WAMNYC board member, Martya Starosta moderated our #WAMentor conversation with Akiba Solomon, Editor of @colorlinesnews. Check out some of Akiba’s thoughts on breaking into the magazine writing industry below.
Akiba on hustling
Find different ways to write and make money. I’ve written copy for perm/relaxer boxes (which paid well), I’ve edited girls in #STEM websites, I’ve written fashion stories though I’m not big into fashion. I’m hustler there’s NO shame in hustling.
Learn copy editing. It’s a good hustle. And makes you better.
Try Fact-Checker jobs. It’s the unspoken affirmative action of the magazine world. (laughs) But really, it’s a place where the non-conformists can often get hired and get in.
Akiba on the writing life
If you’re trying to get into the business, be prepared to freelance for multiple publications.
Be kind. Keep in mind, as busy as you are, as overwhelmed as you are–so is an editor. Be kind, even if your check is late. Be polite when reaching out. Be thoughtful. Remain professional.
Akiba on networking
Professional affinity groups by ethnicity are an organized way to meet other people and climb that corporate latter as a group.
Don’t be your FULL self on social media unless it relates to the attention you want to get for the work you want to do. If you’re argumentative, that can follow you into closed door discussions and lose you freelance opportunities!
Akiba on who to write for
Find people who have good editors. Try to write for those publications. A good editor will help you grow.
Akiba told us about how she wrote her book, how to pitch her for Colorlines and more. Missed it? Better catch the next #WAMentoring event! Join WAM!NYC (Women Action & the Media NYC) here https://www.facebook.com/groups/366848420345/
WAM!NYC provides space for feminist media makers and activists to convene, build skills, and strategize on getting our voices more fully heard.
When visual artist and graphic designer, TTK first heard N.O.R.E.’s ‘I Love My Life’ in the summer of 1998, he couldn’t have imagined that the song would be the inspiration for his current book, See What I’m Sayin’ Vol 1. The book is colorful collection of cleverly illustrated drawings inspired by hip-hop lyrics, mainly from the 90’s. The book showcases TTK’s design skills, his love for of Hip-Hop, as well as the lighter side of his views on social issues.
TTK’s artwork has reached thousands of fans on social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. His weekly column with Frank151, has connected with over 20,000 readers. TTK has also collaborated with UpNorthTrips.com in Feb 2015, for their Instagram artist takeover series. The book/T-shirt release of See What I’m Sayin’ Vol 1, will take place Sept 19th from 2-6pm at Fresthetic, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This will be a limited release.
TTK is a Brooklyn based artist with an international audience from California to South Korea. He is known to infuse social concerns, his favorite pop icons, fashion, sports and music into his work. Independently, TTK has worked with Frank151, Ricky Powell, Just Blaze, Bobbito Garcia, Rocawear, The History Channel, and Dime Magazine. Click the red image below to stream the Yo Gotti episode of The Combat Jack show featuring TTK.
Rock managed half a smile when he said Sean pulled the “ultimate Ruck”, by passing on quietly in his sleep. There wasn’t much laughing after that night though. I withdrew from my usually talkative twitter feed, mourning the loss of Sean’s physical, and worrying about people in my life whose health I care about. I called family and friends, asking pointed questions about their health (questions we sometimes politely avoid). I posted infrequently on social media and attended events honoring Sean.
AT THE MURAL PAINTING
Steele, Mic Handz, Kenny Montgomery, TEK, Skyzoo, Bernadette, her friends–I remember all the sad faces and the long hug I gave Bernadette and the glimmer of hope as we watched Meres One painting the mural. Illa Ghee (a friend featured prominently on Songs In The Key Of Price) walked up, took a seat and pressed the point of a sharpie marker to the base of a tall candle.
He wrote a message and placed the candle near the in-progress mural. I bought a candle and did the same. I sat with Bernadette discussing tribute shirts for her family to wear at the funeral. That’s when I saw Torae.
He approached the mural in slow motion, pain in his eyes. He stopped short at the curb. He couldn’t go any further. “Oh god.” he choked. I stood and hugged him. It’s all I could think of to do. “Thank you sis” he said, “I needed that. We all could use a hug.” We sure could. And we all gave them out. All week. At every event. But today I’m just telling you about the first Mural and the Wake in Brooklyn.
WHAT SURPRISED ME AT THE MURAL
was the community board member who approached everyone, shaking their hands and introducing herself. When she got to me she asked my name and address. I told her, and she admonished me. “You haven’t been to the community meetings around here. You need to come.” I nodded and promised to come. “I’m going to stay out here today, because I see ya’ll are in mourning and I don’t want your gathering to have any issues with law enforcement, but I’ll need your help. Help me keep folks abreast of what we need to do to keep things smooth out here and I promise, everything will be fine.” I looked over her shoulder as friends poured some out for the homie and posed with the bottle.
“Okay,” I said, nodding. “I’ll help keep things going smoothly. Just tell me what you need.” She told me it was important to clear the double-parked cars to one side, because the street is a bus route, and more important: a fire truck route. As if on cue, I heard a fire truck approaching from down the block. We snapped to it, asking everyone to re-park, all to one side and clear the lane. The fire truck was able to fit by without incident. Police rolled by at various intervals all day. If they stopped, she immediately approached them and respectfully asked that the mourners be left alone and all questions be directed to her so that she could be of assistance. Women are so important to the balance in our communities. I am ever-reminded.
Each time – the officers would thank her, say things were okay, drive off, and she’d return to her perch across the street to continue watching the mural. A few folks told truckers they needed to “beep their horn for Sean Price” if they want to get by. Laughter and support. That’s how it went down.
Until late afternoon, when the graffiti artist flagged down a police cruiser. “No!” I said. “Everything’s fine, there’s no need to flag them. What are you doing?” “I just need something,” he yelled back as he jogged over to their car. I watched as he poked his head into the car. Then, the officers exited their vehicle and approached us all.
Across the street, the community board member sprang up and approached the officers. She introduced herself calmly and asked that she be the point of contact. “Oh no ma’am, we’re just here to help, one officer said.” Seeing the look of concern my face, Meres One whispered, “I locked my key in my truck. There’s a can of spray paint in there that I need to finish up the mural.”
I watched as one officer took a tool to the car, attempting to get the door open. The other officer chatted with the mourners. It took time, but finally the door popped open and the crowd of mourners did something I’d never expect. They cheered, whistled and applauded. As the officers tried to bow out, mourners stopped both officers to take pictures next to them.
I stood incredulous as the community leader whispered in my ear “So you plan to get involved at a community level?” I nodded. “I expect to see you at the board meetings, okay?” I nodded again. “Yes ma’am” I said. Later, I found out from Cynical, that another set of police also spent time with Bern at the mural after the wake. Offering comfort in a way none of us had seen before. I’ll definitely be attending community meetings. Thank you Sean Price, for bringing us all together that day.
THAT SAME WEEK, AT THE WAKE
I sat in the back of the room with O.Gee, while way up front, Sean looked like he was sleeping. People walked the line to the casket. TeLisa D., Jazz, Roc Marci, Boogie Blind, Lord Finesse.
I remained in the back. But it was Sadat whose reaction made me want to leave the room. His lady led him upfront, but his feet turned to cinder blocks a few paces from the casket. His face fell to his hands, overwhelmed by seeing his weekend fishing partner at final rest. He backed up toward a wall, leaned on it and cried as his lady rubbed his back. He tried once, twice more before finally making it up there. He said goodbye to his friend, shaking his head and hurrying out the door in another wave of grief.
O.Gee tapped me. “Let’s go outside.” On the way out, I bumped into Skyzoo. I intended to step around him but he froze in the doorway. Following his line of vision with my eyes, I realized he’d caught a far glimpse of Sean in his casket from the open door of the room behind me. He was choking up. I hugged him hard. “It’s gonna be ok.” He nodded, and we let each other go. Him stepping in. Me stepping out. The fresh air felt good, but on the sidewalk, A.G. looked distraught. I told him we are all gonna be alright. (Say it ’til you believe it right)? Then someone tapped me. It was Breakbeat Lou. He’d lost so much weight, it took me a moment to recognize him.
“Lou…how’d you lose all this weight?” He pointed at our friend. “O.Gee encouraged me to start walking. I stuck with it , dropped a lot of weight, and I can walk miles now.” I was incredulous. “What made you stick with it?” He pulled me aside, and lowered his voice. “I went in for health issues and flat-lined on the table,” he shook his head. “I decided to do something different.” I stared at him a moment, my heart was pounding at the thought of him flat-lining. He’s a father and a husband. I couldn’t find words so I just hugged him. It’s all I had in my arsenal besides tears.
happened the next night. It was beautiful to see all the children laughing and playing. A tacit reminder that all things do continue. A reminder to enjoy our gifts, and each other. I was delighted to see Bern’s family had flipped TTK’s design and had the whole family wearing it on shirts.
Bernadette and Rock spoke outside. Uni looked dapper in a suit. Steele made me get a plate. Everyone was hugging and telling stories. But it was Sadat and Cynical’s words that stuck with me. As Dot was leaving, he put a hand on my wrist. “Sis… the doctor told me I gotta stop smoking cigarettes if I wanna live.” I stood silent in the dark, feeling dizzy for a second.
“Is it really that bad?” I asked. He nodded back. “Yes. But I wanna live. I gotta go home though. My friends are about to have a cigarette. I can’t stick around. It’s too much. I might stay home for a while. I’m definitely getting a bike, too. Help clear my mind.”
He was speaking a mile a minute as he hugged me and said, “Thank you for always encouraging me. I’m gonna quit, I can do it.” He turned and left. Stunned, I blinked back tears and headed back to the repast. I thought of my brother. The only other 6’1″, tall Sean I care about. The one who lent his curious younger sister his Heltah Skeltah album years ago – and didn’t get mad at me when I left it on my bed and our mom threw it out (due to its “devilish” cover). The one who skipped lunch with me all week so we could divert our lunch money to re-buying that damn Heltah Skeltah album. That Sean. He’s struggling with bad eating habits. It’s threatening his health again. He’s trying to change it. Was everyone’s new health awareness the fucking silver lining? Because as welcome as these epiphanies are, this shit hurts.
Cynical was leaning up outside the door, with a loosie behind her ear. She saw my eyes land on the cigarette as I returned. “I know, I know,” she said, guiltily touching the filter as I approached. “It’s just for now. Then I’m back off them. Me, Jarobi, Sadat.” She paused. “Did he tell you?” I nodded. “He has to quit if he’s gonna make it,” Cynical said, straight-faced. “I know,” I said. “You all can do it. I know it.” Cynical and I stayed out there talking about life for what seemed like a long time. She’s a special woman who I’m lucky to know and she’s next on my “how’s your health” list.
I left the repast thinking about a ping I received from Dallas Penn online recently. Recovering from a serious diabetic infection that almost cost him his foot, he remembered my words of encouragement about his health from a few years ago. I won’t share those words here. It’s just..I guess what we all say to each other matters.
Dallas is now slimmer, off his sneaker-crutches, healing and eating better, with the amazing support of his beautiful wife. In the past, I used social media to share healthy eating habits with friends. But I’d veered from that. Obsessing over videos of police violence. Replaying clips as though it did anything besides eat away at my spirit. Painful media images had me stuck and losing focus. On the way home, I recommitted to less violent news and more of what I enjoy. Spreading opportunities, being a good friend sharing a little healthy knowledge and doing what I can locally to promote wellness and unity, and dope ass rap in my community.
LOVE IS ALL AROUND US
When I checked back in on the Sean Price crowdfund. The figure had jumped a quite a few grand. I was so joyful. I was also curious. It didn’t long for me to private message dream hampton like “Sis… did you have something to do with this?” Let’s just say, it’s like I said: women are integral to the balance of all things we see. I thanked dream, and wiped the tears from my eyes so they wouldn’t fuck up my keyboard.
I learned a lot about myself and others during the immediate days after the Ascension of Jesus Price Supastar. I’m gonna put all that knowledge to work. Peace and love. See you in the streets, Internets. We gone be alright.
–Chevon (“da god chevron”)
Tonya Rapley is a Money Coach with national acclaim. She’s the founder of MyFabFinance.com, which promotes financial literacy. She has been featured on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine, on ABC’s Here & Now, in Woman’s Day, Yahoo! News, and more. She is also an agent for social change in the fight to end Domestic Violence and the financial abuse that can come with it.
We talked money with Tonya, and she was knowledgeable, humble and helpful (a plus when you have a roomful of people who are unsure and shy about how to handle money)! Check out some of the tips from the discussion and follow Tonya on Instagram or Twitter @MyFabFinance, for more financial love.
Short and Long-Term Saving Try CapitalOne360 for savings. Make your savings money inaccessible! You can also further “bucket” your savings within the account by segmenting it according to your goals. For example: create one savings bucket for the car you want, another bucket for the emergency money fund, and yet another for that holiday trip you want to go on.
Beating Your Own Habits
Use digit.co for monitoring your account behavior. They’ll tell you how you’re spending, and they transfer small amounts of your money that you won’t miss, to your savings account automatically throughout the year. (It’s like a painless way of stacking your pennies).
For many, the term 401K denotes a scary financial device they don’t fully look into until it’s too late. It doesn’t have to be that way! Your 401K, if you have one, is provided by your job. Many employers MATCH however much money you put into the account, too! Take full advantage of this. No exceptions. Ask HR for help if you need it.
Retirement Investing On Your Own
In Brooklyn, the Bridge Street Development Corp. will help you invest and match your money in some cases! Pratt Area Community Council has a similar service. Nonprofit investment help is available in many cities. Search for the one nearest you and take advantage of it.
When the Rent is Too Damn High
Having trouble building credit? Use your rent! If you setup an account with William Paid, they will disburse your rent to your landlord and report each month to the credit agencies in order to build your credit.
Aim for saving 20 percent of your income if you’re single. Is 20 percent tough for you? Then make sure to at least set aside a few dollars from each paycheck for your emergency fund. This can’t be understated. You never know!
Now go forth, be financially fruitful and multiply!
The 6th annual WAM!NYC Women in Media Conference took place on June 20th at Barnard College. Following last year’s incredible Janet Mock keynote, the 2015 conference featured three powerhouse keynote speakers: Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter; Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show; and Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times reporter and author of the viral investigative series “Unvarnished,” which exposed the working conditions of nail salon employees.
More than 90 percent of Oscar-Winning films are led by male directors. Although minorities comprise roughly 37 percent of the U.S. population—they comprise a tiny 12 percent of American newsrooms and are outnumbered 7 to 1 among lead roles in Broadcast Television. In the news cycle, white men continue to dominate the ranks of Sunday morning talk show guests. How can we organize for more balanced, diverse and just representations of women in media? That’s the question we set out to tackle at our 2015 WAM!NYC conference in New York City.
The all-day summit brought issues of race, gender, class and social justice to the forefront, and explored media and activist-based solutions to challenges facing our nation. To view conference photos, click here. You can also view the full speaker lineup, panel listings, schedule and sponsors here.
The New York City-based chapter of Women, Action, Media (WAM!) is run by Regina Mahone, Clarissa León, Chevon Drew, Amy Littlefield and Martyna Starosta (collectively the WAM!NYC Board). WAM!NYC provides a progressive space for feminist journalists, editors, publishers, media activists and gender justice activists to convene, build skills, address issues, network and strategize on getting their voices more fully heard in mainstream, independent, and alternative media.Join WAM!NYC by emailing a three-sentence bio to the board at email@example.com. You can also keep up with our monthly events by joining our Facebook Group!
When I signed up to co-work at Lady Parts, I had no idea what to expect. Sometimes networking events can be short on diversity, inauthentic and painful to attend. Not so here. You know how football fans react when the referee signals a kick was good? That’s how I felt when Lady Parts was over!
Lady Parts, an event series hosted by Cassie Marketos, included handpicked mentors who volunteered to “give advice, answer questions, or just shoot the shit about working life.” I walked in and wondered about the format of the event. I wore business casual attire, but would people be in sky-high heels only? Were we meant to co-work more than we networked? Would someone ask us to wear name tags with our old AIM screename on them or play some droll name game? And the burning question many people have. Would there be a diverse group of women in attendance?
As it turned out, all of the women networked in whichever manner they were comfortable with. Some brought laptops and shared their work, while others connected immediately on topics like fashion or food. Bold participants moved deftly from one group to another, while more introverted guests were advised by Cassie on who to approach and what to ask for help with. It felt like speed dating mixed with counseling, but with surefire fun personalities and funky food selections. I was delighted to know I made the night easier for someone by connecting them to my contacts, and I met some fascinating women myself.
The experience was very unique and I’m thankful to Barkbox for sponsoring the space. Watch the video to see who I helped at Lady Parts. Plus: learn about the fabulous FOOD sponsors who made the night special!
My grandfather, a Caribbean islander of mixed background who presents as white in some situations, Latin American in others and black in others, has seen (and heard) a lot in his 90 years.
He has little patience for naiveté so at a young age, I knew how to saw sheetrock, I knew about sex, and unfortunately, I knew about the construct of race. “Your white friends won’t be treated like you,” he’d say as he poked at my shoulder forcefully. “Hear me now or feel it later!” He taught me about privilege and I took copious mental notes. But he never mentioned the ways it would get physical.
Street harassment is a topic of discussion on social media, but I’ve been discussing it with girls and women in my life for years. It can be verbal or physical. These unwanted public acts perpetrated by strangers result in acute feelings of persecution, intimidation, and sometimes end in physical violence.
Recent viral media campaigns would have us think street harassment is perpetrated only by men, largely of color and that women of all stripes should band together against it in a monolithic manner, but one of the most prevalent types of street harassment I experience comes from pale-skinned women on the island of Manhattan. I just don’t talk about it.
KEEP QUIET OR SPEAK UP
Speaking truth to power is a task that becomes difficult as I mature. Whether in public or private spaces, I choose when and where to “tell it like it is” and to whom. Many of these choices involve complicated social circles, professional circles, integrated families and of course, the social media sphere. So why today? Simply put: I think it’s time for people to hear it. My grandpa is getting on in years, and today just seems like a good day to speak plainly. He’ll be proud of me as will some of my friends (including my white girlfriends).
WTF IS A MICROAGGRESSION?
A micro-aggression is new phrase describing what my grandfather simply calls acts of racism. Buzzwords and term-coinage help bring existing issues to the forefront. I believe the term microaggression has succeeded in bringing to light the daily acts of racism perpetrated by a group of young people called “millenials” (another buzzword used to describe people who were supposed to be “over” racist acts by now). These racist acts include things like white people using this word, talking down to their “Asian sidekicks“, or treating black men like “magical negroes” as Spike Lee describes here.
WHITE WOMEN HARASS ME OFTEN
The weekly acts of racism that I’ve endured for years, but haven’t spoken about involve white women who grab at me or body check me in Manhattan (and now the overwhelmingly white parts of Williamsburg). In the first instance, they feel entitled to my body. My grandfather would say it’s because they see me as property, so they don’t feel bad about reaching out and grabbing at parts of my body that they find “entertaining”. Very often – my hair.
The second instance is when they feel entitled to my space. I don’t delight in walking through predominantly white parts of my city, because too often, I contend with white women’s street harassment. They walk up with or without a male friend. Sometimes they walk up with a girlfriend. As they approach they make sure to walk straight toward me, even when I’m taking up as little space on the sidewalk as a lone-walker can. I’ve been body-checked into to the gutter throughout my college career. It got old.
I started walking on the sidewalk like other normal people, only to find these women bump headlong into me, hard enough to leave a bruise, then turn and shriek–
“OH MY GOD. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.”
– if I don’t step into the gutter.
This is a weekly occurrence that I’m very “game-on” about at this point. Though The New York Times and Thrillist have provided tips on “Walking in New York”, they both left out “Don’t Push Negroes Into The Gutter To Get By.” This happens so often that the only respite I get is when I am in a black area – where neighborhood folks say “excuse me” to be polite, even when they don’t have to.
Every area has it’s pros and cons. I’m still trying to find a balance that works best for me. I’m not sure Manhattan is it, but I delight in my memories of living on the island despite the street harassment I endured there. Have you ever experienced something like this? How do you deal with it?