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Hateration in the Biz

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hateration in the Biz

When I decided I wanted to enter the world of journalism, I had no idea what I was in for.  People always ask if I knew this was I wanted to do as a child.  "I wanted to be a lawyer," was my response.  But after failing to prepare for the LSATs (the entrance exam to law school), I realized it wasn't for me.  On the advice of a career counselor, I applied for an internship at a local TV station and the rest is history.

I've been in the biz for a while now, but it wasn't always easy.  As a woman I found it extremely difficult to get a job, and being a woman of color made it even harder.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very appreciative of the opportunities I've been given.  I've worked hard to get here, and I'll continue to work my butt off.  But, sometimes working hard isn't enough.  This is a business that requires a lot of talent, but physical appearance also plays an important role.  I remember applying for jobs every where across the country.  I also applied to a local TV station in my native country, Jamaica.  I remember being told by different news directors that I wasn't the right fit, I needed more experience, and my American accent wasn't acceptable.  I understood not having  enough years under my belt, but all the other reasons didn't make sense at all.  You could be great at your job.  But if you don't "fit" the station's look, your chances of being hired are slim.

It seemed as though getting a job was mainly contingent upon the color of my skin or my gender.  It was evident when someone asked, "Why are you sending your resume to North Dakota, black folks don't live out there?"  I responded, "I never really thought about that."  I started to search the bios of various reporters across the country.  I noticed that most stations only had one person of color.  Sometimes that person was Hispanic or Asian, which narrowed the chances of me getting hired even more.  To say it wasn't discouraging would be a complete lie.  In all honesty, my confidence was a bit compromised.  But, it didn't stop me from continuing my job search.  I've been very fortunate to land all my gigs in New York.

I refuse to give excuses as to why I was hired.  Instead I choose to believe that I was chosen based on my talents.  The challenges of finding a job wasn't the only obstacle I faced.  Making friends in the biz has been difficult as well.  I'm not talking about the fake friends.  You know the kind of people you'd see at an event and they give you the fake air kiss saying something like, "How have you been sweetie?"  I'm talking about real friends who remember your name.  The kind that will call you up and congratulate you on a job well done.  The sort of person that will also call you to say hello, invite you out to lunch, and not dig for information about your personal life.  I've met so many people.  Some who have become true friends.  I've also met those who haven't been so nice.  Hey, it's the nature of any business.  Some people feel if they have to throw you under the bus to get to the top, then so be it.  I used to wonder why people could be so mean, especially women.  But after all these years, I finally get it!

It goes back to what I mentioned before.  I noticed that every station I researched had one, or no person of color.  For instance, if a station only has one minority woman weather anchor, then the chances of hiring another would be highly unlikely.  The lack of diversity often leads to competition among journalists which could cause tension.  I've had the experience of someone not liking me because we were going for the same job.  It made me a bit sad and uncomfortable.  To be honest, I'd rather get along with someone than to have there be tension.  Plus, I've always believed as women, we should support one another.  Historically, it's been a long struggle for us.

Before women's suffrage in 1920, females weren't able to vote throughout the nation.  Black men were given voting rights long before a woman could even check off a paper ballot.  I don't mean to digress, but I often wonder why there's so much tension among women in the work place.  Is it because some women feel like there's not enough room for all of us?  Could it be jealously?

I try not to get caught up in all of that jealously or hate.  Instead, I choose to focus on me.  I see myself as my own competition.  I find that if I were to get too caught up in what someone else is doing, then that's time taken away from achieving my goals.  I'd rather be happy for someone who does well because I feel that it's better to congratulate than to spread hate.

As for the job situation, I must say that it's getting better.  When I turn on the news here in NYC, I do see more people of color throughout the broadcast.  But, I know we still have a long way to go.  Just a few months ago I had a conversation with an executive from a syndicated entertainment program.  He admitted to me that I didn't stand a chance hosting the program.  He went on to say that they don't usually hire black women, they prefer the blond hair blue eyed type.  He also added that if I resembled Halle Berry that would put me in a better position to become a correspondent.

Halle Berry and Tyra Banks.  Whenever I saw women who looked like me, I got super excited.  In fact, I still get excited to this day.  I was actually glad that this person admitted to this insane bigotry.

Despite this fact, I would never give up my career.  If one executive chooses not to hire me because I'm dark skinned, I'll just move on to the next station.

As I write this post, my intention isn't to bash anyone.  My goal is to share my experiences.  Maybe you've gone through a similar situation and can relate.  Maybe this is something you didn't know existed.  Or maybe you're a hater who finally sees the error in your ways.  I encourage you to please share your stories, so that we can empower each other.

I know my baby girl may through challenges similar to mine, even though she does fall into the Halle Berry category.  But, she may come across other girls who may feel she's competition.  My Princess may even find it difficult to get a job because of her looks.  She may even be the token person of color.  My job as a mom is to reassure her that although people will hate, it's important to not succumb to it.  If the roles are reversed and I find that Princess is doing the hating, I'll straighten her out.

To my little Princess:
You are beautiful and talented.  Be who you are.  Don't let society dictate who you should be.  Treat others how you'd like to be treated.  If you ever have doubts or stumble along the way mommy and daddy will always be here for you.

Love you!



At November 15, 2011 at 11:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a really pretty woman from the 1st time i saw you years ago on channel 5 news. Your professional and confident when i see you perform your job. Im glad your on tv bcuz i feel your going to make a big difference for many women of color.
With your airing this kind of bigotry maybe you and other ethnic folks in the business can change things.

At November 16, 2011 at 1:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your post and I must say that I can understand where you're coming from. I often thought that in the occupation of Journalism talent and skill is what should matter most but often times we see that it takes a back seat to physical appearance. I think you're very talented and equally beautiful and tuned in at times to Fox5 when you were there solely because of you! Thanks for sharing your story with others.

At November 20, 2011 at 12:16 AM , Anonymous greg said...

hi! stacy i know i'm late in respondind to this enqiry but all im going to say is thanks for posting and your hubby is a bless guy for having you as his wife ,real sister beautifull soul. greg,

At November 20, 2011 at 4:28 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much for responding guys! Greg, it's never too late. I look forward to comments all the time. It shows that people are reading. The reason why I have this blog is so that my baby girl can read it one day. She'll learn all about her mama and the things she went through.
It's an added bonus when people chime in and say they can relate, or that they had a revelation, or maybe offer me advice. It's a win win for everyone. Thanks again!

At November 23, 2011 at 3:40 PM , Anonymous Hazelin Williams said...

Your article is a very honest one. It would mean so much if other media people would speak as candidly as you have so that changes can be made. Some might deny the existence of such biases, but all one has to do is tune in to the various channels and it is immediately clear that more needs to be done in terms of hiring more people of color, and not only those who are very light-skinned. I often wonder if the networks have any idea about the diversity and changing racial make-up in this country, because they don't seem to be keeping up with the times. Keep doing your part and be assured that you have an audience out here. I expect to see you doing great things in the future. You definitely have the smarts and the charisma to succeed.

At November 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much Hazelin! That means a lot. Thanks so much for chiming in.

At December 1, 2011 at 5:02 PM , Anonymous Cam | Bibs and Baubles said...

Wow! I have nodded my head in agreement with this entire post. Working in the same industry, I know exactly what you're talking about. It can get down right ugly. I have experienced my share of foolishness on my journey as well.

At January 31, 2012 at 7:45 AM , Blogger Sharon said...

What you've said is so poignant!! It has given me many things to say to my daughter as she navigates her teen years. Being one of the few girls of color who swims for her high school swim team has been a very difficult experience for her. She loves swimming, but she feels left out of the social piece that goes with being on a team.

At February 7, 2012 at 9:50 PM , Anonymous Robynne said...

I saw your interview with Eliss on Integrated Memoirs. I'm glad you highlighted the nastiness and the bigotry in the industry - which they deny of course, even though it's staring you in the face. I'm going to look around your blog. BTW, I am a fellow Ja girl as well. I think you represent us very well, so keep on representing :)

At April 28, 2012 at 3:11 AM , Blogger Carlo Powe-Crawford said...

A little different, but kind of the same... I'm a member of SAG and AFTRA and having been "talent" since 1989, I get the gist of what you're saying BIG TIME! Did I ever blatantly experience bigotry or racism? Not that I know of. But at the same time, being a woman of color like you are, I probably lost some opportunities for some of the very same reasons that you cite.

Unfortunately, it just goes to show - after the goose bumps that the nation experienced almost 4 years ago when the first president of color took office - that's over and America is back to "prognostic, hateration as usual". In secure people will probably always make differences, draw lines in the sand, and squawk. The best thing that we can do is, plain and simple, not listen. As one of my Detroit friends always says, "My mind ain't a dumpster, so don't go puttin' your trash in it". And that is exactly how I feel about people in the news, entertainment, and sports industries. Really, to be more honest with you, it's more like... WAKE UP, BE FAIR, and if you can't, SHUT UP! Like, don't hinder the next persons journey and process - y'know?

At April 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Carlo! Love that quote! It's so true. Even though I know these things go on, I don't let it break my focus.

At April 28, 2012 at 10:55 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much Robynne! I try to rep as best as possible.

At April 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

My daughter swims as well. She's only 20 months. But, I do wonder what the future holds for her. They're not many children of at her daycare.

At April 28, 2012 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

You have? Ever write about it?


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