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As we close out the 2020 election, the As The South Votes team reflects on their own political journeys—as journalists, and as active agents of change in democracy.
Editor's note: This election cycle, As The South Votes was Scalawag's answer to traditional horserace election coverage. Each week's reporting—by the three amazing contributors you'll hear from below—was inspired by messages we received from you, our readers.
Throughout this process, we saw that many of your questions didn't come with easy answers. Your concerns, curiosities, and need for ongoing conversation and context amidst the chaos are what fueled our reporting.
But our own identities did too.
At Scalawag, we believe in producing news that is grounded in the experiences of oppressed people. That means working with journalists who are proud to be stakeholders in conversations about the intersections of race, religion, history, and politics. While a recent wave of stories about justice and liberation may have just reached mainstream appeal—we are not new to this. Stories of liberation and mobilization have always been a founding principle of our work, because telling the story of the whole South means knowing justice is not a trend—it has always been an organized vision with a rich and complex history. To close out the 2020 election period, we wanted to share some of our own stories of activation—as journalists, and as agents of change. —Lovey Cooper, Managing Editor
I ran from my church after Trayvon Martin's murder—but not from my religion
"Like most Southern churchgoers, our happiest moments were made around food, and our summer evening trips to the Goodberry's Frozen Custard stand after worship team practice. But on March 5, 2012, everything changed."
To shift the media narrative about the South, we have to rebuild it altogether
The 2020 election solidified the rise of a new power in the South with a clarion call toward justice and equity for all. The emerging values that are centered in direct, year-round organizing also need to be reflected in the way media coverage operates and exists.
'If I asked my family to get rid of a bumper sticker, they would tell me to quit my job.'
Although the conversation of whether journalism is—or should be—"unbiased" is hopefully nearing consensus and extinction, implicit policies of nonvoting in newsrooms can intimidate young, would-be politically active people to keep quiet at the risk of their livelihoods in the media.