When grassroots Black activists speak honestly about racism at colleges across this country, we are not met with open arms by administrators and faculty. And most certainly our calendars are not full for the rest of the year let alone for the next three to five. When we speak, we are often met by the deaf ear of white denial. When Tim Wise speaks, he gets applause, standing ovations, awards and proclamations. The fact that schools can’t “hear” us when I and other people of color speak but will search out and roll out the red carpet for Wise is a statement to a kind of racism that doesn’t get discussed much – if at all – in our work. Despite all of the white anti-racist presentations given over the years at colleges and universities across the country, institutional racism at these schools remains intact. All the while, activists of color continue to be muffled and marginalized. Even in the ghetto of race discourse we remain tenants and never owners of an analysis that is ours to begin with.
Puppy’s murder made me aware that we were not safe or untouchable and that if someone does touch us, no one gives a shit. We only have each other. We always knew this, but now we needed to take a step towards doing something about it. So I started looking out for myself and the girls who worked on the street with me. We girls decided that whenever we got into a car with someone, another girl would write down as much information as possible. We would try not to just lean into the car window but get a guy to walk outside the car so that everyone could see him, so we all knew who he was if she didn’t come back. That’s how it started. Since no one was going to do it for us, we had to do it for ourselves.
TWoC resistance and community building is foundational. Do you see the creativity that goes into our survival? There’s so much I can say about the agency and interconnectedness that comes from securing our survival.