Shawn Fredericks | Staff Writer
It’s about that time ya’ll. The Nubian Message turns 25 years old, and you know how we rockin’. We’ve been spitting facts for 25 years and running, can ya dig it? Celebrating 25 years of black excellence, the Nubian has stood as the bastion of the black-student body voice on campus.
With all of that in mind, there is a pertinent question that needs to answered: does the Nubian Message still need to be around?
The answer is three-fold: yes, emphatically yes and for all future generations, yes.
NC State supposedly values diversity and inclusivity but certain events throughout history show otherwise. The Nubian started because the Technician failed to adequately represent the entire student body.
While it is important to the note that today’s Technician is different from the Technician of the past, we cannot ignore some of the mistakes the Technician has made when it comes to being a voice for all students—black students, specifically.
The coverage of the GroupMe incident in 2016 highlights the disparity between how the Technician and the Nubian Message articulate the black perspective.
The Technician depicted the offending parties with a sympathetic voice, portraying them as mischievous young people having too much fun. Rachel Smith, editor-in-chief at the time and author of the Technician’s article on the incident, made sure the offender’s apology was the first thing mentioned: “Two students issued an apology to the entire NC State student body Wednesday after screenshots of a GroupMe chat laced with racial epithets were posted to the Wolfpack Students Facebook group Tuesday night.”
The Technician’s coverage came out a whole day later than the Nubian’s and focused more on reactions rather than investigating what actually happened and the depth of pain that occurred within the black community because of the incident.
The Nubian was plugged into the black community and was better able to gather the facts of the situation. The Editor-in-Chief of Nubian at the time, Stephanie Tate, along with Managing Editor Anahzsa Jones and staff writers Keilah Davis and Kenton Gibbs, had the cultural context to assess the incident differently: “On Tuesday Sep 27, 2016 screenshots of two different GroupMe chats with students at NC State containing racial slurs and critiques of a peaceful protest that occurred on campus last week were made public on various social media platforms.”
These mistakes shall be repeated no matter how much education and cultural competency training is given because white people will simply never internalize certain offenses the way black people will.
Black people’s lives are more than just the sum of their struggles; there is innovation, celebration and legacy here on NC State’s campus. Not to rag on them too hard, but according to some people in the black community, the Technician fails to be aware of some of the important black programming on campus and therefore passively excludes a major contributing and thriving community from the main cannon of NC State history.
It’s a hard truth, but it must be said. If it was not for the Nubian Message, the black voice on campus would not be represented and treated with the respect, passion and empathy it deserves. Without it, black people would be casually excluded from proper representation, which is an egregious offense to a group of people who have contributed so much to this campus.
Apathy towards the people of color’s pain is the passive crime of the unaffected and blatantly privileged lot. They do not understand the experiences of people of color on predominantly white campuses. Our racial identity can be mocked without consequence so we fall in line with a hierarchy that is 400 years old, chains or no chains.
We may come to this school, excel in our classes and make this institution look like it cares about representation in order to receive funding, but we have not been included wholly into campus culture.
The value of having a black student publication is because of its precedent and principle.
The precedent is that voices in the NC State community have either been silenced or misrepresented in NC State’s past. It is necessary for those voices to have their own publication that they can rely on to articulate their voice.
NC State as an institution has a very racist and discriminatory past. That is not up for debate. Steps toward progress have been made. However, between the GroupMe incident, BET vs. CMT parties, the 2 Chainz concert, the six percent black student body population and the current shenanigans surrounding “Dixie,” I think it is quite clear that NC State has a long way to go to make this institution a diverse and inclusive place.
The Nubian Message will always need to be what it is: the voice for the black student body, recording and advocating for the black population on this campus when other outlets will not or cannot adequately do so.