Giving black journalists a chance to be heard
By Tonyaa J. Weathersbee
Senior Project Manager,
Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies
During a May meeting at the Fernando Ortiz Foundation in Havana, its president, Heriberto Espino made an admission, followed by an explanation – and then a plea.
Racism is indeed a problem for black Cubans, he said. But they want to solve that problem within their own system. "We want to change it," Espino told a group of black journalists from the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies. "And we want you to help us."
Being there to hear Espino's plea was a moment that highlighted the institute's main purpose: to give black journalists and journalism students the opportunity to tell the story of people throughout the diaspora– something that is still a pretty rare experience in American journalism.
For more than a decade the institute has pursued this mission. It has dispatched teams of black professional and student journalists to Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, Brazil, Grenada, Panama, Barbados, Canada and Mexico to report stories that have been largely ignored by mainstream media.
Much of this work, which has given the participating journalists a greater sense of self-worth in the journalism arena, can be found on the institute's Web site (www.ifajs.org).
This special report on racism in Cuba is the most recent example of the ground-breaking work the institute does – work that gives black journalists an opportunity to cover stories long ignored by mainstream media and that provide their voice an opportunity to be heard.
Index of IFAJS Special Report: Cuba in Black and White