Guys, so many feelings about all this, and updates on my role at the Daily. Know that even in this column, I was censored and threatened that my words wouldn’t see the light of…print…? For now just read and tell me what you think.
Brionna Jimerson | Respect Your Elders It’s… complicated. But not really.
By Brionna Jimerson
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Question: How do you exist in this system without allowing it to consume you? How have I existed for four years at Tufts and in the Tufts Daily, and how will I exit both, not necessarily at peace but intact? By “complicating” — that is, questioning and assessing — them both, and always with a spoonful of salt.
This is my last column before the Commencement issue, and I want it known and marked that with this column, there is power in “the record,” in claiming space for language and experimentation, and I think I am outgrowing these three inches. But there is success — if this space for critique and voice was not open before, it’s open now. Please, fill this echoing void with consciousness, purpose and fun. A little fun.
You have probably never been to the Daily office. It is below Curtis Hall — down the driveway, next to the UGL office. Pop in sometime — the office is small and the walls are painted teal. This is where the editorials are discussed and written and the phone calls for additional sources go unanswered. This is where the writers and editors — all students, and none of them paid for their time and energy — work for upwards of 40 hours a week on end to inform a campus dialogue. The Daily has an institutional history, and it has been largely absent of brown folks, not for a lack of trying or interest. I was the first black managing editor of the Daily, and though I’ve been loved and cared for I feel I have been severely disrespected. I have watched and helped the Daily operate for four years, and I’ve worked alongside some of the strongest women I know. They came, saw and left. Why did they leave? Why did I stay?
I stayed because you deserve better. You deserve to read great articles about complex “issues” that don’t speak about you as a subject or topic in a policy report. I stayed because we require a prominent place at the table, not for representation but for respect and autonomy, because I have known too many women of color to take “medical leave,” their lives compromised after spending four years on this campus. How did we let that happen?
I stayed because some of the most opinionated people on this campus with the most to say literally cannot afford to pay the fee (time) because they are — you guessed it — already overbooked, overlooked or overwhelmed. I have lived in two worlds at once, and right-minded editors of semesters past — Alexa Sasanow, Gabrielle Hernandez, Bianca Blakesley, Amsie Hecht, Laina Piera, Annie Sloan and myself — have tried to make the Daily into a respectable house, though it is built on privilege and systematic supremacy of the “Tufts in general,” not “Tufts in ‘particular.’” Yes, my language is coded. No, “safe spaces” do not exist. Yes, you can break the code. Just try.
If you notice the impact my body has made in the Daily, know that our impact is there. I saw them trying to erase me, you and us and decided it was time to let them know. In the words of Kenya Moore, the queen of fan-induced shade-throwing showdowns, “Do not come for me unless I send for you.”
If you are brown and are interested in working at the Daily or, better yet, maintaining a literary and historical space of your own, tweet me so we can figure it out.
Now this is the hard part, letting go of the frustration and imagining and building a future beyond the scope and traumas that Tufts students, administrators and bystanders have enacted on its own community. We are moving from property and into personhood. Your silence will not protect you, but maybe we can find your voice. Yes, I just said that.
Dedicated to N., V. and K., and the great John Kelly, who, reminded me that we can be Christians and “radicals” at the same time.