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Thank you for reading Capital Muse! I created this newsletter, and I wanted to take a moment to re-introduce myself. My name is Shanon Lee, and I am a journalist that has worked in music, film and TV.
In 2013, I was nearing the end of my graduate studies program in mental health counseling and I knew I wanted to help others - but I was pregnant with my third (and final) child and unsure about returning to the workforce. At the time, I was working as a college admissions advisor and volunteering as a life coach for aspiring women entrepreneurs.
On a whim, I started blogging about my personal experiences including how I survived a tumultuous marriage and how domestic violence took a tremendous toll on my mental health. A lot of my earliest essays dealt with sexual violence, relationships and divorce. I was always honored by the response from other survivors and blown away by those that expressed my stories helped them in some way.
Somehow, I fell into writing freelance and it did not take long for me to begin writing for some of my dream publications. Some of this writing led to cool opportunities on TV. I also developed an essay into a short film that was screened at events for nonprofits serving survivors of sexual violence.
But, I was primarily writing personal essays and I always felt a push to do something more. I flirted with the idea of writing opinion, but was too intimidated to try.
In 2016, I was invited to attend an opinion writing seminar at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies. It was the week before the presidential election and tensions were high, there were few discussions that did not lead to politics. I discovered I wanted to challenge myself and be intentional about the writing I was putting out into the world. There were things I had to say about racial identity and facing racism as a Black woman living in America.
I was invited to contribute to The Washington Post’s award-winning women’s platform, The Lily, shortly before its launch in 2017. There, I was able to hone my voice by writing opinion essays about issues that matter to me and center women.
Because the #MeToo movement gained momentum the same year, and I was had already written about sexual violence, a lot of my stories were related. I was intentional about writing stories I could not find elsewhere, like surviving military sexual trauma (MST) and how it was important to include women veterans in the fight against rape culture.
What I learned, is I am most passionate about amplifying the voices of Black women.
While contributing stories to The Washington Post and The Lily at The Washington Post, I did not have the opportunity to feature causes or issues specific to DC. Because I did not cover the local beat (so to speak), I was unable to profile or feature any of the fascinating individuals I met in DC throughout the years.
When I had the opportunity to create a newsletter on Bulletin, I knew it would center Black women. I also knew I could use it as an opportunity to uncover stories about DC’s history and present that should be amplified and likely would be if mainstream media cared more about sharing uplifting Black stories.
My goal every day is to wake up and contribute something positive to the world that will potentially help others.
I primarily use my platform to center Black women because I understand how negative portrayals in white-driven media creates harm. As we fight for greater representation in the media and less racist content, we have to be the change we want to see and create more positive content. My greatest hope is my writing will, in some small way, help create a shift in perspectives that will ultimately improve how Black women are treated in society. Because whether we are interviewing for a job opportunity that will improve our financial circumstance, or receiving care in a hospital to prolong our life - how we are perceived matters.
Newsletters only succeed if people actually subscribe to them and read them. I need your help to bring my vision to fruition. If you value what I do and want to read more stories centering Black women and DC - be sure to subscribe and share Capital Muse with others.
For those already subscribed - thank you for reading, subscribing and supporting Capital Muse!
~ Shanon Lee
Capital Muse is your weekly opportunity to read unique stories focused on Black women and DC. Subscribe, engage and invite others! Do you have a story worth sharing? Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.