The State of the Black Campus


by Jordan Taylor and Luana Horry | New Paltz Oracle 


New Paltz students speak out about the current state of racial injustice at SUNY - Photo by Roberto LoBianco

We, the Black People of SUNY New Paltz and those in solidarity with us, are disgusted, outraged and deeply disturbed by the constant disrespect we encounter on this campus. We say people because this issue is not just upsetting to the students, but to the faculty and the administrative staff as well. Prior incidents, such as the “Colored Only” sign which was posted over one of the water fountains in Humanities, along with the paper cut in the shape of a hand giving the inappropriate middle finger gesture which read “Lynch the Niggers November 10th at 7:30pm Main Lounge” posted in Lefevre Hall, are still very fresh in our minds.

In addition, we had someone deface the Shango Parking Lot sign and change it to “Django Parking,” which is disrespectful to the history of Shango Hall and what it means, not only to the college, but to the Black community as a whole. As a community, we are continuously dealing with the manifestation of white supremacy and ignorance. This can be seen in its latest form, “Emmett Till Deserved to Die,” which by the way, once erased, was replaced with something along the lines of “Don’t Erase the Truth.”

The Administration has many times in the past referred to these events (and the heterosexist signs that promoted Queerphobia) as “isolated incidents.”

These are not isolated incidents. These are the physical manifestations of racism on this campus, which does not always surface itself into something tangible but is always present.

It is present in the ignorance of our white peers who ask us to rap for them, dance for them, ask our opinion on their shoes, assume Africa is a country and/or are surprised that there are cities similar to New York across the continent and say the N-word around us, putting us in the awkward situation of letting them slide, not because we are actually cool with it, but because we do not want to take the time out of the day to explain to them the problem and cause friction between us.

It is present not only in the mis-racing of the alleged sexual abuser on Plattekill as a Black male a few weeks back, but also releasing his race in the first place. This is not to condone the alleged actions of the student; anyone who sexually abuses anyone deserves to rot in prison and must find mental help so that they do not offend again. We just want to know what purpose does releasing his racial identity serve if he is detained?

If the campus was really in need of a description of the accused, why not go into his height, facial features, etc.? Was this done to paint an image of fear, encouraging demonizing the Black male presence on this campus? The same demonization that led to the murder of Trayvon Martin?

Read More