This IS the Job
I started this site because I saw- and felt- the need for diverse perspective in the greater Seattle area. Let’s face it, news media is Euro-centric and more often than not, what goes on in the lives and communities of people of color- Black people in particular- has little value to mainstream media. What is written often consists of stereotypes and broad strokes- no details, no individuality, just gangs, drugs, violence, school drop outs, teen parents- you know this as well as I do.
The gift that I didn’t necessarily expect when I dedicated myself to being a writer, was that many of you rely on me. You trust my perspective. You can balance my acerbic, sometimes biting wit with the facts that I present to get a picture that is unique as much as it is true.
On top of that, has been the expectation that I tell the hardest stories in the greater Seattle area- that I honor the truth, that I don’t try and pigeon hole things to make my job easier.
Because this isn’t easy. And no, I don’t get paid for it- not monetarily that is.
Writing the tribute to the life of Tyrone Love was one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had. First of all, I was asked to do it, which adds pressure. Second of all, to be tasked with “summing up” the life (and death) of a person…that’s a huge task. I spoke with his friends and business partners, his girlfriend, his sister and his mother to create a piece that I can honestly say I am proud of.
Looking family members in the eye, in the wake of such horrific and senseless tragedy is a unique and powerful experience. So much is communicated in a glance. Beyond all the questions I asked and the answers I received, just being in the presence of his loved ones profoundly impacted me, and still does to this day.
A few in my tight circle know how much it has impacted me, because I was constantly reaching out to them for an ear, for support, for healing energy, for strength. I cried after every interview with a Love family member. I cried for 4 hours- 4 hours, after I interviewed his girlfriend. She didn’t hide anything, she didn’t try and pretty stuff up, she wasn’t worried about being judged (I’m so thankful for that) she just told her truth, she told the beautiful story of their love and the kind of man he was to her, to his mother and sisters. I couldn’t get to the car fast enough. I couldn’t dial the number to my love fast enough. Once the flood gates opened, I couldn’t stop.
I was devastated for this family. I was angry that such a wonderful young man, who had such a positive impact on OUR community- was shot to death. Gone.
It sucked everything out of me.
Now, some would be judgmental and say “you’re a journalist, you need to put emotions aside and be objective!”
To them, I say, “I am not a journalist. I am a writer.”
I fact check. I try and be fair and balanced. But I do not believe I do the written word any justice by trying to minimize emotion. I truly believe if we connect to the experiences of others, we make life and community better.
For weeks I’ve had people suggest that I write about Aaron Sullivan. For those of you who are not familiar with the name, Aaron, at just 18, was gunned down in Leschi, shot in the back of the head with a military grade rifle the evening of July22nd.
I’m ashamed to say that I avoided it. Not because I didn’t think him worthy, but because I knew that it wouldn’t be easy- not just emotionally, but logistically; there are witnesses to interview, family to talk to, research to be done, and so on. It takes time. It’s not something that can be done in just a few hours.
I didn’t really want to jump back into that- until I got a call from a personal friend telling me basically “you have to write it”.
I called Aaron’s mother and to my surprise, she was receptive. I’d expected that she wouldn’t want to talk to me at all- of course she would have been well within her right to do so- after all, she is carrying a burden most of you can’t even begin to understand.
I met with Debra Sullivan today in her home in south Seattle. One thing became clear fairly quickly. Despite the few stories in the PI and the Times…the story of the life and death of her son has not been told. There are details I found shocking, and infuriating. It’s going to take some time to gather all of the pieces. It’s going to take a lot of work.
But this is the job. This is it.
I’ve written this post to ask you to just be patient with me. I know many of you like coming to the site regularly to read up on whatever I’ve written, but that is going to slow a bit. I get your tweets and DM’s and fb inbox notes and emails asking me “wassup with the site, when you gonna write something new?” It’s humbling to know that so many of you love the site like that- that you appreciate my voice.
Aaron’s story needs to be told. The details of his murder and how it has been handled by the media, SPD and the Prosecutor’s office absolutely must be told.
When it is, it’ll be on you to do something about it.
Peace and Blessings,