I confess also that I am a Mexican of indigenous descent whose father understood himself to be 'White' of Irish descent. I learned lessons about racism from the time I was able to comprehend the stories my mother told me and the experiences of being 'Mexican' around 'White' relatives and strangers and being 'White' around 'Mexican' relatives and strangers. I ‘learned’ that 'White' men were the racist oppressor; which always puzzled me since my father was 'White.' Only later did I learn that 'Mexicans' could oppress 'Mexicans.' I learned about assimilation as well. I learned how to worship a god of a colonizing people and thus, I was Catholic. I learned only much later about the nature of indigenous spirituality and its connection to place and the land. In the simple Christian god-fearing/atheist binary, I would be considered an atheist. But, that simplicity does not do justice to the myriad world religions and spiritual systems including the one to which I adhere.
I confess also to being a faculty member; something Wayne Watson knows very little about. Like my faculty colleagues, I am someone who has dedicated my life to the student-teacher relationship and who believes in the seriousness of the vocation of higher education.
I confess. I am a light-skinned, Mexican anarcho-communist faculty member with a place-based animist spirituality. These aspects of my identity are central to why I have been an anti-racist, pro-working class activist since I was a child and why I have fought for a better society based on anarcho-communist principles for most of my adult life. They are why my research has been on Black-Mexican relations, hip hop culture and, currently, food justice in Chicago. My political, cultural and vocational identities are why I spend my summers and most of the rest of the year working to build a just, local food economy on the Southside of Chicago and help hundreds in communities suffering from food apartheid learn to take control of our health and welfare through producing our own food. It is also because of who I am that I continue to teach at Chicago State and fight for a better university for all who work and study here.
Importantly, my skin color, ethnicity, spirituality and political beliefs have nothing to do with Wayne Watson’s criminal failure as President of Chicago State University nor his racist vindictiveness.
So, why is this confession necessary? Because the only argument that Wayne Watson and his regime are able to mount against those of us who criticize them is that the resistance is made up of white, communist, atheist professors (read racists) who pick on students and Black women. Instead of dealing with the substance of the argument, Watson and his apologists and backers engage in racist “us vs. them” labeling. This allows FOWs (Friends of Wayne) and those who quietly acquiesce to the desires of Wayne to go along with the regime’s crimes and mismanagement while keeping their jobs. It justifies their hiding in the corner and turning the other way or, as one administrator did recently, stay secure in her ignorance by remaining in a room so as not to witness Watson’s crimes; see the Miller case described below. It is also a convenient excuse not to go against power and be able to continue to claim that they are somehow still ‘for the people’ or 'pro-Black.'
Meanwhile, this race loyalty apparently only extends to the wealthy and sharply-dressed among us. Many run to support Wayne as a great Black educational leader while doing nothing when Black students’ education suffers due to crony hiring or when Black students are arrested and beaten or when Black staff and faculty lose their jobs. Watson’s crimes, mismanagement, ethical violations and repressive actions have been chronicled on this blog with the result that the blog became a target of censorship. Those who speak up against or refuse to serve the regime are met with repression and retaliation. See the court cases of Crowley, Meeks, Preston, Bailey, Miller, Bionaz and Beverly for examples. [NB: The majority of these plaintiffs identify as Black].
Wayne Watson is the real racist. He does the hiring and the firing. He is the responsible party. The repression, violence and abuse of State power at CSU would not occur if our student body was not primarily Black. In any other situation where a Black population is being discriminated against we call it racism. When an institution shows that a valued resource is systematically denied a particular group based on their race, we recognize this as institutional racism. State agencies have been used to violently repress Black people and other subordinated ethnic groups since the beginning of the colonization of the Americas. Today, a video of the police beating of a Black man is evidence of ongoing racism in our country; not to mention the all too common killings of Black men by cops including the recent chokehold death of Eric Garner. You can see the video here: http://time.com/3016326/eric-garner-video-police-chokehold-death. In addition, there is a long history of using the State and its police to limit Black access to resources such as education, health and life. We normally refer to these State abuses as racism. Regulations, laws and traditions that limit Black access to universities such as Hopwood v University of Texas (1996), alumni preferences, and the like are correctly labeled racist. But, in the Orwellian world that is CSU those labelled racist are the ones who have pointed out and fought against Watson, et.al.'s abuses against thousands of Black people on this campus.
What do we call violence against students at CSU? A recent video on youtube shows police violence against graduating student, Jokari Miller, at the May 2014 CSU Board of Trustees meeting while President Watson, administrators and Board of Trustees members look on. The video can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEXfi818rIM What this video does not show but more than a dozen witnesses saw was the use of the same type of chokehold that killed Eric Garner. This time the criminal choker was Chicago State University police’man’, Mike Jones. If these were White cops at a White institution beating a Black man, we would easily describe this as racist and call for the firing of the President and replacement of the Board of Trustees. But, these were Black cops beating a Black man while a Black university president and Black Board Chairman of a predominantly Black institution stood watching. So, what do you call it? I call it racism.