Letter From the Editors: May 2020


Charlie Sagner

Clockwise from top left: Managing editor Anna Yuan, managing editor Ally Navarrete and editor-in-chief Dana Herrnstadt.

On March 11, we drafted the following:

We published a staff editorial a year ago: Forget Whitman’s reputation; Let’s talk about racism. It was our way of responding to an incident where Whitman students posted a photo on social media in what appeared to be blackface, captioning the photo with the N-word. After this March’s incident, when someone spray-painted racist grafiti on our school grounds, referencing lynching and depicting a noose, we were at a loss. We didn’t want to write another staff editorial. We didn’t want to say the same thing twice. 

Rather than writing a nearly identical editorial, we decided to reshare our editorial from last year across our social media platforms. Our community should be one that promotes acceptance, and as student journalists, we want to emphasize that in every way possible. The Black & White continues to lack non-white voices, but this year, we’ve made a concious effort to highlight more diverse voices and perspectives.

Our reporters covered various events within our community, all of which saw Whitman students at the forefront. The Black Student Union planned and executed a Black History Month assembly for all Whitman students. Students in the Whitman community celebrated Chinese New Year with their families and friends. Whitman students in the Capital Youth Outreach Club raised money to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak in China.  

This is where we left off on March 11.

We planned on finishing this letter our next class period on March 12. But, after considering the new reality of COVID-19 in the U.S., we made a decision: We wrote, but not this letter. We wrote something else.

In our staff editorial from our second-to-last in-school day of senior year, we outlined the dangers of staying in school and continuing on like normal. Now, two months later, our perceptions of “normal” have changed indefinitely.

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is our commitment to journalism. Since we’ve been quarantined, our staff has continued to write, report and inform. Our articles, though, have shifted focus from day-to-day school happenings to the impact of the pandemic on our entire community. 

We’ve written blogs, features, opinions, sports and of course, news after news after news story. We’ve tackled schadenfreude, struggling local businesses, the Class of 2020’s heartbreak and the experiences of a writer studying abroad in France during the outbreak.

On May 15, we sat down together (virtually) to write the rest of this letter. The events from the first few paragraphs seem like they happened years ago — but it’s important that we still reflect and continue to make the necessary changes. While this pandemic may be at the forefront of our current mindset, there will be a “new normal” that follows. And, when that time comes, we have to remember that this pandemic doesn’t erase other issues from memory; we still have to confront the problems in the world with the same vigor we did before.

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