(Sister Charlene Muhammad, National Correspondent for The Final Call Newspaper, was recently awarded her very own show "Liberated Sisters" on KPFK 90.7 FM! Her inaugural show airs April 9 at 1:00 PM PST. I caught up with her just before the show to talk about it.)
Brother Jesse Muhammad (BJ): How did you get your start in print and radio journalism? How long have you been a writer for The Final Call Newspaper?
Charlene Muhammad (CM): Thanks for the opportunity to share a bit of my journey in news with your readers Brother Jesse! As of late, I've found out that the longer history began with me always watching and listening to news with my mom and dad from a very young age. Back when the TV used to go off. But in print I began contributing to The Final Call in 1997, after I married my husband Ali and we decided to start a family. I was an active member of our MGT Vanguard Class at Mosque #27 and upon becoming pregnant, found I needed something to do.
A good sister friend remembered I always talked about wanting to write for newspapers, but I didn't like the avenues that existed then so it was a dream deferred. We called Brother Richard Muhammad, now our Editor in Chief but then our Managing Editor, and he accepted me as a contributor based on my college senior thesis paper and my (thank Allah) “A” papers. While writing for the paper I was invited to be a media director for a humanitarian mission with Project Africa to South Africa (Swaziland actually) and upon our return I had a lot of audio and nowhere to place it and that's when I was introduced to community radio at 90.7 FM KPFK. From there, I went on to produce at 102.3 FM KJLH, Brother Stevie Wonder's station, and now I've returned to KPFK to launch Liberated Sisters. Because of the guidance and example of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, I've been able to use my gifts and talents in both mediums that I love. It's been 15 years in print and 8 years in radio broadcast.
BJ: You just got the news that you've been granted your own radio show on KPFK. Congratulations! How long did you go about getting the show?
CM: Thank you. The short of it is within about two weeks, All Praise Is Due To Allah! I submitted a brief proposal to our program director; he accepted it; and inaugurated Liberated Sisters within the station's protocol last week. The long of it is Liberated Sisters is culmination of all of my work in our community and in media. That includes my writing with The Final Call, contributing to our local newspapers (the L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times), working as a staff member for the KPFK News Department, and helping to create and produce Some of Us Are Brave, the most recent show that I've hosted at KPFK.
CM: I have to give Allah all of the credit on this one. I was searching my mind, talking to very, very close family, friends and colleagues, and none of what we came up with satisfied me. I was asleep one morning and I shot straight up from my pillow and screamed, "Liberated Sisters!" My husband of course thought I was crazy, but it was a gift from Allah - this whole journey.
Liberated means freed, released, free from traditional social restraints. Sisters mean girls or women who share a common ancestry, allegiance, character, or purpose with another or others; fellow Black women or girls. That's me, Bro. Jesse. That's us, my sisters, whether we're Muslim, Christian, Nationalist, Pan Africanist, wealthy, poor, whatever. For me the name is a symbol that despite what we're going through as sisters, we have been liberated. We have been shown the way - through unity, sisterhood, collective work, you know, but we hang on. It's time to be the liberated sisters that we are because the world is waiting on us. Our people are waiting on us.
BJ: Do you think the radio airwaves lack enough shows discussing issues specifically impacting Black women?
CM: Yes! Most of the time when you hear shows discussing our issues, they focus on male-female relationships primarily and nothing's wrong with that. We need that, however, not always in the context in which some of the shows put it, on a surface level. It's much deeper. There are some things that specifically injure, uplift, or will heal Black women and we need a special forum to deal with that. Ofttimes we get lumped into the 'minority' bowl and then at other times, we're just told we're strong, we can handle it, or that we should just move on but I beg to differ. Until what's ailing the Black woman is addressed in society, all of society will continue to have issues and remain stirred up, seeking peace. And because we know that the Black man and woman are partners, that goes for him too.
BJ: How will your show help fill that void?
CM: Liberated Sisters will help to fill that void by raising awareness that one, we exist beyond the rump shaking, finger popping hottentots that society (and some of us as well) portrays us as. We will discuss the very critical issues such as domestic violence, reproductive rights, educational and economic equality, and how they impact us, but we will also discuss what is working for Black women, such as today's topic on literacy and the tour that showcases Black authors from young to old. The show is not a forum for fruitless venting, but the issues that are raised, there are people working toward solutions for them and that's what I pray will come across more than anything, that there is a solution and a way out, or in.
BJ: What type of discussions and guests should your listeners look forward to?
CM: Already confirmed and I'm so excited about it is Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, who will help to kick off our Liberated Sisters Book/Study Club with her book, Peace from Broken Pieces. The date is set but I can't tell you right now. Also, Student Min. Ava Muhammad and her book Real Love are in the works. Listeners can look forward to discussions about women's health, high schools that cater to formerly incarcerated youth, certainly national and international news reports on pressing issues today. The quarterly book/study club will feature a male author but the subject matter has to be conscious; no romance novels, filth, or hit pieces. Liberated Sisters also will feature shows produced and hosted by youth, speaking out on their own issues, their own way.
BJ: Thank you and May Allah bless you with continued success!
|(Sister Charlene and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan)|
(The inaugural show of Liberated Sisters with Sis Charlene Muhammad airs Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 1:00 - 1:30 PM PST on KPFK 90.7FM or online at http://www.kpfk.org. For more information visit: http://www.kpfk.org/programs/193-liberated-sisters.html)
***Update: April 10, 2011 10:46PM CST***
The archive of the inaugural show has been posted on KPFK's website at http://archive.kpfk.org/parchive/