As you know, I am one of the four black male students being pursued for my accused role in a campus sit-in protesting racist vandalism, and seeking safe space to gather. I have no statement to issue on my, nor the other black men being accused behalves. What I will say is that in this move to sanction us, the real victims are the entire black student body.
The very same black student body who has fought tirelessly since being allowed on campuses such as Eastern Michigan University for one thing, the right to belong. This fight is not something we are unfamiliar with, rather one we have inherited. Our skin has made our lives into a battle we didn’t ask for but are determined to win.
Please understand that in all its efforts for inclusion and diversity, unfortunately EMU does not exist independently of the world. The campus does not emulate a safety bubble free of outside interference, but rather acts in tandem with worldly, national, state, and even local city environments. With that being said given the climate of recent attention to extra-judicial murders of black and brown people, specifically black men, the recent election results, the soon coming holiday, and the hate crimes at both EMU and U of M we are ashamed of your decision.
I had hoped that my university would stand on the right side of history, on my side of history, but instead am sad to learn you all would rather respond with the same militarized nature police forces across the globe have used. Again I say it is truly a sad day to call myself an Eagle, but as stated above this is not about me, nor the other three gentlemen I stand with. The entire black student population is being sanctioned in this heinous move to punish the very types of direct action that Martin Luther King Jr. is praised for. The same Martin Luther King Jr. who holds residence in the form of a statue on our very campus. Is it just the speeches we look up to? Is only half of MLK worth emulating? Shouldn’t there only be half a statue then?
In a statement to MLive James Smith stated that he “defends“ the students’ right to protest. Amidst a call for three different police agencies to “protect” EMU football players from peaceful protesters, President Smith boldly proclaimed his defense of the very action we stand targeted for now. Again, this fight is not one unfamiliar to us, but know we don’t stand alone. We stand on the shoulders of the people who died to put us on Eastern Michigan’s campus, we stand with all other black students being affected by this egregious process, we stand alongside all the people who do not share our skin color, but do take part in our sentiment, in our plight. What I, we, need you all to know is that we stand.
You cannot separate peace from freedom, because no man can be at peace, unless he has his freedom. —Malcolm X
The protests will continue, indefinitely.
A Black Student