Amidst a highly controversial election, our editorial staff at The Record decided to use the headline “Making Amerikkka Great Again” above a centerpiece photo of President-elect Donald Trump in our Nov. 9 issue. This wasn’t a typo.
After seeing many of the responses, criticisms and backlash to the headline, we admit that the headline could have been handled more appropriately. The negative response it received caused a divide among some students, alumni and staff, rather than insighting a thought-provoking analysis of the election.
The headline could have been crafted to communicate the reality of racism and bigotry without distracting readers from its message. We received many spirited complaints. Some criticized our journalistic ethics to write the headline. Others criticized its placement. One passionate emailer even said they hope the Ku Klux Klan kills us.
For those questioning the placement of a Page One editorialized headline, this has been done before by some of the country’s most respected newspapers. Just last December, the New York Times ran a Page One editorial calling for a greater regulation on guns. In April, the Boston Globe published a parody front page that showed a satirical view of a Donald Trump presidency. The fake page included headlines like “Deportations to Begin” and “Markets Sink as Trade War Looms.”
White nationalism had a part in Trump being elected. There’s no denying that. That’s what we wanted to address. This is not a bias assertion. When the results trickled in late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, Record editors realized that white America is far less inclusive and less open-minded than we thought it was before Election Day.
This headline does not reflect the opinions of SUNY Buffalo State, although we do feel it represents the opinion of many of its students. In doing this, we realized we were going to draw attention to our publication.
We are aware that Trump is not directly associated with the KKK. However, we find the fact that the KKK wanted to endorse Trump alarming, and the fact that Trump wouldn’t denounce the KKK immediately even more alarming.
There are some students on our campus that are genuinely concerned about their well-being now that Trump has been elected. To say that these issues will subside now that the election is over is absurd. At 4 a.m., when the headline was written, we felt it served as a reminder to our readers that these issues aren’t going away. However, we admit the headline could have been written without inflicting any fear.
The First Amendment provides Americans with the right to express their opinions, as well as publications to print headlines of their choice. We respect everybody’s opinions and their right to them.
With that being said, we realize Trump, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama are calling for unity of our nation. While our headline could have expressed a more neutral or supportive approach to the idea of unity, we wanted to express the turmoil from this election.
This isn’t to say that we don’t support unity of the country. We do hope that President-elect Trump will lead our nation in a manner that truly does make America great for everybody.
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