On being a “stereotypical girl” in a professional world

On being a “stereotypical girl” in a professional world

My junior year of high school, we took our ACTs. Everyone was telling each other their scores, comparing numbers that supposedly proved how “smart” we all were. I remember one of my friends laughingly telling me that she overheard a group of our friends mention my ACT score. She said “It was great, they were all so shocked that you got such an high score!”

My first response was a little bit of pride, admittedly, because yeah, I kicked the ACT’s ass (not that that a standardized really proves you’re smart at all, but that’s a blog post for another day). But my second, stronger feeling was hurt.

Wait, what? Why were they shocked…?”

My friend looked surprised. “You know, you just act… dumb, sometimes.”

At the look on my face, she quickly added she of course knew I wasn’t unintelligent but that my mannerisms and personality seemed to suggest that I was.

This was my first, but certainly not last, experience with realizing I was being judged as “dumb” by others. Throughout my life, I have been described as ditzy, an airhead, a “blonde” (which first of all, I’m a brunette, and secondly, what the hell is wrong with being blonde??), shallow and, of course, dumb.

First of all, I would like to point out that maybe at this point you’re thinking a few things, such as:

Well, maybe you’re actually just dumb.

If people think you’re ditzy, why don’t you stop acting ditzy? 

Is this really that big of a deal? Who cares what people think!

So, let me address these one by one. 

  1. Well, maybe you’re actually just dumb.

Well, what does “being dumb” really mean? Our society has a messed up view of what’s considered intelligence and what isn’t. If someone can list 200 digits of pi, is that intellect or is that rote memorization? If someone knows the day every war started, do they automatically understand why the war started in the first place? How do we measure intelligence anyway? IQ tests have gotten a lot of flack about their accuracy and how they work. Standardized tests involve filling in bubbles about either random information or something you memorized for the test alone and then will forget in a week.

Arguably, much of our education is based not on truly understanding topics and connecting them to a broader picture about the world, but a more shallow, short-term glimpse into one specific topic that may or may not stick with us for more than a semester. So, really, I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m smart because my ACT score was this and my IQ is this and oh, I got these grades in high school, because I don’t think that really proves anything. Intelligence comes in many forms and shapes, and no number or letter can embody what you’re capable of.

What I can tell you, however, is that I know I’m not stupid, and I definitely don’t deserve to be labelled as such. But what is more interesting and worth analyzing are the reasons why people label me as unintelligent..

Which leads me to the next question:

2. If people think you’re ditzy, why don’t you stop acting ditzy? 

Because I’m not acting ditzy.

A lot of girls may feel the same pain I do in being perceived as unintelligent or ditzy. I’ve talked to lots of women who have experienced this and they have the same question I do: What am I doing that makes people think that about me? There are a few key characteristics that are used to describe a woman who is considered a “ditz”. Some of these include:

  • Talking a lot
  • Enjoying things such as cheesy movies and books
  • Being focused on appearance/vain
  • Talking about “silly” or “shallow” topics
  • Saying “like” a lot
  • Taking selfies/pictures

Why are these traits associated with unintelligence? Part of the reason is due to our society’s portrayal of women in movies, books, media, ect. For example, take a look at almost any classic high school movie or show. In a group of girls, there’s very often a “dumb” friend. Take Mean Girls, for example. Karen is hilarious, of course, but she perpetuates that very stereotype of the “dumb, pretty” friend that is then applied to real-life women. She’s silly and talkative, portrayed as vain and just not all there.

When these characteristics are ascribed over and over again to the “dumb” girl in shows, we unconsciously begin to associate them with unintelligence in real life. A talkative girl who happens to like Vampire Diaries, a woman who enjoys going out and false eyelashes, a young girl who fills her Instagram with selfies; all of these somehow make others think she is of lesser intellect than those who don’t do those things.

I talk a lot. I laugh at myself a lot and yes, I like taking selfies. And none of these things should have any further meaning. And yet I have often had them listed off to me to explain why I’m seen as ditzy. As if I’m on trial for the crime of being stupid and the evidence against me is “Well, you talk all the time,” “You just act ridiculous sometimes,” “You’re just not very serious,”.

I shouldn’t have to be serious 100% of the time, or even 50% of the time, to prove my intellect to you. I should be able to laugh at myself, put on high heels and put on some goddamn winged eyeliner without being called shallow. I should be able to send a text that says “lol smiley face emoji” without being discredited completely on all serious topics.

Girls can wear their shortest dress, go to the club, talk about Pretty Little Liars, take 40 pictures of themselves and go to their honors level class the next day and kick ass. 

Women’s actions are all too often used against them, to stereotype them, devalue them and overall discredit them. Sometimes, people do things just because they like them, and that should be the end of that.

Acting Dumb

There is another side to this. There have been times that I, and I think other girls will admit to this too, have dumbed myself down on purpose. Just like in Mean Girls when Cady pretended to be bad at math so Aaron Samuels would tutor her, I pretended to be stupid primarily to get attention.

In high school, especially, this was for whatever reason the popular thing to do. Whether it made my friends laugh or prolonged a conversation with some boy, I can honestly say I consciously made an effort to act like a ditz sometimes, and other girls around me did the same thing. This is such a long and complex topic about why young girls, and even older women, do this at times that I put it in another blog post for the sake of length. You can find this brief tangent here, or you can continue on.

The basic idea is that society rewards girls for being pretty and popular, not for being smart. With the constant pressure to be liked and perfect, girls may betray key traits about themselves in exchange for what the media tells them is “the ideal”.

So, the next point of discussion:

3. Why does this even matter?

The impact that this stereotype has on girls is enormous. If you tell someone they are something enough, they will begin to believe it. If you tell a girl she is an airhead, she’s a ditz, she’s dumb, she will internalize those words. Girls begin to question themselves, especially in subjects such as math and science, not because they’re bad at them but because they have little confidence in their own abilities, as this study shows.

This lack of confidence follows us into the rest of our lives. (See my other post about the lack of confidence women have in the professional world, or this great article about it).  Once you’re taught your whole life that you aren’t smart enough, it’s hard to shake the feeling that nothing you do is good enough, at all. The most frustrating feeling is when people tune out every word you say and won’t take you seriously based on a snap judgement they made based on your appearance and your general demeanor. If no one else will listen to you, you begin to believe you’re just not worth listening to.

And finally, it also makes it hard to be true to yourself. My talkative nature has been so often thrown in my face as proving my unintelligence, I often found myself constantly biting my tongue. When I started my new job, I obsessed over what clothes to buy because my worst fear was dressing in a way that meant people wouldn’t take me seriously. I didn’t want to joke around with coworkers because what if they thought I was just a silly dumb girl?

Moving on

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten much more comfortable with the idea that people, including myself, can be what some would call a contradiction. Women, and men, (and all those inbetween) can be a collection of seemingly contradictory traits and that’s perfectly fine. Judging people is something we have been taught since we were kids, but we can also unlearn those damaging labels.

More importantly, we can unlearn the stereotypes that we have been taught to believe about ourselves. People will be putting you into a box your whole life, so let them keep their stupid box. You don’t have to carry that shit.

 

Our insecurity blanket

Our insecurity blanket

The first time I raised my hand to pitch an idea in a newsroom, I began with four to five disclaimers before even getting to my actual point. It went something like this:
“Sorry, I know this is probably wrong, or someone already said it, or it’s probably stupid, and I don’t know if it makes sense, but ________.”

And then I ended it with, “That probably made no sense, sorry, I don’t know.”

Let’s analyze this for a second, because chances are, you have either heard yourself and/or others do this same self-deprecating, questioning speech many times. And you’ve probably heard it, unfortunately, from a woman.

This type of speech is common for women in professional settings. (This brilliant WashPost article, for example, rewrites famous quotes, “the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting”. ) Not only ingenious and entertaining, but also poignant and telling.

Throughout my life, whether in a classroom, at a party or in an office, men typically make their voices known more loudly, more assuredly and more often than their female counterparts. Of course that is a generalization, and I’ve met my share of confident, outspoken women and shy, uncertain men. People of all genders suffer from insecurity or are just not outspoken. And yet women have been proven to be less confident and less likely to speak up than men, especially in a professional environment.

I read this article recently on this phenomena known as “The Confidence Gap”. While I wish it had gone more in-depth about the social and psychological aspects, overall it provides an excellent analysis of the difference between the confidence levels of men and women and, more importantly, why it exists.

To summarize (even though you should definitely at least peruse that article) there are a number of aspects that may play into this discrepancy. One example begins in the schoolyard.

Firstly, girls are taught from a young age that they are rewarded for being “good girls”: quiet, neat, calm. They are rewarded for being this “perfect” child and learn to link their self worth to this praise. Boys, on the other hand, are excused by a “boys will be boys mentality”. They are expected to be rowdy, loud and messy. While generally this means that boys are scolded more often than girls, it also means that when children are criticized, girls take it more to heart. They internalize those feelings, attributing them to a problem with their deeper selves, while boys often learn to blame external factors.

This is just one example (shortened and simplified quite a bit: read the article!!) of the way in which boys and girls are socialized to see themselves a certain way and to act based on the expectations of others. Many girls, then, learn that being quiet gains approval while speaking up can lead to judgement and, even worse, mistakes. Many boys learn they are rewarded for displaying “masculine” qualities such as competitiveness, outspokenness and assertiveness. (Both sets of these expectations cause problems for all gendered people; this particular post is simply focusing on women.)

And so, after years of sociological and psychological imprinting from a society still steeped in sexism, we reach the later part of our lives when we may be entering the professional world.

Many women, even unconsciously, have a fear of speaking in front of others because they’re terrified of being wrong. For me, even if I was 99% sure I knew the answer in class, I bit my tongue. If I had been thinking of a great idea for a week, it rarely crossed my mind to actually bring it up to someone. Even in large groups outside of work or class, I would often edit everything I thought about saying before actually saying it and then, if it wasn’t perfect, kick myself for speaking up at all.

Of course, not every woman does this, and many men may experience the same problems. Additionally, part of this problem can come from anxiety and other disorders, which impacts millions of people, no matter the gender.

And yet, as I’ve said, women have been proven again and again to suffer from this intense confidence-anxiety more often than men.

This manifests itself in a number of ways. Many females, even those that meet all of society’s requirements for being “successful”(wealthy, powerful, intelligent, ect.), second-guess themselves, constantly self-critique, underestimate their abilities and downplay their own role in their successes.

When I first started thinking about this, I kind of scoffed, to be honest. I don’t do that. I thought. And just like that, I was taken back to a moment my sophomore year during my first news reporting class. My professor told me that my article, which was assigned as a project not meant for publication, was brilliant and well researched. She told me to take it to the local newspaper (the good ol’ Missourian) and look into getting it published. I remember telling a friend and hearing him exclaim how great that was and complimenting my work. I told him that there was no way I was going to turn in that story, I had just gotten lucky and stumbled on that information, and I was definitely not the most qualified person to write the story. And I really believed that. (And no, I didn’t end up publishing the story or going anywhere near the Missourian until the next year).

During my multimedia class, my professor told me I had a gift for photography. I had been told I was bad at art my entire life, and convinced myself I had just magically stumbled across good shots. When a coworker told me I was good at interviews, I laughed and said no way, I talk too much.

Even writing this, it feels like bragging, like I should throw a disclaimer in here to make sure readers don’t think I believe I really am good at all of those things. Which proves just how entrenched this low confidence attitude really is, that even when you recognize it, it’s still hard to shake.

I’ve heard so many of my female friends and coworkers say these same negative mantras about their own work. I just guessed well and got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. I’m not really good at this, I shouldn’t be here. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m not as qualified as someone else. I don’t, I’m not, I can’t, I shouldn’t…

And so on and so on with this unsure, insecure, second-guessing… well, bullshit, to be frank. This isn’t modesty. This is taking all of our talents and successes and badass-ness and burying it underground beneath excuses and inaccurate attribution. This is undermining all of our hard work and natural gifts. This is taking our incredible natures and throwing it in the universe’s face. This is dooming us to never fully grasp not only how great we are, but how great we can still become.

Because it is not ridiculous at all to say every woman I’ve met has had an enormous amount of potential. I know women who are incredible doctors, artists, mothers, CEO’s, journalists, athletes, friends, teachers, photographers, writers, listeners, talkers… And I bet half of them don’t even know it. And they should.

So I have a message for them (and for myself).

It’s time to stop starting every sentence with an apology. It’s time to stop ending every thought with a disclaimer. It’s time to stop attributing every success to some external factor. It’s time to stop telling ourselves we’re not good enough or we don’t belong here. It’s time to stop second-guessing ourselves.

It’s time to shed our insecurity blanket.

It’s time to be confident.

Today was my first day at my internship at Politico in Brussels.

When I had an idea, I called over a coworker and said; “Hey, here’s my idea.” And that was it. And it was a good one.

 

Photocred: Katealia Lilly

the 33 steps of writing as a jschool kid

the 33 steps of writing as a jschool kid

I never thought I would miss writing essays in high school, but I really do sometimes.

Not necessarily the having to write about whatever topic your teacher picked for you or the introduction and claustrophobic structure, and I definitely don’t miss bulleted outlines and intext citations. But I do miss the simplicity and straightforward-ness of the high school essay.

In high school it was like:

  1. Outline
  2. Introduction
  3. Thesis with three things you’re gonna try and say
  4. Three body paragraphs with an opening sentence, and then the things you’re trying to say
  5. conclusion
  6. switch rough draft with closest friend in class who won’t be too mean to you
  7. hand it in and hope for the best

Journalistic writing is more freeing, but it’s also, for lack of a better word, floopy.

This is my writing process now. And what a wonderful mess it is.

  1. Try to think of something. Literally anything.  0955e45edbe384905496c2969d96e45a
  2. Pitch fourteen ideas to editor.
  3. Get every idea shot down.spit on your neck fantastic
  4. Gather yourself from the puddle you are on the floor and rethink everything.
  5. finally pitch an idea that sticksrachel cheering
  6. realize what you’ve gotten yourself into                    nooo
  7. cry ross cry
  8. do Katherine Reed’s checklist so she won’t yell at you and it actually is pretty helpful
  9. break for coffeecoffee
  10. do a lot of research                                  laptop
  11. start calling everyone you know          phone
  12. lose your voice and get carpal tunnel from typing
  13. drink some hot tea and keep typing and calling
  14. look at the seven pages of interviews you have
  15. cry                                                                     ross 100% done
  16. take a nap and probably dream about getting kicked out of the jschoolsleep.gif
  17. gather yourself and start organizing everything. somehow. maybe.
  18. get cranky with everyone around you dont touch the computer
  19. try really hard not to tell your photographer what to do because you know they know what they’re doing but you’re a control freak and need to just take a deep breath and count to ten and not be an assholedont hate
  20. get something that resembles a story
  21. show your editor and listen to them talk like thiscryyy
  22. learn you did about two thousand things wrong find out your
  23. no matter how nice they try to be, convince yourself you are trash and everything you touch turns to trash, but try to be chill about itim fine
  24. talk to a friend/parent/attentive animal who probably doesn’t understand half of what you’re saying because you’re talking really fast and using words like “DSLR” and “nut graf” but the point is you just need to get it off your chest so thank you i think i know what i need to do now go about your business mizzou squirrelpull yourself together
  25. drink coffeecoffee 3
  26. look up after three hours and find something actually pretty decentexciteder
  27. show your editor and it kind of feels like they’re doing this to youjoey pushing ross
  28. redo half of it, fact and accuracy check, aka back to the grinder for another three hours and everythings starting to sound like this eh blue blah floo
  29. probably show your editor again and fix sixty more things stop the madness
  30. press submit and breathe for thirty seconds until you realize that you just wrote something that actual human beings are going to read and what if they don’t like it? and what if you got something wrong? and what if you didn’t say everything that needed to be said and what if
  31. just calm your shit and take a nap.      nap
  32. do it all again the next day.
  33. and most importantly: love it the whole time because somehow, there’s still nothing else you’d rather be doing. hug

What everyone at Mizzou can agree on

What everyone at Mizzou can agree on

There are a million different opinions floating around campus and the nation right now about our school.

Out of all these different perspectives, I think there is one thing that we can agree on when it comes to our campus specifically.

A conversation has been started at MU.

Some parts of that conversation might consist only of discussion about why classes were cancelled yesterday. Others might be about the tents on the quad, or why Tim Wolfe resigned, or what Jonathan Butler went on the hunger strike for.

Whatever it is people are talking about, at least they’re talking. Racial issues are something that many of us were taught not to talk about. As a white person, this was my experience. When we were little, our parents would be embarrassed by our questions about skin color. In school, we didn’t talk about how few or how many black teachers we had. Even saying someone was black as a physical description of their appearance seemed taboo at times.

And now, the conversation has been opened. These topics aren’t seen as taboo anymore – these issues have always been real and relevant, but now the dialogue can be the same way. I have seen examples of people being afraid to discuss racism at all for fear of being called racist themselves. That fear has been, if not completely dismantled, at least pushed aside because of the immediacy and openness that Concerned Student 1950 and other protestors have created.

Many people may have avoided conversations about race in the past because they were uncomfortable. When there are protestors on our campus quad and in speaker circle, emails from administration being sent out, students and teachers discussing events in the classroom and national news outlets turning their cameras to Mizzou, comfort zones and avoidance of this conversation no longer exist.

And that is a very good thing. Because what else are universities for than opening our minds and educating us? One of my professors told us this today; “College is a time for us to try things, to open up our minds and see things from different perspectives and decide what kind of human being you’re going to be. Not what kind of job you’re going to have. You’re all going to have job eventually one day. But you’re going to be a person 24 hours a day. So the real question is: what kind of person are you gonna be?”   

So, Mizzou, I hope the conversation continues. I hope it is positive, open-minded and constructive. I hope you develop a skepticism for what you think you already know. I hope you listen to your peers who are protesting and try to understand their perspective, whether it adheres to what you have believed you whole life or not. And most of all, I hope as you decide what kind of person you’re going to be, it’s a good one.

photocred: Ellise Verheyen for the Columbia Missourian

Quick look at MU alerts and the newsroom today

Quick look at MU alerts and the newsroom today

Last night, I scrolled through Twitter for three hours, unable to put my phone down for more than a minute. I’m sure this was the experience of many of my peers as well.

Threats were posted on the social media forum Yik Yak and Twitter exploded in a frenzy of fear, anger and confusion. Rumors were spreading rapidly that the KKK was in Greektown. There were multiple accounts of people were driving around campus in pick up trucks terrorizing black people.

There are many things to discuss here. I will hit a few that I feel are most important.

  1. I am so sorry. I am so sorry to my black peers. I am sorry that your skin color makes you a target for hate and harm. I am sorry that you are being forced to decide between going to class and being safe. I am sorry that Concerned Student stood up for equality and the reaction is death threats to every black student on campus. I am sorry that my race is responsible for your oppression.
  2. If you are a black student, please be careful and safe today.
  3. The struggle between sifting through rumors to get confirmed information while still addressing people’s fears and concerns is one that I feel MU alerts lost. As a news outlet, the Missourian today is discussing our role is separating rumor from fact while also ensuring people feel that something is being done about these threats. Although obviously I am biased, I feel that news outlets did a better job of keeping students constantly updated, while MU seemed overly concerned with only posting enough information to keep people from panicking. People were already panicking. It was their responsibility to keep us informed at that point, and they did not.
  4. It was very interesting to start to see an accuracy checking system emerge from Twitter. People began asking where people got their information and calling it out when it was incorrect.

Gone with the Wolfe: If we were in a movie

Gone with the Wolfe: If we were in a movie

If the Concerned Student 1950 movement was made into a movie, I think I know how Hollywood would do it. They would stick to Mizzou’s shiny campus, make Tim Wolfe the antagonist asshole, frame the media as manipulative, arrogant vultures, and the credits would roll when Wolfe, the evil, sociopathic President, resigned. Happily ever after, no more racism, no more sadness ever, and an upbeat Killers song would drown out any doubts of that.

I wish life was like that.

Instead, I don’t know what Tim Wolfe is like in his personal life. I know that in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t matter. I understand the symbolism of demanding the resignation of a president who doesn’t understand systematic oppression and it’s necessity to the movement. I know politically and socially, it doesn’t matter what kind of person Wolfe is. But I also know that it’s not as simple as he was “the bad guy”, and I also know it would make it easier if he was, like if I knew he killed bunnies in his spare time or something.

Unlike the movies, the story doesn’t end with his resignation. After attending the Concerned Student 1950 and the MSA press conferences, it was clearer than ever to me that the next few months are integral to what kind of administration takes over this university. And a series of many different decisions impact what happens next at MU.

Unlike the movies, the setting is not just at Mizzou. The camera doesn’t pan out slowly to show the eagle eye view of Jesse Hall and the Columns and then pan to black. This is a nationwide issue. It goes beyond the walls of our campus and the implications of this week at MU will impact places we don’t even know about.

Unlike the movies, the journalists that Hollywood would likely portray as nosy and obnoxious are, both unfortunately and fortunately, not like that. Unfortunately, because, instead, many of them, including myself, deeply care about what we are reporting on. This is not about journalists. But the actions of certain protestors today forced many newsrooms to have a serious discussion about first amendment rights and where media stands when covering these kind of issues.

Today is a one of historical proportions. It is also a day of celebration, passion, joy, hope and power. And, in some ways, it is one of frustration and confusion.

I have never been so aware of the complexities that spring out of social movements. Not only are things not black and white, they aren’t even just the primary colors. They are every single color under the sun, every shade between magenta and neon yellow.

I recognize how much we have left to do as a society to achieve equality for all marginalized groups. I realize that no matter what, there will be people who are bad guys who get away with things and good guys that take the fall, but more than likely, there will be people with both good and bad inside of them that experience a little of both.

I also am beginning to comprehend the complicated relationship between the press and the people. I hate the phrase “the media”. It has become a dirty term to me. It has been used as an umbrella term to include every freelancer with a camera, every large news organization with fifty cameras, every editor trying to make sure the story is told accurately, every reporter trying to make sure the story is told with heart, every new student reporter trying to figure out journalism in general, every student reporter who is interviewing their peers and trying not to be biased.

Maybe some of them were just there “for the scoop”. But probably, many of them were there because they, and their organization, feel that this is something that should be covered and should be covered well. It’s hard to know exactly what protestors feel is crossing a line and what is not. Media attention is what brings the eyes of the nation to such an important issue. But doing this in a disrespectful way is obviously not okay. This line, however, is not only just blurry, it is also different for different people. Hence, the complex challenge of being a reporter covering this event and others like it.

While I am swelling with pride over the incredible activism and justice this campus has shown, while I am amazed by Concerned Student 1950 and their bravery, while I am glad progress has been made on the road to equality, I am also more aware than ever that this is not a movie.

There are no assigned roles. I don’t know the full cast, I’m not sure what the overall plot is, and I sure as hell don’t know all the lines. The resolution is far from here, and as far as I’m concerned, for me and for many others, these are just the opening scenes. And who knows what kind of ending it will have.

P.S. If you need any information on what’s happening at Mizzou, check out the following links.

Wolfe Resigns

Timeline of Events

An open letter about “the media”

An open letter about “the media”

With everything going on at Mizzou these past few months, I have heard people say negative things about “the media” more times than I can count. I have heard reporters being told to fuck off, photographers being yelled at and speeches made about how the media doesn’t care about the cause at hand.

I am NOT offended or hurt by these occurrences. Being cursed at after asking for an interview is nothing compared to the pain and injustices that have been done to my black peers and other minorities who are protesting on campus. What does bother me about these statements, however, is they show how mistrustful many people are of news outlets as a whole. And this has eliminated any kind of dialogue from happening between “the media” and “the people”.

I in no way want to make this about me or reporters because it isn’t. But it also is important for this cause that reporters and activists form a positive relationship.

I have sat in on so many meetings in the Missourian where every person in the room is brainstorming how we can best cover these kind of events on campus. I have seen reporters get emotional in the newsroom and out of it. This is our campus, our friends, ourselves that are being directly impacted by these events.

But when we go out into the field, we are obligated to be unbiased and professional. Newspapers cannot write pieces in a tone that suggest they’re best friends with the subject. Some of our readers may not know anything about these protests, and if the first thing they see is biased reporting, we’ve already lost them. In order to get people reading about these events to listen and take it seriously, we have to show them our reporting is accurate and not clouded by our own feelings. Logic and reasoning have to take precedence over our emotions.

And that’s why we need to be able to talk to people. Because while we have to remain impartial, it’s the people we’re talking to who bring the heart to the story. That’s why we want interviews. That’s why we want quotes and stories. Not to get “the scoop”, not to get a good story and then leave. We want to do this so people can tell their own stories, so readers can see for themselves the personal experiences of many minority groups, including black men and women, on campus.

I am not black, and therefore I do not understand what it is like to be oppressed by a racist society. I am not gay, or Asian American, or any other minority that has been the subject of prejudice at MU. I am still working to understand my own privilege and educate myself on how I can be an ally to my peers.

Because I do not have these personal experiences, I cannot write about them on my own. My personal voice has no place in a story about racist injustice and oppression on campus. That is why I, and many of my fellow reporters, ask for interviews and want to open a conversation. This is not our story, it is yours, and we need your help to tell it in the news medium. People who are not on campus or don’t have social media of any kind still get their news from papers, and this may be one of the only forums they have to become educated on current events.

I understand that some media outlets take advantage of, manipulate and do a great injustice to minorities. Especially in reporting about black rights and lives, some news outlets have shown their own racist colors and manipulated reporting to produce inaccurate, prejudiced stories. While this is incredibly unjust to black men and women, it is also detrimental to the dialogue that has to happen between news outlets and members of movements such as Black Lives Matter and Concerned Student 1950.

Many news outlets do want to report what’s happening in an accurate way. I can’t speak for the Missourian, but from what I’ve witnessed in the newsroom, we want to do our part to heal the broken relationship between “the media” and the people. But that’s nearly impossible to do if no one will talk to us. A dialogue needs to happen. Not for our sake, not because our feelings are hurt or we’re upset, but because this movement and what it stands for is incredibly complex and important and it deserves to be reported perfectly. That cannot happen without a conversation.

P.S. I am not an expert journalist. I am also not an expert on racism, activism or many other related subjects. If I have said anything that is incorrect, please let me know. I’m learning, too, and would not want to be purposefully ignorant. I also am not the official voice of the Missourian and if I have said anything problematic, it is my opinion alone and may not necessarily represent the views of the paper as a whole.