Amirah Mercer is a copywriter and social media strategist for a digital marketing agency in New York. She blogs, she innovates, and she discusses why pop culture plays an important role in current events as our thoughtful pundit of the week.
As part of the "pundit of the week" blog, we spotlight one exceptional PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member.
About Amirah: Amirah blogs about digital innovation and fashion for Style Realist. When she's not writing, she's advancing one of her many start-up ideas, at the movies or attempting to practice yoga. Amirah graduated from Princeton with a B.A. in sociology.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first. When and why did you get involved with PolicyMic?
Amirah Mercer (AM): I started writing for PolicyMic earlier this year. The website came onto my radar through some postings by friends on Facebook. I was just drawn by the concept — news for millennials by millennials. It's simple, but it's attractive. As a writer I've always been kind of private, but I figured PolicyMic was a great platform to finally put myself out there and continue developing my voice through dialogue with my peers on the site.
CC: You write almost exclusively for the culture section (and provide exceptional True Blood coverage). Talk about the benefits of being a sophisticated pop culture aficionado on a current events discussion platform. What are the challenges?
AM: I'll start with True Blood. Writing these recaps has made this season one of the most enjoyable, because instead of simply discussing the previous day's episode with my mom (love you ma!), I get to share ideas, theories, fears and hopes with a global network of fans. The best part about writing about culture for PolicyMic is that everyone has an opinion and they're not afraid to share it. I thought the first article I wrote, about hashtag rap, was just a silly little piece to get me started, but the article grew legs and resulted in a fierce debate on Facebook and some pretty strong opinions in the comments section on PolicyMic. It confirms what I already knew — that pop culture has a significant place in current news. It's nice to know that all my years of watching TV can finally contribute to a meaningful conversation (even if it is just around whether or not Sookie is an egomaniac).
As for the challenges, pop culture is standing next to some pretty significant news events on PolicyMic. Making sure I'm adding value to the conversation, and not just filling space, is something I try to keep in mind with every article.
CC: What is one outcome you'd like to result from your engagement with PolicyMic? Any ideas for the best way to make this happen?
AM: I've been inspired recently by amazingly good cultural critique (like Emily Nussbaum's brilliant defense of Sex and the City for the New Yorker). My hope is that as I continue writing for PolicyMic I can go beyond just recapping pop culture events and sharpen my ability to more critically analyze cultural happenings. I'd like to be a pop cultural sociologist, if you will.
CC: If you had to pick one culture vertical for PolicyMic to expand, what would it be and why?
AM: Definitely fashion. I actually joined PolicyMic with the intention of bringing more thoughtful awareness about fashion to the site, but I happened to get carried away in True Blood recaps. Maybe when the season's over I'll laser in on fashion again.
CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?
My blog, StyleRealist, focuses on digital innovation in fashion and it's been my red- headed step child for some time now — I never give it the attention it deserves, but I love it all the same. And when I'm not running through seasons of British crime dramas like Luther and Top Boy on Netflix, I'm probably exploring new music somewhere in New York.
CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of our staff?
AM: My question is for Alex Marin. What's your most memorable social media interaction through PolicyMic so far?
Alex Marin: Thank you for your question, Amirah. I have to say that, as excited as I get when we are tweeted, favorited or replied to by politicians, celebrities and other power players — (this shout out from Aisha Tyler was great) — nothing puts a smile on my face like seeing that "Here's my first story for PolicyMic!" tweet from our new writers. True story.
CC: Amirah, thank you. It's great to have you in our community, and look forward to seeing what you do next!
For more news on Amirah, follow her on Twitter: @StyleRealist