To Our Black Students, with Love, is a series of letters from the SLCC student body to our Black students. The Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs started this letter campaign to show solidarity with our students in response to the Zoom bombing that occurred during the Black History Month Poetry Slam hosted by the Black Student Union in February 2021. Read more letters here.
Dear Black Students of SLCC,
I’ll begin my love letter to you with a song:
My American perspective on racism intensified in Cape Town, South Africa. I twice journeyed to Robben Island Prison and listened to formerly incarcerated Freedom Fighters describe what their lives were like during the Nazi-inspired hell of Apartheid, which did not end until 1993 (legislatively speaking) and, in many respects, continues through the imprint of institutionalized racism. I stood in the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison before he was liberated to become South Africa’s first Black President. I learned how school children were murdered for refusing to study in the language of their oppressors. I conversed with Desmond Tutu, who made me feel that the bravest of all humans are those who lead with an unwavering force of warrior-hearted love, just as Dr. King did.
I saw you lead with warrior-hearted love on your panel to address the unconscionable racist attack during your poetry slam. I watched you appear on camera and speak your truth, with your inspired Advisor as your guide. You’re right; you don’t deserve to endure bigotry in any form, whether it’s being made to feel invisible in the culture of our College, being tokenized by teachers and peers, being asked to educate white folks on any given issue pertaining to your lived experience or how best to support you, being told to keep on smiling, or whatever puts privileged people at ease. You are entitled to your dignity, your liberty, your humanity, and your feelings, however, you may choose to express them. When someone commits a hate crime against you, you deserve for police to show up and do their job. You deserve for people to know when to step back and listen. You deserve action. You deserve love. Anything less than the things you deserve diminishes us all, whether folks realize it or not.
Thank you for creating, speaking, studying, striving, and standing in solidarity with one another. As those who are standing with you, may we each do our part, moment by moment, to co-create a just, diverse, and equitable world.
I sometimes say, as a queer person, “Don’t ‘tolerate’ me, like you might tolerate gum on the bottom of your shoe. Celebrate me.” As Black History Month continues, I hope you experience the celebration of YOU that deserves to happen every day of your brave, bold, and beautiful lives.
To circle back, I’ll close with the Zulu word “ubuntu”: “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone, we say, ‘Yu, u nobunto’; ‘Hey so-and-so has ubuntu.’ Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, ‘My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life.” – Desmond Tutu
In loving solidarity,