‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’ -James Baldwin
It is with boggled minds, heavy hearts, and exhausted spirits that we stand in front of the world once again to fight for existence. As the United States and the world become more aware of the stark injustices taking place, we as the Black/African-American graduate community are becoming desensitized and numb. We recognize that what appear to be national tragedies to some are daily occurrences for others. We have elected to pursue higher education in the academy and professional schools with the hopes of transcending the historical burden we cannot control, to create a transformative future. We support community efforts, we contribute to academia, we create and maintain organizations and efforts, we extend and invite and participate and give. Yet, we feel overlooked, we feel overwhelmed, and we have once again been called on to respond to the alarming wail, ‘Our Lives Matter.’
The global impact of COVID-19 is most evident in communities of color. While this illness has a higher chance of impacting those with pre-existing conditions or the elderly, it is but another instance of the medical, economic, social, and political disparity experienced by GENERATIONS of Black/African-Americans and immigrants alike. It is no surprise that Black/African-American and Latinx communities are overwhelmingly affected by a medical illness. This is similarly the case in almost every aspect of American life.
In the midst of navigating a global pandemic, we were once again reminded that police brutality has not only not subsided, but is now more recorded and publicized than ever. As hard as it is to believe, the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests reached parts of the United States and the world that were not previously aware of the continued, blatant forms of racism that Black/African-Americans in particular suffered.
As graduate students, most are tasked at some point with teaching undergraduate classes, and we temporarily teeter simultaneously between adjunct/faculty and graduate student/pupil, while some of us are unable to maintain basic necessities. More than most on campus, we completely understand the complexities of race and identity, and how those realities further complexify in the context of the academy. We say this to say that we support both undergraduate students as well as faculty/staff, but we feel we as a Black/African-American graduate community have been forgotten. We fight not only for our rights, but for the recognition and rights of DACA students, of immigrant students, of those children locked in detention camps separate from their parents. If one of us is treated unjust, we are all suffering.
In this time of crisis and uncertainty, while we appreciate the University’s attempt to respond via a formal statement regarding recent events, however we look to the University to truly take on the work needed to acknowledge, address, and dismantle unjust structures evident even within our own classrooms. We look to Loyola University Chicago to -- the members of its community most impacted by these events, those who are always most affected and least represented. We look to Loyola not to look to us, but to look for us, to address the needs, concerns, issues and obstacles that impede equal acknowledgement. We look to Loyola for action, concrete structural changes attached to measurable goals including:
Loyola Campus Safety to temporarily suspend affiliation with Chicago Police Department and re-evaluate their relationship regarding past complaints unresolved
Transparent repercussions for faculty, staff, and students who impose discrimination, prejudice, or racist actions towards Loyola community members
Clarification on the resources within each school provided to all graduate and professional students
Increased wellness resources tailored to African American/Black graduate and professional students
Emergency funds and resources with reasonable criteria specific to graduate and professional students
Flexibility with online assignments amidst COVID-19 and civil unrest
A university strategic plan published by the start of Fall 2020 detailing the efforts to improve the experience and support for Black students with goal timelines, specific initiatives, and a procedure to ensure all aspects of the plan are met in a timely manner
‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’ - Angela Davis
On behalf of the Black Graduate community, Loyola University Chicago Black Graduate Student Alliance