Censorship is exactly what Seen podcast founders Nic Wayara and Lala Matthen work to challenge when it comes to the discussion of QTBIPOC. Seen is a podcast that give voice to QTBIPOC communities, with the ultimate goal of serving as a platform where individuals can find solace. The inspiration behind this endeavor? Wayara and Matthen’s friendship. “In our friendship, we’ve both felt free to be exactly who we are, and say what we need to say without censoring ourselves,” they go on. “We are acutely aware of how rare that kind of freedom is for Black and brown queer womxn like us – and how precious it is. We need spaces where our perspectives, needs, and desires are centered. These spaces allow us to process our experiences, heal, and find our way forward. And so we wanted to make our private space public, to share what we co-create with QTBIPOC who need to feel seen, heard, supported, and centered. And to amplify our voices in a world that desperately needs to hear them.”
Acknowledgement of these oppressed communities is essential to Wayara and Matthen’s podcast. “We work from the knowledge that we, as QTBIPOC, are deserving,” they explain. “We deserve to take up space, to have our voices heard, to show up in the world in the fullness of who we are. We refuse to accept the authority of any system, any institution, or any person who would tell us otherwise. It is transformational for us as QTBIPOC to show up for and as ourselves, and to insist that we be not only included, but centered. That is the work that we are committed to with each episode, and each community event.”
QTBIPOC are vulnerable in society, and while effort has been made to increase the safety of these marginalized groups, they still remain heavily unprotected and underrepresented. “Our communities are in peril, targeted by systems of oppression that inflict violence and deprivation upon us. And our suffering is compounded by systemic barriers to healing.”
Seen hopes to help improve the standard of living for marginalized individuals. “We are constantly in the process of learning how to show up to this work, and supporting our communities to do the same.” Though despite their efforts, championing inclusivity in a politically charged time is no easy feat. “Going unfunded paying for the podcast out of our own pockets while working jobs has been challenging,” they say. “The political nature of the work we do isn’t always attractive to funders! We’ve had to make sacrifices and stay grounded in our purpose in order to stay afloat.” Wayara and Matthen are aware that given the work they do, pleasing everyone is merely unrealistic. “We’ve also had to challenge ourselves to let go of any desire to please people, or to hold back what we feel and think in order to avoid upsetting anyone.”
Wayara and Matthen hope to encourage people to take the time to reevaluate their existing opinions of QTBIPOC. “[Communities] would have to be willing to work through the shame, guilt anger, grief, and general discomfort that might come from hearing the unfiltered truths held by QTBIPOC.” For change to be facilitated, a disposition to challenge preconceived notions is a must. “They would have to be willing to expand their perspectives to make room for those truths. They would have to disrupt oppressive power in themselves and redistribute power and resources to QTBIPOC.”
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