To the UCSB Community:
During our Black Student Union’s Week of Action, January 12th – 16th, several posters were set up along bike paths on campus. Through pointed rhetoric and statistics, these posters brought attention to the injustices and unequal protection under the laws of our nation that Black citizens are sadly still subjected to. Unfortunately, over the extended weekend used to celebrate the great life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an unscrupulous individual or group of actors took issue with these explicit challenges to the status quo and vandalized the posters. This crime went so far as to paint over one of the original messages in a shameful attempt to advance the agenda of the unknown assailant or assailants.
Fellow members of the Santa Barbara community, the only appropriate response to such cowardly action is immediate and unequivocal denunciation. We cannot allow for illegal acts of disrespect and hate to become a campus norm. These acts are especially intolerable in light of the recent and continuing tragedies that the Black community has suffered. The deaths of unarmed Black people at the very hands of those charged with protecting their lives has a long history but has recently come under the national spotlight like never before. This attention is regrettably accompanied with a ferocious backlash based in prejudiced and racist rhetoric. It is disconcerting how comfortable too many have become in dismissing Black voices, plight, and bodies.
The literal erasure of our call to awareness in favor of an irrelevant message as if to justify centuries of state-sanctioned violence is a sign of the highest moral degeneracy. It is an undeniable fact that the lives of your Black brethren are at enormously higher risk when interacting with the police. Instead of blindly defending a system that perpetuates violence discriminately and unnecessarily, we challenge you to examine the institutions, media images, and socialization which make the default view of the Black body that of a threat.
It is inhumane. It is incorrect. It is intolerable.
To remain silent on this matter is to side with the criminal element who has gone to great lengths to try and make our struggle invisible. They have not succeeded. They will only succeed if our fellow students and campus administrators do nothing while good women and men fight the righteous fight. In the words of our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Michael D. Young, “Acts of intolerance, disrespect, bullying, or violence, especially regarding sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, or ethnicity, compromise our sense of community, our feelings of personal wellbeing, and our ability to learn together.”
Black Student Union at UC Santa Barbara