Yari Blanco

Squarespace Site: http://thegirlmob.com/

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“I think about my community instead of myself and that has fueled me.”

Words by Justice Nnanna + Photos by Mark Clennon

“Is this on?” Yari leans into my recorder. “I’m Yari Blanco, that’s Y-a-r-i - B-l-a-n-c-o. I’m Dominican.” As a proud Afro-Latinx woman, Blanco feels optimally positioned to unite. Blanco is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of theGirlMob, a digital community aimed at uniting women of color, encouraging self-love, and creating solidarity across social lines. Blanco also works as the Senior Manager of Culture and Diversity at The Wing where she specializes in optimizing spaces and bringing together community—skills useful in any line of work. With nearly 35k tweets, Blanco’s leaned in to her voice and into the command that she very evidently possess. In our short conversation Blanco allows herself a vulnerability that makes her feel like someone who would have your back. It’s no surprise that her relentless go-getter attitude and passion for unifying have made her a serious player in creating a more equal space for us all.

For this ‘Thoughts Become Things’ series, could you share a positive thought that you often have and a negative thought that you often have?

I always think of the poem ‘Footprints’. The thought that in your darkest hour, God got you. Thinking of how God has never steered me wrong keeps me going forward. 

James Baldwin said, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” What history do you carry with you most as a contemporary creator?

Not growing up with my father, and how that has shaped me. Every day I work on not having a chip on my shoulder about that. I look at all the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with and I know that God’s got me. Making my peace with the fact that this part of my history has shaped the person I am today.

Any POC creatives that you feel came before their time?

Selena Quintanilla. She was a multi-hyphenate before any millennial. She sang, danced, had a fashion label, owned brick and mortars, did things for her community, and if she was alive today — dare I say — would be as big as Beyoncé. I could only imagine them performing live together.

Advice on making quality content and optimizing social media?

Listening to your team, if you happen to have one. Listen to your gut. Remember that your audience (even if it’s only 50 people) is there for you. Also putting thought into what it is that makes your content unique—why is your voice valuable to the greater conversation? Lastly, don’t be afraid to collaborate and reach out to someone whose work you admire. You’ll never know until you ask.

How do you navigate working in spaces that don’t feel supportive of you or in line with your beliefs?

In my 20’s I had a lot of fear about being qualified. My 30’s have pushed me to be brave, even if I’m the only person in the room that looks like me—I know that I’m representing hundreds and thousands of people. I think about my community instead of myself and that has fueled me.

Greatest challenge and greatest benefit of being a minority in a creative industry?

Greatest challenge is the emotional labor. Doing diversity and inclusion work can be really emotionally taxing.

Greatest benefit is that there is something very unique about being Afro-Latina. I’m at the intersection of multiple cultures, and I think that’s very beneficial when trying to understand different cultural sensitivities and having cultural competence.

How do you use your community to move your goals forward?

Honestly, I’ve learned to just ask for help. People of color in my experience have always been very supportive and down for collaboration. Reach out for help, know that people are rooting for you.    

 True or false- “When they go low, we go high.”   

 True… but…yeah true true true.

Imani Ellis