September 25, 2015

The Millennial Workplace at Rookie Magazine

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Sometimes we have the most to learn from younger generations. ​Omega board member and executive director of Women, Action, and the Media, Jamia Wilson describes working with Rookie magazine, a millennial workplace created by young feminists.

By Jamia Wilson

I love being a part of Rookie magazine. I love that it is an inherently and unapologetically feminist publication, but also operates on the premise that it’s there for girls and young women in creating a space that celebrates instead of stigmatizes young girlhood, which so many other things and some other media outlets do.

I have been very inspired by the young women who lead Rookie and by editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson—her possibility-driven mindset and her unapologetic leadership have been integral in helping shape my own leadership—regaining my own power and asking for permission less. I think that everyone should have a 16-year-old boss at some point in their life. In many cases, younger women have not completely adopted some of the conditioning that many of us have as a long-term result of inequality and patriarchy, such as apologizing for our vision, for what we want and what we need, and for setting boundaries, etc. It reminds me to re-channel the power, creativity, and confidence I had before I picked up some of those habits over the years.

Rookie has a very welcoming and accepting tone and community as a millennial workplace, so the content that we have online really translates to the atmosphere of our events in person and the connections that readers have with each other. It’s been heartwarming for me to go to different places and meet people around the world who read this magazine and are inspired by the frank, intelligent, compassionate voice that this publication has. I wish it had been around when I was a teenager. It’s been helpful for me to be accountable to my 16-year-old self by being in community with young women and girls and hearing about the things that they’re going through and hearing how intelligent they are.

It’s made me understand that it’s not my job to direct them, but to ask how I can support them as they move forward and to be mentored by them as well. It’s an equal partnership. There’s wisdom in so many pieces I read from the girls, not only on our team, but also the girls who read the magazine and the writing that I’ve seen on Tumblr, etc. So many of them have their own blogs and I love that it’s a community that really inspires creation, making community, and networking beyond any one platform.

I just sat next to a man on the plane coming back from Charleston. He heard me talking about the Charleston church shooting with another black woman, who had also just attended the funerals and paid her respects. He was a young, white man and said, “I overheard what you guys were saying and I wanted to let you know that I’m an ally and a feminist and I support this work and I’m trying to figure out what my role is as a young, white man.” He was 14 years old and had just skipped eighth grade. Throughout the flight, he told me how he’s excited about his generation because he believes that they’re so much more liberal than the generations before and that they really get it. He's hopeful for the future, and his optimism was infectious.

It’s exciting that someone at 14 is already taking on these issues and posing these questions and tangling with white privilege, race, and identity. Complicating all that is that he shared that he has an Asian grandmother, but people don’t see that when they look at him. He wanted to talk through what this means for his identity, and how he shows up as an ally and advocate. I can’t wait to see what happens with him 20 years from now. I hope he runs for office.