Now available: Watch the Word in Black virtual event ‘Voting with Purpose’ on demand – click here
Ten of the nation’s leading Black publishers have come together to reimagine the Black press in America. Their first official initiative is the launch of Word in Black, a news collaborative, unlike anything we have seen in the industry. The mission could not be more important: Word in Black frames the narrative and fosters solutions for racial inequities in America.Local Media Association CEO Nancy Lane, speaking about Word in Black
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As early voting continues to shatter records, amid a surge in domestic pandemic infections, the Black press as well as African American political experts and leaders are warning the electorate to remain vigilant because voter suppression is alive, well, and in plain view.
For more than 80 million U.S. students, school will never be the same since the 2019-2020 school year was abruptly interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. The subsequent scramble for educators and parents to establish new learning protocols in the world of online learning and keep students engaged in remote schoolwork, has been marked by controversy and criticism with some signs of enlightenment shining through.
“So to be honest, the girls are actually doing well with it,” said Tamika Hall to the AmNews. “It was pull and tug in the a.m. on the first day but they are doing pretty good so far. Their schedules flow and they are busy up until the end at 2 p.m. We are having some tech issues but thanks to my computer knowledge, I put on my IT hat to troubleshoot.
It’s a rainy Friday fall morning and T’wina Nobles, President and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League, and her nine-year old son make their way to their respective corners of the living room – he at a kids’ table set up as his workspace for school, she on her couch where she’s prepping for an all-day virtual board retreat.
Normally Karen Shepard would sit down with her three kids at the end of the day and ask them how was school? The Smiths, Charles and Debra, would gently remind their two daughters to get cracking on their homework.
Audra Brown stands on her front porch holding her 2–year–old granddaughter, Toya. Her four grandsons are inside their home in the Buckeye Trail public housing community in South Dallas’ Bonton neighborhood.
“They are playing on their tablets,” Brown says. “Just some games that the tablet came with.”
Jamaala Karim walks into the Paul Dunbar Learning Center cafeteria. It’s filled with staff hired to help distribute technology to students’ families.
“Having to go from single mom to teacher, it’s like, uhhhhhh,” she sighs heavily.
On Sunday, Sept. 12, the NY Times Magazine called 2020 “The Lost Year” for students across America and their families dealing with remote learning and the social, psychological and cognitive challenges it presents.
Tamika Hall is struggling with the right way to educate her kids during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her decision to homeschool her children was wrapped in the fear of putting her children in harm’s way if they went back into an actual school building. She didn’t want to lose them.
As schools across the state are scheduled to re-open in the coming weeks under the restrictions of COVID-19, Charles and Debra Smith, the parents of two elementary school-age children, are planning how best to divide their time between their jobs and their children’s schoolwork.
Karen Shepherd has done better than some during the coronavirus pandemic.
She still has a job as an outreach specialist in a D.C. medical office. She still has a roof over her head, when many across the nation have lost their homes.
For the time being, students in the District’s public and public charter school systems have been relegated to their homes where they will continue to learn on virtual platforms, much like what they endured during the latter part of last school year when the coronavirus pandemic brought all social and economic activity to a standstill.
What does this mean?
The group will publish stories on important issues such as voter suppression, inequities in education and healthcare, reimagining public safety, and more. They will take a solutions-journalism approach. Nick Charles, a journalist who has been hired by the group, will turn 10 local stories into a national story that will be widely distributed.
Why is this important?
Solutions to racial inequities in America should start with the Black press. This new kind of collaborative makes this possible. It also opens up the door to a whole new way of thinking when it comes to news collaboratives. Currently these partnerships are largely geographically structured for obvious reasons – but why limit ourselves? Might this kind of collaboration lead to lots of other opportunities for our industry and the funders who are increasingly supporting journalism? We certainly think so.
Who is involved?
New York Amsterdam News, The Atlanta Voice, Houston Defender Network, The Washington Informer, The Dallas Weekly, St. Louis American, Michigan Chronicle, The AFRO-American, Seattle Medium, and the Sacramento Observer.
Can others join?
The goal is to quickly expand this effort in 2021. Contact Nick Charles if you are interested.
What is the first topic to be tackled?
The publishers are focused on the impact of COVID on K-12 education in Black communities. Two major funders have come through to provide the resources to produce this kind of journalism.
How can you help?