Monday, January 29, 2007

On Race

I knew if I didn't say it, nobody would.

"As we come upon Black History Month, I just want everyone to remember to look for stories and pictures featuring, well, black people," I said during our staff meeting. "I hate to be the black reporter having to say this, and I know it's hard because our section doesn't have a large black community, but make a real effort."

I'll admit; it wasn't the single most eloquent statement I've ever made in my newsroom, but it got the job done. After I finished, everyone agreed with the ultimate goal - even going so far as to thank me for reminding them of the month set aside to honor African-American achievement.

And it gets better.

We started talking about stories. We talked about diversity education in schools and in the workplace. We talked about discrimination. I shared my experiences with some less than tactful people I've encountered since I've been in the state. I even suggested we meet again next week to brainstorm story ideas to mark the month.

And it felt good.

As I mentioned before, Rhode Island isn't the single most diverse state in the union. And our black population is fairly dismal. For goodness sake, we don't even have a street named after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (though we do have a school and a community center). Honestly, it's a little weird being in a place like that - where I'm constantly aware of my race, whether its by my own consciousness or I'm alerted to it by someone else. And its even more weird realizing that my face is not reflected in the pages of my publication.

I've started the conversation in my bureau, just because it was something important to me.

But ultimately, who's responsibility is it to bring up race when it comes to coverage?

Posted by T Dot at 6:49 PM | link

Read or Post a Comment

Talia, I think it's great that you brought the subject up. As the only minority on staff at my station I'm also always aware of the fact that I'm black. Sometimes they remind me and other times it's by my own consciousness.

My news director recently sent out an e-mail asking who wanted to take part in a series this month on black leadership in Milwaukee's African American community. I'm choosing not to take part because I don't want to be thought of as the "black reporter." I also don't want to be put in the position of explaining "blackness."

I'm finding this to be a difficult line to tow.

Anyway, big ups (lol) for bringing the subject up...I'm sure you guys will come up with some great stories.

Posted by Anonymous Toya @ 3:11 PM, February 02, 2007 #

oh black journalism...welcome to the blessing and the burden, my dear!

i'm glad that you've made the conscious choice to rise to the occasion _ and come to the realization that you can't leave it to somebody else in your newsroom to do it, especially when there's nobody else around who looks like you!

keep strugglin!

Posted by Blogger hizzle06 @ 6:04 AM, February 10, 2007 #
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