BSU Protests Against Racism

Tommy Pham | New University

Tommy Pham | New University

The Black Student Union and supporters rallied against Anti-Blackness while raising awareness of a history of racism on campus. 

UCI’s Black Student Union (BSU) organized a rally from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Anteater Plaza  to raise awareness of anti-blackness last Friday. The rally was held in response to multiple incidents of anti-blackness over the years at UCI, one incident being the controversial video released by several members of the Lambda Theta Delta (LTD) fraternity, in which one member was featured in blackface.

A display board was set up in Anteater Plaza, and on it was a timeline that ran from 1988 to 2013, with the years of 2009 to 2013 particularly emphasized. BSU encouraged Black students to write down incidents of anti-blackness committed against them on the timeline throughout the course of the rally, which several students did. Members of the UCI community, including faculty and staff, took the time to add to the board as well, mentioning earlier instances of racism at UCI.

Protestors taped sheets of papers to themselves that featured incidents of anti-blackness, as well as negative connotations or perceptions of Black identity that they experienced from their fellow peers. These signs usually started with the phrase, “Being Black at UCI means…”

Since they were not permitted to use amplified sound until 12 p.m., participants dispersed around Anteater Plaza with their signs, intending to be seen and bring awareness of their cause. Though mostly silent, they did answer questions from students who passed by.

When the campus bell rang at 12 p.m., they utilized megaphones to communicate their feelings and thoughts to the rest of the campus for the next hour.

“UCI! I am tired of you letting this violence happen!” Mackala Lacy, a psychology and social behavior major, said. “UCI! I am tired of you walking past me and watching me suffer! UCI! I should not be afraid to go to class for fear that someone will wonder why I am there!”

Others expressed how it feels to be a Black student at UCI, with some recounting incidents committed against them, such as racial slurs being directed at them and having trash thrown at them.

Eventually, participants — which included faculty and allies — formed two lines in the center of Anteater Plaza in solidarity and chanted phrases like, “While there is racism, we will not rest!”

By the time the rally ended, the timeline featured a multitude of incidents, which did not faze Lacy.

“I’m not surprised at all,” she said. “These are stories I hear all the time, these are stories that are similar to my own. They’re realities of being a Black student on this campus, and I know this is happening, so to see it visibly in front of me is no shock at all. [It’s] just sort of a proof and reaffirmation to everyone else that this happens.”

Many students stopped as they walked down Ring Road to read the board or listen to protestors, some watched, some took pictures, some joined in. Students on the side of the two lines of solidarity joined in with chants like “While there is racism we will not rest,” “Fight the power” and “I’m black and I’m proud!”

While these chants continued, a student on Ring Road allegedly tried to disrupt the rally by attempting to break apart the lines of protestors. Some of the protestors asked him to stop and leave the rally, but the disrupter persisted in attempting to start an altercation. As a few BSU members and faculty tried to reason with him, the student continued to yell profanity at them, allegedly attempting to provoke an altercation. Shortly after, the dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct escorted him off the premise.

Once the disruption subsided, the rally continued until 2 p.m., eventually fading out with students chanting, “While there is racism we will not rest!”