I will never forget how the Women's Media Center found me.
I was at a feminist event at the Brooklyn Museum sponsored by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in March 2009. Then vice president of the Women's Media Center (WMC), Glennda Testone, approached me after I spoke during the open mic about how the work of feminist teachers is often overlooked when academics address issues of gender and education.
Testone encouraged me to apply to Progressive Women's Voices (PWV), the WMC's marquee media training program for women who work in a range of fields from medicine to the media, education to the environment. While messages differ according to field and expertise, all PWV alumnae have a common goal: to change the media landscape by placing diverse women's voices at the forefront of television, radio, print and online outlets.
For the past thirteen years, my work has focused on making curricular and institutional change in schools on issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Being a part of PWV has allowed me to amplify my voice while shaping the conversation on issues that are crucial to me and to my students, especially in relation to diversity and inclusion, equity and justice.
During the course of my training, PWV taught me how to leverage three things: my expertise, my message, and my platform. PWV trainers help women claim their expertise so that they can bring their message to a larger audience. Indeed, As Catherine Orenstein from the Op/Ed Project said during one of our sessions, women are raised in a "culture of self-abnegation" and claiming our expertise is the first step towards having an impact on the issues about which we are passionate. The women in the program are experts in everything from the state of emergency rooms to the state of human trafficking. Clarifying nuanced content into understandable messages is at the core of the training.
One of the most important reasons why I decided to apply to PWV was because I wanted to learn how to create a media platform about addressing gender and racial justice in education. To begin shaping that platform, I started my own blog, Feminist Teacher, which expands the discussion of social justice education to those in the K-12 sector. My goal with the blog was to make educators and others who are interested in diversity and equity in education visible to each other, as we move forward with our important work in schools.
A little over a month after starting my blog, fellow PWV alumna Courtney Martin from Feministing wrote a post highlighting an elective on feminism I teach to high school students. A student in my course had written a letter to Obama asking him to consider the ways in which the history of feminism might be addressed in schools, and I had featured her letter on my blog. Within hours, Anna North from Jezebel picked up on Martin's post and wrote another post providing further analysis. The attention these two posts created for my blog has allowed me to continue these conversations not only on my blog posts and comments but also via my my Twitter feed, where I am able to share my expertise and that of others who work in the field of social justice.
Equally important to me is the opportunity to create a platform as a woman of color within a media field that is largely dominated by white men. Learning how to create that platform with other women leaders of color in my cohort such as Rose Aguilar, Christine Ahn, Taina Bien-Aimé, Sandra Finley, Sujatha Jesudason, Mana Kasongo, and Cristina López means that I am not only a part of Progressive Women's Voices but a larger progressive women's movement that is changing the landscape of both how we talk about the issues and who is talking about the issues. For that reason, I encourage any woman with an important message to take that extra step and apply to Progressive Women's Voices.
I remain grateful that the Women's Media Center selected me to be a part of transforming crucial conversations about issues facing us today. It's now up to me to do the work of vision and change.