Letter From the Editorial Board Concerning Our Recent Black History Month Edition

Jules Bourbeau, Olivia Silvey, Savannah Brookes

Editorial Board

Last week, several representatives from the Multicultural Affairs Council (MAC) came to us with concerns regarding our Black History Month edition. They expressed that many Black members of the Trinity community did not feel represented by the issue and that it did not provide an adequate picture of the month, neither in content nor in spirit. We agree with them. We must acknowledge that we failed to produce a quality BHM edition, regardless of our intentions. That something that we published caused pain and hardship among not only Black students at Trinity, but also faculty, staff and alumni is unjust, and we apologize for it.

By focusing on more generally affiliated organizations and events for students of color, we failed to center Blackness, as our last editorial discussed. This is part of a larger problem of Black erasure, in which the joys, struggles and experiences unique to Black people are subsumed under one “nonwhite” existence. While it is undeniably important to celebrate all people of color, it was an egregious mistake to fall into this trope in particular as part of our BHM edition. This is not to say that we universally denounce the work of our authors or interviewees featured in the issue – besides, we as leaders must take the highest responsibility – but only that we have lots of room for improvement.

We are deeply grateful for the students, faculty and staff of MAC for not only having this discussion with us, but being generous enough to provide insight into how we can improve. In addition, we thank any students, faculty, staff, alumni and others who did not speak to us directly, but who provided feedback through MAC. That they trusted us enough to bring their concerns to us is incredibly meaningful. While they never should have had to be our educators in the first place, we appreciate their dedication to envisioning and working towards a better future for the Tripod. As three white editors, we have plenty of blind spots. It is clear to us that we need more robust communication between ourselves and the MAC organizations, and student organizations in general.

Of course, no apology is worthwhile without action to rectify our mistakes. We plan on creating a new, digital BHM edition that will aim to better center and represent Black history and organizations at Trinity. At the request of MAC, we have decided to keep the old edition online, as we do not wish to sweep our mistakes under the rug. Its position in comparison to the upcoming improved edition is also part of the story we, as a paper, are telling, even if we would rather that it had not ever caused harm in the first place. We cannot undo it; we can only move forward in the hopes that we do not repeat our mistakes.

It is clear that our troubles run deeper than one edition, however. In the coming months, we will work on implementing internal changes that, while we are still working on the details, we hope will help bring us more in line with our goals of accurately representing all of Trinity College and the wider Hartford community. We recognize that what goes on behind the scenes is often obscure for our readers, which can exacerbate divisions between the Tripod and the rest of the Trinity community. This is yet another reason why we wish to foster greater communication between ourselves and other student organizations.

As the participants in our conversation with MAC continually expressed, the Tripod is a vital resource not just for the Trinity of today, but for the Trinity of tomorrow. We agree wholeheartedly. In some of our other special editions, we have highlighted pieces written as long as a century ago, and we similarly hope that our work can remain relevant and meaningful a century from today. Our previous edition is not how we wish to represent BHM 2024 to our readers of the future. If our coverage is all that is documented of an event or series of events, then our words come to represent the entirety of what happened. If said coverage is inaccurate or inappropriate, then we have effectively rewritten history. It is imperative, therefore, that we get it right.

The Tripod is a collaborative endeavor, not just in the sense that we bring together many editors, writers and interviewees, but also in that we must aim to work with our readers and, perhaps even more-so, those who choose not to engage with us. The news is a constant dialogue between publication and people — we did not do our part in initiating, partaking in and listening to this conversation. This discussion is not, and never will be, over, and we welcome any and all continued criticism and commentary, whether in the form of a published piece or otherwise.

We may be “just” a student newspaper, but we must not forget that this status grants us several opportunities. We have the privilege to see Trinity from the inside and to build a representation of ourselves that we wish to see. We must not waste this opportunity. We have a unique position that allows us to truly engage with the community we aim to cover, and we apologize for our failure to properly take advantage of this position. In our previous edition, we called on our readers to critically examine their movements in the world, and now it is our turn to do so.

Please stay on the lookout for our upcoming online edition in which we will cover events such as the Feb. 29 Solidifying Our Unified Legacy Gala that featured the impactful Francesca Borges Gordon ‘82. We apologize that we cannot publish this issue more immediately, but we owe it to our readers to take the time to produce the best possible BHM edition that we can.

-JOB, OPS, SNB

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