Gente de NAHJ: Ruthy Muñoz breaks down barriers as an Afro-Latina journalist

Ruthy Munoz, left, hugs Ilia Calderon at the NAHJ Convention and Career Fair in Miami, Florida, in 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF RUTHY MUÑOZ

Since the age of 9, Ruthy Muñoz always dreamed of becoming a journalist. 

However, she noticed something lacking within the journalism industry — representation. She said she did not see herself reflected in the media, so she did not see a pathway for a career in journalism. 

Ruthy Muñoz, who is Afro-Latina, said she remembers sitting on the subway as a teenager in New York City. All around her were other Hispanics. She noticed they were looking at her darker complexion. Then, they began talking about her — right there, in front of her — in Spanish.

As she got up to leave, she turned the conversation around, and asked them a question en español. Maybe she asked for the time. Anything, Muñoz said. 

“I had to make sure that they knew.”

She told them ‘have nice day,’ before walking out.

Muñoz has had an unconventional journey to journalism. She did not have a journalism degree, but instead joined the army, in which she reached the rank of Specialist. 

More than 30 years later, as she sat at a journalism conference in a room full of other Afro-Latino journalists. She said her life has felt like a journey to a place of feeling a greater sense of belonging.

Nicholas Hernandez is a graduate student at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. His reporting primarily focuses on the arts and culture scene in New York and the Bronx. He is an intern at Reasons To Be Cheerful, an online solution journalism magazine. Reach him at Hernandezn714 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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