Like school newspapers worldwide, the Pathfinder is tasked with telling stories that otherwise may never be told. This is not a responsibility we take lightly. We are committed to using our platform to challenge injustice, uplift historically silenced voices and fight oppression in our community and beyond. We strive to promote true inclusivity and reflect our diverse student body.
This especially rings true in light of recent national events. We believe the racist murder of George Floyd—along with countless other acts of senseless police violence—are not isolated incidents. Rather, these tragedies are microcosms of systemic racism and its intertwined relationship with social, political and economic institutions. This is evident in our own community, where generations of discrimination from redlining in local housing markets to disparities in funding for public education continue to disproportionately affect Black St. Louisans. Thus, it should be no surprise that the Black Lives Matter movement initially rose to national prominence here in the Greater St. Louis area.
It is essential for the Pathfinder to acknowledge our past shortcomings in providing coverage representative of all members of our community. In 2014, Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Mo., approximately 20 miles from our campus. Between the time of Brown’s death and the announcement that police officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the killing, the Pathfinder published just two articles related to Ferguson: a news piece about the Help Heal Ferguson food drive and a feature on former Ferguson resident and then-sophomore Imari McCabe. While St. Louis—and the country as a whole—engaged in crucial discussions about racism and police brutality, the Pathfinder failed to adequately share the experiences and perspectives of all students, staff and alumni. Since then, we have written about issues such as alumnus Reggie Burns’ encounters with police discrimination and inequities within the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) program, but these mild improvements remain woefully insufficient. Even in the 2019-20 school year, internal evaluation of our coverage found significant underrepresentation of Black voices in our community.
More essential than acknowledgment, however, is accountability and action. In the coming school year, we as a publication will educate ourselves regarding inclusive journalistic practices. For example, we will ensure that the sources interviewed for our stories reflect the diversity of our community and that we use inclusive word choice. Additionally, we always welcome reader feedback through the “Contact Us” section of our website or by emailing a letter to the editor to [email protected]
These are not the only problems we intend to address. When we recruit new staffers, we have not made concerted efforts to encourage people of color, particularly Black students, to join our program. A lack of diversity in our staff is not—and never will be—an excuse for a lack of diversity in our coverage, but it is another aspect of the Pathfinder that we will work toward reforming.
We must collectively take accountability and commit to dismantling white supremacy and oppressive structures in all forms. To our Black community, we stand in solidarity with you and we unequivocally say that Black Lives Matter.