This is an email from Keepin' It 💯, a newsletter by ZORA.
Dear ZORA Family:
Just over a year ago, at a breakfast meeting with Medium’s VP, Editorial, Siobhan O’Connor, I lamented the lack of smart, thought-provoking content for women of color. We both agreed that there was a significant void. Soon it became clear that this void wasn’t just an opportunity to vent, but an opportunity to invent. And so I pitched what I wanted to see: a publication that provides historical, social, and political context for every aspect of our lives, including the challenges we face and our resilience in the face of them. ZORA is the result of many thoughtful women of color coming together to create a space for us, without apology.
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This week represents our one year anniversary, a milestone we are marking with the launch of a new ZORA newsletter, called Keepin’ It 💯. In it, you’ll find a taste of ZORA and more, all carefully curated with your interests at its center. The ZORA squad — deputy editor Christina M. Tapper, features editor Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, senior editor Morgan Jerkins, platform editor Jolie A. Doggett, audience development editor Jenna Chambers, and myself — hope you enjoy this weekly reminder of all the beauty and brilliance we bring to this world.
We invite you to share your thoughts with us on how we’re doing. And tell us the stories, among the nearly 1,000 we’ve published this year, that you’ve found most impactful. Here are just a few of our favorites. We want you to know how much we see you, how much we appreciate you, and how immensely grateful we are to you for taking this journey along with us. And if you know someone who should be with us on this journey, please forward this email their way and invite them to join us as we go forward.
Stay in touch,
Vanessa K. De Luca, Editor-in-Chief
🎤 Having Our Say 🎤
Alicia Garza, the Black Lives Matter co-founder and principal at Black Futures Lab, shares how to exist on your own terms.
ZORA: Your Twitter feature image says “exist on your own terms.” What does that look like for you?
Alicia Garza: For me, existing on my own terms has levels to it. One is resisting the stories and stereotypes that people try to place on us from all different directions, and that includes Black people to Black people. I feel really strongly that in order to be my most powerful, I have to be as free as possible from anybody else’s expectations of me besides my own. And I think when you add to that a layer of being thrust into the spotlight, whether you wanted to be or not, you really have to embody that.
The other layer I would add is that existing on my own terms also means being willing to lean into what I think Ava DuVernay has referenced as “a world that is not here yet.”
If anything, I think 2020 and the lead-up to it is showing us that there are no rules and certainly none that we have to follow. Frankly, the kind of change we need in this country requires us being willing to exist on our own terms. That is the key to reshaping and reinvigorating a democracy that many of us have never experienced. Existing on our own terms is about being courageous enough to say, “I really don’t care how it’s always gone. It needs to go differently, and I’m willing to lean into that.”
👀 Honestly, If 👀
Moments we want to see more of… or never again.
Honestly, if Anna Wintour can’t find space for Black models and photographers in her magazine, we’ll make space of our own. That’s the mission ZORA was founded on: creating an outlet that was unapologetic and ours. Black creators are stepping up to the #VogueChallenge (created by student Salma Noor) to showcase their beauty, artistry and talent. We love to see it!
✨ Best of Us ✨
News, art, and stories worth celebrating. All by or for WOC.
•Yes, Queen! Cicely Tyson has been honored with the 2020 Peabody Career Achievement Award
•Keke Palmer said what she had to say in this moving essay, I Have Waited for a Revolution My Entire Life.
•This powerful statement delivered by a diverse range of voices of the broadway theater, puts everyone — but especially the decision-makers of the elitist theater community — on notice.
•It took 153 years, but we finally have a Black editor at the helm of Harper’s Bazaar.
•Yamiche Alcindor has been awarded the White House Correspondents Association Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House coverage. Do that, sis!
•Michaela Coel is back with I May Destroy You, a show she wrote and stars in.
•Meet the woman behind the #CultureTags sensation.
•Support Black media: A new biannual print publication celebrating Black women in food is currently fundraising.
•The #PublishingPaidMe hashtag created by two Black authors, L.L. McKinney and Tochi Onyebuchi, exposed the bias and anti-Black racism within the book publishing industry.
🗣 The Last Word
“Like a lot of Black women, I have always had to invent the power my freedom requires.”
— June Jordan, “On Call: Political Essays” (1985)
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