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BSU Update from March 6

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

[Reposted from here]

March 6, 2010

To all our supporters:

First, let us express a sincere thank you to all of those who have had our back over the last two weeks. Together, we are working to transform UCSD into the kind of public university it was intended to be—accessible and welcoming to students from all communities; a resource for our people and all the people of California.

Some have said that we have exploited the crisis on campus in order to “get things for ourselves.” Please know that the demands we made were intended to benefit all students, of every color and background. We more than most were deeply affected by the string of racist incidents. The structural changes we propose will help to create a university where such incidents can never again have the powerful impact we have witnessed for two long weeks.

This is not a Black thing; it is not even a Black-Brown thing. The 19 demands are designed to create a campus climate, support services, and curriculum that will enhance the educational experience of all students. How can it be that at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, a student can announce that she did not know that a hangman’s noose was “an issue”? How can graduates of UCSD claim to understand the world if they are ignorant of their own country’s history and if they have never had an African American or Native American classmate?

On Thursday, March 4, BSU signed an agreement with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. In that agreement, the administration offered to take up each of our 19 demands and convert them into “common goals.”

We are cautiously optimistic.

We are optimistic because we know that this is an historic moment. For decades, UCSD has been told that for many students the campus is not the utopia it pretends to be. Now is the time for the change to begin.

We are cautious because we understand that promises on a piece of paper, even one signed by the Chancellor, may not become reality or may become a misshapen distortion of what was intended. Promises can disappear never to be seen again into a bureaucracy that knows only its old ways.

This week a delegation from the Office of the UC President will arrive on campus to discuss implementation of the agreement. Forces from off campus are moving to disrupt the progress that has been made but we will not be distracted.

And so we ask that you remain vigilant and we ask for your continued support. What will UCSD look like in 20 or 30 years? None of us knows. But what we do know is that our generation has the responsibility to push the process of democratic educational change forward.

Real pain! Real action!

How long? Not long!

Real pain! Real action!

Black Student Union at UC San Diego

Official Statement: UC San Diego and Black Student Union Sign Agreement, Announce Common Goals

March 6, 2010 1 comment

Students and administration agree on actions to create a campus that respects differences and ensures diversitsy.

By Judy Piercey

The University of California, San Diego reports success in defining common goals at today’s meeting between senior administrators, faculty and students, led by Black Student Union co-chairs David Ritcherson and Fnann Keflezighi to address diversity issues to improve the campus climate. The adopted recommendations aim to move the university past hurtful incidents and improve the campus climate by enhancing diversity on the campus, in the curriculum and throughout the UC San Diego community.

“We’re pleased to see such a great exchange of ideas today. We now have a signed agreement to move forward,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “We applaud our student leaders, the campus and the San Diego community for their engagement, passion and leadership on finding solutions to these issues. Although there is much work ahead of us, our ongoing partnership will build a healthier campus climate that supports everyone in a meaningful way.”

A joint statement noted: “The UC San Diego administration and students have engaged in a productive wide-ranging conversation about how our common goals can be reached. The conversations of this week show that there is a commitment from all participants to work together for the benefit of the entire campus.”

The administration and students collectively determined measurable steps and concrete milestones to ensure that UC San Diego moves forward in working with students, faculty and staff on complex and vital issues. Suggestions that resulted from meetings during the past week include enhancing programs the campus already has in place to target first-generation and low-income students, attract and retain qualified and diverse faculty, and ensure that the university provides a curriculum that reflects the cultural richness of the state and region.

The campus community will put into action the following recommendations, among others:

For the rest of this article (with full recommendations), click HERE.

March 4 Statements of Solidarity with BSU

March 6, 2010 Leave a comment

On Thursday, March 4, as many of us gathered outside the Chancellor’s complex to wait for the end of negotiations between the Black Student Union and the UCSD administration, various members of the UCSD community came forward to state their solidarity with the demands of BSU. Throughout this entire ordeal, it has been clear that this campus struggle is not simply a “black-white” issue, but one that involves all marginalized communities here at UCSD. Below, watch just a few of the statements that were made that morning, via the UCSD Coalition for Educational Justice’s YouTube account at JusticeUCSD – T.T.

Kamalayan Kollective

Muslim Student Association

San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME)

Solidarity from the scientific community at UCSD

March 3, 2010 1 comment

This letter was sent today to Chancellor Fox  from community members in the Scripps Oceanography Institute.

Chancellor Fox,

We, the community of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, will not tolerate racism or hate at our school.  This institution is a place of higher learning for people of all ethnicities, socioeconomic standings, genders, religions, and sexual orientations.  Brilliance knows none of these boundaries, and we actively reject discrimination based on any of these personal identifying backgrounds.  The purpose of this letter is to unite SIO in support of the individuals who feel hurt by recent racist acts, and to ask that administrators recognize the need to actively mend the rifts these acts have highlighted.

The February 2010 acts of individual members of the UCSD community involving the racially offensive “Compton cookout”, the use of the “N” word on the student-run TV station by the Koala, and the display of the noose at Geisel Library are divisive and abhorrent.  These individuals’ ignorance, gross insensitivity, and hatefulness have no place at UCSD.

Intellectual communities, like social communities, are enriched and stimulated by diversity.  As we strive for the best intellectual environment at our institution, we recognize that we must fight for the inclusion and protection of underrepresented groups.  We embrace these groups and value their contributions to our community.  We will absolutely not accept threats and hate towards them.  Furthermore, as members of the SIO community, we recognize that in our position of privilege, it is unethical to fail to defend minority groups that are abused by members of the majority.  We will not stand for it.  Not in our community.

Too often, SIO is cloaked in apathy owing in part to its physical separation from both the main UCSD campus and less privileged areas of San Diego.  Today, however, we take action.  We come together to support diversity and justice.  We are committed to those who feel emotionally burdened by recent events and who struggle to fulfill their duties both to research and to our hurting community.  We are also committed to the underrepresented groups that already reside at our institution, and we are fighting to retain them in an atmosphere that is welcoming to all individuals.


The current friction on campus affects far more than the 2% of students directly targeted by the hateful acts.  It affects all students, faculty, and staff members who value our community.  By signing this letter, we are supporting our classmates and colleagues, both at SIO and on upper campus, pledging “Not in our community!”  We will stand against hate and insist on administrative action to improve the campus climate.  We will listen to the concerns and fears of our classmates and colleagues, and dedicate the necessary time and resources to mend our fractured campus.  Together we promote compassion, empathy, respect, and intellectual exchange for all members of our community.

Thanks and Peace,

Proud Advocates for a Diverse and Inclusive UCSD and SIO

Post-’Compton Cookout’ Archive Event on March 4

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

*Please Distribute Widely*

Dear Friends,

In an attempt at a meaningful contribution honoring the actions that are taking place on campus as of recently, we are interested in creating an archive that focuses on the (dis)organized responses from students, faculty, staff chronicling campus climate over the last few weeks since the “Compton Cookout.”

Here is how you can participate:

WHAT: We invite you to share photos, videos, emails, letters, testimonials, songs, fliers, buttons, journal entries and all other materials that have documented the recent event.
WHEN: Please donate these materials between 10am-3pm
WHERE: to the booth entitled “Archive of Knowledge” outside the Student Health Center (adjacent to Library Walk) on MARCH 4, 2010.

As graduate students enrolled in Ethnic Studies 257B: Social Theory, we believe in the importance of recording and archiving acts of history-making and ask for your participation in the making of history through the contribution of ephemera to this collection. Come and hand in your physical donations and also make a 30-second video testimony or response (or not).

In Solidarity,

ETHN 257B

Dialoguing Across Difference and Privilege

March 3, 2010 2 comments

a letter from Elizabeth Sine, a PhD student in History at UCSD

Dear Allies, those I know and those I don’t (ie., whomever may read this):

Before and above all else, I want to thank the BSU, MEChA, and
everyone else who helped to ignite the movement taking place on our
campus, and who have helped to open up some real maneuvering room
within this university for all of us who want to transform it and to
make it a fully public institution. I write today not only in
celebration of the struggle we are currently engaged in, today, these
past few weeks, and—for many of us, in varying ways—for a long time
before that, but also with an eye toward the long haul we have ahead.
Like many have already noted, the diversity of coalitions and people
who have come together to support this movement, and to support the
demands laid out by the BSU, is remarkable. The effort to challenge
the racialized hierarchy that holds this institution together, and to
combat the ongoing process of the university’s privatization, has
brought together so many people, across lines of racial and cultural
difference, and across the ranks assigned to us by the university
system—undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff. I
want to address the question of how we might continue to build and
engage in meaningful dialogue and common struggle across lines of
difference, with particular attention to varying forms of privilege and
underprivilege attached to those differences. More specifically, I
want to raise some issues and questions for students committed to the
struggle for greater diversity in the university who are operating from
positions of privilege—white privilege or otherwise.

I think most who read this will recognize the institutional nature of
the racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia that the student movement aligns itself against. I think many recognize the uneven and
hierarchical nature of the distribution of power in our university
system, as well as the extent to which the ongoing corporatization of
UCSD in particular, and public education in general, threatens to
intensify already-existing inequalities and modes of oppression (with
a particularly menacing threat to underrepresented groups within our
community). And I think that it’s important to acknowledge, and to
become comfortable thinking and talking about, the implications of the
university’s hierarchical structure for internal relations within our
movement—what it means to engage in struggle, in a coalition as
diverse as ours, against an institution that has been designed to
privilege some at the expense of others.

Indeed, it is vital for all of us to understand that the problems of
racism and inequality are collective, and that every person here has
an important role to play in the struggle against the denial of human
dignity and for institutional change. At the same time, the
institutions of privilege and inequality that exist on this campus and
in our society mean that we all approach this struggle from different
vantage points and from a playing field that has never been even.
And so, trust to exist among us and for the full strength or our
collective action to be realized, I think we have to take fully into
account the varying forms of privilege that come attached to our to
our socioeconomic status, our racial and ethnic identifications, our
gender and sexual practices, and whatever other factors affect our
social position and relationship to each other. In fact, I would go
even further to say that those among us whom this university has been
designed to benefit bear a responsibility to think critically about,
and to disinvest from, our own social advantages (beginning with a
recognition that those advantages are not a pure result of our own
hard work).

Surely, there are many among us who have been thinking about working
through these issues for a long time. But I think it’s worth putting
on the table for serious reflection and discussion in this critical
moment in which new forms of solidarity are taking shape and when
there is so much at stake. We have to be comfortable acknowledging
the ways in which some one who is racialized as white (such as myself)
cannot ever really understand the experience of racial oppression,
even as we participate in the struggle against it. And so, for such
individuals, the struggle against institutional racism must begin with
a disinvestment from whiteness, from the advantages of middle-class
upbringing—from whatever other advantages have been tied to the social positions we were born into.

So, what does this mean in practice? What does it take to disinvest
from privilege—from white privilege, or class privilege, male
privilege, or the privileges attached to normative sexual practices
and identities? Of course, there is no simple or singular answer to
these questions. But there may be a couple of starting points to
build on.

To begin with, as I’ve already been suggesting, I think it will be
difficult to move forward without making transparent the ways in which
various forms of privilege operate across lines of difference within
our coalition. Whether this occurs on the level of personal
reflection, in the realm of political thinking, in our informal
discussions with each other, I think it’s important that the issue is
brought out into the open.

Secondly, we must bring into a practice a politics of listening. It
is way too easy, especially given the individualism promoted by our
social institutions, to become absorbed in the way this struggle looks
from a particular and personalized vantage point. The danger of this
kind of individualist tendency is that it threatens our solidarity by
blinding us to the ways in which multiple struggles are intersecting
and overlapping in this movement, even as they all ultimately
challenge inequality and corporatization in the university. Listening
and taking seriously each other’s needs and concerns will not only
help to strengthen our solidarity and our movement but will help us to
avoid reproducing the kinds of hierarchies that we are struggling to
transform.

The disparities of power that shape relations across race, class,
gender, and sexuality do not have to persist. But I believe that they
can’t be dismantled without our open acknowledgment of them, our
critical and careful reflection on them, and a deliberate effort to
extricate ourselves from them and to bring into practice a different
kind of social relations that prioritizes the dignity of every one
here, in ways that UCSD’s administrative power structure has not.
Laying bare and discussing openly the hierarchies of privilege that
shape our university—and the social, political, and economic
institutions that dominates it—will be uncomfortable for some, but I
can guarantee it’s a lot less uncomfortable than enduring first-hand
the kind of isolation, marginalization, and oppression that many
students on our campus have been experiencing for a long time. And it
is necessary to move forward together toward taking back our
university.

In solidarity,
Elizabeth Sine
Graduate Student
U.S. History

And I undersign myself.
Thank you for this work, Elizabeth.
Cutler Edwards
Graduate Student
U.S. History

Other resources for white allies from around the web:

And for people of color who want to support white allies:

Asian American / Pacific Islander responses to campus racism

March 2, 2010 6 comments

Please see below for a statement of solidarity from UC Berkeley’s APIEL NOW! (Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!). A timely bit of reading before attending the dialogue this evening on Asian American/Pacific Islander responses to the racial crisis, from 7-9pm at the Cross-Cultural Center.

—-

March 1, 2010

To the UCSD Black Student Union and their allies:
We, the members of Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW! (APIEL NOW!) at UC Berkeley, are outraged by the racist, hostile, and demoralizing events that have transpired over the past two weeks at UC San Diego. We stand in full solidarity with your struggle to push the UCSD administration both to change its institutionalized practices of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia and to commit to creating a safe and empowering living and learning environment for the African-American community and other historically underrepresented communities of color on campus.

Far from being isolated incidents of racism at UCSD that can be addressed through teach-ins, the “Compton Cookout,” the racially derogatory comments made by SR-TV, and the noose found hanging in the UCSD library collectively point to the deeper problems of institutional racism and marginalization both within and outside of the education system that perpetuate these kind of ignorant and hateful acts. In a joint statement, the UC President and the UC chancellors condemn the racist incidents and state that they “reflect neither our principles nor the values, nor the sentiments of the University of California community,” yet it is clear to all communities of color that condemnation alone does not create real change, nor does it begin to address the real root of the problem: the continued segregation of public schools; the lack of stable and fully-funded resources to recruit, retain, and support students of color in all levels of education; the repeated division of labor along racial, gender, and class lines; the barriers that continually deny underrepresented communities access to public services such as affordable health care, decent housing, stable jobs, decent working conditions, and adequate representation; and the failure of the educational system to build awareness about and to teach students about racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and the need for affirmative action.

We in APIEL NOW! recognize that the fight communities of color face in higher education is against an administration that neither prioritizes students, faculty and workers of color, nor is willing to transform the higher education system into one that actually acknowledges and actively seek to fight the daily oppression and exclusion that underrepresented communities of color face. We are outraged that even though African American students make up only 1.3% of the student population at UCSD, the UC administration still plans to implement a new admissions policy in 2012 that will effectively decrease the number of African American students previously eligible for guaranteed admission to UC by nearly 50%. “Representation” and “diversity” at the UC are both empty terms. Having representation from historically underrepresented communities on a campus does not mean that they are equal, nor does it mean that their peers will automatically have, and more importantly, practice a critical understanding of the history of violence, repression, and exclusion that underrepresented communities face on a daily basis.

We fully support the demands that you have raised, all of which point to key ways to build permanent and institutionally-supported classes, programs, support services (academic, emotional, financial), and spaces that will create a welcoming campus climate and learning environment actively shaped by the African American community’s and historically underrepresented ethnic communities’ concerns and demands.
We stand behind your demand that UCSD better educate the campus about underrepresented communities’ histories through mandated diversity sensitivity requirements in African-American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Gender Studies, and we hope that the university will develop these departments so they have the breadth and depth necessary to give students a comprehensive understanding of the struggles that underrepresented communities of color face in a society that is still fundamentally divided and racist. The budget cuts are no excuse for not making immediate changes to a deeply flawed curriculum and educational system. The San Francisco Unified School District, for example, where 90% of the K-12 students are nonwhite, just approved a pilot program last week that will add Ethic Studies classes to their high school curriculum. Alongside UCSD BSU, we will continue to fight to make Ethnic Studies, African-American Studies, Gender and Woman Studies, Chicana/o Latina/o Studies, Native American Studies, Middle-Eastern Studies, Asian Pacific Islander American Studies, and South/Southeast Asian Studies an integral part of every K-UC school.

Today, we watched the Black community at UC Berkeley stand in front of Sather Gate for two-and-a-half hours in silent solidarity with you and pass out literature to the rest of the student body – literature that documented both the acts of hatred that took place at UCSD, as well as every racist incident that has taken place against the Black community at UC Berkeley for the past nine years. Next Monday, we will stand in solidarity at Sather Gate with you and with them when they hold their second nonviolent, silent demonstration at Sather Gate. We are ready to help in whatever way we can to fight for the rights of those in our communities who have been marginalized and oppressed.

In solidarity and struggle,
Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!
UC Berkeley

Tuesday Updates

March 2, 2010 19 comments

1. Breaking News: Ku Klux Klan-like hood found on the statue of Theodore Geisel at the UCSD Library

The head librarian at UCSD has just confirmed rumors that yet another racially-tinged incident has occurred at the Geisel Library.  Last night, at about 11:15pm students reported to Libraries staff that someone had put a Ku Klux Klan-like hood on the statue of Dr. Seuss [Theodore Geisel] on the forum level of the Geisel Library.  Campus police–who were called and are investigating the incident—promptly removed the hood.

We don’t have pictures of this incident yet but we’ll post them as soon as we get them. -J.F.

[Note: due to the absurdity of the image of Dr. Seuss (Thedore Geisel) wearing a KKK hood, some people are wondering whether this is some sort of risqué artist's statement, given Dr. Seuss' history of drawing racist propaganda in his early years. For more on that, click HERE. Also, today is Dr. Seuss' birthday, which makes it more likely that it's intended to make a point about the man and what he symbolizes for UCSD. However, as one Professor just noted to me, "it seems anyone in tune enough to know the history of Theodore Geisel or of San Diego as "Klan Diego" would know enough to leave a sign, or something to more clearly articulate the politics behind the act"].

Update 8:30PM from the San Diego Union-Tribune: “KKK-style pillowcase found at UCSD; noose sent to city attorney”


2. For Your Teaching Toolkits:

3. Other Statements and Articles from around the internet

  • “A noose is never just a noose. And it’s not just your fault alone that you didn’t know that. The university where you go to school bears some responsibility for not funding ethnic studies, for obscuring the history of people of color in this country, for cutting funding for recruitment and retention programs that would make UCSD a vibrant, racially diverse campus. The state must be held accountable for making public education inaccessible to Blacks, Latinos, Native American, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students.” – excerpt from  “How Exactly Does a Lasso Turn into a Noose? And Other Thoughts on UC Campus Racism“, Colorlines blog

It Doesn’t Take a Noose: Understanding How Your Privilege Affects Others

March 1, 2010 7 comments

An essay by Jamila Demby.

This morning when I woke up I found a message from a friend in my email that informed me that someone left a noose in the UCSD library last night. I was shocked, but only to a certain degree. I guess I should probably describe my feelings as more disheartened than shocked. Unfortunately, the noose has made an eventual appearance in a lot of heated racial situations across the country. Under similar circumstances, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it appeared in the chilled out state of Hawaii. Racism and its history runs deep.

I’ve been reading up on the aftermath of the “Compton Cookout” party some students of UCSD decided to throw in “honor” of Black History Month. I’ve been reading news articles, blogs, blog commentaries, and I have been watching videos of protests and speeches. One of the speakers at the teach-in walk out rally made a point that is so valid it’s been with me for the past view days. She noted that some people who don’t understand why the party is hurtful have been saying statements like “it’s not a big deal” and asking questions like, “can’t you just take a joke?” The speaker (I’ve got to get her name, I believe she is a professor from SDSU) stated that “it is a privilege to be able to ask that question”. She is right. It is a privilege to make such statements and ask such questions because you, yourself, are in a state of privilege. The privilege is not being subjected to the daily possible forms of racism and discrimination.

I read a great quote in my very dry human development book recently. “It would hardly be fish who discovered the existence of water”, some chic or dude named Kluckhohn, 1949. The author of the book clarifies, “Like the fish that is unaware of water until it has left the water, people often take their own community’s ways of doing things for granted”. This quote helps me further understand why a lot of the majority have major difficulties understanding the challenges of being a minority.

I’ve been very frustrated and at times angry when I stupidly read the ignorant comments people make about the party itself and the protests that have taken place since. I read it’s no big deal. I read that the BSU demands and protests are not productive. I read that minorities are playing the victims. I read ignorance. To me ignorance can come in two folds. There’s ignorance that comes from simply not knowing. Then there is ignorance that comes from not knowing wrapped in hate and sometimes vengenance. It kills me. I want to explain to gain understanding. I want to fix it. I am frustrated because I can’t.

To those of you that do not understand why feelings are hurt by the mockery of a party. To those of you that think it’s better not to make a bigger deal or raise racial tensions more so by peacefully protesting. To those of you that do not understand that this is real pain that does deserve real action. Please do me this favor. Please trust me. Trust someone that is a minority and has experienced racism either overtly and/or covertly. If you want to ask questions about our experiences, please do so with respect….not just to gather “evidence” to prove your counter point. I am incredibly greatful that my close friends who are not black or even a minority get racism at its greatest and more importantly at its most invisible state. If any of my friends do not get something, they do me the greatest favor by asking with respect with the pure motive to gain understanding and empathy and trusting my perspective. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Our U.S. has have left us a huge mess to clean up. While most of the overt racism has gone down as compared to our past (i.e. nooses, hangins, racial slurs) I find it’s the covert racism that white people cannot see. The covert racism is deep in the water in which you swim but are not aware. Here are some examples that I have experienced:

- “oooh you’re so articulate”
- “I didn’t know your parents were married. I assumed your mom was always a single mom”
- someone assuming I got into 3 different UC’s b/c of affirmative action without knowing my above 4.0 gpa, being the ASB VP, and track and cross country awards
- Being asked where am I from multiple times after switching my hair from a more Euro-centric style to a more natural style and getting disappointed looks when I say Merced/Maryland (most people are hoping for Jamaica or some other country despite not having an accent. Trust me. I never had this question before I changed my hair)
- Being told by a white friend to say hi to my mammy instead of mother or mom. She was clueless.
- Getting a shocked reaction from someone I was talking to that I warmed the bench in high school basketball. He said, “but I thought all black people can play basketball”. I stopped talking to him.
- Expected to hit on the only black guy in the bar just b/c he’s black. Are you attracted to every person in your race?
- Hearing white people change their dialect once they see me. I’ve had Orange County guys go from saying “dude” and “like” to “what’s up girl” and “I’m pretty fly for a white guy”. Some bullshit.

Overt Racism I Have Experienced:
- being called the N-word by Darren Bruce in junior high (took a swing at him)
- being called the N-word and a spade by some punks while walking to my car in OB
- a little girl in pre-school checked her hand after touching me to see if the black rubbed off on her
- being told that people can only see my eyes and teeth in the dark or in dark pictures (I hate the hell out of that “joke”)
- being referred to as the N-word ending in an “a” by a white co-worker b/c she thought she was down. She claimed her “one” black friend didn’t mind. So why wouldn’t the whole race mind, right?
- being told by two white school mates in junior high that they assumed that I would roll my neck and have an attitude. They seemed relieved that I didn’t. I was annoyed.
- My grade school classmates in Maryland would say every girl black character in any movie we would watch in class was me.
- They also stared at me while we studied slavery in class.
- Two of my white high school classmates and I got into a heated debate about race. They had the audacity to demand to know why there wasn’t a white college (like there are HBCU’s) and why isn’t there a white history month. I told these girls there is a white history month….Jan, March, April, etc. Then I asked them what are we going to do during it? Have a review session?!

This list could go on, but I am on a time constraint. My point in listing my racist experiences is to show you why you should trust me and trust other minorities that have real pain from experiencing real racism and discrimination. I am one story of millions. Please do not be dismissive on something you have the privilege of not experiencing. That dismissiveness on your end leads to built frustration and sometimes anger on mine.

Minorities. We’re not being paranoid. We’re not exaggerating. We’re not playing the victim card. We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We want true social equality and to live in an environment where both overt and covert racism does not stack up in our lives such as my list above. And I think most importantly we want recognition and understanding. Recognizing there is a problem, understanding our experiences and perspectives rooted in those experiences, and last but not least effective change. Thank you for reading.

Democracy Now Coverage of UCSD Racial Emergency

March 1, 2010 2 comments

To view entire video interview, or to download it as an mp3 podcast, click  HERE. You can also download the podcast in video or audio form via Itunes.

Black Student Union Demands

March 1, 2010 1 comment

Below is a PDF copy of the document that the Black Student Union issued to the UC San Diego administration. There is no better document stressing the need for structural change at UCSD than this one.

The BSU asked the administration to these demands by Friday afternoon. Chancellor Fox responded with some limited offers but the students are presenting their own counteroffer tomorrow morning (BTW there will be a rally in front of the Chancellor’s complex at 9am). The BSU has given Fox until March 4 to complete this negotiation process. That is also (not coincidentally) our National Day of Action for Education. For details about what’s happening at UCSD on that day, click HERE.

Please share widely. -J.F.

Statement by UC community members of Asian descent

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Note: to sign the online petition attached to this statment, click HERE

We the undersigned, UC community members (alumni, faculty, students and staff) of Asian descent, stand in solidarity with all who are protesting the racist incidents at UCSD and, more importantly, the systemic forces that support such incidents. It is unacceptable for UC campuses to view the recruitment and support of black and especially African-American students as anything other than a top priority. UCSD should never have allowed its black student population to languish at 1.6% of the total student population and ought to have paid much better attention to students’ needs. The UC systemwide must take immediate and material action to improve the campus environments. We write as community members of Asian descent because we think it is particularly important for black students to know that they are supported by the group that is demographically the largest of the U.S. ethnic minority groups represented on UC campuses. We have common values and needs, and possess a history of African-American/Asian-American collaboration to draw upon, although this history is little publicized in the mainstream media. For example, African-Americans criticized anti-Chinese immigrant persecution in the late nineteenth century, and the Asian-American “yellow power” movement of the 1960′s worked in solidarity with African-American movements toward common goals. We call upon these traditions, together with a sense of urgency that is only commensurate to a society that has effectively abandoned the pursuit of social justice, and pledge to stand with black students in their time of need.

Statement by Kamalayan Kollective

March 1, 2010 1 comment

28 February 2010

Dear Sisters and Brothers of BSU and MEChA:

We, Kamalayan Kollective, a political, people-centered, feminist organization here at UCSD, stand in solidarity with you in your brave efforts to create a just and lasting institutional change at our university. Your recent mobilizations on our campus in response to the explicit acts of racism and the administration’s failure to address adequately your demands prove the intelligence and resilience of students of color and our unwavering commitment to actualized social and educational justice. We do not merely applaud your efforts, rather, we raise our fists and march with you, for we, as Filipina/o students, have, always have had, and always will have your back.

As a decolonizing people, we hold dear and work diligently on the premise that we have inherited a revolutionary legacy of working across community identities. During the 1950’s, the Filipino farm workers struggled alongside our Chicana/o sisters and brothers in the United Farm Workers Movement; Filipina/o activists linked arms with our sisters and brothers of color in order to push for civil rights, in order to push for the demands of Black, Brown, Yellow and Red Power movements. At the turn of the century, Black soldiers during the Philippine-American War defected from the U.S. Army in order to fight for Philippine independence. The Latina/o community and the Filipina/o community have come together on multiple occasions to resist the anti-immigrant character of our campus and this country. In all acts of self-determination, we undoubtedly have had your back and you undoubtedly have had ours.

More pertinently, on this campus, we, as Filipina/o students, who make up a mere 4% of the undergraduate population, who continue to experience the effects of institutional neglect, resist the cultures of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. We are pained to witness our sisters and brothers in the local San Diego Filipina/o American community shut out of this institution, and instead exploited for cheap labor and tracked into the military and into prisons. Through these conditions, we emerge as leaders behind significant campus projects and community campaigns such as SIORC, SPACES, the Justice for Janitors Campaign, and campaigns for Affirmative Action. We initiate long-term and short-term projects to eradicate the ills of imperialism, racism, misogyny, classism, sexism, and homophobia on this campus. We have developed (with minimal to no help from the University) our own spaces such as Pinay Speaks, Pinayism Class (2005, 2007, 2010) and several other Directed Group Studies courses in order to confront the toxicity of this campus and to acknowledge that real pain and real oppression also exists along the horizontal axes of social category. We draw upon this legacy as radical Filipina/o organizers in the United States in order to identify ourselves not as allies to your Movement, but as comrades and comadres in the same struggle.

We, Kamalayan Kollective, are here to have your back. As underserved students directly affected and traumatized by the campus climate, we are taking a stand in representing the voice of the Filipina/o students who are in solidarity with you. We continue to believe in the necessity of real and immediate action. Sisters and brothers, in these times of struggle, we need you to have our back as much as you need us to have yours. Together, we do more than stand, we fight! MAKIBAKA! HUWAG MATAKOT!

Real Pain, Real Action, Isang Bagsak, Isang Mahal,
Kamalayan Kollective

Short Documentary on Feb. 24 Teach-out by a Vis Arts Grad Student

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Thank you Dolissa! -J.F.

Categories: "Compton Cookout", Events

Statement from the Critical Gender Studies Program at UCSD

February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Dear CGS Friends,

As concerned faculty affiliated with an academic program dedicated to the study of gender and sexuality at the intersections of class, race, ethnicity, religion, and other important organizing constructs of modern societies, we write to express our unequivocal support of the letter issued by the University of California, San Diego faculty of African descent, and ask that the University act immediately to respond to the demands by the Black Student Union.

We believe the racist and misogynist event last week is not an aberration but symptomatic of a larger systemic problem on our campus that the university has historically failed to redress. UCSD has not been forthcoming in fostering an intellectual and pedagogical environment hospitable to those who consider campus diversity foundational to teaching, critical thinking, research and public service. In the past this reticence has profoundly hampered our program’s growth.

Over the past two decades, many faculty affiliated with the Critical Gender Studies Program (formerly Women’s Studies Program) have dedicated their time and energy to increasing diversity on campus. In the absence of the University’s commitment to supporting and sustaining historically underrepresented groups in general, and women of color in particular, an alarming number of African American and other CGS faculty of color have left the campus in bitter disappointment. An African American CGS faculty who recently left UCSD would lament that in her “Black Feminist Theory” class, she was the only “black feminist” in the room. Another African American CGS faculty, who published an award-winning book in timely fashion, was not tenured due to institutional oversight. She left UCSD to teach at a prestigious university with tenure. Earlier when a large number of CGS faculty were involved in the Coalition Against Segregation in Education (CASE) that rallied against the California’s Proposition 209 under the banner, “No University without Diversity,” the University neglected to publicly issue its commitment to diversity in education. After the offensive campus incident last week and the continuing acts of antagonism, we are now being asked to reach out to the prospective students from historically underrepresented communities to assure them that the recent display of hostility is not representative of UCSD. But some of us have been struggling against these conditions long enough to know that this is hardly unusual. At the same time, as faculty affiliated with a program that has managed to grow despite these serious setbacks, we are also aware that much can be accomplished with the concerted efforts and commitment of our students, staff and faculty mobilized for the consistent administrative leadership.

As faculty teaching in CGS, we are keenly aware of the intersecting oppressions many UCSD students face on a daily basis and we know how important it is to have programs like ours, giving all students the theoretical tools to analyze and challenge these structures. There are too few spaces on this campus that offer safety and support in an often alienating climate and we want to emphasize the amazing work done by the Cross Cultural, LGBTR and Women’s Centers. These centers were created due to student pressure and the recent events show how important they and their commitment to intersectional politics still are. We are proud, though not surprised, that again students are taking the lead in pushing for a livable campus climate for all and we fully support their demands.

Symbolic gestures disavowing racism and misogyny will not usher in the changes necessary to achieve our highest aspirations in public education. The CGS Program faculty invites the entire campus community to support the University in its effort to implement the demands of our students and colleagues and immediately commit concrete institutional resources towards bringing forth substantial structural changes to UCSD.

Lisa Yoneyama, Director

Steering Committee:

Patrick Anderson, Communication

Fatima El-Tayeb, Literature

Sara Clarke Kaplan, Ethnic Studies/CGS

Nayan Shah, History

Sorting Through Race Relations At UCSD (Audio Interview)

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s a link to a great interview that aired this morning on KPBS with Glynda Davis (Assistant Chancellor of Diversity), Sara Clarke Kaplan (Assistant Professor of Ethnic and Gender Studies) and Andrea Guerrero (ACLU San Diego Field & Policy Director). This is really worth a listen.-J.F.

Click HERE to listen to the interview, download it in mp3 or to read the transcripts.

Categories: "Compton Cookout", General

Students walk out of UC San Diego teach-in

February 25, 2010 6 comments

The event was held in response to two recent racial incidents. But minority students don’t believe the university will take significant steps to boost their numbers or improve conditions, one said.


by: Larry Gordon, LA Times, 2/25/10

Reporting from San Diego – A student walkout Wednesday disrupted a UC San Diego teach-in that was intended to promote tolerance in the wake of two recent racially charged incidents. Many of those involved said the protest showed how difficult it will be for the beachside campus to overcome long-standing concerns about the small number of African American students enrolled there.

More than 1,200 students, faculty and staff packed an auditorium in the student center for the teach-in, which campus administrators organized in response to the incidents, including an off-campus party Feb. 15 that mocked Black History Month.

But halfway through the planned two-hour session, hundreds of students walked out.

The students, who were joined by many others during the afternoon, held their own noisy but peaceful rally outside the building, calling on UC San Diego leaders to improve conditions for minority students and boost their numbers.

Administrators may have thought the teach-in “would make us quiet,” said Fnann Keflezighi, vice chairwoman of the Black Student Union. But she said minority students do not believe that the university will take significant steps to improve the situation. The controversial party, she and others contended, was just the spark that ignited long-simmering ethnic tensions on the campus.

Click HERE to read the rest of the story.

More related news:

UCSD students walk out of ‘teach-in’

SD Tribune: Students walk out of UCSD teach-in: Protesters demand ‘real action’ on racial issues

UCSD students rally, march out of teach-in

Students walk out of UC San Diego teach-in on ‘Compton Cookout’

UCSD Minority Students Walk Out Of Teach-In

UCSD Students Say Deeper Racism Exists On Campus

Hundreds of students walk out of ‘teach-in’ at UCSD

Video: UCSD Black Student Union Speech (& walkout)

A Quick Note on Yesterday’s UCSD Teach-Out

Racial Crisis Heats Up at UCSD

Racial Crisis Heats Up at UCSD

Update: The teach out videos are now on tu-tubo..

Students Walk Out of the Chancellor’s Teach-In

Videos of Teach-Out following the walkout

For parts 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6, click HERE.

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Another letter to the UCSD community

February 25, 2010 Leave a comment

A letter to the community of UCSD,

We are mad at the system that we feel has repressed us.  We want to be free, we want to overcome, we want to win.  But we cannot fight for freedom and peace, because the very nature of a fight precludes both freedom and peace—in fact, it perpetuates the cycle of oppression.  It necessitates that one party prevail over another, and in that scenario, both sides feel threatened and react accordingly.  Fighting against something merely serves to reinforce it. What is called for, then, what pounds in our hearts and brings us flocking together, is a yearning for awareness.  A shift in consciousness.

Suss it out.  On what level does the issue exist? It is a matter of human emotion and how we choose to express our feelings. Is this Warfare, or Welfare?

Discrimination is supposed to be illegal, but how can we prosecute perception?  We have arrived at the reality of how people treat each other.  This is about human rights and it’s inextricable from any other inconsideration committed by one person against another. Repression, crime, and war are all symbolic of the isolation of the psyche, just as coming together to create a movement for positive change is symbolic of the connection of the soul.

Over the course of history we have won many battles, only to keep fighting.  This is the human condition.  We are all hurt.  We’ve got to stop fighting and start feeling.  To truly succeed in making a change, we must first cultivate a deeper awareness of the atmosphere we are creating…we must infuse ourselves with compassion, understanding, and acceptance.  (This is the only state of mind in which we can actually LIVE, not just visit on the weekends.)

Secret to destroying the enemy? Love it to death.  In the light of love, the enemy disappears.  It is only our own shadow that prevents us from seeing each other and treating each other as equals.  It’s a collective effort that must be taken personally; we can only be responsible for our own emotions and emissions.  Keep an open heart.

With my deepest respect and appreciation,

Gina Tang
Office of Student Wellness, UCSD

Click HERE to access the Live Well: UC San Diego blog.

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Statement by Concerned Members of the Theatre and Dance Community

February 24, 2010 1 comment

As members of the Theatre and Dance community we actively condemn the so-called “Compton Cookout” party organized by UCSD students and the subsequent racially charged performance aired by The Koala on SCTV. We call on the UCSD administration to take all means necessary to prevent these types of acts from taking place in the future. As scholars and practitioners of theater and performance we recognize that there is an intimate link between these racist performances and the historical popularity of blackface minstrelsy in the United States. A multitude of theater scholars have argued that this tradition, which originated in the 19th century, was used as a medium to turn white anxiety surrounding the threat of free blacks into mockery and entertainment. Although the invitation to the “Compton Cookout” reads as if the organizers were the clever inventors of blackface, racist stereotype, and colonialist mimicry, blackface minstrelsy is actually considered the first form of American theater. In other words, this was the first theater developed in the US that was neither indigenous performance nor directly imported from Europe. This tradition, and its perpetuation well into the 20th century, relies on the performance of a collection of images, sounds and embodied acts that are imagined to signify “blackness.”

This history therefore underscores the way in which “blackness” is divorced from black bodies and performed by any number of bodies (including whites, Asians, Latinos and blacks), much as one would perform other characters. However, for African Americans, unlike playing a character in a play, one does not cease being seen as black even outside the world of the performance, and the negative, buffoonish qualities of the character are in turn ascribed to the body being signified. While the performance of any kind of stereotype should be critically examined, there is a particularly charged history of the performance of blacks by non-blacks, particularly when the intended result is laughter at their expense. While many kinds of comedy rely on the use of stereotypes, they should always be understood in an historical relationship to power.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the way in which the primary metaphors of “acting” and “performing” have been invoked in defenses of the “Compton Cookout” as “harmless fun.” Much like the director of a play, the organizers encouraged attendees to take on the looks and actions that reflected their view of residents of Compton or “the ghetto.” Following an explicit list of desired characteristics, the Facebook invitation reads, “ The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.” Despite emphasis on the fact that this party was “make-believe,” and therefore billed as “inoffensive,” there remained an interest in depicting the “real.” Before the misogynist and dehumanizing description of what “Compton girls” supposedly look like, the invitation welcomes the unknowing reader, “For those of you who don’t know what ghetto chicks act like,” as if to clarify any misconceptions and to set the record straight. Literally scripting the scenario by providing words (“constipulated”) and limiting what can be said (Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary”), the directions for performing “ghetto chicks” seems to rely on other embodied mimetic qualities (“making noises, such as “hmmg!” or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces”). Finally, the young men organizing this event seem to be aware of one of the other crucial elements of performance: the audience. Apparently unconcerned about how their party might be received by more distant audiences, they trusted that their guests would be an approving and contented audience. However, as theater scholars and practitioners we hold that even if someone performs a stereotype for amusement and without any mal-intent, that person cannot control what their performance leads others to believe about those depicted in the stereotype. It is precisely stereotypes like those invoked in the invitation that lead to the belief that most African Americans, and especially African American women, are lazy, inarticulate, vulgar, and not to be respected.

Performances of any kind, whether on a stage, in film, in daily life, or at a theme party, invoke the act of representation. Any act of representation always involves aesthetic and performative choices of what to represent and what to leave unrepresented. Therefore no act of representation is ever purely objective, or simply an unmediated reflection of “reality.” Conversely, just because something is depicted in the space of performance, it does not mean that it is entirely detached from any real-life significance. Additionally, while there is a long tradition of anti-theatrical prejudice born out of the moralizing of art, and we do not wish to reproduce this here, we wish to point to the important intersection between aesthetics and ethics. The dismissal of ethical concern in favor of aesthetic choices can be socially irresponsible and reflects the need for critical examination of all acts of performance, both within and outside of a theatrical space.

As faculty, graduate students and staff, we understand that recent events like the “Compton Cookout” and The Koala’s insensitive and bigoted interventions in the name of “humor” could be potentially prevented in the future through education not only about theater history but also about the theories of comedy, the language of performance, and the power of embodied representation. Classes that provide this understanding should be valued by the university and should be taught regularly. Finally, we endorse the Black Student Union’s list of demands and insist that the Chancellor and the UCSD administration work to rectify the embarrassingly small percentage of undergraduates of color that attend our school. The incidents of the last week are not isolated examples, but rather they speak to the need for deep-rooted and broad reaching changes in our classrooms as well as on an institutional level.

Julie Burrelle, Maritxell Carrero, Kyle Donnely, Rai Genna, Nadine George, Jorge Huerta, grace shinhae jun, Lily Ketling, Gabriel Lawrence, Ursula Meyer, Irugu Mutu, Carolyn Passeneau, Lisa Porter, Jade Power, Heather Ramey, Patricia Rincon, Megan Robinson, John Rouse, Emily Roxworthy, Rana Salimi, Rebecca Salzer, Janet Smarr, Terry Sprague, Jessica Watkins, Terry Wilson, Shahrokh Yadegari, Aimee Zygmonski

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Generation Me

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s an interesting excerpt from a story that KPBS just did on the ‘Compton Cookout.’ -J.F.

This kind of joking around is a sign of new generational trends, says San Diego State University sociologist Jean Twenge. She’s the author of  Generation Me. She says her research shows young people today are increasingly self-absorbed – and few have any grasp of what something like the civil rights movement meant.

“They (students) maybe don’t even have a lot of understanding of the history. They saw this as another group, and some of the people in this group do some things that they could have some fun with. And they don’t understand the deep pain and the prejudice and discrimination that has happened in the past,” Twenge said.

Click HERE to read the entire story.

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

A letter by concerned graduate students and teaching assistants

February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

February 23rd, 2010

To the UCSD Campus Community:

There are three sides to the current state of emergency that has been declared—but not initiated—by students of color and their allies at UCSD: (1) The first are those students of color and their allies who face the difficult and unwanted task of legitimizing and articulating their trauma in light of the current racist activity on and off campus; (2) the second are the defenders of a status quo that excludes black students and trivializes their response to the recent racist actions on and off campus; (3) the third group consists of a student body, faculty, and administration uncertain about what side to take and how far to go in their response to the current crisis.

We are not concerned with the second group here. Those defenders of the status quo have a fairly predictable task. As defenders of an entrenched hegemonic order, they have a safe and privileged role to perform in the current crisis: they will continue to hide behind legal rights, such as free speech, to justify actions and rhetoric that prolongs a long history of racism in which black culture and heritage is treated as their private property. They do not deserve our attention here because they feed on negative press and the further incitement toward controversy.

This letter, rather, is written in alliance with the first group. Our demands are aimed at the UCSD administration and those members of the third audience who face the current situation at UCSD and who have a choice.

We, the undersigned graduate students, occupy a somewhat removed vantage point on campus life, but that does not preclude us from making demands in alliance with our black brothers and sisters. We are teachers, students, and friends of undergraduate and graduate students of color. In these roles, we have seen the burden that is now placed on black students and their allies as they try to legitimize their feelings to an audience who is confused about the problem and its associated discussions.

With scant resources and limited mentors on the UCSD campus, the marginalized 1.3 % and their allies have an enormous weight to carry. Even as we write, this unwanted weight is taking its emotional, academic, and physical toll on these students. Black students and their allies face the disproportionate task of balancing their academic work and social lives with the real radical demand to articulate their experience in a racialized environment. In the context of this state of emergency, the need to articulate their experience has become their main priority. They must miss classes. Their work must suffer. They must stay up for nights on end strategizing together as an excluded and unwanted community rather than studying as peers. While taking this necessary action in the name of their academic and human rights, they face the threat of physical and psychic assault from the campus community. They face the fear that their experiences are not legitimate in the eyes of their peers, teachers, and the administration. More distressingly, they face physical threats from supremacist groups and individuals on campus.

In light of these demands placed on black students and other students of color, we ask that the following demands be met this quarter:

• Counseling for students affected by the current state of emergency: We ask for the temporary hiring of more counseling staff, particularly black counselors, who can speak with students who face the emotionally and physically draining task of articulating their situation.

• Extensions on all academic work: Students who are struggling with the radical burden of articulating their experience cannot be academically penalized. If students are academically punished for their actions in the current state of emergency, we will consider it a form of racial violence enacted on the part of the administration.

• Classroom autonomy: Graduate students who elect to speak about these issues and the March 4th Day of Action should not be prevented from or penalized for taking a stance, regardless of the official position of the program.

• Creation of a pool of resources at the Center for Teaching Development: Undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines, regardless of whether they work as Teaching Assistants, need to have access to reference materials to use to facilitate productive discussions in the classroom about these issues.

Our purpose here is to intervene and implement changes in the short term for the successful completion of winter quarter, addressing specific needs we see in our capacity as graduate students who also work as Teaching Assistants on campus. We are also in solidarity with the long-term demands made by the Black Student Union, Department of Ethnic Studies, and other letters that have been published. We are greatly inspired by the mobilization of our undergraduate students and look forward to the realization of these changes that have been demanded.

Sincerely,

Concerned Graduate Students and Teaching Assistants

Excerpts from letter by Prof. Ivan Evans (Sociology)

February 24, 2010 1 comment

From Prof. Ivan Evans…

***

[This is an extract of a letter I sent to the Chancellor and Prof. Paul Drake}:
February 21, 2010 10:17:29 PM PST

Dear ——-:

…The hornest’s nest that has been stirred this week seems  to have had opposite, but equally distressing effects on African American students. Some vowed this weekend not to quit but to “endure” and  complete their degree here, “no matter what they do to stop us”. Others said that they intend to transfer to Berkeley, UCLA “or even Santa Barbara” if they remain unhappy this year. Only half jokingly, the latter said that they would present themselves to the other UCs as “political refugees”. They are confident only when they are together, they said, but feel menaced and vulnerable when walking alone on campus. These are absolutely astonishing sentiments by any measure. At the meeting, the representative of an outside mental health organization offered her company’s services to students who seem strained to the breaking point. Again, remaining engaged with these students has fallen to a small number of faculty and TAs, in part because the students report that they are disaffected with the administration.

It is against this backdrop that I want to echo what students are saying and record my own disgust, and the growing anger of others, with the near lily-white composition of the personnel who comprise the university’s public face, the one that is most clear and immediate to undergraduates. Having resisted the notion for years, I am now increasingly of the opinion that the racial monopoly over senior administrative positions is not accidental but seems to be the product of something that is inscrutably systematic and even sinister. We have watched the administration almost go out of its way to circumvent suitable minority candidates to appoint white colleagues in ways that, I feel sure, would not withstand scrutiny at the the two flagship universities within the UC system–were such racial effrontery ever attempted at those two illustrious peers in an age when no self-respecting state institution openly flaunts racial domination. The failure to de-racialize the university administration can no longer be attributed to factors such as the conservative weight that the hard sciences enjoy at this campus. And so the endlessly repeated promise to “promote diversity” is now greeted as mere cant at this campus. These ritual incantations to “diversity” are now also viewed as insults, as something that the administration knows that it can and regularly does get away with. Appalling statistics annually confirm the resultant “hostile campus climate” that minority students often refer to and which drives away minority faculty. Hence, the simmering disillusionment amongst undergraduates about this issue now resonates amongst minority faculty as well.

And now there is talk that some of the students who were involved in the past week’s events might or should be expelled. Certainly, the connection between what appears to be a predominantly “Whites Only” administration at UCSD and the “Compton Cookout” affair is neither linear nor singular–permutations of other factors are at play as well. Still, one reason why I am reluctant to support calls for the expulsion of students who seem to have clearly violated university codes, and engaged in criminal behavior to boot, is that these acts were perpetrated in an institution that has never placed  “diversity” issues at the top of its agenda. Everybody knows this, but few have seriously challenged the quotidian rhetoric that the university administration devotes to the issue. Expulsion is therefore too easy a solution. However justifiable, expelling guilty students smacks of scapegoating.

Stunned observers on and off this campus are slowly grasping a bitter truth: the university administration’s flaccid commitment to “diversity” has emboldened some students to behave as they did this past week. The rhetoric they employed–”Niggers should be grateful we let them in here”–expressed in vulgar form what the university’s own tepid “diversity” policies have been suggesting for a long time: “this is not a fundamental issue for us”. This is how I responded when the current whites-only Council of Provosts issued its well-intended but ironic statement, “Condemnation of Off-Campus Party and Affirmation of Principles of Community”. The university would no doubt like to, and in my opinion, should turn to senior and familiar African American office-bearers to present the administration’s response to race-baiting students. But it cannot because no such person seems to exists. This is astonishing. The path to redemption for the university begins with conceding telling points such as this.

Precisely because there is such a dearth of trust between the students and the administration, an adversarial relationship has opened up when instinctive unity between the two in the face of loathsome KKK behavior would seem obvious. Students have therefore taken on the burden of organizing meaningful events that will not just stabilize but, they hope, substantially transform the university. The task is Herculean because the problem’s roots are decades old and deeply sunk in the marrow of UCSD.

The greatest safeguard that UCSD can devise for itself is to elevate rhetoric about “diversity” into the guiding and non-negotiable principle of internal reform. Anything less will court disaster for this institution.

Sincerely,
Ivan Evans
Assoc Prof
Sociology Dept
UC San Diego

Open Letter from Prof. Yang…

February 23, 2010 17 comments

The problem is not (just) the party. The problem is the party line.
An open letter to the UC San Diego community

Dear us,

First and foremost, we should all commend the Black Student Union and its many allies across the spectrum of student organizations (including fraternities/sororities), for the dignity with which you have faced the recent onslaught of racist provocations. You are turning personal insult into a push for structural changes that are sorely needed at our university. You fight not only for the benefit of African-American students, but for all our common good. You are continuing a tradition of UC San Diego student activism dating at least as far back as 1968. You honor us. I hope our university will honor you back.

That said, I’m not writing to condemn the PIKE party. I’m writing to condemn the university’s party line.

University officials have been quick to the condemn the party, and even quicker to point out that it happened “off campus.” The party line is one of shock and horror, as if prior to last weekend, this institution was a model of diversity and racial justice. We repeat buzzwords like “mutual respect” and “diversity” and “community” until they are empty of meaning. The party line is to individualize a racist system to a few “racists,” and to isolate the event as a freak occurrence at UCSD.  This party line says: Let’s go after a few fraternity boys, and then go back to business as usual.

What is business as usual?

We have a 1.3% African-American student enrollment, not simply because of poor admissions, but because admitted students don’t choose to come to UCSD. Only about 13% of admitted African-American students come to UCSD (compare to 44% at UCLA). This information comes directly from the “Yield Report” – a 2007 UCSD Final Report from the Advisory Committee on Increasing Yield of Underrepresented Students. The Yield Report actually provided multiple strategies for improving campus climate, and for increasing the number of underrepresented students. These recommendations have by-and-large NOT been implemented despite 2 years of research and 3 years of reading time.

Business as usual means that for the last 30 years our university has refused to repatriate Native American human remains found on the ancient burial ground (on top of which the Chancellor’s house now stands). This outright defies federal law and treaty rights. San Diego has the largest number of Native American reservations of any county in the United States, but UCSD has a nearly 0% Native American student body. Why wouldn’t Native American students want to come here? It’s not just because of some frat parties.

All the administrative condemnations of a woefully misconceived fraternity party will not increase African-American enrollment at UC San Diego. All the email links to the “Principles of Community” will not make UC San Diego more diverse. A Chancellor-sponsored Teach-In, however well intentioned, will not lead to systemic change. Even as a symbolic gesture, it is misdirected – enough so that we should teach against this Teach-In.

What exactly does this Teach-In teach?

The Teach-In puts the blame for racism on our students. It exonerates the “teachers” of their role in perpetuating a poor campus climate. If our administration refuses to take responsibility for a toxic campus climate, for our share in the disrespect of African-American, Native American, and other excluded communities, then why would we expect our students to act differently? If our administration deals with collective problems by disavowing individuals, then why would we expect students to act differently? If our administration is silent about its own poor track record in race and community relations, then why would we expect students to act differently?

Furthermore, a two-hour Teach-In trivializes the work of teachers who critically examine race and racism year-round. We teach in History, Ethnic Studies, and Psychology, as well as other programs, departments and colleges, such as Thurgood Marshall’s Dimensions of Culture. In these classes, our students and instructors put in intense intellectual and personal work in struggling with our inheritance of racism, sexism, and classism.

But most importantly, teach-ins are strategies for the powerless, not for people in power. The Chancellor has a wide-range of powers and more than a few resources to commit to improving campus climate. The BSU is rightfully pressuring the administration to administrate, not just talk about, solutions for improving our campus climate.

What should the administration do?

To paraphrase Cornel West, “Young people don’t want to hear a sermon, they want to see a sermon.” It’s time to commit to some real structural changes. We can start with the BSU demands. But if a simpler list is needed, I have some suggestions below.

1)    Implement the Yield Report. This report came out 3 years before last week’s frat party. Can the administration take this state of emergency and finally implement the Yield Report recommendations?

2)    Put some teeth into the diversity office. Currently, the Chief Diversity Officer is a 50% position with no budget, no staff, and no formal power. Upgrade it to a Vice Chancellorship and equip it with a staff and budget. Such offices at UCLA and UC Berkeley are able to provide material support for research, teaching, and student affairs. They can take a preventive approach to racial incidents on campus. (This recommendation can also be found on page 10 of the Yield Report.) But don’t stop there. Give this office wide reform powers over all units on the campus, and we will gain at least one institutionalized motor for bridging the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of diversity.

3)    Fund organizations that support underrepresented students. Right now, student organizations like the SAAC orgs (BSU, MECHA, and others) are doing the work of the administration to recruit, retain, and respect underrepresented students. These student leaders bear a double burden – even as they are assailed by a toxic campus climate, they are also expected to be its antidote. How do we expect to retain our current students if they are mending our university on top of their obligations to schoolwork, jobs, and family? These orgs should be given increased funding for major events such as high school conferences, overnight recruitment events, and graduation ceremonies. (This recommendation is on page 9 of the Yield Report).

4)    Create a committed commission on campus climate. No, not a group of Chancellor’s appointees, but a coalition of organizations with a track record of transforming our university. Start with the SAAC orgs, the Campus Centers, and the interdisciplinary departments and programs.

5)    Repatriate, Research, and Respect. If diversity is to be more than an empty word, then it has to become part of the fundamental business of universities: research, teaching, and service. Fund collaboratories and cluster hires around indigenous scholarship, black and black diaspora studies, and chicano/latino studies. Develop curriculum and coursework relevant to these areas. (These recommendations are on page 10 of the Yield Report). But don’t stop there. Repatriate the Native remains, the burial grounds, and the Chancellor’s house on it. Let the Kumeyaay decide how they wish to establish a Native peoples’ presence on campus. UCSD would lose an unoccupied house, gain a Native cultural hub, and comply with the law. We might also become a truly attractive option for both established and aspiring Native American scholars.

What should the faculty do?

As departments, programs, divisions, and as the faculty senate, we should formally endorse the BSU demands and the Yield Report recommendations. We should change our admissions policy from comprehensive to holistic. But don’t stop there. Let us create admissions criteria that value local San Diego community knowledge, especially the community intelligence it takes to persevere within structurally disadvantaged schools. We would not only increase campus diversity, but also demonstrate commitment to the local community in these adverse economic times. UC San Diego might yet live up to our namesake.

What can students do?

It is a privilege to teach here at UC San Diego, where I am constantly impressed by our students’ initiative, compassion, and sense of social justice. Stay up, stay strong, and stay righteous. You’re changing this campus.

With respect,

K. Wayne Yang, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies
Affiliated Professor of Urban Studies and Planning

Ethnic Studies Faculty and Student Response to UCSD Campus Crisis Precipitated by the Event Dubbed the “Compton Cookout”

February 23, 2010 3 comments

The UCSD Dept. of Ethnic Studies welcomes all thoughtful, informed and reasoned comments to its departmental statements. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of all faculty and graduate students in the department, the Regents of the University of California, or the University of California, San Diego. Please post your comments on its blog HERE.

As faculty and graduate students in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC-San Diego, we unequivocally condemn the February 15th off-campus party, dubbed the “Compton Cookout,” as an example of racist, classist and misogynist stereotyping that degrades Black people through disparaging representations of so-called “African American culture.”  Like similar events thrown on college and university campuses across the United States, this “theme party” in one quick, broad stroke reduced the complex lived experience of a heterogeneous racialized community to a caricatured depiction of cultural deviancy. All the more troubling, this particular themed party was intentionally organized to mock ongoing celebrations of African American History month in the U.S. and specifically here at UC San Diego.

This “monstrosity” (as some of the organizers called it) has a violent and racist history that began with blackface minstrel shows in the U.S., starting in the early 19th century, heightening with popularity during the Abolition Movement, and extending into 20th century theater and film.  Both blackface minstrel performances and parties such as the “Compton Cookout” reinforce and magnify existing material and discursive structures of Black oppression, while denying Black people any sense of humanity, negating not only the actual lives that exist behind these caricatured performances but the structural conditions that shape Black life in the US.  Far from celebrating Black history, events such as this one are marked celebrations of the play of power characteristic of whiteness in general and white minstrelsy in particular: the ability to move in and move out of a racially produced space at will; the capacity to embody a presumed deviance without actually ever becoming or being it; the privilege to revel in this raced and gendered alterity without ever having to question or encounter the systemic and epistemic violence that produces hierarchies of difference in the first place. Moreover, like their blackface minstrel predecessors, the organizers and attendees of the “Compton Cookout” demonstrate the inextricability of performances of white mastery over Black bodies from structures of patriarchy: by instructing their women ‘guests’ on how to dress (“wear cheap clothes”), behave (“start fights and drama”), and speak (“have a very limited vocabulary”), these young men not only paint a degrading and dehumanizing picture of African American women as so-called “ghetto chicks,” but offer a recipe for the objectification of all women—made permissible, once again, through the appropriation of blackness.

Click HERE to read the rest of the statement.

New Guardian Story: Campus Reacts to Racial Slurs

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

by: Angela Chen (The Guardian, UCSD); posted 2/22/10

Two words aired on Student-Run Television Thursday night brought UCSD into the national spotlight — and into yet another campus free-speech debate. After Kris Gregorian, editor in chief of humor newspaper the Koala, said that protestors of last week’s controversial “Compton Cookout” party were “ungrateful niggers” on Channel 18, the Black Student Union declared a “State of Emergency” and issued a six-page list of demands to the university.

In response to the outrage — expressed principally by the black population at UCSD, or about 1.3 percent of 22,000 undergraduates — A.S. President Utsav Gupta immediately shut down SRTV. Then, on Friday afternoon, he unexpectedly decided to freeze all student fees toward media organizations.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article (it’s worth reading since it contains detailed information that hasn’t come out in the mainstream press coverage).

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Letters to the Guardian editor

February 22, 2010 1 comment

These just came out. The originals (w/ online comments) can be viewed HERE. -J.F.

***

Dear Editor,

We submit that the so-called “Compton Cookout” incident has less to do with the racist culture of a particular fraternity or the Greek system in general (although that is certainly a factor) than it does with long-standing structural problems at UCSD — lack of a critical mass of faculty and students of color, generic (specific, community-neutral) approaches to improving campus climate, a very low profile and poorly funded African-American and Chicano studies curricular programs, etc. Together all of these institutional weaknesses produce a campus climate that emboldens the kind of racism we saw in the language and proposed activities of the “Compton Cookout.”

We urge the administration to avoid psychological interpretations of the incident. Individual behavior and attitudes are not the primary source of the problem. It will not be enough to oppose racist speech with “more speech,” with lessons about the limits of satire or even with well intentioned but ultimately symbolic campaigns such as the proposed “Not in Our Community” initiative.

This incident, and the potential for others in the future, should convince campus policymakers that serious structural changes are long overdue. In our opinion, the administration should take immediate action and 1) commit to permanent and substantial funding and staffing for the African American Studies Minor, 2) establish an Organized Research Unit to conduct research on local communities of color that are underrepresented at UCSD, 3) create a task force to study the desirability of rotating public art installations linked to underrepresented minority communities (preferably local) and 4) reorganize the office of the Chief Diversity Officer in order to facilitate the writing of a campuswide plan for addressing campus climate with a focus on how climate affects specific groups.

We understand that in a time of budgetary constraints, some of these proposed solutions will be difficult to implement. And yet these kinds of changes ought to receive the highest priority if we are to believe Chancellor Marye Anne Fox when she says the campus has a serious commitment to diversity. What is undeniable is that UCSD must change what it has been doing on the diversity front up until now. It’s simply not working.

— Jorge Mariscal

Professor, Literature Department

— Patrick Velasquez

Director, Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services

***

Dear Editor,

The university was right to condemn the “Compton Cookout” party. It was both insulting to the African-American community, and degrading to UCSD’s image. But the administration’s response to this racist off-campus event ignores one of UCSD’s most embarrassing, racist, on-campus publications: the Koala.

The Koala, notorious for its humorless and unintelligent satire, takes every opportunity to insult minorities of every race, religion and orientation. Though their offensive rants are largely unread and ignored, I must ask: Why there is a lack of outrage on behalf of the administration or the Black Student Union regarding the material published in the Koala?

The Koala receives its funding from the university through the Associated Students. On Feb. 15, the Koala submitted yet another funding request to the A.S. Council. They declared themselves a publication, type: “Tabloid, not offensive,” and asked for no less than $3,471.15 (All of this information can be found on the A.S. Web site). Where does this money come from? Tuition? Student fees? Who knows. Could this money be better spent? Absolutely.

It is hypocritical for the university to come down so strongly against the unaffiliated cookout, while simultaneously ignoring the racism spewed by the Koala, which is funded by the A.S. Council. The administration and the Black Student Union should regularly come down on the Koala, as they did in response to the cookout. Finally, Associated Students needs to cut funding to the Koala. At the very least, it can do this by citing the erroneous description of “Tabloid, not offensive” on the Koala funding request form.

— William Wolfe

Sophomore,

Eleanor Roosevelt College

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Update: UCSD frat student Mike Randazzo (Delta Sigma Phi) just posted an event invitation for a Compton Cookout Part II

February 20, 2010 7 comments

I’m including a screen grab containing: (a) the event invitation, (b) the facebook profile of Mr. Randazzo, the creator of the event, and (c) a list of confirmed guests as of (5:45pm PST).

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

UCSD Students Blast Chancellor Over Racially Charged Incidents

February 20, 2010 Leave a comment

This just happened on campus this morning.

By Ana Tintocalis
KPBS, February 19, 2010

Black student leaders at UC San Diego blasted Chancellor Mary Anne Fox and other college administrators in an emotionally charged campus forum. Students say the campus climate allows for racially offensive incidents to take place.

Some students broke down in tears while others yelled at Fox. The impromptu meeting follows several days of public outcry over a racially-themed party organized by UCSD students mocking black culture.
Black student leaders handed Fox a list of 32 demands. The demands include everything from creating a safe, central space for black students on campus to fully funding recruitment efforts for black students.
David Ritcherson is the president of UCSD’s Black Student Union. He helped to pass out transfer and withdrawal applications during the heated exchange.

“Do you know how many students in my community are about to fill those out and leave this university?” Ritcherson asked. “Convince us to stay by funding our programs, Chancellor Fox.”

Click HERE to read the rest of this story.

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

It’s escalating…Koala aired a show this evening

February 19, 2010 2 comments

Hey Family:

Just so you know. Campus climate is getting worse, because we are not being heard. Our pain continues to be a source of mockery and we continue to be disregarded by the university at every level. Student funded television was abused tonight in which the Koala used racial epithets to target all racial groups (this is not just a “black” thing anymore) over live broadcast.

Actions and words that continue to target people of color is a clear consequence of lack of a firm stance on the part of administration to punish racists and sexists and to defend their students, the largest investors at UCSD. The lack of tangible action: we mean e-mails addressed to the student population, as empty words; we mean the continual protection of first amendment rights while others must stand by silenced; we mean the deprioritizing in social value and financial support of student-intiated and student-run access and retention programs, even though it is well-known that during times of budget cuts and massive tuition increases students of color are disproportionately negatively affected; we mean the incapability to hold students who feel safe at UCSD to the principles of community and the hostile campus they continually create; AND the real inability and lack of motivation to actually address racism at an institutional level. These examples signal the condonment of racism and sexism on our campus, and continued investment in white patriarchal supremacy.

Now, you can no longer say that this is just a student fight. There will be no difference on our campus unless we are reinforced by actual investment from the university at the institutional level to stop this and improve life for all current and future people of color. This frat “incident” can no longer be just made a learning example, people must be held accountable and punished for the decisions they consciously and purposefully make.

In response, we will be gathering on library walk, at 8am as a solidified community against racism to demand real actions be taken against the multiple “Black History Month” events, the South of the Border Party that occurred this month and the countless racially charged events that go unnoticed. Please wear black and join us.

Love and Solidarity,
Fnann and Mabel

“FYI…I’m on the phone with the UCSD BSU Chair and he’s relayed to me that there are White students on the UCSD student run tv calling the Black students “N” words, saying they received a pass and mocking them for being upset.  David is describing their frustration and anger and says that he and the other students do not feel safe and do to want to be on campus.  Students are crying and deeply upset over this situation and and have called UCPD.  I also spoke with Diane Griffiths, the Secretary and left a message for Judy Sakaki to respond.  We called the Chief of Staff for Mary Anne Foxx and left her my number to call back immediately.  We’ve not been able to get a hold of anyone on the campus, except UCPD, but they wil certainly hear about if first thing in the morning.  This is not good.”

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

KTLA: The Compton cookout a racist event UC San Diego?

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

KTLA: KT

Categories: "Compton Cookout"

An Open Letter from the Campus Community Centers Regarding 2/13 Weekend Events

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This past weekend, a number of events have occurred that have deeply impacted our community. The inciting incident was the advertising of an off campus party with racist themes. The subsequent events include many responses from numerous quarters of our campus community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater San Diego community.

Deeply troubling is, while this event clearly targeted historical contributions of African Americans, equally insidious messages were present. The blatant misogyny, glaring class issues, and subtle heterosexism are intertwined throughout the obvious racism. The references to men and women, when juxtaposed, highlight a vast difference in how gender, relationships and class intersect into stereotype, myth and denigration.

This incident underscores the important nature of the work around intersectionality. When one group is targeted, all of our communities are impacted. Incidents such as these, when they happen, can serve to disaffect those from other marginalized communities as well, and pit folks against each other in a hierarchy of oppression.

There were opportunities to stop this event from happening. When individuals expressed concerns about the nature of the party, were they heard? Building community on our campus provides opportunities where these voices can have an impact on decisions that peers make. Critical dialogue can be uncomfortable, but creates a campus climate where all people are valued.

Our communities cannot be bystanders to events such as this. It cannot be “Oh, look what is happening to ‘that’ group…” We are deeply connected as members of the UC San Diego community, and what affects one of us affects all of us. It is how we react from our places of privilege that is the true testament of community building.

What we do now, in support and in community with those who have been the most affected, reflects the mission of the Campus Community Centers, which includes the belief that ending one oppression requires ending all oppression.
We invite you to continue the dialogue with us, and to join the teach in on Wednesday, February 24th from 12-2pm at the Price Center East Ballroom.

Reactions from 10News.com story…

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Public Reactions from 10News.com story (this is the sort of collective mindset we’re dealing with)…

For some good commentary on these, go HERE.

***

“Clearly the way college students view African Americans is offensive to some. Where would they get these ideas? TV shows on MTV and BET? Spike Lee movies? Television stations that fascinate on ghetto behavior? Who knows…

It sure isn’t from the ‘frats’….”

“NOTE: The only folks making a big stink over this are the media and college administrators trying to cover their arses in the name of political correctness. As I said yesterday, sometimes it hurts to see how the rest of the world sees you. The party may have been in poor taste, but it was certainly a pretty good parody on black youth in America. Just drive through Compton (or Southeast San Diego), and tell me if you see anything different from what this party portrayed.”


“The entire Hip Hop industry is “Ghetto-Themed” but it’s OK; they’re “keeping it real”.
If you’re a black college student, you’re “embracing your roots”.
If you’re a white college student, you’re a racist. HEY PARENTS: Is this the kind of hypocrisy and double standard you pay to have forced down your kids throats? Also, Hollywood and the music industry do not exactly try to glorify life in the trailer park, the way they do life in the hood.”

“I’m not sure what is more funny.

The fact that these students are having a “Ghetto-Party” or that UCSD is promoting respect for the ghetto culture.”

“Racism is in the eye of the beholder”

The vast majority of us are sick of how offended you are. Your self-esteem is not a concern in the real world, so grow [u]p and stop griping about everything.

“Ghetto” relates to a segment of the population just as “redneck” refers to a segment of the population. When people think of “ghetto”, they think of lower class blacks, and when they think of “redneck” they think of lower class whites. Not all blacks are “ghetto” no more than all whites are “rednecks”. I was not at all offended, because these stereotypes do not apply to me, my family, or my friends.


Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Scramento Speaks on the “Compton Cookout”

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment
Categories: "Compton Cookout"

Screengrab of Original “Compton Cookout” event (+ another similarly themed event)

February 19, 2010 7 comments

This is the original screengrab of the original “Compton Cookout” event. It also contains the screengrab of another similarly themed event that was due to happen later this month.

Here is the original text:

February marks a very important month in American society. No, i’m not referring to Valentines day or Presidents day. I’m talking about Black History month. As a time to celebrate and in hopes of showing respect, the Regents community cordially invites you to its very first Compton Cookout.

For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes – they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red. They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as “constipulated”, or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as “hmmg!”, or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises,grunts, and faces. The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these “respectable” qualities throughout the day.

Several of the regents condos will be teaming up to house this monstrosity, so travel house to house and experience the various elements of life in the ghetto.

We will be serving 40′s, Kegs of Natty, dat Purple Drank- which consists of sugar, water, and the color purple , chicken, coolade, and of course Watermelon. So come one and come all, make ya self before we break ya self, keep strapped, get yo shine on, and join us for a day party to be remembered- or not.

Categories: "Compton Cookout"
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