2018 Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists Page One Awards

Minnesota SPJ Awards 2018

Minnesota SPJ Awards 2018Every year, the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosts an awards banquet honoring the best in Minnesota television, newspaper, magazine, and also radio journalism. In 2018, I received a first place award in the planned feature category for “Arnellia’s: Our Own Apollo,” about the closing of Minnesota’s last black-owned music club. I received a second place award for best radio feature for my portrait of Hmong chef Yia Vang. I reported and produced both of these stories for KFAI’s MinneCulture series. KFAI producers were recognized with six awards in multiple categories. I am proud to work with these talented people.You can listen to all of the KFAI-produced award-winning stories here.

(Photo from left to right: Producer Xan Holston, Producer Sophie Nikitas, Editor Todd Melby, Producer Erianna Jiles; Me)

Dancing Underwater While Trying Not to Drown

Subversive Sirens

Subversive Sirens

The Subversive Sirens are a Minnesota-based synchronized swim team that blends art, activism, and a deep love of Prince. I covered the Sirens for both KFAI community radio and MinnPost as the team prepared for its first-ever competition at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris, France. You can listen to my KFAI audio portrait below and read my MinnPost feature here. The Sirens would go on to win a gold medal at the 2018 competition. (Underwater photos: Rhea Pappas; All other photos: Erin Sharkey)

NPR: ‘You Have Dark Skin And You Are Beautiful’: The Long Fight Against Skin Bleaching

Amira Adawe

I reported on Minnesota public health researcher Amira Adawe for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Adawe is Somali, and she is leading the fight to raise awareness about the health risks of skin bleaching, which is pervasive in the Somali community. “A lot of it ties to colonization,” Adawe says. “Certain skin colors were more accepted in the society. But through the years, it became so embedded in the culture to where it’s become normal. If you’re light-skinned, you’re more accepted.” You can read the entire digital feature here.


How Chef Yia Vang is putting his own twist on Hmong cuisine

Yia Vang

Yia Vang
In the mid-1970s, thousands of indigenous Hmong people started coming to the United States as refugees from the Vietnam War. Many settled in Minnesota, which is now home to the second largest Hmong community in the U.S. Yia Vang, 33, knows this history in a very personal way. He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and moved to the U.S. when he was five years old. Vang wants to tell stories about the Hmong experience through his cooking. But being a culinary emissary can get tricky. I reported this story for PRI’s The World. (Photo credit: Nancy Rosenbaum)