We don’t need only and exclusively social protests, political movements or even a whole month to remind us what a wonderful thing is having a Black heritage. African-American culture and African descendent traditions should be celebrated and considered everyday. Western societies – especially the USA – should recognize celebrations like Black History Month, remember Juneteenth in June and Kwanzaa in December, and personalities like Wangari Maathai (Nobel Prize winner), Sister Rosetta Tharpe (rock ‘n roll pioneer), and Alice Coachman (first African American woman to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics).
A lot of Brown and Black girls, even the Gen-Z ones, have spent their childhood and part of their adolescence looking up at role models and mentors who didn’t look like them. Mind you: when I write “looking like” I mean not only on a physical level, but also – if not mostly – on a cultural level. As a Brown Italian girl, who attended private schools, and didn’t have a great exposure of technology like most of the kids nowadays do, I never thought I could actually hold a place in media, at least not in Italy. The only solution that I would keep thinking for myself in order to achieve my dreams was to move to another place, to another country where more people who looked like me could do what I wanted to do. Now more and more Black and Brown Italians have raised their voice, but our story is still new and not consolidated within our institutions and white peers.
As we’re in the middle of the year, quarantine seemed to have passed and more businesses are starting reopening. When quarantine was mandatory and a real thing, I cut some of my time and between school assignments I would catch up with old tv shows, like Daria. I had the chance to watch Sex And The City. I can say that I liked it, but I couldn’t stop thinking one thing: what would Carrie Bradshaw do in this pandemic? She’s a journalist (a columnist) and she always questions everything around her. What would she do in this situation we’re living?
One day I was on Twitter and while I was scrolling I bumped into a lifestyle blogger, whose tweets caught my attention. When I visited her website, her biography struck me and there was only one new thing that I couldn’t stop thinking: what would this Carrie Bradshaw do in times like these?
Jamé Jackson is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in NYC. Between the lines of her articles and post I can spot some Issa Rae’s vibe, mixed with a whole lot of Carrie Bradshaw, and tons of Black Girl Magic scent. What a combination! Finding her page, wrapping up with Sex And The City, and having these questions around media and journalism swirling in my mind, brought me to make this interview.
For my dear readers and I, Ms. Jackson has answered some questions that popped in my mind during these chaotic and uncertain weeks. Thanks Jamé for your time!
In your bio, you define yourself as “the grown-up, Black girl magic version of Carrie Bradshaw“. What would Carrie Bradshaw do in this pandemic, in your opinion? Would she still write for her column or expand her interests?
Chile, who knows what Carrie would be doing in this pandemic! That woman did not like to cook and needed to take a taxi everywhere — she’d probably be pulling her hair out by now. Hopefully a modern-day Carrie Bradshaw would be more well-versed in things that just felt so superfluous at that time: LGBTQ+ equality, Black Lives Matter, the rise and scale of the e-commerce market for fashion and beauty brands, etc. and would actually be actively involved in exploring those topics through a fashion lens.
If she actually was more “woke” as people like to say nowadays, I think Carrie would open her column (now completely digital at this point) up to discuss more than just sex and relationships. Inevitably, what happens outside of our house impacts who we are and how we feel inside our house. A huge reason why many Black people are grieving even while quarantined — what’s happening out in the streets is seeping into what we do and our day-to-day actions.
Considering your background at Verizon Media, pick three of the major changes that you can foresee in the future of media, especially in positions like Senior Editor.
I’ve been very blessed to work for major companies like Time Inc., Yahoo, BuzzFeed, Verizon Media, but also for my own brand and in contributing writer roles for other outlets. The future of media is one that’s constantly evolving and changing, with only guestimates at this point of what is to come. I remember still wanting to get in house for print journalism, and then digital was the wave, and then video. Media, and all those who work in it, have to learn to be adaptable and ready with the times.
I think the future of media will focus more on authentic storytelling and creative holistic experiences for the reader. People nowadays want to see, touch, hear, feel the experience, and it’s the task of publishers and tech companies to provide that 360-approach to journalism and story content.
How did you start blogging? How did you find your online space and writing style?
Funny enough, I’ve always loved to write. I would sit at the top of the stairs in my house and write out entire scripts, plays, and short stories. Even now, I write my thoughts down every day — I’m used to chronicling my thoughts, and ultimately that’s what blogging is for me.
I “officially” started blogging back in 2015 when I realized that I needed a portfolio in order to get my foot in the door. I was seeing bloggers who were using their platforms to showcase everything from their outfits to makeup swatches, and so I thought to myself, “Why can’t I do that as well?” It took me a while to find my online space only because as a new blogger, you’re trying to replicate what successful bloggers have done. Once I figured out that I couldn’t do what everyone else did, but my superpower was actually in me discussing gender and race in these industries, everything else fell in place.
Let’s talk about fashion. Why are we so connected to fashion? What is the purpose of fashion or being interested in fashion?
Fashion is so ingrained in our everyday lives and beings. Every day, we choose what to wear and how to wear it. In a way, fashion is the great equalizer because you can have ten people wear the same thing and they can still exert their individual style. You can look at what a community is wearing and make conclusions of what was happening politically, culturally, socially during that time.
Unfortunately, because of systematic racism in these industries, fashion has not always been kind or inclusive. I see fashion as a way of conversation – it sends a message for the person.
From a racial perspective, so much of one’s clothing can support and celebrate their culture. Fashion can tell a story. Growing up, my fashion show was the church. Every Sunday morning, I would see people wear their “Sunday best” to honor God. I saw my mother take great pride in her church hats, but also in her suits she’d wear every single day to work. The Black community has always had to look presentable, polished, and even professional to inhabit the same spaces with our peers. Though much of our art and self expression has come from pain, we have the swag and the creativity to put our own spin on these things and make them one of a kind.
When did you start appreciating fashion and its related fields – beauty, style, entertainment culture?
I’ve always loved fashion. When I was a teenager, I had my parents take me to the vintage shops so I could buy things nobody else in my school had. I learned to thrift through trial and error, but it trained my eye to see things not as they are but what they could be.
I also always loved beauty. As a kid, I would rip out pages of my mom’s discarded magazine pile and learn the names of brands and products. I was always enamored by women like Naomi Campbell and Iman on covers and in the glossy pages of beauty magazines, but even as a kid, I noticed that there was a general lack of representation for Blackness in beauty.
I think it all came together and blended into one pot as I got older and realized I didn’t have to choose between this or that, I could do and be both.
Are you worried about this current pandemic? If yes, what kind of concerns are in your mind?
Am I worried? No. Am I concerned? Yes. I do think there was a cleansing that needed to happen in corporate America and in these different industries around the world. I don’t prescribe to worry because every day I have to exercise faith over fear. With the recent protests and uprisings that have allowed the world to really see how Black lives have to fight in this country, I think there is a lot of curiosity to what the world will look like on the other end of this.
It will be interesting to see what the fashion industry looks like after this. How brand pivot and navigate through trying times. All I can say is I really think this is the time where we will differentiate the brands that have said and sold to us that they care versus the ones who put their money and resources where their mouth is.
As we live in an era where social media is key to connections and social relationships, how do you use social media?
I love social media for the same reasons I hate it. I love that I can discover new and upcoming brands, people to follow, and movements that are taking off at the search of a hashtag. I use social media as a way to connect with my followers but also with people I’m interested in working with, whether that be an informational session, a potential interview, a project, etc.
For Instagram and Twitter, I’ll search hashtags or use hashtags to push my content out. A story I recently did on In The Know explored how Black women are caring for our hair while at home. It all started with a simple call out on Twitter that then spread like wild fire. On Instagram, all I have to do is share an IG story or post and people respond. I love the community it builds because, truthfully, I can be very introverted at times. Social media allows me to still share parts of my life with the people who have been riding with me, without me feeling like I have to share every single thing in order to be relevant or trusted.
Many of my friends are starting projects of their own during this time, and social media is a great way to share their own and engage with their audiences, too.