Hi, I’m Melissa Barrett, host of the Jali Podcast. This weekly podcast is for those interested in the conversation around diversity and inclusion and meeting some of the leaders who are making a difference in this space. Each week, we’re going to be talking to corporate employees, CEOs, leaders in the community, and those who are just active and making a difference in the space, like regular people, like you and me.
Some of you may be wondering what is the Jali and why is the podcast called the Jolly Podcast? So let me tell you a little bit about why it’s called that. The Jali of West Africa are a hereditary cast of musicians within the Mende people. They are typically referred to as grios, particularly by French speakers, but the term Jali is preferred. I, in fact, was married for 25 years to a professional storyteller and he called himself, The Jali.
Now what is a Jali in Africa and what do they do? The role of the Jolly within their society was to take part in important life events, such as births, weddings, funerals, but they were also a repository of history and genealogy and as praise singers, peacemakers, Go-Betweens and advisers. They told stories. They sang songs of the great kings, warriors and heroes of the past of the Jollies themselves and the wealthy patrons who supported them.
Typically, children growing up in Jali families are expected to learn this history, the stories, the family trees and the music, and to learn an instrument. My husband played the djembe drum, self-taught, but he was a man that was totally focused on history. So he spent a lot of time very focused on African Diasporan history.
Since he passed away a few years ago, I felt the need, especially as the conversation around diversity and inclusion continued to increase, to get out here and really amplify our voices around diversity and inclusion. This is an area that I feel like we don’t spend enough time talking about. If we’re talking about emotional intelligence, cultural competency, just being able to empathize, understand each other’s history so that we can be better people to each other. That is what this podcast is about. How do we identify some of those challenges, whether it be in the corporate world or in our own community or family? And how do we begin to fix all of those challenges that we have across the world in terms of how we connect with each other and develop each other?
So this podcast is really all about how we do that and really talking to people that are making a difference in the space. This is a long process. The way we got into this is challenging and it took a long time, so it’s going to probably take a long time for us to get out of some of these systems.
And so I just want to make sure that we have the opportunity to talk about how we solve some of these issues and how we connect with each other so that not only we can benefit from our corporations, create better profits, but really we have an opportunity to improve our own communities, our own families, the conversations that we have in our families. The legacies that we leave are so important and I want to make sure that everybody leaves the legacy that they desire.
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Thanks for joining me on the Jali podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.