On Aug. 1, Rheya Spigner shared a goodbye message to KCCI viewers. Within the six years she has been in Iowa, she’s achieved lots: She’s been nominated for 2 regional Emmys and received a range and inclusion award and an Iowa Broadcast Information Award for her work. She was an anchor on morning, midday, night and evening newscasts, together with solo anchor at 9 p.m. And she or he created Project CommUNITY, an initiative geared toward tackling tough issues. She’s been a job mannequin to many.
Rheya Spigner is most happy with Venture CommUNITY
“Venture CommUNITY was, like, this one-sheet that got here from, , the massive guys, the corporate as a complete, first,” mentioned Spigner. “And regionally, it had numerous potential, however it did not actually have, like, a construction per se.”
So Spigner was provided an alternative to make it no matter it could possibly be. “I had already began wanting into these points that we’ve got in our neighborhood, as a result of it is a part of me, it is a part of my life,” Spigner mentioned. “I’ve had the conversations amongst family and friends, or I’ve seen it simply round me, as a result of I am a Black girl, so I’ve lived it.”
Spigner was 26 or 27 years previous on the time. To have the chance to tackle a brand new initiative was each exhilarating and scary. She poured every thing into it. “I feel that the thought of this neighborhood champion, they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, you may simply do that each occasionally.’ I am like, ‘No, we’re gonna do it each week. We’re gonna discover any person each week.’”
Spigner ended up doing no less than 40 profiles on neighborhood leaders all through Des Moines and about six quarterly specials, exceeding administration’s expectations.
She was decided to grab each alternative for Venture CommUNITY to have interaction in actual conversations about issues that had been taking place in her world or society however weren’t being addressed in Iowa. “Our first one was discussing the divide. It was speaking about politics and the polarization that was happening on the time,” Spigner mentioned, including that they obtained good and fascinating suggestions, so she stored going. The undertaking coated such subjects as psychological well being and the relations of Black individuals with police, plus immigration and veterans points.
Venture CommUNITY was a hit. Spigner obtained ISU’s Kappa Tau Alpha Range & Inclusion Award for her neighborhood champion episodes and two Emmy nominations: one for 2019’s “Living in Color” and, after George Floyd’s homicide, one other for 2020’s “Black Voices Matter.” “Black Voices Matter” additionally received First Place within the Public Affairs class at Iowa Broadcast Information Affiliation’s annual awards banquet.
Her love of journalism started at 15
Spigner’s journey to journalism began when she was 12. She lived in California, however whereas visiting her dad in Spain, he had buddies over who had two daughters who spoke French and a smattering of English and Spanish. Spigner spoke English and Spanish and a little bit French. “So we spent all evening, sitting there attempting to determine learn how to speak to one another between these three languages, utilizing a little bit bit of every. However I bear in mind feeling like this needs to be a part of my life. Like, I’ve to determine learn how to join with individuals or perceive learn how to create new perspective or preserve reliving this second of attempting to know variations in tradition and no matter.”
When she returned house, she advised her mother that she wished to be one thing that used that talent. She was good at writing and had enjoyable performing a bit as a child — and had confirmed to be charismatic. She wanted to attach with individuals, so her mother despatched her to a journalism workshop when she was 15: “I fell in love with it. After which I used to be like, ‘OK, I am simply gonna persist with it.’ So that is what I did for faculty and stored doing it.”
Her ardour for social justice blossomed when she entered school
Spigner’s mother was intentional in exposing Spigner to range. So Spigner attended LACES — Los Angeles Heart for Enriched Research — a magnet college, and skilled what gave the impression to be an equal share of each tradition. “So I grew up considering, like, ‘Kumbaya, we’re good’ a little bit bit,” Spigner mentioned. “I knew that slavery existed. I knew that there was disparity on some degree. I knew from seeing it, some parts of it in my household, however did not actually perceive. However to know the intricacies of it, I could not, I could not pinpoint it as a result of I (had) grown up in, like, this land of range.”
However that modified for Spigner as soon as she entered school.
Her minor was in movie and media research. Once they began dissecting and analyzing Black individuals in movie and media — the numerous who had been enjoying subpar roles or adverse portrayals or minimal roles or the Black individual getting killed first, and the way movie and media ran parallel to society’s white savior complex — “that’s when it began to click on a little bit bit extra,” Spigner mentioned. “Then once I went to my first couple of jobs, it began to click on much more, as a result of Albany, Georgia is the deep South and it is a small city.” In Albany, the place she labored as a multimedia journalist, she’d began to get feedback about being fairly or sensible for a Black lady, which was new to her. “I had microaggressions as much as that time however did not actually know learn how to pinpoint or articulate what that was.” She continued to expertise them and she or he continued to study socio-economic disparities.
Venture CommUNITY was a catalyst for deeper understanding and alter
Exploring the subjects in Venture CommUNITY deepened Spigner’s understanding of the disparities and the neighborhood’s wants much more — and made her wish to perceive much more. It was a catalyst for her pursuit of a grasp’s in authorized research, with a focus on social justice, in 2020 which she’s going to full in December. To Spigner, information gained from her research offered larger understanding of the place we’re as we speak and the way we received right here, the legal guidelines and beliefs on which our nation was constructed, and the way “that interprets to perpetuating a system that’s already not constructed for the individuals who seem like me.” Her KCCI program on redlining is only one instance of how she used this information to provide viewers a deeper understanding of how redlining and local weather change impacted — and proceed to influence — Black and Brown communities as we speak.
What’s subsequent for Spigner
Venture CommUNITY was additionally a catalyst for her departure from KCCI.
She cherished the work she was doing with Venture CommUNITY however she was seeing the identical issues again and again and didn’t suppose she was doing sufficient: “I knew I used to be representing. I knew I used to be storytelling. I knew I used to be, , coming into areas and being hopeful or good or giddy or no matter. But it surely simply appeared so minimal to what I might do. It is like, if I’ve this information, if I’ve these concepts, if I’ve this map principally in my head on how I might do issues, then why would not I share it? Or why would not I attempt to be a solution to the areas who wanted it?”
Then individuals began asking her to come back speak to their group about her experiences within the office, her perspective as a Black girl in Iowa, and extra.
“In my mind, that translated to so many different issues,” Spigner mentioned. “As a result of if you wish to find out about my expertise in Iowa, you need insights into how this neighborhood resides and also you wish to know possibly how one can change it. And in order that developed in my mind to one thing greater, of, like, OK, nicely, let’s again all of it the way in which up and attempt to perceive your perspective, too, and the way that got here to be.”
Rheydiant Consulting & Communications was born. Its focus might be on communication technique and variety, fairness and inclusion supplemental work.
Spigner believes that her background in communication and nuanced storytelling will carry a novel set of abilities to this house, as will her incorporation of historic context to facilitate understanding of not solely what organizations are doing, however why they’re doing sure issues — for instance, offering historic context into unconscious bias and the way that interprets into microaggressions within the office and elsewhere. Spigner feels that understanding this historic context is essential with a purpose to transfer ahead and alter. To succeed in that understanding requires dialogue and actual dialog.
What does Spigner hope firms she works with stroll away with?
Whether or not purchasers use her to conduct workshops, assist with storytelling, or function a useful resource or another capability, Spigner mentioned, “I hope that you simply really feel extra linked to the neighborhood, that you have offered extra assets to the neighborhood, that you simply really feel extra of a optimistic shift culturally inside your organization, that you simply really feel just like the objectives that you simply had, so far as outreach, so far as speaking with neighborhood, had been attainable.”
Because it pertains to her DEI work, she mentioned, “I hope that you simply depart with a deeper context of who we’re as a nation and the way that has translated to a few of our behaviors and the way in which that we expect and the way in which that we deal with individuals and that programs have been in place to perpetuate one group and push down one other and that’s very actual.”
“I feel there’s some people who find themselves gonna say, like, ‘You left what, for what!’ However I do not know learn how to clarify it aside from I really feel like God put the imaginative and prescient in my head for like a 12 months. And I stored sort of ignoring it. As soon as I leaned in even a little bit bit, all these great issues began to align and occur, that solely reaffirmed for me that I’m I am doing what I am purported to be doing.”
It actually appears that manner.
Rachelle Chase is an opinion columnist on the Des Moines Register. Observe Rachelle at fb.com/rachelle.chase.creator or on Twitter @Rachelle_Chase.