A Statement from a Collective of Latinx and Latin-American Students

For further context, please see the bluestockings editors statement.

 

Introduction

We, a collective of various Latinx and Latin-American student organizations, student leaders, and students, write this statement in solidarity with Native American and Indigenous students at Brown, as well as with the previous statements issued by Black, and Asian/Asian American and Pacific Islander student leaders. We write this letter out of concern for and disgust of the decisions made by the Brown Daily Herald to publish two consecutively racist articles by the same author titled, “The White Privilege of Cows,” and “Columbian Exchange Day,” released by the campus publication on October 5th, and October 6th, 2015, respectively.

We call attention to the racist history that The Herald endorses by privileging staff writers who adhere to the same legacy of white supremacist values this University was founded on. We also seek to recognize and value our own Native and Indigenous roots as part of the history of our own ethnoracial formation, as well as interrogate ways in which we may be complicit in contributing to continued silence and erasure of Native and Indigenous peoples. We aim to hold both the Herald’s staff and the University accountable for the violence they continue to perpetuate against Native and Indigenous folks, and broader communities of color affected by the University since its founding.

 

The Herald

These two articles are only the most recent installments of The Herald’s racist historical legacy, a legacy that mirrors the values this institution was founded on and continues to uphold. The article “The white privilege of cows” justified the oppression of people of color and privilege of whites by claiming inherent biological differences and accepting the consequential outcomes as natural. The second article, “Columbian Exchange Day,” calls for the celebration of Columbus Day through the “massive economic, political, and cultural phenomenon” of the Columbian Exchange despite knowing that Native Americans at Brown, the community most affected by this, has been planning a demonstration to call for the University’s recognition of Indigenous People’s Day, instead. By publishing this article, The Herald chose to ignore the collective action of Native American students, further silencing their presence on this campus.

As Latinx students, we are deeply offended and disturbed by the implications of the articles published by the Brown Daily Herald and written by the same author. Articles such as these alienate, and further marginalize large segments of the campus population who have been historically denied a voice to speak out against injustices. As students of color, we are constantly made aware that this historically white and elitist space was not made with us in mind, regardless of the fact that it lies on Wampanoag and Narragansett Nations and was built upon slave labor of Black bodies.

The Herald blamed their decision to publish these articles on an “internal error,” as an excuse from which to distract and decenter the ways in which The Herald’s staff had to revise, and edit before publication. Justifying the blatantly prejudiced nature of these articles through an “internal error” is inadequate and intolerable. We refuse to accept the Brown Daily Herald’s apology as is and acknowledge that an apology is not sufficient to rectify the violence that The Herald enacted upon Native and Indigenous students. We, as students of color,  will no longer be unheard, unseen, or unappreciated. Our existence in this space is valid and we will not permit The Herald or any of their writers tell us otherwise. The idea that the Editorial Board would be so far removed from the publication that these articles could be published without any thoughts on the racist content by those with whom it came into contact with, and without verification of the information presented, is inexcusable negligence. We call attention to the most dangerous aspect of the publication in which the The Herald’s editorial process allowed these articles to be published, thereby providing an institutional platform on which to empower the voices of those who ascribe to white supremacist ideology and simultaneously cause further harm to Native and Indigenous students at Brown and other members of the community.

The Herald has an institutional and moral obligation to elevate voices of marginalized students and ensure that a platform is not provided for ableist, classist, cissexist, heteorsexist, imperialist, racist and sexist content.

The “Joint Statement to the Brown Daily Herald,” written and signed by the leaders of Black student organizations and individual Black students, outlines the wrongdoings of The Herald and issues demands for structural changes within The Herald. We support the demands listed within the statement and share the sentiments expressed within it. In particular, we wish to highlight this section:

“The impact of this article cannot be retracted. We urge BDH’s Editors to realize how this publication has defaced Native Americans at Brown’s event and shifted the discourse surrounding Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The BDH must ensure that egregious and avoidable “mistakes” such as these do not occur again. It is only in doing this that the BDH can hope to regain the trust of its readers and the undergraduate community who it has notably harmed over the last two days.

The Brown Daily Herald is at fault. The entire organization should reflect on its offenses and reform its editorial processes which allow such “internal errors” to take place. We refuse to be silent. We deserve and demand better from this organization. We hold the Brown Daily Herald accountable.

We also support the subsequent demands made in this Joint Statement:

We demand that 1) the BDH admit the role it has played in consistently giving a platform to racist ideologies; 2) publicly apologize in print and online for their egregious mistake and the resulting harm on members of our community; and 3) give the Brown community a concrete and transparent plan of action to ensure that:

  1. A) the BDH will intentionally seek to create a more diverse Board and membership;
  2. B) the BDH will have more rigorous fact-checking standards for columns, with the disclaimer that expressly offensive postings can and will be rejected;
  3. C) the paper will abstain from pulling released stories in the future, as taking such action undermines the integrity of the paper and shows an attempt to distance itself from content that it previously deemed acceptable for subsequent approval of publication by the Editorial Board; and that
  4. D) this plan of action be subject to the scrutiny and suggested revisions/additions of the general student body after it is brought to targeted-focus groups consisting of members from student groups of color.”

                          -Black Organizations, Leaders, and Students at Brown University

In addition, we stand in solidarity with the demands and statements made towards The Herald that Native and Indigenous students and Asian/Asian-American and Pacific Islander students have voiced against any and all hegemonic ideologies published by The Herald.

 

On our Indigeneity

As Latinxs and Latin-American students, it’s important that we stand in solidarity with Native American students and we recognize the indigenous and native roots involved within our own racial formation that have been denied to us. Since 1492, the genocide against indigenous folks has not wavered. During Spanish conquest, it was estimated that eight million indigenous people died. The blood of our indigenous ancestors remains stained on Latin American ground. It is due to such a large-scale of violence and terror that some of us cannot truly trace which indigenous blood runs through our veins. Some of us were denied the virtue of learning our indigenous culture, blood and language. In spite of this, plenty of Latinxs and Latin-Americans are members of vibrant indigenous communities.

It is because of this and more that we stand in solidarity with those who remain in the struggle to keep their indigenous and Native voices heard, voices that have too often been silenced, ignored, and deemed unworthy. It is not only just, but loyal to stand in solidarity with Native Americans here at Brown. We hope that this statement serves as an opportunity to increase dialogue, support, and knowledge about the many ways this University has been complicit in the oppression and marginalization of Native American and Indigenous students, communities, and histories.

We call on all Latinx and Latin American students at Brown to stand in solidarity with Native and Indigenous students by participating in the two-part demonstrations around Indigenous People’s Day. The die-in on Friday, October 9th, is a pre-demonstration action “to raise awareness of the indigenous genocide that Columbus Day celebrates and to show the Brown community why the name change is important. It will be 52 minutes and 30 seconds to signify the 523 years of indigenous resistance since Columbus.” The protest on Monday, October 12th, is a demonstration to “petition the University to change the name of Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” an action we wholeheartedly support.

 

Conclusion

We condemn The Herald for providing an institutional platform on which to elevate the voices of those who adhere to the legacy of white supremacist values. The organization claims to select a variety of opinions to give the student body a more neutral body of information. However, we more often see a platform given to oppressive, racist-minded opinions than to marginalized communities calling for solidarity and advancement. We encourage Latinx and Latin American students to reflect critically on how their racial formations have been informed by Native and Indigenous histories, and ways in which we have been complicit in the erasure of indigenous peoples. We denounce the continued legacy of violence inflicted on communities of color at Brown and beyond through the recent articles published by The Herald.  To Brown University, the Brown Daily Herald, and the greater student body, the time to act is now.

In solidarity we stand with Native American and Indigenous students and fellow students of color,

 

On behalf of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) – Brown University Chapter

Rafael D. González Cruz, M.Eng., President and Oscar Carrillo, Vice-President

 

On behalf of Latino Student Initiatives,

Liliana Sampedro 18 and Rudy Torres 16, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Latino Heritage Series,

Lehidy Frias 17 and Christina Tapiero 17

 

On behalf of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A),

Gisela Guerrero 16 and Oscar Carrillo 16, Co-Chairs

 

On behalf of Mezcla Latin Performance Company,

Héctor Peralta 16 and Stanley Muñoz 17, Co-Directors

 

On behalf of Dominican Students at Brown,

Jasmine Perez 16 and Luigi Vargas 17, Co-Chairs

 

On behalf of SOMOS Latino Literary Magazine,

Lillian Domínguez 16, Editor in Chief

 

On behalf of Quest Scholars at Brown,

Haley De La Rosa 17 and Patricia Paulino 18, Co-Liaison and Co-Head Mentor

 

On behalf of Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA)

Devika Seeraj 16 and Adriana Vargas-Smith 16, Co-Presidents

 

On behalf of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO),

Sarai Jaramillo ’17 and Kenneth Cruz ’18, President and Vice President

 

On Behalf of La Alianza Latina,

Jonathan Jaramillo ’18 and Roxana Sanchez ’18, Co-Directors of Advocacy

 

On Behalf of First-Gens@Brown,

Natalie Asalgado ’16, Head of Mentorship Committee

 

On behalf of Latino Fellowship (LaFe) at Brown

Brittney Gonzalez 16 and Kevin Argueta 17, Co-Leaders

 

Signing on as individuals:

 

Gabrielle Alcala 19

Manuel Ávalos 19

Nicole Comella 19

Rachaell Diaz 19

Brian Elizalde 19

Louis Epstein 19

Marisela Martinez 19

Natalie Mesa 19

Patricia Rodarte 19

Gio Santiago 19

Jimena Terrazas Lozano 19

Emilio Vides-Curnen 19

Claudia Villalona 19

Sharad Wertheimer 19

 

Jacqueline Agustin 18

Sean Arrieta-Kenna 18

Daniella Balarezo Hernandez 18

Alyssa Cantu 18

Victoria Chavez ’18

Aramar Cuevas 18

Maryori Conde 18

Jacqueline Cornejo 18

Michelle Cruz 18

Emily Diaz 18

Maria Gomez ’18

Maria Fernanda Hernandez Tort 18

Jonathan Jaramillo 18

Jorge Lira 18

Lilibeth Martinez 18

Linda Medina 18

Catherine Miranda 18

Jacob Mukand 18

Marlene Ortega 18

Sebastián Otero 18

Patricia Paulino 18

Blake Planty ’18

Anne Prusky 18

Gabriel Reyes 18

Marcelo Rivera-Figueroa 18

Alexis Rodriguez-Camacho 18

Camila Ruiz Segovia 18

Liliana Sampedro 18

Roxana Sanchez ’18

Claudia Silva 18

Sara Solano 18

Nicole Ubinas 18

 

Fernando Ayala Vaca 17

Micaela Burgess 17

Danii Carrasco 17

Andrea Córdova 17

Paola Cruz 17

Felipe Ferreras 17

Karen Gutierrez 17

Ruben Herrera 17

Katherine Lopez 17

Isabella Martinez 17

Renata Mauriz 17

Genesis Medina 17

Perla Montas 17

Stanley Muñoz 17

Maria G Paredes 17

Elisabeth Perez 17

Denise Ramirez  17.5

Lorena Vazquez 17

 

Yesenia Arriaga 16

Bianca Camacho 16

Maria Camila Bustos 16

Oscar Carrillo 16

Joshua Chavez 16

Manuel Contreras 16

Lillian Domínguez ’16

Daniel Echeverria ’16

Carol Flores 16

Richard Flores 16

Anselmo Fuentes ’16

Maria Garcia 16

Blanca Garcia 16

Edgar Garcia 16

Emma Gleeman 16

Esmeralda Lopez 16

Gustavo Marquez 16

Kevin Melendez  16

Jesus Leyva Ontiveros 16

Melissa Orozco ’16

Héctor Peralta 16

Keben Perez 16

Jonatan Pérez ’16

Chris Pineda 16

Anaisa Quintanilla 16

Jaime Ramirez 16

Angelica Waner 16

 

Esteban Roncancio 15.5

Chiraag Nataraj BS.Eng

 

Andrew G. Campbell, Ph.D.’81

Associate Professor of Medical Science

Co-Director of the Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) Program

 

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