We will not go back!

December 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On November 25, a university "rally" of hundreds was held in response to a racist hate crime on the San Jose State University campus. Some students wore duct tape over their mouths as a symbol of their protests against racism being repeatedly ignored, as well as the fact that no students had been scheduled to speak at this rally! The University President Mohammed Qayoumi spoke (offering apologies for having "failed") as well as the NAACP. Students were finally given the podium after making their demands known.

Some of the students raised their fists at the foot of the statue honoring former Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who raised their fists at the playing of the national anthem during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. (According to The Nation, SJSU is known to many as the birthplace of Black athletes' protest in the 1960s.)

Starting in August, a series of racist incidents began when a Black freshman was racially harassed by his four dorm roomates who were white. They called him "3/5" or "fraction" in reference to the U.S. Constitution's definition of a slave. They displayed a Confederate flag and Nazi memorabilia on their wall; they frequently locked him in the room; and once collared him with a bike lock, throwing away the key.

Although other campus officials knew about these incidents from parents and other dorm residents as far back as October, nothing was done until protests broke out, and only then were they even suspended by the campus. The District Attorney Jeff Rosen has now charged the racists with misdemeanors. (In a sidenote, a former Santa Clara County judge wrote in the San Jose Mercury News that NOT filing the charges as a felony sends a message that these crimes are "not serious.") In essence, the university and the DA were dismissing it as a "prank" or "joke."

But these types of incidents go back a long way at San Jose State University. According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Gary Daniels [of the Black Unity Group] said black student groups had tried for a year to meet with [University President] Qayoumi, and that they had sent him ideas for making black students—who make up about 3% of the student body—feel safer and more welcome on campus." At the rally, Black and other students of color complained of having their programs inadequately funded, and their requests ignored. One of the speakers at this rally was Denise Johnson, whose son Gregory was found dead at a fraternity house in 2008. Although the death was ruled a suicide, she believes it was a hate crime!

The anger of many students remains strong; although one student noted "look at all these other students just walking by. This should have stopped the university in its tracks. It should have been shut down!" One Latino student said, " Hell, this is unacceptable. These things can not be tolerated. No one should have to put up with this. These things are aimed at all of us. These things jump lines."

More demonstrations are planned for next week.


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