This letter reflects the opinions of the Ethnic Studies faculty. Letters to the editor do not reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Dear Cal Poly Students of Color,
As Ethnic Studies faculty we pen this public letter to you to say we see you, we hear you, and most importantly, we love you. In the wake of Lambda Chi Alpha’s overt anti-Black and anti-Brown racism we not only stand in solidarity with you, but we stand in awe of you. The multivalent ways in which you have demonstrated your righteous indignation(1) have been profoundly moving and fearless. And, to be fearless in the face of racism is astounding given the fact that Black and Brown people lose their lives and livelihoods every single day in this country to the real and material practices of individual racists and structural racism(s) — a reality you all know too well. Thus, your orchestrated fury(2) underscores for us the fact that anger is the appropriate response to racism(3), and your fearless leadership against racism is a collective powerful force serving change and transformation.
As Christina Sharpe’s work(4) has eloquently stated, Black folks live in the continued wake (a region of disturbed flow; a state of wakefulness/consciousness) of slavery and have to continuously find ways to ensure Black joy and happiness are not stolen from their lives. She calls this labor wake work. You all are also conducting wake work here on our campus with your in-step formations of resistance and calls to accountability. You are way-makers and we have incredible respect for you and your demands.
We also affirm with you what Fred Moten and Robin D.G. Kelley(5) have stated about Black life. As you know, they assert that not only do Black Lives Matter, but Black life matters, and particularly insurgent Black life matters. The insurgency that Moten and Kelley speak of is simply Black folks loving one another, smiling, experiencing lives filled with joy, tending to Black families and communities and the like. Thus, in this moment, we publicly espouse our commitment to you to be able to live those forms of insurgency against white supremacy in all of its forms.
We see these forms of insurgent life are as aggressively under attack for Latinx students, too. Because of this we specifically stand with you and remind you of writer and journalist Amanda Alcántara’s specific words about Brown bodies. She poetically states, “I have died and been reborn so many times this last week. So much is being asked out of this body I inhabit.” And, while so much is being asked of your Brown bodies, Alcántara goes on to say, “Be gentle with yourself”—and by extension, continue the ways you are loving on and with one another(6).
We admire the posture of strength that you display on our campus to ensure the continual fight for a relevant education(7) — one that makes the contributions from countless people of color relevant to our curriculum and simultaneously demands that you, as students of color, be made relevant at this institution. We are proud of you, your wake work and your aligned resistance. You are transforming the conditions in which we live, work and attend college. Again, we see you, we hear you and we love you.
The Ethnic Studies Faculty
(1) You have every right/rite to be indignant about racism.
(2) See Audre Lorde and Brittany Cooper.
(3) Read Audre Lorde’s “The Uses of Anger” (Fall 1981).
(4) See In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016).
(5) Watch “In Conversation: Do Black Lives Matter?” (2015).
(6) Read Amanda Alcántara’s blog titled “Radical Latina.”