By Jason Fuller:
Social Justice is to Civil Rights as Communication is to Journalism. This was a key quote from our video get-together with John Garcia and Jazmin Chavez from Latino Justice. Latino Justice is an organization based out of New York, which has protected and improved the lives of Latinos for over 40 years through litigation and advocacy. Meeting with this dynamic duo challenged me to strive to be a great multi-faceted storyteller, write from my head and heart, and put previous dreams into action. From these words, I walked away rejuvenated and hungrier to get more experience under my belt.
John Garcia from Latino Justice is without question the most engaging journalist that I have met at this point in my life. His charismatic presence made me feel comfortable because I took his words of wisdom as a remedy for my erratic journalistic habits. I felt at ease because he told us that originally his goal in life was to be an actor, which actually benefited his career as a journalist because of his remarkable ability to tell stories. John disagrees with traditional “Journalism Schools” that neglect the art of storytelling. John emphasized exploring different writing styles so they become second nature.
John started out his journalism career covering sports in Miami. He had this hunger to develop his skills, and once his sports stories were done, he sought out other opportunities covering politics, parades, fashion, or whatever needed coverage. He constantly kept an eye out for other opportunities to enhance his skills and experience.
Now, I am striving to be a multi-faceted storyteller that can cover a wide variety of topics. Instead of merely writing about the story, I will bring out the passion, emotions, and reality of the story, so that readers can paint a vivid picture of the situation. These are the beginning stages to approaching writing from the head and heart.
Jazmin Chavez of Latino Justice dropped the profound concept of head and heart. Jazmin said that as people of color, our life experiences have created an innate talent to vocally illustrate our stories. She explained how easy it is to write a boring story on a topic like the increasing numbers of homeless people. The skillful storytelling approach is to bring it back home; we should concentrate on the key factors of homelessness and those who are impacted. This would mean focusing on how many young children and single parents face homelessness, and paint a clear picture of their hunger, stress and grief.
A topic near and dear to me is the financial hurricane that hit my home city of Detroit, MI. With over 1/3 of Detroit’s population picking up their belongings and leaving their homes behind, thousands of families have been uprooted. There are stories of great resilience and achievement (like my family’s) however, there are also stories of displacement and struggle. Believe it or not, the people of Detroit are high-spirited regardless of what the media says; capturing their voices is paramount if such a documentary is to be brought to life. I wish to pursue such a documentary within a few years in order to give a face to those impacted by the “financial meltdown”, because this was so much more than financial capital loss. I want to especially thank Jazmin because her call to action forced me to dig deep and pull up my dream documentary.
Thank goodness that I got this fellowship with Generation Justice. This fellowship has given a budding journalist the opportunity to speak with individuals who have spilled a bottle of knowledge onto my sponge of life. John and Jazmin were phenomenal and I want to thank them for not just their time, but for their commitment to social justice and embracing Generation Justice.