Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Letter From the Editor | Reflecting on a year of pain and challenges

Letter From the Editor | Reflecting on a year of pain and challenges
Courtesy of Tyler Hogan, 1956 Magazine

Back in February, a friend and I decided to do the most random thing we could on a Friday night: attend a live taping of “WWE Smackdown.” It was the first time in nearly a decade either of us even thought about attending a WWE live event. 

But something — maybe the short, 51-minute drive to Legacy Arena in Birmingham —  compelled us to throw on a pair of heels and scamper over to the Feb. 2 taping.

The live taping took place eight days before my 24th birthday, an age that normally doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of adulthood. Many companies still won’t let you rent a car and your frontal lobe is still developing. But for some reason, this birthday felt different.

After my friend and I figured out how to load our tickets onto our phones, we finally made it to the whimsical world that is a WWE live event. For the first time in a while — amid all the madness of everyone trying to get food or to their seats — I felt at peace. 

During the final segment of the night, WWE superstar Cody Rhodes seemingly gave up his earned title match against then-champion Roman Reigns. While I was still processing the shock, I also realized that I’ve never related to a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man with a giant American flag symbol tattooed on his neck more than I did in that moment. It was a visceral reminder of what I’ve been through for the past year. 

Everything that I did, no matter how hard I worked for it, was never enough. 

For nearly four years, I have dedicated countless hours to the Office of Student Media at The University of Alabama. I have methodically risen through the ranks to earn the title of Editor-in-Chief of The Crimson White and was the first Black woman to do so.  

But, if this year has taught me anything, we have a long way to go. 

A large part of Rhodes’ character is “finishing the story.” The story was about winning the WWE championship, something his father, Dusty Rhodes, never did. I latched on to the idea of Cody Rhodes’ story. A journey of believing in yourself and your goals when few others would. 

Having the confidence to bet on yourself comes with a price. Every single thing you say or do is now under a microscope. You can’t slip up, or else people will question your authority. They’ll question your abilities. 

In my case, I didn’t even have the chance to slip up. 

The moment I took control, the standards became exceedingly high simply because I was a Black woman who dared to dream bigger than what people wanted me to dream. 

It started the week after I was named. I was told to remodel my proposals based on someone else’s because they held more “journalistic qualities” than mine. When I asked for clarity, considering that my proposal — full of ideas to increase diversity at the paper — had earned me the position of editor-in-chief, I was told simply to reach out. I even had alums of the paper question if I was letting my staff do their jobs because we were not reporting on unspecified violations that occurred during Homecoming season. 

An article about said violations was published later that day

I have been yelled at, had my ethics questioned, and have been made out to be a terrible leader. A moment that I worked so hard for turned quickly into something I hated to do. 

My story is full of highs, but it is also full of painful scar tissue. Sure, I could have reached out for help more often. But the editor-in-chief isn’t supposed to sweat. She isn’t supposed to be frazzled. 

Even in moments of complete and utter disrespect, I was supposed to smile and move on. I knew this job wasn’t going to be easy, but I wish someone had told me that it was going to be this hard. 

There were several nights where I cried myself to sleep wondering if those doubters were, in fact, right about me. There were times when I stayed back in the newsroom working out plans to help run the newsroom a little smoother. 

There was never a time when I didn’t care about the people working for and with me. I always cared. Some might say I cared too much. 

Eventually, Rhodes did get his title match against Reigns back, and he did finish his story during WrestleMania on April 7 at Lincoln Financial Field. I was also in attendance for a full-circle moment for him and me alike. 

For me, it was finally understanding that people’s perceptions about me, my leadership style and the way I chose to leave my mark on student media at the University don’t define me. 

After night one of WrestleMania, WWE superstar Bianca Belair said something that I believe defines my time at The CW. 

“Representation is not a request. It is a requirement,” Belair said

Ever since former Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Griesbach took a chance on me, I have made it my mission not only to create space at the table for people who look like me, but to fundamentally change the foundation of that table. I carried the very flag that Griesbach did in 2020 to instill long-lasting practices to further reflect diversity. 

I created a diversity statement, I implemented monthly diversity trainings, and I hired a diversity, equity and inclusion chairperson. What was once a newsroom in disarray became a safe, collaborative space for all kinds of people. 

It should be a requirement for everyone within media to create a space for underrepresented people to be seen, heard and have their problems matter. Their stories are not separate or inferior. The future Black students who will come to this campus deserve a newspaper that reflects their life on campus. 

To the ones who never needed a reason to believe in me — my family — thank you for being a source of light in one of the roughest years of my life. I hope to, one day, inspire you the way y’all have inspired me. 

To my friends back home and here at the University, thank you for always reminding me that I can in fact do whatever I sent my mind to. To my favorite group chat on Earth, Pubchair Sports, LLC., thank y’all for being the best industry friends a girl can buy. Thank you for always providing support as we all navigate this media industry. You are all basically family now.

Thank you to the 2023-24 CW staff. It has been an honor to lead every single one of you, and I can’t wait to see each and every one of you blossom. 

To my favorite human on Earth — you know who you are — thank you for loving and appreciating me. You’re the best. 

And, finally, to Cody Rhodes.

Thank you for reminding me that I am simply undeniable.

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