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On Air Activism: The Feminist Magazine Collective

In 2012 I found myself on Facebook reading through posts that were shared by various feminist blogs, websites, etc., and I came across a Call for Participation and Interns for Feminist Magazine. Feminist Magazine, airing on Pacifica Radio’s KPFK 90.7FM, is a long running radio program produced by a diverse collective of feminists. I jumped at the chance to get involved and the opportunity to use the radio as another tool for activism and advocacy. As a Segment Producer, I am able to highlight stories, organizations, and individual women whose worked focuses on grassroots organizing, feminist activism, and other intersectional and intergenerational issues. I quickly replied to the post, emailing them about my interests; all while thinking about how I could use this platform to bring awareness to issues that impact the lives of women, particularly women of color, to a varied audience, who all may not be feminists.

I was invited to come down to the radio station to “sit in” on a show, in order to get a feel for how the collective work, and to decide whether I was still interested. I walked in on what could only be described as organized madness. I was greeted by Senior Producer, Lynn Ballen, and to tag along with her as she ran tot he copier to print the show’s cue sheets, all while trying to deal with a guest who was canceling less than a hour to the show, and another who was running late, due to family issues (highlighting the fact that women often have to juggle many responsibilities in our lives). Somehow Lynn and other members of the collective were able to pull it together. I later joined them at the “round table”, and it was here that I learned how diverse and awesome the collective really is. The women in attendance were those who just entered their 20s, to those in their 60s. They were multi-generational, multi-lingual, multi-racial, multi-cultural and of varying sexual orientations. The collective was (and continues to be), absolutely inclusive, exactly what Feminism should be.

It is at the round table discussion that the Feminist Magazine collective meets monthly to talk about our individual projects, passions, and show ideas. Arianna, our most senior producer sets the tone, by reinforcing the rule that all of our opinions/voice are valid and hold equal weight; regardless of our ages, experience in activism, or years involved with the collective. In other words, nobody is considered the expert, who has all of the answers. Sure…….those with more seniority (and again seniority does not automatically equate to age) openly share their experience with organizing and producing different types of shows; but this historical context helps to ensure that we do not reinvent the wheel, or use strategies that were unsuccessful in the past. I often consider what is stated and try to think about why certain strategies failed, and what could have been done to prevent those problems or errors.

What I am learning most through my experience at Feminist Magazine is that as cliche as it may sound, communication is truly critical for effective and meaningful organizing across generations. Yes, sometimes we communicate too much — and we occasionally become enamored with emails (because every decision is open for comment or input during a specified period of time), and our monthly meetings can become very boisterous; but the end result is that we all walk away knowing that we were heard; and our suggestions and concerns are being considered.

Being multigenerational is essentially an asset and we benefit from the mix of expertise, experience, and skill sets. While some of the younger members of the collective may be more tech savvy, other and often more senior members have an impressive network or “rolodex” filled with community partners, activists, activist scholars, and more who they can call upon or refer other members of the collective to; and this underlines the fact that networking is a necessary skill for solidarity building.

Another way that this multigenerational collective has served as an asset, is that it helps to ensure that our stories, off-air activities, and guests are equally diverse; and again this diversity and the ability to remain all-inclusive is a hallmark of Feminism; as well as social movement organizing in general.

Cherise Charleswell is a self -and- internationally published author, poet, activist, independent scholar, biomedical researcher, and public health specialist. She currently serves as a Segment Producer for Feminist Magazine on Pacifica Radio/KPFK, Women’s Issues Chair of the Hampton Institute, Chair of the National Women’s Studies Association Social Justice Task Force, President Elect of the Southern California Public Health Association, and Governing Board Member of the Society for the Analysis of African American Health Issues. Cherise has recently published the satirical self-help guide Real Talk TIPS For the Morally-Challenged, Socially Inept, & The People Who Love Them (available at www.etsy.com/EclecticLivingOnEtsy) She is also currently working on the book projects, The Link Between Food, Culture, & Health Disparities in the African Diaspora and Walking in the Feminine: A Stepping Into Our Shoes Anthology

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