Imara Jones, Founder and CEO of Translash Media, was awarded the Journalist of Distinction Award at the 2022 National Association of Black Journalists Salute To Excellence Awards Gala. Imara is the first ever (known) trans person to receive this award. The event was hosted by Errol Barnett and Jericka Duncan, Correspondents at CBS News. Below is the transcript from Imara’s portion of the ceremony.
Jericka Duncan: And now to a journalist who is working to right a historic wrong by helping to make those who are unseen seen. Often invisible to society at large, members of the Black trans community have been subjected to violence that is both physical and political.
Errol Barnett: But for almost two decades, Imara Jones has been working to change that reality which really must change creating content across various platforms that really is as extraordinary in its depth and its scope as well as its significance. That’s why we are proud to welcome to the stage Imara Jones, the creator of TransLash Media, as NABJ’s 2022 Journalist Of Distinction.
Imara Jones: Thank you all so much for this surprising and wonderful honor. I know that I would not be up here if it were not for the long and the tireless fight of many people who are LGBTQ at NABJ over many decades for inclusion and for allies to believe in our place and our voice. And so I want to thank those people who we know and who we don’t know who made it possible for me to be here tonight.
Imara Jones: I also just wanted to say really quickly that I think that we all know and feel in our hearts that this is a particularly perilous time for Black people in this country—perhaps one of the most perilous times that anyone in this room can remember. And I often think about the fact that it’s not the first time that we’ve been here, and that one of the ways that we have continued to make it is through the power of our stories, because our stories gave us our humanity when the rest of society would not.
Imara Jones: Our society, our stories, are our guides. Our stories have been our way makers. Our stories have been the way in which we have been grounded. And so, the burden on all of us right now is to do what we know how to do better, stronger, and bolder, and that’s to tell the story of our people. But, in order to be able to do that in a way that is relevant to this moment, is that we have to tell the stories of all of our people. You know, of every one of us. Because one of the things that’s clear is that it’s all of us or it’s none of us.
Imara Jones: And so therefore, in order for our community to move forward we have to know who our community is and that means telling the stories of Black trans people. That’s telling the stories of Afro-Latino people. That’s telling the stories of Back rural people, so that we can all make sure that we can move forward together through the power of our story and through the power of truth and the truth is the light in the dark moment. And so, all of us have to find a way to do that more.
Imara Jones: And, one last thing: as journalists, you know we often tend to think that—we’ve been taught actually—that the way that we deal with the truth is to tell two sides of one story and to walk away. But we know sometimes the truth doesn’t have a side. Sometimes the truth has nine sides. Sometimes the truth takes no side. And our job is to be bold enough and brave enough to go against our training off times, to tell the truth that we know and to trust and believe that the audiences that we serve are smart enough have the courage enough, to judge whether or not in the end we are right or wrong. So I hope that this award will encourage me to continue to tell the stories of our community to tell them truthfully and boldly and I just want to thank you all so much for this surprising and heartfelt honor. Thank you so much.
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