Chicago native Michael Fosberg has spoken at nearly a thousand high schools, colleges, government agencies, corporations, law firms and not-for-profits since 2005, utilizing his award winning autobiographical story, told in the form of a one-man play as an entry point for meaningful dialogues on race and identity. He has collaborated with a number of professional diversity practitioners on programs to foster deeper dialogue in corporate settings and at educational institutions. His work with groups such as; The Boeing Company, United Way Worldwide, Holland & Hart LLP, PNC Financial Services, Proctor & Gamble, The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, and The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is reshaping the way organizations talk about race, identity and diversity.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up? Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I have a very difficult time “playing favorites”. Asking for my favorite or most influencial book is like asking a parent who their favorite child is. There are far too many great, influencial books for me to name one. Reading was always emphasized when I was growing up and I tend to read a lot in a wide variety of styles and genres. In my latest book; Nobody Wants to Talk About It: Race, Identity and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations, I begin and end each chapter with quotes from inspiring books about race and identity issues. There are quotes from books by James Baldwin, Mat Johnson, Dr. Cornel West, Nelson Mandela, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ta-Nehisi Coates. I will share one interesting story about books however; When I was growing up and thinking about being a writer, my mother said to me, “Well you know, a writer must be able to write about themselves…and I’m not sure you can do that.” My first book, Incognito: An American Odyssey of Race & Self-Discovery was my memoir about growing up not knowing who my biological father was because my mother had kept it a secret! And the BIG secret was that my biodad is Black and I had grown up thinking I was White. So writing a memoir in which my mother plays a big role sort of came back to haunt her!
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
I will name a few, since one won’t do; Be the change you wish to see in the world. This quote directly relates to the work I do. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated. This quote is so important in regards to showing respect, empathy, and compassion…also a lot about the work I do. And finally; You get out of it what you put into it. My step-dad said this to me when I told him I was entering a 12-step program for drinking in my early 30’s, but it applies to everything in life!