Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Announcing Bitch Media's Newest 2016 Fellowship Writer: Me!

via Bitch Media

I'll cut to the chase. I'm incredibly happy and proud to announce that I've been selected as one of the four inaugural Bitch Media Writing Fellows. I almost can't believe that I get to write those words. I have been holding my breath and stalking the Bitch Media twitter page ever since I submitted my application because I was so nervous and so sure that it was a long shot. But by some miracle (and I guess, my writing...) I was accepted! It's such great news at a time when I really needed great news. When I was younger, my dad taught me a lesson that has served me incredibly well to this day: "The worst they can say is no." It's been a mantra that has given me the courage to try new things when I was afraid to fail. Even if I did fail, I'd be no worse off that I was before. I'd been saying for a while that I wanted to get serious about my writing and this fellowship was a great opportunity. After all, no one can say "yes" if I never ask. So I asked. I submitted my application, full of nervous energy and doubts, and hoped for the best. And Bitch Media said yes!

The fellowship program will be running in quarterly increments and I'll be working from April 1 to June 30. My focus will be pop-culture criticism, so I'm very excited to be able to write about what I have loved writing about for the last couple years. Mostly I'm excited to be properly edited. Like most artists, I can be a little defensive about my work, but the few times I have been well edited, I have always left the experience feeling like my writing had substantially improved. With that said, I don't have much else to add (too busy eating ice cream and happy-sobbing) so instead of rambling on, I'm including the cover letter I submitted with my application. It explains why I wanted this so badly, and why I'm so incredibly proud that I've been given opportunity. 

Pop culture is political. In my opinion, pop culture has the innate potential to be either one of society’s greatest benefits or one of its greatest ills. It is a reflection of the way we as a society see ourselves and of the values that we tolerate and cherish at any given point in history, and that’s precisely why it’s so important to me.

Image and representation is an issue that’s close to my heart because of the way we see its effects ripple through society. Whether it’s the negative repercussions of poor representations of women or the symbolic annihilation of minority people through their absence in pop culture all together, popular media is an fertile breeding ground for germinating the seeds of social change and that’s why I spend so much time immersed in it; highlighting the things that improve us as a society, and critiquing the things that don’t. We have seen time and time again that attitudes that are widely represented in pop culture can have a profound effect on what a society believes to be true. Continued negative representation has successfully been used in the past to demonize entire groups of people, and justify violence against them. The repercussions of pop culture representations run deeper than we give them credit for.

This is especially true as it relates to the stories that we tell about women of colour. Mostly we don’t tell them at all, but when we do, we steep them in antiquated stereotypes that diminish their humanity and position them as disposable. As a black woman living in a Caribbean country that imports 99% of its content from the West, I’m sensitive to the connections that can be drawn between dismissive representations of women who look like me, and the corresponding way news stories are framed when we are victimized.

I’m not an American, but I’ve grown up on American media. I’ve situated myself through exposure to what I was not; thin, white, blonde and blue-eyed. I’ve come through the fire; first loathing myself because I did not exist, then questioning myself when the existence I saw did not match my reality, and finally finding myself anew when I began to understand the wider forces at play when it comes to the export of Western ideals to the global South. Through my writing on pop culture I’ve been able to explore all the ways our identities and intersections influence the way we see the world and through my current graduate study program in Mass Communications I’ve been able to explore more informed perspectives about how the media we experience is created, distributed and consumed, up to and including portrayals of rape in television; the subject of my final thesis.

Reading Bitch Media online over the last year has shown me that I’m not the only person who understands these larger functions, and being able to work with you would enable me to further develop my understanding of the importance of pop culture and write about the way it wends itself into everything we know about ourselves. I honestly believe that I would be a great fit at Bitch Media, and I truly hope that we will be working together soon. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

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