Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter.

We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, stand with the Black Lives Matter movement in condemning racism and advocating for systemic change—including defunding the police. At Brandeis and nationally, young people have been fighting for racial justice in a country that has and continues to systematically oppress the rights of Black individuals and people of color. As we’ve seen with the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown and countless others—both named and unnamed—the existing system has failed to protect us. And we, as a society, have failed Black Americans. 

Racism at Brandeis

Brandeis is not excluded from issues of systemic racism, despite being an institution with an emphasis on social justice. This is reflected in former Area Coordinator (AC) for the Department of Community Living (DCL) Elijah Warren’s HS ’19 resignation from Brandeis. Warren announced his resignation in a post on Linkedin and attached a two page letter to Brandeis administration regarding his experience and “calling out injustices happening daily on campus.” One example Warren wrote about in his letter was feeling marginalized at the hands of Brandeis Police. 

As an editorial board, we recognize that there is no simple solution to ending systemic racism, and we do not have all the answers. What we do know is that changes need to be made. It is unacceptable for any Brandeis student, staff or faculty member to feel marginalized on their campus.

Systemic changes 

At Brandeis and beyond, we must advocate for policies that centralize the voices of Black people. We must donate, protest, educate ourselves and support people of color in this movement. This summer, Brandeis students have donated to bail funds, attended protests and helped to educate others on racism in the United States. 

In this statement, as a community newspaper, we want to centralize the resources and voices in our community to help us all advocate for change. Below, you’ll find examples of activism you can pursue in your community. 

Donate: 

Consider donating to bail funds in your area to assist protestors who have been arrested in paying for bail. The New York Times Magazine has an extensive list of bail funds, Black LGBTQ organizations, community support organizations and legal organizations here. This list is not exhaustive, and you can also find local organizations doing work in your community. 

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Department Undergraduate Department Representatives (UDRs) are fundraising to support student protestors, and student activists can contact Izzy Hochman ’22 and Cassipea Stith ’22 for funding. You can also donate to this fund over email or Venmo at cassipea.stith@gmail.com or isabelhochman35@gmail.com.

Protest:

Protesting, if you are able, is a great way to demonstrate your support for the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly to local legislatures. To protest during the COVID-19 epidemic, however, it is crucial to take necessary precautions. COVID-19 carries a different risk for everyone based on their personal health. While the World Health Organization (WHO) stands with protestors, they recommend wearing a face mask, distancing yourself from others as much as is possible, staying home if you’re sick, washing your hands and covering your cough, according to National Public Radio

Listen:

There are multiple voices in our community advocating for change—from student protest groups to professors. One of these voices is Professor Chad Williams (AAAS/HIST), the chair of the department of African and African American Studies (AAAS). Williams began the hashtag #CharlestonSyllabus on Twitter after the shootings at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015, according to a BrandeisNow article. The syllabus, which contains a list of readings, opinion pieces, poetry, films and other resources is hosted on the African American Intellectual History Society’s website. He is also the professor behind the course AAAS130: Black Brandeis, Black History. 

Another faculty member is Anita Hill (HS), professor of Social Policy, Law and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Hill has a long history in activism beyond Brandeis, known for her appearance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify against then-nominee and later confirmed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Recently, she and Williams discussed America’s Racial Reckoning in a June 12 conversation that can be streamed at Brandeis’ Youtube channel for those who did not attend the livestream. You can also read our coverage of the talk here.

Student voices, including the Still Concerned Students, who protested discrimination at Brandeis and advocated for policies that protect all students, are voices to look to when we (hopefully) return to campus in the fall. Their calls for transportation options other than university police vehicles during emergencies are echoed by the national calls for policing alternatives. 

Brandeis has historically failed and continues to fail students of color. It was the activism of students of color, specifically the 1969 Ford Hall protest, that directly led to the creation of an African and African American Studies Department. When these alumni returned for the department’s 50th anniversary, many questioned whether Brandeis had really changed. We must continue to listen to voices of color in this conversation, and constantly interrogate the university’s commitment to our Black students and students of color. We must hold Brandeis accountable.

Educate yourself:

Take courses with themes that address racial diversity and other principles of race. A Brandeis student compiled a list of classes being offered during the fall 2020 semester that have topics that focus on an aspect of race. Use the Charleston Syllabus to inform your summer reading. Engage with your parents, friends and family in conversations about race. 

Vote:

You can register to vote here and your vote, be it in your home state or in Massachusetts, can influence local and national elections alike. Young adults (Millennials and Gen Z) will represent 37 percent of eligible voters in 2020, according to an article from Axios. Our generation can and must vote to create lasting change.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. We encourage you to share your methods of activism and resources with each other. We hope this statement provides a small starting point for those looking to get involved, educate themselves or assist those around them. 

While systemic change is necessary, we must also evaluate our individual actions and values. We must listen to those who choose to share their experiences of racism and strive to improve our conduct with their words in mind. Changes in policy, while desperately needed, are of no use if individual attitudes do not change as well.

Change at The Hoot

As a community newspaper, we recognize that our editorial board and staff members do not reflect the diversity of the university. Of all the undergraduates at Brandeis, 46.1 percent identify as white, 14 percent Asian or Asian American, 8.3 percent Hispanic of any race, 5.2 percent Black or African American, 3.5 percent multi-racial, 0.2 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, and 0.1 percent indigenous. In comparison, The Hoot is made up of mostly white staff members, with four editors who identify as people of color. Almost all of our editorial board identifies as cisgender women. While we have made contact with different student groups and university departments to include more diverse voices in our paper, we have not done enough to be more inclusive, and we recognize blind spots in reporting on our end that have occurred in the past. 

These blind spots also reflect bias in the broader journalism industry. We have seen in recent weeks many headlines from top journalism publications showcasing a lack of diversity on editorial boards and unequal compensation for staff members of colors, highlighting an issue in a white-centric and male-dominated industry. 
We value you as members of our community and want to ensure that all community members and organizations are accurately represented in our newspaper. We would like to learn and grow as individuals and journalists and will do so by reading books and other resources about race, engaging in dialogue with community members and checking our own biases when we cover events. While it is not the responsibility of Black students, faculty and staff to educate us on the issues they face, it is important that when they speak up, we listen, as they are leaders in this movement. We also value your insight and feedback on our coverage; please do not hesitate to reach out to our editors-in-chief at eic@thebrandeishoot.com.

Menu Title