Reporter’s column: Giving equal footing to voices of color in our community
Representation and coverage is not always equal.
I typed a note along with the International Women’s Day story that was published online Monday (and in print today on page 3), to let the audience know that while there were no voices included from girls or women of color in the story that does not mean those voices aren’t equally as valuable as the sources I did connect with.
Working in news media always means dealing with the challenges of deadlines, but the note is not an excuse. Rather, it’s my effort to show I’m not ignoring the women of color in our community, but want to start conversations with them and connect so they can be included in the stories I report on.
I did not want to run a story on International Women’s Day that didn’t at least acknowledge the multitude of backgrounds and identities women have around the world and in this valley. As a Latina woman and journalist, I want the newspaper to be a safe space for other people of color, regardless of gender identity, to feel like they can come to me with story ideas or for a conversation about things that matter to them.
It’s a painful reality that not all voices are equally heard nor celebrated in this valley, and I want to help change this. In light of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests over the summer, and more recently Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah, it is impossible to deny that racism is alive and well all over the world, including in the United States.
I am a Latina who grew up speaking English, and that’s brought privilege to my experiences others don’t have. There were also opportunities made available to me because of where I grew up and who my parents are, multiple generations out from our ancestors who immigrated here. My hope as an ally and new member of this valley’s Latino community is to demonstrate my support and solidarity with more than just my words. These oppressive systems will not be changed overnight, but any action towards positive change and equality for all people is progress.
It is important to me that the stories I write represent as much of our community as possible and include a myriad of perspectives in order for me to do my best work as a journalist. We as a community cannot deny cries for help when it comes to mental health resources, and we have to stop overlooking the racism that lives alongside us in the valley.
March and Women’s History Month is only four weeks long, but I’d like to ask all individuals of color and marginalized communities to reach out to me going forward so I can help elevate these lesser-heard voices and use my platform to push towards equality in this valley.
For stories about women of color, marginalized populations and anyone feeling overlooked in our community, let’s talk. These changes won’t just magically appear after one column or invitation for connection, but I am ready to make myself available to community members for the long haul as we continue to enact change.
Please reach out to me for feedback, a conversation or support at email@example.com.
Jessica Peterson is a reporter covering education, arts and entertainment and more at the Post Independent.
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