Dee Vazquez: Learning to Speak Out Loud
By Souleo. It's hard to imagine Hot 97/Sirius Satellite Radio and FUSE TV personality, Dee Vazquez ever being afraid to voice her opinion. After all it's her job to ask questions and speak out on hot topics. Still Dee has had to build the confidence to communicate her thoughts after an episode of violence in school when a fourth grade teacher yelled at her to "shut up," she refused, and when she tried to escape, the teacher physically assaulted her. It is this moment that brings Dee back to the place of fearful blind submission to authority that she reflects upon in the new book, Souls Of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence With Personal Stories That Will Change Your Life written and edited by Dawn Marie Daniels and Candace Sandy with a foreword by Mary J. Blige and Madeline Smalls the executive director of Mary's non-profit, The Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN).
Dee spoke up and out with JimmyJazz about how her heritage conditioned her to be silent, on the process of still conquering her fears, how hip-hop helped her find courage and more.
On being taught to be silent:
My mother grew up at the end of the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and he was compared to Adolf Hitler. If you were dark-skinned or spoke out against him it was off with your head. So that means that as a young girl my mom learned from my grandmother about how to behave under oppression and she passed it on to me. So in my household we were taught to not speak up, say this or that or look that way. In that environment you deny so much of yourself that you don't get to bask in the glory of your identity. You continue that oppression and you have no freedom of speech.
On what she still struggles with till this day:
Even to this day sometimes I hold things in. I'm not big on creating conflict. So I'm trying to get out of apologizing all the time. It's that fear of being "loud and ghetto" as my family would say. But when you're able to stand up for yourself I don't think that's being "loud and ghetto." You have every right to do that and I'm learning more and more to be comfortable with that.
On how hip-hop helped her find her voice:
To grow up and listen to A Tribe Called Quest, Mary J. Bilge, Lil' Kim and Biggie and those that expressed themselves in hip-hop was inspirational. There is something about seeing someone take control after going through the same things you are in regards to doubt and being oppressed. A lot of people need that confidence to speak up and when you see them do it you become empowered and think you can do it too.
On using her media platform to encourage others to speak up:
Not everyone has this platform so I tell people to focus on whatever you have in your mind focus because you can do it, but you have to first speak up. You have to be empowered to reach your dreams and say I want to do this and to make it happen.
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