Bringing Humor & Diversity to Netflix with Gena-mour Barrett

For the fifth episode of We Belong Podcast, we go to the UK to meet Gena-mour Barrett, a journalist and Editorial Creative Manager at Netflix UK, where she curates the Netflix IX interview series. 

As a freelancer, Gena-mour has bylines at Elle, The Guardian, Refinery 29 and BBC Newsbeat. She was listed as one of 2019’s 30 Under 30 for Media and Marketing in Europe by Forbes and was a recipient of the 2018 Roxane Gay fellowship for a woman of colour writing fiction with Jack Jones Literary Arts.

In our conversation with Gena-mour, we dive into her personal story, her childhood in South London and her passion for writing.

We also discuss humour and satire in the media, representation and diversity in the entertainment industry and, of course, her views on Brexit!

Episode available on Apple PodcastSpotifyAnchorYoutube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Inès Seddiki on Social Justice in the French Suburbs

For the first episode of We Belong Podcast, we travelled to France to meet Inès Seddiki, founder of GHETT’UP.

Inès is a young French-Moroccan activist and Corporate Social Responsibility professional living in the suburbs of Paris. In the 1980s, her parents immigrated to France in pursuit of ideals of liberty and equality. However, Inés faced injustice from a very young age, and it motivated her to take action. Since 2016, Ghett’up has impacted more than 2,000 young people in the suburbs of Paris.

In our conversation with Inès, we discussed the importance of owning our story and identities, what it means to grow up in a suburb and how to turn stigma into strength.

Episode available on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Anchor, Youtube and at the bottom of this post.


We Belong is the podcast that gives a voice to the New Daughters of Europe. Yasmine Ouirhrane, appointed expert by the European Union and the African Union, hosts this series of conversations with young women who represent the diversity of Europe. She talks to women who are breaking stereotypes, navigating multiple identities, and challenging the conventional wisdom of what it means to belong.

As an advocate for social and gender justice in Europe, Yasmine Ouirhrane was awarded Young European of the Year 2019 by the Schwarzkopf Foundation. She was also named EDD Young Leader by the European Commission and is an expert on Peace & Security at the AU-EU Youth Cooperation Hub. She is an award-winning fellow at Women Deliver and a member of the Gender Innovation Agora at UN Women.

The Podcast is produced by Les Cavalcades.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Diversity in Beauty is neither a Trend nor a Threat


For the first time in history, all of the major beauty pageant titles worldwide are held by black women. For the first time ever, young black and brown girls can see themselves represented in a space that had previously excluded them.

The women winning these pageants are being praised for embracing features that have not always been considered ‘beautiful’. During her final statement at Miss Universe 2019, South Africa’s very own Zozibini Tunzi said:

“I grew up in a world where someone who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered to be beautiful. I think it’s time that it stops.”


She is right, it’s time that it stops. Diversity in beauty should not be treated as a trend or as exotic or strange.

Cultural Appropriation

For years, white women have appropriated black beauty and fashion. More recently, the phenomenon has been normalised by the Kardashian-Jenner family and social media influencers. Kylie Jenner has made a billion-dollar empire from her desire to have fuller-looking lips – a feature often associated with black women. Kim Kardashian is currently accused of blackface on a magazine cover where her skin appears much darker than usual. The question is, are they to blame for the normalization of cultural appropriation?


In the influencer world, blackfishing is prevalent. Blackfishing is when white women present themselves as a mixed-race or black to gain a bigger following. It seems that most of them, as well as many of their followers, do not understand why this is problematic. For example, take the case of Rachel Dolezal. Dolezal is a white woman who, over time, morphed her appearance into that of a black person, and later held a prominent position at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Other recent incidents include ELLE Germany referring to increased numbers of black models with an article headlined “Black is Back”, and accusations of multiple forms of appropriation in Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings music video. These cases demonstrate the extent to which many people just don’t get it. The fact that they profit from appropriating black culture is even more appalling.

The Rise of Diversity

For a long time, black and brown women have had Eurocentric beauty standards imposed upon them. I have previously used damaging products to make my thick and curly hair more ‘manageable’. Now it seems that mainstream media wants to control the beauty narrative of black and brown women with kinky or curly hair.

This is what we are born with. We had to learn to love it and embrace it as a means to survive in a world that was not meant for us. So stop asking why darker skinned women are taught to hate their skin. Do not ask why a woman decides to embrace her natural hair instead of a weave or wig.

And, like Solange says: Don’t Touch My Hair.


The rise of diversity in beauty is changing what we consider ‘beautiful’. African, Asian, European, Middle Eastern and everything in between can co-exist. All are beautiful. Some of us aspire to look a certain way because no one is fully comfortable and confident in the way they look 100% of the time.

Different sizes, different skin tones, different hair textures and different face shapes can exist without one dominating the others. Diversity and inclusivity in society are not trends, and they are definitely not threats.

A Different Take on Inclusion

My new job requires me to do a lot of research on teacher preparation programs in the United States. The need for diversity – in this case, specifically racial diversity – is mentioned in numerous reports on the current state of the teaching profession.

Being a woman of color, I had become kind of numb to the idea as the term is thrown around so much and I often feel as though I serve as the only marker of ‘diversity’ in various spaces. 

As I continued my research, the word just kept jumping out at me. Diversity was in almost every report, spoken at every seminar, and used by every university education program. Then the statistical data behind why diversity is necessary began to come to light. In 2012, 49% of secondary students in the US were of color but only 12% of their teachers were. That’s a huge disparity, right? This statistic also made me reflect on my own secondary education career and realize I only ever had one teacher who looked like me. Even with this knowledge, I was still not fully ready for what I was to find next…

Researchers at the Institute of Labor Economics found that low-income Black male students in North Carolina who have just one Black teacher in third, fourth, or fifth grade are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to consider attending college.

As I continued to search, I kept seeing different iterations of this phrase, ‘students of color perform better academically and are suspended at lower rates when exposed to at least one educator of their own ethnicity,’ but I still hadn’t wondered why that was the case.

Next, I read a report which stated students of color have higher levels of achievement when they have a teacher of color because those teachers hold a more positive perception of their students both academically and behaviorally compared to non-minority teachers.

As I read this, I had such a tough time grasping what was being said. Basically, a lot of the reports on the need for diversity were showing that non-minority teachers let their prejudice and stereotypes of minority students get in the way of their teaching ability – to such an extent that it negatively affects students of color – and the proposed solution is to hire more minority teachers. Not to call non-minority teachers to task or equip them to better serve their ALL of their students.

I was appalled by the proposed solution of merely diversifying the teaching profession. That lets so many people in our society out of doing the real work that is necessary to overcome racial stereotypes and prejudices – as these issues cannot be solved by people of color themselves.

At the same time, I was seeing the same idea being used in a social movement – the latest wave of the #MeToo campaign. Over the past few weeks, I have watched #MeToo take over my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds as so many – too many – female celebrities, activists, colleagues, and even close friends have all experienced varying degrees of sexual harassment or assault, most often at the hands of men.

As more and more stories of #MeToo are shared, I find it interesting that when it comes to the issue of sexual harassment of assault against women, it is the women we focus on the most, rather than the men who help to perpetuate this culture of abuse.

In the same way racism is not just an issue for people of color, sexual assault and harassment is not just an issue for women. But too often, these issues are labeled as the responsibility of those being harmed by them the most. The idea of inclusion needs to be applied to all actors who have a stake in an issue and not just to those who feel the direct and immediate effects of racism or sexual harassment or assault. We all share the responsibility of creating a more equitable and safe society.

Here’s the Good News About that Google Memo

Google’s now-infamous memo has both women and men up in arms about tech’s attitude towards women overall. The memo (not authorized by the company itself, but written by an employee and then circulated) suggests that women may be inherently less suited to the company’s workplace by virtue of their gender alone, and advocates stemming certain processes aimed towards diversity in recruiting.

(Note: the memo itself is not implicitly anti-diversity in its philosophy, as explained by The Atlantic. Nonetheless, it questions current initiatives to recruit across the board, and challenges attitudes towards promoting diversity in the workplace. Read the full memo here.)

The problematic ideas in this memo aren’t symptomatic of a new problem. There are countless examples of sexism and a penchant for the status quo that have emerged throughout the years, then disappeared in the fast-paced and unforgiving nature of the tech industry. In 2014, reporter 

Nonetheless, it is very easy to get upset about Google’s Diversity Memo. Google is a cultural cornerstone as well as a tech behemoth. For a company that is known as the good guy of the internet, to e-mail sexism directly to its employees’ inboxes seems a new level of egregious.

All over, news outlets are decrying the fact that winds of change have not yet hit Silicon Valley; but they’re missing an important development.

It used to be okay to say women weren’t as good at tech. It used to be okay to say they might be happier raising children, not rewriting code. The explosion on twitter, media outlets jumping over the story and the launch of 100 thinkpieces all sent the very clear message that society no longer turns a blind eye to discrimination.

Swift retribution from the company was the most powerful signal: Google fired the employee who wrote the memo. In the last few years, other companies have responded in kind to their own controversies. Uber fell over itself trying to reform its ‘toxic culture’ after a former employee wrote a blog post about the treatment she endured while working there. The co-founder of 500 Startups was asked to resign after investigations into sexual harassment (which he himself later admitted). Employees resigned and investors threatened to pull funding from Binary capital after six women accused the co-founder of harassment.

Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, conceded that employees should have the right to express their feelings but nonetheless found the memo too insulting to the company’s female employees. In a heartening message, he defended the subtle discrimination that underlined some of the memo’s assumptions.

“Our co-workers shouldn’t have to worry that each time they open their mouths to speak in a meeting, they have to prove that they are not like the memo states, being ‘agreeable’ rather than ‘assertive,’ showing a ‘lower stress tolerance,’ or being ‘neurotic’.”

From Google’s chief executive, these are powerful words, and indications of huge steps forward.

As women in the workplace, we’re still climbing a mountain, and a steep one. At moments like these, we have a tendency to look at how far we have left to go. However, it can be heartening to look back and consider, as well, how far we’ve come.