Westword Instagram Post Sparks Racial Debate

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Westword Instagram Post Sparks Racial Debate

The cover of November 2019 of the Westword.

The cover of November 2019 of the Westword.

Courtesy of the Westword Instagram.

The cover of November 2019 of the Westword.

Courtesy of the Westword Instagram.

Courtesy of the Westword Instagram.

The cover of November 2019 of the Westword.

Abby Wexler, Editor-in-Chief

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On the evening of Monday, November 4, an Instagram post by Westhill’s school newspaper The Westword of their latest edition’s cover sparked a racial debate among students. The cover was taken at a varsity volleyball game and chosen as the cover photo of the November issue paper. While some people merely see it as representing Westhill’s (WHS) Viking Pride, others have claimed that it has racial implications, as nearly all of the students pictured are white. 

 

The Instagram post’s comment section, which now has over 250 comments, began when an Instagram user and Westhill student, Reynold Rene, commented: “The cover looks hella white.” This original comment started an immediate conversation regarding the representation of the school’s diversity. Immediate sides were taken, many students agreeing with the original comment while other students took the side of the newspaper.

Courtesy of the Westword Instagram
This comment on the Westword Instagram sparked controversy.

 

The response by the Westword was: “Feel free to leave a Letter to the Editor in room 224.” The response of the Westhill Purple Pack, who run the Instagram of the school’s fan section and who were pictured in the photo, replied: “We’d love to see you at all the games as well as every other WHS student, please follow us for more information on games!” Some of the other comments by students diverged to wider topics, such as, “Westword is doing a great job, and, “We would love for all the white kids to stop saying the n-word.” 

 

On Wednesday evening, November 6, the Westword released a statement stating: 

 

“As journalists, The Westword is deeply passionate about student voice, expression, and engagement. That said, we are all proud to spend our time running a paper that offers students an avenue through which to express that voice. We encourage every student to utilize this venue for expression to the best of their ability. With that in mind, we also encourage anyone interested in expressing their opinions on recent events to volunteer an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor for the paper where they state these views. The Westword agrees context to the cover photo would have been helpful towards readers, as that has been past precedent. As the student voice of Westhill, we love to hear from as many individuals in the community as possible. Reporting on the diversity in our school community is a critical component of The Westword and as a result, we seek to achieve inclusivity with everything we publish. However, the paper must work within what is taking place at our school as that is our reality. We will continue to cover as many aspects of Westhill to the best of our ability. We all need to appreciate the value of student journalism and use its honesty to foster conversation and expression at our school.”

 

Both Reynold Rene, the student who posted the original comment, and Chloe Giulini, Westword’s Editor-in-Chief, declined to comment to the Round Table at the time we spoke to them. Both expressed that they needed to console others before speaking to us.

 

Editors’ Note: The Round Table is not choosing sides in this matter, but we do think the issue presented is extremely important. We want to make sure our newspaper is a proper representation of Stamford High School and it’s diverse student body. We also want your voices to be heard. Please continue to share your ideas and give us your feedback. We are so proud to be the newspaper of Stamford High School and will continue to do our best.

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