“This work has to be supported by the community.” – Kent Paterson
Christina Rodriguez and I had the opportunity to engage in a discussion with Kent Paterson, who is an incredibly inspiring journalist. He has been working through the framework of social justice for many years, and has done a lot of work around Femicide, as well as Police Militarization in the United States, and across the border in Mexico.
Amongst many other informative aspects of our discussion, I appreciated his explanation of the various ethical actions and precautions that journalists, particularly journalists who are driven by social change, should always be mindful of. This was important for me because I understand the danger that can stem from creating a platform for controversial stories to be presented upon. Additionally, such journalists are often targeted by conservatives, skeptics, police, and even government officials. As a rule of thumb, I learned to always work in teams, have at least one witness present during important discussions, always be aware of your surroundings, and never break the bond of confidentiality. He taught Christina and I these lessons by sharing his own experiences, and I was overcome by respect and admiration listening to his stories of personal bravery, dedication, and love for his work. Even in the face of danger, he is able to remain focused, and I can only imagine how much strength such instances require of him.
Furthermore, Kent Paterson was willing to share his story about how he became a journalist, and I was completely inspired when he informed us that his career path was paved by first being an activist. I remember him saying that people within social movements gravitate toward different roles. Some people observe, some people lead, and some people develop a drive to tell these stories to the world. It’s humbling to hear this come from a successful journalist because I too began as an activist. My yearning to spread awareness developed at a young age, and when I began to use my voice and my words to tell these stories that weren’t accurately being covered by mainstream media, people were listening to me. Family, friends, and acquaintances understood and appreciated my perspectives.
It wasn’t until I discovered Generation Justice, though, that I realized that journalism, with a social justice lense, is a potential career pathway for me. I have learned that there are reporters, journalists, and various other types of media makers that are striving for the greater good, and that exposing the truth and giving people a platform to tell their stories is an essential drive for journalists like Kent Paterson and myself.
I would like to sincerely thank Kent for his life’s investment and commitment to the work that he does. I would like to thank him for creating a space for people to feel comfortable enough to tell their stories. And most of all, I would like to thank him for taking the time to speak with an aspiring social justice journalist, like myself, and showing me the importance of pursuing my work with love, humility, selflessness, respect, and determination. If God wants, someday I’ll have the opportunity to inspire young journalists, just as Kent Paterson has inspired me.