A letter of solidarity to Black students, faculty and staff

Monday, September 26, 2016 - 11:45pm

In response to the recent plastering of white supremacist and anti-Black posters around our campus, the continued unjust murders of Black people at the hands of police in the United States and the oppressive systems that allow these events to occur, the Michigan in Color editors would like to issue a statement of solidarity with Black students, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.

As a group that was founded out of a necessity to amplify the voices and stories of people of color at this University, Michigan in Color wants to emphasize that this is a space for you. We acknowledge the immensely harmful impact these events have had on the Black community, an impact felt even within our own staff. We acknowledge the pain and fear that comes from being at an institution that does nothing to ensure your safety, an institution whose empty words continue to miss the point. We will not ignore it, and we will not be silent.

To non-Black students of color and white students who ally themselves with the Black community, if we call ourselves allies, then we have to work to prove it. We do not do this by co-opting space and co-opting struggle. We do not do this by assuming what our Black peers need from us and speaking for them. We do this by actively challenging our internalization of anti-Black racism and rhetoric. We do this by naming these acts for exactly what they are: manifestations of a system that does not value Black bodies.

In the face of violence and oppression, silence speaks volumes about our indifference when it comes to confronting and deconstructing the anti-Blackness perpetuated by our communities. We must continue to acknowledge the deeply rooted and targeted nature of racism against Black people. We must continue to reach out to our Black friends and remind them that their lives matter to us. While they take time to grieve and heal, it is our duty to not waste time by remaining silent. Show up and speak up.

To the perpetrators of these violent acts, you say, “white people have the right to exist.” Luckily for you, no one has ever denied that fact. You have never endured existing in a country that was founded upon centuries of the enslavement and dehumanization of people of your race. You have never faced a lifetime of violence and disenfranchisement. You have never had your humanity debated. Undoubtedly, you will argue that your right to free speech is being taken away by those who refuse to accept your hate speech. But your ability to occupy space with these words of aggression is proof enough that your autonomy has and always will be respected in this country without question.

Your hate is anonymous, but the Black community’s pain is not. It is publicly displayed, thought to be open for conversation and even debate. All the while, Black folks are expected to be silent.

But we know, through the current efforts of movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #BBUM, as well as the historic and revolutionary resistance and resilience of Black students, faculty and staff, that Black folks do make their struggles and their experiences heard. Their demand to be human and to be valued echoes, despite societal silence.

Michigan in Color will always work to amplify your voices and condemn those who try to silence you. Your stories, your experiences and your lives matter to us. The MiC will always be on. #BlackLivesMatter

In Solidarity,

Michigan in Color Editors: Demario Longmire, Toni Wang, Sabrina Bilimoria, Alyssa Brandon, Christian Paneda, Ashley Tjhung