Letters from our print editor-in-chief

From our Winter 2021 issue

Dear Family, 

I cannot believe it has been a full year since I last saw all of you in person. Isolation has long been the new normal, but I am still not used to it. There are moments in the day when I am sitting at my desk, eyes glazing over as I futilely try to pay attention in virtual classes, and all I want in the world is to turn back time to the days of FMO barbeques, Sunday nights spent at BMP meetings over dinner at Allison, walking to Cahn Auditorium to see the State of the Black Union address, and BlackBoard meetings in the Black House. Yet, as hard as it is to be physically apart from the Black community I adore, I am heartened by how much we have been able to remain in community with one another despite the distance. 

Which brings me to the central theme of this quarter’s issue. So many times, we have seen public support for the Black Lives Matter movement spike in times of crisis, then gradually lose momentum until the next George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, or Eric Garner comes along. With the dawn of a Biden-Harris administration, there is a real risk of this country falling into a second era of post-racial self-delusion. With that, it is up to us to keep up the fight, to keep the focus where it ought to be — but you already knew that.  

When BlackBoard’s exec team reconvened at the beginning of winter, we immediately decided that we needed to continue centering the themes we touched upon last quarter, of dismantling, abolishing, rebuilding. With that, I give you our Winter 2021 issue: The Solidarity Issue.  I want to extend a sincere thanks to the entire exec team and to all our wonderful writers, designers, models and photographers. 

With love,

Imani Sumbi 

Print Editor-in-Chief, BlackBoard Magazine 

From our Fall 2020 Issue

Dear family, 

Every day in America is a hard day for Black people. Even so, it’s hard to overstate just how overwhelming this particular year has been. Over the course of a few short months, the deepest inequalities and divisions of our society have come into sharp relief. Amid the unimaginable loss and turmoil of a global pandemic, the United States is experiencing yet another overdue awakening to the viscerally violent reality of systemic racism. 

But when times get tougher, Black people are not paralyzed. We are energized. Beginning in May of this year, hundreds of thousands of Americans flooded the streets in cities across the country to protest the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black Americans. Based on the sheer number of demonstrations and the turnout they received, Black Lives Matter may be the largest social movement in American history. 

These protests have brought to mainstream attention ideas of transformative justice that previously seemed confined to the imaginations of revolutionaries. Beyond criminal justice reforms of decreasing incarceration and demilitarizing the police, there have been calls to drastically reduce police budgets, invest in Black communities, and even abolish police departments altogether. These are the kinds of ideas, rooted in abolitionist thinking, seeking not just the dismantling of oppressive systems but the building of a new world, to which we dedicate this Fall 2020 issue of BlackBoard Magazine: The Worldmaking Issue.  

BlackBoard continues to stand in solidarity with NU Community Not Cops in their efforts to permanently remove police from Northwestern’s campus and usher in a safe future for all members of our community. Thank you for reminding us that there is a better kind of safety founded upon community and trust rather than surveillance and punishment. Your love, labor and political imagination are invaluable. 

Much love,

Imani Sumbi 

Editor in Chief, BlackBoard Magazine

From our Spring 2020 issue

Hi family,

I am writing to you from my parents’ home in Los Angeles, hoping you and your loved ones are safe and well. My fellow exec members, whom I miss dearly, are scattered across the country from California to New Jersey.

It feels a little funny to write an editor’s letter, since this zine, by its nature, did not require any editing. That said, I feel it is of great importance to acknowledge the evolution BlackBoard has undergone in these tumultuous times.

It has been a strange quarter for BlackBoard, as it has been for many students and organizations. We were all suddenly thrust into a bizarre new world of self-isolation, hyper-cleanliness, increased anxiety and an insufferable number of Zoom conferences. During spring break, I kept asking myself how on earth we were going to do BlackBoard in quarantine. Would we be able to communicate and collaborate effectively thousands of miles apart from each other? What would the next issue look like, and how would we produce it?

Looking back on what we have accomplished in the past eight weeks, I am

truly amazed by the resolve of the entire BlackBoard team to persist and adapt in the face of such daunting challenges. Early on, we saw that creativity had become a source of refuge for many people during COVID-19, and we recognized that this moment called for a different kind of publication–something less formal, less curated, and more immediate to the experience of our community. A zine, with its inherent DIY aesthetic, seemed the most natural format. There was no theme, guidelines or bar for entry. We wanted to see people’s authentic selves, hear their voices, and get a snapshot of what they were feeling.

In a way, BlackBoard is living up to its name more than ever before. After all, what is a blackboard, if not a space to play, invent, erase, and reimagine?

Much love,

Imani Sumbi
Print Editor-in-Chief, BlackBoard Magazine