‘See me in my totality:’ Day copy editor Robin Watson responds to reader – theday.com

Thank you for reading the headline of Karen Florin’s column (“Editing while Black: Robin Watson joins The Day newsroom team,” Sept. 18). There are several aspects of your comment that I would like to address here.

First, Dr. King’s dream is alive and kicking today, but we have not yet reached our goal in this country of embracing diversity and cultural differences. Our reality is that we live in a country whose fabric is intricately woven with systemic racism, and this needs repair ASAP. I believe we are making progress and need to stay forever vigilant and proactive in the defense of our democracy in the United States.

I agree with you that The Day does see people by the color of their skin, however I wasn’t hired by The Day to be a token in their newsroom. I was hired to fill a void in its copy desk. I had to take copyediting and proofreading tests as part of the interview process to join The Day. John Ruddy, my new boss and copy desk chief, told me that he “was blown away” by my proofing ability. The color of my skin is really a bonus for The Day.

I also asked to have a column written about me. No one is exhibiting me to the public. I wanted everyone to know that I am here. And not for The Day’s benefit but to inspire dialogue and relationships between the newspaper and communities in its readership that may feel excluded from The Day’s coverage.

As far as the online headline goes, remember I’m a copy editor and I’m the copy editor of the section of the newspaper that that column appears in every Saturday. Karen, the writer of the column and the headline, asked me for my approval of both. I told her that I thought that headline was bold, but accurate. As a Black woman, I do everything while Black. So I kept it for the website, and if you had bought a print version of the newspaper, you would have noticed it that I changed it. I didn’t feel comfortable having that headline immortalized in print in the archives. Really, people, buy the print version of The Day so you can really see what I can do.

Also, I disagree that a “good litmus test for these kinds of things” would be to change the headline by swapping out Black for white because I don’t see that as weird or racist. I would actually like to read that column. I would imagine that column would be about how a white editor’s worldview and conscious and unconscious biases affects their choices while editing. And that’s a discussion I welcome.

Lastly, I don’t want The Day to look past my color. I want them to bask and luxuriate in its glory. I want them to see me, the real me for me. And dismissing my color or my gender or any other part of my identity would be a downright shame. I am Black, I am biracial, I am incredibly smart, funny, gorgeous and strong. These are not separate entities. And I am a highly educated and trained copy editor by profession. The goal is not to be color blind in order to recognize how talented I am but to actually see me in my totality and to learn to appreciate the meaning, history, cultural context and beauty that goes along with the color of my skin.

And in conclusion, go buy a newspaper.

Robin Watson