Journalist and Cinematographer
With: The New York Times, BBC Panorama
© Katie G Nelson
I began filming the day after George Floyd was killed in South Minneapolis. The site was overwhelming and emotional as hundreds of people gathered to mourn over his death. As things started to escalate, I decided to collaborate with The New York Times to cover the events as they were unfolding.
When I look back onto this period, I reflect on my role as a filmmaker. I’m not from Minnesota and only recently relocated to Saint Paul from Denver, Colorado. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up Black in America but I have many close friends who do. I’ve endured racism in my life but not to the degree the Black community has had to face. Who am I to help tell this story? How is my voice contributing to the narrative?
When I turn on my camera, what's clear to me is that I don’t hold an objective neutral viewpoint. As a journalist, I do my best to stay balanced and fair in my reporting without letting my own emotions and biases dictate the narrative. While on the ground filming, I remember feeling pain, anger, and fear. I could see these emotions in the protesters but also in law enforcement. When I reflect on how these moments will exist in history, I think about the hundreds of cameras that were also rolling at that time. I can only offer one angle of that history — that is, through the lens of a thirty-five-year-old Asian-American, Colorado native, who cares deeply about the struggle of race relations in America.
When my work with The New York Times ended, I felt it was necessary to expand my familiarity and understanding of this community. I began working with teams like BBC Panorama, NBC Today, and an independent documentary team working on a film about the Minneapolis Police Department. Beyond breaking news, I have an opportunity to learn. And I want to make a point of working more closely to the history of the Twin Cities in these contexts. I aim to learn what led to this breaking point in Minneapolis and America as a whole.