My good friend Tyler Newman is the founder and creator of Afro Puff Chronicles, a website dedicated to promoting the stories of women and girls of color. Tyler’s always been an inspiration in my life, and her amazing work is making real impact in the community. I wanted to learn more about Afro Puff Chronicles for this week’s Interview the Gram. You can visit APC’s Instagram here.
Alfalfa Studio: Why do you do what you do?
Tyler Newman: Well, first off, I’m a girl of color living in a world where the stories of girls like me aren’t “mainstream”. Growing up I often had those experiences of “Oh, it feels like I’m the only one that’s going through this.” I didn’t have a lot of women of color in the media to look up to, and many times I resorted to looking at aspects of my identity through a white lens. I spend most of my time in predominantly white spaces, which can be challenging when you’re one of the few black faces in a room. Because of these reasons I longed to be a part of a community in which I could finally be my whole self without holding back. I longed to be in a place where people could relate to me in my entirety, not in select aspects of me. So I founded Afro Puff Chronicles because I knew if I felt this way, there were other young girls out there that felt this way too. My idea was that if I could help only a few people from the creation of this platform, it’d be worth it for it’d be proof that I didn’t become a victim of my environment but instead created an environment of my own in which not only myself but girls from all over the world could thrive. What keeps me going now is getting feedback about how the both afropuffchronicles.com and its Instagram @afropuffchronicles have expanded people’s world views, made them more accepting and loving, taught them something new, helped them through a hard time, or even changed their lives. I love the people that this platform attracts and I want to get to know and serve everyone that joins the APC family.
AS: Being able to be your whole self must be freeing, but what challenges have come with it in our modern society and online?
TN: I believe that that you will always face opposition from people who either don’t agree with or understand your beliefs, however, after coming this far in my journey to become comfortable and whole, I won’t let anyone’s negativity take that aspect away from me. In terms of online reception, I believe all the feedback received about APC has been extremely positive because it’s a platform that’s needed and it’s filling that need in communities around the world.
AS: Can you give an example of a time that stood out to you when you saw people responding to your platform?
TN: Sure! Here’s a screenshot of an adorable DM that I got from one of the APC family members!
I love getting messages like this; it is already such a pleasure to run APC and meet such amazing people through the platform, but by hearing from young women such as Jessica, it makes everything so much more intimate and meaningful.
AS: It makes me wonder, what would you tell your younger self, at around 8 years old? 12?
TN: I would tell myself to cherish every second of youth and not take my imagination for granted because I believe it’s harder to maintain child-like creativity when you’re older, and I often yearn to go back to a time when I thought everything was possible, before society told children that reality had limits. My goal as a creative is to keep my inner child alive.
AS: How do you think APC has helped you grow as a person?
TN: For years I was very frustrated with my situation at my school. Not being able to make the deeper connections that I wanted to make with the girls at my school due to cultural gaps was a constant source of dissatisfaction in my life. However, by seeing how far APC has come and the multitudes of lives it’s touched, I have come to understand that my difference was my destiny. I was not made to be like everyone else at my school, I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay, because my not fitting in, the very thing that I believed was my worst flaw, turned out to be my biggest strength.
AS: Where do you see APC headed in the future?
TN: In the future, I see APC holding irl events so that members can meet each other face to face, and share their stories/“chronicles”. I believe that these in-person meetings will add another dimension to APC, for girls will be able to connect and stay in communication with each other in a way that’s different from just messaging online. They’ll have the chance to build deeper connections and have more in-depth discussions, which is the whole purpose of APC!
**This interview was originally posted here: http://alfalfastudio.com/2019/04/16/interview-the-gram-afropuffchronicles/