More presentations by damali ayoVisit damali's website


damali is the most real person
I have ever met.

But how did I get that way?

This talk takes the audience on a journey through a lifetime balanced by challenges and creativity, from invisibility to voice, from doubt to daring, and from second to self.

Each time I share part of my story with an audience when talking about social issues or art, someone came up to me and told me that it was the personal parts of my presentation that will stay with them when they are facing tough times. I created “Be You” as a way to bring those personal parts- the stories of my challenges, trials, and triumphs to the hearts of people who need that extra push of inspiration when they feel they can’t get through. As a fellow traveler on the journey who has learned a thing or two (or three)—I let them know they can.


Be You. is a multi-media presentation using strong visuals and memorable stories. Audience members leave not only knowing new art and authors, but knowing themselves and their world in a new way.

The presentation can be paired with a workshop or “tea time” where participants can ask in-depth questions and get specific insight and help with their personal challenges.

Bring damali to your community.

More presentations by damali ayo

"damali took the time to really talk and listen
to our students...Having damali here helped empower students
in a very different way." - Sarah Lawrence College

We will be transformed by this experience."
- Colby College




Bring this presentation to you

"I had so many epiphanies during damali's visit."
- Holy Cross College

This optimistic and inspiring talk helps any audience member know that no matter what the struggles they have faced in life, there is a resilience in themselves that, if nurtured, will sustain and inspire them for a lifetime.

I share some of the challenges I have faced, the art, writing, and performance I have created from those challenges. I trace the creative thread that has run through my entire life, carrying me into successes and through trials.

The talk is touching, fun, full of joy and love and a wonderful way to inspire young people especially to find themselves and hold on to the spirit with in them…and also to let that spirit out into the world with confidence.


"Having damali here really inspired our students
to take to heart the power of their voices.”
- Ripon College

damali ayo is the author of two books, several essays for National Public Radio and contributor to four anthologies. She has delivered keynote presentations to thousands of people across North America. damali and her work have been featured in over 100 publications world-wide including Harpers, the Village Voice,, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Redbook Magazine, and Book TV. She even held her own across the table from Bill O’Reilly on his television show.

An expert story-teller, damali’s books and presentations offer humor, insight, and creativity and 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 diary 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.

"damali is Engaging, warm and amazingly energetic." -Portland State University