Black History Month, Stammering & Identities

The article's author, Rebekah, with her hands in the air

13th October 2021

Rebekah Spencer-Maroon asks if there's a common thread that runs through her identities.

Just as stuttering is part of my identity, being a black person is too, so writing an article based on the crossover of these identities is quite difficult, because they don't feel interlinked. My black identity doesn't really touch on stammering, and my stammering identity doesn't really touch on my skin colour.

So rather than not speak at all, which is a tendency I sometimes have, I have chosen to be involved, as one of the common threads I can identify that runs through most of my identities, is to not have a voice. As a woman — not wanting to take up space and be heard; as a minority in a society — not wanting to take up space and be too confident or dominant; as the youngest child — not being powerful and knowledgeable enough to speak; and as someone with a speech disorder — not wanting to be heard or be the centre of attention.

I speak, not only as a stutterer, a clutterer, a black person, a woman, a mother, a British person, and all the other identities that intertwine me but don't in their own right define who I really am, and I say, "I AM unique", "I AM acceptable", "I AM my norm", and "I AM here — this is my voice".

So, while not seeing a direct link between these two identities, what I do see is that representation matters, and to see that stammering affects all people regardless of identity, I feel is important, and worth me sticking my head out for.

Cluttering

What I would like to shine a light on also, is cluttering, which doesn't get much attention. Cluttering is a speech disorder in its own right, and many people who stammer can also clutter. I have spent many years in the stammering community and focused on the subject of stammering, but there was never much information around cluttering, so a large part of my speech difficulty was being ignored. I am happy to say of late that that seems to be changing. With the formation of the International Cluttering Association and books such as 'Too fast for words' by Rutger Wilhelm, the cluttering community is beginning to grow, ironically, at a snail's pace! (Read more about cluttering on our Variations & Complications page.)

So, I speak, not only as a stutterer, a clutterer, a black person, a woman, a mother, a British person, and all the other identities that intertwine me but don't in their own right define who I really am, and I say, "I AM unique", "I AM acceptable", "I AM my norm", and "I AM here — this is my voice".

Would you like to write an article for Your Voice? Not just for Black History Month but anytime. Share your story or give us your opinion about something. Find out how you can write for the site.

Read our Trustee Sibon's article for Black History Month.

Read Phillip's article: 'It's beautiful how stammering transcends race, gender & creed'

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