Being a Residential Assistant (RA) or a Peer Mentor (PM) at UMass Amherst is a true honor. In our roles as the Residential Life staff who support students living on campus, we have built meaningful relationships with dozens of residents and have fostered various living-learning communities. Thanks to our status as unionized workers, we are able to collectively bargain for dignified working conditions and wages.
Recently, Victor Woolridge, a member and former Chair of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, wrote an article calling upon America to acknowledge its history of anti-black racism and take concrete steps to achieve racial justice. We, a group of UMass students advocating for racial justice, wish to comment on Woolridge’s message. One of the few Black members of the Board of Trustees, Woolridge is, to our knowledge, the only member of the Board to publicly write about the need for systemic change following the death of George Floyd. Overall, we commend Trustee Woolridge for acknowledging the need for systemic change for racial justice–yet, that he is the only member of UMass’ Board of Trustees to publicly do so indicates that the UMass system itself has much work to do.
As I have continued to sit at home with family, counting the days of my life in quarantine, I can not help but weep. I am weeping for my community, I am weeping for my peers, and I am weeping for African Americans, Africans, and Black persons as we continue to battle against the hatred and bigotry that has threatened us since birth. I weep for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade who have been slaughtered by the United States police. I weep for the innocent protestors who scream in pain with us as we watch our black blood spread on the pavement all over broadcast news.
But most of all, I weep for these victims’ families and friends whose lives are now changed forever.
The discourse of the 2020 U.S. Presidential race indicates a significant political moment. Immigration, campaign finance corruption, and adequate responses to climate change are only a few of the incredibly important issues currently debated. The question of reparations however has taken a forefront amidst these other issues because scholars, activists, and organizers have successfully directed the public’s attention towards the ways in which chattel slavery continues to live its legacies in contemporary racist disparities.
Over the past 70 years, Kashmir – a snowy mountainous region occupied by military troops on the India-Pakistan border – has been the center of communal violence and displacement, affecting people living in and around this territory adversely. The impact was initially felt by the people living in Kashmir and has grown to affect the religious groups and foreign policies of these countries.
The attacks in Pulwama in February of this year led to the killing of nine, people including four soldiers and a policeman in a gun battle in Indian administered Kashmir. This event enabled Kashmir to dominate the headlines once again and highlighted the decades-old conflict between these neighboring countries.