It seems like there was a sudden shift from a pandemic to a world roiling with protests. With the very public murder of George Floyd by the police, some people began to notice racial inequality, criminal police activity, and white privilege. This is all moving very quickly for those people, and far too slowly for others. And, it is making speaking to other humans even more difficult.
Here is what I hope you will consider this week whether you are new to the reality of Black life in America, still unsure this is real, or BIPoC* and tired of having to defend your existence. Use your words more.
By this, I mean what we mean when we say this to children. We want them to consider what they are actually feeling, take a breath, and tell us. So that we can know what they need and how to help them. Finally, we want them to be able to educate themselves on the expression of feeling. I want that for you.
Say What Needs To Be Said — Out Loud
To be clear, this is not a hall pass for white people to unload their feelings on their exhausted friends of color. Please, don’t. But do have real conversations with other white people. Not to affirm each other’s feelings as correct but to express them truthfully. To interrogate those words while staying present. You might need more information and if so, maybe an anti-racist book club with people you trust would be a good start.
For BIPoC, this may be harder. Many of us have been speaking all along but we don’t all have the same experience. Perhaps PoC can take up the labor of educating others so that the Black people around us can take a minute. We can hold the space so that Black people can speak their truth out loud without having to educate anyone. It also means speaking our words out loud without pulling the spotlight from the matter at hand.
My Black brothers and sisters — I know you are tired. Still, even if it is to yourself alone, give your feelings an outside voice. I’d recommend having a trusted friend bear witness (silently) because that is the power of communication. Bear witness for other Black people and feel the power of their words.
As you do this work, remember to keep breathing, to stay in your body, and to move and breathe with the discomfort. Your brain will try to distract you, to numb you, because this is hard. Still, human connection requires truth, we thrive when communicating with each other, we need each other to stay in the conversation.
*BIPoC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. It is a way to acknowledge that Black and Indigenous experience with white supremacy is worse than for other people of color.
This Friday at 12:30 pm EDT, Gina will host an office hour over Zoom that will also be live on FB. These will be short voice alignment sessions aimed at voice skills building. Come to the Zoom for the session and/or to ask any questions you have about voice function or practice or just join me over FB Live. Register here or watch it live on the GROW Voice FB page. I hope to see you there.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.