Letters to the editor: Racial justice and journalism matter

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Photo by Rosemary Pennington

To the editor:

We members of the faculty and staff of the Miami University Department of Media, Journalism & Film are angered and saddened by the unjust killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others who have suffered as the result of police brutality and racist violence. These events highlight the endemic nature of racism and racist violence in the United States. We mourn with their families and communities and stand in solidarity with Black communities and the Black Lives Matter movement in the struggle for racial justice.

As scholars of media and communication, we have watched in dismay as the First Amendment rights of protesters and journalists have been threatened by those sworn to uphold the Constitution. We condemn the many incidents of violence against peaceful protesters and members of the news media by militarized police forces.

We must also take this moment to strongly condemn the instances of racism that have taken place at Miami University and in our local community in recognition of the fact that this exists in our institution. We, in MJF, have not confronted racism as fully as we could have. We could have listened more closely when People of Color described the unwelcoming environment they sometimes experience at this institution. We could have and should have done more, but did not. We must do better moving forward.

In 1964, what is now the Western campus of Miami University served as the training ground for hundreds of young people who would spend that summer in the American South, helping to register Black voters. It is in the spirit of those Freedom Summer volunteers, and in the spirit of the current protests stretching across the United States and the globe, that we commit to the following actions:

• To talk with current students of color to better understand their experiences in MJF and to assess future needs

• To work harder to recruit and retain more students, faculty, and staff of color in MJF

• To support the creation of spaces of intellectual support and mentorship for students, faculty, and staff of color

• To foster a department community and culture that proactively supports racial justice

• To acknowledge the value of experiences with social justice initiatives and diverse constituencies in staff hiring at all levels

• To strengthen our curriculum in areas of social justice, activism, critical race studies, and critical media literacies

• To ensure our media productions and extracurricular programming better reflect the diverse makeup of our communities and make space for Black voices

• To ask university leaders to offer and organize more frequent training on anti-racism

We feel these actions will help MJF to begin to “achieve broader university diversity goals” as stated in Miami’s Strategic Diversity Plan, and we hope to receive institutional support.

We understand that representation matters, that words matter, but it’s all empty window dressing without action. We are committed to taking the above actions, but this can only be the beginning of true, lasting, social change. In order to live up to Miami University’s Love and Honor Code

and its commitment to welcome “a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences,” we pledge to listen more carefully to, and work more closely with, the diverse members of our community.

To Black students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the larger Black community, we stand with you.

Black Lives Matter.

Bruce Drushel – Department Chair and Professor, Media & Culture and Film Studies

Mack Hagood – Assistant Department Chair, Area Coordinator, and Robert H. & Nancy J. Blaney Associate Professor, Comparative Media Studies

Ron Becker – Area Coordinator and Professor, Media & Culture

Kerry Hegarty – Area Coordinator and Associate Professor, Film Studies

Hongmei Li – Area Coordinator and Associate Professor, Strategic Communication

Patricia Gallagher Newberry – Area Coordinator and Senior Lecturer, Journalism

Brook Adams – Administrative Assistant

Dan Behnke – Instructor & Media Technology Specialist

Sacha DeVroomen Bellman – Instructor, Journalism

Annie-Laurie Blair – Associate Clinical Lecturer, Journalism

Richard Campbell – Professor Emeritus, Journalism

Susan Coffin – Master Administrative Assistant

Matt Crain – Assistant Professor, Media & Culture

Mark Curnutte – Visiting Instructor, Journalism and Social Justice Studies

Katie Day Good – Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication

Carolyn Hardin – Assistant Professor, Media & Culture and American Studies

Brian Johnston – Visiting Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication

Howard Kleiman – Professor Emeritus, Media & Culture

Christe McKittrick – Assistant Lecturer, Strategic Communication

Lisa McLaughlin – Associate Professor, Media & Culture and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Andrew Peck – Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication

Fred Reeder – Assistant Clinical Lecturer, Journalism

Rosemary Pennington – Assistant Professor, Journalism

Samuel Ribbler – Adjunct Faculty, Media & Culture

Andy Rice – Assistant Professor, Film Studies and Comparative Media Studies

Hugo Rios-Cordero – Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Film Studies

Adam Rottinghaus – Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication

Jon Rutter – Assistant Teaching Professor, Strategic Communication

Joseph Sampson – Senior Clinical Professor, Journalism

Kelly Schellhouse – Visiting Instructor, Strategic Communication

David Sholle – Associate Professor, Media & Culture

Stephen Siff – Associate Professor, Journalism

John Tchernev – Assistant Professor, Strategic Communication

James Tobin – Professor, Journalism

 

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To the editor:

I want to say thank you for your continued journalism and coverage of our community.  I know that we are lucky to have you researching and sharing the news of Oxford, Ohio.  Many other communities our size are a news desert. Instead, our residents can be informed citizens by reading your well-researched stories and topics.

Your work matters.

Thanks for all that you do!

Jessica Greene — Assistant City Manager