Last week, a banner was hung in Parents Plaza asked passersby “What does DIVERSITY mean to you?” While most responses were phrases such as “equality,” “patience,” “home,” and “celebrating differences,” in the bottom corner someone had written “fuck your privledge [sic].”
Although the banner has since been removed, Muhlenberg’s problem with racial biases hasn’t.
Even though the College tries to counter racial incidents and get students to recognize their own privileges with promotions of understanding such as the Sedehi Diversity project and talks by the enter for Ethics, racial inequalities still permeate the Muhlenbubble. And, quite frankly, students have every right to be upset about it.
Last month, founder of Black Lives Matter Canada Janaya Khan’s presence on campus received backlash on Facebook from alumni and students alike. Posters were placed around campus from the “Alternative Center for Ethics,” with incorrect and misleading representations of Black Crime and the Black Lives Matter movement. Other students — both white and black — responded with their own posters. That same day, a group of students posted flyers titled Truth To Power that explained the goal of equality behind Black Lives Matter.
On Oct. 10, posters dotted the halls of Seegers with #BlackonBerg. Some posters included quotes promoting activism, while others featured stories of students’ lived experiences of racial bias, such as: “My Dad pulled up to campus to pick me up for break. A white peer turned to me as I was moving towards my Dad’s car to say, ‘Wow, nice car. Does your Dad sell drugs?’ My Dad is a lawyer.”
Not two weeks before Janaya Khan’s visit, Bear Security, the College’s contracted security company of 32 years, was fired after an officer exchanged racially charged words with a black student. This was, allegedly, not the first time an incident such as this had occurred at Muhlenberg.
Two years ago, racist Yik Yak posts prompted a college town hall, and later follow-up where students and faculty conducted an exercise on equality, equity, and privilege.
Our job as a student newspaper is not only to report on these instances, but to give a voice to the student body — to everyone in that body. The question has been raised, and often debated by our staff: how do we, as an entirely white editorial board, cover issues related to race on campus?
The answer is certainly not to turn a blind eye. Compliance and refusal to even discuss these issues is what makes them so dangerous in the first place. Yet, the very process of journalism is about one person telling another’s story — a reporter goes out into the world, collects others’ words and experiences, and weaves them together into a truthful and informative story.
Although every effort is made in journalistic tradition to remain objective and unbiased, there is something unsettling about a white man telling a black man’s story.
The point is: these are not our stories. They are your stories. And we’re here to help you tell them.
This is an outlet for everyone on campus to contribute to, not just regular writers. We encourage people of any race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural background, minority, majority–anyone–to contribute to this newspaper, even if it is just once.
If there is a story you think is worth telling, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.