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Carleton and anti-Blackness: A letter to prospective students

Prospective Carleton students,

Have you considered searching for a school that is active in fighting anti-Black racism? I know that for me, coming to Carleton meant having expectations of conduct and policies within the institution which would reflect my values.

Something to note: Carleton is a Predominantly White Institution (PWI), where white supremacy is woven into the fabric of the institution. I’ve only been at Carleton for several months, but I’ve been in the world long enough to understand that white supremacy prevails in our society, from interpersonal relationships all the way up to the most powerful institutions. Carleton can often come off as a “liberal” space, where the institution and members of the community hold beliefs that reflect a basic consideration for human life (Black lives matter, no human is illegal, love is love, science is real, water is life and so on…). You may be wondering where I’m going with this…

It recently came to my attention that a fellow member of the Carleton community was recorded screaming the phrase “F*@k Black Lives Matter” at a New Year’s party over break. While some may be shocked by this public display of hatred and violent rhetoric, I was not.

While it is now 2021, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and open displays of racist beliefs are still a part of daily life, both here at Carleton and in the broader American landscape.

Now, I ask, what type of community are you looking for in college?

I know that I was seeking a community that was committed to holding other members accountable for their racist actions! I hope to see the Carleton administration and community come out of the woodwork and hold racist Carls accountable for the harms of their actions.

But what could Carleton do as a PWI to address anti-Black Racism?

As a white member of the Carleton Community, I do not feel the momentary and long-term impacts of anti-Black racism at Carleton, but I bear witness to moments of Carleton’s white passivity often (and my own!).

This isn’t to say that there isn’t hope.

There have been a number of demands made by the Ujamaa Collective, (a collective of Black student groups on campus) after the lynching of George Floyd. These demands seek to combat the structural/institutional iterations of anti-Black racism at Carleton. By supporting Black students and demanding that these changes are made, members of the Carleton administration and community can actively engage in creating a campus that is safe. Perhaps after these demands are met, moments such as the one captured on New Year’s will be addressed before they happen.

What type of education do you want?

For me, education means more than just class and homework. It means being open to changing world-views that are harmful. It means being willing and open to planting seeds for change, both in the minds of our community members and within our white supremacist institutions.

I hope that these reflections offer you space to reflect on what type of campus you hope to be a part of. I know I want to go to a school where Black lives matter. I want to be a part of a community that holds each other accountable for our internalized white supremacy. What about you?

Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.

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