As a Person of Color who adores all things media, it often comes to my attention that in my media consumption I center a predominantly white narrative and am experiencing the world through a white gaze—a gaze that I do not share by virtue of my being a Person of Color.
In 2016, I encountered the ABENWA blog that had presented the challenge of only consuming media that was created by or starred People of Color. They embarked upon this journey for a full calendar year, but I had only found them in late August. Rather than dismiss what was, to me, a brilliant idea, I decided to join in the fun for a month.
My first annual ABENWA month was excruciatingly difficult for about 10 days as I purged most of what I had been listening to, reading, and watching (not realizing just how much of my media consumption centered non-PoC), but it eventually became second nature. I created a Spotify playlist so as to not be caught off guard by that darn Spotify Discover playlist, I found How to Cake It on YouTube (I hadn’t realized how much YouTube I watched and how few of my favorites were people of color), I found new books to read, and, by the end of the month, I was still happily continuing to consume the media I had discovered.
Get to the point, I know.
The point: September is ABENWA Month
Starting today, all of the media I consume will be produced by/featuring People of Color.
How am I doing this?
I’ll lay out the rules and some resources below if you want to come along on this journey with me.
Disclaimer: Anything you need to watch/read/do for work or school is excluded from ABENWA month. This is an exercise for your personal consumption, not a study in how mad you can make your supervisor. Don’t stop doing your job, y'all.
What I Can Read
MUST be WRITTEN by a person of color (yes, even biographies). This includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc.
Protagonist MUST be a Person of Color (even better if that Person of Color is written by a Person of Color).
Articles/Pieces MUST be WRITTEN by a Person of Color regardless of the media outlet.
(This one is hard, I can’t lie. I’m not even very good at it, but I am still trying. Feel free to recommend some great PoC bloggers or journalists I can follow in the comments).
What I Can Watch
Protagonist MUST be a person of color (again, even better if that PoC was written/directed by other PoC)
My Film List:
Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Middle of Nowhere
Beasts of No Nation
Yes, this has to be its own section because there are so many documentaries out there about People of Color.
Documentaries MUST be DIRECTED by a Person of Color. (I need more of these; help!)
My Documentaries List:
Protagonist MUST be a Person of Color
My TV List:
Master of None
Jane the Virgin
Fresh Off the Boat
How to Get Away With Murder
Content Creator MUST be a Person of Color or FEATURE a Person of Color. (Yes, collab videos count. Barely.)
My YouTube List:
Markiplier (Let’s Play/Gaming)
Jackie Aina (Beauty)
How to Cake It (Exactly what it sounds like)
Kathleen Lights (Beauty)
Michelle Khare (Fitness)
Jouelzy (Everything, really)
Evelyn From The Internets (All the things)
IISuperwomanII (You probably already know her)
What I Can Listen To
Artist MUST be a Person of Color
My ever-growing playlist:
Note: I do not include artists that are accepted by the public as non-poc in my playlist (Halsey doesn’t need my help). Also, I generally don’t put PoC who are extraordinarily famous on this playlist (Michael Jackson, Beyonce, etc) but I still listen to them throughout the month.
MUST be PRODUCED/FEATURE Person/People of Color
There is a wonderful list of practically a billion PoC podcasts, here.
I will try to keep you all updated on the month’s progress and any great discoveries I’ve made (I found Sampha last year right before he took off, so I’m hopeful). Comment your recommendations below and I’ll see you on the other side!