Chasta talks to legendary stadium announcer Renel Brooks-Moon about being females thriving within male-dominated industries and how they’ve been coping with the events of 2020.
Brooks-Moon is Bay Area royalty known not only for being the voice of the San Francisco Giants but also for her roll on local Hip Hop station KMEL. However, her prominence does not exempt her from the anxiety and stress caused by the major events of this year. COVID-19 continues to go largely unchecked in the United States and civil unrest has dominated the consciousness of a nation as egregious, blatant murders of Black people continue.
As someone whose career depends on thousands of baseball fans gathering to cheer on the Giants, and as a woman of color, 2020 has left Moon confused and exhausted.
So how is this well-loved beacon of positivity doing these days?
“Not well, I’m going to be totally honest with you. It’s been almost three months to the day George Floyd was murdered and these three months have kicked my behind in so many ways,” said Moon.
Moon also expressed concern for her 93-year-old mother that lives by herself, and was fearful about her being too isolated during the mandated shelter in place. Luckily, she said, her neighbors have been good about checking in with her. With her mother accounted for, Moon soon started to worry about what shelter-in-place would mean for her.
“I was like, ‘what’s going to happen to my work?’ Not just the baseball season, but all the other voiceover work that I do, and the events I host annually. I just sat there for a couple weeks just going, ‘ok….'”
“And then I kinda got into my head and started really worrying about stuff,” she continued. “When Michelle Obama said she had low-grade depression, I was like, ‘I’m right there with ya,’ and in fact, I don’t think mine is low-grade, it might be a little bit higher because I could not figure out my role in the world and what my life is going to look like.”
Luckily she did not have to wait long as requests to do health PSAs started flowing in only a few weeks after major sports and other events had been put on indefinite hold. And then, George Floyd was murdered.
“Things started to come fast and furious, and then when George Floyd is murdered and the protests take over around the world. Now I’m getting requests to be panelists, to be in town halls, in Zoom meetings, to discuss race, to have those conversations I’ve been trying to have with people my entire career really. I’ve always been an activist but it really stepped up a notch,” said Brooks-Moon.
While the announcer would be elated at first to take on the responsibility of talking about equality in her profession and in our culture as a whole, the weight of responsibility would soon weigh on her. A self-described yes-woman with a disease to please, Moon soon became overwhelmed with all the opportunities. Her husband then lovingly reminded her that she is “a voice” not “the voice” and that self-care means you can put your best self forward.
In a world where we are taught to do everything we can to help others and lift up our cohorts, Moon had to learn to take advantage of the stillness of the moment as well.
She decided to find meditation through exercise. Fitness has been a major part of the announcer’s life and according to her, she has struggled with her weight her whole life. In fact, Moon makes sure that the first thing she does every morning is exercise.
This love of exercise became even more important as she became the face of the annual Giants Race 5k marathon. With COVID restrictions and considerations, the race decided to go on this year but in a less formal way. This year’s race, like many 2020 events, will be virtual. That doesn’t mean you’ll be watching a POV of some guy running a marathon from your couch though, Brooks-Moon says it’s more about getting people to exercise even a little bit on the day of the race.
September 6th’s “race’ will feature a Renel bobblehead and a running playlist from MLB’s first female coach, Alyssa Nakken, for anyone who signs up. The event will also be raising money for the Bay View/Hunters Point YMCA.
While exercise can be a form of therapy for many, including Moon, she says that her close circle of friends has been the main safety net in which she has fallen.
“In my personal circle, I felt very much supported and cared for, so that for me, that was very much a positive in all this darkness,” she said.
While many non-Black Americans are trying to understand the pain the Black community is currently feeling, Brooks-Moon said that watching what has happened to Floyd, Taylor and Blake is an act of reliving trauma. As the only black woman PA announcer in baseball, many have reached out to her about how to process this moment. While she says some of it is performative, others are genuinely interested in her well-being, her opinion and want to have a dialogue.
“Don’t have any fear about saying the wrong thing because the only wrong thing is to say nothing,” said Brooks-Moon quelling the trepidatious Chasta. “It’s the only way we can move the conversation forward, the only way we can learn and grown and work together and we haven’t and that’s why everything is exploding the way it is now.”
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