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CW: Racial Violence
Dear Stanford Community,
To be honest, it was difficult for us to find the energy to write this email. As Black students ourselves, we are heartbroken, enraged, and exhausted by the events of this week. The murder of George Floyd in broad daylight by a Minneapolis police officer, just like the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, and countless, countless other Black people before them, underscores the existential threat that police brutality and white vigilantism pose, not just to Black people, but also to the basic humanity of American society.
It was difficult to write this email because not even two weeks ago, we had to respond to a racist Zoom-bombing incident that targeted a mostly Black group of ASSU candidates with hate symbols and pictures of assault weapons. This was around the same time that Black students were dealing with an incident in which a professor repeatedly used the n-word in class. Then, we had to confront Christian Cooper’s video showing yet another white person using their privilege to threaten a Black person’s bodily safety. And just this Wednesday, a professor at the Law School also decided to say the n-word in class while quoting a passage.
All of this, during a pandemic that has turned the world upside down; a time when protesters are being tear gassed while a respiratory disease is wreaking havoc on the nation, with communities of color bearing the highest death rates.
To our fellow Black students: we know that many of you are and have been putting in enormous amounts of physical and emotional labor, whether it’s by protesting on the front lines, educating non-Black people, or by pushing for change in the spaces and institutions you occupy. We thank you deeply for this labor, which we know is both incredibly taxing and virtually always unpaid. We also recognize that many of you might not have the capacity to do this work right now. We encourage you to check in with yourselves and do whatever is necessary to protect your physical and mental health, whether that’s taking a break from the news/social media, spending time with family and friends, or taking a step back from academic and extracurricular commitments — others must understand that business simply cannot go on as usual for us at the moment. For those of you that do go out and protest, we sincerely hope that you are able to stay safe to the best of your ability (see “Tips for protesting safely” below).
To our non-Black classmates who have been engaging in the same labor described above: we thank you for your solidarity. If you have yet to take action against racial violence, we need you to stand up and speak out, now. Staying silent in the face of injustice is always unacceptable, but during times like this it is especially egregious. We are sharing a non-exhaustive list of resources at the bottom of this email that we highly recommend you consult. Educate yourself, and then educate the other non-Black people in your life. Have those difficult conversations at the dinner table. Check in with Black friends and loved ones to offer support. If you have the financial ability, please consider donating to the nonprofit organizations listed below that are fighting for racial justice.
Despite our sadness and frustration, we are immensely grateful to the Black community for being a source of strength for us. We hope that Stanford students — Black and non-Black — will continue to show the leadership and empathy necessary to achieve a more just future.
Black lives matter, always.
Erica Scott (she/her), 2019-2020 ASSU President
Isaiah Drummond (he/him), 2019-2020 ASSU Vice President
Remy Gordon (he/him), 2019-2020 ASSU Executive Chief of Staff
Munira Alimire (any/all), 2020-2021 ASSU President
Micheal Brown (he/him), 2020-2021 ASSU Undergraduate Senate Chair
Kobe Hopkins (he/him), 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Christian Giadolor (he/him), 2019-2020 ASSU Elections Commissioner
Olawunmi Akinlemibola (she/her), 2019-2020 ASSU Nominations Commission Chair
LoMo Phillips (she/her), 2018-2020 ASSU Financial Manager
Emily Geigh Nichols (she/her) 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Lenny DeFoe (he/him) 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Alexis Mack (she/her) 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Gabrielle Crooks (she/her) 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Daryn Rockett (she/her) 2020-2021 ASSU Senator
Educational resources for anti-racism:
Anti-racism resources for white people: Resource guide compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein for white people to deepen their anti-racist work.
Confronting white supremacy: Educational resource sheet put together by educators to discuss and dismantle white supremacy in the classroom.
Resource Hub for Black History and Activism: Google Drive compiled by Charles Preston, filled with books and other important work by Black activists and readings on a range of topics.
Beyond the Hashtag: How to Take Anti-Racist Action in Your Life: Article written by Zyahna Bryant about how to take steps towards non-performative activism and anti-racist actions.
Donate to the following organizations:
List of bail funds by city: Bail funds are a way to support frontline protesters who are being arrested - as well as building towards a movement to end cash bail and free hundreds of thousands of people who are in pre-trial detention during a pandemic.
NorthStar Health Collective: NorthStar is a Minnesota-based street medic collective, offering first aid and medical support to people on the frontlines right now.
Reclaim the Block: Reclaim the Block is a Minneapolis community org providing supplies and support to protesters, as well as pushing Minneapolis to spend less on policing and more on healthcare, housing and education.
The Black Visions Collective and Legal Fund: Black Visions Collective, a Black, trans and queer-led organization, is helping lead the protests and advocating to defund the police in Minnesota.
Rebuild Lake Street: Lake Street Council is donating 100% of these proceeds to the local business and nonprofits affected by the fires and helping them continue to serve their communities.
Tips for protesting safely (courtesy of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)
LOOK OUT FOR THINGS THAT DON’T SEEM RIGHT. There are increasing reports and investigations that white supremacists may be infiltrating these protests, breaking windows and destroying property. If anything seems off to you, DOCUMENT IT. Always check who is organizing.
FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS OF GRASSROOTS BLACK ORGANIZERS. They have been at this a long time and are disciplined in the ropes of community organizing and demonstration. It IS a discipline. Follow trusted leaders whose goal has been the focused pursuit of justice. If they just showed up, that’s a red flag.
HAVE A BUDDY. Make sure someone is keeping an eye on you and check in on them.
PROTECT YOURSELF. Wear a mask - we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Turn off your phone’s Face/Touch ID and turn on airplane mode. Here’s an extensive guide on how to protest safely from Vice.
STAY SAFE and take care of each other!
Undergraduate Senate Public Meetings:
Tuesdays at 7:30pm PST on Zoom/Slack
Mondays at 9pm PST on Zoom/Slack
Graduate Student Council Public Meetings:
Wednesdays at 6pm at the Grad Community Center, Nairobi Room
Mondays at 7 pm in the GSC offices on the second floor of the Graduate Community Center.