June 25, 2017

An Apology to the Providence College Community

by The Cowl‘s Editorial Board

Editor’s Column

On behalf of The Cowl’s entire staff, we extend our deepest apologies to the Providence College community for a misprint in our Feb. 16 issue. The article, “Panel Discusses Diversity and the Catholic Identity,” contained the phrase “colored people,” and we deeply regret that this derogatory and hurtful language appeared within the pages of our publication. While we can assure you that there was no malice intended by using such language, we fully understand that this phrase should not have been used. The mistake has brought to our attention an issue of ignorance—a lack of understanding of the term “colored” and its harmful connotations—not only on our own staff, but also on a much larger, societal scale. Therefore, we would like to use our error as an educational opportunity—a chance to reflect upon the history of the term “colored” and its impact, while discussing the appropriate and respectful term that should always be used instead.

For many, “colored” signifies a time in American history during which there were “colored” classrooms, “colored” drinking fountains, and “colored” waiting areas—to name only a few examples of the racial segregation our nation once enforced. That is why, since the late 1970s, racial justice advocates have instead used the term “people of color” to collectively refer to racial groups that are not white. “People of color” is the term that should have appeared in our last issue of The Cowl, and again, we deeply regret that it was not. We have discussed at great length the importance of word choice with our entire staff. In addition to the Associated Press Stylebook, we now are also consulting several other guides and resources with hope that an offensive mistake like this will not occur again.

However, we must remind you that The Cowl’s staff is constantly changing. For example, it has been brought to our attention that mistakes such as this one have occurred in The Cowl’s past, but we remind you that those mistakes were before our time. We would also ask that you remember that we are also students, with busy lives and preoccupations outside The Cowl office each week, which certainly does not help in the case of making mistakes. Although we have done our best to impart the wisdom we have gained from this mistake upon our current staff, we certainly cannot speak for those who come after us—those students who are now in the eighth grade, but who will one day take over our positions. We can hope that they will be informed, but we can also expect that they will make their own mistakes and learn from them as we have.

Finally, we remind you that there was no ill will behind the language used in our last issue, despite our recognition of the negative impact it may have had on our community. We thank you for understanding that we are students first, and that much like in the classroom, we welcome critique so as to learn and better ourselves.

Therefore, all we can ask is that you accept our sincerest apologies while extending your own understanding and forgiveness.

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