During my year at BCAL, I had many memories and opportunities. One of them was an internship. My internship was with a unique company called Hyphen Labs who mainly focused on neurospeculative afrofeminism. This had to do with especially women of color in society and how we are treated. My supervisors for this company are really determined to make a change and through technology, including VR which is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. This company is hoping for other people to understand the trials and tribulations of minorities in society and join the efforts for change. During my internship, I learned many things VR, and I also got to work with technology I have not worked with before, such as a 3D printer. It was so cool watching pieces of scrap turn into beautiful structures. I also got to help with setting up and being part of a prestigious event which was the Tribeca Film Festival. Our team was working with VR to show people a glimpse of the beauty of women of color. At the festival, I also got to work with new people and made new connections. It felt good working under pressure because it showed me how well I could handle it. The different VR experiences and structures were great to look at, and it peaked my interest in design and creativity.
Although I had a good time there, not everything was great. I left Tribeca to get something from the office for my supervisors and when I came back, I wasn’t let in so easily. Although I had the staff badge indicating that I was part of the event, problems still arose. I remember it so vividly. I walked into the room where there was the showcase, and the security guard wasn’t having it. He was an old white man, with a pair of round framed glasses and little spots of white on his head. I remember him telling me that no more people are allowed here, even though two people went in before me. He noticed my staff badge and laughed. I felt ashamed of myself. I didn’t feel as though I belonged here, and at that moment, I felt vulnerable. When I approached my supervisors and told them about it, they were furious. They couldn’t stand this type of discrimination and were angry because this is the exact thing they are fighting for and what their foundation is all about. I experienced first hand what it meant to be a colored woman in society and it made me even more motivated to be successful in this space. I grew a friendship with my bosses, and it was great.
After that incident, they had to go away for business and I had to do my work from home. Each week I sent them what I did, and they gave feedback and meditated on it. I did research about grants that they would qualify for in order for them to take their project to the next level, and I helped them with their Instagram feed by telling them and suggesting what ideas or things that the new era of people like us would like to view. They appreciated my ideas, and it made me feel good about myself that I was being heard. I also talked about natural hair in society and how it wasn’t appreciated enough, and I also suggested some books and poems to read. I sent them articles and my reflections on them and gave them lots of information about bigger companies who I thought would be glad to have them as part of their team. I found many grants, including the Zonta International Grant which is a leading global organization of professionals empowering women through service and advocacy.
Overall, this internship was a great experience, and I am glad that BCCP gave me the opportunity to work in a professional environment like this. Through the stress and tribulations I am happy that I made it, and I really felt like I grew as a person, becoming more confident in myself. I also learned that most people conform to society, but that through technology and media we can reach out to people and let them hear our voice. The more people that have views like this, the more awareness we could spread.
The experience at BCAL wasn’t so bad either. I made new friends, new memories, and it really gave me a chance to show my creative side to others and interact with people with different personalities. We talked about social issues, played games, did team-building activities, trips, and I enjoyed every minute of it even though there were times that I wasn’t 100%. I look forward to joining again next year.