Women of Color in Newsrooms

We cannot deny representation of women of color in the media is higher than it has ever been in years past. There have indeed been more stories in television, Hollywood, local and national news, and other forms of media that women of color can look up and relate to, but is not nearly enough. I realized after graduating college the media industry still has a long way to go.

I find fascinating the relationships among people and power dynamics and sometimes, the almost unperceptible difference when it comes to people of color. In this article, I want to focus on women of color in the media specifically for two reasons: first, because I was inspired by my own observations and experiences as a Latina in the media industry, and second, because I wanted to connect one of my areas of studies (journalism) with my passions (social justice, culture, and critical race theory).

Now, I can only write as far as my limited research allows me , but I believe I do have some insights I want to share in the almost year out of college. I recently read an article about the phenomenon of “diversity dishonesty.” This concept refers to how companies would promote its so-called diversity by hiring a few people of color in its staff, but in reality actual anti-racist practices and equity are rarely seen inside their offices and company policies. It also refers to the hierarchy of power, and how the higher you go up, the whiter it gets. At first I thought “Finally! Someone puts it into words!” And then I realized my own ingenuity, and in a sense, innocense and even ignorance. Of course I doubt people at this point have not tried to speak out about this issue. I even have had very insightful conversations with co-workers of color who have experienced first-hand the impacts of an opressive system.

One thing I have also noticed is the somehow strange silence or almost non-existent complaints from women of color, who most likely have experienced the most backlash or subtle racism. I can infer this silence is due to the double-morality of woman and emotions in the workplace, especially if they are people of color, but I am sure it varies depending on the person, since I usually do not like to generalize. I am certain there are many factors going into women being more “submissive” or just picking their battles when it comes to discrimination.

Perhaps is my stubborn youth that makes me feel hopeful for the future. But somehow I do believe things can go in the right direction. It won’t be easy in the absolute, but I have already seen great journalists who are also women of color that I look up to in my newsroom. And like them, there are many more across the country, who are working against the odds and do not let a system based on white supremacy, like most institutions in the United States, erase their identity and cultural background to fit in. They are breaking models and doing things their way. I aspire to one day be as fearless as they are.

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