What the Emerald Means to Me: Knowing Our Worth

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

by Cynthia Green


When I think of the Emerald, I feel a sense of pride knowing that I had a hand in encouraging my son Marcus Harrison Green, Founder and Publisher of the South Seattle Emerald, to forge ahead with his dream. 

He gave up the life he had established in California, and a lucrative career in high finance, to move back home with me and his dad in order to pursue his aspiration. Despite so many others calling him foolish to throw away a six-figure salary, the three of us were in agreement that this was what he should do. I, for one, was tired of the reporting typically done about our community. It was usually negative and routinely depicted us mainly as criminals, drug addicts and thieves.  As a matter of fact I had stopped getting most major newspapers because they held very little interest or relatability to me. 

Other than Marcus’s dwindling personal savings, the Emerald had no finances, no building, no writers, and no equipment. But it did have a vision to create the type of media that our community deserved. 

During those early days I edited and copyedited Marcus’s articles as we both sat at our kitchen table at night, my son exhausted from barely stopping to eat while working one of his typical 15-hour days. I also transcribed the notes from his interviews and was fortunate to meet some amazing people like Bill Austin and Diane Whitman.  

Bill’s son Nathan had been incarcerated in Colorado on drug possession while his white counterparts who had been stopped with him went scott-free. This was one of our early articles and displayed the disparities and unfairness of the legal system for our Black community.  

Another article that will always be in my heart was about Michael Flowers. He was shot and killed after someone invaded an apartment he was staying at. Most news coverage seemed to suggest that he deserved to die because of a past felony on his record, or at least that he was not worthy of mourning. After reading the coverage of his death from several major news outlets, I was perturbed and upset that once again a life of a Black male was treated so dismissively, treated as if he was a statistic instead of a man.

Marcus and I went to Michael’s funeral, and coming away from it, we saw a man that loved his family, a man who would take his coat off in the rain and give it to a friend, a man who gladly volunteered in his community, a man who was supportive of his loved ones, a man who was layered, human, and much more than the worst moments of his life.  

As the Emerald celebrates its seventh year it has become a trusted media outlet for our communities of color, showing their multiple layers and humanity. As we move into the future I have a vision for the Emerald where it produces many more stories, reaches many more communities, and shows the world the true worth of those communities just like it has done for South Seattle. My mother would always say that people in the South End of Seattle are emeralds, because “karat-for-karat, emeralds are worth more than gold.” 


Cynthia Green is a founding board member of the South Seattle Emerald. 

Original illustration by Jiéyì 杰意 Ludden.

Before you move on to the next story …
Please consider that the article you just read was made possible by the generous financial support of donors and sponsors. The Emerald is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet with the mission of offering a wider lens of our region’s most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities. Please consider making a one-time gift or, better yet, joining our Rainmaker Family by becoming a monthly donor. Your support will help provide fair pay for our journalists and enable them to continue writing the important stories that offer relevant news, information, and analysis. 
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