Now that I am entering my senior year at UC Santa Cruz, I have learned firsthand how to navigate the predominantly white institution through the “veil.” The “veil” is a metaphor coined by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois in his novel “The Souls of Black Folk”, which describes how a Black person cooperates in a world that acts on historical hatred for the Afrikan diaspora.
With this perspective — which I will see everything through for the rest of my life — I have observed how white supremacy controls the mind and self esteem of not only Black children, but children of color in an attempt to steer them out of spaces that dictate media, education and law-making.
The institutions that promise us a future in exchange for our debt perpetrate violent discrimination by never fully including ABC (Afrikan Black Carribean) students in the culture and curriculum on campuses. I am one of many who will not be silenced.
My three years as a banana slug have not lived up to the chill, inclusive and loving culture that most of my white peers speak of. Just ask any of the roughly 200 protesters who stood in solidarity with the Afrikan Black Student Alliance (A/BSA) during the 2015-16 school year. Students carrying out an eight-hour demonstration surrounding the national news of racist events at the University of Missouri were met with death threats from fellow UCSC peers on the popular anonymous app Yik Yak.
While marching through several lecture halls chosen strategically by subject, professors walked out of classes and students threw racial slurs. One of the many reasons for exclusivity is the UCs systems lack of response to the needs of Black students. Organizations such as A/BSA and a host of other Black-inclusive spaces need their demands to be heard by the university and need to be taken seriously.
The social environment on the UCSC campus is filled with micro-aggressions from people who learn about Black people through mass media. While this may not be the experience of every Black-identifying person who attends, the UC system still has many structural details that continue to encourage discrimination against us. For 50 years the Black student population has gone without a Afrikan studies department and is lacking a representation of Black professors and lecturers. While the campus is beautiful with its redwood trees, even a mini vacation featuring a beach and boardwalk, there is nothing just “chill” about the absence of respect for people of Afrikan descent.
With this year’s presidential race, the nation has been more comfortable revealing its bigotry and underlying racism that exists in systems all over America. For the safety and sanity of Afrikan people, law enforcement violence needs to stop. One of the ways that this can become a reality is if individual people, mass media outlets and institutions that host millions of future intellectuals worldwide start having conversations about debunking stereotypes backed up by hatred that have been taught through generations.
Death is too quickly the first solution when the police, who are supposed to protect us, find that Black people are too big, too loud or too informed for their authoritative capacities. American cops have killed at least 752 people this year according to data gathered by killedbypolice.net. To all those who feel better reminding us Black people that we’re not always the target, white and brown folks have also been the victims of police violence in 2016. If you’ve been paying attention, you can see whether it be 48 or 28 hours between incidents, it’s all too common for Black people to be targeted by police.
Jed Frazier. William Bruce Ray. Anthony Vigliotti. Dylann Roof. James Holmes. Korryn Gaines. If you’ve paid attention to mass media in the last couple of years, then you know what all of the names listed have in common. All of these people were involved in armed stand-offs with police officials. All of them are guilty of endangering the lives’ of law enforcement. But only one of them, 23-year-old Black mother of two, Korryn Gaines, is dead.
Social media outlets, mainly Facebook, have been buzzing with videos that Gaines posted of her being pulled over by police five months before the July 1 incident that would take her life. Many public comments about the murder of Gaines say she deserved to die for putting police lives’ in danger, as she was armed with a shotgun when they came to issue a warrant at her home. Some say that the Black Lives Matter movement should have ignored Gaines’ case due to the nature of her being armed, but I couldn’t disagree more.
Racial trauma is real; the fear instilled in Black people for centuries leads many Black men, women, transgender and non-binary folks to be distrustful and defensive when confronted by law enforcement. The relationship between police and those who live in impoverished areas is impacted by the historical transformation of the Ku Klux Klan into the modern police state/surveillance state.
“By any means necessary” is an approach that some Black people are willing to live by even if it means protecting themselves from being just another hashtag. Understanding why the community feels the way it does is important, but just starting with respecting why Black people react the way they do to systems of oppression is a step in the right direction.
Simone Biles. Jesse Owens. Patricia Bath. Katherine G. Johnson. Keith Black. Maya Angelou. Dr. James B. Williams. All of these names have something in common, and if you’re paying attention to Black history, you know what that common trait is. These are the names of the history makers; people who have constructed much of this country’s history are Black and brown. In hindsight, racists and bigots alike don’t want to come to terms with the fact that black people, who represent all threads that make up the Afrikan diaspora, have been important in creating a plethora of innovations in science, health, dance, sports, music, food, fashion and much more.
For far too long, Black culture and Black contributions that benefit America have been loved while simultaneously Black life isn’t respected enough to even earn a hashtag that people won’t attack or alter. Despite what everyone’s favorite politician, Donald Trump, has to offer about Black people and people of color, it is a fact that the individuals who complete the thread that is the Afrikan diaspora contribute greatly to America’s history. In the face of slavery, genocide and systematic racism Black people have proven through daily survival and breaking barriers that we are worthy of more than what we are given. My hope is that the UC system will commit to actions that reflect how great and important Black students have been to their institutions so that Black youth everywhere can continue to rise up and beyond the expectations this country’s founding fathers had for them.