Black students address cultural climate at EMU

Protesters holding "pro-black" signs at the rally outside of Ford Hall at Eastern Michigan University on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to protest racism and the racial graffiti incidents on campus over the past month.

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) posted a video online addressing the several incidents of racist vandalism that occurred on EMU’s campus during the 2016 fall semester, Jan. 3.

The video is a series of student faces that run throughout the five and a half minute video. Over the faces is series of student voices delivering a message which opens up with, “Dear Eastern Michigan University. We the black students of Eastern Michigan University are disgusted, angry, and hurt by the way we are being dealt with for our justified public expression.”

Since late September, several racial slurs have been discovered including: “KKK, Go Home N*****rs” spray painted on King Hall; “Leave N*****rs" spray painted on Ford Hall; “N*****rs” spray painted in the elevator of Hoyt Residence Hall; “N*****rs” was spray painted in the stairwell of Wise Residence Hall.

“NAACP has been working diligently for EMU's students since the very first incident that occurred on campus last semester. This video is the first form of resistance that went public that was ran directly by NAACP,” said EMU NAACP President Darius Anthony.

Originally posted on the NAACP EMU Facebook page; the video has received over 14,000 views and over 530 shares. The video can be found in the link below.

The message in the video stated, “we know that it is our duty to fight for our freedom because this is our house. The protest will continue indefinitely.”

Anthony believes that collectively EMU students and student organizations have worked to show decision makers at EMU the needs of the black students that attend EMU.

“We have told them plenty of times and they continue to push things to the side and cause harm to the black community at EMU. National NAACP has been following everything that has taken place at EMU. If administration does not quickly handle the issues we desire then NAACP will be coming through the front door,” said Anthony.

Following the the release of the video EMU President James Smith emailed a welcome letter to students, faculty, and staff addressing many topics that pertained to upcoming campus activity. Included in the letter was an update on the incidents of racist vandalism;

“Eastern Michigan University Police continue to aggressively investigate the issues of racist vandalism that occurred on our campus this fall. The incidents run counter to everything this university stands for and the rich history of diversity that makes Eastern Michigan University a leader among Michigan universities.”

EMU Black Student Union (BSU) supports NAACP in its entirety and encourages the rest of the university to do the same. 

"The video serves as startling reminder that while students of color have always striven towards institutionalized equity at EMU, their efforts have continuously been undermined by internal and external influences. We applaud NAACP for taking proactive steps to overturn this narrative," said Jaren Johnson, BSU President.

The $10,000 reward remains in place for information leading to an arrest in the ongoing investigations of the incidents, and the newly appointed President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion will soon begin its planning efforts.

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