Word on the Street

Personal essays from a young journalist in the Sunshine State.

Tag: Diversity

‘I Love My Hair’ Video Important for Kids of All Races

Hoping to make his adopted Ethiopian daughter feel good about her hair, the head writer of Sesame Street wrote a song about a little black girl loving her afro and cornrows.

“I really, really, really love my hair!” a muppet sings in the video. “Wear a clippy or in a bow. Or let it sit in an Afro. My hair looks good in a cornrow! It does so many things, you know, that’s why I let it grow. I love my hair!”

At first, I thought the song was a joke, but then when I read the story behind it, I realized how important its message is. It’s a video that children of all races would benefit from watching. The video helps show black children that they have no need to feel self conscious about their hair. And it exposes kids of other races to differences they may not have thought about before.

The video made me think about what parents choose to expose their kids to. I would guess that most parents who have Caucasian kids would buy them a white doll if they had a choice between a white, Asian, black or Hispanic one. Same goes for books featuring white children. My hope is that when I become a parent (not anytime soon!) I’ll buy my kids books that have characters of various races and dolls that don’t look like your stereotypical Barbie. Kids need to see that not everyone looks like them, and that’s ok. We’re all different and we all belong.

Story Behind Go! Cover Photo of Kissing Interracial Couple

go_coverI wrote a story for Poynter Online this week about a Go! cover photo of an interracial couple and the racially charged comments it generated.

To find out more about the issue, I talked with editors at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including Kurt Greenbaum, editor of social media, about how they handled the comments:

When you’re trying to foster a conversation about race, how do you choose whom to include and whom to exclude?

It’s a question that reporters and editors at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have asked a lot since launching the paper’s ‘A Conversation about Race‘ blog in January, and one that generated quite a bit of attention last week.

In a ‘Conversation about Race’ blog post on Friday, Post-Dispatch reporter Doug Moore wrote about the controversy surrounding a photo of a interracial couple that appeared on the Post-Dispatch‘s weekly Go! magazine. The photo generated negative comments from readers, many of whom said they were disturbed that the paper would run such an image.

[Read on for a Q&A with Greenbaum ….]

Voices/Perspectives of African Americans Flourish on The Root

In timing with the 100th anniversary of the NAACP and the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln this week, I wrote an article for Poynter’s diversity blog about The Root. An online magazine, The Root features content from leading black writers, as well as information about genealogy. I found the site to be particularly interesting because it provides what most main stream organizations don’t — a place for voices of African Americans to flourish.

In doing research for the article, I found that news organizations are not giving diversity much play. I interviewed Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, who said stories about “race, gender and gay issues” only accounted for an estimated 1 percent of the coverage the center tracked between 2007 and 2008.

The low percentage, Jurkowitz said, is likely due to the fact that the center only tracks stories that appear on the front pages of newspapers or in the first half of newscasts.

Click here to learn how The Root is trying to make up for that scarcity of diversity news.

Do you know of any other news organizations that have created niche publications, online magazines, etc., to help provide a space for diverse voices?