Anyone picking up this paper — a little heavier than normal, with extra pages for content — will flip through and see the majority of stories are centered on race at Duquesne. I mean, it’s in big font on the front page. The majority of people this special issue consists of are Black.
Except our staff.
There’s no ignoring the irony at best and hypocrisy at worst of an all-white staff dedicating a 16-page issue to sharing the stories of what it’s like to be Black at Duquesne. Publishing this paper without acknowledging this would be a failure on our part as your student journalists; it would be as if a newspaper dedicated an entire issue to supporting women’s rights and rejecting misogyny, but written by an all-male staff.
We see what you’re seeing. As we talk about the lack of racial diversity at Duquesne, we know that our very own staff doesn’t reflect the diversity the voices in these pages are calling for. And we know that we will never be able to fully understand the daily obstacles and challenges our fellow Black students have to face just because of the color of their skin.
The Duke staff acknowledges that the people included in these stories know a very different Duquesne than we do. And we know that without sharing their voices and perspectives, many other non-Black Duquesne students would leave this school after four years without recognizing the struggles of their own classmates.
The past year has been nothing short of a wreck. We live in a nation where freedom is determined by the color of your skin and even a global pandemic is politicized. Cries for justice continue to be hushed by individuals and groups who disregard the very real challenges faced by their neighbors. White Americans complain on social media that not everything needs to be a “race issue” as Black sons and daughters are being murdered down the street.
We don’t want this pain to be ignored or brushed over. We want this injustice to be acknowledged outside of our Duquesne bubble. We want the voices of our fellow Black classmates, roommates, professors and staff to be heard and acknowledged.
For the 2020-2021 academic year, The Duke has been sponsored by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies to execute a project titled “Black Voices Matter.” We dedicated this project to intentionally projecting the voices of Black members of the Duquesne and Pittsburgh community with the hopes that they would use the student newspaper as a platform for sharing their unique perspectives.
When the mother of a Black Duquesne student calls for justice over her son’s death and a white professor uses the N-word repeatedly in a lecture, the voices of Duquesne’s Black community need to be heard and shared.
However, we know that words aren’t enough, and that we as a staff need to do more than just acknowledge this irony. Without including Black students in our staff and hiring Black individuals to be part of the editorial team, we will continue to be a part of the problem. We are committing ourselves to making the diversity we’re calling for happen in our own newsroom, knowing that without diversity, this newspaper will fail to be the voice of all of Duquesne.
To the Black members of the Duquesne community, know that we hear you. We love you. And we know that this newsroom needs to change.
Thank you for your support and your grace, and for using these pages as a platform for your voices.