How did this happen?
Last month a few of us thought it would be nice to meet up for lunch to celebrate our friend Marci Ien. She had recently moved on from Canada AM was about to make a huge transition. We came together to support her and show her some love and honour her accomplishments. Reflecting on that day Marci says, "Why me? I thought as I gazed around and looked at the accomplished, wonderful women assembled at the table. Do they think I'm done? As if on cue, one of them said, you've inspired us. Today we honour you. This is one special sisterhood."
We snapped a fun photo and that was that. But then something else happened. People started sharing it and remarking how amazing it was to see all of these black women from different competing networks together. I guess people had no idea that while yes we work for competing stations, we are friends.
It got me thinking, what if we could bring even more black women in media together. Some of us haven't seen each other in years, some of us don't even know each other! So I set out to find as many black women as possible working at all the media outlets I could think of.
Why is this important?
The younger women in the group have no doubt grown up watching and admiring the trailblazers in the group. Tracy Moore, host of the longest running daytime TV show Cityline; Marci Ien, the first black woman to host a national morning show.
But they've never had a chance to meet them in person, talk to them, and feel their power. Last week we filled that space with high energy, love, electricity, passion, sisterhood.
There were about 30 of us, standing there at the corner of Dufferin and Queen street, unapologetic, beautiful, strong, accomplished and bad ass. We waved at people on the streetcar, we cheered and applauded every time a black girl walked by. We owned that little space for one hour and it was pretty goddam glorious. I don't think we realized the power in coming together with women who share the same struggles and hopes, the same passions and heart for what we do.
"When I started in this industry in 2001 a black woman network didn't exist. I remember trying to reach out to one high profile black reporter in the industry and getting a swift rebuff (she's since retired). I need to be a part of this movement because we need each other more than ever before. There is room for all of us and if we can't help each other, why the hell are we here?"
Each of these women has their own stories of what it's like to exist in this industry. The extra hoops we have to jump, the additional doors we have to kick down, the extra stares, comments, judgments, and dismissals of our abilities.
But when you're standing in a group of black women as powerful as this, you don't even have to speak the words. There are just looks exchanged that say, "Girl I know". I think that's why it's important for us to keep coming together in solidarity. It's the kind of thing that feeds your soul and helps keep you going throughout your day to day. There are dozens more black women working in the media who couldn't make it to the shoot due to scheduling. I hope to one day soon organize an event where more of us can meet up.
This image is also important because we're hoping it will inspire more young black women, and men to consider the media as a career option. I want people to recognize that for every one person you see reading the news on TV, there are dozens of more people working behind the scenes as writers, producers, editors, and camera operators. There is more to media than meets the eye. And we need more people of colour filling these roles simply because the more voices we have, the more honest storytelling we can demand.