Hometown: Born and raised in Long Island, NY with a splash of Alpharetta, GA
College: Northwestern University
Occupation: Editor, The Huffington Post- Black Voices
1. Describe your job in three words. Hectic. Inspiring. Challenging.
2. Your favorite article you’ve ever written and why? I think it would probably be the feature story I wrote when I was in grad school about charter schools in Chicago because I worked really, really hard on that story. I spent weeks looking at data and spoke to so many students and parents and administrators. I had so much information and to sit down and craft a story out of everything I had and to try to explain the people I had met and their experiences, it was extremely challenging. But in the end, I was incredibly proud of how it turned out. It was so early in my career, and still probably one of my proudest moments. I think the other cool thing about that story was I did everything. I put the stats together in graphs, I shot and edited video, I interviewed, I wrote it. So it is one of the stories that showcases all of my talents as a journalist which is something I take great pride in.
3. Was there any article you wrote that broke your heart? Oh yes! I wrote a story entitled “How Rachel Jeantel Helped And Hurt George Zimmerman’s Defense Team” and that story broke my heart for a couple of reasons. Watching Rachel Jeantel testify was really hard for me. I wanted to give her a hug. Here’s this young woman who not only lost a friend, but never wanted to be involved in this case that, at that point, had become the biggest story in the country. I just wanted to give her a hug and empower her. She was trying to do the right thing and she was being scrutinized in a very public forum. It was hard for me to write that story and try to be objective. I think the Zimmerman trial in general was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cover. I had followed the case for over a year, and even though I thought I would be numb to a not guilty verdict, I wasn’t. It hurt like hell. It made me realize that if I have a son (I’ve always wanted boys) the majority of this country won’t value his life the way I will. It made me realize the dangers my little brother faces that I’ll never know anything about. It was a slap in the face with some serious reality, a reality I thought I had already faced. But after hearing that verdict, I realized I didn’t even really know the half of how far we have to go in this country when it comes to race and discrimination.
4. 2013 is almost over. Give me your professional year in review. It’s definitely been both a challenging and incredibly fulfilling year professionally. I was blessed to get a really exciting promotion toward the end of last year. But with great power comes great responsibility, so I really had to learn a lot about being a leader and what it means to finally have the dream job. I think I learned a lot about myself, about being a black woman in the workplace, about being young. I had to learn that I’m still in the beginning of my career, but I also had to be brave enough to take risks and trust my instincts. I had triumphs, I made mistakes,and I think I learned from it all. This is definitely the year that I think will set the foundation for a lot of my future professional decisions. I can see myself a few years down the road recalling how I handled situations this year and either choosing to do the same thing or handling it differently based on what I learned.
5. Now your personal year in review? As far as my personal life, this was a huge year of growth. I think this was the year that the seeds I planted early on in life finally started to sprout and I had to learn to water those plants and give them care and sunshine in order to get the kind of garden I wanted. 2012 was a really tough year for me, and I was determined to take a lot of the things I learned in 2012 and improve things in 2013. I definitely took the time to nurture my relationships with my girlfriends and I got a better sense of what I liked and disliked in my relationships with men. But most importantly, I really cemented my relationship with myself and nurtured the relationship Danielle had with Danielle. I live alone, so I learned how to be more independent in so many ways, ranging from fixing something in my apartment by myself, putting together some furniture, or carrying heavy bags up the stairs. I learned that I was capable of handling things I never thought I could handle. So it made me feel really good about my personal growth. 25 was definitely my golden year in more ways than one. It was a challenging year, but golden in so many ways.
6. Do you believe in making new year’s resolutions? I try not to limit resolutions to the new year. I think if I identify things that I need to work on it’s just as important to do it in June as it is in January. But I think a new year is a great time to reflect, so I try to think of some things I’d like to accomplish that next year.
7. In the spirit of time, what event in the past, present or future would you like to witness in person? I’d like to see the moment when the first black female U.S. president is elected. I think black women are in such an interesting place in American society. I think people have so much respect for us, but simultaneously fear us and view us as “other” so often. I’d really like to see the moment when a black female is leading this country, and when people see black women in a different light and really comprehend what we’re capable of. We’re pretty bad ass.
8. What do you think makes our generation unique? I think it’s the thing that everyone thinks cripples our generation: the fact that we’re the first generation that won’t out earn the generation before it. I think it makes us way more innovative. We’re the first generation to really think outside the box in a real way and try to make things happen by getting down and dirty. I think we’re more willing to jump off of cliffs and chase our dreams. We’re less afraid of instability so we take exciting chances, which I think will get us really far one day.
9. When is the last time you laughed the hardest? The last time was probably around Thanksgiving when I was with my family. I can’t remember what was said exactly, but I think my baby sister (who’s 16) said it. And part of why I laughed so hard was a. because I was in a room with all the people I love the most in the world and b. because it was my baby sister and she’s such a grown up now. I remember when my parents brought her home from the hospital, and now here she is grown, and telling jokes that make us all laugh until we’re crying. It was just kind of amazing.
10. In ten years you will be… I will be doing something so cool, I can’t even think of what it is right now (laughs). I think the cool thing about my life right now is, if you asked me that question when I was 15 I would say “Oh, I’ll be an editor blah blah blah.” But I never would have thought I’d be leading the section of a site, making major decisions, living on my own in NYC making big girl decisions. So in 10 years, I want to exceed the expectations that I have for myself. I want to blow the roof off of my own ceiling and be at a level I never imagined. I’m not sure what that looks like exactly, but I’m gonna do my damn best to get there.