This weekend saw a host of exciting, inspiring women visit Bristol to discuss racial and gender inequalities in mainstream media as it stands. It was a pleasure to see how supportive Bristol is, and that it has the ability and passion to strive for and create change.
First was the new creative online magazine gal-dem.com on Friday, at what was possibly the coolest event in Bristol for a long time, in a room filled with amazing décor, brilliant illustrations and unwavering determination, the girls showed just how cool it is to be intellectual.
In their own words, gal-dem’s mission is to ‘open up our take on the world to a wider audience. We want people of different shapes, sizes, sexes and ethnic backgrounds to engage with the work we are doing. It is no secret that the mainstream media doesn’t represent or reflect us, so we are doing it for ourselves’. The atmosphere in the room demonstrated just how driven these young girls are for more representation in the media, and how determined they are to bring about that change themselves. Their enthusiasm and excitement proved inescapably contagious; spoken word artist Rachel took the crowd away, and Vanessa Kisuule stole the show when discussing her difficulties communicating with her Ugandan grandmother.
These women mean business, but with the 90’s RnB and abundance of laughs that just topped off the evening, it’s clear they’re also here to have fun. The magazine was created by Liv Little, a Bristol graduate who became ‘frustrated’ by the lack of diversity at her university, and now the almost 50 women of colour now involved in gal-dem (some contributing from as far away as the US and South America!) have created a supportive and inclusionary platform for all of their voices to be heard. And inclusion is something important to them – the girls were keen to emphasise that for them, ‘woman of colour’ is not a term used in an exclusionary way, but is meant to be unifying in its aim to provide a voice and identity for everyone. Articles on their website range from the tongue-in-cheek ‘How not to be racist at uni 101’ to the sobering ‘Colour not culture – questioning a movement’. In their wide-ranging scope, covering social commentary, arts & culture, fashion, and music, the girls manage to find a perfect balance between youthful enthusiasm and a solemnity that shows the need for their voices to be taken seriously. This was no more apparent than on the night of their launch, which was four hours of intensely mesmerising young excellence.
Wish you all the best ladies – here’s to moving moving forward side by side!
Onto Sunday, where The World is Listening put on the debate ‘Female is not a genre’ at The Trinity Centre. Upon entering Fyfe Hall, it was difficult not to get distracted by the grand stained glass window, which framed the setting for the panel of women. And what a glorious panel they were!
Anya Pearson, the first to highlight the now highly publicised gender imbalance for festival line-ups this summer, was on the panel. Eva Lazarus, singer/rapper and patron to Saffron Records, was beside her, as well as singer-songwriter Roxanne de Bastion and Emma Hooper, an author and musician. Together, they discussed everything from whether Ryan Adams’ cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989 was a gendered issue that dismantled her creativity as a female artist, to whether there should be a quota of a quarter female musicians that gig line-ups and promoters need to stick to.
The women on the panel were a perfect example of the women in this industry who are ready to tackle the overwhelming inequality and are striving for real, immediate change. The debate raised some really key discussions about the industry, and it was great to see that so many people have committed to being a part of that. We need to continue this conversation and engage with each other in order to create a better environment for women to thrive in the music industry.
The weekend was a real testament to Bristol as a platform for welcoming the discussion of problems with the industry, and ways in which we can work together to change it. With many exciting events coming up, such as the LaDIYfest 9-11th October, it looks like there’s a lot more to look forward to as well. Thank you so much to everyone involved – here’s to a bright future for us all!
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