Moving Forward: Summer 2020
“Eventually, doctors will find a coronavirus vaccine, but [B]lack people will continue to wait, despite the futility of hope, for a cure for racism. We will live with the knowledge that a hashtag is not a vaccine for white supremacy. We live with the knowledge that, still, no one is coming to save us. The rest of the world yearns to get back to normal. For [B]lack people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.” —Roxane Gay
Although struggling to be free of racist systems, practices and strongholds since 1619, African Americans find themselves in a moment where their cries for justice have been heard around the world. Phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” and “white supremacy” are no longer whispered but shouted proudly by individuals of every race. Corporations that once shied away now boldly proclaim “Black Lives Matter” on their websites and letterhead. CEO’s, politicians and university leaders issue statements and videos acknowledging the existence of systemic racism. Confederate flags and monuments found in more states than actually belonged to the treasonous confederacy—erected and displayed to terrorize, intimidate and communicate white supremacy—have disappeared overnight. From the NFL and NASCAR to Amazon and Best Buy, corporate leaders suddenly see what most Black Americans always understood—kneeling during the National Anthem was not an unpatriotic act and racism is real leading to disparities, slamming doors, limiting opportunities and death.
The brutal murder of George Floyd, representative of the countless murders of women, men and non-binary Black people revealed how systemic racism shows up in police brutality. Efforts are underway across the nation to re-imagine police forces that work in more thoughtful ways to truly embody the “to serve and protect” motto. As a university, IUPUI has the unique opportunity to examine its actions and policies, laying bare how the brutality of systemic racism is translated into higher education’s daily practices, expectations, predictions, decision-making and regulations that target Black and other people of Color. Similar to the community-police partnerships popping up around the country, the IUPUI Action Committee offers the following recommendations to re-envision the university in ways that lead to anti-racist practices, improve the climate and experiences of Black students, staff and faculty, broadening what it means to be a member of the IUPUI community and holding everyone—students, staff, faculty and administrators accountable for creating a new university where racism is no longer tolerated. Further, it is important that the very people who have endured centuries of oppression not be expected to assume all of the responsibility for eradicating structures and systems they did not create.
The recommendations that follow acknowledge that Black people, along with all other people of Color and White women occupy college campuses and universities created without them in mind. Moving forward our goal is to reimagine and, over a period of time, recreate a campus with these communities moving from the margins to the center as we strive to never “get back to normal” again.