"damali had a profound impact on us.
We will be transformed."
-Colby College

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April 14, 2015
Announcement:  I am concluding my work on race/racism/social change within the next two years.
If you want to bring me to your community to address these issues > schedule now.
To join me on my new joy-filled journey of creative expression > join this list
Thank you for your support over the years, and for all you do to make our world a better place.



About me.

“damali has a story for everything.”
A friend once said this about me. I am not sure if he meant it as a compliment or a criticism. Either way, it is true. I put my life on the stage, on the page, and wall as a form of advocating for social change. I reveal myself as a mirror to others so that together we all think, feel, and grow.

As a speaker, author, radio essayist, and visual artist, every time I share a story with an audience a perspective shifts, an isolation is breached, or laughter is shared. People thrive when their inner world is mirrored by someone who articulates their struggles while being affirmative, positive, and transmitting a sense of hope. This is what I do.

It’s time for a new approach to activism, social change, and tough topics. We have to conquer fear and work from a place of love. I am invested in making this shift in our culture. My presentations and the way I share my experience honors the whole human being. I share stories about how we think, how we feel, how we learn, how we fight, how we love, and how we fight for what we love—and most of all—how we are transformed. My presentations share my journey as an artist, writer, and activist who grew from a place of fear and anger into a place of courage, love, and transformative action. I help everyone I meet find that journey within themselves and latch on to hope, affirmation, and a positive way forward into the future we create not alone, but together.


"damali is the most real person I have ever met."
"I had so many epiphanies during her visit."
- Holy Cross College Students


“So much talent, wit and connectivity, all tied to a big heart.”
- Portland State University


“The lessons damali has distilled from her experience
have truly transformative potential. Also she is hilarious and charming”
- Erika Johnson, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse


“damali handled her topics with
grace, clarity and gets to the point!”
- Partners for a Racism-Free Community





Here's my media-style bio:
damali ayo and her work have been featured in publications world-wide including Harpers, the Village Voice, Salon.com, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Redbook Magazine, The O'Reilly Factor, and Book TV. As a keynote speaker she travels the country, engaging audiences to think, feel, and heal through difficult community and personal challenges. She is the author of two books, How to Rent a Negro and Obamistan! which were playful yet biting satirical examinations of race relations. damali is a contributor to four other books, and has done several stories for NPR and Public Radio International. damali was a contributor to the reboot of the historic This I Believe radio series, as well as a repeat guest panelist on NPR's Weekend America. Her writing, art, and lectures have engaged topics ranging from race, gender, sexual assault, and sexual orientation to spirituality, chronic illness, the creative process, healing, music, and trash.

An expert story-teller, damali offers humor, insight, and creativity to make our culture's toughest topics manageable and fun. How to Rent a Negro was acclaimed as "one of the most trenchant and amusing commentaries on contemporary race relations." It was granted a 2005 Honorable Mention in the Outstanding Book Awards from the Gustavus Meyers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Obamistan! Land without Racism: Your Guide to the New America debunks the myth of a post-race world. She is a member of "The Black Panel" in Baratunde Thurston's How To Be Black, has a chapter in the book Reality Radio and was interviewed by Davy Rothbart in Found II. Her monthly letter to her readers, The Blessings, shares personal stories about creativity, healing, and faith.

damali is a dynamic personality who brings energy, inspiration, and positivity wherever she goes. Through her trademark humor, bolstered by a remarkably vulnerable and open telling of her stories, damali shows her audience that life is an ongoing process of growth and evolution.