Interview: Melanin Millennials

We’ve taken the time to interview Satia and Imrie, the hosts of one of our favourite podcasts, Melanin Millennials. Part of the ‘Shoutout Network’, Melanin Millennials is a smorgasbord of socio-political discourse, cultural critique and funny pop culture references, all unabashedly Black-British in nature. Essential listening for any blerd or podcast enthusiast of colour.

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What is your origin story? How did the idea to start Melanin Millennials come about? Who came up with the name of the podcast?

Satia: Imrie and I have known each since our 1st year at uni, via her boyfriend at the time who was also my housemate. We’d find that we had similar interests and views on topics found on social media and would correspond via Facebook, and around roughly 9 years and a few international visits later, as the saying goes, the rest is history. Imrie came to me in early 2015 with the idea of starting a podcast, cue some hilarious confusion on my part as to what a podcast actually was (I thought it was the same as vlogging on YouTube), coupled with my initial albeit dishonest reaction which was “sure … I’ll do it”, instead of the flat out yet honest “hell no, are you crazy? Who wants to hear my opinion on anything” private thoughts. Every so often the subject would be brought up and I just didn’t want to hurt my girlfriends feelings. However, on my return to London after a 5 year absence, the idea of starting a podcast became more concrete and not as daunting as I initially thought. After some initial brain-storming with Imrie on a name for said podcast, on that very same day inspiration struck and I excitedly messaged my soon to be co-host with the name Melanin Millennials. It was love at first sight for the both of us.

In your mind, how do you define ‘Intersectionality’? Does it inform the way in which you consume and critique media?

Imrie: That’s an interesting question, for me intersectionality is the ability to look at how a situation could affect people from discriminated groups. I refuse to consume anything that consistently devalues me or doesn’t see me. I can’t live my life being constantly offended. Therefore, I am cognisant of the media outlets I go to for my news.

What does it mean to you, to be both ‘Black’ and ‘British’? Do you think that there is space within the United Kingdom, to engage in discourse regarding the inherent biases and structures of oppression that permeate our society?

Satia: This is a super interesting question as I don’t quite consider myself British. There’s running joke (between my friends and I) that I am “Tri-Culturally Confused” (trademark pending). My parents who are of West African descent, emigrated from Guinea-Bissau to Portugal. I am a second generation immigrant (I know that it’s an oxymoron and fully appreciate the irony) born in Portugal, who later emigrated to London. So I couldn’t say that I know definitively what it is to be Black and British. But I will say that I feel that the “Black” prefix seems somewhat unnecessary and self-evident. I wouldn’t say I am a black Portuguese, if people often conflate race/ethnicity with nationality that is their problem because I am just Portuguese on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The other days I am from Guinea-Bissau, except on the weekend when I am firmly British.

When these inherent biases and structures of oppression aren’t affecting the majority but just a sizeable minority there will never be any willingness on the majority’s side to try and do anything about it. It simply doesn’t affect them and therefore is easier to ignore. It makes being heard twice as hard but I’m happy to report that the tides are changing in part thanks to social media, globalisation improvements in communication technology. Support and community can pretty much come from anywhere and we are steadily carving out our spaces and raising our voices.

Do you have any ‘faves’?

Satia: I don’t have any faves. I generally hate everyone that isn’t me and I do not put people, mere mortals in fact, up on pedestals. I believe that you’re only setting yourself up for great disappointment. No one is above reproach, no idea beyond critique and long may it continue.

Imrie: That’s tough, I admire the voices of Kendrick Lamar, Crissle, and Bim Adewunmi. They always say what’s on their mind without fear.

Are any of your aforementioned ‘faves’ problematic? If so, how do you reconcile yourself with this?

Satia: Lack of faith in humanity. I manage my expectations. I just don’t expect much.

Imrie: I’m never immediately outraged over things my ‘faves’ may say. I don’t put anyone on a pedestal, so I don’t expect anyone to speak on the issues on my behalf. Thankfully my faves aren’t Stacey Dash or Raven-Symoné, so I never have to worry too much about being disappointed.

Are you avid podcast listeners? If you are, what podcasts can you be found listening to?

Satia: No, I don’t listen to podcasts.

Imrie: I used to be! Since we started Melanin Millennials, I have a hard time listening to other shows. I’m hoping it will pass. Right now, I love ‘Mostly Lit’, ‘Another Round’, and ‘N.Y.A.C’.

What interests do you have outside of podcasting?

Satia: I’m into politics/international relations, social commentary, love reading. Like travelling; need to do more of it. You will never catch me without my iPod and headphones. David Attenborough is the Granddad I’ve never met.

Imrie: Well up until recently I was working full-time so podcasting was my outside interest. I’m the Co-Founder of the ShoutOut Network, so I don’t have a lot of time to do much else.

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What is it about, Melanin Millennials, that you feel sets it apart from other podcasts?

Imrie: There are a growing number of Black British podcasts and thankfully there’s space for all of us to exist. What makes Melanin Millennials different is our chemistry and our balance. We are an extension of your WhatsApp group chats. We say the things that some of us think and feel. We’ve just taken our socio-political commentary to a wider audience. You don’t hear opinions like ours anywhere else.

Your podcast, along with your sister show, Mostly Lit, is part of the ‘Shoutout Network’. Could you tell us about the Shoutout Network, and what its aims are with regards to the landscape of (British) podcasting?

Imrie: The ShoutOut Network seeks to bring underrepresented voices in the UK to the fore. Every show we produce is meant to be different and represent the varied interests of these people. The BBC appears to dominate the iTunes podcast chart but that content isn’t targeted to us, so it doesn’t appeal to us. We want to create a space for people to share their interests no matter how niche it is. You can always find someone that you can relate to that shares that interest. Book lovers have ‘Mostly Lit’ and history enthusiasts may enjoy our upcoming show ‘Unarchived’. People of colour crave content that they can relate to and we aim to provide it. The network is making diversity a priority in every sense of the word. Upcoming shows will include Comedy, History, Arts and Culture and so much more.

For those who may be interested in listening to your podcast, where can it be found? When are new episodes released? Do you have any social media pages, where fans can interact with you?

Imrie: You can listen to ‘Melanin Millennials’ on Soundcloud, iTunes, and Stitcher. Of course, we are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We love getting emails; you can email us at: melaninmille@shoutoutnetwork.co.uk.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

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