As The Beacon editorial board, we have watched the last week unfold in silence. That silence must be broken. Although The Beacon typically does not publish over summer break, recent events are deserving of as much volume as we can give.
The murder of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis has sparked a chain of revolution in all 50 states and across the globe. In our home of Portland - which despite its progressive reputation, is still reeling from a long history of racism - protesters have walked the streets nightly for the last week. One night, the Portland police kneeled with the protesters in supposed solidarity. Shortly after this picturesque moment, protesters were assaulted with tear gas.
The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated incident. The murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Aubery, Atatiana Jefferson and many others were not isolated incidents. The murders of innocent men and women in our country, enacted by the police force who have been hired to protect our citizens, is a direct result and continuing evolution of the systemic racism that has persisted throughout our country’s history.
We at The Beacon editorial board want to express our support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Beacon’s motto is “seek the truth and report it.” As a journalism organization, our role within the UP community is to provide accurate information for our readers, to serve as a platform for all voices, and to call our own community members to demonstrate responsibility. We stand with those who are demanding justice, accountability from the police and government and that fundamental human rights be recognized and respected for all people.
During this time, it is understandable to feel confused, angry, and disillusioned. But we encourage you to persevere. There are many things you can do in order to make this time meaningful and beneficial not only for yourself but for the communities you belong to.
The University of Portland is a predominantly white institution where people of color are underrepresented within our student body, our administration and our faculty. To the non-black people in our audience - take this time to learn what a good ally is and how to be one, what anti-racism is and how to act on it. It is your moral and ethical obligation to amplify oppressed voices. It is your obligation to come to terms with your inherent privilege; it is your obligation to learn that racism is not always the blatant portrayals of media and Disney specials, but can be buried under intricate layers of social norms. It is your obligation to start educating yourselves, and never stop.
Last school year, The Beacon editorial board published an editorial on the importance of media literacy. This is more relevant now than ever. Remember that news organizations, no matter how popular, may not always report the whole, unbiased truth. Media sources in the U.S. have consistently demonized protesters, masking the true message of the Black Lives Matter movement under reports of looting and violence. We do not condone the destruction of property, especially the property of small and struggling businesses. However, we urge our audience to reconsider before they equate property destruction with police brutality of human beings. Exercise empathy, and prioritize people over possessions.
If you have been watching the recent protests and riots in the U.S. with the same sudden humility and awe that we have, take action to make a difference. If you are a white individual attending a protest, remember to amplify and protect black voices, but do not obstruct them. Don’t incite violence.
If you are unable to protest and are in a comfortable place to donate, allocate your funds to bail funds and movements across the U.S. If you don’t have the resources to donate money, donate your time instead. Amplify black voices by seeking out black creators and sharing their work. Sign petitions, educate yourself, and hold the difficult conversations with your family that have been so long delayed. Talk to people in your life about privilege; start conversations about systemic racism in America.
Remember that at this moment in history, the spotlight is on the Black Lives Matter movement and the voices of the black community. Our communities are counting on us to listen to and stand with them. University of Portland students characterize themselves by their strong moral code, drive, and abiding intelligence. In these dire times, do not fail yourselves and the community around you. Extend the same passion and integrity that you devote to the University of Portland community to the citizens of our country.
Have something to say about this? We’re dedicated to publishing a wide variety of viewpoints, and we’d like to hear from you. Voice your opinion in The Beacon.