Finding my Voice: Fighting the Urge of Self-Censorship

Juliette Maughan
Posted September 18, 2011 from Barbados

I live in a funny little society where things happen and people talk about it in small groups but when it comes to speaking out… well we prefer not to. You see the Barbadian society is made up of very peaceful individuals. It is a conservative society where we do not air our dirty laundry, especially to outsiders. A former British colony that, in some aspects, is more British than the Brits.

I recently had a Human Rights wall at a national youth festival, inviting people to write down what rights they felt people should pay attention to and something stood out for me. Though the wall in no way provided a representative sample, of the few responses I did get the issue of freedom of speech came up multiple times. This caused me to reflect on whether I too shared this view.

At the same time I was trying to decide which area to specialise in. Let’s say I aborted that mission but what I found was a huge need for advocacy, open discourse and increased communication on a whole host of issues. Many forums unfortunately are often filled with buzzwords and are not necessarily attended by the persons they seek to serve. To borrow the term I now learned from ‘Voices of our Future’ what was missing was citizen journalism.

The truth is that I too avoided speaking out on issues that affected me or that I was passionate about. I feared that in a small society I would be singled out, someone would call my parents to complain, I could be shunned and I still needed to hustle for work or I could face victimization. The truth is that these were personal beliefs that I only heard referenced but I did not test for myself. I was not confident enough to speak out because I felt that no one would care. I am not alone; other young men and women in Barbados also echo these concerns.

Determined to build my communication skills I set about looking for a course in journalism; I was broke but hopeful. A friend told me about ‘Voices of Our Future’ and I thought… God has answered my prayers personally.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” By lifting my voice and not being afraid to share my own story I hope to inspire others to do the same. This journey led me to share my views on personal and professional development given the opportunities offered through the Internet at a recent TEDx Youth@Bridgetown event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQESBOTLJjY&feature=player_embedded. I am now working on a documentary to highlight the perception of youth on issues relating to democracy and human rights and getting them to talk.

Through this opportunity, I look forward to discovering my own written voice and encourage others to do the same.

Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision

Comments 18

Log in or register to post comments
YAOtieno
Sep 18, 2011
Sep 18, 2011

Hi Juliete,

Thanks for raising your voice on the need to be confident. I needed to hear that too.

Cheers,

Y

Juliette Maughan
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

I appreciate your comment and for the time taken to reach out to me.

We have the power within girl. I realise that no matter how much other people say we can, we need to believe it.

I am right there with you :).

Juliette

comfy
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

Hello Juliette, I want you to know that you are not alone. That same sentiment is shared in Nigeria but for a different reason. My people are unusually cowardly and tend to rise up in arms aagainst those who are bold enough to challenge situations. I am naturally outspoken but because I was stifled for years at home, it is taking me time to get myself back. You will get there so long as you have taken the first steps.

Juliette Maughan
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

Hi Comfy,

Thanks for sharing and letting me know I am not alone. Of course the struggle is a personal one but is one that is shared by many young women (and men) in my country and region. I pray that through my own journey and the projects I get off the ground I am able to encourage other young persons to share their stories and speak up on national issues so that we can add to the debate and influence decisions at the national, regional and international levels.

It is a blessing to be able to read the posts of others and to know we are here to share and encourage one another.

I wish you the best on your own path. I know you will make your mark.

Juliette

Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

Dear Sister, you are amazing. I love every single words. You write so nicely. Thank you dear sister for sharing your story.

Juliette Maughan
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

Zoneziwoh,

Thank you for your kind words.

I have also been reading your posts. Keep that light shining.

Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

I am pleased to know that you have been reading some of my post. Thanks dear sister. You see the power of web 2.0, the voice needs no face or image of that person. our works are read far and wide and we cant tell who access them or not. At least, what we are sure of is that the message is creating change. Thanks for the comment. Lets keep the flag flying

Madu R
Sep 19, 2011
Sep 19, 2011

It is so interesting share your experience. We all are with you, and we can shout out!!

Madu

Juliette Maughan
Sep 20, 2011
Sep 20, 2011

Hi Madu,

That you can!

J

Laura Cook
Sep 20, 2011
Sep 20, 2011

This was a really uplifting read and I am surprised anyone can be more British than the Brits as we definitely have many issues around freedom of speech! People have this right but are sometimes so terrified of offending people they say nothing at all. It means so many issues go unheard or unchallenged as it is just 'not British' to talk about things. You made me laugh as it is really an unfortunate part of the British legacy that I have seen in other ex-colonies. Like a hangover of the 'stiff British upper lip'! Your project sounds really exciting and will hopefully stir many young people to find their voice. I am sure it was also challenge you too and will help you grow as a writer. Keep strong and resolute in what you are doing sister. Love and light Laura (a Brit who is working hard on finding her own voice)

Juliette Maughan
Sep 20, 2011
Sep 20, 2011

Hi Laura,

I lived in the UK for 3 years and I felt right at home :). I strengthened my capacity to talk around a subject whilst there.

The truth is that we have very strong libel laws so even the media tends to shy away from certain issues.

Thanks for the support. You are a talented photographer by the way. That is a wonderful skill to have. Sometimes with one shot words are not even needed. :)

Blessings

J

Joanna Krotz
Sep 20, 2011
Sep 20, 2011

Hi JulietteM, How thoughtful you are about what makes people shy from coming forward! And how wise you are to realize you need to test the boundaries for yourself. Great good luck! Joanna

Juliette Maughan
Sep 20, 2011
Sep 20, 2011

Thank you for your kind words Joanna.

No turning back now!

DDMCFARLANE
Sep 22, 2011
Sep 22, 2011

Juilette, You have pushed the boundaries, coming from a closed-mouth society, summoned up courage and focused on opening up communication there. Your personal journey shows courage and perserverance. You are overcoming your fear. You write, "The truth is that I too avoided speaking out on issues that affected me or that I was passionate about." What a long way you have come! I feel from your words and your speech at TEDx that there is no stopping you.

Good luck on your documentary!

DD

Juliette Maughan
Sep 22, 2011
Sep 22, 2011

Thank you for your wonderful comment.

You brought a big smile to my face and have urged me to continue.

Best,

Juliette

Stephanie Roth Gurung
Sep 24, 2011
Sep 24, 2011

Dear Juliette,

I am inspired by your words, and I want to say "keep on keeping on", as in don't give up, because it sounds like from the feedback of other young people in your area that your work is very much needed! I'm glad that you were connected with VOF and hope that you can share and gain a lot from your work in this program.

-Stephanie

Sally
Sep 26, 2011
Sep 26, 2011

Thank you for sharing your story. It is always a good to be reminded that speaking out is not always the norm. Living in the US people speak their mind all of the time and I guess I just start to forget that it is not always that easy. I'm very glad that you took time to share your thoughts and look into ways to do so because we do want to hear your opinions and do care very much!!!

Keep sharing!

Thanks again,

Sally Smith

Juliette Maughan
Sep 26, 2011
Sep 26, 2011

Sally,

Your post is beautiful thank you!