Quote of the Day

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

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— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This has been a rough week. We had to truly wrap our heads around the fact that President Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, will be leaving the White House. The eight years he served were my most formative — all of high school, all of college and into the first few months of the real world.

The pain of saying goodbye to this end of an error, stings a bit more as the man who patient zero of the “birther” lie will now succeed him. Smh.

But as a witness to this era of U.S. history, I realize it is my responsibility to pass on the memory of what it was like to grow up with a First Family who resembled my own. That impact of representation cannot be overstated enough. My president was black. It is up to those who witnessed this moment to channel all the hope we felt and it let that fuel our journey in these next four years.

Quote of the Day

img_9149“It’s a beautiful day to save lives”

— Derek Sheperd

This week I started my second rotation at work. I will be covering the municipal bond market for the next three months. This is the beat that I wanted to cover, but, boy, it’ll be a challenging one. But each day I’m going to wake up ready to do my best, learn all I can and take in the necessary feedback from my editors. Journalism is a craft and because I’m in the beginning stages of my career I know I have a lot of experience to still gain.

This week, I fittingly received a  “Grey’s Anatomy” themed mug in the mail. I’m currently obsessed with this Shonda Rhimes show that follows new surgeons throughout their career, tracing their professional and personal failures and successes. It’s the perfect show for an entry level professional to watch because like journalism, surgery is also a craft that must be mastered.

Each surgery is another chance to prove yourself. For me, each story is another chance to grow.

So drawing on some inspiration from neurosurgeon Derek Sheperd from “Grey’s Anatomy” I must say, “It’s a beautiful day to save lives.”

It’s time to get to work. It’s time to do the impossible. I’m ready to save a life.

Festivals Test Financial Fitness

“No one’s ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that’s abandoned by February” — Suze Orman 

Sometimes to achieve your goal, you just have to walk away.

That’s what I had to do today right before I pushed the button to purchase a $400 festival ticket to Governor’s Ball in New York. Not going to lie — at one point I did push the “Buy” button. Luckily the site declined my credit card because this 22-year-old has card limits.

Any who, the second time I tried to load my credit card and use the layaway plan option (yes, it got that deep), I realized that this was a prime case of instant gratification.

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I was most excited for Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino | Jan. 6, 2016

I’m a millennial, and as much as society likes to assign characteristics to my generation, I do believe people my age have grown up in an era of immediacy. For us, news comes constantly, fast food is king, and if an app on my phone doesn’t load quickly enough, honestly, that app just isn’t worth it anymore. I’ve treated my spending habits in the same way. I’ve become way too accustomed to swiping my credit card now, and waiting for the phone call from my dad about the charge later.

Just consider me the 21st century version of Hilary Banks. Sorry not that very sorry.

Now that I’m adulting full0time with my own bills, apartment and paycheck, I’ve made this the year to hold myself accountable. I’ve made this promise for the past four years. Yet, in college, I had a net of security while living in the illusion of adulthood. In college there was always some reason for why my financial illiteracy was acceptable.

Frequently used ones were: A break from dining hall food, traveling during study abroad, summer break shenanigans, 21st birthday plans, fancy red carpets. Literally anything under the Los Angeles sun.

But there I was in my New York office, finger hovering above my mouse, ready to click “Buy” on the Governor’s Ball ticket ($400!) and I couldn’t think of a quick enough excuse for this frivolous expense. Time was ticking. The site was giving me five minutes to complete my purchase.

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Earlier this week I started an excel spreadsheet dedicated to tracking all of my spending. It’s been going good so far. Before this week, I would tell myself that I could make a mental checklist of just how expensive my lifestyle was. I couldn’t. I would genuinely be surprised when it came time to pay off my credit card each month.

Grant it’s only the first week, but I’m starting to feel accountable to this spreadsheet. I save all of my receipts and scribble prices down in the note section of my phone to make sure I can later update this spreadsheet. It’s kind of jarring to see how quickly money can flow out of my wallet.

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Enjoying my time in Coachella Valley | April 23, 2016

I had two minutes left before the Governor’s Ball site would log me out, and I kept seeing the text messages from my friends encouraging me to buy this ticket. I rechecked the lineup for the festival and, yes, it was still amazing. I thought about how many likes my Instagram photo from the festival would get (just trying to keep it real). There was a lot of noise as that two minutes became 60 seconds and my finger still hovered over the left-hand button on the mouse about to push “Buy”.

But I knew I needed to walk away. The voice I needed to hear was the one telling me that I wouldn’t be able to afford, say, lunch for the next month and a half if I said yes to this expense now. I needed to hear the resolution I made for myself saying that this was the year I would take responsibility for my finances.

I didn’t want to silence that voice any longer. Plus, I love hot food for lunch.

So in a decision that’s been building up since I left for college in 2012, I moved my mouse away from the “Buy” button as the clock start counting down 10. (Tbh, if I thought through this moment thoroughly, I would definitely be the owner of a 3-day Governor’s Ball ticket.) Instead of “Buy”, my mouse shifted up and clicked on the red exit button that would close the page. Feeling uneasy at the decision I got up and walked away from the desk. I had just made my first financial decision of the year.

To celebrate, I called my mom. Half of me called her because I thought she might convince me I should have actually bought that $400 ticket.

She did not. In fact, she was sipping tea at the time I called her and had to put her glass down when I told her how much money I was about to spend. When I assured her I hadn’t, she just started laughing. And laughing. And laughing.

Now I am here with no festival ticket to my name. But I still have $400 to use however I please, and because I live in New York, when I say “however I please” what I really mean is it’s going toward rent.

Yet, I feel better that when facing this decision, I stood up and let the most important voice takeover. This year I’m standing at the precipice of change in my spending habits. From all my failures in the past, I have learned that I can’t change something in my life unless I truly wanted it to happen.

Financial literacy is going to be a yearlong, er lifelong, goal, but at least now I’m ready to take on the challenge.

So here’s to going back to the drawing board. And by drawing board, I mean the excel spreadsheet that keeps my budget.

 

Quote of the Day

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

— John Pierpont Morgan

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Admired journalist Gwen Ifill passed away today after a battle with cancer. Her sudden death shocked many, and it resonated among scores of journalists on Twitter when the news first came out. The world lost an idol. I’ve been think about what it must be like to be admired by millions for your integrity, wits and overall journalism amazing-ness. I think a large part of it comes from how fearless she was as an African American woman in an industry largely dominated by white men. She had to be fearless. She had to go with her intuition on stories and she had to speak up for herself.

I’m going to use her story as my inspiration as I forge my way in the industry that she  made more feasible for people like me. Thank you, Ms. Ifill.

What’s in a City? Minorities in Post-Election Coverage

“In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever” – Oscar Wilde

As we wrap up this first week in Donald Trump’s America, the media has the most important decision to make ahead.

Right now, journalists are deciding how to cover the U.S. electorate during the Trump administration, one in which 25.5 percent of eligible American voters overwhelmingly located in the heartland and Rust Belt carried the former reality TV star into the highest office in the land.

Reporters realized during this election that these voters live in culturally and economically different worlds from their so-called “elite circles” within major U.S. cities like New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

The Trump supporters’ decision to see past their candidates’ racist and xenophobic statements — calling some Mexican immigrants rapists, saying African Americans were “living in hell” and there should be a “total” shutdown of Muslims coming into the country, to name a few —  surprised many in the media on Election Night.  As the shock waned, it’s turned into a collective soul-searching among journalists.

Newsrooms are recalibrating themselves. The emerging narrative among reporters on Twitter to CNN is that to adequately cover “real America” they must embed themselves in the pockets of the country that are reeling from “economic anxiety”.

This effort by journalists to shed their perceived elitism looks like they’ll be leaning on more coverage from the country’s overly white, rural and suburban areas. This will further remove reporters from people of color concentrated in cities, who also live under clouds of economic anxiety with an additional concerns over race relations and immigration policies. For this reason, the intersectionality that people of color live in cities can give journalists a better pulse on what “real America” looks and feels like. 

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The journalism industry is now largely operating in cities like New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, but in national coverage, the industry never turned its attention to these cities’ black, Latino and Asian American populations in complex ways.

Partially, this speaks of the lack diversity in the newsroom setting. However, the notion that the nation’s newsrooms are whiter than the country’s population isn’t groundbreaking or fresh information. Journalists of color account for 17 percent of newsrooms, according to 2016 data from the American Society of News Editors’ annual survey on diversity. 

Reporters often live in a media bubble insulated from the multiculturalism that American cities provide. Yes, there has been standout work from journalists covering the election that tapped into people of color’s theories and insights about the race, candidates’ policies and the outcome. However, that work was not nearly sufficient. 

Cities are hubs of multicultural ideals, which is not mutually exclusive of the alleged elitism plaguing modern reporters. Journalists could harness this power of location if they wanted. Having been a beneficiary of living and reporting in the country’s three largest cities – Chicago, then Los Angeles and now New York – I’ve seen this firsthand.

Chicago – with 67 percent of its population being minorities – was where I saw the multiracial UniverSoul Circus every year in Washington Park, sharpened my Chinese speaking skills by going to Chinatown markets and watched in pride as a Windy City community activist became the country’s first black president.

When I moved to Los Angeles for college, I reported on the same street corners where the fires from the 1992 civil unrest flared while I covered the protests that erupted in 2014 in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Now, as a transplant to New York’s East Harlem — a heavily Puerto Rican part of Manhattan – I’m picking up bits of Spanish inside local bodegas and learning that my presence in the neighborhood is yet another wave of diversity that this area has seen over the decades.

Living and reporting in these cities, all providing rich populations of people of color, can give journalists views into the anxieties, fears and tepid hopefulness that America is now feeling with our new president-elect.  

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By 2044, the white population in the U.S. will be the minority, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The change is already in process. The majority of babies born in the country are from minority groups. The demographics in the so-called elite cities are reflecting this demographic shift. Cities are not liabilities to understanding “real America” in this post-election season. In fact, they are representative of it. 

This task of covering Trump’s America that will eventually become more and more diverse won’t be simple. What’s easy is deciding to cover one group and not so much the other. Plus the decision is being made at a time when resources and reporters in the newsrooms are already spread thin. Yet the need to do less with more does not mean choosing to cover Trump supporters over covering historically disenfranchised ethnicities.

Now, more than ever, is an opportunity to gauge the heartbeat of the oppressed, the concerns of the diverse minds of America and the rhetoric coming from all spectrums of the country.

The beauty will be that it won’t be simple, but this effortless and unchallenging decision is necessary to telling our nation’s entire narrative.