Where arts and diversity meet
Conference welcomes journalists to come as they areAugust 3rd, 2012 at Fri, 3rd, 2012 at 12:58 am by Gabrielle Nomura
It wasn’t lack of talent that made critics tell LZ Granderson he wouldn’t be able to pursue a career in sports journalism. It was his dreadlocks.
As Granderson put it, he’s not sure what made it more difficult for him to break in to the industry: being black or being gay.
But today, as a commentator for CNN and ESPN, he clearly didn’t let those comments stop him.
“Can you be yourself in this industry? The answer is yes, yes you can,” he said.
Granderson, along with KING 5 anchor Lori Matsukawa (center) and former Ms. Magazine managing editor Helen Zia, (far right),were only two of the inspirational diverse journalists I (girl on the left!) had the pleasure of encountering at the 2012 UNITY Conference held in Las Vegas Aug. 1-4.
Roughly 6,000 journalists, representing Asian American, Hispanic, Native American, black and gay/lesbian associations showed up to mix, mingle, learn from one another and in my case, play in the hotel pool’s wave-maker.
Aside from being in fabulous Vegas and getting the opportunity to make new friends and professional contacts, what struck me most at the conference was how broad that word, diversity, truly is.
As Granderson showed, it’s not merely a word that refers to a skin color. It encompasses people’s thoughts and feelings, who they choose to vote for or who they happen to fall in love with. It’s appearance, ethnic background, way of getting from here to there (some of us walk, some of us use a wheel chair, for example), way of communicating (For example, American Sign Language).
Diversity this week meant the following characters all under the same roof: print folks, journalism profs, broadcasters, photographers (and “iPhoneographers”), and people who, like me, will always consider themselves journalists even if they pursue other paths.
Many people talk about more diversity as a good thing – it’s the evolution of our ability to understand, empathize and at best, love one another for our differences. I think this conference, the largest gathering of diverse journalists in the world, acted as a reminder for just how all-encompassing diversity truly is. There’s room for everybody, dreadlocks included.