By Stephanie Stremplewski
On Thursday, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) attended “Mindful Media: A Cultural Sensitivity Workshop”. The groups discussed minority issues and derogatory terms used by the media and society.
One of the first issues discussed was how the word “transgender” has different meanings to those who consider themselves transgender, and how the pronouns he, she, or it can possibly offend them when reporting a story.
“Each person that I’ve interviewed, known or been friends with that has identified as transgender has a little bit of a different idea of what that means,” said Matt Bloom, president of NLGJA.
If one is unsure what race, ethnicity or sex a person identifies with, participants said individuals can approach the situation in a respectful manner by asking the question, “what do you identify as?”
“Recognizing that asking someone that question is the best solution because you can never assume that somebody fits into one of these cultural groups or identities,” Bloom said.
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, president of NAHJ, said words like “illegal” to describe undocumented Latino immigrants are wrong and need to be addressed in the media.
“Actions are illegal,” Heredia Rodriguez said. “People are not illegal.”
Heredia Rodriguez said that the most important issue to her is immigration. She said that the Latino community itself is a fairly new group in the United States, even though some Latinos have lived here for decades.
In light of the events in Ferguson and Staten Island, the discussion also addressed police brutality. Daion Morton, president of NABJ, said individuals must learn more about these issues because they involve more than just race.
“It involves socioeconomic statuses of individuals,” Morton said. “It just involves so much more than just race. I think it’s important that we understand that this is far more than just a black versus white issue.”
Morton is afraid the media will send the wrong message to people and influence them in a negative way.
“As future journalists, we need to change the media by helping people have a voice,” he said.
The three presidents were pleased that attendees achieved in creating productive and constructive dialogue.
“Even though we are different minorities, we have collective struggles as far as words that are used to describe us and confine us,” Heredia Rodriguez said.