(Above) The Faces of Willow Creek is a magazine produced by Willow Creek Academy 8th graders with the help of The Tam News, in an effort to recruit a more diverse staff.
The Tam News needs to do better. Our school is filled with students from interesting backgrounds with unique perspectives, and despite publishing upwards of 150 stories a year, we manage to overlook valuable perspectives from students of color. The Tam News should accurately reflect our school—all parts of our school. Including these perspectives isn’t important just because diversity and inclusion is important–diversity and inclusion simply make our magazine better. Our ultimate goal as a publication, and our duty as journalists, is to accurately represent the community, and if we aren’t doing so, we aren’t doing our job. In order to properly portray our school, we need to increase the number of students of color as the subject of our stories, quoted in our stories, and pictured in our stories, as well as increasing the number of students of color students on our staff. Our desire to make our staff and stories more diverse is in part a selfish one, because it allows us to improve our magazine. However, as of now, we have failed.
We try to make sure the stories we publish are applicable to the majority of Tam students, both in and out of the publication, but many do not even come close to scratching the surface. Stories across the publication cover high-income white students, yet rarely do you see a story highlighting the success of a person of color.
This problem is not unique to one story. Of the stories we have published so far in 2018, only 6 of them have covered students of color or their culture. In addition, our publication last year (which had more than 80 students) consisted of only two black reporters, as well as being below Tam’s average representation for Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asian students. The problem is clear, and needs to be addressed. The Tam News knows its lack of diversity is not acceptable. However, we are trying to take action to make our publication diverse both in the publication and in our staff. Last year, we worked with 8th graders from Bayside Martin Luther King Academy and Willow Creek Academy (these schools have significantly more students of color than other Marin K-8 schools such as MVMS, with a student body that is only 1 percent black). We taught these kids basic journalism, introducing them to our program and teaching them new skills in order to encourage them to produce a magazine of their own and eventually, to join the publication. This year, our publication will much more accurately reflect Tam’s demographics. Tam News students have been considering the issue of race for much of 2018, which hopefully will help our staff be mindful of accurately representing our school in their reporting.
This problem isn’t fixed or even close to fixed, but hopefully our readers will be able to see improvement over the course of this year and into the future.
The Tam News isn’t unique in this issue, though. Elite programs, extracurriculars, and AP classes all are disproportionately white–in some cases at an appalling rate. Students of color at Tam aren’t shown that joining these programs is even an option for them when they see entirely white programs. Huge opportunities are rarely or never presented to students of color. They are treated like they are less than their white counterparts. This is an all-encompassing problem which we have inherited, and is built into our administration, our teachers, our students, our parents, our culture. These groups aren’t taking action to make our school not integrated— its the lack of action that is the problem. Making an attempt to diversify Tam’s program isn’t going to solve this overarching problem, but it’s definitely going to inspire progress. Do this in the name of inclusion, but also to simply help make Tam better. Taking advantage of our diverse community by integrating it, with all the new perspectives it offers, will enhance our school in countless aspects.