Editorial: Tufts must take action to support black students

Content warning: This article references instances of police brutality against black individuals.

The Daily unequivocally stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and members of the black community. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless other unarmed black individuals at the hands of law enforcement demonstrate that systemic racism is unjustly embedded in American institutions and inherent to many positions of power. It is the responsibility of all members of the Tufts community to actively fight against racial injustice, to educate ourselves about racial disparities ingrained in our society and to call out the ways our campus contributes to these injustices. We cannot tolerate the deaths of any more innocent, black individuals, and we must fight for those whose voices have been silenced.

Tufts is not shielded from instances of discrimination. Last month, an investigation of work conditions in the Tufts University Mail Services Department revealed instances of racial discrimination, as employees alleged that Sheila Chisholm, the previous manager of Support & Administrative Services, often displayed unconcealed racism toward employees of color. In January 2019, a Tufts student posted an Instagram story of themselves in blackface. In the previous semester, white nationalist posters with the phrase “It’s okay to be white” were found plastered on campus grounds. An opinion piece published by the Tufts Observer in 2017 shed light on various descriptions of racial discrimination against students of color on campus by Tufts University police officers. These are just some overt cases of racial discrimination; countless acts of covert racism occur in our daily lives, concealed by rigid social norms and ignorance. 

In response to many of these events, the administration condemned the racist actions in the form of an email to the Tufts community. Although the acknowledgment of these injustices is a necessary first step, these statements do not go far enough. It is insufficient for Tufts to simply call out racism without taking concrete action. While the university put together Bias Response Teams in October 2019 to address discrimination on campus, the administration has failed to provide the community with meaningful updates and transparency about the university’s ongoing actions to confront racism. University President Anthony Monaco’s recent statements on racial injustice and invitation to a university-wide virtual gathering tomorrow are necessary first steps to engendering meaningful action; however, we must continue to hold the university and our community accountable for following through with such commitments.

We demand our administration to take tangible steps to support the Black Lives Matter movement, such as hiring and retaining more faculty of color, providing adequate counseling services for its students of color, prioritizing the funding of departments such as the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora, and funding anti-racist research, like Boston University recently did with the creation of its Center for Antiracist Research. In addition, the university should listen to the concerns of its students and reevaluate the presence of police on campus. We call on our fellow student organizations to actively stand with the black community and to find ways that their own groups can address structural inequalities both within and outside of their organizations. We urge all members of the Tufts community to peacefully protest, to sign petitions that demand justice for the loss of innocent black lives, to read and watch books and films made by black creators, to support black-owned businesses, to vote in the upcoming primaries and, if you have the means, to donate to causes affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, such as bail funds and supplies for protestors. 

In an effort to further understand how the Tufts community can better support its black students, the Daily spoke with Katrina Moore, the director of the Africana Center at Tufts. While Moore stated that she believes Tufts is moving in the right direction, she also said that there is still much work to be done. In order to move forward, Moore argued that, as a community, we must acknowledge the reality of racism in America. 

“Unless all of us are willing to put the name to what is happening in this country, then there is no way we are going to make any progress,” Moore said. 

Above all, Moore emphasized that all members of the Tufts community must commit to fighting for change, not just those who are the subjects of discrimination. For white individuals, Moore stressed that a key first step of addressing this reality is to examine their whiteness and the privilege that comes with it. Those in this position of privilege should educate themselves and do their own research rather than solely relying on predominantly black institutions, such as the Africana Center, to fight against injustice on their own. 

 “This is not a black and white issue anymore. This is something that all of us have to work on to change the structural problems that we have on the campus,” Moore said.

It is crucial that we stand together to fight for racial justice and translate the momentum of the past two weeks into sustained action. In order to create concrete change, the entirety of our community must mobilize behind Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist movements. We must commit to confronting oppression head-on by educating ourselves about racial injustice on our campus and in our society. We must stand alongside the black community, rather than rely on its members to fight for justice alone. Non-black members of our community must examine their own privileges and educate themselves. Dismantling centuries of systemic racial injustice will require persistent, continuous work on the part of all members of our community. As we take on this fight together, we must pledge to value and fight for black lives every day, month and year until real, meaningful change is made. 

We encourage our readers to sign petitions in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, provide support for activists and donate to the cause, such as through the Black Lives Matter donation page. Here is an independently compiled collection of links to petitions, places to donate and help for protestors. 

Editor’s note: The Tufts Daily stands in solidarity with the black community and extends our steadfast support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Daily recognizes its status as a predominantly white institution.

The Daily has made an effort to improve the ways we ensure thoughtful, fair coverage in recent semesters. In doing so, we have restructured our Intentionality & Inclusivity Committee and revamped our editorial procedures. We recognize that imperfections remain, and we have not done enough in the past; however, we will continue to fight for inclusive representation and purposeful, fair content in our paper.

Additionally, we recognize the need for an available space and are committed to amplifying black and allied voices on our campus. The Opinion inbox, [email protected], remains open for 150–300 word letters to the editor directly addressing Tufts Daily coverage as well as 600–1200 word op-eds. In this way, we aim to serve the Tufts community and continue this vital conversation through listening, learning and reflecting.


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