VH WORLD: MARIA & KATE FROM BEING BIRACIAL PODCAST
Meet Kate and Maria, the duo behind the just-about-to-launch podcast Being Biracial. We got together with them on a sunny Melbourne winter day to chat about how it all began, and the need for more resources and storytelling on biracial experiences in Australia & Aotearoa (NZ).
Tell us a little bit about yourselves - who you are, where you live, what you're about...
Maria (below): I am a Maori and Pakeha woman from Aotearoa. I moved to Melbourne in 2015 and literally knew no one at the time. I’ve lived all over but I feel most at home in the Western suburbs. I work as a trainer in the community legal sector and am a low-key craft queen. I occasionally burst into song mid-sentence and spend a lot of time putting together a great outfit (read: buying lots of cute clothes).
Kate (below): I’m an Iranian/Australian family violence lawyer who lives in Footscray. I also love crafting - creating watercolour pieces and earrings amongst other bits and bobs. Creating is when I feel most myself - living in the excitement that we have the power to create something new, today, with our own hands. I’m also obsessed with my amazing women’s community footy team.
Can you tell us about your new podcast?
Being Biracial is a podcast all about navigating the world as a biracial person.
Mixed race identity is too often missing from discussions about race in Australia and Aotearoa. Being Biracial is interviews with people of many different mixes that delve into the significance of names, complicated family histories and childhoods in different languages—amongst other hot topics. It’s the community we never had growing up...and a celebration of our shared stories and one-of-a-kind lives.
Being Biracial is born out of our difficult conversations about racial imposter syndrome and the trouble of belonging as a mixed person. But it is also about that moment when you first connect with both parts of your identity.
Or that time when you felt secretly smug that Rose Matafeo, Darcy Vescio and Barack Obama are biracial. Who runs the world? I mean obviously white men. But do you think Obama has any tips for balancing the oppressor and the oppressed in me?
We are so excited (and a bit nervous) about the podcast launching in September 2021.
What made you decide to create Being Biracial Podcast?
Maria: So this is a story I always tell our guests and Kate rolls her eyes at it; I moved into a share house where Kate lived and we became friends. Over the following 18 months we hang out in the same circles, never realising that we have something HUGE in common. Can you guess what it is? Ding ding ding we are both biracial.
Kate: I think it’s pretty common that biracial kids never feel like we belong. For me, growing up I’ve always felt either too much or not enough. And it’s really hard, because our parents often aren’t equipped to help us explore the multiplicity of our experiences. Just think about doing standardised testing at school. For me it always came with a side of identity crisis. I never felt like I could capture everything in the question "Do you speak a language other than english at home?":
(My internal monologue)
"No I mean I don't, but I should.
But my mum does.
And I understand when she speaks to me.
But my dad doesn't.
When you say home, do you mean both my parents?"
....It seems trivial, but actually all of these little moments add up.
Maria: Once we started talking about being biracial we literally couldn’t stop. We searched for content about the biracial experience in Australia and Aotearoa for a while, before we decided to create Being Biracial. We found a handful of things here and there but we were searching for something more substantial. So we decided to create it.
Kate: We wanted to create a community!
What has it been like for you both, conducting the interviews that you have so far?
Maria: It has been a big learning curve. We had to work backwards from how we wanted the podcast to sound, and what we wanted to explore while also wanting to create a space where our guests would feel comfortable and seen. Lots of brainstorming went into our list of questions and we initially interviewed a close friend and one of my brothers to help us shake the nerves. It was a safe space to get it wrong and be silly. Their feedback was invaluable to our process.
Kate and I have really grown in our interview style and it doesn’t hurt that our guests have been amazing with their insight, hilarity and openness. I have loved seeing the common threads in our interviews.
Kate: Both of us are curious by nature but talking about a person’s complex family dynamics and identity struggles in a way that makes them feel comfortable, that’s hard. It’s honestly an honour to witness the very intimate journey of a person talking about the dualities of their lives. We don’t often share how we process our identities with each other, and so Maria and I want to get it right. I feel responsible for our guests' stories, to present them in a way that they feel comfortable. But also to make sure that we show all of our guests; the silliness, the sentimental and the serious.
Have you learned anything about yourselves in the process?
Maria: I’m learning to prioritise my rest because this project is time consuming and at times emotionally heavy. I am so grateful that Kate and I are in this together. We can giggle, sporadically scream, and reflect on the hard stuff together.
Kate: I’m just so proud of the way we have approached creating this podcast. There is something special about working on a project like this with a friend (and still liking each other!). To go through this experience and all of these interviews with someone I care about - who can make me laugh uncontrollably and also help me process all these stories - that makes me feel very lucky.
What are some other podcasts you're loving at the moment?
Maria: Storytelling is in my blood. It is how Maori people pass down the knowledge of our whakapapa (ancestors/genealogy) and the whenua (land) to the next generation. So it’s kind of weird that I only recently started getting into podcasts. My current favourites are the incredible diet culture myth busting podcast Maintenance Phase by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes, and the hilariously silly Why Won’t You Date Me? by Nicole Byer.
Kate: A lot of my learning about race and identity has come from podcasts. I love the sense of closeness that comes from listening to a podcast week in, week out. Learning from and growing with the hosts. Honestly, podcasts gave me the vocabulary to start to describe all of my feelings about being mixed race. My three favourite podcasts of all time are: Code Switch, Still Processing and Appearances. I also have a lovely tradition with a friend where we listen to the Tennis Podcast every day during the grand slams and chat about it. And as someone asked me recently - yes, it is just a podcast about tennis.
Where can we listen to you?
We are launching in September 2021 and you can find our trailer anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Our Instagram is @beingbiracialpodcast
Thank you, Maria and Kate!