Shaylyn Martos: Finding Their Way

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As a young person of color, Shaylyn Martos struggled to find a pathway to their dreams. But that changed when they found mentorship in other journalists of color.

I’m in my mid 20s. For the first time in my life, I’ve finally got a salary, health insurance and a fancy title. But I took my time getting here.

After my high school graduation, I worked for years in food service — sometimes two or three jobs. During that time, it felt like I was behind my old classmates who were already working to get their degrees. But I needed time to grow, to figure out who I was and where I wanted to be.

When I finally felt ready, I enrolled in community college. It was there I fell in love with print and broadcast journalism. I learned to write, film, photograph and edit stories from professors of color who advocated for me and gave me the agency to cover what I cared about.

And after earning my associates degree, I transferred to a university, confident in my decision to pursue journalism as my major.

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While at San Francisco State, I met even more people who provide opportunities for marginalized folks in journalism. These mentors taught me technical skills I needed and how to stand up for myself and other queer and trans Black, Indigenous and people of color in the workplace.

During all those years of school, I continued to work part-time. I had to deal with egotistical chefs and managers, verbally abusive customers and a culture of coping with drinking and drugs.

So after being laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, I promised to put my mental and physical health first and not work in kitchens anymore.

It’s terrifying being a young adult trying to support yourself in this economy, during a global pandemic and ecological catastrophe. That’s what makes it so important to hold the door open for other marginalized folks.

I wouldn’t be here without the people who believed in me and guided me to where I am today. Now working at YR Media, I feel honored to continue the work to carve space for new perspectives, new voices, new futures.

With a Perspective, I’m Shaylyn Martos.

Shaylyn Martos lives in Oakland. Their Perspective was produced by YR Media.