In response to Feb. 26 article: ‘SGA Redefines Blackness’

By Letter to the Editor, by Khai Clardy

I am writing to the editor and senior staff of The Chronicle to share my grievances on the cover story of this week’s issue. Initially, I was offended with the headline, “SGA Redefines Blackness,” as it implies several things, none of which being the point of the story. The headline implies that SGA is doing something for Blackness—which it isn’t, even if it was then the article should reflect that, and this Q&A fell short of connecting to anything. It should read “Black Excellence permeates SGA.” I use the word permeate specifically because it is a word that connects the two entities with force, in a strong and positive tone rather than to isolate one another.

As someone with knowledge of both SGA and BSU and the fluidity between their executive boards, the real story is the history that is being made with the joint forces of Malik Woolfork, Cameron Hubert, Veronique Hall, Frita Beauchamp and Jazmin Bryant: all of who serve(d) on both the SGA and BSU e-board, or are current members. Did you know that? Would you know that from the questions being asked in this article?

Did you know that each of these students is also involved in organizations and companies outside of running SGA? They have a combined network of social influencers, educators and creators that have contributed to this school through hosting events and workshops and overall boosting morale on campus. They’ve brought brands such as BET, Cholette and RedBull to Columbia’s campus outside of their work for the SGA—these people are newsworthy. Their stories matter. To have a writer discredit their work by not even mentioning or asking about their accomplishments is pathetic and degrades the entire publication.

Not only was the word choice wrong in the headline, but the questions spew prejudice and take away from the power of the individuals. It’s Black History Month and your writer literally asked, “What do you want people to know about being Black?” and “What should people who are not Black know about Black History Month?” As a journalist, I am floored at the low-quality questioning. These are horrible questions and they focus solely on blackness but in a distasteful and uneducated way.

Let’s take race out the conversation. From a journalist viewpoint, do you believe this story was newsworthy, well-written or thought-provoking? Does it address any particular conflict or issue? Does it engage the reader? Do you think the length of the Q&A consititues a cover story? Everything is wrong with this. It reads like a last-minute fluff piece, like you’re trying to meet your diversity quota and fit in a “black” story for Black History month—it feels like an inconvenience, like you had to shift stories to fit this in for metrics.

From this article, it is clear as day that there are zero people of color on your editorial staff, which is a whole different story, and the lack of diversity will continue to offend minorities if you don’t change your approach. My last question is who approved this piece? I know too many journalism students at Columbia that would’ve nailed this interview for this to be acceptable. It wouldn’t hurt to amp up your hiring process either because the entire publication looks like a joke with this story, and the fact that the online version had a typo in the headline.

I no longer support this publication and will continue to spread the word about your insensitivity and incompetence on racial issues. I am also requesting a written apology to the staff of SGA and the readers as I am not the only student to take issue with this story.

Khai Clardy, senior multimedia journalism major

Editor’s Response:

The Chronicle thanks you for sharing your thoughts with us and would like to clarify a couple points. The statement that The Chronicle does not have people of color on staff is false, and the editor who assigned this story is a woman of color.

We are sorry you found issue with the piece, and it was never The Chronicle’s intention to offend. The newspaper takes diversity very seriously, which is why we cover and write about issues of diversity nearly every week.