A few weeks ago, a racist incident occurred in the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark’s (ASLC) Templeton office. During this incident, a non-ASLC member initiated a conversation intended to deprecate the Black Student Union’s (BSU) reputation. This student made several false and flagrant claims about the conduct of the BSU during a conversation with an ASLC member. Other ASLC members were present, along with another non-ASLC student. That student, disturbed and offended by the conversation, reported the information to us so that the incident could be brought to the appropriate parties’ attention. We are thankful for this person’s initiative and bravery, providing our union allyship when we needed it most.
We would like to take this as an opportunity to remind everyone at Lewis & Clark that when you stay silent in moments of injustice, you are complicit in that injustice. The racist ravings of one random person who was able to vent in the ASLC office is already unacceptable. However, it is just as bad that the first utterance of hate speech that spewed from their mouth did not prompt any members of ASLC present in that room to stick up for us, the BSU. Instead, they allowed this person to disparage our union in a space that is meant to be open and safe for all students. It is moments like these that make it less appealing for black students and other students of color to stay at this institution, where we are constantly othered by the actions of our white peers, professors and staff members.
We are disappointed by the inaction of ASLC and the involvement of one of its members in this incident. We actively condemn the use of racist language on all three of the LC campuses, and the passivity of those bystanders who watch evil things happen and do not move to do anything. Racism is an evil engineered to divide and destroy us and we should all try our best to extinguish it whenever possible. We want to remind those who are privileged that the work of dismantling racism is as much your responsibility as it is the racially oppressed. And in light of this event, we urge you to speak up for us, your classmates and friends, when you see or hear ill-mannered, racist occurrences. Being that every year there is a new set of leaders for the BSU, we find outdated comments not worth the time consumption since they are mentally draining for our leadership to address.
Going forward, we would like to uplift the different ways that students can educate themselves about race, racism and topics that address the lived experiences of marginalized groups. The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement continues to do fantastic work on this campus by providing educational opportunities for students of all backgrounds (i.e. their wokeshop series, community labs and race dialogues). There are also events and workshops put on by the other offices on campus (like the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and affinity groups like Mixed LC) at which productive and patient conversations can be had about race, no matter how much or little understanding you have of the subject. There are also two libraries on campus where you can inform yourselves about systemic racism if you are not able to make it to the above activities.
We would like to thank the ASLC Equity, Inclusion and Justice Committee for their support during this time and would like to give a shout out to the other racial and ethnic affinity groups on campus working hard to foster communities where we feel included and safe. For all of the black students and other students of color on campus, we love you, we support you and we are rooting for you!
Proud and unapologetically,
The Presidents of the Black Student Union
“They win sometimes, they lose sometimes, they’ve been injured, they’ve been happy, they’ve been sad, ignored, booed mightily, they’ve been cheered, and through it all and evident to all, were those people who are enraged they are there at all—graphite against a sharp white background.” (Claudia Rankine, Citizen, p. 26).