Over the summer, the Black Lives Matter movement created change and conversations around racism and police brutality on a global scale. But local podcasters Misha Maseka and Demi Okuboyejo hope to keep the movement and the conversations going.
For Maseka, that conversation centres around creativity. Growing up as a self-described “obnoxious theatre kid,” she studied opera in university and writes. As a result, her podcast In Rehearsal focuses on “what it means as a creative to be considered marginalized.”
In the performing arts, there’s still plenty of work to do to make it a diverse and inclusive industry. Maseka says that one main goal is to bridge the pay gap between Black artists and their white counterparts, and another is to give people of colour more leadership roles.
“We do have things to say and offer that are valid and will make all of us, in turn, a better community,” says Maseka. “Because a Black woman on a panel for whatever can see a blind spot that a straight white male might not see.”
For the first episode of her podcast, Maseka and her co-host Heather Gallipeau got the opportunity to interview Shelley Scott, a theatre professor at the University of Lethbridge.
“She told this story about this play that debuted somewhere in the Prairies, it was either Saskatchewan or Manitoba. And it was a play written by a Black playwright. When the reviews came out, all the critics, mostly white, were just like, ‘(I) didn’t understand it,’” says Maseka.
But Scott offered a simple solution that stayed with Maseka since the interview: To listen harder. Listen to the stories of Black and marginalized people. Listen to the people around you and what they have to say.
For her own part, Okuboyejo, along with her co-host Elsa Kaka, created their podcast “Ordinary Black Girl” to start a conversation around the realities of being a Black woman
Okuboyejo says that growing up in Calgary, “you get the message really young that being a Black boy is cool, and being a Black girl isn’t. There’s a way in which Blackness is connected to masculinity.”
“Even when you see how the deaths of Black women are treated,” she continues, “a lot of the focus of the protests have been [on] the men that have been killed by police violence.”
Yet violence against Black women is often overlooked. Okuboyejo says that Breonna Taylor, for example, a Black woman killed by Louisville police, hasn’t received as much attention compared to Black male victims.
“What happened to her… It’s [also] a really horrific story,” says Okuboyejo. “I’m disappointed justice isn’t being served for her.”
But “Ordinary Black Girl” is bringing attention to the injustices against Black women like the case of Taylor’s death, and “discussing the things that pertain to us, not letting people tell us that we’re too sensitive, or we’re too this or we’re too that or we’re angry Black women.”
However, Okuboyejo says that “it’s not all heavy. There is a lot of humour. That is one thing that I love about Black women. We are so funny, we’re so joyful and we’re so jovial. We talk about heavy things, we talk about difficult things, and we also laugh and we smile and we just enjoy what life has for us to enjoy.”