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.
Many think that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness, but in this letter, I hope to speak honestly and from my heart to you. As I think of ways to support diverse communities, I often find myself struggling with what to say. At times I find myself not saying anything at all and listening to what is going on around me as I process the unthinkable actions/words people display daily to marginalized communities. As a father myself, I think of what I would say to my son when he is your age and how I would talk to him from a caring and loving place. I know a letter isn’t enough but speaking from my heart to you is important because you being here matters to me.
I must disclose that I come from a place of privilege, where I don’t have to experience the discrimination and racism felt by many daily. It frustrates me to know that many students don’t feel that they belong at SLCC, but I know that it is one million times more frustrating to live it. I view SLCC as a community, and when something happens to one of us, I feel that it is an attack on all of us. I know that people from privileged backgrounds seem to always provide “lip service” and I want to help break that mold as a leader for colleagues who look like me. I have learned that I can’t speak from a place of knowing, because I never will know what you have gone through. What I do know is that feeling frustrated, let down, and stepped on doesn’t feel good and that you don’t deserve that and should never have to experience that.
I also know that you are an amazing student, leader, and role model for others all over our institution. I hope I’m privileged enough to get to show up for you in ways that many haven’t in the past. Please know that I am not perfect and like many, I make mistakes (all the time). I promise you that I will learn from them and commit to holding myself (and others) accountable. I also commit that I will lean into the discomfort and challenge myself and those around me to grow and educate ourselves, engage in discussions, and seek feedback. I was recently taught that I had the idea of allyship all wrong. We should see allyship as an action, and that work goes into saying you are striving to be an ally (and stand next to each other as accomplices for equity and justice).
As I use this time to reflect, I also think back to those at SLCC I’ve had the pleasure to work with and who challenged me to understand and think critically. I thank them for that and hope they know how much that meant to me as I continue my journey. Please don’t ever think you have to dim your light for anyone and stand strong in who you are and what you believe in because it matters. If you ever need anything, I will be available if you need me and I make a commitment to continue growing, learning, and supporting you inside and outside of our institution. =)