Conversations Around the Table

with Magogodi Makhene

WORDS BY
Elise Etem

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Magogodi Makhene is no one trick pony—she is a multifaceted force of nature. A ray of light. The kind of person you want to be friends with.

Like I said—a ray of light!

Magogodi is a social entrepreneur of 10+ years, a phenomenal storyteller (she has a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop), and is Love As A Kind Of Cure‘s co-founder and CEO. I could go on, but we’d be here all day.

Love As A Kind Of Cure‘s values around gathering and building community go hand in hand with our core mission and purpose of helping folks to connect around the dinner table — which is why we’re thrilled to be partnering with them for their Freedom Festival this July. Use code LOVESTUDIES here for free access to the incredible programming that’s in store including whiskey tasting with Michelle Buteau and Uncle Nearest, a food keynote with Chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Klancy Miller, and so much more.

And on Monday, Magogodi will be joining Jessica on IG Live @socialstudiesparty at 6pm EST—tune in for what is sure to be a dynamic conversation. To give you a sneak peak into what they will be talking about, here’s Magogodi on how she navigates difficult conversations around the table… take notes!


Q: Have you ever attended a dinner party where you broached a polarizing subject matter? If yes, what was the topic and how did you bring it up?

Ha! This is an intriguing question because it misses my very being as the polarizing subject matter! I’m a proudly Black African woman who grew up in apartheid South Africa. I dress in bold colors and revel in the delicious zero fucks lexicon that roll off my tongue 👀😂. In so many rooms, I can feel the questions and discomfort my presence elicits before any knife is raised.

Illustration by @kidist_the_illest via Magogodi’s Instagram.



This kind of prickly energy is exactly what I ate for dinner at one New Year’s Eve party a few years ago in Cape Town. The hosts are friends who graciously welcomed us into their home. Everyone but me was white—these were people who’d been raised by women like me serving them, always, never sitting at the table as their equal. I knew it would be a long night when one of the guests shared his take on my hometown, Soweto. Dude has yet to step foot anywhere near this “dangerous” place, but what’s to stop him from bullying all dinner conversation with his sudden expertise? My approach? Pass the wine! Seriously, I took a gulp and served dude a piece of my mind without tearing apart the table or my hosts. We left early and headed for the beach. It was just after midnight and I knew, we’re going to need more wine. 

Q: The Scenario: You’re at after-work happy hour with some colleagues and out of the blue, one of them makes a racially insensitive remark. How do you navigate the situation?

Read the room. Practicing anti-racism doesn’t come with a handy manual that applies in most moments when we most need said manual! Use the full force of your alertness to be self-aware and sensitive to those around you. Who’s especially hurt in that moment? Who’s said something insensitive from ignorance? Who’s not going to be swayed by fact and kinda has a dark energy you can’t put a finger on? Failproof hack you can always lean on is affirming the humanity of the targeted group in real time. Not as a joke or apology, but as a clear and steadfast counter to the pissy beer you’re suddenly being asked to drink.

“Use the full force of your alertness to be self-aware and sensitive to those around you.”

Magogodi Makhene

Q: What advice would you give to someone who has to go to weekly dinners at their in-laws who have opposing political views? How can they engage in civil conversation when the topic of politics inevitably comes up?

It’s not your job to fix or convert anyone. It’s also not your job to convince anyone that the integrity of your humanity is inviolable. If the in-laws cross that line, cross off the weekly dinners. Period.

TFW you cut out the people who cross THAT line.

But if they just believe what they believe and it sounds like hogwash to your brain, try this: listen. Fix your face, skip the snark and just listen. Try to get underneath the surface of the “big political issue.” What are they saying at their innermost reptilian level? What fears do you hear? What unspoken experience are they dancing with? Ok. Now consider connecting around that red meat. No conversion on either side. Can you see through the political show-down, to the human wounds/joys/truths below that front? No? Ok. You’re gonna need more wine. Or try some fancy cheese 😝.


Love As A Kind Of Cure is a virtual gathering bringing together awe-inspiring women creatives, writers and artists to engage in meaningful conversation and action with the goal of tackling and putting an end to some of today’s biggest issues: economic inequality, racial injustice and women’s rights, to name a few.


DATE
June 18, 2021
CATEGORY
PHOTOS BY
Bogdana Ferguson

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