As millions of women prepared for their trips to Washington, DC this weekend to take a stand against the upcoming inauguration and the potential loss of women’s rights, the Creating Change Conference kicked off in Philadelphia this week, providing a safe space of education and advocacy for thousands of LGBTQ+ community leaders, organizers, and activists.
Between Rev. Dr. William Barber’s moving speech and the concerns surrounding today’s inauguration and the four years to follow, emotions permeated the crowd of attendees at last night’s conference kick-off event, especially for minority groups.
This year’s conference schedule has shown an increase in diversity awareness. Speakers and media professionals of color have been asked to educate event attendees on racial justice on a variety of levels.
Ernest Owens, an award-winning multimedia journalist and editor for Philadelphia Magazine’s G Philly, will focus on racial justice within media.
“It is important to use the media to elevate racial equality and inclusion,” says Owens. “Telling stories through the media is a great way to elevate voices.”
Owens will run a workshop on Friday morning at 9:00 titled, “Elevating LGBT Voices Around Diversity and Inclusion.” He will emphasize the importance of using media to gain rights, particularly for minority communities.
Later in the day, he will run a second workshop titled “Photojournalism and Representation of the LGBT community – Changing Imagery Through Photography.” This workshop will encourage companies, non-profits, and other organizations to better represent their communities with diversity in marketing images.
Owens considers the biggest challenge for LGBT people of color to be equity and access. He suggests diversifying boards as a solution.
He reasons that community members “aren’t getting access to services to help them,” because the organizations supporting the LGBT community don’t fully understand the needs of minority groups within the community, due to underrepresentation. “And there are so many issues present.”
When it comes to allies, both within and outside of the LGBT community, Owens advises allies to “listen, empathize, and amplify. Too often we get allies who do so much that they are blinding or preventing voices from being heard. You need to allow victims to speak. Amplifying the mic isn’t shutting it off, it’s passing the mic around.”
When asked about the upcoming inauguration, Owens says, “I won’t be watching the inauguration. I’ll be creating change!”
To learn more about the upcoming Creating Change event schedule, click here.
To learn more about Ernest Owens, click here.