Joining Forces: How These Black Women in Media Inspire Inclusion 

Meet trailblazers like Jessica Cruel, Aramide A. Tinubu, Asia Milia Ware, and Dominique B. Fluker as they redefine narratives and pave the way for diverse voices in the media landscape.

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Joining Forces: How These Black Women in Media Inspire Inclusion 

In preparation for International Women’s Day 2024, I felt compelled to delve into the perspective of Black women colleagues in the media industry on the theme of “Inspire Inclusion.” Although time constraints limited my reach, the insights I gathered illuminated a crucial aspect of our collective journey.

In the American media landscape, inclusion and diversity are not mere buzzwords for Black women; they are foundational principles ingrained in our daily endeavors. We navigate through our roles with a palpable sense of responsibility, tirelessly striving to ensure our voices are heard and our narratives are authentically portrayed.

As the founder and CEO of a Black-owned media platform, TANTV,  “I often emphasize to investors and advertisers that Black storytelling is anything but monolithic. Yet, the pervasive tokenization of Black women suggests otherwise—a single representation deemed sufficient, leaving the diverse spectrum of our experiences overlooked and undervalued”.

For me, the realization of being more than a monolith as a Black woman underscores the strength derived from my cultural heritage and identity. Coming from Nigeria, my journey to understanding the nuances of Black womanhood in America has been enlightening, shaping my approach to the media landscape.

Amidst the dynamic shifts within the American media industry, collaboration emerges as our most potent tool in advocating for representation and inclusion. It is imperative that we unite our efforts to amplify diverse voices and lead by example in telling multifaceted stories that resonate with authenticity and empathy.

In essence, the theme of “Inspire Inclusion” serves as a rallying cry for Black women in media to continue championing change, dismantling stereotypes, and fostering a more equitable and representative industry. Our journey is ongoing, but through collective action and unwavering determination, we pave the way for a future where all voices are heard and celebrated.

One thing I love about this handful of women I spoke to is that they not only inspire inclusion through their roles but are also vivid examples of the positive Black representation we need more of.

I remain in awe of Jessica Cruel, the editor-in-chief of Allure. She leads the development of multi-platform editorial content for digital, social, and video platforms, including the Readers’ Choice Awards and Best of Beauty Awards franchises.

Cruel joined Allure in 2019, before becoming EIC in 2021. That same year, she spearheaded The Melanin Edit, Allure’s platform exploring all things relating to Black beauty and wellness. Before joining Allure, Jessica also held editorial roles at Refinery29, SELF, and Popsugar. When I go on Instagram and come across her feed, it just brightens up my day because she shines bright through her meaningful vibrant content-sharing tips on a ‘Day in the Life’ of an editor, her real estate endeavors, financial tips, and of course beauty regimens. 

“As a Black woman working in the beauty space for over a decade, I understand what it’s like to be overlooked because I don’t represent the ideal beauty standards. I’m curvy with 4B natural hair and skin the color of milk chocolate. So, when we are creating content for Allure, I am constantly making sure that the perspective of women like me is represented. Knowing that feeling of being left out of the conversation also means I seek diverse thoughts and cultural opinions from my Allure team members. I want everyone to read our beauty coverage and say “this is me”! As an editor-in-chief, I am also thinking about how we can expand the layers of inclusion to include those over 50 and those with disabilities in the casting of models and the articles we publish. When you are a minority leader, diversity isn’t just lip service, it’s a long-term strategy to audience growth and cultural relevance — and it feeds the soul of that little Black girl inside me who loved magazines growing up but felt images that looked like me were missing.”  ~ Jessica Cruel, Allure Editor-in-Chief. 

Aramide A. Tinubu is a television critic at Variety. She and I got acquainted after years of social admiration for each other’s media achievements. Aramide has worked extensively as a consultant, producer, and writer. As a journalist, her work has been published in ESSENCE, Bustle, Shadow and Act, IndieWire, and The Hollywood Reporter. She wrote her master’s thesis at Columbia University on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema.

“For me, it’s been very important to advocate for television series that aren’t necessarily going to come up in our standard review schedule. This means keeping my ears and eye to the ground and championing shows on networks like Starz, BET+ and Tubi that have massive audiences but don’t necessarily get the same kind of media coverage. While it adds more work to my plate, writing about Black-led and female-led series are things I am uniquely qualified to do because of my personal and educational background which makes for more well-rounded coverage overall.” ~Aramide A. Tinubu, Variety TV Critic. 

Joining Forces: How These Black Women in Media Inspire Inclusion 

Asia Milia Ware is a fashion and beauty writer for The Cut. Whenever I want to get recommendations for Black skincare products, she’s my go-to source. She writes the column “Why Is Your Skin So Good.” She has covered fashion and beauty for seven years, with bylines in InStyle, Teen Vogue, Paper, and Essence.

“I inspire inclusion within my role by telling stories about people who look like me. Diversity and inclusion isn’t an afterthought for me because being a Black woman is my day to day life reality. Because of that, the stories I tell must always reflect who I am and who my younger self needed when I was growing up not seeing anyone who looked like me on magazine pages” ~ Asia Milia Ware , The Cut Fashion & Beauty Writer

Joining Forces: How These Black Women in Media Inspire Inclusion 

Dominique B. Fluker is a journalist and essayist based in Los Angeles. I fell in love with her work at ForbesWomen covering mainly successful Black and multicultural women. She is now the Lifestyle Editor at ESSENCE and creates purpose-driven and multicultural content for Glamour, Travel & Leisure, Insider, Shondaland, and more. She is also the founder of DBF Interiors. 

“My role inspires inclusion within the wellness space because I aim to shine a light on important medical and health trends in and outside of our community which helps other Black millennial women to prioritize their health and self-care.” ~ Dominique B. Fluker, ESSENCE Lifestyle Editor.  

Black women in media wield their influence to advocate for social justice and systemic change. Through activism, advocacy, and community engagement, they leverage their platforms to address issues of racial injustice, gender inequality, and intersectional discrimination. By speaking out against injustice, amplifying marginalized voices, and using their platforms to raise awareness, Black women in media are driving forward conversations that challenge the status quo and inspire meaningful change.

This mini-editorial is the first of many profiles that aim to capture the impact and significance of Black women in the media space and how we advocate for representation and inclusion within our different roles.

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