What the Emerald Means to Me: Connection

by Julie Pham 

(In support of the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser we asked community members to share about what the Emerald means to them.)


My favorite essay from the Emerald is an obituary. Marcus Green honored his high school friend, Latrell Williams, who was the victim of a fatal shooting not too far from his home. I saw myself in Latrell even though we have seemingly little in common. He was a laconic, Black single father, former collegiate football star who “looked like the love child of granite and titanium” and wrote show scripts and I’m a talkative, petite Vietnamese American childless woman who has no athletic talents and who doesn’t own a TV. The story Marcus told of Latrell’s resilience, optimism, and persistence exemplifies how the Emerald humanizes the news. Emerald readers don’t just read about people, they feel connected to them.

My own father, Kim Pham, recently passed away. In 1986, he co-founded Northwest Vietnamese News, not too far from where the Emerald started, both in the Rainier Valley. When I told Marcus, he responded by saying, “I really wish I had met your father. And by met, I mean a full, leisurely conversation with him.”
 
I regret not bringing them together. They would have had a lot to talk about. Each was a young man when they left a well-paying career to start a media organization so that their community could have a voice and a place to share their stories. They share a love of  writing and listening to others. Whenever we wrote a long feature story relevant to South Seattle, my father would ask, “Can we ask the Emerald to post it?” He knew on our own, our audience was limited if we just published in our Vietnamese newspaper. By partnering with others, we were stronger. The Emerald doesn’t just connect me to others through its stories. I also feel we are connected by a shared sense of pride of being storytellers for our community.


Julie Pham, PhD, is the CEO at CuriosityBased, a consulting practice focused on fostering collaboration, connection, and communication. She grew up in Seattle, after immigrating to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam. She co-owns Northwest Vietnamese News with her family.

Original Illustration by Alexa Strabuk.

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