Not too long ago, Twitter stirred up several candid conversations about urban culture and the representation of women within it; more specifically: black women. The conversations were a result of social media mainstay Julz Goddard’s racially-insensitive tweet after her statement evoked responses from both fellow influencers and media entities like FADER.
Aside from the clear no-no position, an interesting question was posed within these conversations: What does it truly mean to be “for the culture?” There are so many interpretations and various women (like Issa Rae, Jemele Hill, Danyel Smith and Scottie Beam) who present value in different ways. But, to keep it simple, we’ve decided to compile a list of women who’ve not only been “for the culture,” but have also positively impacted it through accomplishments, trend-setting moves, and community-oriented initiatives.
ALSO READ: The Accountability Factor: Black women, we hear you & we see you
Elaine Welteroth | Teen Vogue, Editor-in-Chief
This amazing woman was named Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue back in April following a successful run as editor. Under Welteroth‘s direction, the magazine has developed a well-respected, journalistic voice within culture, especially when it comes to political coverage. During the presidential campaign, the teen-based publication lit the internet up with critical stories on Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Her keen insight and journalism skills have created culture-challenging stories at a place people wouldn’t ever expect, making Teen Vogue a new driving force.
Bozoma Saint John | Apple, Head of Global Consumer Marketing
This executive is not only one of the coolest people to present at an Apple event, she is also the first black woman to do so. And although that is a great feat, she doesn’t allow constant prefaces of being “black” or a “woman” slow her down in the tech industry. Saint John has helped Apple develop an appropriate and engaging voice within the culture with everything from creating buzzworthy campaigns (like Taylor Swift’s workout wipeout to “Jumpman”) to having Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson and Ava DuVernay all involved in a marketing effort. So, if you are wondering who has been helping to make these amazing campaigns for Apple, look no further.
Symone Sanders | CNN, Political Analyst
As Senator Bernie Sanders’ former national press secretary and a current CNN political analyst, Sanders has been a consistent voice within the excessively polarized political landscape. She has advocated for important conversations around police brutality, challenging extremists, and Trump supporters’ stances, going as far as having to shutdown a comment comparing Donald Trump to Martin Luther King Jr.
Shavone Charles | Instagram, Head of Global Music & Youth Culture Communications
As the head of global music and youth culture communications at Instagram, Shavone has effortlessly combined tech, music, and urban culture into a seamless effort. She has executed PR and data-driven strategies for top-tier music and teen-focused events while also creating organizations and mentorships for aspiring black students and tech workers to develop a supportive and diversified environment. It is clear to see that not only has she made an effort to make that side of the industry friendlier, but she has also found a way to mix together all three of her passions: technology, music, and community efforts.
Armina Mussa | Saint Heron, Creative Director
Asia Burris | Saint Heron, Content & Project Manager
These two women are the engines behind the cultural hub, Saint Heron. While Armina serves as the Creative Director, Asia develops, manages and coordinates content pertaining to pop culture, music, and art. Their collective efforts have provided not only an alternative perspective on the culture, but a breath of fresh air, focusing on quality and even the minority experience.
Erika Ramirez | Red Bull, Artist Marketing Manager
If you are loving Red Bull’s reach into music and entertainment, well then you will definitely love Erika Ramirez. As the overseer for content and story development surrounding Red Bull artist marketing, Ramirez has ingrained music history within content that she has created. Her efforts and importance on the evolution of music go beyond the brand, as she’s written extensive pieces for Billboard, Pitchfork, and more. Storytelling is essential for the preservation of any culture, which is why women like Erika are important and should be supported.
Gia Peppers | Essence Fest, Associate Editor / Washington Wizards, Arena Co-Host
As a gifted on-air talent and journalist, Gia Peppers has truly taken on the millennial entrepreneurial and initiative spirit. She has worked on-camera and behind the scenes for BET, the NBA, Essence, Billboard, Complex, Hot 97, and more. Peppers‘ work ethic and drive is truly inspirational among the entertainment community. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this media phenom take things to a whole new level in the next few years.
Cleopatra Lee | Cleopatra’s Army, Fitness Expert & Founder
If you aren’t quite familiar with the fitness world, then you may not know who Cleopatra Lee is. But, hopefully after reading this, you’ll see why she is truly changing the culture. Aside from training with a Nike-sponsored fitness group, Lee has created a fitness community called Cleopatra’s Army. Not only is she inspiring people to live a healthy lifestyle, her army organizes female hygiene drives across the country, providing health products to homeless women. So, in the end, it isn’t just about being healthy, it’s about giving others a healthy life, too.
Dia Simms | Combs Enterprises, President
Simms has successfully risen up the ranks to earn the highest executive position at Combs Enterprises. Starting out as Diddy’s assistant in 2005, this leader has aided in operations with Bad Boy Entertainment, The Blue Flame Agency, and more. Her journey is a true testament to what can happen if you work hard and know your stuff. As someone who’s worked in male-dominated industries for much of her career, Simms is truly pushing the societal boundaries for those who aspire to do the same.
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