By Guest Contributor Ninoy Brown, originally published at FOBBDeep
More on UCSD’s most recent “post-racial” moment.
Within the last week, much public outrage has come upon UCSD as a result of the disgusting display of ignorance from the “Compton Cookout”. National attention has been placed on the campus, and NAACP has recently spoken out against the incident.
With this, I wanted to post a letter that Dr. Jody Blanco, from UCSD’s Dept of Literature, had written for Kaibigang Pilipino. Though intended for Filipinos/Filipino students and student organizations at UCSD, I felt the message was important for more folks to read, as well.
Dr. Blanco was an inspiration for many of us, student of color organizers, while attending UCSD. In the letter, he contextualizes the “private party”, discussing why outrage is justified and why Filipino American students should stand as allies with our African American brothers and sisters.
Dear Filipina and Filipino students, colleagues, and friends:
I hope that you don’t mind my sending a mass email to you, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever done. While I know some, maybe many of you individually, I haven’t been to a KP GBM in many years, and haven’t had the opportunity to work as closely with you as I would have liked and would like to. Hopefully this is something we can begin to address and repair over time.
What has prompted this unusual message is the recent spate of events that have transpired the past week, and have caused or exacerbated the perceived lack of support for many historically underrepresented minorities – not just blacks, but Latinos, Arab- and certain Asian-Americans, Filipinos and Filipino-Americans included. I don’t need to tell you the details, which I’m sure you already know – a private party involving hundreds of UCSD students, framed as an expression of contempt for Black History Month and the free use of hate speech (which, as it turns out, was downloaded from a website); a follow-up televised program on the Koala newspaper website, expressing support for hate speech.
By now, if you’ve been listening to the local and national news, you may also have a sense of the fallout: black students at UCSD threatening to withdraw or transfer out of UCSD en masse; the administration’s simultaneous condemnation of these events and declaration of non-commitment to any further significant actions to be taken in response to the outbreak of hate speech on campus; the intervention of the San Diego city council and California state assembly members committed to take responsibility and hold people accountable (because the university won’t); a public statement made by the NAACP promising to conduct its own investigation into the matter; national coverage of our campus and university on network TV, featuring reporters and analysts who express open disbelief at the campus’s presumed commitment to its principles of community, and bewilderment at the administration’s failure to take any meaningful or effective action defending and protecting its students from injury and insult.
For those of you who have close friends in the black community, you may have witnessed or heard stories of their trauma and insecurity: students weeping in the halls and on Library Walk at their helplessness and inability to represent themselves against the violence of having other people represent them. If you are like me, you are familiar with this feeling: you have grown up seeing your parents scolded by an angry grocery clerk or policeman for appearing ignorant or slow; you have been denigrated or mocked by whites for excelling at the things you love or feel passionate about; you have felt betrayed by an authority who witnessed your persecution at one point or another, and pretended not to notice. You are familiar with the mistrust, lack of confidence, and sometimes, the outright fear, of the world outside your immediate family and friends; you have struggled consciously or unconsciously to accept or refuse the possibility that the world outside this insulated circle neither values nor encourages your participation and contribution to a wider community. If you can’t relate to what I’m saying, perhaps it’s all for the best, because I wouldn’t wish that consciousness and psychological conflict on anybody. But if you can relate to what your African-American brothers and sisters are feeling, you probably also understand that this is what most ethnic and / or historically underrepresented minorities, in the US and in every country, experience to one degree or another. It is the experience we share in common, an experience that oftentimes draws us close to one another in times of danger.