As communication professionals and leaders, we help bring movements to life that inspire change in our communities. In light of COVID-19, and the recent manifestations of systemic police violence in the US, it is important to consider how our voices, the platforms we use, and our engagement provide a just, equitable, and sustainable path forward. Our guests for the evening were Lulu Carpenter and Marcus Harrison Green.
Luzviminda Uzuri “Lulu” Carpenter (aka Ms. Lulu) works at the intersections of education, media, non-profit, and community organizing worlds as a Queer Chubby Femme Black and Filipino Woman. She is the 5th-8th Grade Performance & Media Arts Teacher at Seattle Girls’ School along with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator, Affinity Group leader, and 8th grade advisor. During her extra time, she is the Station Manager of KVRU 105.7 FM which focuses on the diverse voices, music, and stories of the SouthEnd of Seattle and she founded the Alphabet Alliance of Color (AAoC) in 2017 for Queer and Trans Black Indigenous People of Color. She serves on the Washington State Advisory Committee to the US Civil Rights Commission and has served on multiple boards including the Teacher Advisory Board at MoPop Museum, Womxn Who Rock Organizing Committee, and previously as the Chair of the City of Seattle LGBTQ Commission. She believes in the power of art, media, and education can help prevent violence and promote healing with youth, young adults, and all communities.
Marcus Harrison Green is the publisher of the South Seattle Emerald, and a columnist with Crosscut. Growing up in South Seattle, he experienced first-hand the neglect of news coverage in the area by local media, which taught him the value of narratives. After an unfulfilling stint working for a Los Angeles based hedge-fund in his twenties, Marcus returned to his community determined to tell its true story, which led him to found the South Seattle Emerald. He was named one of Seattle’s most influential people by Seattle Magazine in 2016.
They began the discussion by framing their work within the values of the Communication Leadership program, storytelling, technology, values, responsibility, community, advocacy, and leadership.
Lulu highlighted the importance of mentorship and creating space for others in talking about her introduction to the field. “I want to center media justice. I personally would have never been a leader in this field is it wasn’t for someone else, who was marginalized, who reached out and said ‘this is what media is, this is what technology is, come join me.’”
Marcus too reflected on the importance of mentors in the difficult task of building the Seattle Emerald “what I did was hit up every journalist who I respected in Seattle and just asked them to mentor me… only a few emailed me back but the ones who did email me back continue to be mentors to this day.”
Marcus started the Seattle Emerald in part to tell stories about the South End of Seattle that aren’t being told in mainstream media. He shared an experience he had interviewing a young man who insisted there was nothing he liked about the South End because “that’s what they say about us- that we are nothing.” Marcus wondered about a different narrative for the community. “Where was the richness… the multidimensionality… the genius of our community. Storytelling is everything… It’s the operating system with which we are guided by in life. And so you want to make sure that the operating system is correct.” Both Marcus and Lulu discussed the idea of the “edge effect” and telling the unique stories from intersecting communities that aren’t being heard. “When I think about the work that I’ve done… my story was not included.” Lulu reflected. “When you think about who’s the margin of the margin within your affinity, you need to advocate from that point. We need to reframe the conversation and say, who in our communities are disappearing whose voices need to be heard and whose voices need to be heard. Now, before they disappear.”
Advocacy increasingly takes place online, but Lulu reminded us that social media is something that can bring us together or tear us apart. It starts with understanding yourself as a “digital citizen…not who you are right here, but who you are online.” Applying this idea to advocacy on social media she says “its advocacy for yourself in terms of how you build community online… but it’s also how you further a movement through interpersonal relationships.”
In the current moment Marcus says that the Seattle Emerald is continuing to cover structural racism, patriarchy and heteronormativity as it always has, but with more awareness from the rest of the community. “ it’s just been harder to do sometimes because everything moves at the speed of chaos… but it’s always about what stories aren’t getting told any why aren’t they getting told… to humanize people and bring empathy to people.” Lulu recognized that in this time where everything is moving so fast, as Marcus said, she needs to slow down. “I need to slow down while everyone is speeding up… towards chaos… I need to listen well and I need to know what I can do for my house. Everybody has their place in a movement … I need to give access to youth and I need to learn to follow their leadership.”
Finally, Lulu and Marcus shared the best advice they’ve received:
Marcus’s best advice comes from his mother- “She said Marcus, it’s not your fault you were born into a world that’s unfair, unjust, cruel, and horrible at times but it is your fault if you leave it that way when you go.”
Lulu’s greatest advice comes from a friend who, in a really hard time for Lulu, said “There will come a time when you will be steady. If people under praise you and do not see your value, you will still see your value. And when people over praise you, you’ll get a big head but you can stay steady the course.”
Be sure to watch the recording of the event below for many more pieces of amazing wisdom from our panelists and check out our upcoming events.