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Seizing Detours with Dr. Kidada Williams

Dr. Kidada Williams is the host of new podcast, Seizing Freedom, a historian, author and professor of U.S. History, with a focus on African Americans. She is an Associate Professor of History at Wayne State University.


ZAK: It's The Best Advice Show. I'm here to help.

KIDADA: My name is Kidada Williams. I am a history professor at Wayne Statue university. I research and specialize in African American history.

ZAK: Kidada is also the host of an important, beautiful new podcast called Seizing Freedom.

KIDADA: If you had asked me 10 years-ago or even 5 years-ago if I had thought I'd hosting a podcast, I would have said, there's no way in hell. No! Even though I like podcasts, right? I'm a historian. This is what historians do! But one of the things that I realized along the way was how much of the history that I produce in conversation with my peers, my fellow historians never makes it down to the public.

ZAK: It was this observation and some unintended circumstances that led to Kidada down this other path.

KIDADA: Figure out how to pursue the work that you love and have a sense of where you want to end up or what your destination is. But be open to paths that you wouldn't expect. I think what you realize is that what's meant for you will find you, right? That sort of saying. And if your plan or your intended destination changes a little bit based upon that detour then that will sort, you know, reshape your future and that doesn't have to be a bad thing. It could actually be really good and promising.

ZAK: And how do you think you stay open to this idea of like, being willing to get side-tracked or just like, reoriented.

KIDADA: I think I stay open by thinking through the possibilities. Thinking through questions about whether or not it's a good fit and trusting my instincts.

ZAK: Yeah, I don't remember who told it to me but it's just like asking yourself...actually actively asking yourself, what's the worst that can happen. The downside of exploring the possibilities is pretty low, right?

KIDADA:I agree but I think that perspective comes with age and personal experience. So, at 20 I might not have taken a risk like, agreeing to do a podcast. Or, I may have seen it as risky. But, coming through, experiencing things, knowing I can always say no. I can change my mind. I can figure out what the stakes are. I can collect enough information has made it easier for me to sort of explore possibilities and see what's a good fit or what's not a good fit.

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