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Complicating the Narrative by ConTextos

Complicating the Narrative by ConTextos

By Complicating The Narrative
Complicating the Narrative is a podcast series produced by Authors and staff at ConTextos with the goal of adding context beyond misconceptions commonly associated with people living in communities facing poverty and barriers to economic development due to racism, violence, and trauma.
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Breaking the Goldfish Syndrome

Complicating the Narrative by ConTextos

Open Circle with Kelema and Bijou
This season we have been focusing on the theme of Resilience by checking in with participants in the various programs offered by ConTextos. One of the programs we launched just as the pandemic began to take hold was an online version of Authors Circle called Open Circle. In this episode, Bijou and Kelema, two of our youngest Open Circle participants, join Mariah and Tatiana to talk about the experience of writing with ConTextos during these Open Circle sessions. Open Circle is still open to all at 3PM on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. For more information and to register for future Open Circle sessions, visit We look forward to seeing you there! 
February 25, 2021
Authors Circle Alumni
In our third season of Complicating the Narrative, ConTextos alumni Mariah and Tatiana are back to bring us stories of resilience. Each episode this season will explore resilience in the context of one of our ConTextos Authors Circle programs. In this episode Eugene, a published ConTextos Author and graduate of the IMAN Green Reentry program, joins Mariah, Tatiana, and Dimitri to talk about his involvement in ongoing alumni programming with ConTextos. Eugene is also a member of the founding cohort of Into a Black Beyond (, which launched this month. This episode opens with a poem by Tug, who is also a published ConTextos Author. Unfortunately, Tug lost his connection to our call after sharing his poem. We hope to have him back as a guest for future conversations.  Be sure to visit for more information about ConTextos programs and our work in Chicago and El Salvador. 
January 07, 2021
Authors Circle and IMAN Green ReEntry
In our third season of Complicating the Narrative, ConTextos alumni Mariah and Tatiana are back to bring us stories of resilience. Each episode this season explores resilience in the context of one of our ConTextos Authors Circle programs. In this episode, Jamelle, a ConTextos Author and participant in the IMAN Green Reentry program, joins Mariah, Tatiana, and Johnny Page to talk about his experiences with Authors Circle in 2020 as well as his writing and upcoming book of poetry. Check out His Story by Jamelle on the ConTextos YouTube channel ( ) Watch Dear Chicago: The Men of IMAN Speak on the ConTextos YouTube channel ( ) Learn more about IMAN Green Reentry at
January 07, 2021
Authors Circle and the MAAFA Redemption Project
In our third season of Complicating the Narrative, ConTextos alumni Mariah and Tatiana are back to bring us stories of resilience. Each episode this season will explore resilience in the context of one of our ConTextos Authors Circle programs. In this episode Delshaun, a ConTextos Author and participant in the MAAFA Redemption Project, joins Mariah, Tatiana, and Dimitri to talk about his experiences with Authors Circle and life in Chicago. The MAAFA Redemption Project is a nine-month program focused on improving quality of life for at-risk young adult men through housing, employment, educational opportunities, and social services. Find out more about MAAFA Redemption Project at and learn more about ConTextos' programs at 
November 26, 2020
Dear Chicago: Youth Telling Their Truths
In our third season of Complicating the Narrative, ConTextos alumni Mariah and Tatiana are back to bring us stories of resilience. Each episode this season will explore resilience in the context of one of our ConTextos Authors Circle programs.  We're kicking off this season with an episode that features Dear Chicago: Youth Telling Their Truths, a six-week program ConTextos developed in partnership with Chicago Public Schools in the Summer of 2020. Twenty CPS students met online daily with Authors Circle facilitators Dr. Moore and Dimitri to create video letters from themselves to Chicago. Check out one of those video letters by CPS student Michelle here. In this episode, Tatiana and Mariah (both former students of Dr. Moore) talk with Dr. Moore and Dimitri about the experience of working with young people as they explored and shared what their lives were like during a summer that was unprecedented in so many ways. 
November 04, 2020
Feel Me, Then Heal Us
In this episode Charles elaborates on his Chicago-Sun Times op-ed, in which he tells his story, describes the need for healing in his community, and proposes steps that can lead to solving the problems he identifies. 
July 03, 2020
Pondering the Moment
In this episode student, educator, and Chicago native Kashif Johnson has a conversation with Dimitri about America's tumultuous soul-searching regarding race. Several recent events have brought the perpetually unresolved issue of racism in America to the forefront. In this episode we simply wanted to share our current thoughts on some of the issues that have bubbled to the surface for some, and remained a fact of everyday life for others. 
June 11, 2020
In this episode, Johnny Page, Charles, Darrius, and Dimitri discuss social distancing and its comparisons to lockdown in a jail or prison. In this conversation, they also share which aspects of this "new normal" they hope will continue after the period of social distancing ends. This episode opens with Blurs and Erases, a blog post written and read by Johnny. Find the full text of Johnny's blog post at
May 12, 2020
Complicated History
In this episode, Zay, Dr. Moore, Charles, and Dimitri discuss their experiences with Black History month as students and beyond. In addition to discussing the history of the yearly celebration of the culture and contributions of African Americans, they talk about why it is important that all students receive an honest and complete presentation of our history.
March 03, 2020
Members and Bangers
In this episode Zay and Duke, two of our published ConTextos Authors, have a conversation with Johnny and Dimitri about gang affiliation. In this conversation we talk about what a gang is, how it is that young people may become involved in gangs, what it means to be a member of a gang, and whether or not it is possible to be affiliated with a gang without participating in all of the activities of that group.
February 04, 2020
Bonus Episode: Checking in with Mariah and Tatiana
Two of our Author/Producers from Season 1 stopped by to catch up and share what they've been up to since going away to college. In this bonus episode hosted by Dimitri, Tatiana and Mariah discuss their first semester in college, advice for high school students, and their experiences in Authors Circle.
January 14, 2020
On this premiere episode of Complicating the Narrative: Season 2, we bring you two discussions centering on the idea of coming home from incarceration. After reading an excerpt from his memoir about the day he came home, ConTextos Author Douglas shares his experiences in a conversation with Dimitri. Later in the episode, Complicating the Narrative host Charles sits down with Johnny Page to discuss their experiences upon coming home from incarceration. Our hope is that this episode provides valuable insight for those who love someone behind walls, people who have shared the experience of returning home from incarceration, and those whose lives have not been touched by incarceration. Join us in complicating the narrative around coming home. 
December 02, 2019
Bonus Episode: Jennifer, Johnny, and Dimitri on Complicating the Narrative
In this bonus episode of the Complicating the Narrative podcast, Johnny (ConTextos Chicago), Jennifer (ConTextos El Salvador), and Dimitri (ConTextos Chicago) have a conversation about the power and potential of podcasting as a platform and as an extension of the work that Contextos does in El Salvador and Chicago. Be sure to subscribe and check out the other episodes in this season as well as upcoming episodes in Season 2. 
October 25, 2019
Enemy of the Neighborhood
Tak and Tat talk about the battles of wanting success and being looked at as an enemy by your own peers because of it. They explore their own experiences, those of another friend, and those of entrepreneur Marty Nesbitt. They discuss solutions for succeeding despite the cynicism.
October 16, 2019
Shell Shock
In this episode, Mariah and Jerry discuss Jerry’s experience adjusting to society after spending 20 years behind bars. They explore stigmas placed on formerly incarcerated individuals that exist as barriers to successful re-entry, and provide helpful tips for successful re-adjustment to society.
October 01, 2019
Trust is Like a Mirror
Mariah and Jerry discuss trust issues within families and how they can complicate the family dynamic. In this episode they interview an African American Literature professor, a clinical psychologist, and a 27 year old Contextos author who bring forward solutions that promote healing.
September 23, 2019
The War Next Door
In this episode of Complicating the Narrative, Tak and Tat cover Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in their own way. They interview an army veteran, a school teacher, and a psychologist to understand aspects of PTSD from different viewpoints. Tako and Tatiana hope to raise awareness of PTSD in violent communities and encourage listeners to seek professional help if they think they might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. 
September 16, 2019
Breaking the Goldfish Syndrome
In this episode, Charlez and Duke explore factors that may lead to incarceration of youth, reasons it can be hard to break the cycle of incarceration, and some possible solutions. "The Goldfish Syndrome" is a term they coined to refer to the geographical confinement of young people living in poverty, the limiting factors associated with life inside the "fish bowl," and the cyclic nature of recidivism.  Charlez and Duke talk to IMAN's outreach director Billy Moore, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, Amplify Investments founder Douglas Hood, and Co-Director of Programs and Partnerships at Contextos  Lisa Kenner. They spoke with their guests about identifying the root of the problem and solutions to breaking the cycle. 
August 30, 2019
Training the Pet of the Soul
This episode is about training your pet -  your inner self.   Charles has a one on one conversation with Duke about his experience with meditation and how it has transformed his life by helping him by giving him a better way to overcome trauma and disengage from potentially violent situations in his neighborhood.  Ra Frye, founder of the community organization Pride Roc  joins with insights about the healing power of meditation.
August 19, 2019