3 Reasons Afros & Audio Exists

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(By Latrice Sampson Richards) Podcasting has completely changed my life. This is a statement I find myself uttering often these days. Most recently, while ugly crying as I invited one of my closest friends to co-host my newest project on Vanguard Podcast Network with me.

I have always been a creative person, but I never really felt comfortable with sharing my creativity with those closest to me.  Over the years, this discomfort transformed into fear, and, eventually, my creative endeavors dwelled only in the plethora of notebooks and sheets of loose-leaf paper that have faithfully traveled with me through every phase of life.

My podcasting journey came at a time when I was actively exploring the parts of myself that I had intensely pushed to the background. The process of learning how to create an episode from start to finish became a metaphor for my own personal journey and highlighted for me the importance of having a community of folks who get me.

As I consumed as many “How to” and “101” articles and YouTube videos as I could find, it became painfully obvious that this new medium (podcasting) was not designed with me in mind.

Enter Afros & Audio.

The very first time I saw the Afros & Audio logo, I knew it would be a major part of my life.

That larger-than-life afro, those sexy headphones, and impeccable gold monogrammed chain instantly nourished my latent inner creative, and let me know that there is a place for me and podcasters who look like me.

Over the last two years, I have learned from some of the best talents the industry has to offer, and have been afforded the opportunity to welcome new talent with open arms while ensuring equity in the podcasting space.

More importantly, because of Afros & Audio, I now have an international community of support and validation that my stories do, in fact, matter.  For this, I am eternally grateful.

When it comes to the love I carry for Afros & Audio, my story is not unique.  There are countless tales like mine, illustrating the impact this community has had in the lives and careers of Black podcasters and audio professionals around the world.

Still, some may wonder why these kinds of sacred spaces are needed. For this, I defer to the CEO and Founder of Afros & Audio, Talib Jasir, with 3 reasons why Afros & Audio exists in his own words.

From Talib Jasir

Reason 1: Community And Collaboration Is Everything

In 2017, I wrote, produced, and directed “The Fussings: Until One of Us is Dead” a limited comedy audio series podcast. The podcast was a long-deferred dream of creating an audio drama.

At that time in my life, I was being intentional about breaking the spell of self-doubt. “The Fussings” was part of a 90-day goal-getting challenge that I waited until the last 21 days to tackle.

In three weeks, I wrote, cast, recorded, and distributed my vision of a podcast. Despite the rushed production, which, at times, my reckless pursuit of fulfillment is on full display, I remain proud of the effort and outcome.

Several months later, Afros & Audio was birthed in a desire to discover and encourage other Black audio drama creatives to come out of the shadows.

I believe and often say that people who build communities are often seeking it. However, audio dramas hadn’t quite taken off as they have today and I didn’t gain the traction that I’d hoped for and almost folded. There was a lesson in that and today, our mission remains “A Commitment to Community and Collaboration!”

Reason 2: The Time is Now

In 2018, one of the PWI conglomerates sent out a call for Women of Color to submit their podcast for consideration of funding, training, and resources. From my understanding, over 18,000 women submitted and less than 20 were chosen.

At that moment, I wondered how many women who hadn’t been selected stopped working on their podcasts. The rebel in me then asked, why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Wait for opportunities. Give our talents and purpose away to mainstream bidders. Allow those who have created barriers to seduce us with the promise of lowering instead of dismantling barriers that are steeped in systemic capitalist racism.

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” A simple rhyme but words that we all must face one day if we ever want to experience real changes in our lifetime.

So, I decided that Afros & Audio was meant for more than my niched vision. Afros & Audio was meant for a world of Black creatives that deserve to experience a shift in industry status quo now… f*** later.

Reason 3: Bringing Us Together

Great! Now my vision is clearer but what do I do first? I reached out to one of the hosts of the Mixed Company podcast for a quick consult. I explained my vision but with only one podcast and no real connection to an already existent community of Black podcast creatives, I was unsure of a starting point.

His recommendation…consider creating an event. To this day, I’m convinced he was suggesting a 2-hour meetup but as I left from our less than 30-minute meeting, I made up my mind that it would be a two-day conference.

If you haven’t noticed by now; for me, it’s go hard with intention or do nothing at all.

From that day on, I begin planning our inaugural festival and despite major obstacles, such as limited to no resources, not knowing a THING about speaker engagement, or planning a conference of this scale, the Afros & Audio Podcast Festival happened and our community of brilliant, innovative, and progressive Black creatives began.

Thank you to the early believers, contributors, supporters, and attendees who answered the call for progressing, expanding, and elevating our damn self in the Podcast Industry.

It’s 2021 and we’re just getting started with disrupting and permanently changing the landscape of “industry”. This year, we’re focused on scaling and creating multiple initiatives that provide opportunities to both capable professionals and our deserving community of creatives.

Afros & Audio’s 3rd annual podcast festival will be November 13–14, 2021. Who’s ready?

Latrice Sampson Richards is Lead Event Consultant at AFROS & AUDIO and can be reached at Latrice latrice@afrosandaudio.com

Talib Jasir is the CEO and Founder of AFROS & AUDIO and can be reached at info@afrosandaudio.com

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