Building Our Own Table: Desireé B Stephens (She/Her)

Meet the founder of Make Shi(f)t Happen

Hello friends,

Desireé B Stephens is another person who came to my attention via a call for interviewees, as a couple of people mentioned her work. I think she offers an interesting perspective. Please meet Desireé …

Desireé, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Make Shi(f)t Happen

This feels so loaded, I've been many versions of myself and every part is valid and landed me in the position I am in now.

I can say that my journey into what has now become anti-oppression and liberation education began at 28 when my friend Jayson pointed out my privilege whilst we were passing out flyers for an event. It was my suggestion to place the, into the creative loafing (since it is a free publication) and he was shocked that not only would I do it but felt entitled to do so with no concerns for potential issues... The story is so much better in real life.

All of that being said I went on a deep dive into how white I truly was though I am obviously a Black woman. I realized how much whiteness was more of a mindset than anything else. In turn, I continued unpacking and decolonizing until I became the person that so many found in 2020. It was then I coined the term "Pathologize Whiteness". For me whiteness is a system that counts on white-skinned people to uphold; it is a non-consensual system that simply takes without asking and offers nothing. When I began to pathologize it like a system it was easy to dismantle. Basically whiteness is an MLM pyramid scheme and Make Shi(f)t Happen is the place where people can go to recover from the violence of whiteness.

Give me the elevator pitch for Make Shi(f)t Happen

Make Shi(f)t Happen, founded by Desiree B Stephens, is a transformative company dedicated to the noble cause of liberation through decolonization and whole-self healing.

At the heart of our mission is the seamless integration of wellness and DEIA. Our current platform is an expansive online healing community where education, support, and facilitation of the healing process take center stage. With the aspiration of hosting retreats that deepen the decolonization process, Make Shi(f)t Happen is more than a company; it's a movement towards holistic liberation, fostering an environment where every individual can embark on a journey of self-discovery and collective healing. Our motto sums it up: New Agreements | New Systems | Deeper Connection

And in more detail?

Make Shi(f)t Happen was founded when an associate of mine found themselves in a situation where they had appropriated a contractor's work. We had stepped in and created a space for all to be heard and for restoration to happen. That would be the official formation. However I have been "living" on social media for the past 15 years or so and over that time I hosted many group spaces that dealt with community building, difficult conversations, and finding common intersections. I believe the group that could most represent Make Shi(f)t Happen was my group Social Matters where we discussed nuances of matters such as racism vs antiblackness and held neighborhood meetings.

I say all of this to give you a sense of the path that led to the birth of this company. I also spent a decade of my life as a woman's leader and pastoral counselor and when I worked on my own decolonization I went on to offer spiritual counseling.

One day I woke up and saw how it was all interconnected, race, gender, class, religion... so on and so forth, and the work evolved from there. I spoke on TikTok about the need for white people to do some generational healing and the next thing you know here I am leading the Make Shi(f)t Happen initiative, where the mission is to be like the Walmart of healing. Having the ability to walk into a space and find what you need. Various modalities, leaders, and educators aid one on their liberation journey through decolonization and whole self-healing.

What inequity were you trying to redress/address, and why is this important?

My goal was to get white people to realize they have been colonized first and for the longest. I asked the question "Who were you before you were white?" The intent was for them to realize they can not help us in our journey to liberation because they themselves are not liberated from the systems that were placed on them before white people ever encountered Africans or other Brown People.

It is important to me because as a person who grew up with a strong sense of Irish identity (that my Blackness never barred me from) I realized how many white people have no idea who they were, the story of their people and the violence their folks endured. They have no connection to past generations or ancestors. This is important because until they heal they will continue to perpetuate supremacy culture because they haven’t a clue what life is like outside of that paradigm.

So in short, the inequity I wanted to address was a reminder that they can not help us without first facing their truth and then coming into solidarity. Ally is a war term and they haven’t sorted out that we are at war.

How’s it going? What has the response been?

I could burden you with the stats or I can tell you so far so good! It has been amazing the people in the community who show up for themselves to do the work who are making tremendous strides and showing up for their communities more and truly understand the need to dismantle and rebuild a new system. I receive so many messages about this life-changing work and how their lives have been impacted and they in turn are seeking others to impact. The work has been exponential. After all, it's for healing 7 generations back and for 7 generations forward to reap the rewards.

What’s next for Make Shi(f)t Happen?

Very big things!!! I currently am working on switching the business structure from an LLC to a Benefits Corporation to create more safety and broaden my fiscal abilities in order to bring the vision to reality.

I have secured a space for Decolonization healing retreats for 2024 starting in May in Georgia at Arabia Mountain. (The farm has geodesic domes and

I have amazing collaborators who also believe in the vision and will be participating in those retreats offering sound healing, somatic breath work, Liberation Education workshops and so much more.

What I see going forward is creating the blueprint for creating truly diverse, interconnected communities that are replicable and sustainable.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

My vision is that all we need to show up with is our names. That color, gender, sexuality, none of it will matter. You simply need to know what to call me.

That may seem lofty and this isn't "I don't see color" sort of statement. This is me stating that when we do the work of decolonization we recognize WHY color matters and where each of us falls within the intricate web of supremacy culture. My experience as a Black and Irish woman is different than that of a mono racially Black woman with the same complexion, yet it is also different than that of an unambiguously Black woman, then there is texture, features, abilities, and so on and so forth.

The more we uncover the insidious ways of supremacy culture the easier it is to simply show up and say... this is my name, and there be a silent understanding that this is what liberation feels like under oppression.

I love this vision for liberation, don’t you? Please connect with Desireé on her website, LinkedIn, and Tiktok.

Thanks for reading,


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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2024. All Rights Reserved.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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