Creating Our Own Narratives
Written by: Tamika Burgess
Something special happens when we see a face, name, body type, personality, etc. that mirrors our own. A sense of pride and happiness comes about, which lets us know we are deemed worthy of being highlighted and featured. For women of color this is somewhat of a new experience, we’ve had media outlets devoted to us for years, but not many.
We now live in a day and age where technology and social media have afforded us the opportunity to create the positive images that women of color and different cultures need to see. It’s the images we did not see growing up; the images that show we are multifaceted, educated, and beautiful.
Permission To Write spoke to creators of various media outlets about why they created their platforms, their purpose, the voids they fill, and what social change they intend to or have already brought about.
Fifty Shades of Magic – A community of women celebrating the magic of diversity
FSM was started because as a group of young women navigating through college - we realized we didn’t see anyone like us willing to give their time and knowledge to help us grow. There either weren’t WOC in the fields we were interested in (at least not many and definitely not in positions of power) or they were unattainable. We wanted to create a community of women in our community that could come together to act as support and strategy for those with vision - to build together, networking across. The second initiative was based on the saying, “Reach as you Climb.” We wanted to give our time and experience to young middle and high-school girls to show them their dreams are within reach.
I think the genuine aim of FSM sets us apart. There are pretentious objectives - we’re not solely operating to get 10K on Instagram, we’re not only looking to align ourselves with influencers, and we’re not doing it just because. We saw a real need and wanted to contribute to the solution versus just complaining about the problem. We bring real women together, who otherwise may not have crossed paths and continue to aim to push all girls and women alike to simply - keep going.
Many times, we think we’re going through things alone whether its professional issues at the office, personal/emotional struggles, or simply juggling school and work. Our community helps to debunk that myth and truly link us together. We’ve worked with high school girls who have now gone on to college and still keep in touch! It’s amazing to see the growth and how the things we’ve poured into them grow into actionable change. One of our most recent success stories - we have powerful women making things happen take over our stories in our segment, Mondays on the Move. One of our featured boss ladies took over and shared an employment opportunity. Not a month later, one of our followers who had been looking for an opportunity snagged it! It’s moments like that, that keep us going.
Reign XY- Media for women of color, by women of color
The Reign XY was started because I didn’t feel represented in media at the time. It was my sophomore year of college, so 2013, and I just didn’t feel like I saw any space on or offline where people were talking about the issues or having the conversations I was having in my dorm room or at dinner with friends. Realizing I had the tools to create the space I wanted to see, I decided to do just that.
The Reign XY fills a representation gap. As a media company for Black and other women of color, by a team of all Black women currently, we focus on creating space for our stories. That means talking about everything one might talk to their girlfriends about privately, or the stuff you can’t talk to anyone about publicly. We make room for women however they show up and that representation matters in a media landscape that so often forgets Black women exist or only sees us through a few narrow lenses.
I think The Reign XY has made those who engage with it, especially Black women, feel seen and less alone. By telling different stories about women of color, we’re pushing back against the danger of a single story that Adichie warns us about. That’s social change because we’re reclaiming our time and narratives in real time - not waiting for anyone to do it for us. In the process, I hope The Reign XY has made women of color more human for the public. Not always strong, happy, angry, sexual, or put together, but human, whatever that looks like.
Twitter + IG: @TheReignXY
La Galería Magazine- Voices of the Dominican diaspora
La Galería Magazine was founded in response to the lack of representation of Dominicans in the diaspora, as well as, the lack of publications that reflected the Dominican diasporic experience.
The Dominicans that would become viral or made it to American media often portrayed Dominican stereotypes. Stereotypes that a lot of us did not identify with. Our goal was to bring Dominicans together throughout the diaspora to have the tough conversations not everyone was talking about. Conversations that would break through the stereotypes and get to the heart of what was needed, community and understanding.
We are deeply grateful to all of our contributors who have written about an array of topics, from blackness to sexuality, mental health, and identity. Since our inception, we have also highlighted Dominican women who have impacted and continue to impact their communities, as well as, other Dominican who continue to break the molds. Over the years we have received messages from Dominicans around the world informing us of how they identified with our work and the articles we published. Our work is still not done, and there are thousands of stories to share.
Twitter + IG: @LaGaleriaMag