Word In Black, a groundbreaking collaboration of the nation’s leading Black news publishers, produces daily journalism across a collection of impactful topics such as education, health, and social justice. The Word In Black audience has grown to nearly 50,000 email subscribers across three distinct newsletter offerings. The news outlet is supported, in part, by philanthropy, which has helped grow the Word In Black staff to nine full-time employees.

The journalists’ work is fueled by a deep commitment to the Word In Black mission to be the most trusted news and information source for, about, and by Black people. As Word In Black approaches its second anniversary, we asked some members of the editorial staff to share more about the impacts their stories have made.


Anissa Durham, health data reporter, wrote “Most Americans are one crisis away from becoming unhoused.” Durham spoke to four Black people who have at one point experienced homelessness. Two are currently unhoused. One was previously unhoused. And the fourth runs a Black centered youth homeless shelter in Los Angeles. The story dives into the intersections of how someone can easily become homeless. The four intersections are: domestic violence, youth, LGBTQ, and immunocompromised.

“When we talk and think about homelessness, it usually goes one to two different ways. We assume those who are unhoused are on drugs, lazy or having mental illness. Or we assume their intersectional identities and experiences do not contribute to experiencing homelessness,” Durham said. “It’s also important to recognize the language we use regarding those who are unhoused. And the overarching theme of the article is that most of us are one crisis, one financial downfall, one hit, or one illness away from couch surfing, losing our home or fleeing our home.”

Also just released is a new series by Durham, “Lost Innocence: The Adultification of Black Children.” The body of work highlights adultification bias, a stereotype based on the ways in which adults perceive children and their childlike behavior, which presents itself in households, education, and in a society.

Health reporter Alexa Spencer wrote “This device used to diagnose COVID-19 doesn’t always work on Black folks.” Recent studies have revealed that pulse oximeters — medical devices used to calculate a person’s oxygen levels — sometimes produce inaccurate readings on people with darker skin.

Spencer spoke with Joel Bervell, a medical student at Washington State University and creator of the “Racial Bias in Medicine” social media series, about how this critical error contributed to poor COVID-19 outcomes for the Black community.

“This story is important because pulse oximeters are relied on heavily to treat and diagnose COVID-19 and other health conditions — including general wellness. Black people are at risk for undertreatment and underdiagnosis due to the machine’s inability to properly read darker-toned skin,” Spencer said. “In a day and age where Black people lead in many health disparities, it’s necessary for the medical system to be held accountable for its role in creating or reinforcing racial gaps in well-being.”


While reporting the story, “Black college students are leading the movement to eliminate bias in tech, digital editor Nadira Jamerson spoke with members of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab at Princeton University about their efforts to rethink technology and use it to create equity and justice. Through building technology and community with those that the technology should serve, we can more accurately respond to the needs of those communities.

“Many people do not realize that technology can be biased. From self-driving cars that can’t detect folks with darker skin to keep from running them over, to digital assistants like Siri that have trouble understanding non-white accents, technology is hurting Black folks,” Jamerson says. “In a world becoming more reliant on tech, it is crucial to understand how data is sourced and circulated so we can use technology to further, rather than impede, social justice.”


For the story “Here’s how we recruit and retain more Black teachers,” Word In Black’s education data journalist Maya Pottiger, spoke with experts and former teachers, all of whom work with current teachers, about what would actually get Black educators to be drawn to the field and stay longer than a year or two. On top of the need for a more diverse educator workforce, recruiting and retaining Black teachers will help alleviate the ongoing teacher shortage crisis in this country.

“What makes this story unique, impactful, and important is the idea that hiring and supporting Black teachers — along with other nonwhite teachers — would help solve a nationwide crisis that has been impacting students and schools since 2020,” Pottiger explains. “It’s not an angle or solution that has been widely discussed. And, of course, having a more diverse educator workforce has proven benefits for all students, including higher levels of engagement and graduation rates.”

Education reporter Aziah Siid wrote “Redefining what ‘care culture’ looks like for Black boys in schools.” She spoke with Tyrone Howard, professor of education at University of California Los Angeles, and pulled quotes from Julius David, founder of the Center for Research & Mentoring of Black Students & Teachers. Both men discussed their expertise and personal experiences on the importance of shifting the way educators, communities and fellow peers instruct and treat Black students, particularly Black male students, to ensure not only their chances of success are higher, but to shape how they view the education system entirely.

“This story is uniquely important because oftentimes, as a society we hear students say, ‘College is not for everyone,’ or give up on school before truly giving it a chance. At times, this solely happens because of how students are treated by adult figures around them,” Siid said. “Statistically, we see higher numbers of Black students, particularly Black male students, receive strict punishment, or even removal from classrooms or school, for the same behaviors their white counterparts would partake in as well. Many times teachers and administration don’t ask themselves, ‘What does this child need from me to succeed in this moment?’ … Before anything, you simply have to care about who your students are and where they come from. From what we continue to see in research and in the media, that is easier said than done, which has to change if we want to see success rates among Black children from low income or troubled households increase.”

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