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CBS4 Black Journalists Share Experiences With Racism, Covering BLM Demonstrations

DENVER (CBS4)- Much of the nation is discovering the shadow of racism that has been glaring for many Black people throughout their lives. Some of the Black journalists at CBS4 shared their thoughts about covering recent incidents of racism, as well as their own personal experiences with discrimination. They talked with CBS4's Britt Moreno about being Black both in and out of the newsroom. Thank you for sharing.

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Five CBS4 coworkers accustomed to reporting facts about others reveal their truth, including producer Joshua Thicklin who shares the troubling reality that even as a professional, he faces racism.

"No matter how far I've gone, it sticks, where the stigma of your Blackness makes people uncomfortable," said Thicklin.

Reporter Mekialaya White who was once abruptly interrupted while reporting on a story by a passerby who shouted, "I hate Black people" tries to explain the emptiness she feels when she experiences racism.

"To know people have hatred they harbor just because of what I look like. It's hard to stomach," said White.

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Former college football player Justin Adams admits after he retired from his sports career, he constantly fielded questions from white peers who thought he had only made it to college because of what plays he executed on the football field rather than what he did in the classroom.

"Is my only value what I do athletically and not what I do with my brain?" he would ask himself as a young man trying to study hard and make something of himself as a journalist.

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Reporter Tori Mason's first brush with racism happened when she was in kindergarten. She was with her mom and they were toting a computer over to her grandmother's house who lived down the street.

"A police officer pulls up next to us," Mason remembers, "and demands that we show proof that this is our computer. I knew I was Black, I didn't realize that not everyone was ok with that."

And morning newscast executive producer Gabrielle Cox explains she learned certain behaviors as a little girl.
"My mom would take me through the store. She taught me how to shop. She would say, 'Don't stay too long in the aisle. Don't pick something up unless you're going to buy it. Don't keep your hands in your pocket,'" said Cox.

They have shouldered the weight of racism throughout their lives and even while on the job. It must be an unnerving feeling when your skin color because the very story on which you are reporting. This past summer people galvanized like never before. "Black Lives Matter" demonstrators walked the streets of cities nationwide including Denver and as the miles added up, so did their internal frustrations.

"Covering it was hard, harder than COVID and the pandemic because it was so personal. Also, I was so frustrated with so many other deaths and killings of Black men in particular. It was exhausting. It was hard to watch and report and go home and sit in your reality and realize you're not treated the same," said Cox.

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"It was kind of awkward... and BLM got so political but when you're doing a story on this and you're Black, it's hard to hide how you feel about that. I was out covering the protests in June and a white guy stopped me and said, 'Why aren't you marching?'" said Mason.

Adams, White, Thicklin, Cox and Mason say it will take change to move forward toward a better more united America. They rely on community and their faith and they know their value as people, journalists and as parents.

As Adams points out, "It took me 34 years of my life for me to understand the Black skin I have is beautiful and unique and my son will know that at a young age."

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