To the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community,
For the Black students who organized and took part in the November 18th rally and who have been the primary targets of racist posts and comments, we, the leaders of student organizations at the University YMCA, support your fight to be heard, respected, and empowered. We admire your courage in the face of hate and structural oppression. These incidents have made it evident that the goals of Inclusive Illinois have not been met. We will not stand by while peaceful activism for equality is labeled as terrorism. The true harm to our community comes from those who manipulate our belief in free speech to use it as a means of silencing black voices, perpetuating injustice, and supporting a centuries-old system of inequality built upon racial hierarchies.
We will not stand by while people on our campus and in our community hide in anonymity to spread messages of exclusion and bigotry. In the face of structural racism, we cannot accept hate presented under the guise of freedom of speech. We stand in solidarity with all of the students, faculty, staff, community members of color, and others who organized the rally, and we stand with growing nationwide movement for racial justice.
While we strive to address racism and inequality through our programming, education can be only one part of the strategy. Events on campus over the past few days have made it clear that activism on this campus around the issue of race relations is important and relevant, but our work is not complete. We want to build a more just society, but as we do, we cannot ignore the cracks in our foundation or the rifts in our community.
We do not wish to meet ignorance with anger, but we cannot be complicit or complacent while blatant acts of racism are committed and peaceful rallies are stifled on campus. The students of the University YMCA work to enact positive change at the University and will not stay silent in the face of oppression.
Staff, faculty, students, and community members: we need to collectively reflect, but we cannot allow reflection to quietly transition into inaction. Silence in the face of discrimination is complicity in oppression. As allies in the fight for social justice and equality, we encourage you to join us as we continue to educate ourselves and raise our voices to support the Black student body in their demands for fair treatment.
University YMCA student groups plan to convene after fall break to discuss how to best serve as allies in this critical moment. We invite anybody who feels strongly on this issue to join us in our discussion. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Schmid and Sana Singh
Alternative Seasonal Breaks
Engineers Without Borders
Prison Justice Project
Lauren McGinnity Boswell
Students for Environmental Concerns
Interfaith in Action
Philippine Student Association
Benjamin Daniels, Catherine Kemp, and Erika Weir
University YMCA Student Board
On December 2, the University YMCA student leaders stand together to read the statement of solidarity at the In Love and Solidarity Rally with allies and accomplices for Black revolution. Student Board members plan to reconvene at the beginning of the Spring 2016 semester to further build a coalition of student allies and accomplices to work together with Black student groups to end white supremacy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.