The Tam News

Statement regarding the December 2019 magazine

November 27, 2019

To students, staff, parents, and the Tam community:

We deeply apologize for the visual design of our most recent magazine.

The cover of the December 2019 issue of The Tam News depicts a pregnant woman of color slouching in a chair. A thought bubble above the woman’s head contains the words “Mo’ Babies Mo’ Problems,” which Tam News editors chose as the title of the associated article. Taken together, the title and graphic reinforce harmful stereotypes about women of color and motherhood.

Shortly into distribution of the magazine, we recalled as many copies as we could. All of these copies will be destroyed, and we have taken the article off our website.

The associated article is about our school district’s maternity leave policy, and neither the story nor its writer had anything to do with the racist connotations of the cover. Those resulted from a number of choices that were clouded by privilege. We are doing our best to understand the irreparable pain that our hasty, thoughtless decision-making process caused.

The title, intended to be a reference to the song “Mo Money Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G., was instead a sorely inappropriate usage of vernacular. The skin color that editors chose for the woman on the cover reflects our misguided attempt to diversify representation in our content, even though the article does not actually feature any women of color. The title and visual design were created independently of each other, and the editors who saw the finished cover failed to recognize the hurtful message it conveyed. Lastly, we rushed the process to meet a deadline and did not provide our adviser and the majority of our editors the opportunity to review the magazine before it was sent to print.

We did not create this cover with harmful intentions. But good intentions, far from excusing insensitivity, too frequently perpetuate it. The design is inexcusable. We are painfully aware that our decisions indicate a lack of critical thinking and awareness, and we are committed to preventing anything like this from ever happening again. We will install a more rigorous editorial policy, including having editors specifically review our content for cultural blind spots.

We also are working to create a more thoughtful culture within The Tam News. A month ago, we began an internal process intended to identify and learn from bias in our staff and our work. That process will continue for the rest of the year. Our adviser has also been working with the district to ensure that future editors in chief attend the Beyond Diversity seminar, and to find a way to provide similar opportunities to our entire staff. Please consider sharing your thoughts on this issue by submitting a letter to the editor. We are committed to publishing personal narratives, opinions, and experiences that deal with racial inequity in our community.

We cannot undo this mistake, but we will improve. We will work hard to create a more socially conscious environment, on our own and in collaboration with student organizations and members of our community. We hope that you will give us that chance.

Leah Fullerton
Kara Kneafsey
Skye Schoenhoeft
Josie Spiegelman
Benjy Wall-Feng

Editors in Chief