The Unplug Collective Allows Black Women to Express Themselves Without Censorship – Teen Vogue

TV: I read on your website that all your main staff are young Black women. Why did you feel like it was important for young people to be at the forefront of the magazine, and particularly young Black women?

AT: Its funny, we recently made the decision not to put for Black women in the bio of our site. We thought about it, and we realized that so many spaces for white people exist just by default they dont have to name the space for it to be for white people. So we decided we wanted to create a space that prioritized Black womens needs, but put it out there as if its a given.

Of course, I wanted to uplift specific voices, and thats why my team is made up of Black women, but the people on my team are also some of the most brilliant people Ive ever met. Everyone is so good at their role and so passionate about the mission. Were all students and were all so committed to learning and seeing this through, and I think that really shines through on the site.

TV: What do you think Unplug Collective is adding to the discussion of Black womens bodies that maybe other magazines arent talking about as much?

AT: I feel like were taught that story telling has to be a very specific arc: It has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the end needs to have some sort of resolution. But I think for Black women specifically, and especially when were talking about our journeys with our own bodies, there might not be a resolution to the story yet. For example if someone is writing about fatphobia and medical discrimination, and theyre writing about a time when they were misdiagnosed for an illness because of their weight, they are still going through this, and there is not a typical resolution to their story yet. Our number one priority is to allow people to be transparent about their feelings, rather than have a tidy story thats going to get views.

Whats often so difficult about writing is that a lot of language related to trauma is inaccessible. For example words like gaslighting or fatphobia are things that many Black women have faced, but may not have the language to talk about. I think that if we can show people that our lived experiences are just as valuable to learn from as a typical textbook, we can make a huge shift in the way that people view Black womens trauma and trauma in general.

TV: What has the response been to the Unplug Collective since you launched?

AT: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I would say I get a least two responses a day saying I just started therapy after reading your website or I didnt know I had an eating disorder until I read a conversation in the comments section.

We see the comments section of the website as a bit of a community healing circle. Our publication doesnt remove the writing process from the reaction process: Our titles are very to the point, we encourage writers to submit a photo along with their work, and every article has a comments section so people can respond to someones story immediately. Its essentially online group therapy in a way thats very accessible.

Our whole mission revolves around the idea that everyone is a story teller, everyone is a writer, and everyone has influence. That means that anyone can submit as well. The only pitching process is sharing your Google doc, and if your story is accepted, the editor will call you, talk to you about what youre going through, and see if you need any support in your writing. So by the time the story has been published, the writer will have gone through a bit of a healing process already, and then when people begin to comment, it continues that process.

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The Unplug Collective Allows Black Women to Express Themselves Without Censorship - Teen Vogue

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