BAMN Open Letter to the UC-San Diego Black Student Union and to All Students Fighting Racist Attacks and Racist Exclusion in UC

BAMN Open Letter to the UC-San Diego Black Student Union and to All Students Fighting Racist Attacks and Racist Exclusion in UC and Standing in Defense of Public Education

BAMN congratulates the Black Student Union (BSU) and all of the black, Latino/a, Native American and other students who have waged the brave and inspiring struggle against the overt racism and hostility at UC San Diego. We know from our own experience that each student had to reach deep inside to overcome the fears and threats and to summon the courage needed to stand up for minority students’ rights. We know as well how proud you are at having fought and won. Your fight has inspired students at the other campuses of the UC and at campuses across the nation. Students in South Africa, Mexico and in other countries demonstrated on March 4 in solidarity with our efforts here to save public education and to oppose the increased disparities in opportunity and access based on institutional racism.

Because you fought, Ward Connerly has now declared that he will be “reviewing” the settlement that you reached with the administration. As always, Connerly says nothing about the nooses, the hoods or the climate of racism-his only concern is to end the slightest step towards restoring fairness, equality and affirmative action.

Connerly is a racist bully. But like all bullies, he can be defeated. BAMN beat him in 2001, when we built student demonstrations so powerful throughout the UC system that even he was forced as a UC Regent to vote against the ban on affirmative action in the UC system that he had campaigned relentlessly to win. We beat him in 2003, when we organized over 50,000 young people from all across the nation to march on Washington, D.C. when the U.S. Supreme Court heard the landmark University of Michigan Grutter v. Bollinger case. We represented the student defendants in that case who stood side by side with the University of Michigan defending affirmative action, and together we won. In 2008, when Ward Connerly announced he intended to make the November election day his “Super Tuesday” by getting anti- affirmative referendums passed in five states, we mobilized like crazy. Using BAMN’s tactics of direct action and policy of exposing Connerly’s tactic of using racially-targeted voter fraud to get his ballot referendums placed before the electorate, the new civil rights movement defeated him in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, and Colorado, turning his “Super Tuesday” into his “Super Lose Day.”

In California over the past five years, we defeated Connerly’s attempts to use Prop 209 to end the Los Angeles and Berkeley School Districts’ highly successful K-12 school desegregation programs. Last month, we filed suit in California to strike down California’s Proposition 209 in the federal courts.

If Ward Connerly threatens one syllable of the agreement you reached with UC-San Diego, we would be proud to provide whatever legal and political support you need to defeat him.

Connerly’s Proposition 209 remains as the crucial obstacle to our shared fight to stop the resegregation of the UC system, to increase underrepresented minority student enrollment and to restore UC’s historical commitment to educate the next generation of leaders for California and the nation. In a state that is now a majority-minority state, it is simply unacceptable to have only a tiny number of black and Latina/o students attending the UC’s. Every successful measure we win to increase black, Latina/o, Native American enrollment, Ward Connerly denounces and threatens to file suit against. Ending this relentless attack against equality and the democratic principles of public education requires decisively defeating Ward Connerly. Towards this end, we invite the BSU and every other progressive UC student organization, including the student governments, to join with us as plaintiffs in the lawsuit we just filed. We demand that Proposition 209 be declared unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. (More information on the lawsuit at BAMN.COM)

Finally, we have noted, as you have noted, that UC itself has recognized that the low number of minority students has caused the increase in racist hostility on the UC campuses and that Proposition 209 is the key barrier to increasing the number of black, Latino/a and Native American students.

At the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco on March, we and other organizations will be demanding that the Regents put their own words into action. We will demand that the Regents take the following three crucial steps:

(1) use all lawful means to increase underrepresented minority enrollment immediately,

(2) pass the Bernal-Block motion to provide UC institutional financial aid to undocumented AB 540 students, and

(3) follow California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s lead by stating as their position in the federal court that Proposition 209 is unconstitutional and discriminatory; stand on their own 2001 unanimous resolution opposing the ban on affirmative action; and tell the plain truth that, after experimenting with all conceivable admissions policies, including instituting socioeconomic affirmative action measures, into their admissions system, Prop 209 still creates an unfathomable barrier to UC’s ability to admit thousands of fully-qualified black, Latino/a and Native American students.

Taking these simple measures would provide a system-wide body blow to the racists and bigots who are trying to drive us off our own campuses. Getting UC’s support for overturning Prop 209 and creating a UC Dream Scholarship would provide our new student movement with huge victories in our struggle to defend public education.

We can win if we can unite together all those who want to fight for equality. Join with us in the lawsuit against Proposition 209 and in demanding action by the Regents.

Contact us at or (313) 468-3398 or so that we can join together to advance our new movement’s aim to make Dr. King’s dream a reality in California and in the nation!

In solidarity,

Shanta Driver

National Chair, Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN)

Northern CA (510) 502-9072 Southern CA (323) 317-7675


One response to “BAMN Open Letter to the UC-San Diego Black Student Union and to All Students Fighting Racist Attacks and Racist Exclusion in UC

  1. Cat in the Hood

    Dear Chancellor Fox:

    I am writing to you concerning the continued racial controversies at various University of California campuses. Since the noose left at the UCSD library has been removed, I’m contemplating to send you a new one. Why? Because a good old-fashioned lynching is in order.

    Before you rush to conclusions, let me explain.

    The current episode of turmoil began with a local party whose theme poked fun at stereotypes supposedly representative of South Central LA. Any reasonable person would readily perceive this approach as satire, a longstanding literary and dramatic device. Was it offensive? As with most satire, it definitely was – and that is good.

    You see, when we are offended, we are likely to react. Unless that reaction is simply a knee-jerk response (such as that by your office), a reaction requires activation of one’s brain. You may agree that activating our brains is infinitely preferable over mindlessly swallowing whatever b.s. we happen to be served.

    One particularly unpalatable piece of b.s. that is shoved down our collective throat is “diversity.”

    In its original form, diversity is highly desirable. In nature, biologically diverse ecosystems are less vulnerable to diseases and more productive than monocultures. On a university campus, opposing (or even merely different) viewpoints spur lively debate, which in turn fosters creativity and innovation. Without question, humanity collectively benefits from the contributions inspired by a large variety of backgrounds and experiences.

    Why has the University of California chosen to adopt race/ethnicity as the single decisive factor in furthering diversity? Are you ensuring UCSD receives a balanced mix of Republicans and Democrats? Gays and heterosexuals? Opera lovers and metal heads? Meat eaters and vegans? How about students who prefer the writings of Ayn Rand versus those of Karl Marx? Perhaps a proper mix of students interested in quantum physics and aspiring poets (and those writing poetry about quantum physics)? Folks that can appreciate Dr. Seuss on a subversive level, and those who can’t? I’m virtually certain that more diverse viewpoints will result from any of these arbitrary traits than the color of someone’s skin.

    I assumed that college application essays served to differentiate students beyond grades and test scores. It appears that with all the budget cuts, there is no staff to read them. Therefore, instead of treating students as the unique individuals they are, it seems easier to simply lump them into categories with emotionally charged labels.

    Sure, race and ethnicity, along with height, weight and gender, are the most obvious traits we notice about people we meet, before they have a chance to open their mouths and let us glean some insight into more substantial aspects of their personas. But isn’t that precisely the sort of simpleminded superficiality higher education is supposed to eradicate?

    Throughout history, people with their own agendas have used arbitrary traits to unite, divide and discriminate against people. Each time, they applied a nice, shiny euphemism. “Preserving family values” – sounds like a good thing, right? How about “preserving the pure blood of the Aryan race?” It gives us cold chills today, but it sounded perfectly benign, even laudable, during the Nazi era.

    Another shiny euphemism is “diversity.” If we add more “blacks” (however you may define that label), we will create a student body that is more balanced and representative of our society – so goes the reasoning du jour. Are we going to assume that “blacks” … come from challenged socioeconomic backgrounds? Are more conscious about human rights? Have rhythm? Jump higher?

    I am not privy to UCSD’s list of stereotypical “black” traits. Make no mistake, that list exists, even if it is only implied – because every time we attempt to force a group of diverse (in its original meaning) individuals under a labeled (or red and white striped) hat, we give birth to such a list. Such a list, while perhaps not offensive at first glance, is far more damaging than the list of attributes used by the Compton Cookout as the recommended attire, behavior and attitude of its attendees. Because any list that is born under the auspices of a prestigious institution such as UCSD will automatically be imbued with a sense of legitimacy.

    The characteristics we choose to identify others and ourselves mark the dividing lines between social groups. By focusing on race, we are furthering this broken model of diversity.

    If we allow racial definitions to divide us, if we allow the fear of symbols to control us, if we allow the threat of persecution to silence us, our race – the human race – will succumb to the worst form of slavery.

    This is my call to hunt down and publicly execute the ignorant and racist notions that have hijacked the concept of diversity. What better place than a library, a place of learning and organized knowledge? Let’s hang these ill-conceived ideas from the rafters and let their rotting corpses remind us that if we want to vanquish racism, we must start by treating all people equally.

    For if we allow misguided preconceptions to live, we are bound to witness the death of the accomplishments brought by the Civil Rights Movement, of free speech, and of our human dignity.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Cat in the Hood

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