We previously discussed the protest held by Black Lives Matter at the library of Dartmouth — and the relative lack of any punishment from the college. Now, Black Lives Matter activists have torn down a display honoring police officers and then reportedly stood guard over the board to prevent the College Republicans from re-posting their memorial . . . in the name of not being silenced.
On May 13th, the students with the College Republicans put up a display, which was approved beforehand by the school, that read “Blue Lives Matter” and honored police who were killed on duty. Shortly later Black Lives Matter activists tore down the memorial and put up their own posters denouncing the memorial as “co-opting” their movement and refused to allow the College Republicans to use the space that they had reserved.
When the College Republicans objected to the obvious act of censorship, the Black Lives Matter protesters doubled down with a statement justifying their decision to silence other students. In addition to saying that they had to censor the statements of other students to keep themselves from being “silenced”, they ended with the statement. “Fuck your comfort, there is no such thing as neutral existence.”
The activists even justified their earlier actions in the library where they screamed at white students and prevented some from leaving. They insisted “Sitting in the library with your headphones in, intensifies this violence against people of color, muting the voices of the movement, the cries of your peers, and the history of inequality.” So not only have the activists not been disciplined for the earlier conduct (indeed a college vice president apologized to them), they believe that they have license to remove any statements deemed as non-supportive or opposed to their views.
I am surprised again by the lack of a strong response from the college when students torn down a memorial and then stand guard to prevent students from posting on a previously reserved space. The notion that such action is justified so not to be silenced is absurd and runs contrary to the free speech values of academia.
Here is the statement of Black Lives Matter:
Today, Friday May 13th the Dartmouth College Republicans reserved a central bulletin board in Collis Atrium. On this board the Dartmouth College Republicans posted the slogan “Blue Lives Matter” FOUR times. By co-opting a movement intended to protect the livelihood of Black people, Blue Lives Matter” & #AllLivesMatter facilitates the erasure of black lives. This slogan denies that black bodies are subjected to disproportionate state violence. This has nothing to do with individual police officers.
Over the past several terms, in Collis the black lives matter installation was defaced, and the signs outside of the gender inclusive bathroom were ripped off of the walls. On our campus a native woman and man were egged after a silent protest, countless women of color have been assaulted, people of color have been called racial slurs, physically threatened, and aggressively approached in public, private, and over social media.
The #blacklivesmatter protest in the fall affirmed black existence, humanity, and resilience in light of the oppressive reality here at Dartmouth. This is our reality; we are the voices of ALL people of color in classes. It is inescapable as social media, especially yik-yak, is saturated with racial slurs. This morning the bulletin boards in “The Center for Student Involvement” informed the campus this space is NOT for us . Collis is intended to be a home base for all student activities, however is a site of violence.
This campus is toxic.
Our goal is to illuminate the severity of the violence people of color face on this campus. In not challenging this oppression against our bodies, instead reproducing this narrative is actively partaking in this violence. Silencing our narratives. If we didn’t take down the display we would be reproducing a violent narrative that works to silence us in masses.
People are tired. People of color are tired of being made inferior to their peers. We are tired of conservative rhetoric reproducing the same racial stereotypes that have positioned our bodies in a violent, inhumane fashion since slavery.
We have reclaimed the board. We are reclaiming our space, in Collis, in Class, and on this Campus. We have proclaimed “Black Lives Matter”—we do in fact matter, and we are here.
Fuck your comfort, there is no such thing as neutral existence. Sitting in the library with your headphones in, intensifies this violence against people of color, muting the voices of the movement, the cries of your peers, and the history of inequality. Posting Blue Lives Matter reproduces the idea that All lives matter, again intensifying the violence against people of color. Invalidating individual realities.
We occupy this space, in front of the bulletin board, to guarantee our presence at this institution. Reposting Blue Lives Matter reproduces this violent narrative against people of color, by silencing us. We will not be silenced.
We have cried, but we will persevere regardless of the complacent conservative faction on campus, we will be okay. We need to be okay, so we can graduate from this institution with a Dartmouth degree. Face it that’s why we came here, and at the end of the day we still are here—at Dartmouth, in the Ivy League, in college, in this nation. We aren’t going anywhere.
It is your turn, stand in solidarity with us. Do not allow the cries of your peers, your friends be silenced.
Peace, Love, Solidarity,
Existence is Resistance