"The Whiteness Of “Public Radio Voice”", par #Chenjerai_Kumanyika : une réflexion sur la blancheur des voix sur les antennes publiques, qu’on pourrait certainement appliquer à la France
Last summer, I produced my first public radio piece as part of a week-long intensive radio workshop run by Transom (▻http://transom.org/workshops/about/traveling-workshops). While writing my script, I was suddenly gripped with a deep fear about my ability to narrate my piece. As I read the script back to myself while editing, I realized that as I was speaking aloud I was also imagining someone else’s voice saying my piece. The voice I was hearing and gradually beginning to imitate was something in between the voice of 99% Invisible host Roman Mars and Serial host Sarah Koenig.
Those two very different voices have many complex and wonderful qualities and I’m a fan of those shows. They also sound like white people. My natural voice — the voice that I use when I am most comfortable — doesn’t sound like that. Thinking about this, I suddenly became self-conscious about the way that I instinctively alter my voice and way of speaking in certain conversational contexts, and I realized that I didn’t want to do that for my first public radio-style piece.
Of course, I’m not alone in facing this challenge. Journalists of various ethnicities, genders and other identity categories intentionally or unintentionally internalize and “code-switch” to be consistent with culturally dominant “white” styles of speech and narration. As I wrote my script for the Transom workshop piece, I was struggling to imagine how my own voice would sound speaking those words. This is partially because I am an African-American male, a professor, and hip-hop artist whose voice has been shaped by black, cultural patterns of speech and oratory.