“They can’t comprehend
Or even come close to understanding him
I guess if I was boring they would love me more
Guess if I was simple in the mind
Everything would be fine”
-“Man On The Moon” By Kid Cud
At Generation Justice, I’m often asked to reflect on my thoughts, emotions and actions to better understand my story. This reflection has lead to incredible intrapersonal growth. Once again, I’m in a moment of transition and reflection.
My parents, Martha Ellison and Paul Denetclaw, and my mentor Roberta Rael speak frankly about topics others aren’t willing to touch. So, I was prompted to confront the shakiness of my own voice.
After joining GJ, I realized that I hesitated when called an activist or with having my work associated with activism. I justified this feeling by saying I was honoring what it means to be an activist. This was a lie I told myself because the truth made me far more uncomfortable.
I still fear rejection from institutions of journalism. I feel it breathing down my back, waiting for me to give into mainstream values. I hear it scoffing at my ambition; tossing my journalism aside. I’m up against a world that doesn’t want me as I am—conscious and critical. They want a beautiful, little Pocahontas to preach diversity without confronting white privilege. I’m not this person nor could I ever be.
I have realized I’m too conscious for this field and it scares the set establishment. It wants journalists who believe in the status quo and make excuses for oppression. It wants journalists so disconnected from the community, they can’t see the injustice.
There’s a systemic reason why journalists of color make up such a small percentage of newsrooms. We live and breathe oppression. Most, like myself, see firsthand the problems and injustices in our own community. Many of us fight these issues with our pens. But the world looks at us and screams “activist” or “biased” to discredit our community’s experiences.
It’s for all these reasons that journalists of color make up only 11.8 percent of radio newsrooms according to a study by Juan Gonzales and Joseph Torres. I’m proudly part of that 11.8 percent. I love my community so much that I’ll fight to tell our stories and truth. These stories are so important and beautiful yet completely ignored by mainstream media. I can’t let them slip and fade. These stories guide our community forward and remind us who we are.
So, I’ll tackle every obstacle and I will reject journalism’s classification of my work. My articles are not biased. They are not false. The stories I write speak truth that make people uncomfortable. But being uncomfortable doesn’t equal lies.
My journey is just beginning but I walk forward with the wisdom from my elders, the love of my community and the encouragement of my family.