Tyler Newman describes herself as a connector and problem-solver, who forges spaces for community discourse and creates solutions for today’s challenges. This mindset comes from her advocacy for women of color, particularly those who use their voices to change the world. “Too often, I see women I love shrink themselves to accommodate a perception of women that society tells us to be,” she said. “I’m a living rebuttal of this construct. I’m here to let women know that the world is ours to radically change for the better.”
"I’m here to let women know that the world is ours to radically change for the better.”
Tyler has always been an outspoken person, but she found her voice through various expression modes such as art and writing. “Through living and having experiences, I collect ideas and concepts that build my value set and further refine who I am as a person and how I use my voice,” she said.
In 2018, Tyler took her relationship with advocacy and social justice to the next level and founded her first organization. In 2020, she launched her second. “From these endeavors, I cemented my identity as a problem solver: someone who is relentlessly inspired to create novel alternatives in our world,” she said.
Tyler is the founder of Afro Puff Chronicles, an online Gen Z platform highlighting women of color and providing the space for difficult conversations on diversity, equity, and social justice through art and prose. She is also the founder of The Year of Mastery, a gap year program and network that empowers gap year students to pursue their passions during an unprecedented time in their lives. “For me, activism was never a calling,” she said. “It was a way of self and community preservation. Seeing how the simple [act] of being authentic on social media, giving girls of color a space to live out loud through Afro Puff Chronicles, and bringing together gap year students through The Year of Mastery, made a seismic positive impact on the lives of others, I resolved never to be quiet.”
“For me, activism was never a calling, it was a way of self and community preservation."
As an exceptional Gen Z’er making a difference, Tyler was honored for her Journalism and Media work through The ConversationaLIST. “I use my voice for good by actively challenging the status quo and crafting new societal routes that challenge convention and push for equality and representation,” she said. “I also use my voice for healing: letting people know that in an isolating world, they’re not alone.”
Tyler advises those who are seeking to find their voice to defy the limits set by others. “Coming into your voice is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable,” she said. “Their judgment is a reflection of them, not of you. Don’t stop growing because of others’ inability to take the first step in their growth journey.”
As for what lies ahead, Tyler said she’s still figuring it out. She ended up taking a gap year from college during the pandemic, a choice she never envisioned herself making. For now, she’s focused on how she hopes to feel in the future rather than what she’ll have accomplished. “I hope to have arrived at the best mental and physical space I’ve ever attained,” she said. “I want to feel at peace, healthy, and balanced. I hope to feel loved and respected by the circle of individuals that I keep and to make them feel loved and cared for in turn. I want to feel limitless, but not be bound by pressure to succeed constantly.”
Tyler said The Conversationalist’s message resonates with her because it empowers young people to use their voice to start a conversation which creates a ripple effect of change in their communities. “It champions the power of social media to create social and political change,” she said. “Something as simple as the cell phone in your pocket has the power to start a revolution. I love how The Conversationalist encourages young people to use the tools at their disposal to make a positive impact on the world.”
For Tyler, a unified world doesn’t mean a world void of conflict but a world that addresses past pain sources such as loss of life and discrimination. “There are so many events and eras in our history that caused generational trauma and pain because they’ve been swept under the rug and left to fester,” she explained. “Once we address these issues, whether that be through national conversations or reparations, we can start to heal as a community.”
As for how Gen Z can achieve this, Tyler believes there needs to be a greater emphasis on collectivism over the individual. “I believe the first step to unifying our world is realizing that progress can only be made together and that focusing on the community as opposed to the individual can make our society better for all,” she said.
“I believe the first step to unifying our world is realizing that progress can only be made together."
This year, Tyler plans to challenge herself to break open her echo chamber by exploring the stories of those that come from different backgrounds and hold different perspectives. “I want to preface this by saying there are some views on race, gender, sexual and identity expression that I simply cannot accept from others because they violently suppress the rights and freedoms of individuals,” she said. “However, when it comes to unharmful, divergent outlooks, I’m more than happy to sit back and listen. I often think breaking echo chambers can be uncomfortable, or many people in Gen Z simply don’t know how. However, I’d suggest just starting with a conversation and seeing where it will lead you.”
Tyler said she always approaches conversations with an open heart and mind. “Freeing yourself from preconceptions of what you think about someone’s actions or values allows you to truly listen and see people as they truly are as opposed to how you believe them to be,” she said. “When you allow people to present themselves to you instead of writing a narrative for them, they may surprise you.”