Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, April 21, 2018

Staff editorial: On creating a better community

As members of the community, whether student, staff, faculty or media, we must do more

Staff editorial: On creating a better community

The AU community has been no stranger to incidents of racism and a lack of inclusion for people of color. In recent events, two black women were harassed by white male students in Anderson Hall, escalating to the point that one woman had a banana thrown at her.

It is clear that these incidents are not isolated. Rather, they are part of a campus environment that allows blatant acts of abuse, discrimination and hate to frequently occur. No person should have to fear for their safety - not within the place they call their home or outside of it.

In reaction to these events, members of AU’s black community held a rally Monday during which they shared their stories of pain and hurt, alienation and isolation. Their stories were not easy to hear, nor were they comfortable to take in. Students of color are wounded and feel their voices are either drowned out or fall upon deaf ears. As members of the community, whether student, staff or faculty, we must do better. It is our obligation to lean into the discomfort we feel as we hear what our neighbors tell us and then, we must act.

Our greatest strength lies in the words we say. While words of cruelty have shown their power to tear others down, we must instead use our words to bring about the seeds of change. In the weeks that follow, deep introspection is imperative. We will ask ourselves the tough questions because we have not been doing enough for our peers. For too many students, their race, ethnicity or nationality has come with baggage or fear. It is time for us to evaluate ourselves - what are we doing as people and as part of organizations in order to foster environments that are inclusive?

Our administration must pave the way by truly engaging with the student body regarding race relations. We look to our administrators to be the leaders in these conversations, always keeping their doors wide open to students of color. They must be open to hearing the problems and active in offering solutions.

Nevertheless, these are not problems that are solved overnight. They are not problems with simple and painless solutions. The attitudes associated with racism are those that have festered in an environment that has allowed them to exist. Perhaps by way of ignoring microaggressions or staying silent instead of making noise, we have all aided to the racial hostility. Even if our administrators are not being the leaders we need them to be, it is on us as a student body to be the leaders we want to see. We cannot continue to re-apply band aid after band aid as a temporary solution.

In this time of tension, we owe each other respect. We owe each other the patience to help each other learn as we seek to find the answers. We owe each other our ears to listen as students of color share their concerns and struggles. We must be committed to asking ourselves, “what more can I do?”

As an organization, we at The Eagle recognize that we must take these steps ourselves. We have work to do in creating an inclusive, collaborative environment where people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves into the newsroom. We are working to better understand how to bring due diligence to issues that are close to our hearts while still acting as journalists.

We will strive to create spaces where others feel safe and loved, where people are unafraid to ask tough questions and receive honest answers. We will feel the outrage and sadness that we felt today, as we heard from our peers at their most raw and vulnerable, every day of the week. Although we acknowledge we are not perfect, we will search to do better and challenge each other with care every step of the way. When we do these things, we begin to break down the cycle of hate.

Change may not occur overnight, but it will occur far faster when we stand together to make it happen.

edpage@theeagleonline.com


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