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With "Who Raised You?" podcast, local activists aim to elevate voices of people of color

Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang at Yang's kitchen table.
Provided by Kristen Trudo
Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang at Yang's kitchen table.

The kitchen table can be a place for conversation, nurturing and sustenance. Two St. Louisans are making the intimate space the source for an ambitious podcast.

With “Who Raised You?” Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen (Jia Lian) Yang hope to explore a variety of experiences.

“It’s like a springboard,” Shields Redmond said. “Because people cannot just talk about family … they can talk about rearing influences, the music, food, travel, everything!”

Shields Redmond and Yang launched their podcast on Sunday, when they released two episodes. It draws on the voices of people of color, focusing on the individuals and experiences that influenced their persona growth. The program also aims to explore how race, class, sexuality, gender and ability intersect with personal narratives.

For the podcast, guests gather with the hosts at Yang’s kitchen table to share tea and brunch while the conversation unfolds over the central question.

“I think the question of who raised you speaks to who do you belong to,” Yang said. “It talks about the communities that you feel that you’re a part of, the people you’re accountable to. When you wake up in the morning, when you go to sleep at night, who are you thinking about and what do you do everything for?”

The hosts are two decades apart in age but share  personal connections to their podcast’s central question. In a press release, they say the podcast shares stories that are “not defined by our identities, but informed by them.”

Shields Redmond was largely raised by her mother in Mississippi and considers her father — the poet laureate of East St. Louis — a central figure in raising her as a poet and arts consumer.  Yang, raised by Taiwanese immigrant parents in Silicon Valley, remembers bearing the responsibility of helping her parents navigate American experiences like doctor’s visits.

The pair finds common ground through their respective backgrounds in art, education, and religion.

“A great conversation is when you’re interested in the other person and when you’re honest about where you’re coming from," Yang said. "And that’s the approach we like to take with each other and that we like to take with our guests.” 

The two hosts also seek to elevate attention for people and characters in “flyover” country and to produce a podcast that’s authentic to the local experience. 

After the initial two-episode release, Shields Redmond and Yang will pause for a while before releasing the rest of the first season in January.  A follow-up season is planned for the spring.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold