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Conversations with the Inspiring Rachelle Wilson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachelle Wilson.

Rachelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I never saw myself settling in one place. In fact, I never saw myself pursuing a traditional life in any way. When I first moved to Atlanta from the smaller town of Macon at 18, it was in hopes of discovering a bigger way of life than what I had seen from those around me.

I had been to Atlanta once before and thought it magical. I was in high school and had accompanied my mom and step-dad to Little Five Points. We sat outside Little Five Pizza and people watched as we ate our lunch. I should note, that I was known in high school for dressing very strangely. People thought I did it for attention, to me, it was simply self-expression. I knew khakis and polo shirts were not me, but I didn’t know what was. So, I raided Goodwills and created funky ensembles, trying to discover my style. One day might be neon parachute pants and a mohawk, the next would be a black and white, checkered tweed pencil skirt suit and red lipstick. Fashion was fun and I knew I was strange no matter what I wore.

So, there I was in Little Five Points, in the eye of a funky-style-hurricane. I was in shock, overwhelmed at how many strange people there were. This might have been the first time in my life I felt kindred with a culture. There was no ambiguity: I belonged in Atlanta.

Atlanta truly was the springboard that propelled me forward. It gave me the freedom to discover myself. My style. My music. My writing. The foundation I established there has informed my life ever since. My journey has taken me to some very unpredictable places. The cornfields of Illinois. The villages of Morocco. And perhaps most surprisingly, back to the charming town of Macon. My voyages have given me a wellspring of experience and confidence of self that high school me never dreamed of.

This time around, I refuse to let an environment make me feel out-of-place. I have devoted myself to creating a community that is inclusive and hope that by embracing my voice, I can have some influence on the direction of this place I love. Macon is an amazing place but still restricted at times by the old, southern way that persists in the background. The barriers I have encountered here or seen hinder the growth of my peers are the main catalyst for launching The Southern Siren. I find the experiences and perspective of southern womanhood underrepresented, if not neglected, in our society. I love this Trailblazers project because your mission is very close to my heart. Every day I see powerful, smart, talented women giving and leading in my community and in the communities around me, yet rarely is their work celebrated and recognized as it should be. I decided to take what I love to do, write, and use it to create the community I wanted to see. Though it began as a stage name under which to perform the songs I wrote, as my passions began to shift I also began to expand the Southern Siren into the platform it now is. It is home to all forms of expression, musical, poetic, visual, and I am happy to share that with the Trailblazers community.

Thank you for the kind words about our Trailblazers series. It’s awesome to hear about the impact Atlanta has had on you.  Overall, has it been relatively smooth so far? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way? And advice?
The most challenging part has been accepting the fact that I have a right to interject. As a member of this community who is serving through non-profit work, what I think and feel matters. I can and should express my opinions. I can and should influence the decisions that are being made. I can and should help set the course.

I spent years working to prove that I deserve a seat at the table. So often I sat silent, hoping for permission to speak. I believed that hard work spoke for itself, but I soon learned that people will take as much as you give and no one sees the work you do on the weekends.

As I resolved to launch The Southern Siren, I also began to claim and exercise my voice. My slogan is “Own The Narrative” and that is truly something I have to remind myself every day.

My advice to other women: Work hard. Set boundaries. Say no. Prioritize yourself. Recognize your worth. Share your opinion. Own the narrative.

For me, owning the narrative means claiming my passion for writing. Though I have always written, something had been holding me back from calling myself a writer. But as I approached my thirtieth birthday, I decided it was time to dive into this art form I love and it is just amazing how the world has opened up. There is some magic in owning the narrative, seriously. Since I began calling myself a writer, I have been published on multiple platforms and asked to write for local and national publications alike. It is a dream come true.

What should we know about The Southern Siren? 
My passion for a unified community is made evident in all that I do. Whether it be my day job serving the non-profit, Rebuilding Macon, that provides home repairs to the elderly and disabled or the time I spend serving with other organizations, I maintain the value of creating an inclusive community.

My website, The Southern Siren, is the content I am passionate about and a way of exercising my voice and sharing the voice of others.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Growing up with the feeling that I didn’t belong, which is a feeling I still fight, has tremendously informed my actions. Everyone deserves to be heard and to help shape the community. We are all in this together!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dsto Moore, Jessica Whitley, Tristan Watson

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