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4 Gems ‘Women In Media’ Can Learn From Angela Yee

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Recently, Women In Media gathered in Philadelphia to celebrate us, the present, and the future of media during their annual conference. This included honoring entrepreneur and radio host, Angela Yee, who continues to pave the way for those in the industry with her "hustle hard" mentality.


By the time she got off the stage, it felt as if we had been bonded together as she shared her journey to success. This epic girl talk touched on breakups (only to exemplify resilience and God's timing, of course) and business, and you can't begin to imagine the gems that were dropped.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

There were no limits to the helpful advice she spouted out to the women who were present. In the spirit of motivating other women in media or any industry, here are 4 top-notch takeaways from everything that Yee gave us:

Internships Pay Big, Even If It's Not Financially

We grapple with the idea of internships because it's essentially slave labor for the needy. It's yet another social construct developed to help the rich get richer, as they're the only ones who can afford to work for free (with minimal pressure and stress, that is).

Yet, they are what's necessary to get your foot in the door and, in certain industries (journalism/PR/marketing), unpaid internships are far more prevalent than others. That rings especially true in markets like New York City, a place thriving and over-saturated with post-grad potential, where you aren't the only one trying to be the only one.

Also important? Passion and, of course, a desire to be present in this moment of your life despite the struggle.

This is what Yee knew when she quit the paying temp job opening envelopes in a room with no windows and zero room for enthusiasm after only two days. Within the same week, she got two offers after putting in work sending in resumes, one of which was from Wu-Tang, who she had interned with during her time in undergrad.

"Even though I didn't get paid for all the internships that I did, I still have relationships at all the places I interned and any of those people, I think, to this day would still hire me because I was so enthusiastic when I went in," the entrepreneur and radio co-host said of the opportunities her internships have presented.

Working for free for a year or so is a small price to pay for the doors that interning can open -- especially when it's something you can do with hope for growth and professional development in the future.

To Angela's point, the undeniable truth is that: "No matter how much money you're making or not making, you have to always go above and beyond, and that's something I've always done."

Consider your time as an intern as a trial period to see if they see longevity in you and vice versa. It's easy to change professions while on the intern level but trying to do so at 45 with a minivan full of kids, although commendable, it's hard as hell.

Trust God's Plan And The Timing Of Everything

When Yee graduated with a degree in English from Wesleyan University in 2000, her ambitions were to become a writer. From Wu-Tang to Eminem's clothing line, and through a long string of marketing jobs, Yee continued to make connections in the industry. After being laid off while working with Em's line, Yee inquired about a marketing position at Sirius XM radio. When Angela stepped into the radio game she had no experience. Writing was her goal, writing was her passion, and writing was her end game. The saying "tell God your plans and watch him laugh" is a major theme in Yee's story and her continued faith has positioned her for the success we see before our eyes. She concluded by adding the importance of remaining open to opportunities and remaining "limitless."

"We have to stop confining ourselves to expectations of 'well, this could never happen' or 'this is a terrible idea.' We have to take a risk because if you don't take a risk, then nothing is going to happen and having nothing happen is worse than trying something that doesn't work."

What's Meant For You Will Be For You But Not Without Work

Much to our surprise, she admits she was awful when she first began radio.

"We should never assume that as soon as we start something we're going to be great at it, you have to know that it's going to take some time to get better."

"I was awful at first. It was hard for me to listen to myself, I didn't tell anybody that I was doing that [radio] because I didn't want anyone to listen, who I knew and be like 'what the hell?' So, it was kind of a secret and little by little people would find out," says Yee.

The self-made go-getter attributes her success to her endless dedication to improve, reminiscing she tells the Women In Media crowd: "I dedicated myself 100 percent to that. I wasn't going out, I was going out listening to my shows figuring out how to get better because I wasn't good at it."

Yee's skills improved immensely and Sirius radio went on to offer her the position on the morning show, and also space to create Lip Service with an opportunity for a night set.

After the doors began to open for Yee, there was no turning back. She went on to get offers from Atlanta, Philly, and soon thereafter I Heart Radio offered her a platform. As the co-host points out, "That's from someone who did not go to school for radio, who never thought I would be a radio personality, I grinded it out and worked hard."

Two Women Are Always Better Than One

The Real

Starting a new position requires you making the rounds to find your fellow black crew. Being a woman, we tend to find an additional place amongst our workplace peers of black women. It's one of the best ways we know how to support one another -- by sticking together. However, we've all heard those women who swear they don't enjoy the company of other women. Yee warns against these type of women, stating that she's "really cautious of people [other women] who say 'I don't mess with other girls' because that's an awful attitude to have."

She further elaborates, "We work so much better together and a lot of that attitude comes from people around us."

Sadly, Yee recounts the numerous times she was pitted against women like Melyssa Ford, Miss Info, and Amanda Seales who all worked in the building while she was at Sirius. None of the women were on the same station and were constantly being told not to trust one another. This is, unfortunately, the way of the world. But we know that together, women get shit done!

Although this was delivered to the Women In Media by a woman in media, we know that Angela Yee is so much more than that. She's more than any one title and we have the potential to be, as well. Knowing the grind can present many roadblocks, it can be useful to heed the advice of someone who has already overcome quite a few of the same or similar obstacles.

With that in mind, I hope that some boss babe somewhere sees this and keeps pushing the limits of her faith.

Related Stories:

Why I Took the Job As a 30-Year-Old Intern at Buzzfeed - Read More

Angela Yee Shares How to Master the Art of Side Hustling - Read More

9 Lessons I Learned After Working 9 Internships - Read More

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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