A Statement of Solidarity from Kathy Sisneros, on Behalf of Student Diversity Programs & Services

Message from Dr. Kathy Sisneros, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Colorado State University
 
On behalf of the professional staff who represent the Student Diversity Programs and Services (SDPS) cultural and resource centers (Asian/Pacific American, Black/African American, Native American, El Centro, Pride Resource, Student Disability and the Women and Gender Advocacy) I want to send a note of solidarity denouncing anti-Blackness and systemic racist oppression particularly in the form of police brutality. 
 
We join in and acknowledge the national outcry by folks of color, especially the Black community seeking accountability for the violence of sanctioned white supremacy that continues to kill Black bodies with little to zero recourse.  Every center has evolved from our marginalized students demanding more resources and support to be seen and valued on this campus.  As you may know, SDPS has always and continues to prioritize advocating for our minoritized students first and foremost. The current reality echoes these calls at a national level and we know we have a continued role to play on your behalf, and for our collective liberation. Today, we are here to name and be in solidarity with our Black students, staff and faculty.
 
We know that the fight for change is enacted in a variety of ways and we support everyone using their voice and power to press for systemic change at the national level and in our own backyard. Our Black community at CSU understands this pain all to well, as incidents of anti-Black harm persist within our broader community. We know how much labor has been placed upon and our Black students, #NotProudToBe readily comes to mind, and we know that these are not the only Black voices fighting for equity and justice. We know how much the staff in the B/AACC carry for the broader Black community on campus and how much our all our Black staff within SDPS and across campus labor in the name of justice and addressing anti-Blackness, and it’s time we all figure out how to lessen their load by having us all invest in dismantling white supremacy in all of it’s manifestations. 
 
As we represent the collective student diversity programs and services, it’s important to name and acknowledge that Black lives are not a monolith. We know that ALL Black lives matter...this means knowing and understanding that
…violence against Black women is anti-Blackness; 
…violence against a Black trans person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black man is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black undocumented person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black queer person is anti-Blackness; 
…violence against a Black Deaf person is anti-Blackness;
…violence against someone who is AfroLatinx is anti-Blackness;
…violence against a Black Muslim is anti-Blackness
 
We know that we have Black folks who identify within all of our cultural and resource centers, Black queer and trans folks, AfroLatinx folks, folks who are Black and disabled, bi/multi-racial folks who are Black…AND. 
 
It’s also important for me to explicitly name that we have non-Black staff of color and white staff that must engage in our own work related to anti-Blackness. So what does that mean exactly? It means that we are in this work together and that we need to continue committing ourselves to uphold our values of: student centered equity, advocacy, intersectionality, and a coalition/practice of solidarity that uplifts Black voices and directly engages addresses all forms of anti-Blackness within ourselves, within our programs and how we seek support and accountability within our CSU community. 
 
We need to confront and interrupt words and actions of  anti-Blackness in all our spaces…physical and virtual. We must do better to educate ourselves, listen and stop excusing away racism and anti-Blackness because it’s not our lived experience. We need to stop expecting Black folks to “prove” these injustices and simply learn to listen, demonstrate empathy and start holding ourselves more accountable.
 
For those who have not seen the message from the BAACC center or the message from our Black staff who do trauma based work out of WGAC, I offer both messages here: BAACC Statement , WGAC Statement to amplify their voices and to understand the labor and trauma that our Black students, faculty and staff continue to endure and we need address racism and anti-Blackness.
 
As the professional staff in SDPS we will commit to:

  • engaging in our own education to unlearn internalized anti-Black thinking and behaviors and interrupting and holding each other accountable for anti-Black comments and actions
  • pushing back on programs, policies, and practices that are anti-Black
  • advocating for resources that support the needs of our Black students
  • hearing and absorbing feedback about how we need to represent and advocate for Black students better
  • engaging in our collective work and hold each other accountable when we are complicit and/or contributing to an anti-Black narrative
  • using our collective voice to push for accountability and measurable change on campus

Please know that this is not a fleeting moment, but a recommitment to our Black students, staff and faculty and to dismantling white supremacy in all of our work. I know that I and we have work to do, and I know we are all committed to this work. And, I want to know what you all feel we need to think more about, do better, do differently, so if you have thoughts or feedback, please email me directly at kathy.sisneros@colostate.edu or share with any staff person you feel comfortable sharing with in SDPS.