Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

03 November 2009

Want diversity? Start with diversity.

Don't ask me to bring diversity to your organization, ask me to join your organization for my skills, my knowledge or because you just love me. Don't think that I'm the pepper to your bland mashed potatoes. I am the garlic to those potatoes - the first thing you put on the skillet after you start to boil the water. Where you dash on pepper, throw in some onion and make me a vital part of the dish....Not the afterthought. 


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Media itself is changing rapidly and in Chicago we have a new player in the game, the Chicago News Cooperative. Laura Washington gave them a tongue lashing for the total lack of diversity they are starting out with:
Nearly every staff member they have named so far is white -- and male. The co-op's board is white, all but one male. I would venture there are vast swaths of the city they don't know and rarely traverse....

If these reporters and editors check with the U.S. Census, they will discover that Chicago's racial and ethnic base is majority-minority. There are far more people of color than whites. Latinos are Illinois' fastest-growing minority group. A good half of the Chicago region is female.

Some might call it arrogance, hubris or just plain racism. I don't know about that, but to me it's just plain folly.
But wait! The Co-op responds:
Jim O'Shea, the former Chicago Tribune managing editor who last week announced the Chicago News Cooperative...says he intends to have a diverse staff and board of directors....O'Shea envisioned eventually having 20 to 25 staffers. "I am interviewing a candidate as we speak who will bring to us some diversity," he said.
As I wrote on a listserv about this topic, are they going to be hiring a Wiccan lesbian of color? A candidate? Come on...If this is the response that the Co-Op is going to send out after getting called out on their almost-all-dude, but still all white club, then I doubt that much will come from the Co-Op in terms of stories that truly reflect the diversity of Chicago.

That said, I know many under or unemployed journalists in this windy city who can bring a world of difference to your project Jim. So once you're done hiring that one candidate who will bring you diversity, get to work on bringing in a whole team of diverse candidates.Then maybe I'll read what your team brings to the table. And believe me, I'm hungry.

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