I noticed that when Black History Month rolled around I was assigned stories that felt very obligatory and lacked depth. But that’s also how Black History is often treated in the classroom. You learn about 4 or 5 historical figures and your history always begins in bondage. Growing up, I saw the kind of damage that kind of diluted black history education can do to the black psyche.
For the black man who told me that black people don’t know how to be successful, I knew he didn’t hear about the rise and destruction of Black Wall Street. For every black person who uses black on black crime as some sort of justification for the police-related deaths circulating timelines and news tickers, I know they haven’t fully comprehended America’s relationship with lynching.
For every black man who downplays the acknowledgement of exploitation and abuse of black women, I know they didn’t learn that gynecology was practiced on enslaved black women without anesthesia. Once you know these things, it doesn’t become hard to understand how mentality can be passed down generation to generation.
It was always one thing when white people made comments like that, it was another when I heard black people doing it. I wanted to challenge and change that.
We’re also not taught how big we are, we often hear people say “Black history is American history.” Black history is world history. There are so many different cultures, colors and complexities that make up us. When choosing participants I wanted to hear the perspectives of the immigrant, the 1st generation American, the Afro-Latinx, bi-racial, the LGBTQ community and different religious backgrounds. I wanted to push the conversation and have that conversation in an unconventional way.
Can you explain the ways in which your love for Black people and Journalism intersect?
A publicist called me once asking if I was on a race beat. Nah. Blackness doesn’t live in response. I write about black people living, loving and liberating. I see the beauty in us and I’m so caught up in the rapture. I just want everyone to be caught up as well. That being said, I do write about the issues we face. The ugly things that prevent us from shining. That’s part of loving us as well.
As a Black female millennial, what are your feelings about the movement for Black Lives and its depictions in the press + media?
To me, Black Lives Matter is an affirmation that unfortunately has had to be reiterated throughout history. As a young black woman, I love seeing black women really standing up, speaking up and being counted. We’ve always been on the frontlines, but now we’re there and with demanding that we fight for ourselves and making sure our issues are addressed.
When it comes to the media, it’s important to be alert of certain language used “riot” vs. “protest.” I remember interviewing DeRay McKesson and he said that he’s noticed the media now says “according to police” or “police say” as opposed to reporting police statements as fact, I’ve noticed that as well.
How important is Black journalism in 2016 in light of the Black Lives Matter Movement?