Seeking Truth Means Stories from Everybody

Photographed+at+UIS+Prairie+Protest+

Photographs courtesy of Jace King

Photographed at UIS Prairie Protest

As journalists, we’re taught to “seek truth and report it.” It is our job to give a voice to the voiceless. We are an outlet for the people and the words on our pages should reflect their concerns, their victories, their sorrows and challenges. Sharing these stories, in my opinion, is what makes a journalist’s job so important.

            Truth is, by definition, anything that is in accordance with fact and reality. And the reality here is that the country that prides itself so much on equality and freedom is not delivering on that promise for its own citizens. The evidence of this are the countless lives taken at the hands (and the literal knees) of the police.

            I felt a strong need to cover the Prairie Protest that took place Sunday, September 27. I felt the need to do this story justice. I felt the need to remind others and myself what real journalism looks like. And seeing the raw honesty radiating from the faces of the protesters and the stories they told did that for me.

            It was NaKaya Hughes’s story that struck a chord for me. She admits to feeling discouraged from speaking up against her injustices at her old private school. She said, “I had to deal with a whole bunch of racism, being called the ‘n word’, people thinking it was funny and then speaking up about it…They were so tired of me speaking up about it because it’s just a word.”

            This is just one of many stories from that day, and one of even more instances of people being forced to keep quiet about their identities. Another student, Jordyn, a transfer student from Pennsylvania. tells how she was told by her professors that any microaggressions or racism she faced was just a part of “adulting.”

            The fact that students of color everywhere are being told that our negative experiences aren’t valid shows that all media need more diverse stories. The people who showed up to the protest on the quad that day weren’t just protesting. Together, we created a safe space to share the stories that traditional media would not even dare to touch.

            Justin Rose said, “if you heard me speak, you heard me say, I would rather not do this. Right? I would rather not have to do diversity, inclusion and equity work every day. But it is what it is – it is what I’m required and called to do.” As we work toward the goal of more diversity and inclusion – not only on campus but in the world – we can create more spaces for people of color to tell their stories and speak their truth.