Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Don’t talk about it, be about it

The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Saturday, Miami University released a statement of solidarity, condemning racism after the murder of George Floyd.

The statement is a good start. But what’s next?

If Miami as an institution and we as its community are stopping at written statements and social media posts, we have failed. Those are conversation starters. Now, it’s time to have those meaningful conversations, build upon them and take further action.

In the past, and continuing with Saturday’s statement, Miami’s administration has been reactive and performative when it comes to addressing racism. It takes blatant offenses, like racist images in yearbooks, racial slurs in group chats or posted advertisements for white supremacy groups on campus, to spur action. 

We challenge our Miami administration and community, which was more than 72 percent white last fall, to be proactive and informative when addressing racism both on campus and across the country. 

Here’s what Miami’s administration could do to support Miami’s black students and community members:

  • When dealing with racism, it isn’t always necessary to follow trends. Don’t release a bland statement only because everyone else is doing it. Release one of substance, and be specific.

  • Create tangible and meaningful initiatives, not open-ended public relations jargon like “From Now On.”

  • Educate faculty and staff on the history of racism at Miami and on racial biases, both implicit and explicit. Make a racism/racial bias module mandatory for every student, not only incoming first-years. Continue to teach about those topics throughout a student’s time at Miami. A unit in University 101 classes is a perfect opportunity.

  • Hold the Miami University Police Department and the Oxford Police Department accountable in their dealings with students of color when needed. Continue to work with them to foster the best relationship possible with students.

  • Listen to black students and other students of color. Address their struggles in a meaningful way.

Here’s what non-black students could do to be allies to black peers:

  • Educate yourselves on the history of racism — both individual and systemic — in the United States and at Miami.

  • Assess and understand your biases and privileges, and have conversations with others about them.

  • Call out your friends for making racist jokes or saying racial slurs. Tell them that’s not OK and won’t be tolerated.

  • Reach out to Associated Student Government senators as a liaison to the university’s administration with concerns or ideas on how to curb racism on campus.

  • Sign petitions in support of equal rights.

  • Donate to freedom funds or organizations like Black Lives Matter and the NAACP if you have the means.

  • Don’t let the outrage end with the protests. Keep fighting to make change even after things return to “normal.”

We have a lot of smart, creative people at Miami who could really bring about change. Some are already doing so. Oxford police chief John Jones put out a statement this week, and we acknowledge him for it. We hope its sentiment is being instilled in all of the officers in his department. The same goes for Miami’s head football coach, Chuck Martin, and his statement

This topic crosses political party lines. It’s not an issue of politics. It’s about basic human rights. It’s about saving lives. That can’t be pushed aside just because there’s a pandemic going on and a university budget to be balanced. We need to come together as a Miami community to finally knock out racism on our campus.

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We’re not calling you out, Miami. We’re calling you up. From now on, right?