Community of Color Manifesto

ankh

In the last publication of The Ankh (physical copies of which may be found in various locations on campus) a group of Students of Color penned this manifesto. One co-writer asked me to reproduce it here. I would also like to add that tomorrow, Sunday December 7th at 5 PM (edit: the meeting has been changed from 4 to 5 PM) in the basement of Malcolm X House there will be a meeting to discuss further action regarding #BlackLivesMatter. If you have questions, you should reach out to Dreisen Heath ’15 (dheath[at]wes) and Christian Hosam ’15 (chosam[at]wes).

Community of Color Manifesto

  • We assert that the Community of Color at Wesleyan has not been all that we would have liked it to be.
  • Further, we recognize that community building across racial lines (to say nothing of gender, class, geographic lines, etc.) has not taken place in any substantive way in the recent past here on campus.
  • We name that there have been a number of impediments that have kept us from being a cohesive and synergistic community, which are reflective of both interpersonal conflicts that we have faced, as well as structural administrative barriers that have historically lead to cleavages between Students of Color.
  • Nevertheless, we are still struck and compelled by the critical need for a Community of Color that is receptive and responsive to the myriad of ways that make living, learning, and thriving on Wesleyan’s campus more difficult when you do not identify as White.
  • As we recognize and celebrate the diversity of experiences that Students of Color hold, we also commit to establishing and facilitating dialogue, rapport, and coalition between organizations and individuals.
  • We are attentive to the fact that establishing solidarity is labor intensive. To fully dedicate ourselves to the mission of creating a better community requires a particular type of work that we must be ready for.
  • This labor can be practical in the simple form of showing up for each other’s events, or in the more intensive form of planning and organizing in tandem with one another. It can also be emotional or affective, in terms of empathizing with each other to stymie potential conflicts, as well as being consistently aware of the ways that even as we come together as Students of Color we are still shaped differently by privilege and power.
  • However, as we name the labor we are mobilizing to do, we also honor the fact that labor is often used as a lead up to burn-out for many Students of Color and we are cautious in our framing. The work towards a stronger Student of Color community must not fall on the shoulders of the few but in the hands of the many. It is of central importance not just to create a stronger community of color, but to sustain it.
  • Along with promoting social justice, facilitating critical reflection, and fostering direct action, we recognize that we must cultivate future leaders and engaged members of the community to be equipped with the appropriate tools to maintain a racial and ethnic consciousness on campus. We encourage those younger students to be frank and honest about their needs, hold older students accountable, and make your own interventions where you see fit. Assenting to learn from older students need not mean that you are assenting to conformity or waiting your turn. Be gracious but be bold. This is your community too. Take ownership of it.
  • While this document was written in collaboration with the undersigned groups, we insist that this does not demarcate who falls within the bounds of what it means to be a Student of Color at Wesleyan. We encourage and plead with other racial or ethnic affinity groups to join us. The development of a community is always hurt by those that are marginalized and left behind. It must not be so this time.
  • As Students of Color, we must not homogenize our cultural/ethnic experiences. We each have our own lived experiences, as it pertains to our specific identities. But let this not distract us from promoting an atmosphere of support, respect, compassion and acceptance towards each other.
  • The struggle for African American Studies and the burgeoning discussion to bring Asian American Studies to campus. The need for the University to return ancestral remains of Native peoples. The campus epidemic of sexual violence. The ongoing micro- and macro-aggressions that we face daily as Students of Color. All of these point us to the unique struggles of being a member of a marginalized community here at Wesleyan, to speak nothing of the state violence, police brutality, and miscarriages of justice that we bear witness to so often, even at this moment in the shadow of Ferguson. We are reminded that Audre Lorde tells us, “We were never meant to survive.” But we do and we will. Together. The struggle continues.

Signed,

Students of Color at Wesleyan, in tandem with and through the following organizations:

Asian American Student Collective
Ujamaa
Ajúa Campos
WesQuisqueya
Shakti
Women of Color Collective
Caribbean Students Association
African Students Association
The Ankh