Journalist, editor-in-chief, college instructor – Priya Ramanujam is driven to challenge barriers and create pathways to help uplift others in her community. For the past twelve years, the Malvern native has engaged in creative, concrete solutions to underrepresentation and marginalization, particularly experienced by young people of colour. As co-creator of the Say Word program at East Metro Youth Services, Priya guided participants in producing media – videos, radio shows, and magazines – covering a range of issues from racial profiling to youth violence to art and fashion. She co-founded, along with a core of Scarborough partners, Urbanology Magazine (urbanologymag.com) in 2004, highlighting hip hop culture in Canada and beyond. “Scarborough is a hotbed for talent” in many realms, she says, but adds that a more supportive infrastructure is needed to build up artists’ reach. On mainstream media’s historic lack of racial diversity, the Humber College journalism instructor says;
“We have a long, long way to go. Instead of having mainstream media organizations meet some ‘diversity quota’, what about putting real effort into cultivating and ensuring the sustainability of outlets like Urbanology, and countless others who are doing the work, telling the stories, and filling the gap, but struggling all the while?”
Priya addresses a spectrum of uncomfortable-to-some issues in her “Millennial Mind” column for Inside Toronto. “For many racialized people, images and depictions of Canadian life, culture, and experiences renders them erased…” she writes in “Canada 150: An opportunity for national soul searching.” On demographic shifts, public policy, and being raised in a neighbourhood where 90% identify as visible minorities, whether native-born or immigrants:
“We have an endless amount of lived experience. Government officials and leaders should privilege our intelligence. What works, what doesn’t. Scarborough and its many communities should be a keen area of interest.”
If inspired to hail Priya’s words, you’re in excellent company.