Lloyd LaCuesta, former National President of AAJA, is no stranger to success. After winning six Emmys and receiving the AAJA Lifetime Achievement award, his resume speaks for itself.
But LaCuesta also experienced hardship throughout his career, often as the only Asian American in the newsroom. He felt that to maintain his position in the news organization, LaCuesta didn’t have the freedom to take a stand on Asian American representation. As a result, LaCuesta kept his distance from organizations that required its members to advocate for these issues.
Then how did LaCuesta become the first elected president of AAJA?
It was simple; he said, because “journalists” was embedded in the organization’s name as a core part of its identity.
“We were journalists who happened to be Asian,” LaCuesta explained. Rather than use journalists as a vessel for their message, AAJA spoke for their members. Members could take part in this movement for equity without the risk of losing their audience or job.
LaCuesta said AAJA became a safe space for him because it allowed journalists who had experienced similar types of discrimination to come together and build each other up.
“I always knew that AAJA was there for me.”
LaCuesta was no longer the only Asian American in the room, he was one of many Asian Americans who all had faced the newsroom alone.