Liv Little on feminism, racial stereotypes and founding gal-dem: an online magazine by and for women of colour
DTL: What made you want to set gal-dem up?
Liv: I just finished university, like last week. I was at the University of Bristol studying Politics and Sociology and it was during my second year there, that I became exasperated with the lack of diversity. I also started to get frustrated with the singular perspective so present in academia. I have always been interested in social issues and intersectional feminism, and although I didn’t have any experience in the field, journalism. The media has a tendency to bypass or homogenise the narratives of women of colour; I wanted to set up a space that allowed us to reclaim our voice, whilst reminding readers that our views, opinions, experiences and interests are extremely wide ranging.
DTL: How do you think women of colour are currently represented in the media? What needs to change?
Liv: I think there are so few of us actually represented via mainstream channels, be it in music/tv/film/fashion – and such a lack of depth to the characters that are visible – like, black girls in ‘urban’ dramas who are portrayed as ‘ghetto’ and hyper-sexualised – gal-dem strives to counter these stereotypes. There needs to be more women of colour working in the creative industries, to promote and represent the diverse body of voices out there.
“I think there are so few of us actually represented via mainstream channels, be it in music/tv/film/fashion – and such a lack of depth to the characters that are visible”
DTL: What have been the reactions to gal-dem so far?
Liv: Reactions to gal-dem have been overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people have been reaching out to us and saying how amazing it is that a platform like this exists. Having young, women of colour reach out to us and express how much our work resonates with them is an incredible feeling, but it’s not just women of colour that are showing appreciation for the magazine. I think people really appreciate the quality of the content, and the fact we are trying to cover nuanced perspectives. Although we naturally often cover issues regarding feminism and race, our writers are in no way limited to this remit.
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Of course, there have been a few times where people disagree with what has been written in an article, but I don’t think that is a negative thing, that is just the nature of discussion. It’s good to open dialogue around these subjects. We haven’t experienced much in the way of trolling – there have been a few racist comments – but really, it pales in comparison to the positive feedback we have received. I think, in the main, people are leaving behind preconceived ideas of what a woman of colour should ‘be’ like. Obviously, there is still much that needs to change, but society has come a long way in tackling the forms of aggression or racism that our mothers and grandmothers would have experienced. Our generation have to deal more with micro-aggressions, which are smaller, much harder to pinpoint, and can be harder to articulate.
DTL: Do you have any advice for readers, especially for young people from minority groups, who feel as though their voice is not being heard?
Liv: I advise looking for online spaces and networks that you can relate to, or take it is an opportunity to set up your own online platform. The chances are, if you feel like something is missing, or there is a gap in the market, there probably is. If you want help or advice just reach out – what’s the worst that can happen? More often than not people will be willing to help if they can. Share your ideas and artwork – pitch them to gal-dem!