Sheila Raghavendran


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Asma Khalid

The first time I read Asma Khalid’s reporter’s notebook from the 2016 election, I was struck by the authenticity. My sister had sent it to me over Facebook the day it was published. My sister and I, like Khalid, are brown girls from the Midwest. Khalid, a Muslim, wrote candidly — in the first paragraph, she says that she cried multiple times during the campaign season because of the derogatory comments she received.

I felt for Khalid while reading her essay, and came away from it with a new perception of journalism. We’re often taught objectivity — separating our personal identity from our reporter identity. But rarely is it mentioned that identities cannot be separated; they can, however, enhance each other. We can’t ignore inherent biases — but we can keep them in check in order to tell fair stories. Khalid exemplified this on the campaign trail. She used her Indiana upbringing to relate to small-town, working-class, white voters who looked at her, and her hijab, and struggled to trust.

I was curious to know more about the relationship between person and journalist that every reporter has to balance. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Khalid a few weeks ago, and I asked her about it. Listen to our conversation below: