When will Journalism Majors Prepare us for the truth of Freelancing after Graduation?

As a woman, I have to deal with a fair amount of sexism, lesser pay at any given corporate job and paying extra for my personal hygiene products. As a Black person, I often have to suppress microaggressions like being followed at the supermarket until I get to the register. As a Black woman, I have to worry about whether I hold up to the same eurocentric beauty standards as white women just so I can be considered for any given job. But, as Black people, we know this. We were intrinsically taught at a young age that we would have to work twice, if not quadruple times as hard as our ivory-colored cohorts. It is what it is. 

Growing up as an avid television watcher and cinephile in the 90s meant that I didn’t have too many Black icons to model myself after like the kids today. There was no “Black Panther” franchise. All I had was Spider-Man and his journalist girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. And anyone that knows me understands my love for both characters goes deep. If you would have told little Destiny that someday she would see MJ reimagined as a Black girl (and Spider-Man’s girlfriend!) I probably would have put myself into a medically induced coma until the film arrived a decade later. 

But that’s the problem when you have so few people of color to look up to in your life, you can only try to emulate white success through the lens of what you know, and Journalism while it predicates itself on unbiased reporting, it too has systematic hindrances baked in to keep Black journalists out. Unlike my fictional journalism role model, Mary Jane Watson, I was not a white woman. Though I went to college for journalism and learned all the things one needs to learn (from white teachers) about First Amendment rights, fact-checking sources, and investigative reporting, my three years at CSUDH did not properly prepare me for the real world of newsrooms outside of campus. 

Where is the course that teaches you that according to the Pew Research Center Black Americans only represent about 7% of American newsrooms? Where is the white guest speaker that is going to be honest that Black freelancers mostly get commissioned during Black events like Black Lives Matter protests or Black History Month? Mary Jane Watson is fictional, but if you replace any white woman or man, how many of them have had to deal with being commissioned to write exclusively about explicit racist imagery, death, and violence within their own community and regurgitate it so that non-Black people can understand it? 

How do you prepare us for a journalism degree but not about the pressure of only being considered for a piece about racial inequality from centuries of oppression when I just want to talk about what other white journalists write about; love, films, and video games? Why can’t we be held to the same standards of white objectivity? 

Luckily as a journalist at The Bulletin, I have been granted the ability to share my voice along with the other Black reporters that have graced our paper over the years, unabashedly. And I wish for my other Black freelancers out there to find a home that will let you do the same.

[Originally published on CSUDH Bulletin]

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