The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade have been a powerful reminder to the world that racism is rooted in the foundations of our society.
The violent response from our nation’s police force has shown us that we have much work to do with confronting our country’s racist past. We owe the Black community so much—they are leaders within the music industry, giving voice to major musical movements and powerful, thought-provoking art.
KCPR will no longer remain silent on this problem. Our station and staff stand together in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Black lives matter.
As a predominantly white station, KCPR recognizes our complicity in remaining silent on many injustices in the past. From our silence in the 2018 blackface incident, to the current national outrage in the murder of George Floyd. As an organization, we would like to apologize for abdicating our responsibility to our community. It is unacceptable that we have ignored these injustices, and our ignorance can go on no more.
It is important for us, as a station, to recognize our platform as a gatekeeper in entertainment and our privilege to speak to an audience of thousands of listeners. Below are a few ways we plan to amplify the voices of people of color, acknowledge social injustices, and diversify our station’s staff:
- At the top of every hour, KCPR will broadcast an 8 minute and 46 second ticking clock to remind listeners of how long the time truly was in which former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin choked Floyd to death, assisted by two other officers and overlooked by a third. The segment will also include speeches from activists in the Black Lives Matter movement and the reading of the names of just some of the Black Americans who have died due to police brutality. This will remain until further notice.
- KCPR will reach out to work with organizations on campus and within the community, such as the Cal Poly Black Student Union, the Cal Poly Cross Cultural Centers, R.A.C.E. Matters SLO and the NAACP of San Luis Obispo County, to name a few of these organizations, to assist in amplifying marginalized voices to a larger audience over our radio airwaves and digital streaming platforms. We want to work intentionally to be a better ally by creating a space for conversations about white privilege, systemic racism, and police brutality. Our radio signal should be used to spread awareness of social injustices and serve as a platform for marginalized groups to speak and be heard, whether it be through podcasting or through public service announcements. We hope our partnerships will not be limited to on-air efforts, and that we can collaborate with these organizations to organize in-person events once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
- KCPR will seek ways to amplify marginalized and underrepresented voices within the station. We will make deliberate efforts to build and maintain a diverse population of disc jockeys and news reporters. This includes, but is not limited to, connecting with cultural organizations to directly encourage diverse students to apply to KCPR.
- KCPR will expand the genres of music aired on our station to better highlight artists of color and LGBTQ+ artists.
As Angela Davis once said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” We encourage you, the reader and listener, to actively participate as an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement. Here are eight ways you can be a proactive ally.
- Listen: This is self-explanatory. Many of us will never experience the struggles Black Americans in this country face. So it is our responsibility to listen.
- Donate: There are so many organizations that are raising money to support the movement. Some organizations you can donate to include the NAACP, George Floyd Memorial Fund, and the National Bail Fund Network.
- Protest: Research local protests where you can attend to help amplify the voices of people of color. If you live in San Luis Obispo, the NAACP San Luis Obispo County chapter is on Instagram and Facebook, where you can stay up to date on local protests.
- Educate: Educate yourself on systemic racism within the criminal justice system and America as a whole. Here are a few resources: 1619, an audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times, Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts, Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi. If possible, try to purchase these from Black-owned bookstores.
- Discuss: Have a discussion with family and friends about what you learned to help educate others on the topic.
- Petition: Sign relevant petitions on the issue to combat systemic racism.
- Contact your local politician: Make your anger known by contacting state and federal representatives, along with city officials, in telling them you do not stand for these injustices.
- Vote: Make sure to vote in elections to ensure the politicians in charge will listen to you and activate change for the better.
It is everyone’s responsibility to call out injustice and inequality. Now is not the time to be silent. KCPR will no longer be complicit in contributing to this issue.
KCPR General Manager Max Motley
Max Motley is a Cal Poly Business senior and KCPR’s General Manager. He wrote the article. Courtlyn Jenkins is an artist and illustrator from Little Rock, Arkansas. Her Instagram profile is @the_plant_child, which features a large portion of her artwork. She created the graphic, which depicts Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman who was a pioneer in activism for LGBTQ+ and civil rights.