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We must increase Black voices at The Daily Princetonian

<h5>A box of papers outside of the Student Publication Center at 48 University Place.</h5>
<h6>Zachary Shevin / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
A box of papers outside of the Student Publication Center at 48 University Place.
Zachary Shevin / The Daily Princetonian

I believe that The Daily Princetonian is an incredible organization. On any given week, we publish important opinions, powerful reflections, critical news coverage, and special projects like the Frosh Survey. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni constitute our readership. For all of the impact and great journalism the ‘Prince’ has produced, it is glaringly un-diverse.

As a Black woman on the ‘Prince,’ I can confidently say that my community is underrepresented. I can count on one hand the amount of Black students in the Opinion section, and from what I have seen, this holds true in most other sections, as well. According to the 2022 ‘Prince’ Annual Diversity Report, only 14 out of 239 respondents (5.9 percent) identify as Black. The lack of adequate Black representation at Princeton’s most prominent journalistic organization means our campus community is deprived of sufficient Black voices. 

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This dearth of diversity also puts an increased burden on the Black students who are currently on the ‘Prince.’ As an opinion writer, I sometimes feel the weight on my shoulders to represent the Black community and the issues that pertain to us. If I don’t write these articles, who will?

I worry that if I didn’t write articles calling for the expansion of the African Studies department or study abroad opportunities in Africa, these issues would have gone uncovered. A few students are expected to represent an entire community, and this is simply impossible. The Black diaspora is incredibly diverse, and there are so many Black voices we need to hear from: African-American ones, Caribbean ones, Afro-Latin, first-generation Africans, African internationals, and so on. 

The ‘Prince’ is one of the best mediums on campus to have one’s voice heard. There’s so much freedom and room for creativity, as nearly any topic can be covered across a multitude of sections. When there is not enough Black representation in the ‘Prince,’ the campus community is deprived of Black voices in news, opinion, arts and culture criticism, podcasting, memoir-style writing, and photo essays.

My fellow Black staffers at the ‘Prince’ agree that more work needs to be done to cover our community. When presented with the statement, “The ‘Prince’ covers issues related to race and ethnicity comprehensively and sensitively” in the Annual Diversity Report, no Black members who completed the survey strongly agreed. A third of the Black students somewhat agreed, another third were neutral, and the final third disagreed. Contrast this with the responses white members of ‘Prince’ gave. None strongly disagreed, and nearly 80 percent agreed that the paper had sufficiently covered these issues. 

There is a disconnect between Black and white staffers of the ‘Prince.’ In order to make progress, the ‘Prince’ needs to listen to its Black staffers. 

To non-Black staffers at the ‘Prince,’ I urge you to reflect critically about your time at the organization thus far and how you have engaged with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. It is not enough to attract more Black staffers to the ‘Prince.’ We need to also work on retention. If Black students do not feel truly welcomed and included in the ‘Prince,’ then keeping them on the staff will remain an uphill battle. The ‘Prince’ is not only a place for journalism, but also for social gathering. 

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Black students need to feel embraced in the newsroom both professionally and socially. No student on campus has been at Princeton at a time when there has been a Black Editor-in-Chief.

To Black Princetonians: if you have a passion for journalism or are contemplating whether you should join the ‘Prince,’ I encourage you to join our community. I personally am willing to answer any questions and to be a mentor, especially in the Opinion section. We have to be the change we want to see. If more of us join, then future Black Princetonians will not have doubts about contributing to the ‘Prince,’ because they will take comfort in the fact that there are people who look like them writing pieces and in leadership positions. 

The ‘Prince’ has empowered and supported me to realize the power and impact of my voice and my opinions. We need to have more Black Princetonians join the ‘Prince’ in coming years to share my experience, which will benefit not only them, but the whole student body. 

Ndeye Thioubou is a sophomore columnist from the Bronx, N.Y. She can be reached at nthioubou@princeton.edu.

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