Faculty of the Department of African American Studies at UCLA Release Letter in Support of ASU

In Campus by Mia BrumfieldLeave a Comment

Today faculty from the Department of African American Studies at UCLA published a letter of support for the Afrikan Student Union and Black students across the UCLA campus.

The letter, signed by both faculty and staff of the department, was created to ensure students that the African American Studies Department “support[s] and stand[s] with them in this moment.”

As the Afrikan Student Union and Black students across the UCLA landscape continue to engage with administration to bring about change, it is comforting to know that we have a department of faculty who have our backs.

You can find the full letter below:


November 25, 2015

As faculty and staff of the Department of African American Studies, we recognize that we are in an important political moment in which Black students at UCLA, like their counterparts at colleges and universities here and around the world, are insisting on their right to an education. From Mizzou, to Yale, to Claremont to #Rhodes Must Fall, students have rejected the myth of post racial progress and exposed the ways in which racial subordination still resides in the everyday practices of these institutions. We know that our department and each of us as scholars were forged as a result of similar struggles in prior decades and times. The fight for Black education has a long history—resisting compulsory ignorance laws of the slavery era that criminalized Black literacy, racially separate and unequal state funding of Black schools, and curricula of miseducation that sought to train Black people to remain in their assigned and subordinate place. The fight continues in the present against the racial status quo in which Black students must fight against the presumption that they do not have the right to be here or that they have displaced some other more worthy (read not Black) applicant. This is why we stand firmly with the ASU and the Black student community as they engage with the administration and seek the necessary institutional transformation, not to assuage “hurt feelings,” but to remove the persistent barriers that anti- black racism places in the way of Black students. We specify the conditions attending to Black students while recognizing that institutional racism negatively impacts all of us who are not white.

For the past three years following several high profile incidents involving charges of racial discrimination, considerable effort by students, faculty and staff has been devoted to addressing the gap between stated inclusionary intentions and the ongoing practices, habits and procedures that work to signal who does and who does not belong. These efforts have produced some important commitments in the form of institutional resources dedicated to a new administrative office tasked with the full time job of attending to questions of equity and inclusion. However, no one could reasonably think that this one change in the university’s highly decentralized infrastructure would be sufficient to address systemic practices that have long been allowed to fester. This is why we call for the development and funding of a comprehensive intervention, built along the lines of UC Berkeley’s “African American Initiative.” We do not suggest that even this kind of initiative is exhaustive of the commitment required, as resources for ethnic studies and communities of color more broadly are needed in order to substantively address barriers to racial equity and access. Nor do we think that interventions ought to be developed or implemented without consultation with those most affected. There are undoubtedly additional moves to consider, but as a first step, such an initiative is an important place to start as a way of moving the Black presence at UCLA beyond tokenism and (sometimes) tolerance. We support the students’ efforts to analyze, understand, name and change the racial conditions of their environment and stand with them. This struggle is their mission as it is ours to support them.

In solidarity,

Cheryl I. Harris
Interim Chair
Department of African American Studies



Walter Allen Professor

Devon Carbado Professor

Darnell Hunt Professor

Robin D.G. Kelley Professor

Mark Q. Sawyer Professor

Brenda Stevenson Professor

Richard Yarborough Professor

Scot Brown Associate Professor

Aisha K. Finch Associate Professor

Yogita Goyal Associate Professor

Kelly Lytle Hernandez Associate Professor

Jemima Pierre Associate Professor

Melvin Rogers Associate Professor

Caroline Streeter Associate Professor

Bryonn Bain
Visiting Assistant Professor-In-Residence

Sarah Haley Assistant Professor

Peter James Hudson Assistant Professor

Marcus Hunter Assistant Professor

Uri McMillan Assistant Professor

Safiya Noble Assistant Professor

Zachary F. Price
UC Postdoctoral Fellow

Astrud Reed Administrative Specialist

Eboni Shaw
MSO I and Student Affairs Officer

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