If you spot Tina Sampay on campus or in the community, she’ll have a camera in one hand and a notepad in the other.
Sampay, 25, also known by her alias Slauson Girl, has been a constant in community news surrounding the April 15, 2017 murder of David Josiah Lawson, reporting on vigils, city council meetings and the Lawson family’s strides toward justice, among other events following Lawson’s death.
“We’re in a mostly all-white community, you know white men is running most of the stuff. Then you have this stabbed black kid and a beat-up white kid, and I just felt like the odds were against him from the beginning,” Sampay said. “It was sketchy, if I could just give it one word.”
“I definitely wanted to represent from that area but from the girl’s perspective because I feel that girls from the inner city are super, super marginalized,”
Sampay felt it was important to take it upon herself to create a detailed record of what happened during each passing month of the still unsolved case, marking its impact on the community.
“She attends every single event that involves Josiah and continues to keep his name alive in that way so that when people are researching this place they are not only hearing about the physical beauty of this place, but about the unsolved murder of a student,” said Barbara Singleton, sophomore criminology and justice studies major.
Sampay is one of the few Black- identifying professional journalists in the area.
“… Knowing historically what white people have done to people of color on some hateful shit, so here I am in such an isolated place where this kid’s already killed and they’re not doing it right so I got to tread lightly,” Sampay said. “What signals does that send when the police aren’t solving a murder?”
Sampay grew up in South Central, Los Angeles and came to Humboldt State University to pursue a degree in critical race, gender, and sexuality studies with a minor in journalism, which lead her to serve the community as an independent news source through her blog Slauson Girl. Its name is inspired by LA-based rapper Nipsey Hussle’s mixtape sequence that has “Slauson Boy” in the title. Having grown up in the same area as Nipsey Hussle, she is on a mission to represent the female side of the message.
“I definitely wanted to represent from that area, but from the girl’s perspective because I feel that girls from the inner city are super, super marginalized,” Sampay said.
For Sampay, Slauson Girl is not just a branding mechanism, but also an attempt to retain a sense of identity while not being represented.
“I wanted to go through these institutions but still have a sense of myself, so being in Humboldt was a huge culture shock,” Sampay said. “For me out here specifically it’s had reach because students and people of color, and even curious white people want to hear that narrative.”
While pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Sampay wrote for The Lumberjack for a total of three semesters and served as an editor for the opinion section. The Society of Professional Journalists named her the best student columnist in the southwest among colleges and universities that have under 10,000 students enrolled for her column, “Slauson Girl Speaks.” The column included topics such as racism in the community, the politics of representation at HSU, and how she was “navigating being a Black face in a white space,” according to Sampay.
Exposing the counter-narrative
Since graduating from HSU in 2016, Sampay has been developing her online blog, reporting on community events in an attempt to expose important, largely uncovered stories of marginalized and oppressed people.
“Most of the time, it’s told by the people that won in history,” Sampay said. “It’s never really told by who it’s most affected, so I just always knew that I needed to be at the forefront of telling my story and the story of those from my community.”