Farewell column: A letter to the staff of color

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Reporter

I entered The Appalachian newsroom in 2019 as an eager and overachieving freshman who made my then boyfriend come with me and act like he was interested because I was nervous. I’m now leaving with too many clips to count, lifelong friendships and two pages of a resume.

I also entered The Appalachian newsroom as a Latina from a hardworking family who taught me to go after what I wanted. I understood there was an unequal opportunity where I came from and that there would always be for people like me. 

I knew that I had to work five times as hard to reach the places and positions white students were already at. I was the person who showed up to anchor auditions in a freshly dorm-room-ironed dress, my high school homecoming heels and bone-straight heated hair with a printed resume in hand. After sitting on the sidelines for a few weeks, ultimately, that’s what got me the permanent job anchoring The Appalachian Weekly News as their first pick the day someone got sick. And only in my first semester.

That’s also why I’m graduating early. There’s something to be said for the overachieving mindset of those who have to start from ground zero and make something of themselves. I always felt like I was in a position where I had no time to waste, for better or for worse.

To my people of color, to my fellow members of the Latinx community, to my Boricua’s: there aren’t always going to be people rooting for you in the beginning, or ever, maybe, until you do something they can benefit from.

To my journalists of color and to my Latinx journalists, don’t let anyone stop you from telling the stories you grew up living in. You have the ability to turn this newsroom around, and I hate that we feel like it’s our responsibility to do so.

We already know what’s highly expected of us compared to others, but set your own standards for how you want to live your life. I completely understand the pressure you feel of having to bring home an accolade or announcement to impress our hard-to-please families. But the only person you need to be better for is the person you were yesterday.