[ Photo by Leyla (@lnicolvs). May 2, 2017. ]
The Afrikan Black Student Alliance has demanded fixes to the hostile climate at UC Santa Cruz. On May 2nd, 2017, the organization which is a part of the Afrikan Black Coalition, took their protest to the Chancellor's office to demand institutional change.
Here are the demands:
A/BSA Reclamation Statement
As of May 2nd, 2017, the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) has Reclaimed Kerr Hall.
Who We Are:
The Afrikan/Black Student Alliance is an Afrikan/Black/Caribbean (ABC) student-led and student-run organization on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz. It was founded and it serves as a place and space for ABC students to learn together, to teach together, to offer support for the various racialized macro-and-microaggressions, and also to challenge each other around some harmful ideologies we may hold toward practicing a fuller love for ALL Black people. We are an organization that’s about centering the liberation of ALL Black people. We do realize and are aware of many of our limitations as well as the power we hold as an organization that is contextually specific in and to a Western academic institution in the United States of America.
We are undergraduate and graduate students in the Humanities, the Arts, and the Sciences. We are on-campus and off-campus workers. We are Muslim, Christian, Atheist, and independently spiritual. We are queer and trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and straight. We are from working poor, working class, and middle and upper class backgrounds and those attendant realities. We are Black Nationalists, Black Internationalists, Pan-Africanists, Afro-futurists, Afro-pessimists, and Afrotopians. We are migrants, immigrants, refugees, and American-born. We are the descendants of forcefully enslaved Afrikan people in “The Americas”, as well as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth generation immigrant and migrant children. We are capitalists, anti-capitalists, and Anarchists. We are everything because Blackness is everything.
With this said, and with the Liberation of all of us on our minds, we know that we can not tolerate anti-Black racism and colorism; sexism and misogynoir; homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia; or heterosexism and patriarchy. We can not allow these forced impositions to go unchecked and unchallenged in our space. We are committed to this. We believe in the power of unity across intra-communal differences, which means that we believe in the power of unity experienced in and through calling each other to be accountable to one another. We understand that to rebuild our communities sometimes things will have to fall apart—or, at least it will appear that way. We are well aware that we are in one of the many re-building stages of the process with A/BSA, and we invite all Afrikan, Black, and Caribbean (ABC) students to come (and to come back) into the space to build and rebuild across all the differences we have among us. In so many ways, we’re all we have here, and the Chancellor’s response to the demands we put forward should be a clear indication of this very real fact.
What We Demand:
Our demands for the Reclamation are simple, for now. They are as follows:
- Similar to EOP students and International students’ housing guarantees, we demand that ALL African Black Caribbean identified students have a 4 year housing guarantee to live in the Rosa Parks African American Themed House. Guaranteeing this would provide a viable living option to all ABC identified students regardless of housing status and college affiliation. We demand a written agreement by the opening of housing applications in April 2017.
- We demand the university remove the beds and release the Rosa Parks African Themed House lounge so it can serve its original purpose. We demand the lounge be returned by Fall 2017.
- We demand that the university fund the ENTIRE exterior of the Rosa Parks African American Themed House being painted Pan-Afrikan colors (Red, green, and black) by the start of Spring quarter 2017. These Pan Afrikan colors represent Black liberation, and represent our diaspora, and the goals of our people.
- We demand that all new incoming students from 2017-2018 school year forward (first years and transfers) go through a mandatory in-person diversity competency training in the event that the online module is not implemented by JUNE 2017. We demand that the training be reviewed and approved by A/BSA board every two years. We demand that every incoming student complete this training by their first day of class.
What We Mean by Reclamation:
We are pushing back against the language of “occupation” in recognition of the largely white-centric and fairly recent “Occupy Movement”. We are pushing back against the language of “occupation” in recognition of the very real settler occupations that are hxstorical and ongoing, such as the European colonization and occupation of “The Americas”, as well as the current context of occupation in Palestine. We move in solidarity with Black people all over the world who are occupied by liberalism and neoliberalism’s devastating socioeconomic and political policies and materialities. This includes folks on The Continent, Palestinian people, and other Black and Brown people all over the world. While the actual actions during this Reclamation may appear the same as other “occupations” on campus and off-campus, we know that language does matter as do intentions.
For us, the language of “reclaiming” is about highlighting the fact there were things promised to ABC students that have gone broken and thrown away, like the four-year guarantee for housing in R.PAATH. We mean to reclaim those things. As Black people, there are things that we are owed within the context of reparations and the hxstorical traumas we have experienced and that we continue to experience today, and we plan to claim and reclaim those things. There are Black hxstories on this campus that have gone hidden in plain sight, such as the radical hxstory of the Black Panther Party’s connections to this campus, and those hxstories need to be recovered and uncovered. This is a part of that process of reclamation. There are the real hxstories of take-overs of buildings and spaces by Black students throughout the UC system and throughout the nation dating back to at least the 1960’s. We are reclaiming that energy and drive toward making changes that benefit us. We recognize and sense both the positive outcomes of those movements, as well as some of the ways the institution has subsumed some of those victories back into liberal and neoliberal academia. We also understand and situate our reclamation in the contexts of the Black hxstories and Black student movements here in the U.S. and worldwide, including #ConcernedStudent1950 at the University of Missouri and #RhodesMustFall at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
“Reclamation” is only one word, and it’s the word that resonates with us because “occupation” can be read as doubling and re-doubling the same colonial violence that led to our enslavement and the dispossession of land from Native and Indigenous peoples, especially the various dispossessions experienced by Native and Indigenous Afrikans. We are claiming and reclaiming space from and in a university that has claimed there is (no) space for us as they make sure we remain less than 2% of the general body population. We are reclaiming space because the university has denied every one of our demands for space on this campus while other minoritized and marginalized groups have been taken seriously and given space(s) on campus, even as those spaces also remain inadequate. We are reclaiming space because the Chancellor and other Administrators should not have an office to work in while we do not have safe places to work, live, think, learn, and be on this campus. We are reclaiming space because the university refuses to provide space for us. We are taking what is ours, and what has been promised to us, unapologetically, and until the Administration meets us with more than it has currently met us with around these demands, we will reclaim and we will remain.
There are two demands we have made that are not being re-stated as a part of this current Reclamation. They are:
- We demand the University purchase a property located at or near the base of campus (High Street) to serve as a low income housing cooperative for historically disadvantaged students. We demand this property have 4 bedrooms with appropriate furnishings. This property will then be student ran and student operated by the Afrikan Black Student Alliance. We demand a written agreement to fund this project by beginning of spring quarter.
- We demand the University allocate an additional $100,000 to the SOAR/Student Media/Cultural Arts and Diversity (SOMeCA for the hiring of advisor who has personal and professional experience handling African/Black/Caribbean student issues) permanently. We demand A/BSA has a final decision on who is hired for this position.
Additionally, there was an earlier demand for the creation of a Black Studies department on this campus. The Administration has not agreed to the creation of a Black Studies department, and has instead agreed to the creation of a Black Studies Minor or Major. While some may want to commend this Administration for their seeming agreeance, the truth of the matter is that what they have agreed to has not come into existence, as it still only exists in “white man’s promise”, and as of today, the program, whether a Minor or a Major, has not been established at UCSC.
With these three additional demands in mind, we want to extend an opportunity to the Administration to make good on their promises and to meet our demands, though we remain leery of this Administration’s abilities to meet us where we need them to. However, we do recognize these demands may take a little more time, and in the spirit of generosity—which we are almost all out of—we want to make it clear that we are giving the Administration a little more time to meet these demands. If detailed plans on how the Administration will meet these demands are not delivered by the start of Fall Quarter 2017, there will be more Reclamations as you force us to have to take what we know to be in our best interest to Reclaim.
With the spirit with which we end every Afrikan/Black Student Alliance meeting, and with the collective visions of Love and Liberation we hold, it is Warrior Assata Shakur’s words we proclaim on this day, May 2nd, which is also the day that Warrior Assata Shakur lay handcuffed and terrorized on a hospital bed in 1973:
It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
—Assata Shakur, from Assata: An Autobiography (1987)
Hollaback! I got yo’ back!
The Afrikan/Black Student Alliance
University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC)
May 2nd, 2017
originally published at: Afrikan Black Coalition