Meet the Daily Kos Emerging Fellows: Satchel Sankar

Meet the Daily Kos Emerging Fellows: Satchel Sankar

Well, hello there. My name is Satchel and I’m excited to be accepted as both a Daily Kos Emerging Fellow and as part of the Daily Kos Community. I’ve been looking for an opportunity like this for a long time and I’m so glad it could be here, with this incredibly engaged audience.

A little bit about me: I’m 25. I’m from suburban New Jersey. I’m the oldest of three. My parents are Guyanese immigrants. I currently work in sample production coordination for a children’s clothing company. I’m a voracious consumer of content and culture. My favorite team is Tottenham Hotspur. I have leftist ideals. I’m $60,000 in debt.

I’ve wanted to become a journalist since I graduated from Rutgers University in 2018, where I majored in journalism and political science. I knew writing was one of the things I was good at, and learning was my favorite thing to do. So, I figured I’d get into journalism and try to earn a living doing both.

I realized I wanted to get into journalism when I first encountered coverage of Europe’s 2015 migrant crisis. International stories always seem less newsworthy in U.S.-centric media, but this one struck me. With the democratization of technology following the Arab Spring, more people than ever knew how to use media to convey messages and tell their stories. And this trend continued with migrants who were fleeing war, famine, and genocide in an effort to make a better life in Europe. Written reporting of the migration was assisted by photos and videos of people stranded on dangerously congested boats in the middle of the Mediterranean. These dinghies would often capsize, leaving their passengers to drown in the middle of the sea.  

The news coverage had a deep effect on me. The struggles of previously faceless brown and Black people became less abstract and more concrete. And as a consequence, the world became a much bigger and altogether more obscure place. I found myself needing to understand all the different social, cultural, and political issues that combined to lead to such a needless and heartbreaking loss of life. I was so consumed by how the reporting highlighted and humanized the lives of these people, I wanted to be able to do the same kind of work.

Since then, I’ve been trying to jumpstart my journalism career, but a bachelor’s degree isn’t worth much these days. It’s hard getting into a field when you have minimal experience, a weak portfolio, and no connections. I considered graduate school, but the prospect of having to borrow more money quickly ended that idea. So I started applying to every job with a writing component I could find, and hoped someone would take a chance on me. What followed was a consistent slew of soul-crushing rejection emails and non-replies. But eventually, someone did take that chance, and I’ve been presented with this opportunity to grow as a writer and write about the issues I have a passion for.

I’d like to say I’ve learned and experienced a lot over the past four years since college, and that I haven’t wasted my early 20s watching TV and fucking around on the internet. And that’s kind of true. I watched my loans metastasize when I put them in forbearance. I saw how labor is exploited in this country when l worked in an Amazon warehouse and drove for gig economy jobs. I experienced the anxiety of not being able to pay my bills and had Sallie Mae harass me on a monthly basis. I’ve had to apply for unemployment to cover my bills and when I couldn’t, and I’ve had to ask others for money to cover those bills. But I was lucky enough to have my mother’s house as a safety net. Being home, I didn’t have to worry about bills, and I could coach soccer to keep Sallie Mae off my back while I applied for other jobs.

That safety net gave me a lot of time: time to figure out what I love, and what I want for myself. It gave me the freedom to spend my time exploring my interests, like news, art, and culture, and developing new interests, like DJing, photography, and cooking. I could spend time digesting podcasts, books, and articles to stay engaged with the world around me. And I could spend my time experiencing and learning the art of the world around me. I engaged the work of artists, directors, and musicians to hear their perspectives and the stories they wanted to tell. Like Eliza Hittman, who made a brutally mundane movie called Never Rarely Sometimes Always, about Pennsylvania’s abortion laws. Or Kendrick Lamar, who created an incredible jazz-infused album about systemic racism in 2015, called To Pimp a Butterfly. Or Lewis Hine’s work with the National Child Labor Committee documenting child labor.

I found myself devouring the work of hundreds of different directors, musicians, artists, and other creatives. The world is this incredibly vast, diverse, and ever-expanding place, and I realized that there’s this existential drive inside me that wants to consume as much of it as possible. I’m someone who’s incredibly interested in learning all I can about the world, and I’m glad my journey continues here with the Daily Kos Community.

I’m excited to bring a young and Black perspective to Daily Kos, where I’m hoping to engage with and learn from you all. I’m going to write about a lot of different issues and news while I’m here, starting with topics I have personal experience with—like race, student loans, cultural identity, health care, worker exploitation, and the gig economy. Additionally, I’d love to write about issues I have a passion for, like immigration, assimilation, the environment, infrastructure, class solidarity, and the national debt. I’ve got loads of interests and I can’t wait to get started.  

This story was produced through the Daily Kos Emerging Fellows Program. Read more about DKEF (and meet other Emerging Fellows) here.

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