Students organize Blackout at Brown and teach-in in solidarity with Mizzou

A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.

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Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”

Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”

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In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”

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Students call for renaming of Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today at noon, over 200 demonstrators gathered on the Main Green to stand in solidarity with indigenous people and urge the administration to officially change the name of Fall Weekend to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Native American students, faculty, and community members wore their people’s traditional regalia and others attending in solidarity wore red and black to commemorate the day. 

The event began with members of Native Americans at Brown (NAB) introducing themselves, speaking in their respective indigenous languages and English, and welcoming the protestors. The organizers of the demonstration, Sierra Edd ’18, Kara Roanhorse ’18 and Phoebe Young ’17, spoke about the purpose of the event and of NAB. Young said Native Americans at Brown exists “first and foremost to provide support for Native students on campus.” The demonstration also included calls to sign a petition asking the administration to rename Fall Weekend to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Over the course of two hours, demonstrators gave speeches celebrating the resistance and resilience of indigenous people in America and discussing their hopes for the future. The leaders of the demonstration performed the Pequot Flag Song and led the crowd in a round dance before marching and chanting through campus to President Christina Paxson P’19’s house.

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While the relevance and significance of this demonstration was felt strongly on campus due to the events of last week, the movement for Indigenous Peoples’ Day is occurring nationwide. Edd stated that Native Americans at Brown have been planning this event long before last week, and that she felt the need for more awareness and support from Brown as early as the first day of school. Their intention is that the university will dedicate space and institutional support to native and indigenous people at Brown. In Floripa Olguin ’16‘s words, this in part means “institutionalized recruitment,” particularly of the Wompanoag and Naragansett tribes, as Brown’s campus itself exists within their tribal lines.

NAB’s hope is that the Brown community can use this demonstration as an opportunity for change and historical accountability. Olguin encourages us, as academics, to take on the “learning that is needed for growth, even if it is very different than folks are used to.”

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Die-in protest: Native Americans at Brown pre-demonstration

At 2:00 p.m today, October 9th, students dressed in red and black gathered in front of Sayles Hall on the Main Green. They laid down on the concrete for 52 minutes and 30 seconds, with still bodies and resolute intentions. Their actions paid tribute to the 523 years of resistance in the Indigenous Peoples community of the Americas. Their silence resonated as passersby made their way to class, with strong wind being the only audible noise, occasionally disturbing the cardboard signs.

When asked for the statement, Sierra Edd ’18, one of the members of Native Americans at Brown said, “We, collectively as NAB, feel that the BDH had many chances to consider not including Monday and Tuesday’s columns in their paper. In including them, there were powerful and painful implications for many students. Their formal apology is not enough; we ask for structural changes and a preventive action in the future.”

The die-in protest was a pre-demonstration for the event scheduled for Monday, October 12th, which will be a celebration of Indigenous Peoples, in the hopes that Brown renames Fall Weekend. Below is a visual record of the event:

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PW Presents: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow is Enuf

There is only one more chance to see For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow is Enuf in the Downspace and I highly suggest you take it.

This emotional piece weaves monologues and movement into a depiction of the simultaneous hardship and empowerment of being a woman of color. The fourth wall is broken down throughout the play as the actresses stare directly at their audience. The show twists through stories with jolting endings, making this actor/audience connection all the more unsettling–and effective.

While the show issues a trigger warning for rape, domestic abuse, violence, mental health, and suicide, there are also light-hearted moments that breathe a sigh of relief into the piece without trivializing the more severe material. The poetry is lyrical and layered and it is worth it to see the show just for the brilliant script. But what infuses the text with gripping significance is the incredibly dedicated performances given by the seven actresses. Directed by Nikteha Salazar ’16, this show is brutally honest and complexly beautiful.

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Technicians Strike at RISD: A photo essay

On Thursday, the Rhode Island School of Design technicians went on strike after months of contract negotiations with the school’s administration. The RISD Technician Union has outlined its contractual requests on their website. In short, the techs would like a restoration of retirement contributions (which were cut significantly in 2009 due to the economic recession), annual wage increases similar to those of RISD faculty members, and external tuition remission (a reimbursement of employees’ children’s higher education tuition costs if their child attends a school other than RISD). Additionally, the techs object to a raise in their healthcare premiums. The school’s administration and the technician’s union have not yet come to a resolution. For more information on the tech strike, read BlogDailyHerald’s post from earlier this week or click here for the RISD Student Alliance’s new website, which acts as a living document and student resource during this time.

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Images via Danielle Perelman ’17. 


A Thousand Words: Attitude Dance Company’s Spring Show

Attitude Dance Company’s 11th Annual Spring Show boasts a smaller ensemble than previous years, but fresh faces and dynamic new numbers are sure to impress. With a mix of hip-hop, contemporary, modern, and even a collaboration with Badmaash, Brown’s South Asian Fusion dance team, Attitude’s 20 dances captivate the audience for the entirety of the night.

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