I don’t want to dwell on this, but something has been on my mind for a few weeks now and I feel the need to call it out. I joined Medium in November 2019. I was and continue to be truly impressed by the different points of view that I can find here on Medium. They widen my perspective and understanding of the world.
I started writing on Medium in June 2020. The topics I have chosen to write about touch on the experiences of black women in today’s world. I thought that a natural home for my articles was the Zora publication. Zora proudly displays on its home page that it represents the voices of women of color including black women. Sad to say that it does not.
The fact is that Zora represents some voices and excludes others. I have sent drafts and messages to Zora over the last three months asking them to consider my work for publication. I have not so much as heard a whisper back from them. I find this totally unacceptable. Maybe my writing style does not match Zora’s editorial line, but then, they should simply tell me so.
Zora was founded on the premise that the voices of women of color are often excluded from mainstream discourse. That is supposed to be the whole ethos behind the publication and the reason why Medium gave them premium space on their homepage. Sadly though, Zora does not deserve that spot. It is failing black women, excluding black women, and getting away with it. I had to call this behavior out.
I might not be a celebrity or loaded with degrees, but I am a black woman, and given the readership engagement of my articles over the last few months, my voice also deserves to be heard.
I am from Sierra Leone in West Africa, I was born in Russia and have lived in the UK, Switzerland, Canada, and Singapore. I am as diverse as it gets, and I offer a different perspective on what it means to be a woman of color, albeit a black woman, in a variety of different contexts. But Zora does not offer a platform for my voice.
I have found other publications that are willing to though, but I still feel cheated. Cheated because I realize that what I read on Zora, an official Medium publication is not at all representative of the lives of black women the world over. Wasn’t that what it was supposed to be? Whatever happened down the line? Did the black elitist women who run the publication decide that my poor African black woman voice wasn’t worth their while?
I know that by writing this opinion piece, I am sabotaging my chances of ever writing for Zora, but the truth is, I no longer care. If this article gets them thinking and gets them to add a diversity of black women's voices into their publication — including that of African women without PhDs, I for one would have reached my objective.
Zora editors, as women of color, you know what exclusion feels like. Don’t turn around and do it to others — and shame on you if you didn’t notice that that is exactly what you have been doing so far.