As a collective of Black undergraduate student leaders on Brown’s campus, we write this letter in response to racist and fascist pamphlets and posters found on the campuses of Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Brown University.
We are concerned for the psychological and physical safety of Black students, workers, and residents of the Providence community and outraged at the complete silence from Brown University and nearby institutions.
On Saturday, February 3rd, 2018, racist, anti-Black flyers and posters were found throughout the East Side of Providence and Brown’s campus. Vanguard America, a national neo-nazi white supremacist group, distributed these pamphlets and flyers in residence halls and University buildings. The flyers specifically targeted Black residents of Providence, portraying the Black community as criminal through the use of racist tropes and white nationalist rhetoric.
The white supremacist group accused the city of Providence of supporting “Negro Crime” and committing “White Genocide.” We are appalled, yet unsurprised, that this ideology is proliferating in our communities right now.
Vanguard America has made its name by terrorizing marginalized communities. The group was a primary organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, where protestor Heather Heyer was murdered and activist DeAndre Harris was viciously beaten. However, Vanguard America is most recognized for their aggressive recruitment campaigns on college campuses, disseminating racist propaganda and creating campus battlegrounds over issues of free speech. The flyers found on Brown’s campus are part of a calculated nationwide strategy to amplify racist, far-right rhetoric, draw in young white audiences, and bring openly white supremacist views into mainstream discourse.
Providence residents and Black students from Brown University, Providence College, and University of Rhode Island have mobilized to address the rhetorical and psychological anti-Black violence inflicted by Vanguard America. The Brown University Chapter of the NAACP organized two press conferences on Monday, February 5th and Sunday, February 11th to condemn these heinous attacks. Despite this, Brown University’s administration has yet to address this affront on the Black community. In this period of significant racial strife, during Black History Month, and on the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 Black Student Walkout, it is unnerving to witness utter silence and inaction from the university administration.
This administration’s non-response clearly demonstrates the superficial nature of its so-called commitment to diversity and inclusion. Brown University utilizes the history of Black student activism, such as the 1968 Black Student Walk Out, to market itself as a progressive and liberal institution, while failing to publicly acknowledge acts of racism occurring in its own backyard. How can the university achieve its goals of justice and inclusivity when it refuses to stand up for its most vulnerable communities, especially when they are under attack?
To advance the cause of racial healing and justice, the undersigned students demand that Brown University demonstrate a steadfast commitment to the elimination of white supremacist ideology on our very own campus.
Brown University must actively recommit itself to communities of color. We urge Brown University administrators to be accountable and responsive to the needs of the Black community within Brown’s campus and the wider Providence community.
These needs include but are not limited to:
- Denouncing all instances of racism and fascism on Brown’s campus.
- Eradicating white supremacist rhetoric.
- Supporting Providence community members in their efforts to combat structural racism.
As an institution that wields power and influence, it is imperative that Brown University lead by example and condemn these acts of racism, and the heinous groups and ideologies that endorse them. Brown University and its neighboring institutions bear the responsibility of eradicating white supremacy and racism from its campus grounds and throughout the city of Providence.
Concerned Undergraduate Black Students
Nicole Ubinas ‘18
Langston Glaude ‘18
Sam Jones ‘18
Isabella Kres-Nash ‘18
Javon Stephenson ‘18
Naomi Chasek-Macfoy ‘18
Amani Hayes-Messinger ‘18.5
Auriana Woods ‘19
Ruby Aiyo Gerber ’20
Alexis Newell ‘20
Gala Prudent ‘21
The Brown University Chapter of the NAACP
Ellen Cola ‘20, President
Quentin Thomas ‘21, Vice President
Kevin Boyce ‘21, Secretary
Hylton Irons ‘20, Treasurer
The Black Student Union at Brown University
Keyanna Thompson-Atticot ‘18, Co-President
Ade Osinubi ‘18, Co-President
The African Students Association
Nothando Adu-Gyamfi ‘19, President
Black in Business at Brown
Rufaro Sithole ’19, Co-President
Abel Girma ’18, Co-President
Hylton Irons ’20, VP of Administration
Alexa Chukwumah ’19, VP of Community Outreach and Events
Black Pre-Med Society
Blessed Sheriff ‘19, Co-President
Jeffrey Okewunmi ‘19, Co-President
Dominican Students at Brown
Sara Solano’18, Co-President
Emely Anico ’18, Co-President
Jonathan Powell ‘18, Program Coordinator
Students of Caribbean Ancestry at Brown University
Patricia Paulino ‘18, Co-President
Keyanna Thompson ‘18, Co-President