The Stove is Hot: Guiding conversations without perpetuating harm to BIPOC

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Hannah Michelle Bussa
CONTRIBUTOR

Expecting BIPOC to teach others about their identities can perpetuate harm. Literary resources are available to learn from instead. “The Stove is Hot” founder Ashlynn Duval is setting out to make these resources available in the Omaha community. Photo courtesy of Ashlynn Duval.

Omaha native Ashlynn Duval is the founder of “The Stove is Hot” (TSIH), a podcast and online literary resource for non-BIPOC allies.

Duval began working on TSIH in May of 2020 after leaving a job in the Christian non-profit sector. She grew up in the Black Baptist Church before working primarily with white Evangelical Christians.

“My biggest takeaway from that time and those spaces is, if one is not willing to conform to the standard set there, it will not be time well spent,” Duval said. “What is next for me is a lot of learning. I have always been an avid reader, and I can attribute my open mind and willingness to adapt because of my love for learning.”

Duval was immersed in environments that avoided hard conversations growing up. She said that avoidance impacted her mental, physical and spiritual health in negative ways. TSIH is a response to those harms, aiming to prevent young Black women, girls and femmes from the same experiences.

“I hope to use TSIH to eventually engage with the religious communities I was once a part of to help push their thinking and structures to new limits,” she said. “I don’t want TSIH to be seen as anti-religious, because it isn’t, it is just anti-harm to young girls and women that look like me.”

TSIH includes an online bookstore with books exclusively written by Black, Indigenous, women and femmes of color. There will not be books written by cisgender, heterosexual men.

“I want to help push folks away from the entitlement of expecting a Black woman or Indigenous woman to teach them,” Duval said. “Respectfully, everyone needs to read the books that are readily available to learn about the people they will interact with on a day-to-day basis. Students, medical patients, clients, customers and colleagues do not deserve to be put on the spot in any moment for the sake of teaching someone with more power and less empathy than them.”

Duval plans to curate a unique and diverse inventory of books. These books will serve as a resource to help people learn about others with different identities. She hopes to open a physical bookstore and community center within the next five years.

“In the first five years of the business, life will be dedicated to speaking and working with Black, Indigenous and other women of color in Omaha to pinpoint the true needs of that specific demographic and building a plan together to meet the needs,” Duval said.

TSIH podcast will be available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify beginning Feb. 28. Each episode will also include a link to the transcript. The podcast will feature authors, professors and community organizers.

TSIH is focused on allies who are white to address whiteness and white supremacy.

“My goal of the podcast, blog posts and social media feed is to help all people identify the ways we have all prioritized and conformed to white supremacy so we can begin to unlearn, abandon and dismantle it,” Duval said. “It is my belief a majority of social and economic issues are symptoms of white supremacy, so that is the issue I want to name and address. White men [and] white women will have to do the heavy lifting of dismantling the systems of white supremacy because they directly benefit from it the most. TSIH will serve as a resource to those who are interested in unlearning and changing for the better. It is a space for those who are willing to learn.”

The online bookstore and links to social media for TSIH can be found at: www.thestoveishot.com.

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