DEI: Black and LatinX Times Feature

A feature on the Black and LatinX Times, a publication created by BSU and LSU.


Courtesy of senior Maya Smestad.

Yixuan Qiao and Dhwani Kharidia

The Black and LatinX Times is a monthly newsletter to which both the Black Student Union (BSU) and LatinX Student Union (LSU) contribute. With articles ranging from student and staff spotlights to celebrations of Black and LatinX culture, the Times provides a creative outlet for students to share their stories, highlight their accomplishments, and connect with their heritage. 

Following the #ExposeMitty movement in the summer of 2020, “past alumni expressed how they would have liked to have an opportunity to feel heard and be in touch,” states the Times’ moderator, Mr. Michael Okoro. In response to these sentiments, in February 2021 when distance learning was still in effect, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) program at Mitty initiated this student-driven publication that would allow Black and LatinX students to embrace their culture and identity while creating a sense of belonging during a much needed time. Senior Gabriela Valle, staff writer for the Times, suggests that the aim of the publication, especially during distance learning, was to “let the new members of LSU and BSU know that they were not alone, and there are others in the Mitty community just like them.”

Although Mr. Okoro oversees the newsletter, the production itself—from the early brainstorming stages to the final design and editing—is carried out entirely by students. Contributors to the Times hold a monthly meeting to decide on the topics to cover in the issue, including which students and staff to spotlight and any relevant Black or LatinX cultural events to feature. Editor senior Sebastián Young describes the process as “more collaboration and less delegation,” a structure that gives students the freedom to write about what they want rather than submitting only assigned articles. Mr. Okoro also emphasizes the aspect of collaboration and community among contributors fostered by “creating something and seeing it come to fruition.”

I feel like I have that voice to help the people who may be shy or don’t feel like speaking up.

— Catalina Valle, Staff Writer

Each member of the staff’s unique motivations for joining the newsletter provide insight into their willingness to devote time and hard work for the cause. For Sebastián, his past experiences of working with DEI, being LSU co-president, and organizing the Con Bondad drive, which provided essential items to farm workers’ families, have contributed towards making Mitty his “home.” He wants to continue this legacy with the newsletter and hopes that others, by reading and writing for the newsletter, can have the same experience. Similarly, staff writer Catalina Valle, a junior, conveys her passion for writing: “I feel like I have that voice to help the people who may be shy or don’t feel like speaking up.” She hopes to expand her storytelling and writing skills while working collaboratively with the other staff. 

Gabriela shares that as a member of the staff, while seeking to spread the students’ shared rich culture and heritage, she does not want to misrepresent their communities. As such, the staff emphasizes inclusivity with the goal that everyone’s authentic individual perspectives are heard. Another challenge that the staff faces is getting responses and feedback about the newsletter from the community. While they send forms for students to voice their opinions, Gabriela describes, “not too many people want to contribute.”

Still, the staff are hopeful for the future of the publication and that all people in the Black and LatinX communities who want to share something can do so through the Times. The staff hope that the Times will promote the understanding that every part of the community’s identity should be celebrated and heard. In stating his vision for the publication in the future, Sebastián hopes students feel that the newsletter is a safe space for them because, “there is much potential and value when students share stories which come from a place of vulnerability.”