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Black voices: Then, now, and forever

I am not what The Daily Princetonian looks like. 

Ndeye Thioubou’s Opinion column for this issue, calling for more Black voices from inside the ‘Prince,’ tells the story perfectly. No matter how close I grow to the ‘Prince’ community, and the more of an insider I become, that reality rings clearly. A quick glance across the newsroom at any meeting, at any time of day, would tell you so. Being Black at the ‘Prince,’ being Black at Princeton, oftentimes demands that we tokenize ourselves, our experiences, and our community in acts of performative demonstrations of diversity on campus.

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Why, then, would I want the ‘Prince’ to publish a special issue on Black Princetonians? Is it not just another product that exists to tokenize the community — a way to say “Look, we’ve done it?”

I understand the sentiment of those who might think this special issue is exactly that: tokenization. This collection of stories is not revolutionary, it is not transformative; it shouldn’t even be special.

The Black community is rarely featured in the pages of the ‘Prince.’ And when it is, it only attracts attention in instances of collective trauma — when a professor says the n-word, another professor calls Black activists terrorists, or there is a global racial reckoning.

That is exactly why I have supported and led this project. This issue is a celebration of Black Princeton: of Black joy, of Black history, of Black activism, of Black culture, of Black art. It celebrates Black Princetonians on a normal week in December. It doesn’t seek validation during a heritage month, on a holiday, or anniversary. It just is.

To a large extent, the ‘Prince’ does not actively seek out coverage of the Black community. And, when it does, more often than not coverage originates at the request of a Black staffer — this issue stands as proof. But, through the compilation and coverage of Black communities and concerns on campus, I hope this collection will be the first step of many to seeing Black voices in our pages week after week.

The Black community is not the only marginalized community to suffer from the same systemic lack of care. The ‘Prince’ needs to build structures for equitable and inclusive coverage because none of this is “special.” I will continue to push the paper to do so. It is a tired trope, but representation matters. This organization’s promise as a community paper — the historical record of this campus — is not realized if we neglect so many facets of this very community.

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To the greater Princeton community: join the ‘Prince’ in this celebration. Take the time to learn from Black voices, from Black stories. Question what you value as news-worthy, and what you view as the Princeton experience.

The Black Princeton community is a community I am endlessly, and unabashedly, proud to be a part of. Thank you to everyone who took the time, effort, and energy to share their voice with us. 

I promise: this time will not be the last.

Eden Teshome is an Associate Podcast Editor and staff news writer at the ‘Prince.’ She served as the lead project manager of the “Black voices: Then, now, and forever” issue, in print as of Dec. 9. She can be reached at edenteshome@princeton.edu.

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