To fully understand our focus, as well as what happened at USM over the Summer of 2019 that sparked this push, and also how this one situation ties in with USM’s legacy as a Historically White Institution, requires careful examination. The documents and essay below, along with the News page, are intended to help make sense of these issues. They cannot tell the full story, but instead serve as a starting point.
Also review the News Page for further details.
Lastly, our Events Calendar is intended to keep people connected both with our meetings, but also with other events around USM and the region. Check it out!
Our position on structural racism, how it impacts USM, and how we intend to address it:
We are focused on exposing the nature of structural racism, and how it undermines the efforts of decent people. Structural racism is different from individual prejudice or bigotry; it is not measured in meanness carried out on a human scale, but is much larger. Structural racism is a complex system that supports the success of one race over another or all others. It is deeply embedded in all aspects of society, and therefore often remains invisible to those caught up in it.
In America, structural racism supports white people (and white men in particular) over all others. It is our aim to change that.
But how do you wrestle something so complex and embedded as institutionalized racism? Even well-meaning institutions, after all, are impacted. They wind up both replicating and perpetuating racism despite every intention to do otherwise. When it comes to structural racism, our institutions, our society, our culture, even ourselves are implicated. Eradication seems a daunting task.
But it is not impossible. It begins wherever we are, when we decide to interrupt the insidious cycle of racism. As students and members of the USM community, that means taking a stand at USM.
We aim to expose the role USM plays in perpetuating structural racism and white male supremacy. Where structural racism exists at the university, we will expose it. We will use our position within the institution to demand changes — whether in curriculum, staffing, or structure — that support all students, not just those of one group or class.
Our critique, however, is not intended to vilify anyone. We seek only to build USM to the institution it promises to be, “The University of Everyone.” But to achieve that end we must demand accountability, both within ourselves and our community, to break the cycle of racism.
Our position on the recent failings at USM are well-articulated in this Letter-to-the-Editor. But this situation is only one example. Addressing this one situation will not fundamentally change USM, and so we must look beyond it. There are countless instances where structural racism exhibits at USM, and we aim to eradicate them all.
We recognize the complexity of this task. It is not a simple story about good people and bad people. It is not necessary to be a willing co-conspirator in white male supremacy to perpetuate structural racism. By playing a part in American society we become part of structural racism. We are all implicated. It is therefore up to us to actively decide to put a stop to it.
We will work with USM to face up to these structural realities, while rejecting old ideas about “diversity” and “inclusion.” We insist the university dig deeper into its ingrained racist roots.
USM is, after all, a Historically White Institution. It was designed by white people, for the education of white people. This is not an opinion, but a verifiable fact made clear through 100 years of USM yearbooks. USM institutional structure supports white people, and everyone else who joined later was included as an afterthought.
That idea — “inclusion” — is how USM operates today. Despite token efforts at “multiculturalism,” USM still supports white students by design. Faculty, staff and students of color, meanwhile, remain an afterthought. So do LGBTQ+ students. Native Students. Black Students. Immigrant Students. All are “included,” but only white students belong.
This “inclusion” is not enough. USM promises to be “The University of Everyone,” not just white students. To achieve that promise and offer true belonging to students of different races and cultural identities, the institution is going to have to change.
This conversation is beginning to take hold. Administrators, senior faculty and others in positions of power are beginning to recognize the university’s historical legacy. But no one has a clear idea to create an institution free of the influence of structural racism. It is up to us to chart a new path forward.
There is no guarantee this work will go smoothly. Our efforts to highlight this reality thus far have been met resistance, and that resistance will continue. The structure of American racism is deeply rooted and well disguised. It is both difficult and painful to expose. But it needs exposing, and we are committed to that task.
Our deepest commitment is also to USM, and to the students it educates. Every student, regardless of race. We call out white male supremacy because justice demands it, but our aim in the end is to build an institution that meets USM’s most noble promise: To truly be the “The University of Everyone.”
We commit to be relentless in our pursuit of exposing the structure of racism. That process is difficult, messy, and sometimes painful, but we will not shy away. The only way out is through.
Please, join us.