I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 18th annual Allied Media Conference (AMC) in Detroit, Michigan last week.
The opening ceremony featured organizations and artists across Detroit and included a keynote from a Chicago-based group dear to my heart, Assata’s Daughters. They highlighted the struggles facing Chicagoans and campaigns led by young black and brown organizers in the city, and uplifted the names of black people slain by law enforcement as well as political prisoners like their namesake, Assata Shakur. Their performance was a reminder that the victories won across the nation come from hard work and dedication, much of which comes from queer black women and femmes who do not hesitate to put their bodies on the line for collective liberation and freedom.
Kicking off the conference with a powerful performance by Assata’s Daughters and experiencing the beauty of arts and culture by Detroit natives allowed participants to fully grasp why we do the work we do. We come from different backgrounds, hold different identities and yet we are all facing struggle and trying to resist in one way or another.
Mainstream media controls the dominant narrative about our identities and downplays our struggles, which why we push back and challenge ourselves to create media and art that is reflective of our identities and experiences. We see and experience the world differently, and that should be accurately represented, especially when mainstream media determines how people view marginalized groups and social movements.
My goal as a writer and storyteller is not to tell others’ stories but to amplify the voices that aren’t being listened to. That is why I felt compelled to join Richmond Pulse last year. Narratives that come out of Richmond are incredibly important, we have a history people should learn and a future people should invest in. The same goes for communities that are predominantly filled with people of color, working class, and include other marginalized groups whose stories get left out or misconstrued by mainstream media.
In the wake of Orlando and following the anniversary of the Charleston massacre, we need our voices to be heard loud and clear. We are facing systemic violence that fuels hatred in the form of racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia—the list goes on because we seem to continually manage to find new ways to dehumanize each other. I want us hear stories of resistance and to honor those who fight for us. I want us to feel challenged and inspired to strive for progress that works for all of us, not some of us.
Creating our own media allows us to shift the narrative and offer diverse perspectives. AMC provided the space to present ideas and strategies, reflect on what has been done, and inspire a new generation of media makers, artists, and activists to keep going. There is a lot to be done, and people are tackling all of it at different angles: from #BlackTransLivesMatter to #SayHerName to #Not1More to body acceptance to healthy relationships to decolonizing diets to valuing youth voices and leadership. There is a place for all of us to join in the struggle.
This weekend, like the work Richmond Pulse produces, was transformative and crucial to moving forward. Check out the hashtag #AMC2016 on social media to see some of the highlights from other attendees.