By Sharai Sims
Over the last several weeks we have seen college students around the nation stand together in solidarity with Mizzou against racial injustice that occurs for all students of color on a systematic level. On November 19, St. Cloud State students of all ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations banded together to show their solidarity as a diverse community against injustice. The rally was a response to everyday experiences of racism and the denial of a call by student organizers for St. Cloud State University to make a public statement in alliance with Mizzou students. Students decided the best way to see change was to take action. With signs held high, voices screamed chants like, “My Gay Black Life Matters.”
Students were heard chanting and singing as they stormed the student government meeting. Filling the center circle, students sat quietly as they awaited their turn to approach the podium to make their testimonies. As they entered, student senators ran toward the circle demanding to know the “purpose” of this sit-in. The room was filled with hesitation. As the dust settled, one at a time, students told their stories.
From a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, students of color expressed their experiences of inequality, terrorism, and racism that have happened right here in St. Cloud. Because these stories come from a place of hurt and pain, the way in which they are conveyed can come across as loud and aggressive. After one testimony of bullying from a Somali woman, the crowd was moved to tears. The student government president, after hearing these heart-felt testimonies and poems, asked the students, if they “could please keep [their] voices down.” Outraged by her lack of understanding, the circle of students responded by explaining why these heart-felt testimonies are so passionate. Due to significant communication barriers and a lack of understanding, the distinctions between aggression and passion are blurred. A woman was telling a story of depression, pain, and psychological damage that happens to minorities when they encounter racism on a daily basis; calm and quiet delivery is not always a reasonable expectation. Student Government has to understand the silencing of these voices is exactly the reason why we feel as though we must take such radical action.
“Due to communication barriers & a lack of understanding, the distinctions between aggression & passion are blurred” Tweet This Quote!!
The purpose of rallying and addressing the Student Government Association was to request an expansion of the cultural center and pressure St. Cloud State University to release a statement that showed campus solidarity with Mizzou. This sit-in was an affirmation and reminder to the university that we are here, we are underrepresented, and we aren’t going anywhere!
Photograph courtesy of http://dailytrojan.com/