By Ala’a Ibrahim
UNITY 2017 Reporting Fellow

Being a journalist of color can be pretty lonely.

Newsrooms are not typically diverse places, which means there are fewer role models in the industry for minorities.

If you’re a child of immigrants, there’s also this underlying fear of failure. Your parents left their countries and sacrificed everything so you can live a better life. A better life usually means becoming a doctor, engineer or lawyer. That’s a lot of pressure, especially if you have no interest in any of those professions.

At the Asian American Journalists Convention, I found a community of other first-generation Americans who had similar stories. Their families just didn’t understand this “journalism thing”.

But like me, they continued to pursue it, and that was both comforting and motivating.

I was surrounded by professionals with unwavering levels of passion, energy and work-ethic. I left Philadelphia feeling nothing but inspired. I was inspired not only in terms of my personal career, but also to re-define success in the immigrant community.

Success doesn’t always equal a career in STEM or a high salary. Let’s remove these standards, and push others to follow their passions, rather than follow the money.

During the convention, I had lunch with a group of young women whose careers in media weren’t taken seriously by their families. We finally came to a consensus: we get where our
families are coming from. They want us to have stability, something our industry struggles with right now.

Still, it is important to be asking ourselves who is going to be there to tell our community’s stories if not us. Who’s going to make sure our voices at heard? Nobody but ourselves.

Ala'a Ibrahim portrait

Ala’a Ibrahim

Ibrahim, who is studying multimedia journalism and business at the University of Texas at Austin, is UNITY’s 2017 Reporting Fellow.

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