We are in awe of this amazing woman. Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs is the founder of the She Will Speak Series. She is tremendous things in word and we are so excited to share her organization with you today!
Check out her blog interview below, and her podcast episode here.
One of the reasons I created this podcast was to provide survivors of trauma options for resources. Something I felt I didn't have. Why did you start your organization? The She Will Speak Series was created out of the need to have a space for womxn to share their stories. After the release of my second collection of poetry The Tragic Type of Beautiful I started posting my poems on Instagram under my handle @shewillspeak. During that time frame folks started sending me their poems and stories which really opened my eyes. Being able to see so many stories and how these women trusted me with them, I just felt a pull to do something outside of myself. What would be the best way one could find out more information about your organization? Thankfully we are just about everywhere! To get the full list of our events and social networking you can visit www.shewillspeakseries.com. But you can follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and we are even on LinkedIn! Out of everything that you do with your organization, what would be the first area you would recommend a survivor to turn to. I would tell a survivor to first turn to our anthologies which are epitome of you're supported and not alone. From there we run monthly workshops ranging on topics from survivor support, mental health, and community engagement that could really benefit survivors and individuals looking to learn more. What do you do when you're not running your organization? That is a good one considering the fact that I am an all around creative. If I am not running the She Will Speak Series I am recording for As I Was Saying… Podcast which can be found on Apple podcasts and Spotify. I am also a writer and currently working on my novel and other spoken words pieces. Lastly, I am located in the ATL and working on growing as screenwriter and producer. What inspires you to keep going? I am inspired by the vision of a world with true community and where women are uplifted and protected. I know what it is like to feel like you have no one to support you and to feel that you are constantly being overlooked. As a Black Woman in 2020 I have often felt overlooked and underrepresented so creating the She Will Speak Series is my way of filling that need.
What advice do you have for someone that wants to start their own non-profit or business? I would say to start off you will form your mission or as I like to say the “center” or your organization. However, do not be afraid to wiggle around for that purpose. I did not know I would want a membership program with the Series until I started taking a step back. Another big piece of advice is you cannot do it alone! You will most likely start off doing everything and anything but once you get to a point to both need and accept help do it. Lastly, remember you are your organization first! Meaning you are the first line of representation and information so you have to keep that in mind. What struggles did you face when starting your organization? One of the biggest struggles I faced was given into the self-doubt brought on by others around me. It is very important to have a support system no matter what your business venture is because everyone will have days that are mentally exhausting. Also, in regards to mental and emotional exhaustion you will face burn out a few times on the journey. Knowing when to take a break and breathe is important and something that took me a while to grasp. How did curating an anthology around gender based violence help you transform from a victim to a survivor mentality? What do you hope other survivors--and audiences in general--take away from the book? (She will speak, we will, Voices of Change, Kayla from Rise Above) I think I noticed the change when I can tell my story without tears or getting that tightness in my throat. Mentally, I believe I transitioned from victim to survivor by taking back my power. It is hard to explain but one day I noticed it even on my Instagram posts. When I started posting in 2018 my captions used to be filled with so much anguish and sadness and now they are filled with calls to action. With the #MeToo movement and more attention given to sexual abuse, harassment, and assault, what messages do you hope will rise to the surface? What are the most important takeaways? I hope we can shift the social narrative of violence because I believe many folks still do not know what things such as consent are or why certain songs are problematic. I also feel we need to provide more resources when it comes to dealing with Black and Brown Women and Queer survivors. Too often the necessary resources are not available which blocks justice and healing. Lastly, we need Trauma Informed Care! I have so much to say on this point and was able to write an article surrounding the topic for The Army of Survivors “What Happens Now: The Conversation We Need To Be Having” Do you think mental health is being addressed, in relation to rape survivors and in general, effectively in the US? Where do you think there's still room for improvement? I do not think mental health is being properly addressed in the US. We can see through the revictimization and retraumatizing of survivors or higher education and justice systems. I have heard too many stories of victims being told if they do not like their assailant being in their class or environment they can leave because “they have to be mindful of their feelings”. Many times there is no regard to a survivor's feelings and they are treated as a guest in their own healing process. This is where once again trauma informed care comes in and for some folks working with survivors just straight up care. How can parents and educators start conversations on consent and healthy sexual behavior? I think by just starting the conversation and by taking their personal feelings out of the discussion. These are individualized conversations and they should be talked about they are not taboo. Now that so many people see scope of the problem, how do we deal with how repugnant our beliefs are? I have learned how to personally cope and that sometimes means walking away from conversations and moments that are not safe spaces. I am all for open discussion but some people honestly just want to suck the life out of you so they will bombarded and purposely beat you down. I believe in keeping my energy high so much of the time I might walk past. Now how do I cope with current events and what I have seen and how people handle it? Deep breathing and recenter the mind to know that we can live in a world without sexual violence even when it feels like and people say we cannot. With #MeToo and #TimesUp, what impact do you feel they have made and how have they impacted you? I think they have done many things but I feel they one have given survivors and activists the comfort to be powerful in their activism and awareness. I feel the topic of sexual violence and domestic violence was as mentioned taboo and now it is something that folks are more ready to speak about. I feel both movements were great as using the media to get resources and information out there so people can do the work at home. That comes from inner work such as healing and maybe relearning. But also the work of putting pressure on organizations and people who are assailants and need to be in jail. One of Voices of Hope's campaign is called #BeAVoice. How can you be a voice for those that feel they are silenced? By helping them understand they have a voice. I do not believe we need to give a voice to any group or individual but support them in their journey and equip them with the resources needed. What is the best way to get in touch with you? Email: email@example.com www.shewillspeak.com and fill out the contact form What are your social media handles? Instagram: @shewillspeak @shewillspeakseries Twitter @shesjustche @SWSSeries
Cheyenne Tyler Jacobs is a young black creative originally from New Jersey. She graduated from William Paterson University in 2017 and has since gone on to speak and write for numerous organizations and platforms. She was born with a passion for writing and published her first bookThe Mind of the Teenage Drama Queen while in High School. She started breaking ground with her writing after the release of her second book The Tragic Type of Beautifulin May 2018 and taking on @shewillspeak on Instagram. Her words and work started being featured on numerous platforms such as Frolic, Asbury Park Press, N.O.W, NJCASA, and End Rape on Campus. After the release of her second book she founded the She Will Speak Series which has a mission to empower women through awareness, education, and the arts to cultivate healing and change.