NABJ-Chicago Members Call for Minority Journalists to Form Alliance Against Racism and Microaggression
By Phil Thompson
NABJ-Chicago VP of Print
Groups like NABJ and NAHJ advocate for their black and Latino members, but there are common challenges and setbacks many journalists of color face on the job every day.
That’s to name a few. Independent journalist Adeshina Emmanuel experienced this firsthand when he unwittingly found himself at the center of a firestorm over a racially insensitive Reader cover crafted by his white editors.
He talked about the experience at NABJ-Chicago’s mixer in March and a City Bureau forum in April, and he continues to build a support network for minority journalists to share similar stories through a new Facebook group he created called Chicago Journalists of Color Against Racism and Discrimination.
“I felt that (then-editor Mark Konkol) sort of had ulterior motives to use my voice, sort of in a ‘Get Out’ sort of way,” referring to the horror flick’s auction scene. “Sort of get inside my skin to do things that he felt he wouldn’t have license to do given that he wasn’t a black millennial.”
“That led me to start poking around, asking people, ‘Have you been in situations like this?’ Have you had your own ‘Get Out’ moment? Have you ever felt coerced or pigeonholed or exploited in different ways, because of your identity, by a white editor in a white-dominated situation.”
Certainly at the black journalists mixer, a number of hands went up, that were followed by questions and anecdotes about run-ins with editors and newsrooms.
“I wanted this to be not just a black thing, not just a Hispanic thing, not just an Asian thing. I wanted it to be something where could sort of get folks of all different racial groups and all different generations in the same space and sharing stories and talking about the transgressions they’ve suffered in news organizations.”
NABJ-Chicago Chapter President Maudlyne Ihejirika added that by comparing notes, minority journalists can form a plan to take action.
“I’m reaching out to every journalist of color and saying let’s all come together,” Ihejirika said. “What can we do to address what’s happening with us in newsrooms.”