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Women to Watch: The Social Activist, Rahiel Tesfamariam

Surely many of us have felt at some point during our lives that when we looked at mainstream media… “WE” were nowhere to be found. However, not many of us have taken the opportunity to do something about it. Today’s Woman to Watch is a brilliant young media mogul who is walking in her purpose as she utilizes various platforms to highlight and redefine progressive urban culture.  She’s a woman of faith with a hip-hop flair who is quickly taking this world by storm.


BRIEF BIORahiel Tesfamariam is a writer, social activist, public theologian and cultural critic. She is the Founder/Publisher of Urban Cusp, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social  change and global awareness. Rahiel is also a columnist for The  Washington Post.

Rahiel holds a B.A. in American Studies from Stanford University and a Master of Divinity from Yale University where she was the inaugural William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Scholar for Peace and Justice. Prior to seminary, Rahiel served as the youngest editor- in-chief in the history of The Washington Informer, at age 23.

Rahiel managed a citywide juvenile justice reform effort at a D.C. faith-based nonprofit before launching Urban Cusp in 2011. She has traveled the world on various delegations and humanitarian projects.

Rahiel has been featured on Washington Watch with Roland Martin, Huffington Post Live, Our World with Black Enterprise, Press TV, The Geraldo Rivera Radio Show, SiriusXM, and more. She has been named a 2013 GIVE1 Project Global Leadership Fellow, the 2012 IMPACT Leader of the Year, a 2012 Beatitudes Society Fellow, a Practical Visionary by The Institute for the Future, and a “Top 40 Under 40” by the EnVest Foundation. The world-renowned nonprofit Black Girls Rock!, Inc. featured Rahiel on their annual awards show on BET in 2013.

Tell us about your work…

Rahiel: For the last 2.5 years, I have been focused on Urban Cusp, an online magazine I launched in 2011 that intersects faith, social change and progressive urban culture. I also write for The Washington Post and am a public speaker.

Why did you decide to start Urban Cusp and why do you think it is important?

Rahiel: I wanted to start Urban Cusp to ensure there was a media platform that highlighted the issues and perspectives that I am passionate about. It is often hard for me to see a reflection of myself in mainstream media and I know that I couldn’t be the only young Christian, black woman, progressive and product of hip-hop culture to feel that way.

What impact, if any, does your work have on women?

Rahiel: I think that it is critical that I, as a young African American woman, am managing my own media platform and am training other young women to do the same. By doing so, we control how we are represented and are able to highlight issues that matter to our demographic.

What has been the most rewarding part of your work and what are you most proud of?

Rahiel: One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is the people that I get exposed to on a daily basis. I meet not only people that I have admired for a long time but also students at universities, church members, activists, and artists from all other the world. It means a lot to me to know I can have an influence on them and they often undoubtedly leave an imprint on me.

What has been most challenging about your work?

Rahiel: The most challenging aspect of my work is the uncertainty that I face daily. That is often a major benefit as it means that there are infinite possibilities ahead of me at all times, but the lack of security is not something that most people would be willing to endure.

What’s next for you and Urban Cusp?

Rahiel: My focus right now is on growing Urban Cusp and taking it to new heights. I want it to be a widely known, respected information and inspiration source, as a well as a vibrant community. As I do this, I’m also thinking about the books I want to write, the new media outlets I want to start-up and the platforms I want to offer for my generation to be informed and inspired.

Is there someplace online where readers can connect with you and follow your work?

Rahiel:,, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @RahielT and on Twitter and Facebook @UrbanCusp

Follow: Urban CuspUC on FacebookUC on TwitterRahiel.comRahiel on TwitterRahiel on Instagram

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