“Listening compassionately and deeply is an embodied experience because the listener is listening with their whole body,” she said.
It was listening that helped bring Tecca back to herself after the COVID pandemic and widely publicized police shootings left her feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. In early 2020, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by the police triggered intense anxiety and sorrow for her, leaving her struggling to function outside of work.
During this upheaval, she found a listening community called Sidewalk Talks, which hosted a series around racism. Listening and being witnessed, she says, helped bring her back to herself.
She also discovered the importance of honoring her body’s needs through rest. For Tecca, the COVID pandemic became a time to focus on self discovery and growth, which started her on the path to becoming the storyteller she is today.
“There is a piece of rest in my day, every day,” she said. “I center Black women and I center rest.”
When Tecca tells public stories now, people gather and are drawn in, just as they were when her grandfather would share his own tales, a generation ago. Told from a deeply true and authentic place, they are a salve for an aching heart and an anxious mind.
“I’m standing here today owning my voice,” she said.
But to Tecca, storytelling isn’t just about her own story. It’s important to her that she create platforms for everyone to tell stories, stages that are accessible to all. While she’s spent the last year honing her storytelling craft, she firmly believes not everyone needs to be a seasoned storyteller to tell a story or be on a stage. In fact, she says, it can be painful and damaging when there are limits on who can tell a story, and when some voices are silenced and others uplifted.
To create more accessible stages for storytelling, she started a women’s listening circle for women of color called the Conversation Lounge. In the Conversation Lounge, participants tell stories in breakout rooms that center around a theme, and then they’re given a call to action. In June, the theme was: “I stand for Black girls.”
Sitting in community with other Black women at the first meeting, to listen and to be witnessed, “felt like home,” Tecca said.
Radiant warmth and joy light her face when she speaks of her work with Black women. With the Conversation Lounge, she’s created “an amazing healing and transformative space.” Women of color often don’t have a place to be witnessed or share their stories, and the Conversation Lounge creates a beautiful opportunity for connection and community.
“To create spaces where Black women can tell stories is a form of awareness and healing,” Tecca said. “I want to do stories about Black joy, Black love, and Black life.”