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THE NEW NARRATIVE

Former News Reporter & Radio Specialist, Lorielle Walker, joins Cayden to analyze the roots of systemic stereotypes and to discuss the role that the media plays in shaping the image of the Black community.


CAYDEN BROWN: Hello?

LORIELLE WALKER: Hi!

CAYDEN: This is so exciting! When I first told you that I was going to be starting Trespass, back in April, neither of us had any idea we’d end up doing this together.

LORIELLE: I did not foresee that! I was honestly just happy that you were still pushing your message forward in some way. You know, I was just proud that you wanted to talk to me about it! And I’m like “cool!” If I can even know about it or be primi to things before they happen. I was cool with that!

CAYDEN: Yes! ‘Cause I actually didn’t even call you to fill you in on what I was doing with Trespass. I called you to talk about the African American Alliance, because you used to be a part of that, years ago. 

LORIELLE: Yes! How did you get into that?

CAYDEN: Well, I had heard some whispers about it but honestly, being within the school environment I was in, I didn’t believe it was real.

LORIELLE: Mmm.

CAYDEN: But you know who I am. These kinds of things are in my blood—

LORIELLE: Right.

CAYDEN: So anytime I hear about anything like that my ears perk up like a dog.

LORIELLE: Exactly! [Laughs]

[Both Laugh]

LORIELLE: Well, nonetheless, I’m happy that you were able to find some sense of home in that school because it’s just so difficult—and it shouldn’t be—to find somewhere to call home as far as being at school, because we spend so much time there.

CAYDEN: Absolutely. More than at home.

LORIELLE: Yeah, we do! So I’m glad that you were able to get in there and make it better.

CAYDEN: Oh, thank you.

LORIELLE: I honestly didn’t even know that it was still around until you told me.

CAYDEN: And that’s so sad! Because, you know what? I feel like schools don’t carry on certain things unless somebody is pushing so adamantly for them.

LORIELLE: Exactly!

CAYDEN: And, I always find myself having to be that person. And when they do finally start promoting ‘school culture’, there’s an adgenda. It’s just to check a box. You know, it’s not because—

LORIELLE: They genuinely feel a need or care for it to be there. That’s not why. It’s just to be able to say that they have it. You know, so many organizations and schools, especially universities, love to say and talk about inclusion and diversity and say “we’re here for you!” But all of that is really just to say that they have it. Even in jobs, they have a certain requirement they have to meet so they have to put certain ethnicities on payroll. 

CAYDEN: Speak on that!

LORIELLE: You know? It’s not because they really care.

CAYDEN: That’s what we call Affirmative Action laws! Those had to be put in place to make sure that we got these jobs.

LORIELLE: Exactly.

CAYDEN: They really just be checking boxes instead of making sure of and producing a better environment. Making things the way they should be. So thank you for saying that.

LORIELLE: Absolutely. I’m not here to make this conversation a debbie-downer. I’m gonna remain truthful, I’m gonna keep it honest. And I want to be able to communicate in a way that everyone can understand—not just people who look like you and I, but to those who don’t look like you and I. I think that’s especially important because there’s not gonna be any headway, there’s not gonna be any change, we’re not gonna see any results until the people who don’t look like us understand what we’re saying.

CAYDEN: Welcome, fellow Trespassers. This is Lorielle Walker.

LORIELLE: [Laughs Hysterically]

CAYDEN: Tell us about yourself. Who is Lorielle Walker?

LORIELLE: Oh, goodness. That’s such a loaded question. Well, my name is Lorielle Walker. I mean, I’m here! I feel like you’ll get to know everything about me throughout this conversation. I’m a very proud community member. I am very proud to be a Black woman. I always have been, I always lead with that. Not even necessarily intentionally. It’s just innate, something that I’ve always believed in. And as soon as I was able to understand the way that I’m perceived by the world, then that’s when I decided that there needed to be a CHANGE.

CAYDEN: [Laughs]

LORIELLE: ‘Cause I didn’t like it. So, there’s still a lot of work to do, but we have gracious people here like Cayden, and I’m just so happy and ready to be here and jump into this conversation. I’ve never been in this position before. I’m usually the one interviewing. I’ve never been the one being interviewed, So we’ll see what happens. 

CAYDEN: I just cannot stop thanking you because your—what you bring to every conversation, even when there is no official topic at hand, is always going to be a meaningful and unforgettable conversation. 

LORIELLE: Thank you!

CAYDEN: And I’m just really, really pleased that you found value in Trespass.

LORIELLE: How could I not? When you were telling me about it, I was honored that you even thought of me and I think it’s so important for Black people to understand that power we hold and oftentimes we feel the need to kind of dim our light or feel like we can’t brag. NOO! Be proud of your achievements and what you accomplish because we’re in a space and time period now where we’re able to do these things. So be proud about that, also remain humble at all times but never dim your light for anyone. Now where people get lost in that is thinking that they’re better than the next person. We need to lift people up as we’re coming up aswell.

So when I heard about Trespass, I was like “YEAHH!” [Laughs] Let’s do it.

CAYDEN: I love hearing that. Well, back to that achievement piece..

LORIELLE: [Laughs]

[Both Laugh]

CAYDEN: You already know where I’m going. [Laughs]

CAYDEN: Well, that did stick out to me. With your expertise, being in radio, I really, really want to emphasize what you said—you said this specifically. You said: “We are now in the space to be able to do these things.” And that stuck out to me. 

LORIELLE: Yeah.

CAYDEN: And I see a lot of Black people around me, even in my Black Alliance group, that I feel like don’t understand how much more we have now—and it’s sad to say that. But we have the resources to make these moves, but there’s so much systemically ingrained in Black people of us not being able to advance that they’re still in that mindset. Now, let’s not act like there are no barriers—

LORIELLE: Right.

CAYDEN: But I do feel like even when we do achieve something big, our own culture has trained us to be like, real meek about it. 

LORIELLE: Yess. Like, we’re not allowed to finally celebrate.

LORIELLE: Yes! Absolutely, Absolutely. And, there’s a reason for that. It’s not like we woke up one day and decided we weren’t going to be as loud and proud about the obstacles we overcome. That didn’t just happen overnight. This is something that is completely and deeply rooted in our arrival to America. 

CAYDEN: Mmmm!

LORIELLE: We weren’t even able to bring anything with us from our cultures. So many of us don’t actually know where we come from, we don’t know where we originate from, we don’t know our native languages. And, when we came here, we were forced to give all of those things up. And even when slavery ended, for 400 plus years afterward, we still had to fight and claw our way to the top, just to find ourselves on a level foundation. 

CAYDEN: And we’re still not there.

LORIELLE: And we’re STILL not there. And because of that, now, even when we have people like Oprah, who’ve defied all the parameters set for Black people, we’ve still had to remain humble for so long that now it’s turned into this: “you did this but, keep ya head down. Keep going. Don’t brag. Don’t-”

CAYDEN: Yeahhh. Keep ya head down.

LORIELLE: Yeah, but why?? And it’s like, it’s just been ingrained in us for so long. But I don’t think that we need to continue holding on to that teaching because it’s doing us a greater disservice than anything.

CAYDEN: A thousand percent.

LORIELLE: So, anytime you accomplish something—and I mean, everyone should feel like this—but specifically us, because we’ve been taught not to.

CAYDEN: That part!

LORIELLE: We don’t give ourselves the flowers we deserve. And it’s like, I’m probably more qualified than the next person!

CAYDEN: Hello! The qualified piece!

LORIELLE: Yes.

CAYDEN: I always touch on this because I think that factors into that whole piece of “Keep your head down and just be happy with what you got!”

LORIELLE: Righttt! That’s what it is. “You should just be happy that you got this.”

CAYDEN: YES.

LORIELLE: I don’t want a piece of the pie. I want the whole pie.

[Both Laugh] 

CAYDEN: Even if we’re over qualified—and we’re gonna get into this in another segment—but we’ve gone through so many challenges in our lives that have taught us that even though we’re overqualified, you’re STILL not gonna get the position, so don’t even apply for it. 

LORIELLE: Yeahh!

CAYDEN: Don’t even apply for it.

LORIELLE: That’s why when Black people do obtain those positions, I ain’t mad at ‘em if they being cocky. Because they have the credentials to back it up.

CAYDEN: Mmm! I think that’s very important to bring up. 

LORIELLE: Right.

What you just said about being able to back it up. Because I often find myself in these situations where kids, or even some adults come up to me and ask me: “How are you interning at the mayor’s office?”

LORIELLE: Mm.

CAYDEN: “How are you representing clients in live trials?”

LORIELLE: Come on!

CAYDEN: “Like, what do you mean Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? What do you mean?”

LORIELLE: Hahahaaa!!!

CAYDEN: And it’s genuinely so confusing.. to them.

LORIELLE: Mhm. They’ve never seen it before.

CAYDEN: Okay!? And there’s that humble piece to it but there’s also that piece that makes me want to—‘cause you know I keep it straight shot.

LORIELLE: For sure.

CAYDEN: But, there’s also that piece to it that’s like, I know why you’re asking me this question.

LORIELLE: Mmm. I think why I get irritated is because you’re really saying something without verbalizing it.

CAYDEN: Yeah.

LORIELLE: I know what you’re saying. I know where you’re coming from. But okay.

CAYDEN: [Laughs] But O…kay. It feels like Black people have to show it more than they can tell it. Because they actually can’t believe that we’re really doing it.

LORIELLE: Which is why I—you know what? These instances that we’re talking about, I find myself in them over and over again! I often have people ask me, “Lorielle, oh, what do you do? What do you want to do? What have you done?” I don’t like to talk about it, I just like to show it because I’ve been in so many predicaments and in so many situations where my words were not sufficient enough. 

CAYDEN: Oh wow.

LORIELLE: You know? I have been in journalism my whole life and I was on my news station in second grade up until college. I can’t just say that I did this, I did that, I interned here, I was the first black woman at my college to be a music director and I— those things aren’t really going to hold any weight until you see it. And unfortunately, we have to be extraordinary in order to be recognized, and even still, it’s hard for us to get the recognition and the credit that we deserve.

CAYDEN: Man! It’s always “that’s cute, that’s cool, clap, clap clap”

LORIELLE: Right! [Laughs] 

CAYDEN: You know? That brings me to a whole nother time in my life when I was doing the whole Xcellence production. 

LORIELLE: Mhm.

CAYDEN: And especially with that being the first ever culture, ANYTHING in that school, people acted so stupid. But, that’s the thing. When we said “Oh, Black history performance, culture concert, blah, blah, blah.” They were like “Okay, but like what is it?” I just told ya. Like, it’s so unfamiliar with them, and that’s the problem. There’s been no such thing as a culture concert in their life. You know what I’m saying? And so that’s something that I learned too, was like, okay, I was putting on this production to celebrate Black culture, but everybody inside of the Black culture doesn’t need this as a learning experience. We’re trying to infiltrate, we’re trying to trespass into a vicinity where there has been nothing like this ever before. So everybody is confused. 

LORIELLE: Right.

CAYDEN: So, it was really, really, really hard on my mental health.

LORIELLE: How did you go about getting through it, though? Because I’m pretty sure no one knew about anything that was going on behind the scenes.

CAYDEN: Absolutely not, they did not. And even after, kids will come up to me and be like, “Oh, y’all gotta do this, again” and they would want us to whip out another show like next month. And it’s like y’all have no idea how much went into this. But, to answer your question, I went about it by my Lord and Savior. That’s all I can say. Like, that’s literally all I can say. I did have an amazing team of people. But it was very stressful, to say the least. Even with an amazing team, it was just still so stressful. Because of the higher ups, right? And so there was just so much, everybody was scared, you know? Because like we said, like this had never been done. But we’re gonna fully dissect that in another upcoming Trespass interview. 

LORIELLE: Absolutely. That was so well addressed.

CAYDEN: Well, Lorielle. 

LORIELLE: Yes.

CAYDEN: Let me ask you this. With everything we’ve just talked about. With all of the stereotypes placed upon our community. How do you think the media, such as news stations and radio stations, that you’ve worked for yourself, factor into the reaffirmation—because I think that when people hear “the media, the media, the media” in relation to Black people, it’s all the media’s fault. But I think—and I want your expertise on this—that all the media really does is reaffirm what these people already have formulated in their brain.

LORIELLE: [Takes Deep Breath] Okay. Here’s what I think about it.

CAYDEN: Mhm.

LORIELLE: I know for a fact that oftentimes, news stations and blogs will—say for instance, a Black man was just charged on a count of murder of any type of crime. 

CAYDEN: Mhm.

LORIELLE: One of the main issues is that when they release these articles and these statements online, they tend to use a very unfavorable photo of said criminal. 

CAYDEN: Yes! Go ahead, Lorielle.

LORIELLE: Mkay. And the issue with that is, you’re already painting a picture of this person without giving the public the space to formulate their own opinion.

CAYDEN: Mhmm. 

LORIELLE: If you release an article and/or statement saying that this person committed such and such crime and then you attach to that article a photo of him holding up an AK-47… 

CAYDEN: [Laughs] 

LORIELLE: We already have it made up in our minds that he’s guilty! And maybe he is guilty, that’s not what I’m getting at. The point is everyone deserves a fair shot, and in that same breath, most of us get deprived of that opportunity.

CAYDEN: Absolutely.

LORIELLE: So on the other side of that portrayed image, say another man who looks a little bit lighter.. Okay? Has that very same charge. Murder. We get a picture with his family. Maybe his wedding photo—

CAYDEN: Oh, and he has mental health issues.

LORIELLE: And he has mental health issues. He’s been having a very hard time recently.. etcetera, etcetera.

CAYDEN: Mm mm mm.

LORIELLE: He’s treated like a human.

CAYDEN: Yes!

LORIELLE: However, on the other side, this Black man is treated like an animal. But I’m not—

CAYDEN: Whoa.

LORIELLE: Not shocking because they treated us like animals way back when. So, okay. 

CAYDEN: Uh oh.

LORIELLE: That’s very on brand. Very on brand. So the problem with that is you’re making the public believe that this person is a monster and these news and media outlets decide that for people. You have to give people a fair shot just just just like people are afforded and have the right to a fair trial. They should also have the right to be fairly judged in the public eye.

CAYDEN: Yes!

LORIELLE: You know? And it’s very unfair that we’re stereotypically looked at as these monsters, and we’re also very much so stereotypically looked at as people who are very loud, obnoxious, uneducated—

CAYDEN: MMM. 

LORIELLE: —We don’t have any class, we don’t have any grace, we don’t know how to act, you know? We’ve never been anywhere, we don’t know anything outside of our own bubble. And that’s just not true. So I think that when the media puts out these statements, it plays into that.

CAYDEN: Absolutely! That’s the reaffirming piece! They already think these things and these headlines are just like, yup that makes sense.

LORIELLE: YES!!!!

CAYDEN: [Sighs] This is gonna be interesting.

LORIELLE: It is gonna be very interesting to look back upon because there’s so much intertwined within these stereotypes.

CAYDEN: Absolutely. This was such a good conversation. 

LORIELLE: This was healing.

CAYDEN: Yeah, it’s therapeutic. Because honestly, all of this stuff is trauma that Black people have to endure, and we never get to talk about it.

LORIELLE: Yes. 

CAYDEN: And that’s why I created this. Especially with my age group, it’s just like all we were taught was how to keep going. You know, instead of no, this is wrong and need to find another way. 

LORIELLE: Right. I agree.

CAYDEN: And talk about where it’s coming from. Because not everything has a direct correlation to slavery. 

LORIELLE: No. And also that, that just goes back to your point, earlier in the conversation. Certain celebrities in the media that have a certain impact on our youth.

CAYDEN: Absolutely.

LORIELLE: You know, everything does not come from slavery. Everything does not come from us being in shackles, but rather some things come from just the media and mainstream music. And that’s not to say that these things are inherently bad, but I think it’s important for people to understand that, yeah, this rap song sounds good, but this is not real life. This is not something you should necessarily be looking up to. This is not necessarily a role model. This is just what it is. Music. And I think that when we start understanding that celebrities don’t sign up to be role models. They sign up because they’re doing what they love and then they become role models. CAYDEN: Right.

LORIELLE: They become this and not every single one of them is going to be that.

CAYDEN: That is so crazy you said that because I think people often mistake the Black expression of music as literal—you know what I mean? Like, they mistake it for being the summary of what the Black lifestyle is. And it is not.

LORIELLE: And I hate that so much. I despise that.

CAYDEN: Because, that’s why they’re so confused when they see a Black person who has their doctorate degree and, you know, is doing all of these big things that they don’t normally see people who look like us do.

LORIELLE: “That isn’t quite what I thought you would be.”

CAYDEN: Yeah.

LORIELLE: We’re not a monolith. We’re not just one thing. We’re many things just like everyone else. 

CAYDEN: Absolutely. 

LORIELLE: And it’s not fair to judge us based on what you’re exposed to. Because—so for me, I grew up in Oakland County. So my whole life, I was in predominantly white schools.

CAYDEN: Yup.

LORIELLE: I was in predominantly white spaces. I was in predominantly white after school functions. But I’m so grateful for my family, because they never let me lose sight of who I was.

CAYDEN: Not everyone has that. 

LORIELLE: Yes!

CAYDEN: I see so many who don’t still have that piece intact.

LORIELLE: Yes. Yes. And that’s how things get lost in translation. But the music that is on the radio and the clothes that you may see, this is all mainstream. I just want to put emphasis on mainstream because mainstream is something that sells.

CAYDEN: OUU! This gon be a two hour talk. 

LORIELLE: [Laughs] 

CAYDEN: Because why doesn’t black excellent sale? Why are these negative portrayals of the Black community so popular?

LORIELLE: Because that’s not what people want to see. It doesn’t it doesn’t garner attention because it doesn’t have any drama

CAYDEN: Nothing to laugh at.

LORIELLE: Nothing to look down upon. It doesn’t have any real controversy. And no one wants to have a conversation about how well Black people are doing. 

CAYDEN: Hmph.

LORIELLE: No one wants to have that conversation. So that’s why. But, we do want to have conversations about Black people rapping about things that don’t matter because it’s like second nature for a lot of folks to rag on us. That is going to garner attention and attention equates to money.

CAYDEN: Hmm.

LORIELLE: It’s a business. So you’re never really going to hear about, you know, the roots of music and Cab Calloway, and Marvin Gaye, and Grover Washington Jr. You’re not going to hear about those people. Because it’s not attractive. It’s not mainstream. And so oftentimes, people who are not in our community, and even people who are, they get it twisted about who we are and what we stand for and what we value.

CAYDEN: A hundred percent. And that’s a whole other topic about how people outside of us stimulate this false sense of proximity to our culture through our music.

LORIELLE: YESSS. Oh my goodness.

LORIELLE: You know, I like going places myself, and listening to music that is mainstream, but at the end of the day, I know that’s not all that we are. No. So it always amazes me how some people just think that they have Black people figured out. They got us figured out. 

CAYDEN: Right.

LORIELLE: We’re ever changing. We’re always evolving.

CAYDEN: Absolutely.

LORIELLE: These conversations are very important. It’s really important that we talk about these things. They’re hard for people to have but I feel like we’re not going to grow until we have them. 

CAYDEN: Yeah. 

LORIELLE: It’s important to talk about the things that make us uncomfortable, that make us a little bit squeamish or that cause controversy, because without that, we’re not going to grow. We’re just going to remain stagnant.

CAYDEN: Yeah. My goodness, thank you. I enjoyed this.

LORIELLE: ME TOO! I’m always here for whatever you need. Anything that you can think of, it’s always going to be a yes for me. You have my full support. My arms are wrapped around you. I wish you nothing but the best God has blessed you with a level of tenacity and drive that I haven’t seen in a long time. I recognize that same force within myself. And I’m so proud of you. I’m so proud of you. 

CAYDEN: Thank you. 

LORIELLE: And don’t let anyone deter you from what it is that you want to accomplish. Keep going, don’t ever take no for an answer. And remain yourself whatever that is. Be you through and through. Whoever is supposed to be in your space will naturally gravitate there. And if they’re not, throw ‘em.

CAYDEN: [Laughs] My goodness. That means so much. I just said this to another interviewee. Like, I’m so big on black affirmation. And I feel like we don’t ever just compliment each other and big each other up enough. You know, like, it’s really really really important to hear those things sometimes because like you said, like the world it feels like the entire world is just out to get you.

LORIELLE: Yeah! 

CAYDEN: And like we’re supposed to be the ones that stick together but a lot of times—

LORIELLE: Chile, that’s a whole ‘nother segment.

[Both laugh]

CAYDEN: Don’t worry! It’s in the works. But yeah, um, I definitely really appreciate you and you already know who you are. I don’t even have to spell nothin out. 

LORIELLE: Aww. 

CAYDEN: Just based on the way you speak like, it had been years since we had carried any conversation.

LORIELLE: Yes! Thank you so much. Absolutely. I’m so honored and I’m just so excited for you. Trespass is a part of a revolutionary, ongoing journey. And you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. And you are exactly where you’re meant to be.

CAYDEN: Thank you so much.

LORIELLE: Yes. And I’m so happy that I get to be a part of history. 

[Both Laugh Hysterically]

LORIELLE: Everything that you said is exactly how I feel. If even for me, like, I felt like I was on the phone with a goddamn superstar, because I WAS. I have a knack for knowing when someone has that it factor like, that’s why I am an A&R in training, you know, that’s why I have the privilege to have been an assistant to a Def Jam manager and why I’m under the wing of a man that works for Epic Records—and he was a regional director for Def Jam as well. I have that knack to know somebody just got and you got it. And I’m so—I feel privileged to even to have known you. Like, who would have known this is what you were going to turn into and grow to be, but I’m so proud of you. And I’m just so thankful that we see each other , like, I see you and you see me and that is what makes the difference. When we have our conversations because we get each other on a different level. You see what I’m saying? Like I don’t have to over explain things in order for you to understand what I’m saying. You don’t have to over explain things for me to get what you’re saying. Like, that conversation was so necessary. And I’m open to having every single conversation that we need to have until we find a resolution like that. I stand for that too. I’ve always stood—I was born this way. That’s just what it is. We gon get to the bottom of it. And I’m so happy that you invited me to be a part of Trespass and again, I love that name. [Laughs] Trespass, yeah, ‘cause we trespassin h**! We are trespassing. And I don’t mind stepping on people’s lawns. I will step on anybody’s lawn I need to step on to get my point across and I get that same feeling from you. So we will make it do what to do and that’s it and that’s all. So thank you. Thank you, thank you. Just beautiful, beautiful champion.

CAYDEN: Oh my gosh. Not many people leave me speechless but you… Lord, Help me. [Laughs] I love you so much.

CAYDEN: I love you too. It’s a pleasure. An absolute pleasure.

CAYDEN: Thank you. 

LORIELLE: You’re welcome.

CAYDEN:  I will speak to you soon.

LORIELLE: Okay, bye.


Featured Image: Adonis Bosso

Photo: Joshua Kissi

Hair: Adrianne Michelle

Production: Anomaya

Creative Director: Jerry Lorenzo

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