I recommitted my time to helping young girls, and I’m so glad I did. In the past, I’ve guided young women and girls in my family. But I felt like the universe was giving me signs and telling me to add more mentoring to my plate.
There was the day two suburban mothers engaged me at length on an Amtrak train. They asked for my views and tips on connecting with teen girls without judging or alienating them. “You really should be a mentor,” one said emphatically at the conclusion of our conversation. “I wish you lived near me and my daughter,” the other said laughing. There was the day I was on the phone with a friend, who said any girl–including his own daughter–would be lucky to have me as a confidant. I even received an out of the blue text from a friend who looked at my IG and felt compelled to tell me that she thinks I’d make a great mentor. The universe kept showing me signs, then sent me an opportunity to volunteer at Career Day events in both Westchester and Brownsville. I was invited by my friend’s Sam and Richardine.
After participating in Career Days, I knew I wanted to do some more mentoring. So I applied with an organization. Now, I’m pleased to share that I have been quietly mentoring for the past six months via an organization that pairs us with immigrant and first generation girls. The goal is to help them navigate the challenges of life in the U.S. – and the added challenges of their home country’s culture (which can sometimes include out-of-date family mindsets about what girls can achieve). The experience has been fulfilling.
Recently during an online session, I realized my mentee was struggling to understand the suite of Google software. I suggested she ask her parent for permission to have me stop by on the weekend to train her.
“I don’t have a computer at home,” she said. “And the computers in the lab here at school aren’t great, and are almost always occupied.”
I was silent for a moment. I’d naively assumed she’d have regular computer access in school for a screenshare. My mind raced like those calculating memes, trying to think of what to do next.
I thought back to the time I was collecting supplies for a college-bound girl and how Dutchie Flair, Allison Veronica and others encouraged me to start a gofundme for her. I was able to collect donations, supplies—one of my followers donated a Mac laptop. I refocused, remembering she was waiting on me to respond. This girl, fresh from Guyana, living in New York, without proper access to a computer in 2018. “Ok. We’ll figure something out,” I said hurriedly. In the end, my mentee and I met up in Brooklyn. Using local business WiFi and my computer, I taught her how to use multiple Google tools. Her eyes lit up with each new discovery. By the end of the afternoon, she was able to explain the value of everything she’d learned that day. I was happy we made the special session work. The most surprising thing I learned this particular day was how much my mentee likes green smoothies—which she’d never tasted before—as well as how excited she was to know that the businesses we’d visited (and borrowed WIFi from) were African American or West Indian owned. So thank you Juices 4 Life, Jordan heads and everyone else who runs storefront, community-minded business like these. You constantly inspire me, and you’re helping me inspire young people.
Mentoring takes dedication. Sometimes I can’t step out because I have to prepare for a session. Sometimes I have to move meetings and personal appointments around. But I know it is all worth it. Because without the various people who took (and still take) time to provide a kind ear and guidance, I myself don’t know where I’d be. What a blessing to be able to give back.
Are you interested in learning about opportunities to mentor young people? Hit me up via my contact page and let’s see if I can help connect you to an opportunity to get started. Mentoring orgs always need people like you.
I got my co-board members to ‘pose-off’ and I had to throw up the peace sign
Our 2016 WAM!NYC Conference was a huge success! Our keynote speakers this year included Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now!), activist Linda Sarsour, and Ashley Nicole Black, of Samantha Bee, plus a full day of additional panels and workshops.
The words of my co-board member Martyna Starosta echo what many people say when they attend our WAM!NYC Justice in Media conference.
When I attended my first WAM!NYC conference, I walked into a room full of women & gender non conforming people & I thought “wow, this is it, we can have our own space for one day & talk about the issues that are important to us as media-makers & storytellers.”
Professionals who love creating, consuming, and critiquing media that deals with race, gender and more met up at our conference to get more tools, strategies, and ideas to do their work better. Read more about our keynote speakers below, and check back here for photos and other outtakes this weekend!
Chevon Drew, Board Member
Women Action & the Media,
New York City Chapter
WAM!NYC Gender Justice in Media Conference Keynotes
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide. Goodman has co-authored six New York Times bestsellers. Her latest one, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America, looks back over the past two decades of Democracy Now! and the powerful movements and charismatic leaders who are re-shaping our world.
Linda Sarsour is a leading racial justice and civil rights activist and one of the most sought-after media commentators on Islamophobia in the 2016 election. Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim American born and raised in Brooklyn. She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change. She has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She was instrumental in the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, which helped make New York City the largest school system in the country to officially recognize two Muslim high holidays. Among her numerous awards and honors, Sarsour has been named a “Champion of Change” by the White House.
Ashley Nicole Black is a comedy writer and performer, currently writing for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Ashley started writing and performing sketch comedy at Chicago’s Second City. She is a proud PhD dropout from Northwestern University.
I spoke to a group of filmmakers about the importance of social media and digital communications!
I had a blast watching people’s eyes light up when I answered questions about how customized communications strategies can help them. I felt honored to be invited to speak.
Need a consultation ?
Reach out to me at chevonmedia.com/contact !
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
. You can also keep up with our monthly events by joining our Facebook Group
Lessons Learned is a live storytelling event series founded by Winnie Kao. The event series features a curated speaker lineup, intimate setting, and stories from smart people about hard-earned lessons. Founded by Willie Jackson, Abernathy Magazine is an online publication where black men and some of their closest supporters discuss race and culture in a thoughtful way.
In keeping with the Lessons Learned format, Abernathy Magazine’s launch event featured 10 speakers each giving live talks about their own personal stories on lessons related to identity and race.
After the talks, the attendees networked and posed questions to each speaker. It was an unforgettable evening of raw, intense and even humorous stories from a diverse range of voices.
Follow @WillieJackson, @WinnieKao, @JasonShen