Black Lives Matter
June 11, 2020
Before we say anything, we want to say Black lives matter. Our union UAW Local 4123 stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and in its fight against institutional and systemic racism.
Like everyone in the U.S., and around the world, we have watched with horror the brutal murder of George Floyd by an Officer of the law acting like a thug, taking the life of an innocent man. Of course, this is not the first time that we have witnessed such extra-judicial murder of Black and Brown lives. Police forces around the U.S. have a deep-seated history of murdering unarmed people of color - Black men, women, and non-binary people in particular - that spans more than a century. It is only in the recent past, with the advent and the ubiquity of smartphones, that we have become a direct witness to this practice. Year after year, we have seen footage, heard stories, and read in the news of police shooting unarmed Black men, women, and non-binary people. At some point, many of us thought we had become numb to it.
But recent protests that have spread across the country and across the globe have shown that this is not the case. Once a wound gets stabbed at again, and again, and again, it never heals. At some point the oppressed cry out in agony and pain. These protests, and this great display of solidarity across the globe, are a cry of freedom resulting from the recurring pain that people of color have been suppressing for centuries. At this point we are saying no justice, no peace. We are no longer going to tolerate our brothers and sisters and fellow human beings being shot down on the street and having their humanity devalued. So, we proclaim without prejudice or qualifiers, Black Lives Matter, and we support the Black Lives Matter movement in solidarity and in fraternity. We are allies in this fight for justice that seeks to reaffirm the humanity of people of color, especially Black men, women, and non-binary people.
However, we also understand that the effects of systematic racism go far, far beyond the fatal shootings at the hands of police officers. The shootings represent a shocking extreme, something that is visible, something that is openly grotesque. But we cannot ignore the everyday racism that plagues our society. When a store employee follows a person of color around the store, when an educator prioritizes white voices in their classroom, when a person of color is automatically assumed to be a “diversity hire,” when a bartender decides to ignore a person of color waiting by the bar and serves their white customers first, when a doctor undermines the health symptoms of a person of color, when white classmates speak over people of color and interrupt/restrict their speech, racism rears its ugly head in everyday interactions that have deeply pernicious effects on the lives and livelihoods of people of color. The effects of these kinds of everyday macro and microaggressions not only have a psychological effect but often have health consequences that manifest themselves as heart disease, diabetes, and other long-term health issues. Our goal is to eradicate all instances of racism, and not just the most grotesque example of the fatal shooting of unarmed people of color, especially Black men, women, and non-binary people.
Our goal as a labor union, as an organization, and as part of the CSU system is to eradicate racism in all forms in the CSU system. The university should be the last place where students, faculty, staff, or other members of the campus community face racism. We are students and we are workers at the CSU. Many of us feel like CSU is our home. So, change must begin at home. No worker at the CSU should feel like they don’t belong because of their skin color. No one should feel like the “other,” or marginalized just because of their skin color or where they come from. Academia as a whole fails when that happens.
With that in mind, next week we will be sending a letter to Chancellor White with specific demands that we have for the CSU to address the issues of systematic racism in the CSU system starting with the demilitarization of police forces on campuses. CSU must do better than to just pay lip service to the issues of racism and must take actual, measurable steps to eradicate racism from its campuses.
If you are a person of color and feel the need to share or just simply speak with us, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in touch with you. If you are a white ally, we implore you to listen, learn, and comprehend, and we implore you to not respond to criticism with defensiveness but with an open mind and with empathy.
Just know that we are here for you!
Executive Board of UAW Local 4123