By TIFF JONES
Global Girl Media Network hopes to change the narrative when it comes to changing the way black girls are portrayed in the media.
The non-profit organization just launched a crowdfund campaign to help them counter all-too-common negative portrayal of black and brown girls in the media.
“Since November 2014, we’ve trained 20 girls in Oakland by supplying the equipment, education and mentorship necessary to help them become digital journalists, telling stories through the lenses of their experiences, communities and values,” its founders say via promotional materials on indiegogo, where the group has already raised $1,870.00 at the time this piece was published.
With shoddy news reports of the anti-police violence protests unfolding around the country and clueless entertainment reporters and journalists, finding fair and balanced coverage from mainstream media outlets is often an exercise in futility. There seems to be a segment of journalists who seem far more interested in upholding harmful media archetypes about gender, race and class than they are in getting to the crux of human interest stories and recognizing the importance of fair media representation; because skewing facts to appease their demographic takes precedence over impartiality, prompting people to turn to citizen journalism for a no-frills, nuanced and unbiased approach to news.
Current media trends are low on diversity and seem to eschew the importance of hearing and reading perspectives from pundits who are actually equipped to properly tackle certain topics with integrity and experience. Often, the voices of women and girls of color (trans and cis, LGBQ and heterosexual) are erased from important national discussions, especially surrounding social justice issues and media imagery.
Prime example: Many people either don’t know, or are still smarting from the fact, that the Black Lives Matter movement and term was started and coined by three Black women activists—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Temeti. The mainstream media doesn’t do much to help reiterate that fact, opting to paint a narrative of a bumbling activist operation. Not to mention, the Black Lives Matter message and protests are often co-opted without proper attribution and credited to male activists, some of whom are, reportedly, prone to speaking over the voices of the women at the forefront of many of the protests that have taken place since Ferguson. It’s also not uncommon for girls of color—especially Black girls—to be placed on the back-burner during the creation of public initiatives to help save men and boys of color, even though girls of color face just as many challenges and would benefit from mentoring programs that would help enrich their lives.
Additionally, media portrayals of missing, abused and murdered women and girls of color is often biased or not considered newsworthy enough, unless the victims’ lifestyle can be exploited and used against them in some way. When victims’ identities aren’t being completely erased, some reports often vilify and fail to humanize them, or will offer a lackluster account of events. As was the case with murdered Tampa teenagers Angelia Mangum, 19, and Tjhisha Ball, 18, and with Canadian law enforcement’s lack of concern for the 230 indigenous women that have gone missing or have been murdered.
Founded by filmmakers Amie Williams and Meena Nanji, and comprised of a coalition of broadcasters and journalists, Global Girl Media works to empower young women and girls, between the ages of 14-22 from under-served communities, who aren’t often given the platform to tell their stories. Global Girl Media employs the use of media, leadership and journalism training to enable mentees to counter negative and gendered media bias toward women and girls, and to bridge the gender, class and racial divide in digital media.
So far, Global Girl Media have young reporters operating in Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Morocco, UK, Kosovo and South Africa. With the help of sponsorship and education, these girls have been able to produce, report, write and signal-boost their stories through various platforms, including social media, radio and TV broadcasts, and forge partnerships with more than 200 media outlets.
Global Girls Media-Oakland, founded in June 2014, is currently raising money to help connect and create more opportunities for young women in their communities through storytelling and journalism, and to help launch their ‘Girls Speak Oakland’ summer program, which seeks to train 100 girls in telling their own stories by providing them with tools, trainers and other resources.
While emerging media properties like allDigitocracy (via projects like their Beacon Reader How’d You Get That (Media) Job? drive) and the UK-based Media Diversified (which recently launched an Experts Directory) have helped advocate for more diversity in media, adding young female voices like those of Global Girls Media Network to the media fabric, is equally as important. A perusal of the GGM YouTube channel presents a wide array of riveting news features about issues like teen sex trafficking in Oakland, eco-feminism, global gender equality and teenage survivors of domestic violence.
Want to see more? Support Global Girl Media-Oakland’s crowdfund campaign and help spread the word.
Tiff Jones is the creator and writer of Coffee Rhetoric, a blog about women, pop-culture, film and race. A contributor to both print and digital platforms, she has offered commentary on HuffPost Live and WNPR’s Where We Live.