Next Gen Safety Trainers: Jeje (Jehad) Mohamed
The journalism community is becoming increasingly diverse, yet the vast majority of security advisers and trainers are cisgender, white men. The IWMF and ROAAAR’s Next Gen Safety Trainers program is improving the model for newsroom safety management, training women and nonbinary folks from the U.S. throughout 2021. In this series, get to know this new generation of inclusive, diverse safety trainers.
Name: Jeje (Jehad) Mohamed
Title: Freelance journalist and communications consultant
Location: Washington, D.C.
Twitter: @JejeRMohamed | Clubhouse: @jeje.rajab
A new, diverse generation of journalism safety trainers means…
Many journalists will not be left on the side and marginalized under the mercy of circumstances and luck. It means that we will tailor and provide a proactive approach that meets the needs of journalists and activists the way they see and experience, learn from our collective lived experiences, and acknowledge that as a force of power, not a weakness. The safety and security field lacks diversity and inclusion, which doesn’t benefit journalists and activists from marginalized backgrounds as there is a severe lack of representation.
As someone with a background in newsroom leadership, what do you see as the role of newsrooms in keeping their employees safe?
Newsrooms and journalists have to work together to assess and work on mitigating safety and security concerns. It cannot be achieved if we cannot get all parties involved and invested. For journalists and activists to perform their job while staying safe physically and mentally, management needs to allocate resources and learn from different experiences how to mitigate the risks the journalist might experience.
[Safety] should not be a slogan used to build morale, but ongoing practices and check-ins to create a culture of care and safety for everyone.
Another critical point is that these conversations need to happen all the time and engage everyone with their different identities. Having a colleague understand how risk differs because of my intersectional identities can help save a life and mitigate the harm that I may face. It is not only from a hierarchal point of view but also to build trust and openness in the agency or the NGO.
How do your identities shape your view of what safety is?
Safety differs widely from an individual to another, based on their identities and their perceived identities. As a woman of color, with an accent colored by my Arabic mother tongue, and an immigrant, it becomes very complex for me as I get treated differently in each particular scenario. Because of my collective complex identities, I know and understand that the cookie-cutter approach to safety and security fails to protect my physical and psychological wellbeing. My name carries an identity that I was given at birth; it is loaded with judgment and fear as just hearing the name Jehad in the media stirs up fear and racism and prompts many inquiries to question my personality, background, and qualifications. I have to keep in mind the places where it is better for my safety not to speak any Arabic and be careful and aware of the situations where my skin color and physical appearance make me a target.
What’s been your favorite experience or learning from this program so far?
It is tough to choose only one learning or experience from this program, but to be surrounded by this extraordinary group of people is excellent on so many levels. The validation and understanding of the daily struggles we go through as women/nonbinary individuals from marginalized backgrounds help us feel heard and share our own practical safety tips. The generosity in which everyone is ready to help, support, and share experiences make life easier personally and professionally.
The shifts we are trying to create in the field of safety and security training by such a diverse group will achieve the representation and inclusion needed that most of us lacked and needed.
The group is very aware of having a trauma-informed approach, the importance of mental health, and acknowledging different identities into assessing the risks and mitigating them.
What are you hoping to do in the journalism safety world after this fellowship?
As a human rights journalist and communications consultant working for many years in Egypt, I wish I had this opportunity early on in my career. It would have saved me from several dangerous situations that could have been mitigated with lesser harm. I plan to pursue being a safety and security trainer for journalists and activists in small newsrooms and NGOs as part of my career. I also plan to have a version in Arabic so the training can be available to whoever needs it in Egypt and other Arabic-speaking countries. To do this, I would love to cooperate with other journalists/activists and safety and security advisors from diverse backgrounds and identities to create a holistic approach that fits the individuals who receive the training and their needs.
When you’re not at work, what are you usually doing?
I make sure to get my dancing time no matter how busy my week is :D discovering new music, learning new dance styles, cooking without following recipes and growing my plants’ family help me detox and relax. I also tend to read about very random topics, especially about physical and mental health and medicine.