The Dig’s Editorial Statement on Racism and Discrimination at OES

The Dig Editorial Staff

The Dig is your student-run, student-edited, and student-published newspaper. We have fought hard to remain this way so we can serve as a platform for student voices, communal changes, and action. The current state of racial injustice both in America and in our own institution is unacceptable. The Dig stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and we are committed to using our platform to inspire action in any way possible by uplifting student voices.

Racism has always been deeply ingrained in American society, and recent instances of police brutality that have ended the lives of innocent Black citizens have increased the rightful outrage many Americans feel. This is not solely an issue of law enforcement, but also one of racial injustice that is manifested in our culture in so many ways. As OES students, we hear and share the feelings of frustration with both the national and local reality of racial discrimination.

The lack of accountability that we have seen from OES, particularly when so heavily contrasted with claims of progressivism and diversity, has been a huge point of frustration for many students over the years, especially those of color. It is essential we address that OES has a history of racism and discrimination, and that action needs to be taken. On Thursday evening Mo Copeland made a first step by releasing a letter to the OES community. Mo announced that there will be a meeting at Town Hall after graduation to facilitate a discussion surrounding racism, inequality, and privilege at OES. Here are a few things we ask everyone to commit to. 

To the administration: The performative activism we have seen in the past is unproductive and makes us feel like you are selling our values short; we want to see you maintain the new commitment Mo has outlined, even after all concerns have been addressed. Racism is not a one-time matter. It requires a continuous and long-term effort. We are hopeful that Mo’s letter is the beginning of tangible change at OES. We appreciate the apology and accountability shown, despite the wait. We look forward to the Town Hall and seeing what you have planned to address the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the many concerns brought forth by past and present students, faculty, and parents. We ask you to turn the dialogue into action, and to commit to what you state: “listening, learning, talking, listening, learning, and then building a school where everyone is truly valued, recognized and seen.”

To the OES students: we can also do better. We have had a part in OES’ racist past. The fault is on the many of us who have stood by and let racist incidents happen; on the many of us who have invalidated concerns of discrimination that our peers have brought forward; and on those of us who have been the perpetrators of harmful actions ourselves.

The Dig sees and shares the frustration students have with OES as an institution. However, we the students are the true reflection of the OES community, not the administration. We encourage you to be present at the Town Hall, to come forward and bring light to any issues you have experienced, to listen to your fellow Varks and empathize, and to own up and commit to fixing mistakes you have made. We are not powerless, nor do we rely on instagram posts or admin communications to tell us how to do the right thing.  

To the OES faculty: We ask that you commit to an inclusive curriculum and to teaching antiracism by featuring more works by Black and NBPOC creators. Teachers have also been responsible for incidents of racism at OES. Hold yourselves and your peers accountable- your position makes you an example for us, the students. We hope to see you at the Town Hall as well. 

With all of that being said, it has been inspiring to see the actions taken by members of the community when facing the enormous challenges of tackling racial injustice and COVID-19. We are proud of the students and faculty who have safely attended protests. While many of us are still in quarantine, there is no shortage of ways to take action from home. Zoe H. shared this great resource for helping the Black Lives Matter movement, and Frances M. and Shriya D. created a list of local Black-owned businesses you can support.

Finally, we want to remind everyone that your voices are always welcome here. If you would like your concerns, ideas, or stories to be published in The Dig, please reach out to us!

As editors of The Dig we want to recommit to representing the voices of the entire student body. We are inviting you to hold us accountable to speak out about racial injustice, especially when #BlackLivesMatter is no longer “trending.” Equality is not a phase, and we all have work to do.

Thank you for reading.

Sophia Elfrink, Vy Nguyen, Annie Watson, and Wylly Willmott