You Have to Mess with People (But don't let them mess with you) is a multi-media presentation using strong visuals and memorable stories. Audience members leave not only knowing damali's story, but knowing themselves and each other in a new way.
“damali is so completely genuine and refreshingly real and human.
"damali took the time to really talk and listen
“With students, teachers, administrators and the community damali allowed us to think, feel, respond and create. She created strong discussions but also offered a safe place to explore unsaid truths.
"The "Flesh-Tone experiment"
From panhandling on the streets for reparations, to asking paint mixers to match different parts of my skin, to hanging two of my dreadlocks in an art gallery with the sign, “your big chance, you can touch my hair.” I have engaged some of the most difficult social issues through creative art, performance, and a fearless way of looking our culture directly in the eye.
Along the way I have learned a lot of important lessons about what works, what doesn’t and what personal price we can pay when we are passionate about making the world a better place.
This fun presentation shares conceptual art, activism, radio, and writing to inspire activists of all ages to be creative in the way they challenge people and advocate for change, while avoiding burnout by creating a support system, implementing self-care techniques, and cultivating a sense of humor.
"damali is Engaging, warm and amazingly energetic." -Portland State University
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, Salon.com, 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.