CW: anti-Black violence and policy brutality
Anti-Black racial violence is not solely a national issue: Anti-Black attitudes infect not just Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Louisville, Kentucky, but every American institution and locality. This includes Stanford.
In just over a month, there have been three reported instances of Stanford faculty using a racial slur in instruction. A virtual rally held on May 16 by The People’s Caucus, a Senate slate including 10 candidates of color, was Zoom-bombed by individuals directing anti-Black and anti-Semitic epithets at candidates and other rally attendees. This past summer, a noose was found on campus hanging near the Row. And these incidents do not begin to capture the historic and continuing exclusion of Black people in the student body, on faculty and in positions of power at Stanford. Certain departments, student groups and communities on campus continue to impede access to Black students. Most recently, Black students and allies have struggled to gain understanding and academic accommodations from instructors amid national turmoil that makes classwork not only more difficult, but also comparatively trivial in importance. The work of combating anti-Blackness is only the beginning.
Students and faculty of color in our community have published responses to the recent killings as well as these other incidents. Professor Hakeem Jefferson and Black Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) leadership wrote statements reflecting on the recent killings. A group of Black students published a comment on the response to a letter from the faculty directors of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), and The People’s Caucus authored its own response to the Zoom-bombing. These pieces are all powerful and important for us, as members of the Stanford community, to read. But they represent only the beginning of our collective education.
Although there are numerous resource lists currently circulating on social media, we assembled this non-exhaustive list specifically for the Stanford community, featuring Stanford voices and projects. In particular, we hope to highlight the scholars and efforts in place at Stanford to foster long-term engagement with the struggle for racial justice. We hope these resources help guide potential allies toward becoming anti-racist. We also hope to specifically highlight the importance of fighting the racism that impacts Black individuals at Stanford.
This is a non-exhaustive list, and we welcome any suggestions or additions.
Many scholars at Stanford have done extensive research on protests, police violence and the carceral state in the United States. As discussions surrounding these topics dominate the national discourse, we want to highlight this scholarship and offer readers a starting point into these growing bodies of knowledge:
- Clayborne Carson, professor of history and director of the MLK Institute, participated in civil rights and antiwar protests as an undergraduate, and edited the authoritative collection of King’s works.
- Allyson Hobbs, associate professor of American history and former director of African and African American Studies, has written extensively on the Black American history and is particularly known for her work on racial passing.
- Matthew Clair, assistant professor of sociology, studies social inequalities in the criminal justice system — his upcoming book studies how the poor and nonwhite are punished by the justice system for attempting to advocate for themselves.
- Michelle Alexander, a former director of Stanford Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic, has written on the racial impacts of post-Civil Rights era policy, arguing that they replicate the effects of Jim Crow policy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Charles Ogletree ’75 M.A. ’75, Stanford graduate and Harvard Law School professor who formerly taught both Barack and Michelle Obama in college, is a prominent legal theorist who focuses on race and justice.
- Jesmyn Ward ’99 M.A. ’00, Stanford graduate and Tulane University English professor known for her historical fiction and memoirs that cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Black familial relationships and more.
It is impossible to gain a deep understanding of the history of racial violence in America and its relationship with current events without an intellectual ethic which centers the work of Black scholars. Though by no means exhaustive, below we include a list of some of the foundational scholarship in the fields of Black, postcolonial and abolitionist studies, from both Stanford professors and graduates as well as national scholars. In writing about Black identity and politics, these scholars approach the topic from different perspectives, locate different critiques and propose different visions for how to get to where we need to be. As such, they offer us a starting point into the difficult and contentious task of forging a better future.
- Sylvia Wynter
- Frantz Fanon
- Angela Davis
- Claudia Rankine
- bell hooks
- Ruth Wilson Gilmore
- Saidiya Hartman
- Christina Sharpe
- Martin Luther King Jr.
Reforming Stanford will require the support and assistance of our administration. That is why it is crucial that those of us who have the time and capacity contact faculty and administrators.
- Email professors and administrators to ask for increased accommodations for Black students during this time, or join this petition.
- Call the Stanford University Department of Safety to encourage it to review its own practices and implement increased anti-racism training. Ask it to review its own affiliation with the Palo Alto Police Department, and determine whether Palo Alto’s policing practices are anti-racist and non-violent. Some examples include how it reviews all instances where force is used and how cops are trained in nonviolent policing strategies.
Our public officials are elected and hired to represent all of us. Now, we must remind them of this commitment by calling and emailing them with explicit demands.
- Join Stanford for Workers’ Rights (SWR) as it continues to call Minnesota Representatives as well as members of Minneapolis City Council. Subscribe to the SWR mailing list to get its latest updates.
- Contact Stanford’s representatives to ask for increased national and state legislation aimed at decreasing police violence. Specific asks include the implementation of the recommendations of Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Campaign Zero also offers a comprehensive package of policies to end police violence, including establishing standards for and consistent reporting of police use of deadly force.
- Call or email city law enforcement and mayors to urge them to not charge or arrest protesters. Also ask them to review their own policing practices.
If you are financially able, donating is one powerful way to support organizations that have been working to end police violence and elevate Black voices. Those of us with wealth privilege can make a tremendous difference by opening our wallets. To avoid flooding organizations with a large quantity of donations at the same time while ensuring a long-term commitment to the cause, set up weekly or monthly recurring donations.
- Legal assistance for Bay Area protesters
- Bay Area bail fund
- Daily staffer Amy Lo ’23 is giving away free artwork in exchange for donations to #BlackLivesMatter
- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Xi Beta Chapter donation links list
- Kita products is raising money through sticker sales
- Many of these organizations and more are also highlighted on the Bay Area specific resource list
- Join Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Xi Beta Chapter in its work on Justice for Black Lives by emailing Stanford alumni and encouraging them to donate to national bail funds.
- Stanford senior Kojoh Atta’s fundraiser for his father, Bernard Marfo Atta, who passed away due to COVID-19
Stanford, particularly the African and African American Studies Program, offers many classes that provide students a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of racial violence. Non-Black students in particular should commit to auditing or taking at least one of the following courses in the coming year.
- HISTORY 150C: “The United States in the Twentieth Century” — Jennifer Burns
- AFRICAAM 255: “Racial Identity in the American Imagination” — Allyson Hobbs
- AFRICAAM 44: “Post-Civil Rights Black America” — Kimberly McNair
- CS 80Q: “Race and Gender in Silicon Valley” — Cynthia Lee
- ENGLISH 92BP: “Contemporary Black Poetry and Poetics” — Charif Shanahan
- EDUC 103B: “Race, Ethnicity, and Linguistic Diversity in Classrooms: Sociocultural Theory and Practices” — Arnetha Ball
- PYSCH 21N: “How to Make a Racist” — Steven Roberts
- AFRICAAM 155J: “Global Black Feminism” — Jamele Watkins
- AMSTUD 169: “Race and Ethnicity in Urban California” — Carol McKibben
- AFRICAAM 170A: “Undoing Racism: The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond” — A-lan Holt
- SOC 179A: “Crime and Punishment in America” — Matthew Clair
- AMSTUD 12A: “Introduction to English III: Introduction to African American Literature” — Michelle Elam / Vaughn Rasberry
- URBANST 141: “Gentrification” — Michael Kahan
- HISTORY 253L: “Caring Labor in the United States” — Justine Modica
- HISTORY 200C: “Doing the History of Race and Ethnicity” — Katherine Olivarius
Newly added resources
This post will be updated periodically with additional resources, which will appear below.
- Join this petition calling for academic accommodations for the rest of spring quarter 2020 (added June 3).
- Review this playbook that gives strategies for allies to appeal to non-allies (added June 3).
A previous version of this post incorrectly spelled “Michelle” in the name of Michelle Obama. The Daily regrets this error.
The Vol. 257 Editorial Board consists of Claire Dinshaw ’21, Malavika Kannan ’23, Layo Laniyan ’22, Adrian Liu ’20 and Jasmine Liu ’20. Willoughby Winograd ’22 is also a member but voted in dissent of this opinion. Read his article here.
Contact the Vol. 257 Editorial Board at opinions ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.
The Daily is committed to publishing a diversity of op-eds and letters to the editor. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Email letters to the editor to eic ‘at’ stanforddaily.com and op-ed submissions to opinions ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.