Letter to the editor: Imani Sales

Imani Sales

On April 9, 2014, it was brought to my attention that your newspaper, The Daily Kent Stater, published a front-page article in its Tuesday edition about myself and others who have experienced “microaggression.” I was totally unaware of the article because the reporter never interviewed me nor was I ever asked if it was OK for there to be a story printed about me.

 In fact, I have never had a conversation with him on this very subject!

The article stated many things that were simply not true, offending not just me, but my cheer coach, my team, my high school Theodore Roosevelt, as well as the people in my Kent community.  The article even included quotes that I have never said, such as when the story claims I was approached at cheerleading tryouts by my “Caucasian captain” that I stated that the captain asked me, “Have you tried out for the step team yet?”  

I suppose the story made up about me was supposed to mean African-Americans are better off being on a step team rather than a cheerleading squad. Mind you, I feel that everyone is capable of being a cheerleader — or anything else, for that matter — if he or she puts his or her mind to it. It doesn’t mean that only Caucasians are the ones who can be cheerleaders.

The article also states that if I were to make the team, I “would be the high school’s first African-American cheerleader.”

Once again, let me say that the reporter, also an alumnus of Theodore Roosevelt High School, should know that I am not the only African-American that has been on the cheerleading squad at Roosevelt.  In fact, I find it rather humorous that I personally come from a long line of family members who have been on the cheer squad at Roosevelt and who I have cheered on the team with other African-Americans.

The statements made in quotations that he stated that I said and the article about me offended me because the statements and article were not only false but also hurtful to people that I am closest to at the school. I have cheered at Theodore Roosevelt High School all four years I attended, and I have never had any racial issues on my cheer team or at the high school itself.

I have always loved my community of Kent, my cheer squad and my high school where I have shared such wonderful and exciting memories.  Not only has the high school faculty done so much for me but also especially my cheer coach, and for this article to say that I suffered microaggression from my cheer coaches and the squad is simply not true!

If I hadn’t received an upsetting phone call from my high school cheer coach that there was an article about me stating that I was involved in microaggression on her cheer squad, I wouldn’t have known about this, and people would have believed every word that was stated, given the power of the printed word.  

I feel this article made me look as if I was crying for attention, and it also made me look bad to my high school.  I know that those closest to me know that I would have never said such things as I have always tried to be a kind-hearted young lady to everyone at my school and on the cheer team.

I have spoken to the reporter personally to express to him that I felt disrespected and that he disrespected my cheer coach, my cheer squad and the high school that we both graduated from. I expressed to him that his article damaged my name as well as the reputation of my cheer squad.

I appreciate the apology he has given me, but the apology will never change the damage that this article has done.  I hope that from this experience he takes time to think first before he makes this mistake again as a future reporter, as well as other future reporters.  Quoting and writing false information and putting full names on paper in a published documentation can be illegal.  

Moving forward, though, after writing this letter to the editor, I will make sure that I don’t dwell on this experience any further. I believe that I will become a stronger person in the future for having had this experience. I have always believed that there is a positive in everything, and to me, every situation is an opportunity for growth.  

Imani Sales is a freshman communication studies major at Kent State.