“Too often we are separated and there aren’t many spaces committed to centering us entirely,” says Ernest Owens, current columnist for BET, an Award-Winning Multimedia journalist, writer for Philadelphia Magazine, and the founder of the social network, Millennial Media Makers of Color (MMMOC), when discussing the problem of the lack of racial diversity in business. This past January, Owens started a social network, starting with a mixer, for the purpose of bringing young journalists, visual artists, and public relation specialists of color a chance to connect together and lift their mediums off of the ground and improving diversity in the media industry.
“I started the collective as a way to connect emerging media creators in the city” Owens states. Media creators, especially young media creators, underestimate how complex being an entrepreneur can be and dive into the shallow end head first. “Too often, many millennials want to have all the answers or work by themselves — don’t. There’s strength in numbers and even though independence is desirable, there are also levels to getting there … we often underestimate how much individual power we have in our daily decisions” January’s mixer was a way for those creators to come together and mingle over their experiences, give tips, connect, and build their businesses and products with the help of fellow millennial media makers. “I started this initiative on behalf of many in the industry who felt invisible, so how much passion they put in to help take this to infinity and beyond will determine how far it can go,” says Owens.
“The concept came to me after going to city-wide media events and noticing the lack of diversity in millennials of color.” Owens continued. Philadelphia is a very diverse city. “Its residents are 44.1 percent black, 35.8 percent white, 13.6 percent Latino and 7.2 percent Asian” (Otterbein). Even though it’s diverse, it’s still segregated, including in workplaces. “MMMOC is a way to create affirming social/professional spaces for people who look like me that want to expand their network in a safe space.” MMMOC doesn’t segregate different races of people, rather brings those who are 21-34 together to know that there is a place for them to showcase what they have to offer.
So, how does one get involved in this network? “It’s simple, if you are 21-34 living in Philadelphia in the industry — follow us on social media and come out to our events. If you are older than that, connecting us to sponsors and spaces to host our mixers would be great.” Doing both helps all involved. Media makers have a place for events and more people to network with and their hosts will act as promoters for many millennial media makers of color. “This endeavor is fostering a utilizing and refueling culture that encourages people to seek opportunities while paying it forward to make us all stronger” Owens says.
Because of inexperience or the stubbornness of wanting to do an entire business as freelance work, us millennials have risks of being taken advantage of in their work. Millennial Media Makers of Color lets them know that we are not alone and that we have places for us to network and grow as entrepreneurs. “Take back your agency and reclaim your time — it’s irreplaceable,” Owens concludes.
Otterbein, Holly. “Philly Is The 4th Most Segregated Big City in the Country”
Philadelphia Magazine. 22 September 2015.