At Borealis Philanthropy, we believe that building a just, multiracial democracy relies on a strong movement ecosystem, and we recognize a diverse and independent media sector as an essential part of this ecosystem.
On May 24, 2022, Borealis Philanthropy’s Racial Equity in Journalism Fund (REJ) hosted a learning event, Strengthening BIPOC Media as an Antidote to Mis/Disinformation, to explore a strong Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) media ecosystem as the solution to multimedia mis/disinformation.
Our speakers included Diamond Stylz, of Black Transwomen Inc. and Marsha’s Plate Podcast, Mazin Sidahmed of Documented, Paola Jaramillo of Enlace Latino NC, Jaime Longoria of Media Democracy Fund & Disinfo Defense League, and Imara Jones of TransLash Media. Together, we explored the history and consequences and mis/disinformation, and how BIPOC-led and -serving media operate as trusted sources of news and information, increasing civic engagement in the communities they serve.
Watch: Imara Jones of TransLash Media on the impacts of misinformation: “The most important thing to realize about this current moment of disinformation is that it’s not an accident…it all is coming from a source that is deliberately trying to undermine and to confuse and to weaken the prospect of multiracial democracy with fairness at its core. And the reason why it’s accelerated over the last several years is because the tools to do that have accelerated—and also because those forces have strengthened our society…Just 3 years ago there were 6 anti-trans bills, and you don’t get from 6 to 300, because that’s random. You get from 6 to 300, because that’s planned, and a part of the plan is misinformation.”
Watch: Diamond Stylz of Black Transwomen Inc. and Marsha’s Plate Podcast shares how misinformation effects her work and community: “These lies, and misinformation derail support and undermine political goals—but can also lead to people’s death and abuse, as we recently saw mass shootings. So this is not something that’s just white lies, it literally can lead to people’s death, and a lot of wasted time. I’m in Texas and we go to the Capitol all the time to fight some of these anti-trans youth legislation that they’re kinda throwing at the wall to see what sticks. And a lot of times when we are rallying, we have people on the ground that are spewing out this crazy, ridiculous stuff. Misinformation that they learn from Breitbart, or learn from somewhere. That just is not true.”
Watch: Mazin Sidahmed of Documented shares why misinformation is prevalent in BIPOC communities: “There’s a reason why misinformation is so prevalent in our communities, and I think that it’s due to this broken contract and the lack of trust that media has built for generations with communities of color— has really disregarded the needs and misrepresented the communities in a number of different ways. I think for that reason a lot of communities of color—when they receive information from other new sources—are more open to believing it, because it reflects their true values and things that they’re seeing in their day-to-day lives and [because of] the lack of trust that they have in institutions, from the government to the media.”
Watch: Paola Jaramillo of Enlace Latino NC on the importance of community driven journalism and its challenges: “We’ve had to create other channels to serve our community. The most important thing is listening to communities, because when you listen is when you can generate the news they need. However, this is also a challenge for small news rooms like ours because this requires staff, requires time, requires money and often as media we’re in a dilemma of how do we survive in the next 3 months, the next 6 months, the next year. So, this is a challenge for us.”
Watch: Jaime Longoria of Media Democracy Fund & Disinfo Defense League on the solutions to misinformation: “Misinformation is really a symptom of systemic failure that has led to a loss of trust from communities of color—and also a failure from platforms to understand how communities have historically regulated embedded information amongst themselves. So what’s important here? And what’s missing in the media ecosystem? It’s this lack of understanding from community and the only way we can actually get that is if there are more people in journalism and newsrooms that don’t need to be taught these cultural complexities; they already know they’re already part of these communities.”
As we face rising attacks on our safety and autonomy, an intersectional approach is more necessary than ever before. And this work must include a commitment to sustaining and elevating the work of BIPOC newsrooms, whose reporting is essential to our collective liberation.
“The exact same organizations that are pushing these (anti-trans) bills are the exact same organizations that are working with groups online to drive [misinformation]. It’s the same people. It’s also the same people behind the anti-abortion movement.”
Imara Jones of TransLash Media
Articles, Initiatives, and Resources on Mis/Disinformation
The below articles, initiatives, and resources were elevated in our chat or identified by REJ program staff. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you have additional resources to share, please email email@example.com.
Resources and Initiatives
- You can access Racial Equity in Journalism grantee partners’ reporting by following our REJ Fund list on Twitter.
- The Trust Project works to amplify journalism’s commitment to transparency, accuracy, inclusion and fairness so that the public can make informed news choices.
- The Disinfo Defense League is fighting disinformation which affects communities of color, recognizing the impact false and misleading narratives have on BIPOC communities.
- Media 2070, a project of Free Press, is a growing consortium of media-makers and activists collectively dreaming up reparative policies, interventions and futures for media.
- MediaJustice is building a grassroots movement for a more just and participatory media —fighting for racial, economic, and gender justice in a digital age.
- The recently launched Factchequeado initiative aims to address misinformation in Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S.
Podcasts and Articles
- TransLash Media’s limited-series podcast, The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, goes behind the curtain of the dark money, right wing organizations, radical figures and extreme ideology driving the anti-trans backlash across the country.
- A Black trans Podcast, Marsha’s Plate is a lively podcast hosted By Diamond Stylz, Mia Mix, and Zee, all Houston-based digital strategists, black feminists, civil right advocates, and black trans people.
- “Misinformation may worsen for Black voters as midterms approach, writes TheGrio.
- Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote, writes about the impact of mis/disinformation on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Ethnic Media Services.
- This op-ed in Teen Vogue advocates for the need to combat the spread of mis/disinformation about transgender and nonbinary people.
- El Tecolote writes about removing barriers and fighting the narrative on vaccine hesitancy in BIPOC communities.
- New York Amsterdam News’ fact check feature, Blacklight, separates fact from fiction.