By Shanequa Winstead
November 30, 1992 was the date in which the first issue of the Nubian Message was printed. Despite the fact that this newspaper is almost 20 years old, our student media counterparts have yet to grasp the simple yet necessary purpose of this newspaper.
February 10, 2011 the Technician published a derogatory cartoon in its newspaper taking a shot at both the Nubian Message and the African American community that it serves. This cartoon displayed both the Nubian Message and the Technician; the Technician newspaper with the image of Nubian Message serving as its shadow with the words “Nubian Message: Shadow of The Past” on its cover. Underneath the cartoon were the words “Why have two half newspapers, when you can have one whole newspaper”, this being a clear contradiction to what was portrayed in the image.
My initial response to the picture published in the Technician was pure anger and the feeling that this image was basically a slap in the face to every member of the African American community on this campus. However, I had to remind myself that although NC State is a research one i, not everyone on this campus is capable of such. Thus I have, along with the guidance of others, decided to make this a teachable moment for certain members of the Technician staff, certain advisors to Student Media, and other members of the campus community who have yet to see the significance of our publication. With very minimal research effort, I came across the following information.
In 1992, the birth year of the Nubian Message, African American students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill began protesting and lobbying for their University’s Administration to build a free standing cultural center with the purpose of expanding the knowledge of the African American culture. While NC State had recently completed its African American cultural center, it was not fully staffed, had no operating budget at the time, and the library contained about 10 books.
September 23, 1992, a member of the Technician student wrote in a column that the African American student activists at UNC were racist, comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan, and bashed their rally. The next day 200 students on this campus rallied in the brickyard protesting the article, some student leaders had even planned to burn copies of the Technician. One of the leaders of this rally, graduate student Greg Washington, stated simply “We need a black paper on this campus that will give coverage to a black perspective.” Thus this publication was spawned.
So is the Nubian Message really “a shadow of the past”? If so then one mind boggling factor, for me, is why was it that of all the Black History Month programs that had occurred on campus, not one of them received coverage by the Technician? Furthermore, of all the things that the Technician could publish this month, why a cartoon degrading our culture? In the month of February, according to the Black History Month calendar of events published by the department of Multicultural Student Affairs, there are as many programs saluting Black History month as days in the month. I would hope that members of the Technician staff would much rather uplift this month by featuring a Black History month rather than degrade it. However, we see that this is not the case and that the voice provided by the Nubian Message is very much needed.
Another issue affecting Student Media is the one sided “civil war” within the organization as a whole, stemming from: constant comparisons between this publication and the Technician, the lack of respect towards staff of the Nubian Message from advisors and ever peer members of student media, and finally the seemingly hopeful demise of our publication by our own advisors.
Unbeknownst to most, it is a struggle for members of our staff to even step onto the third floor of Witherspoon for fear that there is another issue that Student Media has with our paper or our staff. To top this off, the members of our staff have to struggle with constant reminders from our advisors that this paper may not exist in upcoming years due to budget cuts.
Seeing that every other organization under student media is an award winning organization, there obviously is something that these people can do to help our publication thrive. However, little efforts are being made. But who can blame them for not wanting to help us and understand our culture? Is that not how this country works? The culture of the majority moves along without question, while the minority is made to conform.
Let us not forget that everyone, every group, every publication, and every culture has a voice. The Technician, as a student publication, should give voice to our entire campus community and its many voices. Until this happens, as we have completed our celebration of Black History Month, let us hope that the subtle prejudice partnered with lack of gumption does not take the voice of the Nubian Message away from us.