We must fight racism on all fronts

Make DEI changes by coming together as a commmunity

As the Midway sees it…

artwork by Risa Cohen

After the community was notified about a racist meme that a student published on social media Dec. 13, the Editorial Board had a plan for this edition. We published an editorial on Jan. 10 suggesting that the community not “cancel” the student. Last week, history teacher Naadia Owens submitted a letter in response, and we attended the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly. Ms. Owens’ letter is published on the Midway website, and below we share with you a new opinion.

At the Jan. 16 assembly, the Black Students’ Association leaders delivered an open letter to the U-High community in response to the December incident and problems with racism and intolerance. They emphasized that the black community cannot be the only group fighting for diversity, equity and inclusion at the Laboratory Schools. The Midway staff strongly agrees with this sentiment.

As the BSA called for in their letter, non-black students need to stand up and fight against anti-black racism. Marginalized groups should be able to count on allies in the fight against discrimination. Historically, minority rights have been achieved through majority efforts. 

Bias and discrimination are cyclical phenomena. Everyone has a certain identity or culture, hence we need to come together to fight racism and ignorance whether we are — or could be — a target. The Lab community needs to realize that racism is not only a problem for marginalized groups. Non-black students need to go beyond the role of supporting the fight of others and push for institutional transformations.

This may sound like an obvious argument, but due to December’s racist incident, we felt it needed clarification. People who wouldn’t label themselves as “racists” can still do racist things. Even people who consider themselves as allies in the fight against racism can be unaware of their biases. We still believe that we can’t just cancel or cast aside the people who engage in this behavior. The BSA said it best in their letter: “We believe that every student should be given a chance to redeem themselves and that incidents like these are prime teaching moments.” 

Furthermore, the responsibility to educate people should not always fall on students of color. As the BSA suggested, we need to come together as a community and clearly state in the handbook the consequences for these actions. 

Change occurs when a diverse community bands together and demands it. It is time all students of all backgrounds ask more from the administration and faculty to stop future acts of bigotry from happening.