16 November 2015

In Solidarity with Black Students at Georgetown University

Photo: Brick outside wall of the Intercultural Center (ICC) with chalk lettering that reads, "Black Students of GU, Your Allies Stand With You."

I did not write the text of the letter below the asterisks (and do not want to claim credit for the words -- it's circulating among many conscious and conscientious alumni), but I wholeheartedly endorse it as a non-Black alumn of color only recently removed from the Hilltop. I experience daily the damaging effects of white supremacy and structural racism as an East Asian person, but for precisely the same reason, I am also part of the many Asian American communities so frequently used in service of white supremacy. Asians like me continue to be offered the illusions of respectability and equality in the white supremacist system so long as we disavow and dissociate from Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. Racial justice demands solidarity -- recognizing that we must support and work alongside the Black, Brown, and Indigenous led movements fighting against the most overt and widespread state violence.

To any disability people reading this post who think this is a distraction, or irrelevant, or somehow losing a focus on disability -- stop. Stop with the single-issue politics. Disabled people of color -- and disabled Black people in particular -- don't have the luxury of pretending that we can engage with only one issue, one category of identity or experience. Our experiences with ableism are inevitably and inextricably intertwined with our experiences with racism. Racial justice IS disability justice, and disabled people of color must demand disability solidarity with Black-led movements.

To Georgetown University: Step up your game. Listen to your Black students -- my friends, my former classmates, my colleagues.  These are the moments that will mark our university's history for the next generation to come as either the institution that chose to make hollow, conciliatory gestures or the institution willing to embark on the infinitely harder path of self-examination and long-term, systemic change centered around the members of the university community most impacted by white supremacy.


Dear President DeGioia,

Georgetown University students of color, and our allies, have been watching closely this week as events unfold on college campuses around the country, from the University of Missouri, to Yale, to our own beloved Hilltop. Fueled by the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore, New York City, and more, Black students are demanding action to ensure that systemic racism is addressed in all its forms, including within institutions of higher learning. This is undoubtedly a critical time for racial justice, and well past time for the Georgetown administration to take action to support its Black students.

We are deeply moved by this powerful Black-led student movement. Black students, and other students of color, deserve to feel safe at their place of learning. Moreover, Black students should not have to choose between their education and their physical, mental, and emotional safety. As the recent situation at the University of Missouri has demonstrated, Black students continue to bear this burden, often in the absence of support from their universities.

We urge you to support the Black-led student mobilization on our campus, and to take action ensuring that the demands of these students are heard, honored, and heeded. This is an opportunity to renew Georgetown’s commitment to cura personalis, and we hope you will seize it.


Lydia Brown (COL 2015)


This is the text of the demands letter from the #BuiltOn272 movement ongoing now (the image at link below is not text-accessible):

(Letter visible at this Tweet.)

The broadcast from the president's office that was sent out earlier in the year ended with the statement; "This is what we do best as a university community: we come together to confront difficult events, learn from and with one another, and rely on the collective wisdom and resources of our extraordinary community to determine how we may best move forward toward justice and truth." The best way to move forward towards justice and truth is to take the demands set forth in this letter and implement them in an expedited and transparent manner.

1. Changing the name of Mulledy Hall, the Meditation Center, and McSherry Hall to reflect, center and honor the 272 enslaved Africans who were sold in the transaction and the countless people enslaved to the Jesuits prior to the transaction. We recommend that this can be completed by renaming Mulledy as "Building 272" and the remaining halls after any of the persons who were sold.

2. Plaques placed on all known unmarked graves on Georgetown University's campus honoring the legacy of enslaved people who contributed greatly to this campus.

3. Implement an Annual Program that honors the legacy of the enslaved people that continues to educate the Georgetown Community about the role and legacy slavery played in the creation and advancement of this University.

4. Revision of Official Georgetown Tours to include information about the sites and the history of the sites.

5. Endowment for the recruitment of Black identifying professors equivalent to the Net Present Value of the profit generated from the transaction in which 272 people were sold into bondage.

6. Mandatory training for all professors on how to engage and address issues of identity and diversity in their classrooms.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lydia, what are your thoughts on the Paris attacks?


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