By: Anastacia Barbosa
It’s a Thursday afternoon, amidst another crazy week of Trump politics dominating the news. Discouragement is hanging in the air and uncertainty about our rights as citizens looms with it. But it’s a phone call with Asha Dahya, the founder of Girl Talk HQ, an online global hub of female empowerment news and media, that reignites the fading spark of revolution and resistance as a woman in this climate of 2017.
Xo: How would you introduce yourself to people who don’t know who you are as a public figure?
Asha: I’m a content creator in every sense of the word. It covers a lot of ground. I’ve done hosting, writing, producing, etc. The works. Social activist and feminist.
Compared to 2012, how do you think Girl Talk HQ would have been different if started today in 2017?
It would have definitely been in reaction to the election we just had. There would be an immediate focus on giving women a platform for their voices and experiences, specifically those whom are being marginalized or threatened with silence/oppression, while also including content about intersectionality and feminism.
You have a unique background in the sense that you were born in England but of Indian heritage, you were then raised in Australia and now you’ve been in the US for about 10 years. Having grown up so diversely and internationally, how has that formed you?
Empathy, above all. Empathy for all people, cultures, ways of life, and an appreciation of diversity. My grandparents and parents emigrated from India to Africa then to the UK before ending in Australia. The exposure shaped me and gave me a very personal understanding of what it means to be in a multicultural society and respect diversity of life, culture, and thought.
In this new day and age of women taking over the blogging space, we’re inundated with interests that touch on surface feminism and fashion trends mixed with celebrity coverage. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that but as women with self-created platforms, how do we co-exist without the internalized/socially embedded “woman vs. woman” competition getting the best of us?
Women need to take a seat at the table, one we make for ourselves, without taking one from another woman. As the saying goes, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu” and under the Trump administration, this rings true more than ever. All women can co-exist and rule.
Once at the table, we need to focus on bringing attention to the real issues, not just how to be skinny and get the guy. Instead of 50 pieces on top feminist celebrities, it’s better to have 50 blogs dedicated to women in politics and leadership roles.
Women need to do more than take a seat at the table, we need to take over the table and make sure everyone is represented! It’s about collective collaboration, as opposed to looking at each other as competition.
In the last few years, your life has changed. When you started Girl Talk HQ, you were dealing with a divorce and bouncing between hosting for various media companies, now life is so different with impending motherhood, career shifts, and overall just personally. Can you elaborate on that?
Personally, there’s always something to look forward to. I’m always socially active and onto the next project, whether it’s for GTHQ or not. By creating my own opportunity and setting up myself for continuous opportunity, I am the master of my own destiny.
As for motherhood, I just found out we’re having a boy and in today’s environment, I want to raise him to know equality and justice in this tumultuous world.
Career wise, I get to dictate my own path. Not just hours/schedule, etc. I get to focus my intentions for the future I want to see for myself, my son, and every new and budding generation.
My experience getting married young, going through a divorce, learning so much from that and leaving a very oppressive conservative church environment helped shape my politics and outlook on the world, especially when it comes to gender.
Now, being part of a wonderful network of activists, filmmakers, writers and, progressive political advocates, I feel I have found my “calling” in life and learned more about myself and what I stand for. Sometimes you have to go through the rough times to really know who you are.
What would you say to WOC who are attempting to pave their own unique career path, but who don’t necessarily want to rely on their defining labels (i.e. Latinx, Muslim, Black, etc.)? Also, for WOC who are facing economic inequality yet who want to stand up in this time of revolution: How can they help without risking what they have in time to march on a weekday or financial resources to donate?
As WOC we have to spread the recognition and importance of intersectionality. It’s important to recognize where each person is. Identity is important, so screw all the people who try to tell us to stop talking about “identity politics”.
And as the saying goes, “The personal is political” and identity plays a huge role in shaping politics on every level. We have to enable marginalized voices. Don’t let the negative voices telling you that identifying as a minority label is bad in any way.
We each have the power to impact at least one person, whether it’s with their children, their neighbors, co-workers. I am a big believer in vulnerability, authenticity, and sharing our personal journeys in order to empower others who may feel afraid to raise their voice. Mentorship and support groups are great for this.
Speaking of labels. Let’s delve into the concept of an Angry Black/Indian/Latinx/Asian woman who is considered angry because she speaks up with animosity and frustration due to the injustices she experiences and sees.
Anger is healthy. Look at Nelson Mandela. Before he was a symbol of peace, he wasn’t always quiet, he rioted and yelled and protested. He did what he had to do to make his voice heard. The early suffragettes also raised hell and made sure to let society know they weren’t about to leave this fight without a victory.
The people who label a woman as “angry” or anything expected to have a negative connotation are simply those who are threatened by what they hear from the mouths and minds of these WOC. Now more than ever, thanks to social media and digital media, we can raise our voices and empower other people of color, especially women, to do the same.
You know you are doing something right when people want to complain about it and try to shut you up. Sometimes disturbing the status quo makes people uncomfortable, but that is what we need to do in order to break down deeply-ingrained systems of oppression and create change.
Finally, what would you want your legacy about this point in your life to be?
I’d like to be known for standing by my convictions; that I wasn’t afraid to raise my voice and piss a few people off in the process.
You can find Asha on twitter at @ashadahya