As a Vietnamese American raised in Minnesota, Tiffany Bui felt her cultural identity was left out of the media entirely.
“I come from a different background, in which people live (differently), eat different foods and speak a different language,” she said.
This difference has led Bui to become more empathetic to those denied entry into majority white spaces. Bui understands what it’s like to be dismissed and misrepresented.
Bui, a University of Minnesota student, has worked in journalism for four years. Bui spent her time in newsrooms as an intern, as well as a managing editor, confronting the lack of diversity in her workplace and in the stories her colleagues reported.
Now she is a radio reporter at Racial Reckoning: The Arc of Justice. According to its website, Racial Reckoning is a journalism initiative covering the court trials of the former Minneapolis police officers who were charged in connection with the murder of George Floyd, as well as the community’s response and the changes needed to create a more just society.
At Racial Reckoning, Bui does not have to push for a wide range of perspectives — her story assignments align with her purpose to highlight diverse narratives.
“There’s no way to tell the truth fully and accurately without including the voice of people of color,” Bui said.
During the last year, Bui has reported on the Derek Chauvin trial and social unrest, all amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of her most recent reporting focused on the death of Leneal Fraizer, Darnella Frazier’s uncle. Darnella Frazier is the teen who recorded Floyd’s death on her cellphone.
While pursuing a robbery suspect in July, a Minneapolis police officer crashed into Leneal Fraizer’s car at an intersection, killing him.
While covering Fraizer’s death, Bui didn’t pull out her microphone to record or videotape the family. Instead, she listened to Fraizer’s cousin as he mourned and spoke to broadcasters.
In those moments, Bui felt his pain didn’t need to be documented. He needed to be seen and felt.
“As a journalist, you’re there to bear witness and tell the story,” she said. “I never learned what to do when there is grief unfolding in real time.”
As Bui covers these stories, she said she’s empathetic to the raw emotions of the families and communities she’s reporting on — a skill she’s developed on her own.
Due to Bui’s lack of representation growing up, she strives to highlight voices of color daily. To Bui, narratives of people of color go far beyond being a part of a singular news story. “Diverse narratives,” she said, “are a fundamental part of journalism.”
When asked what she wants listeners of Racial Reckoning to get out of its stories, Bui said, “I hope the stories are more relatable and applicable to their lives … and those (stories] are told in ways that are more humanizing than they would usually see in mainstream media.”
By Kennedy Rance, 360 Journalism