From the Community: Open Letter From The Black Student Alliance

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The Black Student Alliance (BSA) of William Jewell College released an open letter regarding their name change from Black Student Association to the Black Student Alliance. Read their open letter below.

“These “educated” people, however, decry any such thing as race consciousness; and in some respects, they are right. They do not like to hear such expressions as “Negro literature,” “Negro poetry,” “African art,” or “thinking Black”; and, roughly speaking, we must concede that such things do not exist. These things did not figure in the courses which they pursued in school, and why should they? “Aren’t we all Americans? Then, whatever is American is as much the heritage of the Negro as of any other group in this country.””

– Carter G. Woodson ‘The Mis-Education of the Negro’ (1933)
BSA logo. Courtesy of Tavarus Pennington.

Dear William Jewell College community,

Moments of deep cultural awareness emerge out of events that conjure empathy among different groups of a society. That empathy is felt by other groups and during this instance of recognition comes something stronger. A bond that unites people across ideological, geographic, and economic lines. This is solidarity.

Unfortunately, the dislocation of Black consciousness is a natural impediment of White civil society. It seems inarguable that the presence of Black tradition, language, thought, and scholarship is at a deficit with the dominant process of learning proffered in a systemically White world. This is not a hopeless situation. Simply one that requires action.

We, the Black Student Alliance, seek to lean into the heightened awareness for racial inequity that the long-silenced activists, organizers, artists, writers, and teachers have been leading. We’ll do this by energizing the same passion toward discovery that drives the Nonames, Ta-Nahisi Coateses, Angela Davises, and Patrisse Cullorses of our society.

By building and hosting programs with the experience of Blackness being the top priority of our engagements, we will assert the fact of systematic neglect of particularly Afrocentric perspectives. We will reconcile our own experiences, as William Jewell students, with the broader body of history and theory surrounding the Black experience as told by scholars, activists, organizers, and allies alike.

Our commitment is to our members, our facility is support, and our goal is consciousness. To infuse intention into our activities, we ask that each person who takes the time to grow closer to this campus and its Black student population also invest with intentionality in the aim of our motives.

Rather than cultivating a closed circuit of camaraderie within the isolated confines of a ‘Black Student Association’ we will formally move forward as the ‘Black Student Alliance’. To better achieve our goals and forge productive relationships with the levers of power and influence on this campus, the concept of ‘allyship’ ought to be an ever present, primary concern of our activities.

BSA has a humble request for our campus of learners, educators, and administrators: That you engage in an, examination, to any extent, of the ubiquity of White culture. We further request that you consider joining our conversation and opening yourself up to truths that compete with your preconceived system of belief.

This is the mission of the Black Student Alliance at William Jewell College.

Respectfully,

The 2020-2021 Black Student Alliance Cabinet

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