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CALL TO ACTION REGARDING STATE & EXTRALEGAL ANTI-BLACK VIOLENCE

As the co-conveners of the ​Black Studies Project​ at UCSD, we stand together in anger, grief, and condemnation of the state and extralegal anti-Black violence that most recently took the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, and so many others, and that continues to be leveraged by police and military across the country in the name of ‘law and order.’ As scholars of Black Studies in the US and globally, we are all too aware that the devaluing, dispossession (or ‘looting’), and criminalization of Black people has roots in ​chattel slavery​ and decades of ‘Jim Crow’ era ​racial and sexual terrorism. ​We know that state-sanctioned anti-Black violence was critical to the founding and building of the US, and that violence against Black people remains central to US state power.

We therefore reject the criminalization of Black bodies that has rationalized and naturalized ongoing suspicion, surveillance, harassment, abuse, and murder. We also understand the killing of Black people in Minneapolis, Louisville, Atlanta, and Tallahassee, to be part of the same culture of Black death that has led to the vastly disproportionate infection and fatality rates among African Americans​ during the ongoing CoVID-19 pandemic—deaths rooted in racial income and wealth disparities, differential vulnerabilities to infection at work and at home, unequal access to health care, and environmental racism.

This is a crucial moment for Black Studies. As the late ​Clyde Woods​ reminds us, we cannot allow “the tools of theory, method, instruction, and social responsibility” to become “so rusted that they can only be used for autopsies,” but we must instead use them to “reflect the experiences, viewpoints, and needs of [our] communities,” particularly when Black lives are at stake—as they so often are. But this is not only an imperative for scholars of Black Studies; each of us has the responsibility and the opportunity to start questioning what we think we know. Some of these questions are close to home: why, ten years after the events of ​Black Winter ​and the Black Student Union’s critical white paper, “​Do UC Us?​,” are Black students and faculty still so dramatically underrepresented ​at UCSD, as the University continues to make little progress in the recruitment and retention of Black students and faculty? Why do Black students at UCSD continue to experience ​online​ and in-person racist and sexist harassment as they go about their daily lives?

The UCSD administration has rightly expressed concern for the health and wellbeing of Black students, faculty, and staff at this current moment. We, too, are fiercely committed to the physical and mental health of our students, and are committed to making space to support, empower, and nurture each other in this moment of crisis. In this vein, we support ​student demands​ to change the final exam grading system for this quarter. As members of UCSD’s Black communities have made clear since the Winter of 2010, however, without real structural change, there can be no true healing.

Therefore, we call on the UCSD administration to go beyond statements of solidarity and empathy. We urge the university administration to follow the call of ​graduate student unions nationwide​ to divest from area police systems and to recognize that ​police on campus​ all too often make Black students, Indigenous students, and students of color less safe, not safer. We also call on the university administration to not allow the current budget crisis to serve as an alibi to once again turn away from much needed investments in recruiting and retaining Black faculty and students. Finally, we urge the university community to recommit to addressing the ongoing campus climate issues and anti-Black racism that make claiming space and thriving so difficult for Black students and faculty on this campus. As a university, we must move beyond simply deploring injustices that happen elsewhere and make material change toward overcoming those inequities that exist on our own campus.

In Study and Struggle,


Dayo F. Gore
Ethnic Studies and CGS Program
Director, BSP


Sara Clarke Kaplan
Ethnic Studies and CGS Program​ ​
Associate Director, BSP


Jessica Graham
History
Executive Committee Chair, BSP

2020 BSP Travel Grant Recipients

Black Studies Project at UC San Diego is pleased to announce their recipients of the 2020 BSP Travel Grant: 

     Marina Vlahaki – Literature 
The Hair Salon in African Literature: A Discursive Space of Mobility and Labor
Paul Roth – Music 
The Sonic Politics of Don Cherry
Samantha de Vera – History 
 Black Refugees, Incarceration, and Union Military Justice During the Civil War and Reconstruction
Christine Assefafeleke – Ethnic Studies 
Grounding Buna: Locating East African Refugee Women’s Knowledge Production through Oral History and the Archive
~
Library of Congress, Washington D.C. and UC Berkeley Advanced Oral History Summer Institute

2019 BSP Travel & Research Grant Recipients

Black Studies Project at UC San Diego is pleased to announce their recipients of the 2019 BSP Travel and Research Grant: 

 

Saisi, Boke - Ethnic Studies
Barred by the Maddening State: Black and Indigenous Women's Incarcerations in the US and Canada

 

Washington, Dana - Visual Arts
What Remains Unbound is Gathered

 

Wright, Alicia - Anthropology
African-American/Black Deaf Signers and American Sign Language (ASL)-English Interpreters: Neutrality, Effacement, and Authentication

 

Abusneineh, Bayan - Ethnic Studies
Chosen and Imagined: Racial and Gendered Politics of Reproduction in Palestine and Israel

 

Clark, Kim - Communication
Freedom by Design: Copwatch practice and new/ old strategies for social and cultural orders

 

Gregory, Michael - Theatre & Dance
Not Another Sidney Poitier
 

Professor Sara Clarke Kaplan speaks to KPBS about Black History Month

sarakaplan2.jpgBlack History Month is a time to celebrate black people who have and are shaping America. But, while black history is being celebrated during the month of February, it is excluded from many school history books.

Sara Clarke Kaplan is an associate professor of Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies at UC San Diego, and a founder of the university's Black Studies Project.

"If we don't teach this material in schools we can't expect people to automatically go against all of their prejudices and beliefs they've been taught to actually understand the real conditions of life," Sara Kaplan said.

Kaplan joins Midday Edition Thursday to talk about the importance of black history and how Americans benefit from learning it.

Listen to the interview here!