Racialized Calgary, Media Holds Panel Discussion | Catch My Job


She may not do it often, but when Opemipo Oloyabi watches the nightly news or entertainment media, she doesn’t see enough people who look like her.

The diverse voices and perspectives the 17-year-old Calgarian is looking for aren’t easily found on traditional television channels, and that’s a problem, she says.

“I don’t see myself in the media, or anyone who looks like me, or anyone who has the same background as me. It’s just not there,” Oloyabi said.

“That’s probably why I don’t really watch the news.”

Oloyabi’s comments came Monday at City Hall as part of a panel discussion between reporters and high school and college students in racial communities.

It was part of the city’s ongoing anti-racism drive since the council’s 2020 decision.

“I want to see a celebration of uniqueness and humanity — a celebration of cultures and the beauty within those cultures,” said Darren Rea, 23, during a discussion about the stories the media is covering both locally and nationally.

Rea says that reporting on events, parades and rallies that include all of Calgary’s communities would go a long way toward making strides toward a more representative media landscape in the city.

“It’s about making it more accessible and also looking towards finding young people instead of young people always trying to look for opportunities like this,” says Melat Gebreha, who was the youngest member of the commission at 16 years old.

Dr. Linda Kongnetiman, who leads Calgary’s anti-racism program, says the capital work being done at city hall is the first of many steps in building an anti-racist city.

Part of that, she says, is a better understanding of the wording and description of stories involving racial groups, both in the media and in the general public.

“We all know that representation is important, and that the narratives and stories we create and build have a lasting impact,” Kongnetiman said.

“The specific language that we use when reporting on our racial youth, we just have to be a little more careful about that so that we don’t sell false truths,” said Jedidiah Akinloye, an 18-year-old currently attending the University of Calgary.

Calgary’s anti-racism work also includes a committee that is supposed to meet once a month.

The city also provided $600,000 in one-time funding to groups promoting peer and cultural workshops.


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