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a coming of age, but irl

For the longest time, I always felt hyper-aware of what I was consuming on the internet, being extra cautious to the point I wouldn’t even allow myself to show any personality in fear of being judged or embarrassed by myself in the future. My passions in life are centered around using media representation and acknowledging its impact on the perception of marginalized communities that have real, even dangerous, effects. With this being my goal, I kept thinking to myself, why not add to the representation I want to see? My perspective and ability to utilize others to create an intricate understanding of pop culture that is usually oversimplified. No matter how small or big, I shouldn’t shy away from discussing issues and problems.

I’ve always wanted to create a podcast, but quarantine gave me time to get over myself and dedicate thought and attention to all the details surrounding making one. One of the breaking moments that allowed me to see that now is the time to put my ideas to fruition was when I wrote a poem about how I felt in June. This is what ’a coming of age, but irl’ is about. More times now than not, life seems like a movie, with the theatrics and plot twists we see in the media. As youth are growing and changing, so is the world. Let’s see if the world eventually gets to where we want it to be. To get there, there needs to be more diversity in voice, perspective, and real representation. This podcast is my voice, and I intend to have fun with it while making an impact.

While my episode topics range from music, film, social media trends, and politics, a common thread of purpose is to explore the cultural impact these topics have on society and the youth. Looking past the surface level of media developments and digging to discuss the underline perspective that pushes specific narratives is what I love about making my podcast. One of my favorite episodes I made so far is the Grammy Nomination reaction and commentary I did in “and the grammy goes to…”. Besides just reacting to the nomination, my predictions, and who got snubbed, I questioned why the Grammy is one of the few “prestigious” awards that carry weight in the music industry and what does that mean for the types of artists the Grammys exclude, whether directly or indirectly. What impact, whether positive, negative or everything in-between, does the Grammys have on society? I discussed how the categorization of genres had put black artists in genre boxes like “Progressive R&B” and the pop fields’ whiteness despite the rising diversity of what is and who makes pop music. I also explored how “Global Music” fields reflect the otherization of music outside of the western sphere. This episode was fulfilling because I expressed my nuanced perspective and heard from listeners about their Grammy predictions and views on categories and their growth outlook due to my podcast. Finding ways to expand conversations, highlighting marginalized perspectives, and digging deeper into modern developments is what makes this podcast so uniquely me.

The thought of people listening to me talk for 20-50 minutes every week still is mindblowing. I love when listeners reach out to me about the podcast’s little details and relaying how my personality shines through this podcast. They were able to put actual ideas they had about issues and associate with something I said to inspire their conversations. I am very hands-on in all the podcast aspects, whether it is promotional material, the logo, the instrumental, color palettes, and sound engineering, so seeing people notice these details makes me feel that I’m doing something meaningful not only to me but to others.

Also, with this time of isolation, I was simultaneously working on visual art. In my art, I tend to focus on expressing the unique identities of today’s African diaspora. I love using different media, lines, and digital effects to showcase my ability to take a topic and transfer it into a visual thesis that makes the viewer consider the perspectives taken into account.

Making art during quarantine with my “we need space” artwork reflects the time we are in and the mental headspace I was in. The faces I made were sketches I have been making since January, and it felt timely actually to put pen to paper and make something. I was hesitant about sharing a piece like this with so much meaning and meaning that changed as I worked through it (it took me 2.5 months to make). But the reception was so good that I decided to utilize the piece I just made to create a website to sell my work. The fact the people are buying my art is crazy because I never really thought of myself as a “real artist.”

I am very grateful and privileged to have been able to be as creative and active during a time of such pain and suffering in the world. By far, the best decision I made this year during quarantine was putting myself, my work, my passions out for the world to consume. I’ve learned so much about myself creatively, and I know that this period has been a catalyst for exploring who I am and what I want to see change and the change I want to be a part of.

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