First, let’s be clear: the action of the individual who stole the Black Lives Matter flag was hateful and racist.
In our editorial last week, we were not nearly clear enough about this.
In fact, race and racism are not explicitly mentioned until the 12th paragraph.
Yes, we speak about the New Jim Crow and throw statistics in. We explicitly state that the protections given to the flag thief are not given to the 60 percent of the prison population that is black and brown men, convicted of nonviolent crimes.
However, we don’t use the word racism until the 12th paragraph.
This is unacceptable. It indicates a subconscious fear of a word that needs to be spoken.
By not naming the act as racist in the very first paragraph, we reinforced a system of oppression — and quite frankly poor journalism skills — which indicates a need for clarity and precision.
The editorial expresses the official opinion of the paper, and is written by the opinion editor, managing editor and editor-in-chief.
The editorial is an enormous part of collegiate press. The role of a college newspaper consists of four parts: chronicling, acting as a campus watchdog and shaping campus opinion as leaders. It also is an incubator for the future of journalism.
All of these elements create truth.
The fact that we did not put the word “racism” into the story until the 12th paragraph is indicative of the white hands that wrote it. It is indicative of the fear of a word, and it is indicative of our contribution to a system that reinforces racism.
Our editorial illustrated a need for more education. This education needs to come from the institution itself; it needs to be engaged and self-started.
From now on, we promise to educate ourselves. We promise to strive for active inclusion, not just a buzzword. We promise to make this paper a space for all voices.
Further, we amend our former statement, where we called upon everyone to hold the flag on their backs and in their hearts. In that statement, “we” is exclusive. “We” is written with the privilege of white skin. It excluded those who have to carry the flag every day in their skin.
We must acknowledge the racism inherent in the theft of the flag and grow through action and conversation, all of us, not just those that carry it.