Statement in solidarity with Black Lives Matter
Dear Fellow Alumni of Color Community and Friends,
Black Lives Matter. As of late, the importance of saying those words and living by their truth have grown immensely. The recent loss of Black life at the hands of police has illustrated just how entrenched systemic racism and racial bias are in the current U.S. police system. To be clear, this is not a new phenomenon. Black people have had to bear the weight of state-sanctioned violence and racism in the United States for centuries. In this moment, however, there is a collective sense of urgency to resist and dismantle the oppressive systems that continue to threaten the fact that all Black lives matter.
Fueled by this sense of urgency, we, the members of the Swarthmore College Alumni of Color Steering Committee, see the activists protesting all over the world as a symbol of collective resistance and solidarity; we listen to and engage in critical conversations that aim to define what racial and social justice truly looks like and what non-Black POC and white allyship and solidarity actually means; we see young people from all backgrounds organizing themselves and devising creative ways to channel their passions towards supporting this very present movement for Black lives. After weeks of emotional exhaustion, justified anger and feelings of helplessness, seeing communities come together like this has been humbling, inspiring, and motivating.
As Alumni of Color, we are also motivated by a sense of urgency to fight against white supremacy and systemic race-based oppression. To that end, we are staunchly committed to standing in community with Black organizers and organizations that are committed to dismantling systemic racism and oppression in all its forms; we are committed to align our own actions to the belief that all Black lives matter and to make sure that the values of the Alumni of Color Steering Committee are actively demonstrated.
Our mission is to support and engage the diverse, multicultural, and vibrant community of Swarthmore College who self-identify as students and alumni of color, members of an underrepresented or minority racial or ethnic group, or who represent a variety of national origins and nationalities. As we continue to engage in this work, we aspire to do so with a commitment to racial and social justice and antiracism.
With heartfelt acknowledgment of the sacrifices and leadership of Black students in the 1960s at Swarthmore College and to the members of SASS and SBAN who paved the path for future generations of students and alumni of color, we strive to engage in activities that uplift students and alumni of color, especially Black Students and Black Alumni, and to work collaboratively with the College to identify and dismantle institutional racism and inequity. Our existing and emerging work plans to tackle white supremacy and engage in anti-racist and diversity and inclusion work at the College are listed below.
- We deliberately built our steering committee to represent voices across generations, gender identification, sexual orientation, class, and racial background. Learn more about the individuals currently on our steering committee. We are always seeking more voices and perspectives. If you are interested in getting more involved, please fill out our “Say Hello” form.
- We are a young organization, but also a mighty one. We are continuing to build power and strengthen our voice as a College stakeholder in the following ways: growing our community; growing our philanthropic power by encouraging others to support the College and, in particular (if financially able), the Student Emergency Fund; growing our participation in College initiatives; and building community partnerships to gain collective power.
- We plan to hold the College accountable to its mission to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern, and to its vision of diversity, access, and inclusion. This includes diversity in Swarthmore faculty and staff, diversity in alumni leadership, and diversity in race and ethnic studies programming. In response to the BLM movement and the calls for racial and social justice, the College shared this message and created a fund for Racial Justice as part of the Day of Caring Campaign for those able to contribute financially. These are welcome initiatives, but there is more work to be done.
- We engage and encourage Alumni of Color to bring visibility and different perspectives in a wide range of alumni volunteer opportunities (Alumni Council, Admission Interviewers, Externships, Career Service Panels, etc.).
- We pledge to support student groups like SASS, SASA, SOCA, and NSBE and fellow affinity groups like SBAN, LGBTQ+ Alumni Network, and McCabe Scholars Alumni.
- We partner with key College stakeholders such as the Intercultural Center, Admissions, and Career Services to bring a different perspective to their existing work as well as create new opportunities and programming to better connect with students of color on issues specific and unique to them.
- We produce and share a quarterly newsletter to feature and celebrate students’ work, on-campus events, and alumni profiles that are directly related to diversity.
- We are developing a mentoring program for Alumni of Color to better support BIPOC and students of color on campus.
In closing, this list is by no means exhaustive, nor should it be, as we are constantly seeking out new and innovative ways of engaging. Our steering committee is committed to the College motto, Mind the Light. We will mind the light by uplifting Students and Alumni of Color and the College community, by building community, engaging in service, and dismantling institutional racism. This work is ongoing and challenging, but together, we are up to the challenge. Black Lives Matter.
Angela Meng '12
Anna Mello '08
Kevin Li '08
Kimberly Mealy '93
Kimberly Rosa-Perez '18
Kira Alvarez '05
Laura Damerville '03
Louis Lainé '16
Tuan-Linh Nguyen '02
The Alumni of Color Steering Committee