My name is Maya, and I am co-editor and chief of the Bard this year. Working on the Bard with my team is my favorite part of the week and I believe in the potential of this magazine immensely. Our recent issue published a profile about a student in our school who works tirelessly with the Black Lives Matter movement, educating herself and others about the ideas of racism, power structures, and privilege. This student is white, and it can often feel strange to see a white girl so actively involved in a black movement; nonetheless, we think very highly of her and her passions, so we published a profile about her in the Bard. Afterwards, we received some negative feedback about choosing to profile her rather than a minority voice, as well as framing the article so that it celebrated her work on a national scale rather than acknowledging the many minority voices who haven’t been heard and putting the problem on a broader scope.
I think that when shifting a publication towards having a more of a political focus, there will always be controversy, opposing opinions, and general unpleasantness. When first confronted with the thought that this article was insensitive to the Black Lives Matter movement, I immediately became very defensive. I, along with the rest of the Bard team, put blood and sweat into making this issue happen and we were genuinely intrigued and passionate about every person we profiled. Defensiveness is a normal reaction to criticism and can’t be dismissed. But becoming defensive about the things you love often leads to enlightenment later on—it’s a gateway into understanding what you believe, assume, and misunderstand. I don’t feel that apologizing for the article is the right action. We worked to put a voice in our school’s race discourse that is at this point thin and lacking, and we will never apologize for trying.
But I also believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. The Bard, like us, isn’t perfect and is always growing and learning. While conversations around this article became personal and condescending very quickly, I think that understanding the politics at play and admitting to certain assumptions and privileges is worth doing. I am beginning to understand that this article framed the student’s work in the Black Lives Matter movement in a way that may have silenced minority voices and taken up space; ironically, the girl we profiled is incredible at acknowledging her privilege and being an ally in the cause, not a central figure taking up space. Apparently, we are less skilled at doing that. But rather than continue attacking each other, I will step off my high horse and acknowledge that the article could have discussed the movement more holistically, and it certainly could have brought in more minority voices. At the same time, I encourage everyone involved in this movement, and any other social justice movement, to see those around you adding to the discussion as a voice worth saving, not tearing down and discouraging. The Bard is in no way done talking about politics, art, lifestyle, and everything in between. But we also aren’t perfect and will always work towards being better, educating ourselves, and acknowledging when we fall short.