We Are More than Angry Black Kids, but We Are Still Angry

Student Activism Series: Part II

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This title is based off of a Concerned Students of Color meeting during my sophomore year. If I remember correctly it was towards the end of the year after we had already started organizing and had multiple meetings with administration already. This meeting was planning for future action, and talking about how people were perceiving us was a part of this meeting. What people thought of us was important for future contexts when reaching out to other groups and individuals to join our organizing.

I said at one point something along the lines of “so we can be seen as more than angry and hungry black kids.” I said all this in a quite shrill high-pitched voice as well expressing the frustration of this perception as it is a common trope for many African-Americans to have to deal with when it comes to the injustices of institutional racism. Then, Jalen Baker ’16, graduating senior at the time, said in response, “but we are angry. And we are hungry.”

His tone was a solemn statement of truth. And when I look back on this I know now what I will learn after that moment; worrying about the respectability politics and people’s perception of black kids is not going to do anything. It’s because, no matter what, if you play the game of the system or you are all the way against it, it’s hard getting treated and supported like you should have in the first place.

In the last article, I talked about what angry black kids could accomplish and really this one is about why some of us, particularly us black kids and other minorities, are angry in the first place, specifically at Bates.

We are angry because we get here in our relative excitement for being a first year at college. Coming to a college expecting that it lives up to its illustrious mission statement, which includes the commitment to diversity and inclusion and emancipating liberal arts. Yet, the institution fails continuously and we are left disillusioned by experience.

We have experiences of having to advocate for ourselves on topics ranging from: help with meals over break, wages, diversity in faculty and curriculum. We repeatedly express our situations just to have the slow-moving institution tell us “it takes time.”

Times like when we expressed issues in the beginning of the last academic year about security, to have one of us abused and handcuffed by the end of the year by the same security officers that we complained about.

You are left wondering if our radical founder Oren B. Cheney would disapprove of the path Bates had taken, and if Benjamin Mays, class of 1920 would be disappointed to know that a black male student was abused by authority figures in a building named after him, even though he worked hard in the civil rights era to prevent this very type of situation.

Feeling rage that we were not listened to, nor heard in time to help make progress to end students of color suffering on campus. Wondering if we should have even taken the time to do all of this organizing at all, and if our efforts will even make a difference in the long run.

So whenever you see a student of color frustrated, upset, “making noise”, disgruntled, or “all up in our feelings,” just know that we are tired, we are hungry, and we are angry.

Copyright (C) 2016 The Bates Student