Bwog stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the protestors across the country calling for an end to police brutality, white supremacy, and accountability for the police officers and white civilians that murdered George Floyd, Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and the other Black Americans who have faced violence while living in a country founded on white supremacy. This is not a political debate. It is a matter of who we, as a country, believe has the right to live freely and safely within our borders.
We are currently organizing our finances in order to set up a donation matching program to match donations made o organizations that uplift Black voices and Black communities. In the meantime, we have created a guide to help Columbia students stand up for the movement and advocate for Black Lives Matter. We encourage our non-Black readers to educate themselves on how to be a good ally, donate to Black organizations, buy from Black-owned businesses, sign petitions, and call their elected officials, particularly if you cannot protest in person due to location or health fears due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is not a change that we can only engage over the course of weeks or months. We recognize that Bwog is currently a primarily white publication. In the long-term, we will continue to work to ensure the diversity of our staffers reflects the diversity of our community, that Black voices are heard in campus news, and that non-Black staffers have the training necessary to write about issues that impact Black communities and other communities of color with sensitivity and compassion.
Additionally, we urge Columbia to diverge from its relationship with the NYPD, reevaluate the role and practices of Public Safety on Columbia and Barnard’s campuses, and devote more of its resources to supporting Black students and communities. The violence of the NYPD in the face of largely peaceful protests are further confirmation that the NYPD has no place on our campus—their presence puts Black Columbia students and members of our surrounding community in danger. Issues of over-policing Black students, white supremacy, and racism have directly impacted our campus in recent years, including but not limited to the assault of a Black student by Public Safety, the racist rant in front of Butler, leaks of racist messages from club group chats, and the ongoing gentrification of Harlem. These events show that there is clearly a larger problem of racism and white supremacy at our university. As one of our country’s richest universities, Columbia has the means and reach to dedicate itself to eradicating these structural issues.
It is not enough to be “not racist.” As Black scholars such as Ibrahm X. Kendi have made clear for decades, we must be actively anti-racist. Silence is complicity and the Columbia administration has remained inexcusably inactive as others with far less power and privilege advocate for structural change. As the Columbia and Slavery project has shown, white supremacy and the oppression of Black people have been part of this university since its founding. It is time for Columbia to move beyond form emails in the face of a national uprising and actively commit to building a world without police brutality, white supremacy, and anti-Black racism.
The Editorial Board
photo via Bwog Archive