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The Race and Social Justice Initiative Student leadership Award Symposium

Posted on April 17, 2018

The Race and Social Justice Initiative Student Leadership Award Symposium
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Thaddeus Street Jr. Education Center
Septima P. Clark Auditorium | Room 118

 

Join the College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) as we highlight two student researchers during the Student Leadership Awards Symposium. Each semester, RSJI grants Student Leadership Awards to recognize and support students working in areas of race and social justice. Students David Rothmund (History) and Cora Webb (Public Health, Women’s and Gender Studies) Will discuss their research and their connections to RSJI’s mission, as well as the recently released Charleston County Racial Disparities Report. RSJI promotes public awareness and open dialogue about race and social justice issues in the Charleston area, the state of South Carolina, and beyond.

 

“The First 365: Analyzing the First Year of the Trump Administration” moderated by MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid on February 1st, 2018

Posted on March 1, 2018

The Race and Social Justice Initiative was proud to present “The First 365: Analyzing the First Year of the Trump Administration” moderated by MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid on February 1st, 2018. This discussion was a multidisciplinary look into the first year of the Trump Administration featuring distinguished faculty members from the College of Charleston.

 

Scroll through the photos taken by the College of Charleston’s Reese Moore:


 
 
Watch the main event here:

This event was proudly Cosponsored by the College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) funded by Google, the College of Charleston Division of Marketing and Communications, the College of Charleston Department of Communication, the College of Charleston Department of Political Science, the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture, and the Tri-County Women’s Project.

“A Conversation with Marian Wright Edelman,” Author and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, Introduction by Former Senator Malcolm Graham


Marian Wright Edelman Opens the Race and Social Justice Initiative 2016 Speaker Series

“A Conversation with Marian Wright Edelman,” Author and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, Introduction by Former Senator Malcolm Graham

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Sottile Theatre, 44 George Street, Charleston, SC
6:30PM  Free and open to the public!

MWEHeadShot
Marian Wright Edelman, author and founder
of the Children’s Defense Fund

Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.  The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. She has received over a hundred honorary degrees and many awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings, which include: Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors,I’m Your Child, God:  Prayers for Our Children; I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children; and The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation.

Malcolm_Graham
Former North Carolina Senator Malcolm Graham

Edelman will be introduced by Former Senator Malcolm Graham, the brother of Cynthia Hurd, one of the victims of the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. Hurd was a Charleston native who worked for the Charleston County Library for over three decades. The Measure of Our Success by Marian Wright Edelman was one of her favorite books.

 

Throughout the month of February, the Charleston County Library will also host additional outreach events in honor of Marian Wright Edelman through the “I Can Make A Difference Initiative.”

This event is part of the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) at the College of Charleston. In late June 2015, the Avery Research Center, Addlestone Library, African American Studies, and the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI) at the College of Charleston received a major grant from Google to launch the initiative in response to recent tragic events in the Charleston area, including the shooting death of Walter Scott by a police officer in April 2015 and the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. With this support, RSJI is working with numerous partners to facilitate public events, exhibitions, and various projects that promote awareness of the history and ongoing struggles of racial injustice in Charleston, South Carolina, and throughout the United States. 

Thanks to our event co-sponsors: Google, the Women’s Resource Project, Inc., the Charleston County Public Library, SunTrust, the SC Community Loan Fund, the Phillis Wheatley Literary and Social Club, and the Sophia Institute.

“American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference,” Bryan Stevenson, Author and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative

 

 

 

American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference,” Bryan Stevenson, Author and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative

Thursday, March 31, 2016
Sottile Theatre, 44 George Street, Charleston, SC
6:00PM 

Photograph by Nina Subin
Photograph by Nina Subin

America has the largest prison population in the world – and the criminal justice system that puts the men, women, and children in these prisons is broken. Excessive punishment and abuse are widespread, and the collateral consequences are devastating lives and communities. An inspiring and unflinchingly honest speaker, in this presentation Bryan Stevenson talks about defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people. The stories he tells are heartbreaking, yet inspiring, and motivate audiences to make a change.

New York Times Bestseller and winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction and the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction
New York Times Bestseller
and winner of the Carnegie
Medal for Nonfiction and the
NAACP Image Award for
Nonfiction

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and one of the most acclaimed and respected lawyers in the nation. His memoir, Just Mercy, is the story of a young lawyer fighting on the frontlines of a country in thrall to extreme punishments and careless justice. It is an inspiring story of unbreakable humanity in the most desperate circumstances, and a powerful indictment of our broken justice system and the twisted values that allow it to continue. Stevenson is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant and the NAACP Image Award for Best Non-Fiction, and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People for 2015. Stevenson is a tenured law professor at New York University School of Law. For more information on this speaker please visit www.prhspeakers.com.

Through funding support from Starbucks and the Coastal Community Foundation, the Charleston County Public Library will be distributing a limited number of free copies of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson starting February 15th, 2016, at all sixteen branch locations. CCPL will also be hosting various events throughout the month of March, please see their Programs calendar for more details.

This event is part of the Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) at the College of Charleston. In late June 2015, the Avery Research Center, Addlestone Library, African American Studies, and the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI) at the College of Charleston received a major grant from Google to launch the initiative in response to recent tragic events in the Charleston area, including the shooting death of Walter Scott by a police officer in April 2015 and the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. With this support, RSJI is working with numerous partners to facilitate public events, exhibitions, and various projects that promote awareness of the history and ongoing struggles of racial injustice in Charleston, South Carolina, and throughout the United States. 

Thanks to our event co-sponsors: College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative funded by Google, Charleston County Public Library, SunTrust, the Avery Institute, and the Sophia Institute, SC Community Loan Fund, and South Carolina Humanities. 

FORMS AND MOTIFS IN AFRICAN ART: WORKS FROM THE AVERY RESEARCH CENTER’S JOHN R. DUPREE AFRICAN ART COLLECTION

February 25 through December 1, 2017

 


 

Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library

John R. Dupree began amassing his extensive African art collection in 1972 while living in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and working for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Dupree was a member of a small group of FAA employees sent to Zaire to assist with building and establishing a civil aviation program at the request of then-President Mobutu. Dupree’s living quarters in Kinshasa, the capital city, was close to a major open-air market that he frequented. He acquired African artifacts during the three years he was in Zaire.  The John R. Dupree Collection, housed at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, contains more than 150 items, the majority of them in ebony and mahogany. There are also remarkable pieces of ivory in the collection and brightly colored works on canvas that will be on view as a part of the exhibition.

Forms and Motifs in African Art: Works from the John R. Dupree Collection gives visible evidence to Susan Vogel’s powerful observation made in her seminal work on the Baule culture of the Ivory Coast.  In her book, Beauty in the Eyes of the Baule: Aesthetics and Cultural Values, Vogel explains the importance of the head in Baule sculpture and statuary, writing, “The head is considered the seat of freedom and intelligence.” That same observation applies to many of the works in the Dupree Collection, granting they represent the art of ethnic groups from Central Africa: Bakuba, Luba, Luluwa , and Songye. Moreover, this collection artistically conveys the dynamism of African culture.

The works are characterized by intricate and exquisite abstract geometric designs and patterns. Modern Western art, produced by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti, owes much of its development to these very African designs, motifs, and patterns.  Thus, a number of prominent artists of the early twentieth century, particularly cubists and expressionists, drew inspiration from African art, especially African masks.

African art was quite appealing to the cubist and expressionist school of artists because it differed from the pervasive imitation of nature in Western art. Instead, African artists created art analogous to natural images. Their intent was to create an object, mask, or statuary that would embody the vital forces of nature to assist with a better understanding of the environment.

 

 

African art is perhaps best understood when the viewer appreciates the great scope for individual expression by the artist. The sophistication that marks one piece superior to another comes through the artist who has the freedom to create a work of stunning individuality while still working within the conventions required by tradition. Even when signs of uniqueness are quite evident, a work will still display the traditional motifs, representations, and references.  The work conveys its symbolism through the artist’s craftsmanship to the members of his ethnic group.  Thus, it is significant that the artist or craftsman is steeped in the customs and images of his society.  After all, the ultimate purpose for carving masks and statuary is to give real and tangible form to the spirit world as a means of channeling the universal creative force.

The sculpture, masks, and contemporary works on canvas in the Dupree Collection are replete with human and animal forms and motifs, some of which are depicted in naturalistic representations while others are almost abstract symbols. In addition, the sculptures and busts are characterized by high-domed foreheads, which are generally a sign of “an unmarred spirituality.” The works are further enhanced by elaborate coiffure, cowrie shells, some instances of scarification, and other forms of adornment. For example, within the collection are five wooden statues of various sizes that appear to be the work of the same artist and are all wearing a hat presumably made from raffia and silk. As another example, one of the most breathtaking pieces in the collection is a copy of an ndop, a figurative sculpture representing a Kuba king. This wooden sculpture shows the monarch with his legs crossed and enthroned on a rectangular stool. An embodiment of dignity, he is depicted in a frontal pose. The eyes in the disproportionate head are closed, perhaps signaling the king’s meditative state.  On his head, he wears a box-shaped royal cap accentuated with cowrie shells that projects over his forehead. He also has a sword in his hand and strings of cowrie shells adorn his stomach and upper arms.

 

The John R. Dupree Collection joins other holdings at the Avery Research Center that primarily highlight  African culture, including the collections of Catherine and James Yatsco, George Pope, Joseph A. Towles, Paul Craven, and Muriel and Marcus Zbar.  This exhibit is the first time the Dupree collection is presented for public viewing.

The Dupree Collection provides scholars and the general public an opportunity to study and marvel at the strength and beauty of African art and artifacts while acknowledging the creative genius and agency of Africans as it relates to artistic production.  Additionally, the collection significantly enhances Avery Research Center’s holdings in African artifacts and supports the Avery Research Center’s mission of preserving African American heritage and making it more accessible to the broader public.

John R. Dupree began to amass his extensive African Art collection in 1972 while living in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and working for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Dupree in concert with a small group of other employees of the FAA was in Zaire to assist with building and establishing a civil aviation program at the behest of President Mobutu. Dupree’s living quarters in Kinshasa, the capital city, was in close proximity to a major open air market which he frequented and acquired numerous works during the three years he was there. The John F. Dupree collection, housed at the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, contains in excess of 150 items, the majority of them in wood – ebony, and mahogany. There are also some wonderful pieces of ivory in the collection, as well as brightly colored works on canvas that will be on view as a part of the exhibition.

 

 

The exhibition titled “Forms and Motifs in African Art:  Works from the John R. Dupree Collection gives visible evidence to the powerful observation Susan Vogel made in her seminal work on the Baule of the Ivory Coast. In her book titled, In Beauty in the Eyes of the Baule: Aesthetics and Cultural Values, Vogel made the following observation regarding the importance of the head in Baule sculpture and statuary, wherein she wrote, “the head is considered the seat of freedom and intelligence”.  That same observation is applicable to many of the works in the Dupree Collection, granted they represent the work of the following ethnic groups from Central Africa: Luba, Luluwa, and Songye.  Moreover, what is conveyed artistically in the works is the dynamism of African culture. The works are characterized by intricate and exquisite abstract geometric designs and patterns. African designs, motifs and patterns that were foundational to the development of what has been called modern western art, art produced by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Giacometti, among others.  Lastly, there is a fundamental statement being made through sculptural responses to the African environment, an environment wherein there is a social balance that is responsible for a certain kind of decorum, regardless of one’s gender.

 

Avery Research Center’s collection of African artifacts spans two centuries and originates from various African countries.  Joining the collections of Catherine and James YatscoJoseph ATowels, Paul Craven, and  Muriel and Marcus Zbar (to name a few), the John R. Dupree collection increases Avery’s value to scholars and artists studying African and Lowcountry retentions, wood/ebony/ivory carvings, rituals, and twentieth century artwork. The Dupree Collection broadens/enhances the liberal arts experience for students, which is invaluable as more and more students pursue study abroad opportunities while matriculating at the College of Charleston. It also affords scholars and the general public an opportunity to study and marvel at the strength and beauty of African art and artifacts while acknowledging the creative genius and agency of Africans, as it relates to artistic production.  Additionally, the collection significantly enhances Avery’s holdings in African artifacts in quantity—being well over 100 original pieces—and supports the Center’s mission of preserving African American heritage and making it accessible to the broader public.

Transforming Public History: From Charleston to the Atlantic World

“Transforming Public History from Charleston to the Atlantic World”  was hosted by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program, and the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston on June 14-17, 2017.

 

 


 

 
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
In partnership with various local, national, and international cultural heritage organizations, academic institutions, and historic sites, the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, the Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World Program (CLAW), and the Addlestone Library are hosting a conference on transforming public history practices from Charleston to the Atlantic World to be held at the College of Charleston and other partner sites in Charleston, South Carolina.

SPECIAL FOCUS
Based on the United Nation’s declaration of 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and the conference location in Charleston, South Carolina, on the second anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Mother Emanuel Church, the conference will particularly highlight speakers and topics relevant to transforming practices of interpreting the history of slavery and its race and class legacies in Charleston and historically interconnected local, regional, and international sites.

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE THEME
Starting in the fifteenth century, the Atlantic Ocean became a corridor of trade and migration—both voluntary and coerced—between Africa, Europe, and the Americas. In the centuries that followed, the violent encounters, power struggles, cultural exchanges, labor systems, and economic ties surrounding these trans-Atlantic connections became ever more complex and globally intertwined, producing distinctive race, class, and gender experiences and hierarchies throughout the Atlantic World and beyond. How have cultural heritage institutions, public historians, scholars, artists, activists, filmmakers, and educators in various international regions engaged with and depicted the diverse histories of the Atlantic World? How have these representations changed over time, and how will they continue to change in the twenty-first century?

College of Charleston Race and Social Justice Initiative

Posted on February 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your attendance of “The First 365: Analyzing the First Year of the Trump Administration” featuring MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid at the College of Charleston’s Sottile Theatre. We are proud and honored to serve as conduits for positive change through the College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI). This Initiative is funded solely through the generosity of supporters like you.

RSJI promotes public awareness, dialogue, and long-term systemic change for race and social justice issues in Charleston and the Lowcountry through a collaborative effort led by the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, Addlestone Library, and the Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI). Our programming and outreach are establishing Charleston as a nexus of history, culture, and public engagement with race and social justice issues.

Please join us in this movement by making a tax-deductible contribution or contacting Halley Cella Erickson at cellah@cofc.edu or (843) 953-6526 to get more involved.

In solidarity,

Patricia Williams-Lessane, Ph.D.             
Coprincipal, Race and Social Justice Initiative
Director, Avery Research Center for
African American History and Culture

John White, Ph.D.
Coprincipal Race and Social Justice Initiative
Dean, College of Charleston Libraries

The First 365: Analyzing the First Year of the Trump Administration featuring MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid

Posted on January 16, 2018

The Race and Social Justice Initiative is proud to present “The First 365: Analyzing the First Year of the Trump Administration” moderated by MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid on February 1st, 2018. This discussion will be a multidisciplinary look into the first year of the Trump Administration featuring distinguished faculty members from the College of Charleston.

This event is proudly Co-Sponsored by the College of Charleston’s Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI) funded by Google, the College of Charleston Division of Marketing and Communications, the College of Charleston Department of Communication, the College of Charleston Department of Political Science, the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture, and the Tri-County Women’s Project.

 

 

Panelists:

Dr. Anthony Greene—African American Studies/Sociology

 

 

 

 

Dr. Anthony D. Greene is an Assistant Professor with the African American Studies program and the Department of Sociology at the College of Charleston. He specializes in race-ethnic relations and cultural and ethnic identity. Dr. Greene received his B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies and his MA in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Charlotte, NC. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Miami in 2008.

Dr. Patricia Williams Lessane—African American Studies/Anthropology

 

 

 

 

Dr. Williams Lessane is a cultural anthropologist whose focus areas include Pan African religious identity, Black feminist theory, and representations of Black life in popular culture. She earned a BA in English from Fisk University, a MALS from Dartmouth College, and a PhD in Anthropology from University of Illinois at Chicago. Before joining The College of Charleston, she was a faculty member at Roosevelt University, and a consultant for The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Dr. Michael Lee—Communications

 

 

 

 

 

Michael J. Lee teaches and researches in the areas of rhetoric and political communication at the College of Charleston. Mike holds a Ph.D. (Communication) from the University of Minnesota as well as M.A. (Communication) and B.A. (Political Science) degrees from the University of Georgia. His book, Creating Conservatism: Postwar Words that Made an American Movement (2014) earned four national book awards in the field. Additionally, Mike has several award-winning conference papers in his research areas. His essays have been published in such journals as the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Feminist Media Studies, and the Journal of Applied Communication Research. Mike has also given frequent media interviews on a number of political topics.

Dr. Matthew Cressler—Religion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew Cressler was born in Connecticut, grew up in Alabama, went to school in New York, Boston, and Chicago, and considers himself an East-Coast itinerant. He teaches courses on African American religion; Black nationalism; religion, race, and politics; religion in America; and theory and method in the study of religion.

Dr. Latasha Chaffin—Political Science

 

 

 

 

LaTasha Chaffin joined the Department of Political Science in August 2013. Her teaching and research interests are in the field of American Politics with a particular emphasis on examining public policy and bureaucratic outcomes and their impacts on diverse and vulnerable populations. Her research interests extend to U.S. and comparative labor, economic, social welfare and state and local politics and policy. She offers courses in the undergraduate and graduate programs on American Government, Public Administration, American Public Policy, Labor and Economic Policy, U.S. State and Local Politics and Human Resource Management.

Chaffin earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Western Michigan University. She also holds an M.A. in Political Science from Western Michigan University, a M.P.A. in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University and a B.B.A. in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University. Her dissertation research entitled “The War Against Joblessness: U.S. Intervention in State Labor Markets in Response to Economic Recessions,” examines the intervention of U.S. and state governments into the labor market during times of economic recession through the expansion of Social Security, unemployment insurance and training programs from 1990 to 2010.

This event is free and open to the public, however, Eventbrite registration is required.

 

Joy Reid is the host of AM JOY on MSNBC as well as a national correspondent appearing regularly on primetime programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. She was previously the host of The Reid Report from 2014-2015, a daily program that offered Reid’s distinctive analysis and insight on the day’s news.

Joy Reid is also the author of the book Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons and the Racial Divide (William Morrow/Harper Collins 2015) and co-author with E.J. Dionne Jr., of We Are The Change We Seek: the Speeches of Barack Obama (Bloomsbury, 2017). Reid is also a contributing author for The Daily Beast.

Before that, Reid was the Managing Editor of theGrio.com, a daily online news and opinion platform devoted to delivering stories and perspectives that reflect and affect African-American audiences. Reid joined theGrio.com with experience as a freelance columnist for The Miami Herald and as editor of the political blog The Reid Report. She is a former talk radio producer and host for Radio One, and previously served as an online news editor for the NBC affiliate WTVJ in Miramar, FL.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, Reid served as the Florida deputy communications director for the 527 “America Coming Together” initiative and was a press aide in the final stretch of President Barack Obama’s Florida campaign in 2008. Joy’s columns and articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, South Florida Times and Salon.com. She is currently producing a documentary, The Fight Years – which takes a look at the sport of boxing during the 1950s and 1960s in Miami.

Reid graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a concentration in film and is a 2003 Knight Center for Specialized Journalism fellow. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband and family.

Early arrival is suggested. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and there will be a security check prior to entrance. Please refrain from bringing any large bags or signs. For more information please contact the Race and Social Justice Initiative Coordinator Daron Lee Calhoun, II at calhoundl@cofc.edu.

Statement from the College of Charleston’s Black Student Union

Posted on October 30, 2017

 

To Whom It May Concern:

As students of the College of Charleston, we aim to be in an environment that is conducive to learning because it is safe, engaging, diverse, healthy, and secure. As of right now, many students of color and others do not feel this way due to the continuous acts of prejudice, violence, and white supremacy on our campus, as well as in the Charleston community. Each year we are reminded of white supremacy and violence here at The College. A few of these acts include the racially charged shooting of nine innocent members of Mother Emanuel AME Church, a supporter of the Confederate Flag being the face of The College, continual displays of Confederate flags around campus, and being survivors of racially motivated hate speech and actions. We desire to feel safe and welcome in every realm, but unfortunately, that has not been the case.

As we all know, costumes are a tradition of Halloween. There are many costume ideas such as animals or cartoon characters. Although this may seem obvious, it has come to our attention that there are students at The College who do not understand this concept and have rather created costumes that mock dead Black bodies and Black culture all while using racial slurs. Sam Weinick and Gianna Trombetta are responsible for these actions. Photos are attached below for reference.

Students are seen wearing orange jumpsuits assumed to represent those in jail. Sam Weinick is shown wearing the name “Freddie Gray” on his back with the caption, “Ur going to jail tonight,” which was posted onto Snapchat by Gianna Trombetta (her username appears in the left-hand corner). There is a subsequent photo with a student who has not been identified yet, but this student is pictured with “Nigger” written on his back. Not only is this behavior disrespectful and demeaning to Black students here at The College, but it is also dehumanizing and mocks the Americans who are victims of police brutality and those who are grieving the lives lost due to the blatant lack of respect towards Black bodies.

If you do not know, on April 19, 2015, 25-year-old, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. became a deceased victim of police brutality. On April 12, 2015, Mr. Gray was detained by Baltimore Police Department and transported in a police van. Unfortunately, Mr. Gray never made it to the police department. Instead, he was transported to a trauma center where they attempted to treat him for spinal cord injuries that he sustained while in custody. Six officers were linked to the incident and suspended without pay. His death was ruled a homicide. The six officers were indicted on various charges to include second-degree murder. None of the officers were found guilty on their charges as some charges were dropped. The death of Mr. Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. was detrimental and causes emotional distress amongst the Black communities and those who understand the outcomes of continuous acts of police brutality in America.

As students of the College of Charleston, we come to you in solidarity to ask that the students involved in this incident be reprimanded through indefinite expulsion. These students actions negatively reflect The College amongst the many other negatives it causes for students who attend and pay tuition. More than 500 Americans have lost their lives to police brutality this year alone. The actions taken by these students are a mockery of these lives and those who are grieving. The death of Mr. Gray is similar to the death of a loved one. Many of us feel this way and believe that the actions of these students is immoral and must be taken seriously. These are unacceptable behaviors that should not be tolerated. In these times, the disrespectful actions committed by these students cannot merely occur out of sheer ignorance. They occur because some people have a genuine disrespect for Black people and feel that Black culture is an open market of various elements to pick from and discard after use. Feeling safe is not being subjected to being viewed as objects and costumes that can be used to ridicule already marginalized communities.

We, as a student body, are concerned about the values The College of Charleston upholds. We acknowledge that there is a need for change in these values. We are seeking dignified actions against acts of white supremacy, as they are necessary for all to understand that appropriate actions that should be taken in these very serious matters such as this. This is not a matter of agreement or disagreement on a controversial topic, but rather one of values, morals, respect, and dignity. These actions should not be seen as conducive to the values that the College of Charleston aims to uphold and therefore should not be defended, nor allowed and subsequently reprimanded.

As well, additional action has been taken up on this matter to include the notification of distinguished news outlets.

Best,

Bria Dantzler, Founder and Senior Director
Luminescent, Community Outreach Organization

La’Nasa Clarkson, President
Black Student Union
Avery Research Center for African American History Culture

Tia Dye, Vice President
Black Student Union

 

Dear White People, Now That You Understand Your Privilege…

Posted on October 17, 2017

For the longest time people of color have been trying to get white people to realize that they have white privilege; and just recently, I’ve noticed more white people have accepted the fact that they do have it. However, the most exhausting and frustrating part about white people realizing that they have this privilege is their constant questioning of how do they use their privilege to dismantle white supremacy.

I find it puzzling when white people ask people of color how they should use their white privilege, as if it’s something new or different to them. People of color are not born with same societal privileges that white people are. White people are born into a system that assumes their superiority over those who aren’t considered White. White privilege allows white people to perform everyday tasks like shopping, working, and conversing with others, without having their social, political, or economic status and experiences questioned or challenged.

A few weeks back, College of Charleston’s Black Student Union held an event on white supremacy and topics surrounding white nationalism. I was surprised by the number of people that attended the event. And as white students began standing up and announcing they understood their white privilege to a crowd of emotional people of color, I couldn’t help but grow annoyed. Yes, I think it’s a great thing that white people are finally understanding that they have white privilege. It only took how many years? For me, it’s no longer enough for white people to acknowledge their white privilege. White people: Now that you understand this privilege, what are you doing with it?

I’m tired of having these same conversations about how white people should use their white privilege to combat white supremacy. There is no manual on how that should be done.

However, a good way to start would be having those conversations about race with racist family members at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another way is to stop standing back and watching while the rights of people of color are denied and stolen.

And to the white people who actually understand their privilege and are using it to dismantle white supremacy and systems of oppression, could you teach other white people?

I hate to be cliché, but actions do speak a whole much louder than words.