By Pleshette Robertson, Chief Editor of THE HUB Magazine

At a time of intense debate over the issues of race and civil rights, punctuated by the events in Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island; Baltimore;Texas and other areas of the nation – the sting of race relations and misunderstanding was punctuated when a caricature image of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was published in Sacramento News & Review (SN&R) on July 9th. The image lampooning Mayor Johnson as sweaty and nervous while reading about his lawsuit against this paper and allegations of email misuse was defended by SN&R as an “illustration based on an actual photo”.

After picking up the 7.23.15 issue of SN&R, I was excited to see the Editor’s Note on “Race issues everywhere” on page 3.  I appreciate the response taken by Co-Editors, Nick Miller and Rachel Leibrock on the issues theNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had with the SN&R’s recent minstrel cartoon illustrations of Mayor Kevin Johnson (see above).

I attended the special meeting held on Mon-7/20 by the NAACP where both Nick and Rachel came to hear our issues and address our questions.  I was quite surprised to learn that SN&R only had 1 African American staff member out of 50 and 1 African American staff writer. This to me is a complete travesty as this totally impacts the news to be reflected in the weekly paper that is distributed in a city named in 2002 by TIME magazine labeling Sacramento asAmerica’s Most Diverse City.

There are so many untold stories that have gone unnoticed for hundreds of years that have just come out about the rich culture of African American history.  One question asked by an individual at the NAACP meeting was, “Do you all know about Black Wallstreet?” and Nick Miller responded, “No, I’m not familiar with that, why don’t you explain it to me.”

This is why we must have more representation of African Americans in the workplace as decision makers and journalists at SN&R.  There also needs to be culture competency and culture sensitivity workshops for the staff of SN&R as well.

Although free speech is significant in the journalism world it is also so important that in moving forward there is inclusion and diversity. Decision makers need a greater level of understanding and awareness of the consequences to the communities they touch.

I was extremely glad to see that SN&R will be implementing a new Diversity Internship Program. It will be important for SN&R to consider placing emphasis on placing recruitment ads in appropriate areas to attract qualified African American students. 

I strongly recommend SN&R consider hiring at least 5 African American staff members and writers.  The SN&R building is located in the heart of Del Paso heights, a highly populated community of African Americans and needs to consider employing individuals from the community (and nearby communities within the Greater Sacramento Valley Region) in which it serves.

Pleshette Robertson is the Founder/CEO of, Executive Director of the Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation and owner of PR & Associates Business Resources.

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