An Open Letter of Love to Black Students: #BlackLivesMatter

UW-Madison Multicultural Student Center:

In these difficult times, where Black people are being forced to ask at every turn whether or not people value their lives, a message of Love and encouragement from Black professors all over the nation is being shared online. Here is “An Open Letter of Love to Black Students: #BlackLivesMatter

Originally posted on Black Space:

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Black students and professors, Beaumont Tower, Michigan State University, December 6, 2014. photo by Darryl Quinton Evans

We are Black professors.

We are daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, godchildren, grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, and mothers.

We’re writing to tell you we see you and hear you.

We know the stories of dolls hanging by nooses, nigger written on dry erase boards and walls, stories of nigger said casually at parties by White students too drunk to know their own names but who know their place well enough to know nothing will happen if they call you out your name, stories of nigger said stone sober, stories of them calling you nigger using every other word except what they really mean to call you, stories of you having to explain your experience in classrooms—your language, your dress, your hair, your music, your skin—yourself, of you having to fight for all…

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Check Out “How I Learned to Stop Erasing Myself”

“To be first generation means acquiescing to a lasting state of restlessness.”

In “How I Learned to Stop Erasing Myself” BuzzFeed contributor Durga Chew-Bose writes about First-Generation immigrant identity, the struggle between assimilation and erasure, and her own experiences as a Canadian and Indian woman trying to navigate her identity while the world seems to be trying to make sense of her as well.

Image by Jenny Chang

Image by Jenny Chang

Here’s an excerpt from Durga’s post,

“There’s a type of inborn initiative that comes from having never been obligated to answer questions about the meaning of one’s name, or one’s country of so-called origin, or to explain that the way you look is generationally and geographically worlds apart from where you were born. For some of us, there has been an assumption since childhood that we must reply to a stranger’s inquiry on matters we ourselves struggle to have words for, let alone understand. When it comes to our identity, the ways in which it confuses or interests others has consistently taken precedent as if we are expected to remedy their curiosity before mediating our own.”

Click here to read more

Calling All Young Artists! The Good Life Organization wants to hear your Voice!

The Good Life Organization, based out of Chicago and impacting cities across the nation, is putting out an open call to youth artists to share their voices, experiences, and art through a student organized, student led platform–The Youth Voice Nation Book.

What is the Good Life Organization? Watch and Find Out!

The Youth Voice Nation book was put together by Fulfill the Dream students as a means to showcase the work of young artists around the country. “Youth Voice Nation communicates a powerful message of hope as it accurately describes the harsh realities faced in communities around the nation, while also painting a picture of what is still possible.” The last edition of the Youth Voice Nation book had work from students all around the United States from cities like Los Angeles, CA to Providence, RI from Madison, WI to Cincinnati, OH. You can order the previous edition of the book or get the App in the Android and Apple Stores.

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If you’d like to contribute to the Good Life Organization’s next Youth Voice Book or know any youth looking for the opportunity to share their stories E-mail Marlon Salgado at m.salgado2013@gmail.com

Interested in learning more about The Good Life Organization? Follow their newsletter, Living the Good Life.

A Message From The Director of the Multicultural Student Center in Light of Recent Events

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Image via the Badger Herald online: “UW students hold vigil outside basketball game for victims of police brutality”, December 3, 2014.

As the director of the Multicultural Student Center (MSC) and as a member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison community I am deeply saddened and disgusted by the ongoing violence, racism, and incivility taking place around the nation and in our community. Over the last few weeks I have been at numerous events where students have gathered to discuss the violent patterns of racism and how it has impacted their lives. I am distraught by the recent incidents in Ferguson, New York, and other cities that do not make headlines; however, I find inspiration and hope as I see students gathering to support one another. Although our communities of color may seem small on this large campus, this small community is powerful, compassionate, and committed. I have also been encouraged by the involvement of allies who are striving to support and learn more about people of color and the impact of racism.

As we are directly confronted with alarming acts of violence around the country and hate speech, bias, and ignorance on our own campus, I ask that our students of color, particularly Black and African-American students, reach out to campus resources to find the support they need. There are numerous spaces on campus that are here to ensure students of color are included, valued, and supported. The MSC is here as a place to gather with friends and/or visit to speak with a staff member on an individual basis. The African American Student Academic Services continues to host dialogues and community spaces to support one another. University Health Services continues to be present at #blacklivesmatter events, and they are equipped to support students of color’s mental health and emotional needs. Please feel comfortable to visit them to meet with a professional mental healthcare provider.

Continue to demand what you need in order to be successful on this campus, and know you have partners who are right beside you. As students you have the right to shape your community. Although progress may seem slow and hopeless, your statements, rallies, and voices have an impact. You also have the right to take time for yourself to ensure you are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually well. The burden of social transformation should not fall on the shoulders of our people of color who are striving to be successful students. The issues we are facing are not only one community’s issues; these are the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s issues. I ask that we all be engaged in these conversations and continue working towards making our campus a more just, inclusive, and safe place for all of us.

Sincerely,

Joshua Moon Johnson, Ed.D.

To find support or learn more about the events discussed, please stop by and see the MSC staff. The Multicultural Student Center is located on the 2nd floor of the Red Gym at 716 Langdon Street.  All students are welcome.

Students Peacefully Gather in front of Kohl Center

Last night, after word of Eric Garner’s murderer not being put on trial, though his death was caught on tape, students gathered in solidarity in front of the Kohl Center in a silent vigil.

The vigil was organized by MSC Intern and UW Sophomore Eric Newble Jr who was quoted as saying, “When I found out about [the Darren Wilson indictment], I was really feeling like I wanted to get people together, because I felt like a lot of people in Madison who were reeling from that event, but didn’t feel like they had an outlet or community that was visible in that way.”

At the height of the peaceful protest, nearly 300 people were gathered, some holding signs, all standing silently, facing the Kohl Center awaiting those leaving the game.

Click here coverage from the Badger Herald…

VigilOnline

A Compilation of images from last night can be found on the Multicultural Student Center’s Facebook.

On This World AIDS Day

Take a moment to enjoy some poems, meditations, and prayers compiled by the Huffington Post.

“May these prayers and meditations offer hope to those living with HIV and AIDS, strength to all of those who continue to care for those people living with AIDS, wisdom to those who search for a cure, and courage to those who fight for a world where people living with HIV/AIDS are given respect and dignity.”

Read More…

If you are in the UW-Madison area, Crossroads is hosting World AIDS Day at the the Red Gym. Harlan Pruden, Two-Spirit activist and educator, will be speaking tonight in the On Wisconsin Room. Be sure to join us on this World AIDS Day!

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Click the Photo for the Facebook Event Page

What to Do in the Wake of the Ferguson Decision

by MSC Student Life Intern, Hiwot

Those who have been deeply following the events in Missouri since Mike Brown’s death in August and those like me (who have only been reading blurbs via Twitter and Tumblr and attempting some self preservation through disconnection) found ourselves in a single space, all somber, disappointed, unsurprised, and in pain.

What do we do? What can we do?

Immediately, cities across the nation had protests springing up in response to the verdict. Here in Madison, folks gathered in the Multicultural Student Center to await the verdict and commiserate about it afterwards.

Today in Madison, at 3:30PM, there will be a rally at the Jail on 115 W Doty.

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Click the Photo to reach the “Ferguson to Madison” Facebook Event Page.

And in response to this death, and the unfortunate deaths of numerous Black people, the gnawing, nagging question of, “Do we matter?” arose. The response was #blacklivesmatter, the response was organizing, rallying, protesting, and discussing the deeply rooted problems that allow so many Black lives to end violently without finding them proper justice. With the organization of the Gender & Women’s Studies Department of the University of Arizona and other sponsors like The Feminist Wire, there will be a Black Life Matters Conference from January 15th to January 17th. Registration for the conference is now open.

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From the “Black Lives Matter” Facebook page.

Remember, the MSC is a resource for students across campus. Check out hours listings and feel free to come into the space to use our facilities and resources, to borrow books from or social justice library to become more informed, or to talk to our interns and staff. We’re here.

Whether your response to the verdict is to organize, whether it is to sleep, to write, to cry, to pray, to sing, or to run into the arms of a loved one may you all stay safe, stay connected to the people who care about you the most, and stay alert.