These days, preparing a print magazine that will still feel relevant in eight weeks—the time between when we finalize it and when it lands in homes—feels more and more like taking a wild guess at the future. This issue, in which we bring you stories about this summer’s dual national crises—the pandemic, and our country’s long-overdue reckoning over race—took an extra week and an extra eight pages to put together. But we wanted to be true to Brown’s ethos: the call to serve, to be flexible, to care, to rigorously question the status quo, to make change for the better. It’s an ethos reflected in each one of the people featured in these pages, be they a scientist, an educator, a linguist, a doctor, a person of faith, an astronaut, or an everyday person persisting through extraordinary times. What a community to be part of, as we face the future together.
We have been thinking about what we do at every level. Capitalization rules, for instance, often feel like the province of only the geekiest, but I want to take a moment to note that the BAM, like many other publications, is now capitalizing the word Black when referencing members of the African diaspora. So many lost knowledge of their heritage to the brutalities of slavery; the new rule is just a small step, of course, but it’s meant as a respectful recognition of shared Black history and culture. We’re an all-white staff at BAM, and as we work to investigate issues of racial injustice, we have asked ourselves: how do we do this work, given who we are? The lack of diversity in the field of media and communications is a well acknowledged national problem, and one step we’re taking is to identify and hire people of color as professional and student writers, illustrators, and photographers. Together with them, we’ll continue to bring you stories about the complexities of Black life in America, along with other explorations of life on Earth—and off it.
Brown is collecting stories about what alumni are doing to address anti-Black and systemic racism in their communities. Share with us what you—or a Brunonian you know—are doing to help create a more just society at brown.edu/go/alumni-stories.
I hope you’ll be pleased to hear some good news about your alumni magazine. Two pieces of recent work—“Public Enemy No. 1” by Julia Klein, a profile of New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger ’03 that was our July/August 2019 cover story; and illustrations by Curt Merlo that accompanied our March/April 2019 cover story, “Weed on Main”—just picked up awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. It’s good to know that the BAM compares favorably in this international arena, but we’re always trying to peer into the future, always hoping our next issue will be better, more thought-provoking, more moving, than the one before. Thanks to all of you who have written in with your excellent letters, class notes, and story ideas. Working remotely, as the BAM staff will be through the end of the calendar year at least, the contact is all the more appreciated. Stay safe.