I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend “Generation Unstoppable”, The New York Times’ newest episode of Get With The Times. “Generation Unstoppable”, as it was filmed live and broadcasted to colleges across the nation, was an empowering discussion betweenThe New York Times’ Gender Editor, Jessica Bennett and former editor in chief of Teen Vogue, Elaine Welteroth.
Get With The Times is a live, ongoing series for college students dedicated to the examination and investigation of society’s most prominent issues. These live discussions allow for college students to delve deeper into the backgrounds and opinions of leaders in certain fields by asking questions and listening to the discussion led by a New York Times journalist.
The discussion, that I so gratefully was able to attend at The New York Times Headquarters, was centered around the empowerment of young individuals in today’s society. Elaine Welteroth could be considered the go-to for anything regarding social consciousness, specifically in the media. Not only was she the youngest editor in chief of Teen Vogue, she was also the second African-American to ever be given that job title throughout Condé Nast. Ever since Welteroth began this leading position, she altered Teen Vogue’s image to one that is more inclusive and authentic. Her leadership brought forward social-justice and political issues in Teen Vogue’s coverage.
Yes, this is the @tyler_mitchell_ who at 23 years old became the first African-American photographer to shoot a @voguemagazine cover—the September issue featuring beyonce no less. (No,… https://t.co/x0AkLBBbQg— Elaine Welteroth (@ElaineWelteroth) September 11, 2018
Welteroth proclaimed that our generation is leading the activism in today’s society. Our generation is able to share our fresh perspectives and is able to capitalize on the media, as a way to spread our opinions. With that in mind, Welteroth stressed the importance of speaking our minds whenever we are given the opportunity because conforming is ineffective. Welteroth said it herself, “Being yourself, you’re going to stand out. You actually cannot help but stand out.” That night, she encouraged us to voice our opinions and share our unique perspectives because it is one of our greatest tools, regardless of who we are and where we come from. She aims to help individuals speak their voices because now is their time.
Being yourself, you’re going to stand out. You actually cannot help but stand out.-Elaine Welteroth
Another topic that Welteroth covered was mentorship. When she was younger, she came across Harriette Cole, former editor in chief of Ebony. She was very “laser focused” and admits to stalking her “relentlessly.” Soon enough, she made contact with Cole who offered her a temporary opportunity in Los Angeles. This opportunity then led to a position at Ebony, which led to a job at Glamour, and finally a position at Teen Vogue as health and beauty director.
After explaining her background, she advised us to find someone who cares and is invested in us. Mentorship isn’t a one-way relationship. While it is your job to find someone, be persistent, and “lay out the roadmap”; your mentor should be fully invested in you. Additionally, Welteroth stressed the importance of good leadership.
If institutions or leaders do not represent their entire community, they will not thrive. Leaders should be hiring teams of diverse individuals that will then authentically represent their entire audience.
These were just some of the points that Welteroth covered during this night’s discussion and it was extremely empowering to say the least. Walking out of the New York Times Headquarters, I had a new perspective and strength I did not have prior to walking in. Although we hear it often, we may not grasp how important it is to stand out fearlessly. By doing the unexpected, we will be the next generation of change makers, and we will be a generation that is unstoppable.