1stGens: Filling in the Blank Beside the Hyphen

New podcast fills in the blanks on what it means to be a first-generation American, while revealing that being a local citizen is not always so black and white.

I have a rice cooker and could probably eat rice every single day. My mother, my uncles, my aunts—they all have full-time accents. My name gets butchered regularly and people constantly ask me, "What's the origin?" Growing up, friends would come over to play basketball and ask, "WHAT is your mom cooking?" As a first-generation Liberian-American, sharing two different cultures can be exhausting, yet tremendously rewarding while on the road to self discovery. As I got older, fitting in remained difficult but I could always find comfort and solidarity in other first-generation American friends who experienced something similar. And, of course, my family.

After a long autumn road trip, I recalled the echo of various podcast favorites while I reflected in a pre-Trump world. As I inched closer and closer to my destination of Charlotte, I had an idea to present to the one person who always encouraged me to diversify my playlists. I called my cousin Skye, hoping she would join me in starting a podcast called “1stGens” to show parallels between our experiences as Liberian-Americans to other first-generation Americans from various places.

Skye and I have long shared a love for media and content creation. We both attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked on the campus’ student television station and other broadcast outlets. However, since graduating back in 2010, Skye and I both obtained master’s degrees and work in higher education, fashion and branding respectively. Though we ended on different paths, the importance of our culture and our heritage only grew stronger—as did our love for podcasts.

In January 2017, we won a podcast residency with the amazing co-working space, Hygge, and still remain in awe at their faith and support in us. Hygge helps us to solidify our goal of connecting with the Queen City and beyond on unique topics of diversity.

Ultimately, we created 1stGens to lift the voices of those who have been silenced, forced to leave their homes for their safety and the safety of their future, for those who have been separated from their families, and for those who face being banned from freedom.

The two of us, as well as everyone featured on this podcast, are products of immigrants and currently live in North Carolina. We are members of families who dream of a better life and circumstances and have contributed greatly to this American society with innovations, hard work, and decency. Not to mention, our current First Lady of the United States is an immigrant and four out of five of the president's children are 1stGens, too.

We at 1stGens stand with all immigrants, refugees, and those who truly believe in America the beautiful, colorful, and inclusive. We hope you listen.

Check out the latest episode of 1stGens, listen, subscribe, plus get even more content about the podcast here: www.1stgenspodcast.com and follow @1stgens on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Written by Perrine DeShield

and Skye Wilson