Transcript: Women's Issues, Women's Voices Interview
“New Beginning” by Tracy Chapman
Song with upbeat tempo with rhythmic snare beat, repeating in harmony with tenor voice carrying the melody
“start all over
start all over
start all over”
then just the melody singing
“we need to make new symbols
make new signs
make a new language
with these we’ll define the world”
Sarah Catlin: It's seven o'clock on a Thursday night that means it time for Women's Issues, Women's Voices here on KOPN Columbia 89.5 FM. Tonight, our guests hail from St. Louis, although they're far flung tonight because they're traveling for the holidays. I've got both of them calling in from opposite sides of the United States, if I recall correctly. I've got one guest on the phone and waiting for the other to call in.
But, we are going to talk tonight with two women who put together this podcast called "Who Raised You?" and there's a link to it on the Women's Issues, Women's Voices page on Facebook if you want to go check it out for a second.
I know you're going to want to check it out after you hear our discussion, but before we get there, I've got some Tracy Bonham. I thought we would start, since the topic is Who Raised You?, with her track "Mother, Mother" from The Burdens of Being Upright and then later in the hour, we will play the track "Mother, Mother" which is the reimagination from Modern Burdens and we'll talk more about that. But here's Tracy Bonham with "Mother, Mother."
“Mother, Mother” by Tracy Bonham
Song with pleading tone, slightly nasal soprano pitch, singing
“Mother mother, how's the family?
I'm just calling to say hello
How's the weather?
How's my father?
Am I lonely?
Mother mother, are ya listening?
Just a phone call to ease your mind
Life is perfect never better
Distance making the heart grow fond”
Then rock music with heavy snare and electric guitar, louder aggressive melody
“When you sent me off to see the world
Were you scared that I might get hurt?
Would I try a little tobacco
Would I keep on hiking up my skirt?
I'm losing my mind
[screaming] Everything's fine!
I'm bleeding to death
[screaming] Everything's fine!”
Regular melody once more, but less plaintive, more confident
“Yeah I'm working making money
I'm just starting to build a name
I can feel it around the corner
I could make it any day
Mother mother can you hear me
Sure I'm sober sure I'm sane
Life is perfect never better
Still your daughter still the same”
Then rock music with heavy snare and electric guitar, louder aggressive melody
“If I tell you what you want to hear
Will it help you to sleep well at night?
Are you sure that I'm your perfect dear
Now just cuddle up and sleep tight
I'm losing my mind
[screaming] Everything's fine!
I'm bleeding to death
[screaming] Everything's fine!
I miss you
I love you”
Ending with guitar riff
Sarah: And we're back. [musical interruption] she just wants to keep going with "Navy Bean" and we have both of our guests… let’s queue them up and... Hellooo!
[simultaneously] Treasure: Hello! Karen: Hi.
Sarah: Hey, I hear you both! that's great! So I'm going to have you both introduce yourselves so I can check sound levels. Treasure, why don't you talk first?
Treasure: Hi, this is Treasure Shields Redmond calling from Fairview Heights, Illinois.
Sarah: Ok and then Karen, you next.
Karen: Hi, I'm Karen Yang, I'm calling in from Silicon Valley.
Sarah: Perfect, it's not even that messy between the two of you so I can talk to you both on the same strip. I thought I might have to play bingo all night with the [laughing] slider, but it sounds right. Yay!!
Sarah: We're all here. Thank you, Deb Hobson for helping us get all set up. It's been a long time since I had two people on from two different places at the same time but the technology works if you know what buttons to push and the right phone number to send your guests. [Big sigh... Ahhhh]
[Karen and Treasure laugh] Anyway! Ladies, I am so happy to have you tonight, um, I'm so excited we've been creating buzz on Facebook all week about this but - You two have a fabulous, fabulous podcast called Who Raised You? question mark, and so we're going to talk about that this hour.
First, I guess, I think it's interesting the two of you ended up together at all.
So, Treasure, why don't I ask you first, how did you and Karen meet?
Treasure: That is a great question. Karen and I actually met at a protest action, a disruptive action, held on the year anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. So, many of your listeners may know that when the Ferguson protests erupted, it was in response to the murder of a young man, his name was Michael Brown, Jr. and a year later, and to this day actually, there are still activists, organizers, educators who are responding in ways to continue to press the administration in St. Louis area to improve its track record in black communities, in poor communities, in communities where the relationship with the police is strained at best, violent at worst.
So a year to the day, Karen and I were part of an action at The Muny theater where we disrupted a play that was happening. I sang freedom songs and I saw this tiny Asian woman crawl up a set of stairs and unfurl a banner that said "The Muny believes Black Lives Matter?" - is that what it said, Karen?
Karen: "The Muny Says Black Lives Matter" and what was even more funny is we used the font used by The Muny. So we have amazing artists-activists which call themselves the Artivists, a lot of them live or do work at a place called The Art House. And we do things like project something on a wall and use a lot of sharpies and create a great image.
Sarah: Very cool.
Treasure: Yes, and I saw this tiny Asian woman who was so brave and so capable and so fierce and I just thought, man I need to know her. (Treasure laughs broadly) And it was Karen! It was Karen Yang! Afterwards, we became Facebook friends and she mentioned that she wanted to do a podcast and I was the first person to reply and say, I'm in, and I'm so glad I did.
Sarah: So Karen, is that how you remember it?
Karen: Of course, yes! [Karen laughs, Treasure chuckles] It is very similar. I love how Treasure puts everything in context. That's what I really appreciate about working with her on our podcast. She takes this view of both what's happening on the ground and also sets it in what's been going on for awhile.
And for me, I think being the person that was basically scaling up a spiral staircase that led up to a sound booth, having to drop a banner - I have other memories of that, right? There's this whole thing where I'm having to hold on a banner; people clearly don't want me to be holding on to the banner - there's a whole thing.
But what I remember about Treasure is she has an amazing, bellowing singing voice and that's something that you'll find a little bit of in our podcast. She uses her voice both for poetry and also for music and what's fun is, I'm the person in the duo who has a divinity degree and I used to work for a church and we talk about spirituality on our podcast. And at the same time, Treasure these days spends more time in a place called The Ethical Society and with Humanists. So while she has a background in the black church, she's not regularly attending one right now. But something that she frequently says is that she can kind of let go of some of the other things in relation to the black church but they'll never take that gospel music away from me.
Sarah: [reverently] Wow, umm hmmm.
Karen: Yeah, so I remember her voice very powerful and to this day as we work together on the podcast that's something that resounds over and over again. And I think something that has surprised me is how much working with her makes me grin from ear to ear, every time. We've told this story of how we've met multiple times and every time I find myself smiling so big [Treasure giggles] and that's partly because Treasure brings a sense of joy to the work that she does.
And I think part of what I'm reminded of, in doing this podcast, we often interview activists, organizers, educators, artists, and I think when we talk about the work of the struggle toward liberation, it can really seem very heavy and sometimes it is. Right? Today, I'm mindful that Erica Garner was just announced to be [nonresponsive] from a coma, having experienced stress, extreme stress and all of that stemming from racism and white supremacy, related to the death of her father, Eric Garner, right?
Karen: But at the same time, if you are working in communities that are really trying to make for a just world, what you'll find is there's an incredible amount of joy in it and um, Treasure's laugh is one of my favorite things that I've been able to be in contact with and just fuel myself on ever since I've been working with her.
Sarah: So Karen, you answered this a little bit. Let's go back to Treasure. Treasure, who were you before you ended up down in the front of that stage at The Muny singing, I'm guessing acapella [Treasure laughs], with all your might. I mean you had passions and things that led you to be there that day. So walk up us to that moment in your life, like, how did you get started doing this sort of work and what are your passions and what are your vocations that led you to this point?
Treasure: [Thoughtful] Mmmmm. Well, you know it's interesting because you basically just asked me, Who Raised You? Didn't you? [Open laugh - Aaahahahahaha]
Sarah: Yeah right, I did, kind of! And that was one of my questions too, right, why Who Raised You? so we can talk about that too. "Who Raised You?" I love it. You know, as soon as I saw it, I thought of 'Bless Your Heart,' you know, the Southern 'Bless Your Heart'. Because, depending on the tone, it can mean a lot of different things. (Treasure laughing throughout). It can be like an admiration, like somebody raised you right. Or it could be more often like, were you raised in a barn? [Sarah laughs] Who raised you? I love it, it's so ambiguous.
Treasure: So true, so true. Well, you know what, I am claiming dual citizenship with East St. Louis, Illinois and Meridian, Mississippi. I was actually conceived in St. Louis, my mother came up and met my father. My mother's a Mississippian, my father's the East St. Louisan. And they had a brief relationship and then she went home and raised me mostly in Mississippi. But I would always come up to East St. Louis for summers and holidays. And I wound up moving back to the St. Louis metropolitan after the end of my marriage. I brought my two children with me and I brought with me my legacy of arts and activism.
My father, Eugene Redmond, is the poet laureate of East St. Louis, Illinois and a foundational black arts movement poet. And my mother, though she was not well known, one of the things that I'm looking at in my room right now, is a picture of her listening to Pete Seeger sing, uh, she was fourteen in Mississippi and she just found out that the three civil rights workers were killed. So, the legacy of loving community and public, using the arts as a practice to work toward justice, is something that raised me. I was raised by people who did that. So I wound up back in the St. Louis metro on 2009 and in 2014 I was further pricked by Ferguson and the incredible, invigorating kind of response that young people took to the injustice that occurred there.
[Exclaiming] Karen! I didn't even ask what year you came...
Karen: To St. Louis?
Treasure: to the St. Louis area?
Karen: Yeah, I came in 2012 for a dual graduate program in social work and divinity. So I ended up going to social work school with Washington University of STL and a divinity degree at Eden Theological Seminary. Yeah, so um, what really activated my consciousness racially, politically, socially was also the Ferguson uprising.
And that came at a really interesting time because here I am being trained and formed as a social worker and a minister and what I was doing at the time, both of those programs really emphasized field work, they emphasized practicum or contextual education, whatever you want to call it, just basically getting your hands dirty with people...
Sarah: Getting involved.
Karen: Right, getting involved with your community. And at the time I was working for a faith-based reproductive rights organization that was trying to shift its focus toward reproductive justice. And the difference being that reproductive rights is really quite often in a white feminist framework where the focus is on choice and abortion and birth control and things like that, access to choice around your body; whereas reproductive justice is led by women of color and that kind of looks at the whole spectrum of ways that we look at life throughout the whole lifespan. So it concerns itself with the school to prison pipeline, education, health, things like that.
So I had just attended a conference called SisterSong and that was about reproductive justice. And my first introduction to anything black liberation, black power related was our march for Marissa Alexander. And she was someone who had experienced domestic violence and was trying to survive through that and in doing so, um, she ended up in a situation where the state was coming after her for trying to defend herself.
Karen: So the very 'Stand Your Ground' laws that worked in the favor of George Zimmerman in pursuing the life of Trayvon Martin and killing him did not work for Marissa Alexander, a black woman. And I remember at the time being very confused by all the signs and the names of the people [killed by white people and police] and not knowing what to do with that, not knowing who these people were.
And then, right after, when I returned back to St. Louis, Michael Brown had been murdered and me, my boss and a coworker were gathered in front of the Ferguson police station in order to pray, in order to respond to a call by Reverend Traci Blackmon, who now works for the The Justice Ministries of The United Church of Christ.
Sarah: Right. Wow. And so that's what led both of you to be at that movement at The Muny protest a year later? Yeah, so that's how you got there. That's really fascinating.
And so you became Facebook friends and I believe you said Karen said she wanted to make a podcast and Treasure you said ooh, that's sounds like something I'd like to do.
Treasure: Mmmm, hmmm.
Sarah: So, what's the process. Like, how do you start something like that?
Treasure: Well, we got together and did some collective visioning first. Just kind of talking about what we wanted the podcast to be about. We knew that we wanted to center voices of color. We knew that we were both kind of femme presences in the world, non-white, and that we wanted to also kind of center this particular part of the midwest which is often known as 'flyover country.' And after we kind of brainstormed and took notes and talked, Who Raised You? just came forward.
Then when we started to tap into our network, into our friends, and into people that we admired and people that who we knew wouldn't be the typical kind of featured subjects that national media would put forward. And then we sat down at Karen Yang's table and ate her good food and drank her delicious tea and had these great, provocative, really deep conversations.
Sarah: So Karen, when you first sat down, did you have a topic? I mean how would you, I don't even know how you would, what did you decide to talk about the first time you sat down? Did you have it narrowed down before you sat down?
Karen: So as Treasure said it was really a collaborative effort. And for me, coming to the podcast itself before Treasure got involved, that was because I wanted to do something creative and I was really trying to find my way in life, since I had just been laid off from a job as a family minister of a church. And I had a spiritual director at the time saying, you know, you should really look through your life and see what kind of patterns are speaking out to you, what kind of stories are there? And even though that was work that I needed to do for myself, I couldn't help but think of all the amazing people around me that are inspiring and how they're working for a better world. And I just thought to myself, I really want to uplift those voices and those stories.
So I had a brief stint in college where I worked for campus radio, I worked for audio/visual technologies, so there was a little bit of knowledge from that in me already, where I knew it was gonna be only the slightest learning curve where we could do a podcast. What's great now is that technology makes it so accessible to start a podcast. Me and Treasure just came from PodCon, which was held in Seattle, and something they talked about is that you should just start, right?
Karen: And for me and Treasure that experience and hearing from creators was really validating because over and over and over again they were saying - start with what you want to hear and see in the world, create media that you want to have existed for you or that you want existing for you now. It's almost like writing yourself, speaking yourself into existence. And that's kind of a very human endeavor, if you think about it.
One of the most human things that we can do is to be creative, I think. And for us, it was just so strong, our desire to center voices of color, to bring up these voices from the midwest that we've built such strong communities in and make them more widespread. And also, what you'll notice, is that most of our guests, if not all them, are people we either know personally or are only a couple of degrees removed.
And I think that's because we want to jump right into intimate conversation, personal conversation, where there's not very much explaining, there's not very much 101 - we're just trying to get the meat of what makes them tick, who do they belong to, who do they wake up and go to sleep for and why are they existing in this world?
Sarah: So, if you're just tuning in at home or online, this is Women's Issues, Women's Voices and our guests are Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang and they're two women who put together a podcast called "Who Raised You?" question mark. And you can find that online and also at the Women's Issues, Women's Voices Facebook page there's a link. Okay, so, tell me about the nuts and bolts. Which of you is the techie person? Is it you Karen?
Karen: [laughing] Yeah, it's me.
Sarah: So, like if someone's at home thinking I need to do this, like what are the actual nuts and bolts of how you make the sound happen? Do you record it on a laptop? Or what? You have a microphone that you plug in?
Karen: So I'll say two things since our imagined [listener] is someone who wants to start this for the very first time. The easiest way is probably just to use the tools on your phone. If you have a smartphone. It's so great now. I had a flip phone for the longest time, so Treasure will probably just laugh at me about this. But I recently just got a smartphone and I'm just blown away.
There's all these recording apps that are really amazing and on top of that, there are apps for making a podcast themselves. So, um, even, and Treasure uses that herself for her own business Get the Acceptance online where she helps college bound teens get into college. And some of them have limits in terms of how long it can be but it's really accessible and if you just do a simple Google search, there's so many instructions out there.
As for the way me and Treasure did it, we did really simply. I had a friend where a long time ago when I told her I was thinking about starting a podcast, she had actually sent me a microphone, so that's actually the microphone I plug into my computer. And on your computer that's where you have the software, whether that's Audacity, Garageband, or whatever you want to choose and you hit RECORD and it goes through microphone. You just want to make sure the levels are all correct, and by that I mean you don't want things peaking and sounding really scratchily and make sure everyone sounds good. And from there, just focus on the conversation.
What I love about the podcast medium is that is cuts out on a lot of the things that you could be paying attention to. I think nowadays a lot of our media is very visually focused, so we have video which is really great, but at the same time I'm really aware that every time you have something recording, it changes people's behavior. And it still happens with podcast, it still happens with radio, but I feel like that medium itself allows for, just, deeper, better conversation.
Sarah: Or maybe one less level of having to be self-conscious.
Karen: Exactly, yeah, yeah.
Sarah: At least one level of removed. So, Treasure, to your memory, the first time you sat down, how long did you talk?
Treasure: You mean planning with Karen?
Sarah: No, I mean your first podcast 'cause you probably talked much longer, then you edited it down right?
Treasure: Our first podcast... That's true. And as Karen was talking I was thinking about how we had this kind of steep learning curve. I would say that the first ones went over two hours.
Treasure: And kind of meandered in ways. But as continued to record, we've gotten a lot more incisive. We've gotten a lot more intuitive with the way we trade off questions and kind of direct the conversations ourselves. So now they've kind of been averaging about an hour.
Sarah: And it's a lot easier to edit when you have less to have to deal with, right?
Treasure: Hehe! True, oh so true. [giggling]
Sarah: When you're just trying to think of how to make it make sense for someone else. That is so interesting. Okay, well let's tell the listeners at home some of the things you've talked about so far. Uh, Treasure, you've just started talking, let's talk to you first. Your first episode for instance, like, what would you say are your main themes of that, like, give me the table of contents.
Treasure: Well, the first episode, Episode 0, is actually an introductory episode and here's what's so brilliant about it - you know, Karen Yang and I, you know, I guess it could be described as a clash of cultures, even though we're still [laughing jovially] we’re both, uh, U.S. born women. Karen is from the west coast and from a predominantly Asian American, Asian-Asian American community in the Bay Area of California. And I'm from the Deep South, a predominantly African American community in the southern U.S.
And so, we decided that we would talk to our rearing influence. So my living parent is my father, so I talked to him a bit about his impressions of me, uh, growing up. And Karen talked with her mother and what's so wonderful about it is, you know, they kind of speak Chinglish, and Karen used a friend of hers to kind of translate her mother's conversation. It's a really riveting and interesting and insightful exchange that they have. So that's what the first episode is. We kind of hear from the people who raised us...
Sarah: Who raised you, right!
Treasure: Yes, the people who raised us and then we kind of preview the rest of the episodes. Number 1 is a conversation with Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier who is a black,
Jewish trans man and who is in rabbinical studies, or is beginning rabbinical studies soon. So, talk about, you know, [joyfully chuckling] an enthralling mix of choices, gender, places, religion, gender...
Treasure: Identities. But what's even more exciting about Koach's presence in the world is that Koach founded a collaborative of percussionists that are called Justice Beats. And Justice Beats really kind of centers protests and started at the Ferguson uprising, using a hand drum, conga, marimba, all sorts of African drums to kind of provide a heartbeat for the protests and so we talk about music and how music has guided Koach's life. It's a really incredible exchange.
Sarah: And that's Episode 1 for anybody that wants to follow up?
Treasure: That's Episode 1.
Sarah: I think it's so interesting that you started with zero. And I also think it's really nice of you that you went first, both of you. You know, like, if you were going to ask other people that question, I think it's really important that you were willing to go there first. And bring on the people who raised you, right? Have either of you, Karen or Treasure, seen the film "Whose Streets?" the documentary?
Karen: Of course. But, of course. [chuckling]
Sarah: Okay! We showed that at True/False and it was... I sobbed openly in the theater watching it. I think that drumming group was probably, they didn't name them, but I remember the drummer and I bet it was that group. That you see in "Whose Streets?"
Treasure: Mmmmm, hmmmm.
Karen: You can see a corner of my head in "Whose Streets?" ummm...
Treasure: Mmmm, hmmm [laughing]
Karen: Yeah, and this is the thing about St. Louis. If you're in the activist community or even in circles where you share similar values, it's very easy to get to know each other.
Karen: Damon Davis, one of the producers and creators of the film, he's part of the FarFetched Collective and started the FarFetched Collective which is an independent music label. You'll find at the end of every podcast we've been shouting out FarFetched because they've been providing consulting for us in terms of how to move forward in launching something new. And that's just a small snippet of what we're trying to express in this podcast about what it looks like to be part of a creative community that's trying to make the world better.
Sarah: Yeah, that really surprises me that you say you all know one another, because being from Columbia, which is halfway down I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, it feels like a small town in a lot of ways. And of course all the activists here, what you just said, absolutely know each other, at least by sight. Anybody that's been showing up a protest or a city council meeting, it's kind of the same faces. But it surprises me to hear that in a place as big as St. Louis, that's also somewhat true.
Sarah: Yeah, that kind of makes me happy that it's not so anonymous, that you do feel like you can work together and get to know one another. Well clearly, because here the two of you are, right?
Karen: amused chuckle
Sarah: Right. Let's see and then you had a titillating little tidbit. So the next episode, Episode 2 is going to be about?
Karen: So many things. So, Joss Barton is a poet, and part of something that makes our podcast special is the amount of poets and artists in our podcast. We start every podcast with a poem. And she's someone that Treasure met at a poetry reading at Goodie House. That's a place where poets gather and do readings, and Treasure can tell you more about that.
But what's really great and what I love about our approach with the people that we interview is that, even though people might be known for one thing or another, whether that's an identity they hold or the work that they're doing in the arts or anything else - we are able to share stories about where they're from and what makes them tick and who gives them life.
And so we talked about a lot of things - we talked about immigration, and also adoptions since Joss has experiences with adoption. What it means to grow up queer and adopted in rural Missouri. Fashion and how that intersects with political expression. And Treasure can tell you a little bit more about how that conversation went and also about the amazing images and metaphors that were brought up as well.
Sarah: Oh, please do!
Treasure: Mmmmm, yes. Joss is an incredible creative writer with a very distinctive voice. And I found her biography so interesting because she actually was born in Guatemala and was adopted by a white couple, like Karen said, in rural Missouri. And, you know, very evangelical Christian family. So it's really been a walk for Joss and her family regarding her queerness. Her poetic voice, as I said, is very distinctive. It melds, I would say, expectation, post-apocalyptic language. She's really performative, really engaging live.
Sarah: And we'll hear some of this is Episode 2, right?
Treasure: Yes, definitely.
Sarah: Yes, ma'am. Alright.
Treasure: And you'll see some images on the website. She's very beautiful and she smells amazing.
Karen: She does. That was the first impression I had of her, and that is the failing of a podcast...
Sarah: That is funny...
Karen: That is the failing of a podcast, that you cannot capture the smell of a guest.
(Laughing all around)
Sarah: Sometimes for the better, but in some cases for the worst.
Karen: Sometimes for the better (laughing) but in this case you really miss out because she really smells like, just flowers and more.
Sarah: Oh wow. Well, that's awesome. So, if you're just tuning in at home - I would be remiss in not saying you're listening to Women's Issues, Women's Voices on KOPN Columbia 89.5 FM. And our guests tonight are Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang. And they have put together a podcast called Who Raised You? with a question mark. And you can Google that and find it. And I'm just so thrilled that you're talking with us today.
We've talked a little bit about how you came to be, how you came to meet, and the nuts and bolts of the podcast, and now we've talked about some of the topics you've covered so far. What would be some of your future dream guests? Treasure, I'll let you talk future, and then we'll go to Karen so that you're not on the spot. Karen can think a little longer and Treasure, I'll put you on the spot first. Like, name some people or some topics that are burning inside you, like you really don't feel like you'll be done until you cover them.
Treasure: ...Mmmmmm. You know, I would love to talk to some more long-term black political actors in St. Louis. You know, St. Louis is like a lot of places that has a kind of stalwart, kind of middle-class cadre of people who run for office over and over again. And I would love to talk with them about what they see as the future of black political power in the St. Louis metro.
Oftentimes, you wonder what is going on in Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Oakland California, Chester PA, Harlem, Atlanta - these places where you've had a solid three generations of black leadership, but still the same entrenched problems. So I'd love to get that kind of long view from them. And maybe even pair them with a young activist - not in a way to see them debate, but in a way to see them exchange/collaborate and kind of bounce ideas off of each other, as an elder and then as a kind of young, invigorated activist.
Sarah: That's interesting, yeah. That would be a great topic. So that's your top pick, if that's somewhere you want to go. Who comes to mind? Name some names. If you knew you could just call them on the phone, and they would love to talk to you. Who would you have?
Treasure: Oh well, Lacy Clay, Tishaura Jones, probably Brittany Ferrell, Tef Poe. I'd love to have the kind of older, stalwart elected officials and the kind of upstart activists in the same place.
Sarah: Alright listeners, you've heard Treasure's wish list - if you know some of those folks, let's make this happen. Alright, now Karen I'm going to switch to you - what would be coming up topics that you would absolutely love to cover? And the dream guests you would have? It has to be someone who's still alive - who would you have?
Karen: Absolutely. I've thought about this a lot, and what's interesting to me is that years ago, my answer would be different but I'm at this point now where I don't love celebrity culture and so, I feel like the kind of top people that you'd have a date with or sleep with, that's a little bit different for me, but at the same time, for this podcast, the voice that we have is so unique and because of that, there's so many things I want to do with it.
And they all center around uplifting people and stories that I think need to be uplifted more. So I'm mindful about political prisoners. We still have Black Panthers who are in prison, right? And then locally, I think about Joshua Williams who was stuck into jail and solitary and has endured terrible things for allegedly setting a trash can fire - when the real kind of fire and the attention needs to be on systemic racism and white supremacy....
Treasure: Mmmm, hmmmmm.
Karen: And the damage that's causing, right? I think about candidates like Cori Bush who is running for Congress. And there's this whole movement of people really wanting to put people of color in places of power, but not just people of color because we know that people of color can still perpetuate white supremacy...
Karen: And we want candidates with an incisiveness, with a political analysis that is for the people, that is liberative, that is perhaps going to dismantle some of the systems that we feel like our so entrenched in our daily lives - whether that's related to private prisons, or the way we do health care in a way that's not accessible, that's not affordable, that's not universal. Universal college, right?
I think of rappers like Bates, locally in St. Louis, who hits on so many amazing issues including uplifting Palestine, and she also is someone who is able to make melodies around difficult topics like experiencing child abuse. [Sarah: Mm! Treasure: Mmm...] And I think that's something that's so unique, and also that's so needed in a society that can look at music and art in a purely aesthetic sense and not necessarily as sharpening minds and helping to fuel our hearts in moving forward. Ultimately, I think it would be beautiful, whether it's for Who Raised You? podcast or our partners we collaborate with if media like this can be spanning toward different cities and also toward different countries - there can be a global movement.
We know that the work of liberation and solidarity needs to be global, so I think about partnerships with Palestinians, with those in Vietnam, with those in South Africa - there's just so many amazing movements that exist for liberation. From my homeland of Taiwan, currently people from The Sunflower Movement are rising up with respect to workers rights - and thinking about trade and transparency in government, trying to work toward democracy. Especially in a country like the U.S. America where we have so much power, where we're this empire, it can be easy to be really myopic in our attention to issues that relate to human well-being. But I think, if we're really thoughtful and honest, especially in this technological age, we must realize that we're all interconnected.
Sarah: That's what I was going to say - sounds like you've really got an interest in really reaching across the globe and getting these intimate conversations, these people who are very far-flung yet have intimate connections with their vocations and their loves and their passions. That's fascinating. And I was just thinking on what you just said, that in this day and age, even in the desert in Africa, somebody probably has access to a smartphone, you know with decent sound. And it is amazing what we can do with technology and the bridges we can create. And regular people - you don't have to be Tom Brokaw, or I don't even know who his counterpart would be these days. But you don't have to have a whole TV station behind you, you can just do it with your phone.
Treasure: So true.
Sarah: It's amazing.
Karen: Yeah, I love to joke that I'm coming for Krista Tippett's job.
Sarah: (laughing) Well, this has just been fascinating. So, what would you say to my listeners who are listening here in Columbia and mid-Missouri - but also there are people listening all around the world on the web, and they'll be listening later to the podcast version of this or the streaming version of this. What would you like them to take away whenever they listen to "Who Raised You?" Like, what are you hoping, what will happen to them, how will their hearts be changed by listening to it? Let's let Karen first, then we'll go back to Treasure.
Karen: My immediate reaction is that I want them to ask themselves Who Raised You? I think about how one of my best friends from seminary is a white lesbian pastor who’s working in Iowa. She's from rural Iowa, and we've had conversations about how do we move the work of justice forward wherever we're at.
And in St. Louis, the racial tension is just so right up in your face, and that's because of the history of segregation and slavery that exists there - the fact that the Dred Scott case was there. There's so many reasons for that tension and the struggle to be so alive there. And for her to think about transitioning to rural Iowa for her ministry, it was difficult for her to think about how she can take the ways that she's been changed and apply that to that context where it will probably be or is homogenous, white, perhaps an older congregation. And what I remember talking about with her, is to really dig deep into her roots, to think about her ancestors, to think about the stories in her family.
And I think if we're honest with ourselves, whether in our family, biological or chosen, or in our friends or communities - not everything is amazing. It's not all peaches and cream, but there's something in there that's painful, that's traumatic, that might need healing. Or there might be a gap between where you're at and real joy that's lasting. And to me, that's the spiritual work that I see that’s ahead of us, and I hope when people listen to the "Who Raised You?" podcast, they're challenged to really ask themselves: Who raised me? Who do I belong to? Who am I accountable to? Why aren't I accountable to others? Or why am I the way that I am or why do I believe the way that I do? And just really to ask that.
I think we're in a post-modern phase where we're able to think about why we think the way we do. Truth is not entirely universal, even though there might be universal value that we hold in common for human wellbeing. And so I think the more questions that we can have, the more curiosity we can approach each other and the world, the better.
Sarah: Alright, that was a very thorough and heartwarming answer. And now Treasure Shields Redmond, now you have the unfortunate, I didn't do you any favors by having you go second, but what would you add to that? When people listen to your podcast "Who Raised You?", what kinds of things do you hope they take away? Or how do you hope they're changed or maybe affected by the content that you and Karen are putting out?
Treasure: Well, I mean, you know, the word you used is 'hope'. I would hope that people would fight against apathy and fight against cynicism, and realize that every generation, young people save us from the brink. And that there's a PR campaign against young people, and it says that they're nothing like we were. Every generation people say, they were nothing like we were. But every generation that's who rises up and kind of grabs us by the collar and shakes us back into humanity.
I think I would also like for people to know that when we ask Who Raised You?, that often people had no control over those very influences, but we are now at a point of control. So now we stand at the back of a line of descendants, and what happens to them is controlled by what we're doing now. So I would like for people to listen to the podcast and think about the choices we're making. The sustainability choices. Our choices regarding how we love each other. How we allow people to love and be loved. Our voting choices. Even our choices as to what we consume and how we think about how the people were treated who produced what we consume. We can change our behaviors now so that generations from now when someone asks "Who Raised You?", they'll think about us and have something good to say.
Sarah: See now I thought I put you on the spot and you also did give a beautiful answer. [Treasure giggles] So, I have a little follow-up for each of you. Let me go back to Karen. Karen, you mentioned really early in the hour and I jotted it down because I wanted to come back and ask you - you said, a lot of these people are working at this Art Work, Art Space? Some kind of a space?
Karen: Oh, Art House, mhm.
Sarah: What is that?
Karen: It's just one of many amazing communities in St. Louis. So Art House is a space most known for gathering people together to do art that they meld with activism. They call themselves the 'artivists', and they gather people together.
There's been a lot of actions that have used art that came out of that - anything from, for example around Halloween, fighting racism, white supremacy, things that are kind of holding our society back from doing well for people and dropping those off at a jail, and kind of alluding to the way that people after a sports game might so-called “riot” and throw pumpkins. And kind of poking fun at that, or having a carnival of injustice where people are really being absolutely absurd and satirizing political leaders who've not really been accountable to their people. They've just done a whole host of things.
At the same time, they've also been doing work around food justice. They have a food share where they take food that's left over from places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's and things like that and distribute it to the community. And they just got a grant to do more of that. So, ART House, we talked about Goodie House earlier.
Sarah: Yeah, that was the other question, I was going to ask Treasure about - Treasure do you want to talk about that? Goodie House and what that's about?
Treasure: Right, and I wanted to add that one of the principals at the Art House, her name is Elizabeth Vega. And one of our interview subjects whose name is De Nichols and who's an artist and organizer in the St. Louis area, she works with Art House, and they created a really resonant art piece during the Ferguson uprising. It was a series of caskets with mirrors attached to them. And they would walk through the Ferguson area with the caskets in such a way that the police and other observers could see their own faces reflected in the caskets. It was very powerful.
Sarah: Hmmm, that does sound...
Treasure: Yes, it is. And now that piece is in The Smithsonian. [Sarah gasps: Wow...] And that piece came out of Art House, Elizabeth Vega and the artist who we focused on an episode about hair actually, De Nichols. Goodie House is a series of poetry readings conceptualized by a local poet whose name is Shine Goodie. And it's usually held at a space, a woman-centered space, an owned space, called Human Spaces which is in south St. Louis. They're usually held once each month. It's a place where lots of poets come to read, try out new work, support one another. And one thing about St. Louis that's so wonderful is that you could go hear poetry read every night if you wanted to. So yeah, that's one of the spaces.
Sarah: That sounds awesome. Both of those spaces sound awesome. Like, Columbia is pretty great but you're making St. Louis sound pretty darn inviting. [Sarah and Treasure laugh]
Treasure: St. Louis, hidden gem of the midwest!
Sarah: Wow, that's how I feel about Columbia. I often call Columbia the Austin, Texas of Missouri.
Treasure: [intrigued] Really?
Sarah: Yeah, it's cache of liberals all hiding out in the middle of the farmland here. Come over sometime, I'll give you the tour. Either one of you - you're welcome, you're welcome.
Treasure: We will!
Sarah: Well, I just can't thank you enough. This has been a really interesting hour. I love getting to know you and hear your voices for myself and have our own little conversation on the side of the conversations I've been hearing online. Is there anything else...
Let me say it one more time - if you're just tuning in - I'm talking to Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang and they have a podcast called "Who Raised You?" and you can look it up online and listen to it. I highly recommend it. It has the Women's Voices, Women's Issues seal of approval. Is there any parting thought that either one of you has on your chest that you just have to release before we get done? We've got about three more minutes.
Anybody have anything else that you absolutely wanted to cover this hour?
Karen: You don't even have to search for it online - you can just go straight to www.whoraisedyoupodcast.com.
Sarah: www.whoraisedyoupodcast.com. There you are.
Karen: All of our episodes are free to play and download. We're also on the Stitcher app. You can search for “Who Raised You?” We're working on getting on other platforms, but for now using the website and the Stitcher app work really great. And we also have transcripts, so if you are deaf or hard of hearing, and we realize that people who are deaf and hard of hearing do tune in to podcasts and the radio in different ways - we do have transcripts.
Sarah: That's brilliant, that's very forward thinking of you to make it accessible like that. (Big sigh) Oh ladies... Thank you so much, this is so great. If you're just tuning in and you think, why didn't I tune in sooner? This sounded really fabulous! It's not too late - Karen and Treasure, your listeners - you have two weeks to go to RadioFreeAmerica and stream this show. It will be up in another ten minutes or so for about two weeks [until January 14th, 2018], and then later we'll have it at the KOPN.org website. It should be there forever, as long as we have internet. So we'll post it there. But thank you so much for calling in and spending an hour of your night telling our listeners about your great work. It's been wonderful hearing about it, it's very inspiring.
Karen: Thank you Sarah.
Treasure: Well thank you for having us - it's been wonderful.
Sarah: Awesome, I'm so glad. That's what I like to hear. Okay, well thank you so much and thank you, everyone at home who's listening.
Transcribed by Heather Hoyle, Edited by Jessica Yang & Karen Yang