2: Sharing your voice is a political act. (A Check-In)

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This is Liberty, a podcast on the everyday practice of liberation. I’m Andréa Ranae and you’re listening to episode two where I talk about the political act of using my voice.

Before getting into the meat of this episode, I want to talk a little bit about the purpose of these check in episodes. Every other week you’ll get an interview with some fabulous human like in Ep. 1 with Ifasina Tha Hood AlKemist.

In between interviews, I’ll be hopping on the mic solo to share a bit about my process of, where I’m being challenged, what I’m practicing, etc. I’m doing this because, in so many spaces focused on social justice and creating change in the world, it can seem like there is a requirement for you to be woke immediately even though you’ve been socialized into a certain way of thinking from the moment you were born (even before that).

I absolutely agree that the issues we’re dealing with are urgent and must be addressed right now and I also know that sustainable change takes time. Liberation work is lifelong work. And there are so many people who are asking “how can I help, what can I do, where is my place in making change happen?” but, those same people are often scared of or uncomfortable with engaging in these kinds of conversations because they seem divisive or they don’t know how their community might react, they might make a mistake and offend or hurt someone, they might lose friends or lose business, etc. And although those fears are tiny compared to the fear of being deported or the fear of being killed by the institution that claims to serve and protect, those fears are still real and all of these fears are so valid.

All of that to say, I want to demystify and normalize this process of liberation. The process of unlearning, fucking up, learning, growing, healing wounds, changing systems and cultures and sticking together through it all.     

So I’m committed to sharing my process with you and on a personal level, this will be really challenging for me because I have a habit of keeping my process and my messiness behind closed doors and only letting folxs see the finished product (I’ll share more about that in a little bit). This is a symptom of not only my personal experiences, but also the oppressive systems that have affected those personal experiences: white supremacy, patriarchy, and so on.

I also feel the need to say that this podcast is very much focused on the individual, but social and environmental issues are not individual issues, they are collective issues. They are issues created and sustained by many individuals over the course of 100s and 1000s of years – so one person cannot change the world, but we can each influence and shift our lives and communities in ways that can make a huge difference. I hope this podcast becomes a resource for you in your own process.

And with that, let's check in:

One of the reasons this podcast is exciting and terrifying for me is because I’m giving myself permission to share my voice in a way that I never have before.

In episode one, Ifasina mentioned this concept of performing a version of yourself that isn’t true to who you actually are in order to make yourself or others more comfortable. I was definitely with her on that as it’s been a big point of growth for me over the past 5 years or so. Releasing the need to perform being good, specifically. Being a good person, a good student, a good friend, a good black person, a good woman, a good girlfriend, a good daughter, a good sister, and so on. All to make up for what I really thought (and still thinking sometimes) underneath it all – that I’m inherently bad, that I’m not good enough and that I’m too much for people to handle. Maybe you resonate with this too?

I learned and internalized a lot of this stuff throughout my childhood and as I grew up, my way of coping with those feelings was by filtering and suppressing my expression of who I am, what I'm feeling and what I think. And my #1 way of expressing myself has always been through my voice, whether written, spoken or sung. So you can imagine that after years and years of being silenced and silencing myself, putting myself in this position of hosting a podcast in a way that can be pretty vulnerable actually makes me want to go hide in a corner somewhere. And I kind of have done that by procrastinating on getting this show out into the world for several months. Not to mention waiting until the very last minute to record this episode!

Podcasting is very challenging for me. The planning, recording, scheduling, interviewing, editing, and so on – it’s wild. But even having the opportunity and space to be able to do all of this is a sign of the privilege I hold in our society. So stepping into this way of using my voice more often and with intention is not only a journey of personal growth and healing for me, it’s also political because of the identities I hold while doing this.

Using your voice is a political act. It can also be a revolutionary act, an oppressive act, and a liberating act. But no matter what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to and why – it is political because your voice exists within a world of billions of other voices. Also, who you choose to listen to is a political act.

So as I’m on this journey of sharing my voice more boldly, I encourage you to consider your own voice.

Here are a few reflection prompts:

  • What has your relationship been with your voice?
  • Growing up, what were you told about how you should express yourself? (ex: Children should be seen and not heard).
  • Do you believe your voices deserves to be heard in every space and situation? Why or why not?
  • Bring some awareness to the voices you hear from most, the people you're connected with and follow on social media, the podcast you listen to, the shows you watch – who isn't represented?

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Andréa Ranae