Solidarity with Mizzou: a student uprising

It’s 2015 and I still don’t think we know what freedom is, but we know what it isn’t. Who doesn’t know that we still ain’t free? I don’t just mean “people of color,” which is a formal way of saying “formerly colonized” but not yet free people. I mean all of us, so called “white” people as well. Racism, white supremacy, is still the order of the day in the United States of America. As of today over 1,000 people have been killed by police officers, and the rates of these deaths that are all too natural to us, the colonized, surpass that of the height of the Jim Crow apartheid era of this nation’s history. Wages are stagnant, while corporate profits are at an all time high. The cost of living skyrockets, and poor and working class people, us “people of color,” are yet again being forced off of the land we inhabit to make way for progress: gentrification. The cost of an education is a life sentence of debt bondage and underemployment. But there is hope.

Let’s face it, things have never been the same for my generation since Trayvon Martin. The uprising in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore happened. Consciousness has shifted across the nation; again, we are talking about “race.” I write this as Black students lead upheavals in some 45 college and university campuses across the nation. They stand in solidarity with what began as a hunger strike against racism and grew into a Black athlete-led football strike culminating in the resignation of the President and Chancellor of the University of Missouri. What was pivotal in these students winning one of their demands was the strike of those who were strategically poised to cause the most economic damage to their oppressors and exploiters. Those who wished to see Black people back in their place as passive Negroes and stud athletes are livid. Some call them racists, white supremacists, terrorists. I call them as any other colonized people know them as: Americans.

As an alumnus of a predominantly white institution, I feel deeply for the students, not just of the University of Missouri, but for those demonstrating a sliver of their power from South Africa to Chile. Students are demanding a liberated education from those who pull the levers of one of the key ideological state apparatuses: the college/university. Tuition has risen so much that education seems more like a distant dream fancied for the moneyed and privileged. Despite hilarious claims of a post-racial United States, the truth is evident in our blood being spilled on the street at the hands of our “protectors” and our social disintegration as a people snowballs.

At the heart of these protests is a call for freedom from the burden of debt both material, social, and psychological. Students want a free education, not a life sentence to debt. Black students want to be heard and have power over their education on campus. They also want to lift the burden of the legacy of the Black Holocaust, i.e. “American slavery,” from their shoulders and stride towards a true reconciliation. These are noble aims. As an alumni of “color,” I wholeheartedly agree with the mantra of this seminal movement for Black liberation that , as Assata Shakur famously said, “it is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win, we must love and support one another, we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

The fight that began on campus will inevitably spill over to that placed off campus called “the real world,” because our oppression is worldly and not otherworldly. One corner of the fabric of this fundamentally racist system is beginning to burn, and the flames of its ruin will keep us warm as we begin to knit new solidarities woven with the old yarn of our forebears.

Students of color at Colby college and anti-racist friends and comrades, I salute you. Continue to study the ways of the world, the history of your people, the ways we have fought back and are fighting back, and remember we are not fighting for ideas but for actual and real liberation on campus and in the “real world.”

Amandla! (Power!) Uhuru! (Freedom!) Asijiki (Forward!)

In Solidarity,

A concerned alumnus of “color”

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