bell hooks wrote that “beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.” When I think about the kind of society I want to fight for- one where my values of justice and equity and empathy are essential- I think of this powerful quote. And I think about the ways that our institution is not bolstering a sense of beloved community. Spaces of beloved community I have found on this campus have come from counter-spaces created by students of color and some, but far too few, allies who know that the school is not substantively diverse nor is it committed to equity. These are incredibly inspiring spaces of resistance to and survival through oppression. I am a part of C.O.D.E because I see this coalition as an important push to organize this resistance into power in order to change the gross inequities of policy and practice on our campus.
Far too many members of our college’s community tacitly or actively perpetuate racism. This is done by hiding behind a false guise of being self-proclaimed “liberals.” Voting for Barack Obama does not make you progressive. I hear the phrases “that’s so Oxy” or “we’re so politically correct” (newsflash- being p.c. means nothing if you have no analysis of power, privilege, oppression, or justice) conflated to a sense of radicalism or progressivism; these are simply misnomers. These flawed beliefs translate to a sense of complacency. This campus culture, along with all the micro-aggressions and flat-out racism we see playing out in classrooms and across campus, must be treated as the systemic problems that they are. The College touts our “diversity” (let’s really look at the numbers), but does little to support the communities of color that are here. Professors of color and students of color are not retained because our policies are developed primarily out of a paradigm that fails to challenge white privilege and race-based oppression. Oxy must do better. The systemic injustice perpetuated by our campus culture and by the policies and practices of the College demand fundamental institutional change. And that’s why I believe in C.O.D.E.
I am a part of C.O.D.E because I feel called to support the tireless efforts of our faculty members. Investing in a process of collaboration is an extremely important thing for us to do. The faculty remind us that we are not alone in this struggle and it is important for us, as students, to reciprocate. We must build solidarity if we are going to succeed.
We, as a coalition, believe that the dreams we have for our campus to be a place that actually values equity and diversity can be realized, or as Ella Baker once said, “can be made real.” We also know that this change is not inevitable, but that it must be pushed forward. We are aware of the long history of fighting and sacrifice by past and present members of our community and we want to do justice to that work- building off of it as we look onward to the future of this institution.