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Submission: UCLA needs to publicly condemn acts of racism

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 8, 2015 3:04 a.m.

On Wednesday, April 29, multiple self-made stickers were placed on UCLA’s Afrikan Student Union’s bulletin board outside of our office in Kerckhoff 322. On the stickers was an image of a police officer with the caption above stating “Stop whining and start following the goddamn law!” Other self-made stickers with similar messages have appeared throughout the university – specifically found in locations known to be safe and familiar to Black students, including near the Academic Advancement Program building that historically has worked to serve underserved, underrepresented students. The message intended for Black students was clear: Black lives do not matter! This was a direct attack and response to Black students’ right to exist and be valued within and outside of the university. The school year has been characterized by the fight to end police brutality and police murder in the United States, where more than 1 in 6 black men has disappeared from daily life because they’ve been killed or incarcerated. It is highly disrespectful and unacceptable to express ignorant, uneducated opposition in cowardice, and we demand that Chancellor Gene Block publicly condemn this act and all acts of racism on UCLA’s campus. As a graduating senior, I am disheartened to acknowledge that there is not a culture in which Black students are not forced to constantly fight to legitimize and validate our basic right to exist as Black Bruins. UCLA law professor Richard Sander’s infamous report in 2012 which questions the legitimacy of holistic admissions, when read, supports this reality. Black students do not feel safe on this campus. Black students are not safe on this campus. Choosing to remain silent on this issue is to choose to remain complicit in racist acts that contribute to the volatile campus climate on a campus that, ironically, claims its accomplishment at having “diversity.”

UCLA prides itself on being one of the most diverse public institutions in the country. In fact, diversity is one of the leading aspects which attract students to this institution. Regardless of this fact, UCLA fails to provide adequate resources and experiences that create an environment in which underrepresented students specifically Black students feel accepted, valued, welcomed and most importantly humanized on this campus. All programs, organizations and resources that do this now, and there are few, have only been created by and birthed from the community that is affected itself, not the university. Without consistent pushback and advocating by students and for students, what has the university proactively done to support the students who create diversity? What message does this send to 4 percent of the student population that identifies as Black? Does the experience of Black students not matter? On a campus which prides itself on emulating “True Bruin values,” the university falls short at extending support to a specific population of Bruins who are made targets of direct acts of hate – unless this is the university’s intention to do so. Not one public statement or action ever by the chancellor has been made to condemn any act of racism against Black students until now.

The Afrikan Student Union at UCLA condemns these actions of racism and violence against our community. We have met with Block and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero and will be taking the proper steps to ensure the university keeps itself accountable to supporting Black students and takes preventative tactics to do so. During our meeting, ASU members and student affairs representatives discussed the incident including tangible steps that will provide preventative measures, to cease hate crimes fueled by ignorance, and positive steps toward creating a culture on campus which safely includes all identities that comprise it. The underlying issue of such an unstable campus climate is not the perceived isolated events that attack Black life on campus, but the anti-Blackness that fuels such attacks.

Menefield is the Afrikan Student Union chairperson and a fourth-year African American studies student.

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