I Am a Journalist. A Latina Journalist.
It was the second assignment that I received from my first freelance gig when I realized that I wanted to write about race, culture, and social justice. I was covering The Standard Hotel’s bars in Downtown Los Angeles. As I got there — thrilled, with my backpack still on from class earlier that day — and met who I’d be interviewing, her eyes unpleasingly looked me up and down as if I wasn’t worthy of her time or being in such a place. She attended to the photographer much more than me. The photographer was a white man and she was also white. I never felt more uncomfortable within that one-minute stare down. Was it my age? Was it my brown skin? I am Latina; a proud Latina.
Towards the end of what felt like an eternity-lasting interview, her connection with the photographer was almost effortless. She offered him her assistance for freelance opportunities, a cup of coffee, and an overall pleasing experience at the Standard. This white man received such a welcoming hospitality from a white woman while I remained an outsider. An outsider of a white world.
I continued the interview with as much pride and confidence I could ever show. I can’t ignore, however, the uncomfortable feeling that I did not belong. But this motivated me, even more, to make this article the best it can be and leave the hotel seeming unbothered. What I’ve learned from this experience is that journalists of color will more than often be placed in situations and places that aren’t meant for us. But we are here to report and tell a story regardless of those uncomfortable situations.
During the interview, she mentioned to me that the Standard is meant to be anything but standard. However, my experience there felt nothing but standard: A woman of color entering a white space, unwanted. This, to me, is the standard America thrives off of.
As a millennial, I want to represent and contribute narratives that focus on identity, race, and culture—which I believe is crucial—because we are the next generation of writers of color. I’m dedicated to hearing, learning, and telling stories that give a voice to those who feel invisible in this world. Even if it’s in a fancy hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.