By Pauly Denetclaw:
It was Friday February 28th when Generation Justice was scheduled to meet Jessica Coloma, a representative from our funder the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and I was more nervous than I should have been. Actually, I was the appropriate amount of nervous to meet the person who is helping to support our project. Through this funding it’s possible for us at Generation Justice to continue our amazing work.
I was nervous because I wanted her to know how this multimedia project, this fellowship, has changed my life. When it comes to speaking, I have trouble condensing my thoughts and finding the right words to express how I’m feeling. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to fully convey how incredibly lucky I am to be a fellow at Generation Justice.
In my short time as a fellow, I have talked to famous journalists, community organizers, award-winning authors, well-known professors, and celebrated activists. Each one has encouraged me and given me the strength to continue on my path of being a journalist. They gave me advice on how to become a better storyteller and remind me why it’s so important for me to continue my path and become a journalist.
I wanted Jessica to know that before coming to Generation Justice I didn’t really understand the rarity of journalists of color. I didn’t know the statistics, or what being a journalist of color meant. I blindly accepted the term “minority” and never questioned it, but used it as the explanation for the inequity I saw in the world around me.
Now my mind has been opened to the systematic institutional inequities that plague our country. This doesn’t affect just people of color, it affects all Americans who are underrepresented. These inequities impact the poor, the homeless, the undereducated and all those who are left behind in a fast-paced, individualistic country.
Thanks to Jessica and the Kellogg Foundation, Generation Justice has opened my mind, and cultivated my journalism skills. I’m better able to research, write questions, and conduct interviews. I didn’t realize how inadequate I was until I started this program. Before I was in a different mindset and had this separation from the people I interviewed. Now I’m more open and able to connect with people.
This connection has also helped with my ability to communicate with people. I’m more open to asking questions and for help. Before I was really closed off because I didn’t want people to think I was incompetent. In fact it’s the opposite, not asking for help is the worst thing I can do.
I also had to realize that being a journalist means being a storyteller. My job is to relay the stories from the community but to keep its authenticity. This switched my focus from being about my byline to it being about the people. This was a life changing realization.
I’m truly thankful for all that Generation Justice and the Kellogg Foundation have given me. Being a fellow has shaped my life goals, furthered my career, and given me access to more opportunities to grow.