AARCC Statement on Police Brutality and #BlackLivesMatter

STATEMENT FROM UCSC RESOURCE CENTERS

African American Resource and Cultural Center - Aarcc DiasporaAmerican Indian Resource CenterUCSC Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource CenterEl Centro: Chicano Latino Resource Center, UCSCCantú Queer Center, and UCSC Women's Center

It is with deep love, respect, and solidarity with Director Shonté Thomas, UCSC African American Resource and Cultural Center, and the community it serves, we encourage you all to read the following statement and unite with us in healing and positive reflective action.

Resource Centers: http://resourcecenters.ucsc.edu/
African American Resource and Cultural Center: http://aarcc.ucsc.edu/
American Indian Resource Center: http://airc.ucsc.edu/
Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center: http://aapirc.ucsc.edu/
El Centro: Chicano Latino Resource Center: http://elcentro.ucsc.edu/
Lionel Cantú Queer Center: http://queer.ucsc.edu/
Women’s Center: http://womenscenter.ucsc.edu/

STATEMENT FROM THE AFRICAN AMERICAN RESOURCE AND CULTURAL CENTER

"In the last 72 hours, the African American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) and the world has watched in shock and horror at the hands of law enforcement, the death of two Black bodies, Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. As a resource center at UCSC, we are given the opportunity to support students, staff, and the UCSC community and regardless of the summer break, we are here for you. If you are in need of support during this time (and any time), please contact the center at (831) 459-3561 or sfthomas@ucsc.edu.

It is also very important to acknowledge, no single individual can dictate how you process these events. It is understood that we all exercise, express, and experience these matters in varying ways, ranging in a myriad of emotions, from rage, anger, fear, sadness, to the feeling of displacement of how you actually feel. As the inundation of videos, articles, opinions, and justifications are on 24-hour stream, please do not feel obligated to engage. Feel free to disconnect and take time for yourself. On-campus, there are also other support systems on campus via the Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS) (831) 499-1942.

It was hard to bear witness to the countless other lives we have lost in recent years and no words, thoughts, or prayers can console the families and friends of our lost daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, et. al. It is practically impossible for many of us to articulate and express the magnitude at which we absorb these losses-- many are in a constant state of numbness. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are now counted among the 530+ people who have been killed by police in the United States in 2016. The families of the unarmed victims (like Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant, Tamar Rice to name a few) deserve justice, and more importantly, that person, who lost their life, deserves respect. We need these officers held accountable, criminally. Too many times, people lose their lives and police officers are not indicted or they are acquitted at trial. The only way we will see change is when officers who commit criminal acts go to prison.

Now to our allies, it is your time to center the experiences and lives of the Black community. It is important to tell the Black people in your life that they do in fact matter. It is necessary for you to continue to fight alongside the Black community as coalition building is highly effective mechanism to bring about change. Use your privileges to bring greater awareness to the systemic and institutional racial injustices seen and exhibited within the structures of this country-- law enforcement, local/state/federal government. We need more people like Abdul Muflahi, the store owner who decried the accounts of the police and whom spoke positively of the relationship between him and Alton Sterling. Allies, we need you to “collect your folks” and silence the negative rhetoric to defame the lives of those we have lost.

As a nation, what do we do from here? This is a loaded question and many have weighed in and this will not be a comprehensive list, but AARCC welcomes input, feedback and ways to partner and thwart these imbalances which exist. There is a grave sense of hopelessness, despair, and anger. This matter is not an issue of Black people vs. White people. It is not an issue of Black people vs cops. It is however, a global issue of anti-Blackness as a result of systems of oppression rooted in White supremacy. There are rallies, vigils, and town halls being organized around the country; We will host an opportunity in the coming days. Support these efforts and be prepared to outline what we need and want as a community. Another way to combat the system of white supremacy is through direct government action. Congress can move the needle. These are elected officials, that we nominated into office and they are accountable to us-- all of us! You can write and call your local government and demand change. The Department of Justice needs to investigate and prosecute each and every one of these cases. The same people that govern the police departments, typically govern the school boards, local politics, etc. The training of all police cadets/ officers needs to be revamped and implement long-overdue reforms to police tactics (i.e., de-escalation practices). We need to de-militarize the police and move as far from a police state model as possible-- funnel more of that funding back into the community and educational initiatives. We need to expand the opportunities for citizen involvement in police departments. We need the police to represent the community in which it serves and to have an invested interest in the citizenry it protects. We also need honest police officers to stand up and speak out against wrongdoing.

The problems of poverty, crime, unemployment and neglect remain significant in cities across this country. As we reflect on the lives and deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, we need more people to be amenable to having tough and critical conversations, draw from the lessons, confront the mistakes of past policies, laws, behaviors and work to resolve the racial and economic inequities of this country in which we all reside.

To my beautiful Black community, we see you. You matter. Your life matters. It always has and it always will.

Peace and Love,

Shonté Thomas, M.Ed
Pronouns: She/ Her
Director, African American Resource & Cultural Center
University of California, Santa Cruz
(831) 459- 3561 (O)
http://aarcc.ucsc.edu

To contact your congress representative: www.congress.gov/members
To contact Louisiana in protest of Alton Sterling:https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx
To contact Minnesota in protest of Philando Castile:https://www.leg.state.mn.us/  "