Black lives matter.
This is not a political statement, though it may seem to be. This is a declaration of human rights. It’s a statement that should roll off the tongue as naturally as “all men are created equal,” for both say the same thing. And while as a whole media organizations are meant to be neutral, this is far from a neutral issue.
The deaths of countless black men and women across the country are abhorrent and despicable. The anger, sadness and pain brought up in the past couple weeks are the cries for help from a nation that is suffering every day. The disease of racism in our country spreads far and wide over centuries. And for too long, many white American citizens have turned a blind eye to the systemic injustice done to minorities. America has work to do. Illinois has work to do. Bloomington-Normal has work to do. Illinois State University has work to do. Even The Vidette has work to do.
It is work that goes beyond adding students of color to the photos on campus websites. It goes beyond a diversity seminar, or an empty promise to students to fulfill an obligation.
Not too long ago, black students took to the Quad to share their anger and frustration with the university, saying they did not feel appreciated by their institution. The Vidette was there and heard the pain that day. We were there in the aftermath when Illinois State officials sat with leaders to hear them out and we will continue to be there as students work for equality on campus.
Change is uncomfortable. It should be. To outright say The Vidette needs to work on diversity is nerve-wracking, but it’s true. In times like this, it isn’t about saving face. It’s about being honest and making change. Many places need to work on diversity and to acknowledge it is a crucial step in actually making that goal happen. The Vidette only asks that this request is met with compassion and help. We can’t speak for the past, but we can work toward a better future.
We are making a commitment to make sure every voice on campus is heard and respected.
In the same spirit, we encourage all those who are privileged, or benefit from privilege, to look inside themselves and see how they can change. Schools, registered student organizations and individual students should use this time to introspect and make change in their departments. It will bring discomfort, but a moment of discomfort is incomparable to a lifetime of racist treatment.
With that being said, we also want to uplift black voices on campus and not speak over them. We would do a disservice to not mention The Onyx Connect, a media organization that focuses on “promoting black and brown student excellence in the media at Illinois State University,” as its Twitter says. The Onyx Connect offers a lens and perspective that we aim to have in our publication, but currently do not. The Vidette sincerely hopes we can learn from them, and perhaps work together to help represent Illinois State University.