WASHINGTON — “You think about race too much,” a friend once said to me.
My response, which I now realize made my friend uncomfortable, unpacked the privileged assumptions in his casual comment.
I am a U.S.-born Latina of immigrant parents. My parents left El Salvador in the 1980s.
My father fled a civil war that over 12 years inflicted systematic human-rights violations on tens of thousands of people.
My mother left her family and a country she loved because she knew that writing words such as these in El Salvador would endanger the life of the daughter who would soon be growing in her womb.
My parents raised my brother and me to feel pride in our identity. They knew we would encounter obstacles because of our origins and so prepared us on how to speak and react in situations where people might discriminate against us.
I have been subjected to a tokenism and discrimination because of my heritage and been discounted as incapable because of my biology. So, how can I not think about my own gender and ancestry – and those of the people around me?
My friend wasn’t prepared for this – I could see the look of discomfort on his face. He didn’t know how to discuss the topic that he had unwittingly waded into.
“Honestly, I can’t talk about it enough,” I remember saying to him.
In the coming months, I’ll be using this space to do just that. Together, we will discuss issues of race, gender and identity in the news media.
I feel privileged to work at an organization that employs people who speak openly and often about about how those factors play out in international news and newsrooms. Sure, these discussions can get uncomfortable. But being silent is not an option.
Like GPJ reporters around the world whose multicultural and multiracial realities allow them to produce journalism that offers a much-needed, deeper look into our shared world, I hope that my experiences as a millennial child of immigrants, a person of color, a woman and a journalist will offer knowledge and nuance to this important conversation.
In my column next month, I’ll be discussing our current hiring strategy at Global Press and our differing opinions about why newsroom diversity matters and about what mainstream newsrooms are missing by refusing to diversify.
It might be uncomfortable. So, let’s talk about it.