Former WCPO-TV reporter Jasmine Minor sits on a stool reading powerful letters from Black reporters, photographers, producers and managers.
One is from a woman who has "nightmares about being shot every night." Another is from a weatherman who was "reporting in a white neighborhood and neighbors called the cops on me for knocking on my interviewee's door." His photographer, also a Black male, started crying, repeatedly saying, "This is how we die."
Minor, who left Channel 9 last week after almost three years, filmed the video for her new Everything We Can't Say website. It's a video, blog and podcast platform "to give people of color a voice," Minor says on her Facebook page.
People are invited to submit a first-person anonymous letter through the website about their experiences "so the public can hear the very real, raw and unfiltered perspective of what doesn't make the front page." She wants to start a national conversation "so that there can be change for the better," Minor writes on her blog.
"We realize there is a lot going on in the world right now, from police brutality cases to Black Lives Matter protests, and we've also heard a lot, but there's one group we really haven't heard from just yet – and that's us. So we created Everything We Can't Say, which is a safe platform for Black journalists to share what they've heard behind the scenes," says Minor, project manager and moderator, in the introductory video.
Minor, who has a master's degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University, says the project was inspired by a Channel 9 meeting last summer after George Floyd's death. When an assignment prevented her from attending a regular meeting of the station's committee on diversity and inclusion, she wrote a letter to the group, according to her blog. (Minor declined to comment for this story.)
"It was an empowering moment and a chance to get things off my chest in a safe place where I was supported," she writes. "I realized, though, not every Black journalist has that kind of opportunity. And that was the birth of Everything We Can't Say."
In her letter to the committee last year, Minor revealed that she had been called the N-word every year since first grade. She also has "been physically assaulted three times in my life for my skin color. I still have scars from when it happened, both physically and mentally. At my last station (in Fort Myers), I was attacked by four white men ... Two of them eventually were arrested for battery before later being released … Years later a similar incident happened again in the field. I spent the next day throwing up in the bathroom.”
Her second episode, "The Game Is Rigged," is a conversation with Jason Reid, the former Washington Post sports columnist who is ESPN's senior NFL writer at The Undefeated, which explores "the intersections of race, sports and culture."
The episode opens with an anonymous letter from a Black sports journalist who watched the NFL combine (where college football players demonstrate their physical skills for scouts and coaches) with mostly white coworkers at "one of the largest sports outlets in the world." He writes that after one Black athlete's impressive run, a white producer yelled, "It will come in handy when he's running from the police."
Reid notes that most sports producers, editors and story gatekeepers are white. So Minor asks Reid if former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick – who hasn't played in the NFL since kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season – "would still have a job" if there were more Black journalists making decisions on sports coverage.
"I don't think he'd still have a job, because overwhelmingly the owners didn’t want him to have a job. I think that's clear," Reid says. "But if we had … more Black journalists, we could have explained the story better. We need more of us in these rooms to frame not just what's going on, but to also frame why it's going on, and that's often missed."
Minor notes that she often hears from Black journalists who say, "Why is it always on my shoulders to explain, to articulate, to come up with these kinds of ideas, and to reach out to communities that are not white? How much expectation and responsibility do we need to start putting on our white journalists to be able to tell these stories the right way, and articulate it?"
She closes "The Game Is Rigged" video by inviting everyone to participate in "Everything We Can't Say."
"Even if you're not a Black journalist, we want everyone to be part of this conversation. If doesn't matter if you're in the news or out of the news, in sports or out of sports, whether you're a viewer, whether you're Latina, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, white even. We want you to be part of these conversations."
Everything We Can't Say "is meant to support Black journalists and give the public a transparent look into not only our perspective, but the reasons why certain stories are told and how they are told," she says on her blog. "The hope is by sharing our experiences, we, and the rest of the world, get to start new conversations. So that there can be change for the better."