Arcata, CA–Over the last year there have been numerous forums about racism as well as meetings and planning towards “racial equity.”
Not to mention every month there are vigils held in Arcata to keep light on the fact that whoever stabbed Humboldt State student David Josiah Lawson, is still roaming free.
I pondered this for a while and I thought I was tripping until recently, a HSU faculty discussed noticing the lack of HSU faculty and administration presence as well.
As an alumnus of HSU, former Journalism student and Black woman who also majored in Critical Race and Gender Studies, it was by default that I started to write about Lawson’s murder and keep the public informed around justice efforts.
So you might understand my surprise when attending these forums and meetings and to notice that key people who should be present, were missing in action and never present.
From HSU’s President Lisa Rossbacher, to HSU faculty and administration–academics who are currently engaged in teaching students about racism, systems of oppression and race implications in present times.
The few Black faculty and professors that HSU has, definitely do not show up.
There was an obvious disconnect that was too hard to ignore.
You have an unsolved student murder (two for that matter) and majority of the grown people at HSU–mothers and fathers do not show up in solidarity with the students and Lawson’s family.
Two weeks ago the City of Arcata held a forum on racism. Like I described above, representation was overall absent with respect to a couple (literally like two) HSU faculty members.
That night I dropped some students off at the bottom of the J and saw that it was ‘Spring Preview.’ A group of high school students were just bussed from southern california to preview HSU.
Spring Preview is the same trip I went on before deciding to attend HSU. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken a closer look at the seven other schools I was accepted into.
No HSU representation at forums on racism in the community but HSU was actively luring students to the community. Something seemed odd about that to me.
The day after the racism forum I happened to be on campus, so I went around to a few offices asking if there was a particular reason they were not showing up; especially those who work in the Marketing Department.
Here they are, in a ducked off location in Nelson Hall, creating language and nice brochures with bright photos, attracting students to HSU. If these people in marketing are absent from talks in the community on the experiences that students of color are having, then how are they able to represent an accurate depiction of HSU?
Especially if they are not in tune with the entire student body? From my point of view, the Marketing Department is false advertising because they are giving students of color a false sense of what their experience will be like.
A person from marketing actually told me that, these forums on racism and Lawson’s murder was Arcata’s issue. This blew my mind and I had to stop him and relay that is crazy to say that because HSU is recruiting students not just to the school but the community.
I had a conversation with two people in marketing, relaying exactly what I just wrote in a calm manner but I could tell it was making these white folks either pissed or uncomfortable that my bold ass was in their face relaying things they clearly want to ignore and forget.
But I was calm, respectable and clear. There is a disconnect.
I went from the Marketing Department to the Presidents’ Office. Rossbacher’s “confidential” secretary Kay Liboldt, an older white woman who has probably been on HSU’s campus since the dawn of time, looked spooked when I stepped in her office.
I asked her the same questions I presented to the Marketing Department but she started talking to me saying “no comment” like I asked her for an interview as a reporter.
I left in less than five minutes and went down the hall to the Provost Office.
This is where the interaction with the police began where I was questioned about what happened down the hall.
A little more context: The door to the Provost Office was closed. The woman opened the door and I asked her the same questions I asked the Marketing Department and the President’s Secretary. She invited me on the other side of the door so me and her were in a closed office. Clearly, my tone and subject matter was not threatening (at least to her). Before stepping into her office, I heard police scanners and so I deliberately stood in front of the closed door’s square window, to see if that was in fact the cops and if they were in fact, there for me.
Making white people feel uncomfortable does not warrant the cops being called. As an alumnus of HSU, it only confirms my thoughts that I made a terrible decision to come here after working extremely hard to rise above the confines of the inner city.
White women within these positions of power at institutions do not illustrate to me as a Black woman, that “we have overcome” with representation for women in the workplace and the issues women face.
White women within these positions do not see my Black face as their woman equal and in their blindness in these roles, they perpetuate racism and white supremacy.
Do Better HSU.