“Be the media you wish to see”
Next time you’re at your local bookstore, try this: walk to the women’s magazine rack. Find a cover that features a young black woman (sorry Oprah). Now, eliminate any magazines about hair and try again. Getting harder? Now take out any covers with people named Beyonce, Rihanna, Keisha, or anyone else who sings for a living. How many magazines do you have left? What – no black girls on the cover of your favorite fashion magazines? Home decor? Film? Art? Well – “black girls don’t do any of those things.” Get over it.
Let’s face it – most of what the newsstands provide for young women is crap. What they offer young black women, when they offer anything at all, is especially stinky. And, for better or worse, in our media-centric world, you are who the media says you are. As a pretty smart guy once said, you’ve got to be the change media you wish to see
So that’s what Zora is here to do. Through our blog and quarterly magazine, we’re starting a new conversation about black women. The kinds of conversations we have each day with our friends and our sisters. Yes, we talk about our hair sometimes but, to borrow from a gal who’ll never be a media darling but will always be ours, I’m not my hair.
From work to health to relationships to politics, when you’re with your sisters, it all gets talked about. It’s a conversation that doesn’t force you to get in a box and stay there. You’ll sound confident and fragile, hopeful and cynical, silly and serious. Your mood will shift. You’ll contradict yourself. Others may see a girl at odds with herself. We see a girl figuring out herself.
We don’t claim to represent all young black women and our readers won’t always agree with what we write. In fact, we expect to respectfully and intelligently disagree – that’s the only way to move forward. If you’re looking for evidence to corroborate everything you already ‘know’ about young black women, please move on. If you want to join a conversation in good faith, then, whoever you are, stay and let’s talk.
Zora is blessed to feature work by many women who lend their voices to our site. Click here to find out how you can join them. Our editorial team includes:
Ope Bukola is the founder of Zora. She spent her best hours growing up in libraries and later at Borders Bookstore, so she would always rather be reading. A lapsed creative writer, these days she mostly blogs about education and learning. Ope expects to have many careers and hopes to be, among other things, an entrepreneur, journalist, screenwriter, college professor, and coffee shop owner. She enjoys reading fiction, reading magazines, watching documentaries, and sharing interesting stories on twitter. Ope is an alumna of NYU and lives in New York City. You can reach her at editor[at]zoramagonline.com
Jessica Lynne is a brown girl living, in the words of Audre Lorde, deliberately and fearlessly. A graduate of NYU, she lives and writes in New York City. When she’s not writing, she spends her time watching re-runs of The Cosby show because Denise Huxtable is her shero. You can reach her at jess[at]zoramagonline.com
Diamond Janese Sharp is a poet and writer from Chicago. She is an alumna of Wellesley College. At Wellesley she was the winner of the Emily Greene Balch Peace Studies Stipend for her study of poetry, peace and activism. She has performed at Chicago’s Stage 773 and her work has been featured on Chicago Public Radio and published in the Wellesley Review, Feministing, , Say What Magazine, GirlSpeak Webzine, BLACKBERRY, Women in Red [a publication of the University of Wisconsin-Madison], GirlSpeak Webzine, the Chicago Reader and Bop, Strut, and Dance: A Post-Blues Form for New Generations, a forthcoming anthology edited by Tara Betts and Afaa Weaver.
Our name is inspired by the collection I Love Myself When I Am Laughing… And Then Again When I’m Looking Mean and Impressive, an anthology of works by Zora Neale Hurston and edited by Alice Walker. Zora Neale Hurston was an iconoclast, underappreciated and condemned for her independence, whose many contributions to American literary canon would have been ignored were it not for the persistence of those she inspired, including Walker.
Zora magazine began life in April 2010 as Zora&Alice, a publication formed to create a smart, fresh voice for young black women. We are building a media brand created by, and responsive to the needs of black women in the entire diaspora.
We’re always looking for writers, photographers, and artists to contribute to Zora. Click here to learn more about becoming a contributor.