L7 closing speech at March 2nd Rally

Dear Friends,

Before I begin I would like to acknowledge that we are on the land of the Oholone people. Santa Cruz, UCSC, are the names of the patriarchical, heteronormative, Heterosexist, racist, capitalist imperial fascists who have historically dominated indigenous peoples across the world. The imperialists have crafted an economy & state that reproduces inequities while simultaneously veiling accountability for those in the brain of the beast. This ultimately makes poverty “a product of economic processes” instead of a product of white power. If you’re confused about your relationship to white power…consider this. You need food and water to survive. Yet you rely on green pieces of paper with pictures of dead white men to get it. Your accessibility to this green paper is determined by dominant social structures.

In this same respect the imperialists have also created institutions of higher learning by, with, and for white power that functions within a bureaucracy that protects, enables, & reproduces white power. The quality of your life becomes dependent on your ability to climb the economic ladder, yet they reduce our access to the ladder. The narrative that UC bureaucrats have spread is that budget cuts and the decline in the quality of education is an issue of economy, “there simply is not enough money to sufficiently fund higher education.” This is laughable when we consider where the money is being directed and where it has been directed historically.

What has been cut?

1. Merrill used to be home to the Third World Resource Center
2. American Studies & Community Studies are being phased out
3. The Ethnic Resource Centers are put through competitive processes of acquiring funds

This is a crisis of priorities that has come to pass because of the absence of a true UC Democracy. The regents and administrators do not reflect the interests of its students. Those that make decisions are stockholders and we, whose fates are being decided, are the stakeholders. This is a relationship is based on western principles of control that are obstructing our human right to an education. And because I frame education as a human right we must consider that what the UC is doing is a violation of our human rights. Granted, the problems we face here do not compare to feminicide in the Americas or violent state repression across the globe. But we are being deprived of our right to education because we are coerced into their schooling. A type of schooling that does not reflect the history of non-western peoples.

If the distinction between the two is unclear let me see what I can do. Schooling a process where by individuals are trained, assessed, and deployed based on such assessment. Schooling follows military and factory models of production. So…what is education? Education is this! Education is community! Education is us! Education is the process by which the human soul flourishes! Education is the everyday. Yet schooling is disrupting our education. Schooling is trying to reduce you to a single subject student. They are trying to specialize you to better market you. This is why we must acknowledge that schooling was not created for us. Despite this the institution needs us, the school needs diversity, to maintain any semblance of legitimacy as a University.

What does this mean for some of us? This means that the histories of colonized & oppressed peoples are incorporated into the institution so that the institution may claim that is not racist but in fact…multicultural. With departments like Sociology, Anthropology, the stories non-western peoples becomes subject matter in the curriculum of university courses, yet is being taught in a Western classroom design, in a western institution so that you may proceed to get a career in the Western world. That is why we must demand a critical site of inquiry in the form of a Third World College with its own Ethnic Studies department.

In the absence of an Ethnic Studies, many students have been convinced that our options lie within the walls of this campus. I am not giving this speech to refute that. It is because of this institution that I am able to share this with you. I am okay with having to live & work here because there are others who cannot. I am okay with having to navigate the power structure the imperialists have created. What I am NOT okay with is actively or passively assimilating into this power structure. I refuse to be convinced that representation at the UC is sufficient. I know that collective empowerment and self-determination for my people will not come in the form of a career. I know that contributing to their definition of Diversity will not solve the problems we face as colonized and oppressed peoples. It is NOT empowerment when we struggle to secure resources in an institution of white power. It is not empowerment when the curriculum does not reflect our histories.

We must seek an end to this relationship. We must demand more than money can bargain for. We must understand that education exists within us and not the institution. We must know that education is a right to be exercised and I encourage you to exercise it; every day, wherever you go claim your right to know and learn with and through each other. Do this even if it does disrupt their schooling because their schooling has disrupted your education; it has disrespected your history and the intellectual traditions of your people! I want you to imagine a better world through education by doing so here and now! We invite you to struggle with us to realize free education for all. Let us retreat to where we feel safest so that we may better understand, develop, and articulate our demands for change.

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About UCSC Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES)

This blog is maintained by students throughout UCSC. We recognize that students have been working around Ethnic Studies for multiple decades and at many levels of the university. We claim no ownership over any movement or material that is produced. We ask that any materiel used from the blog is cited and used for only educational purposes. Most importantly that it is done with honor and respect for the many people who worked in the struggle for Ethnic Studies. We would also like to point out that the name Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (CRES) was created to acknowledge the intellectual development of Ethnic Studies since the beginning of this struggle. The name came from countless meetings and hours with many different undergrads, graduate students, and faculty.
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