Last week the Austin Business Journal ran a story asking six of “the most impressive young Austinites” about the secrets to their success, and not a single one of them were people of color. Only one was a woman.
I was taken aback by ABJ’s decision to offer such a homogenous list, especially considering the recent trend to call out for more diversity in the media – in journalism and reporting, in Hollywood (#oscarsowhite) and at social media companies (Twitter).
When I reached out on Twitter to the Austin Business Journal, they admitted the omission and responded with “@MyABJ: We had the same concerns when we made the Iist. Any suggestions for possible future lists?“
Of course there are dozens of high-achieving millennials of color who would happily share the secrets of their success. And because it’s my business to connect them to each other and to my clients, I have an extensive list of names. But before I provide a list to Austin Business Journal, I want to be clear on why it’s important to include talented people of color on these types of lists in the first place.
On higher standards
I called the ABJ out not to shame them but to hold them accountable to higher journalistic standards. Lists of “impressive” young professionals should reflect the demographics of those impressive young professionals, and surely the makeup of impressive young professionals in Austin is not 100 percent white. Nor is it just 16 percent women.
On Austin’s diversity
In fact, whites make up less than 50 percent of Austin’s population. To report on young professionals and not include people of color is to report on just 50 percent of the population. A scan of any of Austin’s chambers for African-Americans, Hispanics, or Asian Americans would reveal some superstars, for starters. Many of our region’s largest industries have professional groups based on race or ethnicity. In fact, it is not more difficult to find impressive people of color than it is to perform a simple Google search.
Reflecting our community
The Austin Business Journal should not have concerns that there are no impressive young professionals of color. That’s simply not the issue. It should have concerns that it published a half-baked list that does not reflect the true depth of talent in our community. The media – and even local media – have a responsibility to the general public to tell a complete story that reflects the true nature of the community. If the Austin Business Journal claims to cover all of Austin’s business community, then it needs to consider whether it has the resources, skills and talent itself to do so.
Austin is more diverse than ever, and our media needs to keep up to stay relevant. That’s why I urge ABJ and other local media organizations to reach a little further, beyond their own circles, to discover more of the people contributing to what makes Austin great. It’s time for us to hear new voices and new ideas, especially if we have plans to keep pace with bigger cities.
So to get the ABJ started, here’s a list of a few people of color that are doing amazing things! And this is just the beginning….
- Virginia Cumberbatch – Co-founder of HUX Brand – @vacumberbatch
- Joah Spearman – Co-founder & CEO of Localeur – @joahspearman
- Tony Aguilar – Co-founder/CEO of Student Loan Genius – @TonyAguilar
- Yvette Ruiz – Vice President, Community Relations Manager for the Office of Nonprofit Engagement at JP Morgan Chase – @YvetteEden
- Llyas Salahud-Din – Director of Major Gifts at LifeWorks – IG: illy_salahuddin
- Mokshika Sharma – CEO/Co-founder of Tastegraphy & Thisistasty – @mokshika_sharma
- Paulina Artieda – Creative Strategist at Mercury Mambo and Mando Rayo + Collective – @inspiredP
With this list, I hope to spark change at the ABJ. I’ll be following up, not just on this list but a conversation and how the ABJ can do better for all of Austin.
Mando Rayo & Monica Williams, Co-founders of The New Philanthropists