Letter to the Editor: We are not post-racial
Dear UCI Campus and Family,
My name is Grace Young and I am a graduating fourth year. In lieu of the recent racist events and outpour of institutionalized white privilege, I feel compelled to add to the discourse in support of the students fighting back. As the former Chair of the Asian Pacific Student Association, member of the Umbrella Council, and various other organizations, I was shocked by the article titled “Black History Month?” in the most recent edition of the New U.
First, I would like to express my pride in the mobilizing efforts of my fellow students for standing up to the “racist” accusations in the article and blatant disregard by the Administration. I am in support of the students who have given up their freedom in the moments of arrest by our police state and campus. Beyond this, however, is a feeling of a heart broken by the events that have forced students of color, and any other Allies group, to recognize the underlying, but ever growing, ignorance of institutionalized white dominance.
It is both dissenting communities that I hope to reach with this message. This is not a post-racial state. Events like the “Compton Cookout”, and as of this morning the noose found at the UC San Diego library with its accompanying note to the Guardian are not new to us. The environment of terror has been what we have had to fight to get to college. This is our time to defend ourselves and our safety.
Last year, I studied abroad in South Africa, fifteen years after the end of Apartheid. For those of you unfamiliar with what this was, Apartheid was the last standing legally racialized government, which force, among many things, an unequal (that word does not even begin to describe) Bantu education system. While I can talk about my experience in another country, my return to America was a culture shock I did not expect because I saw that the unfair system in America is just as discriminating.
The claim that race is not longer relevant is maintained by those in power to force us to believe that issues like a prison system filled with black, brown, and yellow faces is acceptable. It imposes that our education system is fair when students from “low-income areas” graduate at a rate of one in ten, color blind to the reality that most of them are students of color. Since the start of my UC Irvine college experience, I have seen high school outreach programs drop due to cuts in funding to the eventual closure of our Bridge programs. As an Asian American Studies major, I can assure you that although UC Irvine has a majority of East Asian American Students, Hmong, Cambodian, and Laotian people still remain the poorest people in America.
The 1.3% black students at UCSD and slightly higher 2% black students at UCI is alarmingly low, considering that California is over 6% black. But what this truly shows is the power that we have. The Administration is terrified by our mobilization. People who have convinced themselves that race no longer matters know that we will not be subjected to the mental colonization of the American Dream any longer.
Let us learn from each other. Stand in solidarity and love.