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Sunday, September 19, 2021

#BlackUnderAttack movement highlights issue of racial intolerance in UC Davis

Chancellor P.B. Katehi attends the #BlackUnderAttack press conference last Monday. (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)
Chancellor P.B. Katehi attended the #BlackUnderAttack press conference last Monday. (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)

UC Davis students march from Memorial Union to Mrak Hall in solidarity with campus African Diaspora, recent female African American hate crime victim

On Feb. 22, UC Davis African Diaspora members held the #BlackUnderAttack press conference and marched from the Memorial Union (MU) to Mrak Hall to make demands for a safer and better campus. This comes less than two weeks after a female African American student was the victim of a hate crime at the West Village apartments.

The conference, which included speeches from the UC Davis Black Student Union, ASUCD Senator Kamaal Thomas and President Mariah Kala Watson, was preceded by a march that began at the MU flagpole, with people from various communities joining in support.

As the crowd gathered at Mrak Hall, Watson spoke of the urgency in bringing attention to recent events at the university.

“The Black community at UC Davis does not feel safe,” Watson said in her speech. “Anti-Blackness pervades every aspect of this society, including academia. Our first priority as students is to learn and we should not have to compromise our focus.”

The event included a list of demands by the community, which the demonstrators called to be addressed by Feb. 29. Sydney DeLone, the internal vice president for the Black Student Union, presented the list.

“The demands that we present here today are not luxuries. They are necessities in order to feel safe on this campus,” DeLone said to the crowd. “We, the leaders of the African Diaspora at the UC Davis campus, call on the administration to take all actions deemed necessary to implement all of the following demands.”

The demands presented included better lighting around the university and the city of Davis, allocation of funds for safety services such as Tipsy Taxi and Saferide, emergency call boxes around the campus and for UC Davis to submit a letter of support, urging the UC Regents to create a policy that targets anti-Blackness in the UC.

In his speech, Senator Thomas spoke about what the #BlackUnderAttack movement can represent for students in and outside of Davis.

“It was really an opportunity for us to bring awareness to some of the issues that are actually impacting not only students here at UC Davis, but students all across the nation,” Thomas said in his speech. “While we first push to seek institutional change on the University of California, Davis campus to ensure the safety and well-being of the African Diaspora, we aspire to use a platform to raise awareness of incessant anti-Blackness that too often goes unnoticed, dismissed and invalidated.”

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who spoke at the event, insisted that UC Davis would do its best to focus on working with the African American community and the issues at hand.

“It is unacceptable that we as a university have failed you, and I cannot stand here and promise to you that tomorrow we’ll undo all of these things but I can promise to you that I will work as hard as I can to change things around,” Katehi said in her speech. “I also promise to you that myself and the leadership of this university will work very hard to look at your demands, and I find them very reasonable.”

As the movement continues, Senator Thomas hopes that students will keep recognizing the issues facing the community and join in addressing them.

“The African Diaspora has had a long-standing history of being victimized by acts of discrimination, prejudice, violence in all aspects of our lives,” Thomas said. “I would ask every person here today to continue standing with us and pressing as we move forward and bring awareness to this issue. This is not something we can do alone as a black community — we need every single one of yours support, so please stand with us as we move forward.”

 

Written by: Ivan Valenzuela – campus@theaggie.org

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