AHR 32: How to Use Deep Connection and Holistic Resistance as Tools for Inclusion and Equality with Aaron Johnson

I’m going to commit my life—whatever I’ve got left—to dismantle racism.
— Aaron Johnson

Although making up 13 percent of the population, African Americans own less than 1 percent of the rural land in the United States. 

White Americans, however, own a staggering 856 million acres, which is about 98 percent of all rural property in the country.

Wild, right?

So it's not crazy when I say that communities of color, low-income residents and other historically marginalized groups have traditionally faced barriers to accessing nature.

That's why Ancestral Health Radio is dedicated to, and promotes, inclusivity and social justice through transitional lifeways. 

Because it's the most disadvantaged and powerless people in our societies who are most likely to be affected by rising fuel and food prices, resource shortages and extreme weather events. We want to increase the chances of all groups in society to live well, healthily and with sustainable livelihoods.

We have to accept that although much progress has been made, there is much more work that needs to be done. And most of that work begins and ends with us, as an individual.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”— Martin Luther King, Jr.

To rise above, you must first begin to ask yourself better questions. 

To help you do this, I've invited my friend Aaron Johnson on today's episode of Ancestral Health Radio.

Aaron shares insights into how we, as white Americans, can begin to breakdown cultural barriers that blind us from seeing the truth of our privilege.

In today's episode, you'll learn...

  • Why Aaron believes there are so few black people within the rewilding community,
  • The first thing Aaron says you need to commit yourself to if you wish to become an ally to people of color,
  • 5 questions that will help you critically examine your own relationship to blackness,
  • And much, much more.

Episode Breakdown

  • Aaron explains what Holistic Resistance is and why it's become the focus of his work
  • Why Aaron says he didn't know he was being prepared for this kind of work for the last 20 years of his life
  • Is racism different where ever you go?
  • Is there a right way to integrate and think about black people versus a dangerous one?
  • Why Aaron doesn't do workshops of 100-200 people
  • Is rewilding a privilege?
  • Why white people never ask, "Who's not here?"
  • Why Aaron says he's a walking contradiction
  • Aaron unpacks the difference between loving a black person, dating a black person, and actually being close to a black person

  • The silent suffering and exploitation of black women in the medical community

  • Why Aaron is a big advocate for one-on-one or small group coaching

  • The two things Aaron wants you to remember when asking yourself questions

  • What Aaron does NOT want you to do when asking yourself questions to get close to blackness

  • The three different levels to each of Aaron's questions, and how to "slow it down"

  • James answers Aaron's first three questions

  • Why Aaron says black people have a hard time being vulnerable around white people when talking about racism

  • Why Aaron believes there are so few African heritage therapists

And much, much more.

Questions I ask

  1. "Who are you and what do you do?"
  2. "How exactly are you dismantling racism?"
  3. "So how do you feel your work specifically fits into rewilding?"
  4. "Why are there only a few people of color within the rewilding community?"
  5. "What typically are some of the questions that you like bringing up?"
  6. "How do we break those barriers down?"
  7. "What do you think the common thread between these people who can't have these conversations are?"
  8. "How do I become more of an ally?"
  9. "How do we bring more black people into it [rewilding] with the trauma that they already to have?"
  10. "How do we ask better questions?"

Mentioned Resources

Who is Aaron Johnson?

Aaron Johnson is an earth builder, teacher of closeness, and activist. He graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He has made a lifelong commitment to use the skills he possesses to end racism. In addition to using intimacy and closeness to blackness as a primary means to that end, the tools he frequently uses are speaking, teaching, singing, photography, filmmaking, and minimalism. Aaron leads a mentoring program called Turn It Up Now that focuses on elevating the power, talent, love, and work ethic of youth. He believes that deep connection is one of the most powerful tools one can use in dismantling racism.

Contact Aaron Johnson here:

Social Media:  Personal Facebook page & Turn It Up Now Facebook page

Like what you heard?

Then leave an honest rating and review of the show on iTunes.

Positive ratings and thoughtful reviews help get more eyes and ears on the podcast.

And you know what that means...

More eyes and ears mean better guests, and better guests mean better content.

Remember: Without you, none of this would be possible.

Thank you.

Subscribe on

iTunes | Stitcher Radio | Google Play | SoundCloud

James Broderick