We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Chatmon and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shannon, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in Dalton, Georgia, which is where my father grew up as well. Dalton is small and very conservative, and there are not a lot of people there who look like me. Because my dad was an athlete, a teacher, and coach, my family was well-known and respected in the community. I grew up with a certain level of privilege that other black families may not have had in the town. I learned how to operate in an environment where I might be the only black person in the room. That being said, I was kind of oblivious to a lot of things that exist within black culture and community. Going to college at Georgia Southern University brought more of an awareness for me that has continued into adulthood. I have always been quiet and introverted, in part because of nature, but in part as a “survival technique” learned from growing up where I did. However, the recent racial justice movement and political divide sparked something in me that made me want to speak out and to have conversations with people who look and think differently. I started my podcast, “U Talk, I’ll Listen” as a result of that. I feel like a lot of times people who disagree just talk at each other, but they don’t take the time to listen to the other person. If they do take that time, they will find that at our core, we all have the same human needs and desires. My background and growing up where I did helps me to be a sort of bridge to people, and that’s what I hope my podcast achieves. Many people have told me that I am easy to talk to and that I give them a safe space to talk about their experiences openly and without judgment.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I host the podcast “U Talk, I’ll Listen,” which is really about human experience and stories with an emphasis on mental health. The stories are different, but at the core of those experiences is always a need or desire that we all share as human beings. My podcast is interview-style, but my style of interviewing is different than most. It holds true to the name of the show in that most of what you will hear is the guest talking uninterrupted. I guide them with questions, but the spotlight is on the guest, not me. I choose topics that spark my own curiosity with the thought that if I am curious about it, someone else is too. Another unique aspect of my show is what I call the “Mic Drop Moment.” This segment wraps up the show with a summary of what I heard my guest say, judgement free. I talk about the insight I got from what that person said and what it made me think about. Hopefully, it broadens people’s perspectives and creates empathy instead of anger or hostility.

When I started this podcast, I knew nothing about how to do it… absolutely nothing! So I learned a lot along the way by doing research and through experience, and I’m still learning. Overcoming myself has been the biggest challenge. Honestly, I don’t like to talk, I don’t like the spotlight, and I hate the sound of my voice. I’m a perfectionist, and I have grand ideas that I often don’t know how to bring to life. I had to remind myself constantly that you have to start somewhere, and I had to push all of that self-doubt to the side and just start putting things out. I am so thankful that I was able to do that because I LOVE podcasting!!! I never thought I had a special talent, but the feedback I have gotten from people says otherwise. I do this podcasting thing, not to be a star or for the attention, but because I actually enjoy doing it and because of the effect that I have heard it has on others. It reminds people that have similar experiences that they are not alone. My guests have described their experience on the show as being therapeutic. One of my guests started her own podcast to give people with similar experiences a voice. I’ve had a listener say she was adopting a family to help support people in similar situations as the guest on an episode she heard. That’s the kind of stuff that gets me going! I want to be a blessing to somebody.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
😳 LOL… the way my anxiety is set up…

I live outside the perimeter, so I don’t get out to the city much. I’m also not really a crowd person and driving in the city gives me anxiety. However, there’s something about the atmosphere of Atlanta that I love. People are just free to be themselves, and the southern hospitality is great! I like looking at the skyline when I pass through.

When I do go to the city, it’s usually to a concert or a sporting event. I love music and sports, so I would recommend they attend a game or a concert at State Farm Arena or Mercedes Benz Stadium. We may not always win, but Atlanta loves its sports teams!!! The music scene is outrageous as well! I’m still talking about visiting Slutty Vegan, but I do love the Mexican spot called Nuevo Laredo Cantina.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shoutout my husband. He was supportive of my idea to start a podcast from the beginning. I just came home one day and my husband was researching and ordering the things I needed to do it. He made my intro music and helped me develop ideas for the structure and topics.

I also appreciate the support of my family and friends and the Dalton folks who have been so encouraging every step of the way!

Last, but greatest, I give God all the glory!!! From the beginning to now, He’s been the reason for every step in this season of my life.

Website: http://anchor.fm/utalk2020

Instagram: @utalk2020

Twitter: @utalk2020

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/utalk2020

Other: I Listen 2 U Talk Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2825872330995796

Image Credits
A Day to Celebrate Photography

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