One year ago I started a podcast with my friend, the Seattle Civic Poet and writer, Anastacia Renee.
The Deep End emerged like a primal scream after years of being buried alive in the trauma porn that passes for news. Anastacia and I both felt afflicted with a binding depression from listening to story after story of people of color being shot and killed, oppressed, disproportionately suspended in schools, impoverished and imprisoned.
These stories are true. They are a crazy making, rage inducing and gut wrenching part of the challenges we face as people of color in this toxic political climate. It is important to bear witness to the ugly, vile and violent truths, but equally important is the ability to maintain hope. We set out to balance our media diet (as poet and activist Saul Williams called it) by soliciting stories about beauty, joy, love, art, perseverance and thriving in our communities.
Anastacia is a writer, a teaching artist, an intuitive healer and in general a magical human being. I am also a writer, a community organizer, a youth worker and an assortment of other various titles and experiences (and magic). We are two black women, living in Seattle, doing our best to contribute something meaningful to the world with our time and talents. And yet we both have felt silenced and felt other people in our community being silenced. So what better way to be heard than to carve out time to speak: to speak deeply, to speak honestly, to break through the silences that have surrounded us.
We made for ourselves a small audio pocket of what we needed to hear in order to get up each day. Moments of resilience, laughter and levity, and also connection and vulnerability to inspire and feed us. Together with a crew of youth interns from Young Women Empowered and a couple friends who know much more about microphones and editing software than we ever will, we recorded 21 episodes.
Each episode is about an hour long. Some feature short segments by our youth interns. Every episode includes an in depth interview where we ask people of color from all walks of life what freedom looks like, smells like, and tastes like. We ask them not just about their work and their accomplishment, but about their spiritual practices, their relationship to success, and the love that feeds their vocations. We wanted to know what they are doing to find healing for themselves and their communities and to live in their fullness despite the deep discomfort of America.
The Deep End is an exploration of liberation. It’s an opportunity to hear from incredible people about their journeys, what they are doing to thrive and how they are contributing to broader movements of empowerment, love and liberation.
Our guests so far have included: New York Times best selling author and internet yeller Ijeoma Oluo, plant whisperer and the Feest founder Cristina Orbe, genocide comedian Howie Echo Hawk, hip hop artist and writer, Gabriel Teodros, poet and scholar Dr. Bettina Judd, dancer and choreographer Dani Tirrell, and lawyer, activist, youth worker and former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver to name a few.
What have we learned?
Reagan: People are terrified to be heard. People are simultaneously starving to be heard. We do this dance over and over with guests who initially agree to be on the show, but then get really nervous. Let’s just talk about the Kardashians, one guest pleaded. But then people start to open up. They say things they’ve never said before and it’s amazing.
One of the things I love about journalism is the opportunity to meet new people and hear their stories, but one of my least favorite things (beside transcription) is having to condense the wisdom that people share into short quotes and sound bites. What I learned through this process is that while sharing deeply can be really intimidating, it can also be cathartic and healing to be heard and witnessed.
I’ve also learned that you must always have fresh batteries and an extra SD card on hand to avoid recording disaster.
Anastacia: I have learned that just like life, there isn’t really one script to follow, that a guest may for whatever reason open up a whole new world of questions or internal answers I was searching for. I have learned that though I am light, it is healthy and beneficial to surround myself with light in times of utter and complete systemic blanket covering. I have learned that people of color are particularly hopeful and resilient when we are most shown to be hopeless and weak. Lastly, I have learned I really like to laugh and hang out with Reagan Jackson.
What’s next for the Deep End?
This first season is coming to an end and next week we’ll start recording the second season. In many ways you can expect more of the same. We’ll have youth segments, incredible guests, juicy questions, laughter and depth. But stay tuned for our new theme song and some new questions. We’ll also be doing some traveling and pop up events.
You can listen to Season 1 on our website: http://thedeependfriends.libsyn.com. Or catch us on Low Power FM radio shows throughout Seattle. Monday at 10pm and Tuesday at 1pm on Space 101.1 in Magnuson Park. Thursdays at 5pm and Fridays at 6pm at KVRU 105.7 in the Rainier Valley. The show is also available on iTunes under the Deep End Friends Podcast.