‘The very serious function of racism, is distraction,’ Toni Morrison said. ‘It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.’  Celebrated writer Brit Bennett (The Mothers), acclaimed essayist Durga Chew-Bose (Too Much and Not the Mood) and Teen Vogue editor, Elaine Welteroth, talk to Yassmin Abdel-Magied about the distractions they face, and the act of prioritising difference, self-care, and using exclusivity of narrative as a form of weaponry.

Brit Bennett (International)

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Brit Bennett is an essayist and the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel The Mothers, which became a New York Times bestseller. In 2016 Bennett was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and won the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize. Named as one of the 5 Under 35 Promising New Novelists by the National Book Foundation in 2016, the New York Times Book Review called her work ‘ferociously moving’. Her writing is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Jezebel. Brit's Jezebel essay, I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People, generated more than a million hits in three days. She is currently working on her second novel.

Durga Chew-Bose (International)

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Durga Chew-Bose is a Montreal-born writer. Her work has appeared in publications including The Globe and Mail, The Hairpin, Lenny Letter and The Guardian. Her debut collection of essays, Too Much and Not the Mood, was inspired by a 1931 Virginia Woolf diary entry. It explores culture, writing, and identity and the result is a lyrical and piercingly insightful collection of essays written in her own brand of essay-meets-prose poetry. Durga is currently teaching a non-fiction writing workshop at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Elaine Welteroth (International)

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Appointed in May 2016 and promoted to Editor in Chief in April 2017, Elaine Welteroth oversees and manages the editorial direction of Teen Vogue. She is largely responsible for the expansion of Teen Vogue’s coverage to include a wide range of feminist, social-justice, and political topics, alongside fashion, beauty, and entertainment news. Elaine edited September 2016’s 'For Girls By Girls' issue, which was shot entirely by female photographers, and set the tone for the brand’s increased emphasis on diversity, female empowerment, and cross-generational conversations. Elaine joined Teen Vogue in 2012 as the first African-American ever to hold the post of beauty and health director at the publication, where, in addition to her beauty coverage, she continuously raised awareness of current events and social issues dedicated to empowering teens through print and online features. Prior to Teen Vogue, Elaine was the senior beauty editor at Glamour and a beauty and style editor at Ebony magazine, where she started her editorial career.

Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Australian)

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Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer and 2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year. She advocates for the empowerment of youth, women and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Born in Sudan, Yassmin and her family arrived in Australia when she was two. At age 16, Yassmin founded Youth Without Borders, an organisation that enables young people to work together to implement positive change within their communities and internationally. She is the author of Yassmin’s Story.