Hey, it’s me, your favorite aspiring black writer at your local liberal news outlet. I say aspiring because I’m only interning at the moment; they already have a token person of color on staff (lucky bastard got in just before I did) but hopefully, I’ll get the permanent spot after him. Wait, you didn’t think they would hire more than one did you? Get with the times!
I love my work, and I have a great relationship with my editor. She’s just commissioned me to write an empowering “family-strength” piece on how my loved ones banded together after our uncle was beaten by racist thugs in the street. She thinks its “powerful.” My uncle, not so much, but to be fair he has lost a lot of his cognitive ability since the ensuing migraines. I’m sure one day he’ll see its genius.
As a journalist, I do sometimes wonder whether continuously writing about racism, inequality, chattel slavery, unequal power dynamics yada yada yada could be a little damaging on the psyche. I should make a note to bring that up with the therapist I’ve had to book due to my sudden bout of depression, which I’m sure is not work-related at all. She’s black too, and a little critical of my assignments; she calls them “trauma-porn,” “dehumanizing,” and “encouraging white liberal readers to exploit black trauma for their own benefit whilst engaging in little-to-no useful action.” But maybe it’s just cynicism talking. Besides, my colleagues always commend the openness in my work. In fact, it’s a running joke in the office that if you met one of our readers on the street, they could tell you about the racial slurs used by my Tinder dates, the self-hatred I felt over my skin tone as a child, and my crippling fear of interaction with law enforcement due to widely publicised occurrences of police brutality all at once! Transparency — it gets you places.
That’s the exact skill I used when I went down to a nearby city to cover the shooting of yet another unarmed black male by police. My white colleagues were a little “tied up” so I had to go by myself, which proved pretty unfortunate when the local cops mistook me for a protestor and had me thrown in jail for a couple nights, just until the publication bailed me out. Luckily, this came with only a sprinkling of extrajudicial violence, as they hit me fewer times than I was expecting. I was ready to put my suffering to pen and paper in yet another article, but my editor passed. Something about me still being “in one piece…”
But in all fairness, I do think my therapist might have a point. I often wonder why my scoop on an illegal Spotify virus distributed maliciously by underground Apple workers was rejected by my editor — even when I landed an exclusive interview with Tim Cook himself. She says it just wasn’t “strong enough.” I’m cautious I might be being pigeonholed and exploited, just shucking and jiving my trauma away to the tune of barely-paid rent, semi-high profile bylines, and the enthusiastic yet misguided approval from no less than five white liberal readers per article who let me know I have “opened their eyes.”
But in the end, all concerns are deprioritized once I look at the meager coins maintaining my bank account. My colleagues, albeit definitely struggling, never seem to be struggling as much as I do. Could the root of the difference be that pesky unequal payment rate between journalists of color and their white colleagues? Could be. I mean, I should know about that… I covered it last month.