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.
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.