It cannot be said enough: Representation matters. It matters in our schools. It matters in our workplaces. It matters in the television shows and movies we watch as well as in the music we listen to. And it definitely matters in the media.
Journalists are considered primary sources as far as history is concerned, and it is important that our experiences here as a people are documented by those who share them with us and relate to them much in the same way we do.
Just as young King Johnson asked, “How can white people teach black history?” I ask, how can there be news on issues that affect the black community if there are no black journalists involved?
NPR reported its staff diversity numbers Tuesday and revealed that as of Oct. 31, 2017, its newsroom was 75.1 percent white and 56.2 percent female. There are 377 people on the staff, so with black people at 8.8 percent of the employee population, that means there are roughly 33 black staff members.
Compare that to an organization such as, oh, I don’t know, The Root.
We are super black over here, and we have been writing for and about black people for 10 years.
Now, undoubtedly, someone is going to jump in and say, “But The Root isn’t even black-owned!”
You know what? You are right. The Root is not black-owned—but we are 100 percent black-operated.
Every person in a position overseeing the site is black and a woman, so you gotta relax yourselves.
Editor-in-chief? She’s black. Managing editor? She’s black. Deputy managing editor? She’s black.
All of our senior editing staff is black. Our copy chief is black. Our copy editors are black. Our staff writers are black. We hire black freelancers—and we pay them on time.
Basically, don’t worry about who signs our checks, because they don’t edit or write our posts. We do.
The Root is the blackest thing you’ve seen since the title card of Black Mirror. WE ARE THAT BLACK.
And we write for a black audience. Sure, we recognize that we have white readers, and we appreciate when they come to the site to hear things from our perspective. It’s why we do what we do.
We tell black stories because it is important that black stories get told. We curate news for a black audience because we believe it is important for black people to be armed with the facts as they relate to them.
We talk about the things that aren’t being said, and we point out the absurdity of it all, and we do it all for the love of blackness.
That’s why it’s always hilarious when trolls comment and ask us why we are always talking about race. Because it’s literally our job. And because if we left it up to you, it would never get discussed.
I always talk about how fortunate I am to work in a newsroom that lets me be unapologetically myself and unapologetically black.
It’s so important in this day and age.
Black writers have to tell black stories. Black journalism has to exist for black people.
Black information is black power.
And that’s why representation matters. Always.