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The Bruno Brief: A new campus publication for Black creators

The Black Star Journal, Brown’s newest publication, aims to connect Black voices and highlight the joys of being a Black student at Brown. We spoke to Senior Staff Writer Kaitlyn Torres ’24 about the Journal and the students behind it.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell    

This month, The Black Star Journal became Brown’s newest publication on campus. Its founding members say the journal will provide a space for Black creators to share their work and forge a better-informed community. We talk with Senior Staff Writer Kaitlyn Torres to learn more. I’m Corey Gelb-Bicknell. Welcome back to The Bruno Brief. 

All right, Kaitlyn, thank you for joining us on the show.

Kaitlyn Torres 

Well, thank you for having me.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell  

Tell us about how The Black Star Journal got started.

Kaitlyn Torres  

So the Journal was the idea of Amiri Nash ’24. And he had basically thought about how Black students on campus are seen and published, and especially how journalism is a tool for the documentation of student life on campus. He noticed that there was kind of this absence of Black students being represented in this journalism.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell  

Here’s Amiri Nash.

Amiri Nash 

When Black students are represented, it's not always positive. It could be about a struggle that the Black community is facing or a struggle with, like, the aftermath of the Slavery and Justice Report. But there's so much more to blackness and being Black at Brown than struggle. And there's so much joy that comes with being a Black student at Brown. I feel like I really want people to be able to read it and see that component of the Black experience as well.

Kaitlyn Torres

He approached Keiley Thompson ’24. They had worked together on a project last fall, and she had fallen in love with the idea, and she joined.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell  

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And here’s Keiley Thompson.

Keiley Thompson 

I think it's important that Black stories aren't just told through word of mouth, which is how I've learned about a lot of Black life on campus, especially things like how (the Black Student Union) works and Harambe, and just like little elements of our culture that kind of can slip by if you don't know about them. And I think it's especially important these days, that everyone has access to information about their own culture and history, and that everyone in the community can understand that culture and history as well.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Can you tell us a bit about the meaning of the title?

Kaitlyn Torres

Each word kind of has a different meaning behind it. And so "Black" is basically just that it's a journal for Black students. The "star" has a significant meaning in Black culture. And it also represents the North Star, which is the idea that they're reaching toward a better future. The "journal" basically means that rather than just focusing on news, it's also going to focus on storytelling and the stories of students.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

What do they hope to highlight and write about within the Journal? 

Kaitlyn Torres 

Well, the Journal's going to have different types of mediums, especially online. They're not only hoping to have stories, but they're also hoping to feature other mediums as well, like photography and film. And they're hoping that on their digital format, they're able to be more experimental with this. And then the print format is more like a paper.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Here’s Amiri Nash again.

Amiri Nash

So right now, we're planning on printing once a month and having our inaugural issue debut in February in honor of Black History Month. We really want whoever wants to be involved to be able to contribute in one way or another. And we really want whatever medium you have, we want there to be a place for you in the newspaper. Whether you're a fiction writer, or a visual artist, or a photographer, we really want you to be able to showcase your talent with the world and the Black community.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Is there a history of Black publications at Brown?

Kaitlyn Torres

They mentioned that they're working with faculty and alumni to recognize the history of these papers.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

This is Amiri Nash.

Amiri Nash

So there's never been an official newspaper. But there have been Black publications before. And most notably, there was a publication that was really active in the ’90s and early 2000s called the African Sun. And just being able to draw upon what they did and recognize the groundwork that they laid, even though it's not active anymore — we really wanted to just be able to honor them in moving forward with our paper, and gather from the things that they left us in terms of publication and create a full, well-rounded paper.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell 

Can you describe for us how McNamara and others felt about current publication options on campus, including The Brown Daily Herald?

Kaitlyn Torres

Carson McNamara ’24, who was an interested student, felt that there wasn't really a club on campus that suited the work that she wanted to write about.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Here’s Carson McNamara.

Carson McNamara

I think I'm most excited about just having an outlet for my writing, because I've been really wanting that. But I didn't really think that any of the other news outlets on campus really suited the work that I wanted to do, because I do want to specifically go into depth about issues of race. So I didn't want to be limited or feel limited in my writing by going into predominantly white spaces and having them critique my work from lenses and from perspectives that really wouldn't be instrumental to me, nor really coincide with the work that I wanted to do.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell  

Where are they in the process right now, in terms of creating this journal?

Kaitlyn Torres  

Now, they're hoping to recruit students, and so they had an interest meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Right now, they're hoping to be recognized as a club by the University at least by January of next year.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

This is Keiley Thompson.

Keiley Thompson

I feel like it's really been really fun seeing the responses that we've gotten. Like, there's been a lot of interest … We sent out an interest meeting form, which has done pretty well. And just like people coming up to me, like, "I'm gonna support this newspaper." I'm pleased that this is something that the community wanted because I would be a little bit timid if we sent out these forms and gotten no response. We've been excited by like the reactions that we've gotten from the BSU and other organizations around Black life.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

How do the founders of the Black Star Journal hope that their new paper will expand the kinds of coverage of the Black community at Brown?

Kaitlyn Torres   

They hope that the Journal will fill any gaps in Black representation on campus.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

Here’s Amiri Nash and Keiley Thompson.

Amiri Nash  

I think that it will provide Black students exclusively with the ability to see themselves in every aspect of campus life and society. With other publications, while there may be an occasional showcase of Black life, or a section that deals with people of color and minorities, this newspaper is exclusive to giving Black people a place to see themselves and feel like they belong here and feel like this is a place where they exist and where they can exist happily and in community and in joy.

Keiley Thompson 

I also think in general, like learning about Black life as an outsider is especially important. I think there's been this want to, like, educate a lot of non-minorities or even other minorities that aren't Black around what's going on. So I think that will act as another resource without people having to specifically cater themselves to creating media that explains Blackness. And I think in the greater sense, hopefully, the college bubble can be burst a little bit and we can do some outreach in the Providence community.

Corey Gelb-Bicknell  

Alright, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Kaitlyn Torres 

Thank you so much for having me. 

Corey Gelb-Bicknell

This has been The Bruno Brief. Our show is produced by Livi Burdette, Max Karpawich, Katy Pickens, me and our newest member, Da-Young Kim. 

We’d also like to give a shoutout and farewell to former Bruno Briefer Ben Glickman. He is now transitioning to his new role as editor-in-chief at The Herald. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next week.



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