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Staff Editorial: We stand with the protesters, and with you

By Featured, Letters, News

Broad attention has suddenly focused on police brutality and racism, but the world has not changed — the way that a large share of privileged people look at it has changed. White, mainstream, corporate America is beginning to respond to issues that generations of black and brown activists, academics, and artists have long fought for. As part of the media, F Newsmagazine is committed to maintaining that new normal and furthering that change. 

We the F Newsmagazine staff condemn police violence, racialized violence, the violence of the prison-industrial complex, and American military and colonial violence everywhere. We condemn liberal attempts at “reform” of inherently oppressive systems, and we condemn the suppression of protesters and the press. As journalists, we reject media biases that pass as “objectivity” but uphold nothing but the oppressive social order. At F, we renew our commitment to questioning the status quo and those in power. We also renew our commitment to reporting on police brutality and systematic racism in Chicago, but we also promise to center the stories of the protesters and activist groups who seek to make Chicago a better place. 

As art students and artists, we demand an end to empty curatorial gestures highlighting a handful of artists of color in moments of tokenism from institutions run by white millionaires donating pennies from profits derived from militarized violence — manufacturing the tear gas used on refugees and protesters, running private prisons, and military contractors in Iraq. From the Art Institute of Chicago, our parent institution, we demand more diverse hiring practices and more diverse programming, and we question the Institute’s continued “ownership” of artifacts that came from colonized cultures. To our fellow artists, we stress that we will not tolerate any white artists capitalizing on these tragedies or on this movement. In our own pages, F will highlight more black artists and artists of color, including those outside of the mainstream, and we will seek to have those profiles and reviews written by students of diverse backgrounds. 

As a part of the SAIC community, we are committed to cutting through SAIC’s “progressive” image to examine how our school is actually structured. For example, how many department heads or tenured faculty are people of color? Why, when 30% of Chicago’s population is black, is only 4% of SAIC’s student population black, and only 6.4% of faculty? Why were efforts made to conceal an administrator’s racially insensitive mistake at a faculty-staff meeting? Within the F Newsmagazine team, we promise to cultivate a culture of discussion and growth, without perpetuating “callout” or “cancel” culture, and to extend that culture outward into the greater SAIC community. Last year, the F staff was 50% white, and our editorial staff was 80% white. That will not be the case next year. We will interrogate why fewer BIPOC students feel welcome or aware they can apply to F, and figure out how to make that process more accommodating. We pledge to do better hiring outreach, publish more writing by black students and students of color, and provide additional training and support. Instead of waiting for you to reach out to us, we will reach out to you. 

This year, F is in a unique position to make change from within, because most of our staff is graduating. Almost all of our editorial positions will be open this fall. We are even more committed to reporting on racial justice than ever, but that will not change the power structure at SAIC or at F News. The conversation changes when the voices speaking change. If you are a black writer or a writer of color, and interested in editing and publishing, join us. Become the 2020-2021 team. Make this your newspaper.

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