Jemele Hill covers the front page of NewsOne
What’s up, doe?
Journalist and proud Detroit native covers inaugural digital coverage in Carefree and beautiful fashion.
Jemele Hill adorns cover page, NewsOne’s new editorial series that recognizes and celebrates changemakers across the country who are making waves in their respective communities. In an exclusive interview with Clarissa Brooks, Hill details her journey from humble beginnings in Detroit to rising to the top of the journalism world, with a thriving podcast network and a new memoir, among other notable projects.
See excerpts from Jemele Hill’s cover page feature below.
On the growing political landscape in Detroit:
So when I was a kid, we had a mayor named Coleman A. Young, and he was the first black mayor in the city. And Coleman Young was a real source of pride for a lot of us because he not only looked and acted like us, but he didn’t change any code either. And he was so deadpan about how he chose to lead in that position that it was very uplifting and inspirational to many of us watching at the time. And Detroit was going through significant challenges with a very high unemployment rate compared to what the rest of the country looked like. It’s a blue-collar town because, of course, it’s a town of car factories. And that breeds a very different mentality, I think, in the people there. Which is why surely no one in Detroit is a stranger to having to work hard, to hustle. It’s just kind of built into our bones.
On who was “showing up for her” in the Detroit community:
Well, like everything, it starts in your home. And my mother was definitely that person, as was my grandmother. And they were two huge influences on me growing up in this city. And most importantly, you know, as a family, we’ve been through a lot of challenges. But they still had expectations and standards. Getting an education was one. And because it was so important to them, it was by extension important to me. So the idea of me going to university was a foregone conclusion. It was never a thought process that I wasn’t going to college. And I’m very grateful because those are the things that they instilled in me outside of that, and that’s something that really amazes me.
I meet people all the time, black people, who say that when they grew up, they didn’t have black teachers. And that was so mind blowing to me because Detroit is Blackity Black-Black-Black. All my teachers were black. And while the idea of, say, Black History Month – we knew what that meant, obviously. But Black History Month wasn’t a big deal because Black History Month was happening eight months outside of the school year (laughs). Because you have black teachers, they understand the importance of black history all the time.
In writing his memoirs:
A memoir is not something I ever intended to write. I didn’t really want to write about myself. Now I want to write fiction. And I had no problem pulling experiences and turning them into, you know, fictional content. But writing about real life events and things that happened to me didn’t sit well with me. And when the book deal finally came around, I’m not the kind of person who does things by halves. And I knew that if I really wanted to engage with this memoir, and I really wanted it to resonate with people, I had to be as open and honest and transparent as possible.
It also gave me the opportunity for people to understand the perspective I have and what shaped me. And I knew that people would most likely be surprised by a lot of childhood trauma that I had. How I was able to kind of build my career and what my journey was like. I know that’s not what they thought (laughs), you know? So for me, when I started this process, it was a process that was liberating. And it was also very intentional because of what I wanted people to take away from it. (…)
Writing for a living allowed journalist Jemele to treat me as my own interview subject. I think that was a really essential element in the process of writing this memoir.
On mentorship and its mentors:
For me, there are many types and levels of mentoring. There are people advising you that you have never met, just by observing their careers and seeing how they move through the company. I had so many mentors like that.
Some of the best mentors I’ve ever had were people who weren’t necessarily in my industry. Mentoring is just different in many ways. In the business, people like Michael Wilbon, Claire Smith, Kevin Merida, Rob Parker, the late Bryan Burwell – so many people who were able to give me advice, hold me through something or just listen and be a fund of resonance. So I was very lucky to have a lot of people who helped me develop my career.
See more of Jemele Hill for NewsOne’s cover page HERE.