It is a terrible thing to feel alone in this world. The moment where you discover that somebody out there in the world has felt the same as you do or has experienced what you have gone through is a moment of lightness where a burden of strangeness and loneliness is lifted.
Artistic mediums like literature carry power in their ability to resonate with, influence people, and lift sensations of isolation through shared feelings. They tell stories of pains and triumphs that you may resoundingly identify with or that may open your eyes to the perspective of others. Unfortunately, in today’s society, the stories told are often only representative of majority identities and do not include the deeply needed stories of BIPOC, queer, and other marginalized individuals,
Gabbi Holliman-Lopez, a junior studying communication and rhetorical studies and Hanna Seraji, working towards her master’s degree in library science, are both avid readers and know well that stories inspire personal and social change. They saw, though, that the stories often told were not of those from a different background or marginalized identity- that these crucial voices were missing and people from these identities did not see a reflection of themselves in art.
In response they created Tableau Media, a publication dedicated amplifying voices of BIPOC, queer, and marginalized identities. Tableau, aptly named ‘a space for colorful analysis’, is overflowing with thoughtful writings on mental health or cultural discovery to recommendations for readings and music to inspire social change; all carefully crafted to support diverse voices.
Seraji and Holliman-Lopez have known each other for years. Both growing up in Syracuse, they attended the same schools K-12 and their shared friendship and experiences as minorities in the Syracuse community drove them to start Tableau.
“In going to a predominantly white institution there was a sense of missing that representation. It was wild how little there was of it. Today there’s still more children’s books about inanimate objects than there are about people of color,” Holliman-Lopez recalled. Even much of the representation that currently exists of different cultures and ethnicities is often highly problematic and depicts harmful stereotypes. Tableau seeks to change that by publishing writings authored by those of differing identities and creating a welcoming space where individuals can share the reality of their experiences.
They launched Tableau Media this past summer through the LaunchPad SummerStart Accelerator. Through a fast-paced summer packed with entrepreneurial growth and creation, Seraji and Holliman-Lopez devoted themselves to creating this eye-opening publication as a venture they are passionate about. They were part of a global Innovation Showcase at the end of the accelerator and earned extremely high marks from the prestigious panel of alumni judges who were incredibly impressed with what they had accomplished. They plan to publish a print magazine this fall and currently have a team of content creators overflowing with inspiring pieces. Their passion for writing and their championship for often-ignored communities shows in their cultivation of thought-provoking and compassionate writings.
The creation of Tableau Media stemmed from Seraji and Holliman-Lopez’s own experience of the life-altering power of reading. Literature by people of color, or literature that championed social activism filled them with passion for the world around them and impacted their everyday choices. Stories force you to put yourself in the shoes of others, which is why it’s so important to hear the voices of those who have faced discrimination and suffering and tell stories that inspire inward and outward change.
“Something as powerful as writing and channeling that energy of consciousness to have people resonate with that is really important, “said Seraji.
Not only is it crucial to include diverse voices so that people can grow in their beliefs, but it’s crucial for individuals to be seen and heard. Seeing yourself reflected in the spaces around you relieves and empowers. It relieves you from the conviction of being strange and apart. It empowers you to embrace your identity and create your life with courage, knowing that others have gone before you. Tableau Media, by amplifying BIPOC and queer voices, creates much needed belonging for individuals often alienated and compels others to empathize with different experiences and feelings.
“Storytelling is an exercise in empathy,” said Holliman-Lopez. “It’s how we understand the world so it’s crucial to see yourself in the media that’s created and see that you are worthwhile and important.”
Both are officially becoming team members of the LaunchPad this academic year while continuing to work on Tableau Media. Seraji will be a Global Fellow, crafting stories about entrepreneurs and creatives from diverse communities who are part of the Syracuse University innovation scene, and Holliman-Lopez will be an inaugural Todd B. Rubin Diversity and Inclusion Scholar, working on programs, events and initiatives that promote diversity, inclusion and social justice. Holliman-Lopez’s role is funded through a generous gift from Todd B. Rubin ’04 (School of Architecture) who is Minister of Evolution and President of the Republic of Tea. Rubin has been an important mentor to entrepreneurial Syracuse University students engaged in the LaunchPad.
We are excited to welcome them as new founders and as new LaunchPad team members, and very excited to see Tableau Media grow.
Follow them on:
Story by Claire Howard ’23, LaunchPad Global Fellow, photo provided