Three people stand in front of a sign that lists four different radio stations.
Price Thomas (left), director of City of Promise, and Markiana Smith (middle), engagement and belonging manager at United Way of Greater Charlottesville, interviewed reporter Tamica Jean-Charles for United Way's Envision Radio podcast on June 6, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Way of Greater Charlottesville

Tamica Jean-Charles started out writing short stories as a kid. But it wasn't until she discovered journalism that she realized she could use her passion for storytelling to help those around her.

United Way of Greater Charlottesville featured Jean-Charles on Envision Radio, where she spoke about her journey in journalism and to becoming Dexter Auction's education and families reporter.

“How do you work in that world where objectivity is held as this gold standard?” host Price Thomas, also the executive director of City of Promise, asked.

“Let the reporting do the talking,” said Jean-Charles. “More times than not, that shows what's happening.”

Jean-Charles invites different perspectives into her reporting, such as in the debate around renaming Burnley-Moran Elementary School. That story got a lot of feedback from the community, and helped people think through their differences. It also won honors from the Virginia Press Association and the Society for Professional Journalists, Washington D.C. chapter.

Jean-Charles also discussed plans for Brown Shuga, her social networking collective for queer women of color. (She also spoke about Brown Shuga at James Madison University in April.)

Jean-Charles talked about being the only Black person in spaces, from growing up in Naples, Florida, to lesbian bars that were largely white.

“As I got older, I realized the power in my identity,” said Jean-Charles. Meeting friends who share her identities and building Brown Shuga helped her see that. “I never felt more seen and more comfortable.”

And understanding that groups with different identities, no matter how many people hold those identities, should thrive is key to all of our well-being, said the hosts.

“If the most oppressed of us get through the door, then we all are already free. If they have rights, we have rights,” said host Markiana Smith, engagement and belonging manager at United Way.

Envision Radio is a part of the larger Envision initiative run by United Way. The project aims to get 1,800 families in Charlottesville out of poverty. The radio show and podcast — done in partnership with  News Radio 98.9 and 1070 WINA — offers a space for community members to discuss topics related to equity, such as generational wealth, education, health and more.

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