As appearing in the Rocky Mountain Collegian
Colorado State University students gathered at the Lory Student Center Plaza on November 16 to show support for the students at the University of Missouri who are taking a stance against racism.
CSU Solidarity with Mizzou Protests organized the demonstration, which began at the Administration Building before moving in front of the Lory Student Center. Students and community members carried signs saying, “CSU Stands With Mizzou” and “Ethnic Studies Supports Campus Equity,” while listening to stories of racism that have occurred at universities across the nation.
The demonstration for the students at Mizzou attracted a crowd, including CSU President Tony Frank.
“I’m here to support our students,” Frank said. “I love what they’re doing here, the way they’re expressing themselves, and I just wanted to make sure I could be here to support them.”
More than 80 students, community members and faculty gathered to support the demonstration.
“I’m here because students matter,” said Shannon Archibeque-Engle, director of diversity and retention for the College of Agriculture. “Black students matter, Latino students matter, Native students matter, all students matter and if I have an opportunity to students who are feeling marginalized I will be there.”
One of the leaders of the demonstration, Kwon Yearby, said he saw this as an opportunity to relate what was happening at Mizzou to the CSU community.
The members of CSU Solidarity recounted recent experiences of racism on Colorado State University’s campus, including the elimination of the department of diversity from the student government cabinet in 2013.
They said in 2015, United Men of Color, a multicultural student organization of predominantly African-American males, were racially profiled while participating in one of the CSU service events. Another student said she returned to her dorm room to her dorm mates continuously chanting “all lives matter” at her.
“This is not an indictment on white people, but this is an indictment on white structures and white supremacy,” Yearby said.
The group then proposed making the introduction courses to women’s and ethnic studies part of the All-University Core Curriculum, which would make them required for all students. They also recommended that CSU increase its diversity of faculty and staff, as well as resources for those suffering from mental health issues specifically from racial oppression.
“It’s not to invoke any anger or continue to perpetuate the myths and the stereotypes. We’re just trying to raise awareness and educate,” senior Shayla Monteiro said about standing in solidarity. “You might not really know where we come from or understand our struggle, but you have to be big enough to ask and we have to be willing to share, so we have to be able to come together and interact in that way.”
Monteiro later made a statement to the Collegian explaining that she was not only representing herself by being there, but all black women.
“I stood on the plaza today to dispel the invisible and dissolute myths and ‘westernized’ single narratives of inaccurate representations of the black, African-American community that is perpetuated by the media and evermore was captured at this very demonstration within the lack of representation of women of color at such a historical moment in time.
“I stood on the plaza today as 1) black, 2) a woman and 3) with all those social constructs combined as a black, African-American woman who is mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually drained of being subjected to this nation’s double binds of oppression that continue to manifest the silence, fear and ignorance about what it means to live in a white supremacist, ethnocentric, economically stratified, heteropatriarchal and homophobic society, as a black, African-American, self identified female or male.
“I stood on the plaza today to sacrifice my tainted body … to help pave the foundation of my ancestors’ fight for equality, equity and social justice for my people, regardless of one’s internalized social constructs of self that were invented to divide you and I.”
A report from CNN states that for years, African-American students at the University of Missouri have experienced forms of overt racism, ranging from use of the N-word to death threats. Of the 35,000 undergraduate students about 79 percent are white and 8 percent African-American. The school’s faculty is also more than 70 percent white, with black representation of just over 3 percent.
“We wanted to show solidarity and that it is not only okay to stand up for protests but also important. We hope that more universities will do it and will look at their history and make strategic plans at their universities as well,” Yearby said.