On February 9th, the six month anniversary of the death of Michael Brown Jr., the Washington University contingent of St. Louis Students in Solidarity (SSIS) took time and space to remember the life of Mike Brown and the many other black lives killed by police brutality and systematic racism. At noon, a member of SSIS who was also involved in Black Anthology’s production titled “The Six,” performed a monologue from the script which included the names of those whose lives were lost due to police violence. Black Anthology produced a poignant show that addressed pressing issues faced by black students and communities. Ultimately, today’s action in the DUC was planned and conducted by SSIS and any criticisms people may have should be directed towards our organization.
On this same day, another group of students implemented a flyering campaign addressing racist posts on the anonymous forum YikYak. The campaign sought to reveal the racism in our campus community by distributing printouts of the most offensive and racist online comments. It intended to bring to light the intolerance that festers at Washington University under the shield of anonymity. Washington U. Students in Solidarity was not involved in this campaign, and we recognize that this action had unintended consequences for many black students who were unexpectedly confronted with hatred that they may have chosen to avoid. Nonetheless, SSIS supports the right of students to publicly demonstrate and organize to seek change by their own means. Though some were adversely affected by this action, including members of WU SIS, let us not allow this to distract from critical conversations about the thriving racism amongst students that these statements highlighted.
Dean Jen Smith has publicly condemned the “hateful and racist messages” written by Washington University community members on Yik Yak. We hope that both the W.U. administration and student body are equally horrified by the intolerance and that both will take definitive actions against bigotry on campus.