Jazmine Hughes on Unapologetic Vulnerability in the Media

Meet the Homegirl: Associate Editor of New York Times

words by Saron Besera and Malavika Kannan

illustration by Abby Estrada

“Do not go where the path may lead, instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

While the quote above was spoken into existence by a white man from the 1800s, it is being revitalized for the modern age by an unapologetic Black woman, Jazmine Hughes--an associate editor for New York Times. Since the start of her career, the 26-year-old writer has been blazing trails and breaking barriers. And she's just getting started.

When Jazmine began working as a fact-checker for New York Magazine, she immediately realized that she was one of only two black employees. (The other was in the mailroom). While that was disheartening, to say the least, she stuck to her path and stayed strong, hoping not only to create her own path, but to carve a path for other black writers who came after her, as well.

Jazmine Hughes did not just wake up as associate editor for the New York Times. Before editing for the 2nd-most circulated newspaper in America, Jazmine worked as a contributing editor for The Hairpin, a blog. She worked towards her job for NYT--she interned there in college, and she was hired immediately after. (She was only 23). From interviewing Charlamagne Tha God to writing about one of her more popular topics, “The Imposter Syndrome,” there is no stopping this New Haven native from setting her goals and reaching them. Her writings about Imposter Syndrome--a common belief among WOC that we're undeserving of our success--have resonated with readers, because in an age where news headlines are dominated with grimness, her take on race and humor is much-needed and refreshing.

Brooklyn Magazine describes Jazmine’s writing for The Hairpin as “immensely, deservedly popular” and Forbes has placed her on their 2018 30 under 30 list for Media: defining and driving the world of news and content.

Not only is Hughes extremely successful, but her success comes at an incredibly young age. She is currently twenty seven years young, but she graduated from Connecticut College at the age of twenty. This May, Hughes received a honorary doctorate in humane letters from Connecticut College, making her the youngest person to be awarded this honor. Although Jazmine has accomplished so much as a black woman in a white-dominated industry, she describes herself as just having "landed." She continues through hard work and dedication to be the change she wishes to see in the media industry, paving a way for those who come after her.

Despite her massive success, perhaps Jazmine's most compelling trait is her vulnerability and humility. In a society which demands that successful WOC work twice as hard as their white male peers and show no fear, her refusal to hide her mistakes, fears, and anxieties is a display of unapologetic strength.

After feeling alienated and frustrated by the experience of being one of two black employees, Jazmine co-founded the group Writers of Color, a solution to the media’s lack of diversity. Writers of Color creates a platform to help writers like Jazmine become more visible in the media industry. The website lists many writers of color, where they reside, and what topics they are interested in writing about. Jazmine and her co-founders saw the lack of diversity in the media industry and gave many writers of color a voice, changing the homogeneity of publications, one writer at a time.

Jazmine has impacted the media industry in many ways, from paving the way for black writers to creating a platform for writers of color to be seen, but she’s not stopping there. She hopes to create a way to improve news literacy in order for people to be able to ascertain real trustworthy news and not fall prey to inaccurate information.

Jazmine Hughes is a woman of many accomplishments and successes both inside and outside of the newsroom. Her successes are not only advantageous to her but benefit and create a path for black women in the media industry as a whole.