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Event Recap: An Evening with Ijeoma Oluo

At The Riveter, we believe difficult conversations should be tackled head on. On April 30, we had the opportunity to have a rich conversation as Ijeoma Oluo, New York Times best-selling author and community leader, and Ruchika Tulshyan, Founding Editor of The Establishment, joined us for an open dialogue about media representation of women of color directs conversations about race and bias in our country.

Our biggest takeaway from the conversation? It’s our responsibility is to listen and make sure the voices of the underrepresented have space to speak. Our commitment is to make space for those discussions at The Riveter.  

These key points stood out in Ijeoma and Ruchika’s discussion:

“Female solidarity starts when you decide to stand for ALL women.”

Movement toward equality is not at the expense of any one person or group. We can’t be content with seeing progress for one group of women without all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds being represented. It’s important to keep Ijeoma’s clear words at front and center: “All women rise when ALL women rise.” Not just some. All.

“The burden of change lies with those who have the privilege to catch their breath between hard conversations.”

Conversations that strike at the core of a person’s identity are difficult, but Ijeoma highlighted how women of color continually have to defend their identity and fight for understanding and action. That constant battle can be exhausting and relentless. Those who don’t have to always defend their value are the ones who should be pushing for change.

Focus on meeting the needs of the most marginalized in society.

To truly affect change at all levels, we have to start with the people who are most marginalized and ask the right questions. By understanding their needs and trying to meet those needs, our collective impact will have a broader reach. If we start at the very top to address the abuse that is happening to the most privileged people in society, the impact we have won’t magically make things better for everyone. 

It was a night of valuable insights and a reminder that there is a lot of work to do. We left the conversation with our ears and eyes open. We’re here, we’re listening, and we want to keep this discussion going. If you’re interested in a transcript or video of the talk, can access the transcript here and the video on our Facebook page.