A more diverse Daily
Today, I had the honor of receiving the Wendy Owen Scholarship from The Michigan Daily. This particular scholarship is given to freshmen, sophomores and juniors at The Daily who have constructively contributed to the paper. It was created in memorial of Wendy Owen, a Daily staff member from 1949 to 1951. As one of the few freshmen at the Scholarship Celebration, as well as one of the only students of color, it was really empowering to receive a Daily scholarship.
The whole celebration was extremely moving — listening to various Michigan Daily alumni and donors speak upon their experiences, memories and lessons learned at the newspaper. It was also really inspiring to see all of my peers who also received scholarships and to hear about all of the amazing things they’ve done at The Daily and the ways they’ve managed to keep journalism in their lives despite their various other academic endeavors.
The whole time I was at the celebration, though, the one thing that kept occurring to me was how little representation of people of color there was. Throughout my semester at The Daily, I was quickly able to observe how little racial diversity there was outside Michigan in Color. Though it was disheartening at first, I was able to forget about it because of the strong and supportive community I adopted through Michigan in Color.
But when I was at the Scholarship Celebration, I was able to see not only is the current makeup of The Daily largely white, but also was the makeup of previous Daily staffs — it was even more so than it is today. Almost all of the donors and alumni who came to speak were white, which made me realize even though The Daily has made positive steps in becoming a more diverse work environment as well as newspaper, it still has a long way to go. In The Michigan Daily, I often feel as if MiC is thought as a solution to the newspaper’s lack of diversity, but it’s more of just a bandage to cover up a bigger problem.
In an ideal world, The Daily shouldn’t need a “people of color” section. The Daily would be diverse enough that people of color could feel heard without having to look to only one section. I know that making The Daily I want to see will take baby steps, but I’m just hoping that someday The Daily is able to have the Scholarship Celebration and have just as many successful people of color alumni as there are white people who come back to talk about their experiences at The Daily and how they were able to take those experiences into the world.