Letter From the Board: Building a paper is like building a community

Master of ceremonies for the night and The Black Lens board member Michael Bethely strikes a pose on stage before speaking to the large crowd gathered at the relaunch party for The Black Lens newspaper on Feb. 2 at the Steam Plant rooftop event center.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Michael Bethely The Black Lens

In a lot of ways, building and putting together this paper is like building a community. Every story, every picture, every column, every word, and every letter is needed to make the paper what it is.

Being able to be a part of this board for The Black Lens is an honor and privilege that I’m grateful for. I know now that I only partially understood the magnitude that Sandy went to and through to start this paper. The idea that she was writing most of the articles. That she was distributing the papers by herself. That she was in charge of the layout. And that she conceptualized The Black Lens from start to finish, is beyond admirable. Sandy put in work to get it done!

I considered Sandy a mentor and a friend. Someone I trusted and that I would call for insight. It’s an honor to be a part of continuing the legacy of what she created and to reignite this LENS for Spokane’s Black community. As a Black producer, I know deeply the different perspectives that are captured depending on who’s holding the camera or who’s looking through the lens they have.

To me, this is what gives The Black Lens its value. The ability to highlight a different perspective, a black perspective. Keeping the focus on Spokane, we can give a Black lens to local, regional, national and international stories. A way to cultivate our culture, particularly when culture is amiss. Having The Black Lens to amplify our voices and stories, is something most communities do not have. Well, thanks to Sandy, Spokane does.

So thank you! Thank you to the community for your continued support of The Black Lens. Thank you to all the contributors that helped to relaunch this vessel, so that it could continue to be what Sandy hoped it to be. I implore the black community to take advantage of this platform and let your black lens shine and be shared. Let us also be encouraged to continue to understand and learn about other diverse communities and their perspectives and lens on Spokane and beyond. We don’t know what we don’t know. And it can be difficult to respect what we don’t understand and value other’s worth when it is unknown

So let’s be the example for all communities through The Black Lens to show the worth of our community. Of each member. Of each contributor. Of each lens.

Let’s come together like the layout of this paper. Telling stories. Taking pictures. Building pillars. Having conversations. Writing letters. And coming into the fold of our community. We are a people and community of hope. Support. Understanding. Grace. Forgiveness – and most importantly, Love. I think that’s what Sandy would’ve wanted and the best tribute we can give her in return.