Our her.stories [working title] media project is growing. We continue filming girls and gender non-conforming youth of color from regions we have yet to visit through video conferencing applications and first-person mobile filmmaking practices to explore how they are adjusting to life under COVID-19: its effects on their education, family and personal relationships, their creative practices and dreams, and their emotional and physical health. The nine cast members who have been interviewed have been invited to reflect on the many changes they’ve experienced since filming to actualize their stories and address our current reality.
Breakthrough Spotlight is a collaborative video and podcast series featuring stories and conversations on the issues affecting partner organizations and the communities they serve, as well as our youth documentary cast, and other activists and artists from around the world. Our goals are to uplift and amplify the innovative and impactful ways they are responding to the crisis of COVID-19, share resources, and create opportunities in these uncertain times. We will also ask our participants to reimagine our current systems in ways that are more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable for all, including our planet.
We Are All Essential (working title)
We Are All Essential (working title) is a collaborative multimedia project that will document and amplify nuanced immigrant stories to broad audiences as a short film series, a user-generated story archive and dynamic media campaigns that advance public conversations on workers’ human rights and economic justice. Our goal is to elevate public understanding of the challenges faced by immigrant workers—particularly those in essential low-wage occupations during COVID-19—and to help build the power of immigrant communities, activists and organizations as a new generation of culture change influencers. Join us in making the world a more equitable place where everyone can reach their full potential.
In March, we launched By & For: Our Communities, an initiative of her.stories. With partners like the Black Youth Project and Wear Your Voice Magazine, we’ll be offering columns, podcasts and additional platforms for affected communities to talk about their lives both within and outside of the pandemic, on their own terms.
Featuring original podcasts from our youth media partners, our first creative collaboration is with the My Colorful Nana Project podcast, a powerful series that invites all people to consider and celebrate their definitions of the words “beauty,” “femininity,” and Blackness, through the lens of hair. Check our website on Wednesday, 4/29, for the next episode!
We know that our personal stories of life under COVID-19 can inspire critical questions for building a more liberated society in the future. What will listening to our communities teach us about overcoming the systemic barriers that were in place before this moment? We’ll explore this question across a range of new projects over the next couple of months, and we hope you will join us.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month: COVID-19 edition
This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we’re also investigating the culture that breeds sexual violence—particularly among queer and trans youth of color in forced isolation—on Twitter, in collaboration with author George M. Johnson and partners Break the Cycle, NAPIESV and SafeBAE. We are inviting our audience to join us in outlining a vision for a world where issues like sexual violence can never again be compounded by any other unforeseen crisis on the horizon.
Back to Basics
SKOLL Virtual World Forum
On April 3rd, nearly 100 participants attended our Telling her.stories: Youth, Media and the Power of our Voice” panel at the Skoll Virtual Forum. Breakthrough Creative Director Moni Vargas hosted a conversation with Breakthrough India’s Nayana Chowdhury, Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love‘s Wazina Zondon and The My Colorful Nana Project‘s Lauren Stockmon Brown on the role of first-person storytelling and creative media in strengthening the agency of girls and gender non-conforming youth of color. If you missed it, you can view it here.
Also on Instagram Live in April, Breakthrough Creative Director Moni Vargas, wearing her other hat as a DJ, hosts The Uplift, an interactive music mix show for those who could use a moment to shake the stress off at home!