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Saturday February 4th

'Something for us and by us': The Bridge seeks to uplift women of color

Members of The Bridge play Kahoot! on Thursday, March 5, 2020 during their fourth anniversary. The Bridge serves as a safe pace for many women of color on campus.
Buy Photos Members of The Bridge play Kahoot! on Thursday, March 5, 2020 during their fourth anniversary. The Bridge serves as a safe pace for many women of color on campus.

The Bridge is an online platform for women of color to express themselves through different mediums such as visual art, prose and poetry — and this month, it celebrated its fourth year.  

Chandler Philips, Persis Bhadha and Eliza Moreno launched the online publication, a cross-campus collaboration between UNC and Duke University, in March 2016. 

The Bridge aims to serve as an uplifting space for content creators.

“There are other publications in which things are like, ‘This is too racial’ or ‘This is too gendered,’” editor-in-chief Ruth Samuel said. “We’re not given a space to really fully express our stories and our narratives — and I think that a lot of the time at other publications, it’s so hard for women of color, journalists and creatives to break into those spaces. So us having this space is really, really important. Something for us and by us.”

Members and contributors to The Bridge come from a variety of backgrounds.

“I just love watching people coming into their own and do these things that matter to them, regardless of whether they’re in the J-school or not,” Samuel said. “That’s something that I really enjoy that’s been really rewarding. I hope it’s impacted them. I hope, most importantly, they feel that this is their space just as much as it’s mine.”

First-year Ellie Crowther joined The Bridge in the fall. She works with the social media team to promote The Bridge’s new content and events.

“It’s just a really good learning environment,” Crowther said. “The conversations that happen are just so strong and powerful, and I really wish that they could be broadcasted to a wider community.”

The Bridge’s content creators have themes suggested for their pieces each month. They work with the executive team to refine their pieces before publication.

“They really understand where you’re coming from especially as other women of color, so they’re not necessarily making changes or completely overlooking,” content creator Daniela Rodriguez said. “They relate to what you’re writing or they can put themselves in your shoes, and it’s really helpful as a writer that the people around you understand.”

Rodriguez said she appreciates that the platform allows her to share her work with a broader community. In October, she published a poem titled, “In My Hands.”

“It’s about self-love essentially, sparking from your roots and loving yourself there and allowing that love to be able to exude out of you,” Rodriguez said. “I had a few friends who really liked it. It made me realize that the poetry that I write can really resonate with other people, and I think that’s the main point of The Bridge — writing pieces that will resonate with other women of color because they are not necessarily ever really considered in traditional writing.”

Content creators can also explore their own interests through different mediums. Sophomore Pareen Bhagat, an international student from Zimbabwe, explores fashion through The Bridge.

“I’m very interested in cross-cultural fashion and multicultural fashion, and then also how fashion creates a statement politically as well,” Bhagat said. “So I thought The Bridge would be fitting for that.”

The community at The Bridge has been important for Bhagat, she said. 

“I didn’t realize coming to the U.S., I’d feel slightly misplaced by being of color, even though there are so many Indians on campus and things like that,” Bhagat said. “I think it was just about regaining my footing in terms of being an Indian, but also being Zimbabwean, and I feel like Ruth and The Bridge have really helped me to see that.”

Crowther expressed a similar sentiment.

“It’s just a special group that comes together to discuss issues and nine times out of 10, people are dealing with the exact same thing,” Crowther said. “It’s a community that wants you to be heard and supported.”

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