As we watched protests unfold across the country in response to racial injustice and police brutality this summer, the board of the Old Gold & Black published a staff editorial titled “How Wake Forest Should Truly Begin Combating Systemic Racism.” Along with calling on the university to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for white supremacy and urging white students to actively call on the university to support their peers of color, we also established the need for our publication to actively and diligently report on these issues.
When assessing the progression of race relations in America, or lack thereof, it is critical that we as a university take responsibility for the role our institution has played in perpetuating injustice. Though specific articles have been written in our publication unveiling both recent and past racist events and actions, we have decided to publish a comprehensive timeline that provides our readers with an overarching history of the university’s race relations — including both moments of injustice and progress. Yet as comprehensive as this timeline is, it is critical to consider the events that are not marked in this timeline because they were never recorded in writing or photography. The acknowledgement of daily racist occurrences and microaggressions can help to better place the overtly racist events presented in this historical tracing.
We must also remember that the presence of racist attitudes on campus is a current reality, not just a past one. “
We are aware that some of these images are graphic and disturbing. After careful deliberation of whether or not to include certain events and details, we thought deeply about our responsibility as a campus publication to provide our community with the unfiltered truth. In order to reckon with our past, we must face it intentionally and earnestly.
You’ll notice that the timeline begins in 1883, but marks the latest racist action taking place as late as last year in 2019. Though the actions taken by certain individuals cannot represent the opinions of the entire university community, we must work to build a future where we all feel personally outraged by attacks of this nature. We must also remember that the presence of racist attitudes on campus is a current reality, not just a past one.
In order for us to begin moving forward as a university, and more broadly as a nation, our predominantly white student body should task themselves with interrogating and processing these truths of Mother So Dear. The emotional labor of reckoning with the realities of racism is not something that can be solely experienced by our Black peers, and white students must take on that burden.