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9   +   3   =  

When we invest in each other, we invest in our collective futures to rise above the oppressive systems that affect all of us.

We’ve all heard of the Mark Zuckerbergs and Steve Jobs of the world — but both groundbreaking founders and their peers have their privilege in common despite college drop-outs. They did it to pursue their dreams and change the world. Their stories are told, over and over again. But stories like mine rarely get told. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, it’s just that my narrative isn’t doesn’t center white maleness.

My story begins long before I was born. My story began on ships, in kingdoms and through battlefields. When I was born, I inherited generations of trauma and resiliency within my first breath. Within our family, both my parents perpetuated the systems that oppressed them — one through absence, the other though their presence. Throughout my life, I was told that my existence wasn’t just not good enough, it was an assault to the status quo.

By the time I made it to high school, I just wanted to hide. I had learned to be so ashamed with myself and my Black body as an afro-latinx teen, I didn’t want to take up space. A few months into my senior year, I decided to drop out. No one in my family contested it, it’s not like they saw a positive future for themselves, let alone for me.

Through my own work, I managed to move from my family’s home to San Francisco in 2010. I eventually went to a university after attending junior college (I dropped out of that too) and began to pursue my first passion of writing.

As a writer of color, I’ve seen how systemic oppression echos the chambers of even the most progressive editorial rooms. From having stories chopped and screwed by white editors who questioned the legitimacy of AAVE,  to articles on Black healing axed on the editorial floor because it simply wasn’t  ‘juicy’ enough.

When I met Ravneet, Wear Your Voice’s founder in 2014, she told me her passion of creating a publication that centered the voices of people from marginalized backgrounds. At the time, I was a writer simply pitching a story, but Ravneet insisted we meet at the coffee shop. Now if you ever meet Ravneet, you’ll soon realize she’s one of those people who lives off essential oils, carries crystals in her pockets and goes off the energy people are emitting. For her, it wasn’t about what I did or didn’t list on paper. It was about who I was, my integrity, my character. And for her, that was enough.

Ravneet has carried that spirit in the work we do. At WYV, we’re creating opportunities and economic access for creatives of color to have autonomy over their lives and their words. Wear Your Voice isn’t just creating space for stories like mine to be told, we’re creating opportunities and removing barriers other people like me to tell their stories. We’re not just talking about the issues, we’re creating solutions for them.

In February, I wrote about why I’m divesting from white supremacy and focusing on Black resilience; I’m choosing to be intentional with where I place my attention and energy, and rather than focus on white supremacists, I’m choosing to focus on the change-makers truly and wholly committed to making this world a better place.

There’s a saying that Ravneet has when people ask her why she chooses to share her story of sexual trauma : ” in the sharing, there’s a healing.”

When we share our stories with each other, we feel a little less alone. We’re creating  spaces for our stories to be told, not only because they deserve to be, but because they need to be.

When you support independent media like Wear Your Voice, not only are you investing in the writers and creatives who use us as a space to share their stories and perspectives, you’re investing in yourself, because we’re all gonna get free together.


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