We, the Black and Brown students at Emory, stand firmly against the intimidation, lies, and deeply rooted racism that people of color continue to face--on our campus, nationwide, and globally. #1969not1836 #BlackBrownAndHere
On Monday, March 21st, 2016, students on Emory University’s campus were met with an overwhelming number of pro-Donald Trump messages, which were chalked onto buildings, walkways, brick and concrete around campus. The messages included, but were not limited to: “Vote Trump 2016”, “Build a Wall”, and “Accept the Inevitable Trump 2016.” Prior to the Georgia Primaries, posters and chalkings also appeared on campus in favor of various candidates including Donald Trump. However, in this situation, permission was granted from the University, and posters were placed in an observant manner. On the 21st of March, the intense presence of pro-Trump statements and/or rhetoric could be seen in every direction students walked. Most notably, in the Dobbs University Center--where the Black Student Union, Centro Latino, and main dining hall are located--the phrase “Vote Trump 2016” was deliberately placed on 58 steps. This means, Black and Brown students saw these messages on their way to class, meals, and their places of fellowship.
Trump’s messages of division (racist, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist, and sexist) make reference to a non-post racial state. Fellow students’ complacency with the narratives of Donald Trump and the aggressive condemnation of Black and Brown students’ responses reflects a lack of concern for the very real consequences of his campaign policies.
During the protest, students were invited into the Administration building by Elizabeth Cox, and met with President Wagner to voice their concerns and discuss other matters of importance, such as the university’s slow progress on the Black Students’ list of demand and the limited support for undocumented students. Following this demonstration, several students of color once again took to social media to voice their concerns over the university’s lack of acknowledgement of the incident. Many of these students were later subjected to a series of targeted attacks via social media including death threats.
Subsequent media reports have tried to frame this case as one about “coddled” and “oversensitive” students; however,
LET US BE CLEAR: We are not scared of the chalk. We are not mad about being politically challenged. We are rightfully angry because we also exercise our first amendment right to freedom of speech and there are people on this campus, and in this country, who as a result choose to threaten us and twist the truth to protect their own bigotry.
Firstly, we are not asking that these students censor their politics, nor are we asking that administration chooses to intervene in student politics. Rather, what we are asking for is equality and equity -- we want a streamlined, consistent method of communication to deal with instances of unrest on Emory's campus. This means race, color and economic status should not determine whether or not the University needs to be prompted to send out a response of acknowledgement of events. Secondly, we ask the Emory University Student Body and individuals nationally to fight for our right of freedom of speech the way they have for Trump supporters.
Black and Brown people and student activists around the world remain in danger and under siege, by their classmates, universities, and governments. We only need to look to Mizzou and University of Cape Town, among others in the recent past, and now the University of Hyderabad in India, where student protesters for Dalit rights have been unjustly arrested, assaulted by police, and denied access to food, drinking water, and Internet.
Emory claims to be an institution that cares about its students and that fosters a sense of diversity, inclusion, and a community of care on campus. It claims to be engaged with issues on a global scale. Yet, since 1969 when the first Black student demands were issued, we have seen Emory administration fail time and time again to fulfill its promises to students of color. While people are writing endless renditions of the same article about how we are afraid and cowards, we continue to sacrifice our student experience. What we are advocating for is accountability on behalf of Emory University, the rights of students to protest for change without putting their safety at risk, and a recognition of the daily physical and emotional assaults on Black and Brown people worldwide.
-The Black and Brown Students of Emory University