The Homegirl Project chatted with Jazmine Hughes about being the only Black woman in the room, making her name in the media industry, and her hopes for the future.
interview by Malavika Kannan
MK: Who is Jazmine Hughes? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JH: I’m Jazmine. I’m 26 years old, and I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I’m an editor at the New York Times. I’m originally from New Haven, CT, and I have four younger sisters. MK: What accomplishments in your life are you most proud of?
JH: Graduating from college, getting my job, moving to New York on my own.
MK: What was it like to make it as a black woman in a media industry dominated by white men?
JH: Well I don’t think I’ve made it! But I have landed — through a combination of luck, hard work and being in the right place at the right time — a challenging, rewarding, life-changing job. And yes, I was scared to start at my job — but when I arrived, I was thrilled to see how many other people who looked like me. Seeing the people who came ahead of me at the NYT was reassuring.
MK: When you started your career at New York Magazine, you were one of two black employees. How did you end up in that role, and what was it like?
JH: I interned at New York magazine when I was in college, and got hired right after. I love New York magazine. It’s genius. But I felt very alienated there; I wanted a far more social office. And the office was relatively small, so for a while, I think I was the only black person — which was disheartening! But you truck on, and stay strong, and things change.
MK: Today, we're seeing more women of color using the media to amplify their voices, from #BLM to the #MeToo movement. As a woman working in the media industry, how has this impacted you? JH: I love how social media has democratized attention — if you have something to say, you have a platform on which to say it. I’m incredibly inspired by the hashtag movements, and am grateful for the communities that they’ve built.
MK: What advice would you give young aspiring writers & journalists of color? JH: Find your person who helps you navigate the difficulties of this industry that are magnified by being a POC, who understands you and where you’re coming from.
MK: The key theme of The Homegirl Project is "female empowerment." How does this issue impact your own life? JH: Female empowerment is two-fold — within you and outside of you! Surround yourself with strong people, who you will learn from and model yourself after, and challenge yourself to rise to the occasion. Women, especially black women, are constantly devalued and it’s easy to give into that grief — and you should, from time to time, because it’s real and it’s hard. But don’t linger in it.
MK: What is one issue that you want to change about the world? JH: I want to improve news literacy! I want people to be able to ascertain real, trustworthy news sources (and, of course, I want newsrooms to continue to build public trust) and not fall prey to dangerous, inaccurate and harmful information. I hope that it is taught in every school.