Washington (CNN)Day by day, clicking into the horrific stories, seeing the disturbing comments by government officials representing or defending the “other side” of systemic racism and watching videos of Black bodies being hurt on television really does raise the question: Do I matter?
This question doesn’t just arrive in the sense that does my Black life matter — we all should know this to be unequivocally true by now — but how does my role as a journalist matter? Polls show widespread support of Black Lives Matters protests and varied views on how to reform policeI work at an international news organization and I hold the power to publish social media posts and videos online as well as suggest stories to write and place on the site based on what’s trending in US politics. I do this objectively or without personal influence, but I can’t ignore my emotions when right now, the story that’s trending is how do we address the inequality, oppression and unconscious bias that disproportionally affects the success and well-being of myself and other people who look like me. Being a journalist at this time is tough. Being a professional trying to keep their head above water and do their job is tough. Being a human confronted by and challenged on long-held beliefs we knew and didn’t know we had is tough. But most evidently, being Black in America is tough — all the time. Read MoreAs Black people, most of us are often swallowing our fear, our passion, our skepticism, our anger to make sure we don’t come off too strong, too aggressive or overly expressive for our white colleagues and non-Black counterparts who fill the spaces we occupy. We know the world we operate in and we are constantly calculating our moves, even when we are resolved to make bold declarations, because we know things can go sideways real quick. Not having these worries, these burdens is privilege. America is having a moment … will you be part of it?Even as I pitched the idea to write this type of personal essay I started to think, am I going too far, how would this affect my future, are other Black people going to feel represented and empowered with this? What are the other side effects to me publicly calling out my feelings against white supremacy and racism on a large platform? To be frank, it’s ridiculous that I feel like I can’t talk about my opposition to racism plainly and have these thoughts of negative repercussions cross my mind. This should not be an issue of contention or have any concern with journalistic ethics. Racism is bad, period. I think this moment in America is really making us all hold up a mirror to see some ugly truths. Truths that expose us to our egotistical mindsets, coddled fragility and woeful ignorance. And yes I am talking to white people more specifically, but this work needs to be done across the board in many intersections of race, ethnicity and gender to result in widespread change. Narrowing things back down to my environment at work, in one of America’s largest and most powerful newsrooms, we have to be more intentional about the stories we tell, who is telling them and how they are being told. There’s an examination that needs to happen at CNN, too. I remain hopeful based on what our internal response has been, so far. A guide to how you can support marginalized communitiesI am not writing this to put all the blame on others. I have a role in this, and I have started to feel more empowered in this moment, but I certainly cannot do it alone and should not feel the need to be the spokesman for anti-racism. I, like many Black people, have been telling the world about these type of daily micro aggressions and overt racist acts we regularly endure, but we weren’t being believed. Journalists have the responsibility to become allies in this fight against racism. Our job is about empathy, communicating people’s stories and emotions, and upholding the values of freedom and the pursuit of happiness found in the same Constitution that we use to do our jobs. My allies in this industry and allies across the country have to step up and help Black, Brown and other marginalized groups feel supported and safe to speak their minds in every environment. Only then can we truly begin to heal from the deep-rooted pain, dehumanization and prejudice that is embedded in the systems of this country.In my most Texan voice: It’s going to take a whole lot of learning and unlearning, y’all. I just hope we are ready to sustain this energy and continue on this road with changed behaviors and new policies in our institutions. That’s the only way we have less tragic endings for the Breonna Taylors, Ahmaud Arberys and George Floyds of the world.Luqman Adeniyi is an associate producer.