Open Letter to Students of Color at Yale from Alumni/ae of Color

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See the signatories and the original post on Medium here.

November 13, 2015

To Students of Color at Yale:

We hear you. We see you. We, the undersigned alumni, write this letter to support and encourage you as you continue making your voices heard against systemic racism at Yale University. Since last week and onwards, we have watched with pride as you have demonstrated the vibrancy, intellectual vitality, and creative spirit that animates our communities in the face of struggle. You have discussed, marched, yelled, painted, sung, drummed, and danced to enact your freedom of speech, to make visible your struggle, and to make known your truths about the realities of being racial minorities at Yale.

We also write to express our disappointment that after so many years, you continue to face the same challenges of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and ableism that so many of us encountered during our own time at Yale.

We know that your recent activism emerges not from a single incident, but from an accumulation of long-standing and disparate grievances: being subjected to taunts, racial/ethnic slurs, and degrading behavior by your peers; enduring harassment by campus security or local police; humiliation at the hands of fellow students who — suspicious of your presence — refuse to unlock residential college gates for you; lack of support while navigating social and class milieus often incongruent with your life experiences and backgrounds; exhaustion from continually having to justify vital support systems like ethnic studies courses, the Cultural Centers, the peer liaison program, and Cultural Connections; frustration over inadequate recruitment and retention of faculty of color; alienation as one of very few or sometimes the only person of color in your classroom; disheartenment over Eurocentric curriculums that barely acknowledge and do not center your own histories, cultures, and identities; invalidation from faculty dismissive of your intellect, skills, and abilities; experiencing illness, both mental and physical, from chronic exposure to discrimination and marginalization; and finally, carrying on in spite of an administration unable to adequately acknowledge, respond to, and address your distinctive needs. We fully recognize that these are only a few of the broad array of hardships and indignities you combat as students of color at Yale.

At this moment, and in the weeks to come, there will be those critics who meet your assertions of mistreatment with disdain, mockery, or caricature. There will be detractors who deny your humanity and right to self-expression under facile claims of “free speech.” To this, we say: your concerns are real, your experiences are real, and your stories deserve to be told. You will not and cannot be silenced. We are heartened by the long tradition of collective engagement you have undertaken and stand in solidarity with you.

We Out Here, We’ve Been There, We Ain’t Leaving, and You Are Loved,

#YouAreLoved #YaleBlackout #MarchofResiliance