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This week we're talking about representation.
“You can’t be what you can’t see”. I call an ever so subtle, bullsh*t.
This phrase, often used to justify the need for more representation in media, is not actually reflective of the experiences of many minority media makers and many cross-industry trailblazers who did not have the luxury of 'seeing' what they could become.
A few weeks ago, TIME Magazine released a series of covers with the words FIRST emblazoned on each. You saw the faces of Ava DuVernay, Oprah, Selena Gomez, Serena Williams, and many others taking their rightful places as the firsts in their fields. These women did not have the luxury of waiting for others to become an example for them to rise. These women had to slowly, and steadily, break barrier after barrier to carve out their lane, to stay in it, and to rise to the top.
There are many firsts yet to come, so many leadership positions, entertainment roles, and the like waiting for their ‘first’ to arrive. Until equal representation becomes so pervasive that we have to scour for positions where minority faces have yet to be seen, we MUST be what we can’t yet see. It is our inherent responsibility as minority media makers, entertainers, engineers, business leaders, etc… to find a crack or fissure and to work our way through it until we arrive. Day after day, role after role. Until a few generations from now, the seeds of our trailblazing begin to grow, deeply rooted and affecting systemic change.
That’s why I’m here. That’s why representation matters. This is my gentle reminder that our everyday act of showing up and demanding to be seen is an act of revolution.
This week, I look to Rupi Kaur’s poem of legacy, I look to Colin Kaepernick’s movement and so many the world-over called to #takeaknee. I look to Charles D. King sharing how he became the first black senior leader at one of the leading entertainment agencies in Hollywood and then created his own firm Macro, and won Oscars for his first production, Fences. I look to Clara Villarosa, who ran the largest African American Bookstore in the United States, and who everyday inspires others to trailblaze, and whom we’ve profiled in our weekly Medium series, Your Moment of Ambition.
This week is all about representation. The fact that it’s our responsibility as young, ambitious minority leaders to make space for ourselves in a world that was built on our exclusion.
Tell me what you dream of becoming in an email (email@example.com). I often find typing it out, and pushing send is the ultimate first step to bringing that imagined reality to life.
Until next Tuesday at 9 am,
Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action as I relaunch KoMedia. Here's day two of my trip to NYC and, as always, a quick heart-to-heart!
"I just feel this really beautiful groundedness in knowing who I am, knowing what my purpose is, and knowing what I have to offer the world."
Welcome to part one of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.
This week, we take a closer look at the career path of one of Dream, Girl’s most popular characters, Clara Villarosa, and ask ourselves how her (incredibly successful nonetheless) journey might have been different if she’d been able to see herself and her interests represented in popular media.
Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium to find out!
Charles D. King has banked on the power of representation in film for his entire career --- even while he was a trainee in a media agency’s mailroom. His interview with Complex dives into his deep belief in the relevancy of diverse media, and the work he’s done since an early age to be able to produce it.
- Before he was on The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj was investing the money he earned working in tech support into a self-funded startup comedy and media career, complete with bootstrapped live events and independently produced YouTube videos. Sound familiar? ;)
- We don’t often think about sports as socially impactful media, but what’s happening in the NFL right now (beautifully summed up by these photosZendaya tweeted this week) feels consequential beyond a good Super Bowl ad. We’re loving the NYT’s recent profile of Colin Kaepernick, which dives into how he came to be the activist we see today.
- How Black Girl Gamers are creating a thriving community for, well, Black Girl Gamers that’s safe(r) from the industry’s rampant racism and sexism.
- This Walrus piece which makes the case that the personal essay as a genre isn’t outdated; it's just no longer dominated by white writers.
Applying to attend the Obama Foundation's Summit along with hundreds of other civic leaders in Chicago later this month.
RUPI KAUR PRESENTS
The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas
Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'.