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Her-spectiv, created by Carleton students Ezem ’18 and Odubayo ’21, offers space for Black women’s creativity and voices

<u open, a silent video of Nnenna Ezem ’18 and Jelilat Odubayo ’21 plays; they chat and laugh, welcoming the viewer into the site. As the “About” section states, the content of her-spectiv is difficult to reduce to a few sentences. It could be seen as a journal or a blog, but both Ezem and Odubayo describe it as a simple space, where Black women can go to feel “seen, heard, or recognized with little-to-no expectation or exception.”

Though it is now a full-fledged website, her-spectiv started as just “an idea,” according to Ezem. It began as her unpublished personal blog, in which “I was just trying to force myself to write about honestly anything… but it felt like I was making my words a lot more palatable so that I could appeal to an audience that didn’t exist.” She grew frustrated, but still felt as though she needed an outlet through which to express herself authentically in her experience and creativity as a Black woman on Carleton’s campus. But then, Gerald Young, the varsity athletic director and someone that Ezem looked to as a mentor, gave her the idea to use her radio show as an avenue through which she could express her concerns and thoughts.

This seed of an idea then began to take shape. At first, it was just Ezem who spoke on the show, until she began to invite featured guests once a week. She describes having Odubayo on the show as transformative in the creation of her-spectiv. “I met Jelilat, and she was incredible,” said Ezem. “The level of appreciation that she showed to having that kind of space… where she could be abrasive, but she could also be soft, and nobody would make assumptions or stereotypes because you can’t see us.” Shortly after Odubayo’s first appearance on the show, Ezem invited her on as a full-time member.

However, Ezem was a senior and Odubayo was a freshmen. So when graduation and summer approached, Ezem “didn’t want the space to stop… so I created a site.” She invited Odubayo on as a collaborator, and the two launched what is now

So what is As of now, it is mainly a collection of posts from Odubayo and Ezem under the “Journal” section of the site, and the content spans a wide range of topics.

There are movie and play reviews, stories, reflections and just meandering thoughts on their everyday experiences. Each entry has a distinct voice, and reads like a journal both in tone and in how vulnerable and personal the entries can be. Odubayo addressed this, saying that one challenge that she faced was that “a lot of people from Carleton subscribe to [her-spectiv], people that I interact with on the regular, and in the back of my mind sometimes, I’m like, ‘should I write this?… What repercussions is this going to have?’… But I’m trying to think of the website as [something] outside of Carleton… For me, I think it’s the most vulnerable I’ve been… some of the stuff I’m writing on there, I don’t say to people to their face. It’s kind of helping me practice radical honesty.”

In this radical honesty come Ezem and Odubayo’s accounts of honest experiences of Black womanhood both on and off of the Carleton campus. The “About” section of the website states: “This space is not meant to be exclusive to any one person, but rather, inclusive to any Black woman searching for and well-deserving of a space to call their own.” As Odubayo said, “I think her-spectiv is needed especially at Carleton… I think a lot of the time there’s not a lot of representation of Black women on campus… there’s a lot of hypervisibility and then also, not being seen… I think her-spectiv is a platform and a space for Black women to really represent themselves as they truly are as opposed to how people take them in. I think it’s especially necessary for me being on this campus and for the next two years because it gives me a space where I can put all of the things that… I don’t find are able to be breached in conversations with people at Carleton, whether they’re [with] Black women or not, and [to] just really live in the truth of my experience here.”

Echoing Odubayo, Ezem discussed how she sees the site as a space where “Black women especially are able to talk to each other, support each other, and understand each other… find something in the space that belongs to them… There are nuances to our experiences, and we are multi-faceted even within ourselves.” In a similar vein, she described how “the most important part that I need to keep reminding myself is that it is about us first. It really isn’t about getting people to see us and appreciate us. It’s about getting us to see ourselves and appreciate ourselves… Obviously we get viewers and readers… who are friends of mine, who are not Black women… who love it, and obviously aren’t ignorant to the variety of Black women who are out there… But at the same time, it really isn’t about them… It’s for us, first.”

In terms of goals for the future, one goal that Ezem and Odubayo share is to expand the “Features” section of the page to include more perspectives from Black women in and outside of the Carleton community. Odubayo shared that “we’re actually working on a Feature, trying to get that together,” though they are both bound by their busy schedules and physical distance, as Ezem now lives across the country and Odubayo is currently a sophomore on campus. Beyond the “Features” page, both have many more ideas in terms of expansion; in addition to jotting down ideas on her phone, Ezem keeps a her-spectiv notebook where she writes goals, plans and ideas. Odubayo shared that she is planning on incorporating interviews, as well as potentially exploring a photojournalistic style to tell Black women’s stories. But to put their goals and current mission into a sentence, Ezem said it succinctly: “We’re just trying to find more ways to incorporate more Black women.”

To learn more about her-spectiv, subscribe to their content or to contact either Ezem or Odubayo, visit

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