“Sidekicked and Then Some,” My Thoughts on My Experience with the Seattle TImes
The day of the release party for my band The Flavr Blue‘s new EP, the Seattle Times ran a story, written by Jake Uitti, about our EP and our journey as a band. The article was nuanced, thoughtful, and respectful. What was not was the way they shaped their headline for the piece — Warmth and Intimacy from The Flavr Blue, with Macklemore Sidekick Hollis Wong-Wear — but further, the way they corresponded with me after I articulated my frustration with the headline on social media.
I wrote a piece about my experience, with block-quotes of the e-mails I received, and my thoughts on what genuine accountability looks like versus a rote apology. You can read it here: Sidekicked and Then Some: A Call for Journalistic Accountability.
A couple of notes that I want to convey: first, I used the quotes from, but not the names of, the editors who e-mailed me, on purpose. I don’t imagine their names will stay anonymous, and I sent them both an e-mail after I published this piece to give them a head’s up. I do not want the reaction of this piece to focus on their individual failings — this was a structural experience, and placing any blame or condemnation only on their words or approach belies the reality of the pervasive institutional culture. The whole of the Seattle Times should be critically interrogated; the two editors were the messengers. Simply put, making any changes or accountability that affected them specifically would be another form of institutional short-sightedness, a quick fix, and not a substantial response to address the issue at hand.
Secondly, one thing I decided to give myself on this process was time. It was difficult to undo the sense of urgency where I felt I had to spit out a witty, insightful retort, in order to stay floating at the top of the news current. I think that’s how a lot of these defensive habits form, with that sense of urgency, when really what’s needed is time, space, conversation and reflection in order to best process what happened and what needs to change.
I do want to give a shout-out to my consortium of thinkers, who edited, strategized, and deftly supported me throughout this process: My Tam Nguyen, Kizha Davidson, Davida Ingram, Ijeoma Oluo, Sabrina Roach, Jonathan Cunningham, Larry Mizell, Jr., Madeleine Clifford, Dalia Yedidia, Jess Estrada, Rahwa Habte, Andrew Matson, Grace Kelly, Terri Hiroshima, and Jeff Lawrence. I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors as well who initially encouraged me to respond in this way. This wouldn’t have been possible without them.