[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
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.
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.
This letter was sent today to Chancellor Fox from community members in the Scripps Oceanography Institute.
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
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
In solidarity and struggle,
Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!
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:
- A 2007 article published in Colorlines titled “The Rise of the Ghetto-Fabulous Party.” Important historical and political context for the “Compton Cookout” to share with friends, colleagues, students.
3. Other Statements and Articles from around the internet
- LA Times editorial, “Beyond the Compton Cookout”
- The UC Center for New Racial Studies, Statement on Racism in the UC System
- “Stuff White People Do: Promote Hollow Forms of Diversity Instead of Fighting Racism (e.g. UCSD)”, Guest post by UCSD Literature PhD student Scott Boehm
- CNN video: “Is UCSD a Racist Campus?” featuring the chair of BSU and Prof. Sara Clarke Kaplan of the Dept. of Ethnic Studies, UCSD
- The Christian Science Monitor, “Racist Acts at UC San Diego Underscore Deeper Tensions on Campus”
- San Francisco Chronicle editorial, “Racist ‘cookout’ pollutes UC San Diego”
- “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
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.