When Attiyya Toure looked up from her notes and scanned her classroom, she counted only two other African-American students in her journalism class, a fact that almost led her to quit her major.
The Ohio State chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists was brought to campus this semester, after Toure, president and co-founder of NABJ-OSU, noticed a lack of minorities in her journalism classes. She hadn’t noticed the low numbers in previous semesters because her schedule was dominated by general education courses — which are typically packed with diverse students, she said.
Toure said the smaller journalism classes furthered her feeling of isolation in the program.
“Being in a smaller class, and just being aware of my race like that, really made me feel uncomfortable,” Toure, a third-year in journalism and public affairs, said. “That coupled with the fact that journalism is not an easy program.”
Akayla Gardner, a second-year in journalism and the club’s secretary, said she had made the same observation.
“Just going off the already small population of black students at Ohio State, I definitely saw that was reflected in the journalism program,” Gardner said. “I probably know every black person in the journalism program, but I’m meeting new ones all the time, which is exciting.”
Toure’s professor, Nicole Kraft, was the one that initially encouraged and presented the prospect of starting up a student-led organization that would provide crucial support and unite black journalists on campus.
“The thing about this chapter is that it just makes sense,” Gardner said. “It’s a huge organization, and I think a lot of people can benefit with a membership from it. There’s internship opportunities, fellowships and job opportunities here.”
Toure realized establishing an Ohio State Chapter was the very initiative she needed in order to stay supported in the journalism program.
“It really does make a difference when you’re supported by people who identify with you racially, and who can understand the experiences you’re going through,” Toure said. “When we celebrate what sets us apart, it can change the entire dynamic of the experience you’re having.”
The School of Communication’s diversity and inclusion committee was looking for ways to improve, and NABJ-OSU answered that call, she said. The club continues to grow with both black and non-black supporters, Toure said.
“Even though we’re NABJ, we’re really here to support diversity in the newsroom and diversity in media professions because it’s important to tell a story,” she said. “There’s multiple ways to interact with people and get the story done.”
Besides hosting discussions, guest speakers and panels, in an effort to further the understanding of the black experience campus-wide, the club started its own student-run magazine: “Black x Bold,” which is designed to uplift the black culture and amplify silenced voices, Toure said.
The first article is expected to be published next week, Gardner said.
“In addition to making this a network, it’s also a community and I really wanted to have that sense of family and coming together and being able to talk freely amongst each other about the experiences we have, not just in the journalism program, but across the campus,” Toure said.
NABJ-OSU can be found on Twitter @nabjosu and updates on the Black x Bold Magazine can be found on Instagram @blackxboldmag.