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June 10, 2020

Black lives matter. Black journalists matter

Protesters in Cincinnati, Ohio march for Black lives. Photo by Julian Wan
Protesters in Cincinnati, Ohio march for Black lives. Photo by Julian Wan

Democracy Fund stands in solidarity with our grantees, partners, and those across the nation who are outraged and grieving over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other Black lives that have been lost or harmed by racism, white supremacy, and police brutality. That includes the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color, as Democracy Fund’s president, Joe Goldman, shared recently.

The Local News Lab, a project of Democracy Fund, stands with Black people and Black journalists. In our Local Fix newsletter last week, we expressed our solidarity and amplified those accounts from journalists of color. Local newsrooms can and should do better in serving their communities in telling these stories of the ongoing fight for racial equity.

We know it is important to highlight these voices now, to listen to them and to ensure that these stories are met with action, in our newsrooms and our industry, and our own organization, in the days, months and years to come.

“We labor on because we have a cause bigger than ourselves. But it doesn’t mean we don’t turn to friends, family, colleagues and therapy to get through this, because we do. I ask for those consuming this news site and many, many other black journalists’ work understand that we are reporting while dealing with our own life-long post-traumatic stress from repeatedly bearing witness to our dehumanization and murder.

The pain is real. It lingers. And what we witness today will shape us for the rest of our lives.”

Black Journalists and Covering the Storm That Never Passes —  Danielle C. Belton, The Root

“But at the end of the day, I think we all go home and weep, and pray, and hope, and deal with the anger and disappointment. The attack on press freedom is disheartening on its own — but imagine the terror of wearing both a press badge and black skin in this country at the same time,” Dorothy Tucker, an investigative reporter for Chicago’s CBS-2 and president of the National Association of Black Journalists. 

‘The terror of wearing both a press badge and black skin’: Black journalists are carrying unique burdens  — The Washington Post 

“The Amsterdam News has been around for 111 years, and we have covered NY and the country since then…The black press has been the drumbeat of Black America. It is interesting to see how while the Black press will begin the stories, then the mainstream press will begin to run with them and get them wrong in so many places,” Elinor Tatum, New York Amsterdam News

Black Media Speaks: How We Are Covering the Uprisings Against Police Brutality  —  Center for Community Media 

“As I edited these essays, I cycled through all of the stages of grief. I laughed and cried, felt hopeless and despondent, dug in on my commitment to making Chicago a better city, and fantasized about moving into a custom tricked-out van down by some distant river. We’ve arranged these essays to reflect this emotional journey, and I hope you read this package from start to finish, from Derrick’s palpable anger and delete-button self-care to Terrence’s Buddhist chants as a way to channel the rage we all feel,” Karen Hawkins, Chicago Reader.

Essays as group therapy: How are Black writers coping? We’re chanting, fact-checking history, and envisioning a tiny future. — Derrick Clifton, Terrence F. Chappell, Karen Hawkins, Princess McDowell, and Evan F. Moore, Chicago Reader

“…Discounting these lived experiences has real ramifications. One of the things that’s so exhausting for Black journalists is this constant feeling of “Yes, and I told you so.” It is so frustrating when someone you had a conversation with four years ago—or six months ago or last week or just 24 hours ago—comes to you later and says, “I had no idea. I had no idea things were this bad.” Because all that tells me is it didn’t matter when I said it. It only mattered when you finally found a reference point that you were willing to accept as valid,” Stacy-Marie Ishmael, Texas Tribune.”

8 Journalists on Reporting While Black, With the Weight of History on Their Shoulders — Glamour 

“In addition to a deconstruction of American democracy, we’re seeing a deconstruction of the concept of journalistic objectivity. And it’s about time. It does not mean that there’s not fair journalism but when what is good to cover is good for a certain demographic, then we have a lot of chaos in the information ecosystem,”  Farai Chideya, Ford Foundation.

The Toll of Covering Police Brutality as a Black Journalist— WNYC’s The Takeaway 

“Like so many in our community, this week has made me feel weary, agitated, fearful, angry and invigorated — all at the same time. One emotion I have not felt is helpless. As many of our callers have said this week, this is a time when Black owned media matters. Having a place dedicated specifically and exclusively to giving voice to our pain, struggle and frustration matters. Having a space where we can grapple with the range of emotions we are feeling — pride and support for the activism in the streets, and anger over the destruction in our neighborhoods. This matters. Being able to hold “the powers that be” accountable to our community, matters.”

The Uprising: A Message from WURD President/CEO— Sara Lomax-Reese

“My voice is the voice of facts and context. My voice is the hope that they can bring the understanding and, eventually, the equality that my country’s founding documents promise.

My space is the newsroom.

I’m good here.”

AMERICAN DIARY: To be black and a journalist at this moment — Amanda Barrett, Associated Press

Read more on the fight for racial equity in local newsrooms: