energy, right, and so what you
do is I pour This is an exercise I do.
I pour the energy into my hands and I drive
it into the pin.

Speaker 2 (19:57):
Now, hopefully the pen is not easily breakable.

Speaker 3 (20:00):
But I concentrate all that fear into an inanimate object.
So that's like a relatable It's like that's a tool
I use. Like, that's fear in the moment, like fear
that I in a year won't have a job in

the state at which we're in this crazy ever changing.

Speaker 2 (20:28):
Hey, Cam, how you dealing booth? Cam Newton?

Speaker 3 (20:32):
Uh sorry sorry, lamel mgmores excuse me.

Speaker 2 (20:42):
I know people.

Speaker 3 (20:44):
So so yeah, no, so the fear I was trying
to avoid the fear issues.

Speaker 2 (20:50):
Yes, but no, seriously, I think about those things.

Speaker 3 (20:56):
I just moved through it, okay, because you know, either
you do it or you don't do it. You let
the fear overcome you and you don't do those things
that you continue you want to continue doing, or you
go out and you you try to create a circumstance
where you put more in the in your pro side

to ensure that you will continue to move in that
which you are.

Speaker 2 (21:29):
Fearful of losing. There we go.

Speaker 1 (21:32):
So my motto is be afraid and do it anyway.

Speaker 2 (21:36):
Pretty much. That was very That's short and sweet. Essentially
what I just said it is exactly.

Speaker 3 (21:43):
I have a motto because I think you know, part
of me is I tell young people all the time,
don't believe the success story you see, because before all
the success and the and through all the success, there's
been a lot of failure, lot of mistakes, and the

success is being able to get back up, you know,
and pushing through. So the motto is a setback is
nothing but a setup.

Speaker 2 (22:11):
For a comeback.

Speaker 3 (22:13):
And I tell people just get back up, get back
on that horse, and just keep moving, keep moving.

Speaker 1 (22:23):
Michelle, I am really grateful that you took time out
of your full.

Speaker 2 (22:28):
Schedule, not so full. I've been here all of twelve hours. Listen,
twelve hours in Bay. That's a full schedule. Twelve hours
from the east coast.

Speaker 1 (22:37):
To the west side of the country. That's a lot.

Speaker 3 (22:40):
Yeah, with a few stops in between. Okay, yes, finishing
up that Keith Lee story. Okay, yes, okay, Yes, I
can't wait to see it. I want you to see it. Yeah,
I want you to see it. Yeah, I want to
see all the things I do well. First of all,
I follow you.

Speaker 1 (22:56):
We get the opportunity at time and again to hang
out with our good friend Alexander.

Speaker 3 (23:04):
It's his birthday months so let's wish on a happy birthday.
Happy birthday, birthday. He's our Valentine.

Speaker 2 (23:12):
He's the best.

Speaker 3 (23:13):
He really is, generous, thoughtful and learned, a man who
is making stuff happen for everyone, for everyone, for everyone.

Speaker 2 (23:25):
But thank you so much.

Speaker 1 (23:26):
For joining me.

Speaker 2 (23:27):
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Booth Stay
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