Over 1,000 Students March at Yale University Against Racism on Campus: “We are unstoppable!”

November 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


"March of Resilience" at Yale University, November 9."March of Resilience" at Yale University, November 9. Photo: Ryan Flynn/New Haven Register via AP

On Monday, November 9, more than 1,000 students of different ethnicities marched at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in protest of racism on the campus. The chants at this “March of Resilience” included “We are unstoppable—another Yale is possible!” The righteous protest at Yale comes hot on the heels of the upsurge at University of Missouri.

The student population at Yale, one of the elite Ivy League universities, is 9 percent African American.

The immediate spark for this protest was outrage over an email sent out before Halloween that told students, in the name of “free speech,” that it was OK to wear racially and culturally offensive costumes. The email was sent out by Erika Christakis, a professor and the assistant master at Silliman College, one of the residential communities around which undergraduates are organized at Yale. (A “master” at Yale is the chief administrative officer and presiding faculty presence at each undergraduate college.) Her husband, Nicholas Christakis, who is the master at Silliman, defended her position when confronted by students on the campus. Christakis’s email was in response to a campus-wide email sent out by the Intercultural Affairs Council advising students to consider the impact that Halloween costumes may have on their peers and to avoid such things as “feathered headdresses, turbans, wearing of ‘war paint’ or modifying skin tone or wearing blackface or redface.”

There was also anger over reports from several Black women students that they had been turned away from a Halloween party at a fraternity because the event was for “white girls only.”

"March of Resilience" at Yale University, November 9."March of Resilience" at Yale University, November 9. (AP photo)

Like at University of Missouri, the concerns of students about racism on campus were ignored by the head of the school. A Yale senior, Aaron Lewis, wrote that “It took almost a full week for Yale’s president to formally acknowledge students’ legitimate concerns about racial discrimination on campus.”

Lewis emphasizes that the protests happening now at Yale are not simply about offensive Halloween costumes or an ugly incident at a frat party: “They’re about a mismatch between Yale we find in admissions brochures and the Yale we experience every day. They’re about real experiences with racism on this campus that have gone unacknowledged for far too long. The university sells itself as a welcoming and inclusive place for people of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, it often isn’t.”

And Lewis places the situation at Yale in the context of pervasive racism throughout this society: “I’ve heard a lot of people dismiss this situation as out of hand because Yale is a ‘place of privilege.’ But if racial discrimination of any kind can happen at a place like this, then it’s certainly happening elsewhere in this country.”

It is very important and heartening that Black students and other students at Yale are speaking out with a loud voice and acting with determination to make clear they will not stand for racism on the campus—which is part of the daily abuse, dehumanization, and terror that Black, Latino, and Native American people face in this country.



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