The idea for The Black Star Journal was born in the fall of 2021 – conceived out of the need to preserve and create Black history at Brown University – a university that, like other colonial institutions, began its history with violence. Specifically, the violence of silencing and diminishing Blackness through physical enslavement and bondage. Black people were forced to be silent: physically, mentally, spiritually. But those who came before us refused. This refusal to be silent is to be Black and alive against the odds.
This newspaper is a product of that refusal.
We believe that refusal has the power to turn into possibility. We want the Black Star Journal to be an extension of the Black diaspora, and showcase the numerous aspects of Blackness that make our community who we are. Often, people forget that Blackness is not just something that comes with suffering. To be Black is to feel joy that was once crafted out of a life intended to be painful; to light your own way with joy; a joy that came from refusing violence. We felt that when other publications were tasked with representing Blackness on campus, they did not understand this. When we saw ourselves reflected in publications, we only saw tragedy. But along with the painful elements that still exist because of this nation’s violent conception, we wanted to tell the world about joy.
We wanted to tell the world about the happiness that comes from being outside of the Harambee House when the fraternities and sororities start strolling and you can smell food roasting.
We wanted to tell the world when one of our own accomplished something. We wanted to showcase celebration.
We wanted to tell the world about Black dance, Black music, Black writing, and Black art.
We wanted to honor those involved with Black storytelling at Brown.
We wanted to speak in African American Vernacular English and not have it edited as a spelling mistake.
We wanted to tell students and the professors and the people that there is a vibrant Black community just minutes from this campus filled with those who, like us, have their own stories to tell.
We wanted to use our positionality as Brown students to highlight that community.
Months later after the initial idea, these “wants” are happening within this inaugural publication. This is what the BSJ will provide. The newspaper will exist to give Black students a place to share, and our aligned community members a listening source. We owe this to the refusal to stay silent performed by the Black people at this university that came before us.
From us to you, this newspaper should be transformative and healing. Be open to learning from it.
From us to you, this newspaper should be a light that shines on Black people. We have so much of it to share.
From us to you, enjoy learning about our history, beauty, triumph, pain, and joy through the power of words, art, and visuals. This is the beauty of refusal. This is the joy of possibility.
From Us to You, Welcome to The Black Star Journal.