How does it feel to be a woman on the move? To many, including this Editor-in-Chief, it can often feel draining. Long days, sleepless nights (hello, Starbucks), juggling a million things at once, multiple staff…and that’s just in one job! Through it all, it’s always a blessing to do what you want to do in this world, even when things get stressful or tiring. So of course, there’s nothing better than getting a little emotional support–when Sisters in Media decided to host their “Women on the Move” event, many ambitious young women flocked out to hear what tips could be given.
Moderated by Lilly Workneh, Senior Editor of HuffPo Black Voices, panelists included Tai Beauchamp of Tai life Media, Tracy G, the co-host of Sway in the Morning, and Danielle M. Brown, Account Director of Beauty for Time Inc. Supporters gathered within the walls of the Fisher Center on 31st St., met with delectable small bites, tasty drinks, and pink-and-white stripped gift bags.
With discussions ranging from work-life balance, vocalizing yourself in the corporate work space, and finding your ‘beat’ as a black woman (because that “angry black female” is alive and well), guests were encouraged to be vocal, be honest, and transparent. For this Misfit (hi, hello) one of the many things I had previously struggled with was always finding a balance between “the drive” and “the rest”. In a city like NYC, you’re CONSTANTLY on the go, looking for new ways to elevate yourself, your brand, and what you bring. For years, I had told myself I needed to be an Editor by this age, and an EIC by that age, never realizing that sometimes, it’s okay to wait.
“It was very challenging to be the only [black woman], to be completely honest,” said Tai Beauchamp on her role within publishing when she started out. “Back then, the opportunities weren’t always there. Fast-forward now, I think as we get older, we have a different comfort level…It’s hard when you don’t see people who look like you, because then you don’t know how to mimic that. I think these conversations are really important, but it wasn’t alway easy.” Beauchamp, who infamously escalated to the Beauty Director role at Seventeen magazine at the age of 25, knew and understood that being one of few women of color in a space, and a managerial space, was not going to be easy. “There’s a lot to learn about managing up, which I didn’t know at 25. That was a challenge, I was the only senior-level editor at the time. I was managing people who were older, people who trained me, and there wasn’t always immediate respect. And at 25, you don’t necessarily know how to develop that because that takes time and experience to hone. At 25, was I groomed and had the skill set for the job? Yes. But was I ready for it? No.”
“When I started working at VIBE magazine, I thought the walls would be plastered with melanin. This is the premiere publication that magnifies black culture. And I walk in, and the big-time editors are white,” added Tracey G. “So I was shocked to be culture shocked! At a very early age, my mother taught me empathy and that every single moment has an opportunity to learn something. So I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Our culture is one to be shared.”
When moving into radio, G mentioned that the struggle continues, though this time, it can be direct, quick, and plastered across the airwaves. “I have had callers who transparently say with full on audacity, ‘I voted for Trump because I needed the white man to have another win.’ You have to take a deep breath, carry an affirmation to answer. The one I carry in my heart is: Even if they don’t know, I know my melanin always glows and never rusts. I have to repeat that. When you hear these things, you ask questions. I realize people’s ideologies have been wired for so long, and they have met all these people who have reaffirmed their mindsets until they meet me. The unlearning process is a lot. Especially when you have the mic in front of you; it’s a responsibility. If you have the audacity to shatter someone’s world, you should have the audacity to help them build it back up. When you’re in a place where a lot of eyes and ears on you, I remind myself that I am representing a community of black women and black people, for better or for worse.”
“Working at Essence, I worked with them for 9 years. Working at Essence, I got to walk in the room everyday in front of advertisers and educate them on WHY we should not be overlooked in society, why my hair looks the way it does, why you’re lying in your ads…I had to do that,” said Danielle Brown. “It was freeing for me, I was open to my experience with black women. Now I’m working within all of TimeInc, and I even still am in a role to help bridge that gap…[Black media] still holds that responsibility to educate the masses. We live in a time, though we just had a black President, people got comfortable and confused. We haven’t made it, and this is the reminder. Trump coming into office shook us some, and I think black media woke up.”
After the amazing release of Essence’s “Woke 100”, in which Essence magazine celebrated 100 socially-conscious and dynamic women of color doing amazing things in their community, the audience and panelists were filled with joy that the work is not only being done, but that it’s continuing to be raised in these platforms. As we continue to build as sisters in the media space, we have to continue to put in the work, whether others see it or not.
Another takeaway for this writer was that when you’ve put in the work, it is OKAY to be proud of it. Oftentimes, we are extremely humble in the work we produce. Though that is okay, we must continue to take pride in the work that we do, inviting amazing things to happen to us because WE. HAVE. EARNED. THEM.
Beauchamp shared one of her biggest life lessons about the matter. ” I had a conversation with [Mikki Taylor], probably 2007 or 2008 when she was leaving out of Essence as the Beauty Director, and she recommended me for the role. At this point, I had been out of the industry for some time, wasn’t really looking to get back in, but it did lead to my work with InStyle. When Mikki called me she said, ‘I told them they just must talk to you,’ and I said ‘Oh my goodness Mikki, I am so honored and humbled that you’d recommend me.’ And you know what she said to me? ‘Don’t be too humbled, you deserved that and you worked for that.’ As black women, we get nestled in our humility but don’t stand in our power. And we have to understand there is a time and place for each.” With that being said, put in the work, do what you must do to elevate your community, but enjoy your moment when it comes. You have earned it.
If you’re more interested in learning about Sisters in Media, check out their website to stay up to date on their events and panels!
What do you think?
*Special thanks to Sisters in Media for having TheBlondeMisfit in attendance and for all the photos in this article.