A commitment to activism: Solidarity and coalition-building for the upcoming year and onward
The events in Charlottesville, Va., have made the presence of neo-Nazism and white nationalism in the United States undeniable. Regardless of when one became aware of the issue, let it be clear that we will not accept fascism or racism at our University, in our country, or in our lives. Nazism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and all forms of racism are repugnant and dehumanizing. We all have an obligation to oppose those who seek to foster hatred and discord by adopting these beliefs and actions.
Over the past seven months, the current presidential administration has actively opposed carrying out this obligation. White supremacy and the oppression of marginalized peoples has always had a political platform in the United States. The Trump administration has only exacerbated the level of violence against vulnerable individuals by emboldening racists to exercise their hatred explicitly, as evident from the acts of violence against people from historically marginalized communities directly following the election to the racist marches in the present day. Donald Trump is complicit in the rise of the alt-right and the racism and white supremacy that accompanies it.
And so, we need not hold our breath for a president who will not condemn white supremacist terrorism. Instead, we must turn to one another in solidarity and commit to coalition-building and accomplice-ship between communities of differing privileges. Recognizing the value of diversity and acceptance is a start, but we can and must do more than loftily promising to stand together.
We must be in solidarity with the counter-protesters who stood inches from torch-bearing fascists at the University of Virginia. Solidarity with Takiyah Thompson, who was arrested for toppling a Confederate statue in Durham, N.C. Solidarity with all those in this country who live under and struggle against systems of oppression.
At a white-serving and male-serving institution like Princeton University – with ties to slavery and racial and gendered exclusion – we must hold our university and each other accountable. It is not good enough to disapprove of or condemn racism, white supremacy, Nazism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, transmisogynoir, xenophobia, and any oppression of historically marginalized communities. We can and must organize with one another and against oppressive structures and ideologies on our campus and beyond.
The labor of organizing has not always been equally assumed by groups of differing privilege and these groups themselves have not been treated in the same way by the University administration. We acknowledge that black students and queer, trans, and non-binary students of color from low-income backgrounds have been at the foreground of the fight for change on our campus, despite ongoing mistreatment and threats of disciplinary action from the University. Students less affected by oppressive university policies tend to only offer support for dissent rather than act upon it to the full extent of their own privilege. We cannot rely solely on individuals to do the labor of organizing; abolishing oppression at the University is not the lone responsibility of those who are most oppressed and caring about these issues is not exclusive to those who identify as activists.
We all must recognize and challenge the ways in which the University currently underserves students of color, LGBT and non-binary students, women, undocumented students, students with disabilities, and low-income students, despite touting diversity and inclusion. Examples of Princeton University’s complicity in upholding structural oppression in our daily lives include, but are not limited to:
- Refusal to remove racist memorialization on campus (e.g. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson Residential College, Stanhope Hall)
- Refusal to divest from private prisons and detention centers
- Failure to declare itself a sanctuary campus for undocumented students
- Lack of accommodations for non-binary students (e.g. lack of accessible gender-inclusive restrooms across campus, denial of resources, and continued harassment of queer, trans and non-binary students of color from low-income backgrounds on campus)
- Failure to provide adequate food options for low-income students
- Failure to provide students with a more diverse academic curriculum that addresses historically marginalized groups, especially within the field of ethnic studies (e.g. Latinx Studies, Native/Indigenous Studies, Asian American Studies, and Pacific Islander American Studies)
- Perpetuation of double standards regarding the establishment of affinity living spaces. While the University allows for students to live together based on shared artistic (e.g. Edwards Collective ) or sustainability (e.g. Pink House) interests, it has declined to allow living spaces based on shared race or ethnicity
As co-signatories of this statement, we pledge that we will work both individually and collectively to address the shortcomings of the University as listed above. Additionally, we pledge to counter-demonstrate, as did the students at the University of Virginia, should a white supremacist gathering come to or near Princeton. We commit to maintaining open and honest communication between our organizations with regard to our various movements and causes; though we are each compelled by specific issues, we will show up and support each other’s events, campaigns, and so on. Moving forward, we will be cognizant of the work and energy invested by previous student movements so that we continue to build upon their legacies of activism as opposed to writing over them.
We urge all those who read this statement to join us in the fight against oppression of all forms, at Princeton University and beyond. We are most powerful when we are in unity and solidarity as the many.
Alliance of Jewish Progressives (AJP)
Black Student Union (BSU)
Muslim Advocates for Social Justice and Individual Dignity (MASJID)
Princeton Advocates for Justice (PAJ)
Princeton DREAM Team
Princeton Hidden Minority Council (PHMC)
Princeton Latinos Y Amigos (PLA)
Princeton Students for Gender Equality (PSGE)
Princeton Students for Reproductive Justice (PSRJ)
Princeton University's Latinx Perspectives Organization (PULPO)
Progressive Christians at Princeton (PCAP)
Students for Prison Education and Reform (SPEAR)
The Princeton Progressive
Young Democratic Socialists of Princeton (YDS)
J Street U Princeton