Today’s news is filled with grief, and for BIPOC journalists, the mental toll this work can take is extraordinary and often unrelenting. We asked Racial Equity in Journalism Fund (REJ) grantee partners, St. Louis American, South Seattle Emerald, and La Noticia to share how they’re practicing community care.
What’s inspiring you in your local community right now?
ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: It’s inspiring to see young St. Louis African Americans speaking up for themselves and supporting each other in developing strategies and coping mechanisms to address issues like racism and the impact of the pandemic and gun violence on their lives. High school students in the St. Louis metropolitan area discussed their experiences and shared thoughts on these matters at a listening session organized and moderated by U.S. Representative Cori Bush’ on March 14, 2022.
What’s inspiring your broader community?
ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: Young people, who were once apathetic about voting, taking part and voting in much higher numbers in the 2020 Presidential election was inspirational. That gives many in our community hope that they will also be determined to vote in the 2022 midterms to help ensure progress in the region despite voter repression. Rep. Cori Bush’s success as Missouri’s District 1 U.S. congressional representative inspires a lot of St. Louisans who in the past felt shut out from politics and who longed for a U.S. representative who would be able to relate to their day-to-day struggles and circumstances.
INTERNATIONAL EXAMINER: After nearly 50 years of reporting news in Seattle’s Chinatown International District neighborhood, we still consider this neighborhood of roughly 3,000 residents and hundreds of small businesses our local community. What’s inspiring our coverage and our work right now is helping the community come back stronger and safer than it has been since the pandemic began. Like other Chinatowns across the country, Seattle’s International District (ID) was impacted by the pandemic, xenophobia, and racism toward Asians and Asian Americans. Normally a bustling busy neighborhood year-round, the ID became a community of boarded-up windows, closed businesses, and residents fearing day and night race-based attacks and assaults. We have worked to produce stories that show the self-made resilience of the ID – community-based organizations adapting to new pandemic-age needs of their clients; volunteers looking out for the safety of residents (many of whom are elderly Asians); self-care and safety resources; artists beautifying the neighborhood. Our inspiration is our community’s long-time resilience.
What advice do you have for folks running low on inspiration?
ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: It helps to set an achievable goal for yourself when you’re low on inspiration, even if sometimes that just means getting up, being on time, showing up for people that are important to you, and being as present as possible. Taking small steps usually sparks some inspiration to keep moving forward or can help you progress in figuring out a beneficial change of course.
LA NOTICIA: The Latino community in North Carolina has a level of resilience that is truly inspiring. At the beginning of the pandemic, this was one of the communities most affected by COVID-19; however, it became the most vaccinated community in all of North Carolina by the end of 2021. Despite the economic, social, health challenges, etc., Latinos in North Carolina maintain a cheerful and optimistic attitude towards the future, and now that certain restrictions are being eliminated, we can see how they express this enthusiasm in different ways through artistic, cultural, and sports activities.
How are you caring for your community?
ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: One of the ways The St. Louis American newspaper cares for St. Louis communities is through The St. Louis American Foundation which raised over $2.9 million in funds for college scholarships for promising young African American students in St. Louis, and by mentoring young and emerging journalists at The St. Louis American. The Borealis Racial Equity in Journalism Funds, which The St. Louis American received in 2021, allowed us to hire an intern, Isaiah Peters, who previously trained in our digital division, as our new assistant digital editor. Peters has been embraced by the St. Louis American team and has been made to feel welcome by the larger African American community in St. Louis.
How do you know your community cares for and about you?
ST. LOUIS AMERICAN: We know that the community cares for The St. Louis American because our interns and young reporters are encouraged and well-received within the community and given ample opportunities to practice their craft. St. Louis American Assistant Digital Editor Isaiah Peters moved from central Florida to work for The St. Louis American. St. Louisans familiar with The St. Louis American are always delighted to meet a young man working for our newspaper and website, especially because the number of young African American women interested in print and digital journalism seems to far exceed the number of young African American men who are interested. Isaiah loves working at The St. Louis American. He’s excited to learn more about the city of St. Louis, and the history of Black St. Louisans and is enjoying becoming a member of the St. Louis community.