I do it for the culture on a daily basis: a Q+A w/ Anuli Akanegbu

Sinclair: You put a lot of work into an amazing and thought provoking newsletter called “The Intersection”. What led you to create this? What impact do you hope it has on readers?

Anuli: I started The Intersection during a time of transition in my life. I was moving to a new city for a new job. I also wanted to transition for freelance writing for other websites to writing for myself. I’m a naturally curious person. The Intersection became an outlet for me to share what I was thinking about each week and a good way to answer frequently asked questions I received like, “What do you recommend I watch on Netflix?” or “What are you reading?”

Sinclair: There are some super dope links in your newsletter. I personally love the articles and though pieces you curate. What are some of your favorite publications to read?

Anuli: Regular readers will probably notice a lot of links from the Atlantic, New York Times, the Guardian, and Racked. I’m a big fan of long-form journalism.

Sinclair: Who are some of your favorite writers and authors?

Anuli: My favorite writers include Robin Givhan, Doreen St. Felix, and Jia Tolentino.

Sinclair: What’s one of the best pieces of work or research that you’ve ever published?

Anuli: Vol. 65 of the Intersection is one of my favorites. It’s the type of content I’d like to produce more regularly. Like I said, I enjoy long-form.

I’m just over here wondering how many of the people that have been marching for women’s rights are aware of what happened to Nia Wilson, Sasha Garden, Diamond Stephens, and more. Black women are also fighting for everyone else’s freedom, but often the favor isn’t returned when the moment arises for everyone else to stand up for us. – Anuli Akanegbu

Sinclair: Outside of your newsletter, how do you impact the world?

Anuli: As a person of color that works in marketing research, I get a first-hand look at how brands co-opt culture for profit. Oftentimes, they do this without a clear cultural understanding of the communities they are “inspired” by or the consumers they want to reach. I try to bridge that gap through my work and help them make better decisions about how to position themselves in a way that better resonates with people. I do it for the culture on a daily basis.

Sinclair: How would a close friend describe you on a really good day?

Anuli: I think they would say that I’m equal parts silly and serious. I keep it real and honest. I’m smart and get shit done, but I’m also fun and approachable.

Sinclair: On your website, you mention that you’re: “unbought and unbossed. truth-seeker. curiosity follower.” Tell us more about this.

Anuli: “Unbought and unbossed” comes from Shirley Chisholm who inspires me. “Truth-seeker” comes from my work that I do as a cultural researcher. “Curiosity follower” is how I live my life. “Follow your curiosity” is the motto of my newsletter, The Intersection.

I’ve been fielding quite a few questions about my shirt today. Much to my surprise and disappointment, a lot of people don’t know who Shirley Chisholm was. The U.S. education system has failed us. I’m happy to drop some knowledge on this #icon for the uninformed: Shirley Chisholm became the first African-American congresswoman in 1968. Four years later, she became the first major-party black candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency. Chisholm’s campaign had one of the best political slogans of all time IMHO which was, “Unbought and Unbossed.” This is the very way in which I aspire to live, so it’s really more of a lifestyle than a slogan. Chisholm passed in 2005, but her work led the way for many of your political faves including Jessie Jackson, Kamala Harris, and yes, Hillary Clinton. #history #blackexcellence #shirleychisholm [UPDATE: I’ve tagged the makers of the sweatshirt @philaprint!]

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Sinclair: Who do you go to when you’re needing support and guidance?

Anuli: Friends and family, for sure. I have a few group chats that keep me sane. As the Internet says, “Behind every successful woman is a group chat of friends hyping her up.”

Sinclair: When was the last time you practiced self-care? What did you do?

Anuli: Self-care has to be a daily practice. For me, it can be as simple as stepping out of a room of people when I need space to think. That was yesterday. Self-care is synonymous with self-preservation to me. It’s anything I feel that I need to do to preserve my energy.

Sinclair: Which part of your identity is most salient for you right now, and what’s something you’re seeking to unlearn about it?

Anuli: My need for control stands out. Unlearning that I can’t actually control everything will be a lifelong process for me since this need is such a big part of my personality.

Sinclair: What’s something that’s been bringing you joy lately?

Anuli: Animal accounts on Instagram. Scrolling through automatically helps me unclench my jaw and bring my shoulders down from my ears.

Sinclair: What’s something that’s been pissing you off lately?

Anuli: Feminism that isn’t intersectional. I’m just over here wondering how many of the people that have been marching for women’s rights are aware of what happened to Nia Wilson, Sasha Garden, Diamond Stephens, and more. Black women are also fighting for everyone else’s freedom, but often the favor isn’t returned when the moment arises for everyone else to stand up for us.

Sinclair: When was a time that self-doubt was at its worst for you while on your career and life journey?

Anuli: Self-doubt and imposter syndrome turned out to be partly responsible for my move to New York. I wasn’t sure if I was actually “good” at my job or if it was right for me, so I left for a “fresh start” at 25. The start had more downs than ups, some of which I’m still trying to reconcile today.

Sinclair: What are your unshakable values and when did you become clear on them?

Anuli: My unshakable values include honesty, doing my best, and respect. My parents installed those values in me at a young age.

Sinclair: Who are a few amazing people that we should follow and why?

Anuli:

  • L’Oreal Thompson-Payton, an amazing advocate for women and girls. One of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.
  • Chasity Cooper, a savvy digital strategist and wine connoisseur. Another one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.
  • Jade Purple Brown, an extremely talented illustrator. I love how consistent her brand and personal aesthetic are.
  • Garth, an extremely talented singer and my “birthday twin.” We go way back to middle school.

Sinclair: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone struggling with self-doubt and feeling like giving up on their dreams?

Anuli: You are enough and have everything you need to get through this. Continue to stay in tune with your values and follow your curiosity. Don’t get caught up in what you think people think you should do. Stay true to you, boo.

Sinclair: Imagine that all your life’s work disappeared and you only had 1 minute to tell the world what you truly believe to be true. What would you say?

Anuli: We are more alike than we are different. Everyone wants to be understood and respected. A lack of either results in conflict.

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The Intersection is your weekly informative dose of everything you didn’t know you wanted or needed to know, all from the eclectic perspective of cultural researcher, Anuli Akanegbu.

Learn more about Anuli and connect: Instagram | Twitter | Website