THE HIGHEST TEST OF THE CIVILIZATION OF ANY RACE IS IN ITS WILLINGNESS TO EXTEND A HELPING HAND TO THE LESS FORTUNATE.
– BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
The Purpose of
Campus and Community Outreach
The Campus and Community Outreach Committee is responsible for organizing all Black Affairs Council’s service projects, as well as raising awareness and bringing attention to the campus and community issues by reporting them to the Executive Members of B.A.C.
Contact our current Coordinator Marissa Jackson at
Letter regarding an incident on Campus:
Thursday evening, the SIUC community was made aware of Shanna Arceo’s demand for an apology from the SIUC Swim Team for their racially insensitive representation of Mexican culture. The Black Affairs Council stands in solidarity with Ms. Arceo, and members of the Latino/Hispanic community in demanding that the SIUC swimming and diving program issue an apology for the actions of four of its members.
Swim Coach Rick Walker, in his statement defending his organization and its members, describes the program as “a shining example of diversity,” going on to argue that the photograph was taken out of context, and that the team has a “genuine commitment to respect and diversity.” While Walker’s description of his organization might be true, he does not address the larger issue of racial insensitivity, given that the humor of the skit that the photograph is referencing is based in racist portrayals of Mexican culture.
The Saturday Night Live skit in question is part of a larger trend in American culture that treats the cultures of people of color as costumes or objects of ridicule which is a result of the institutionalization of racism in American culture. Institutional racism, either in the form of entertainment like the SNL skit, or in the form of bias, overt racism, or microaggressions, is the driving force behind the oppression of all peoples of color in America.
By imitating the skit in question, the members of the SIU Swimming and Diving program have unknowingly participated in the continuation of institutional racism in American culture and on SIUC’s campus specifically. To be a “shining example of the diversity,” the swimming and diving program must demonstrate the critical consciousness to recognize institutional racism in its subtlest forms, which it clearly does not. The concern of the Black Affairs Council is not simply the actions of a few individuals, but the way in which these actions emerge out of institutional racism on SIUC campus.
Furthermore, the Black Affairs Council views these actions as a part of a larger climate of racial insensitivity on SIUC’s campus. That members of its athletics program are unable to see the way in which their actions emerge from institutional racism in American culture speaks to the climate of insensitivity on our campus. This climate of insensitivity is more clearly demonstrated as a campus-wide problem through the comments left both on the Daily Egyptian’s website and on its Facebook page.
To this end, the Black Affairs Council supports Ms. Arceo’s demand for an apology from the SIUC swimming and diving program as well as Dr. Poitevin’s call to use this incident to push for a campus-wide discussion about race, racism, identity, and the creation of safe spaces to speak about the climate and culture that led to this photograph. Without such spaces, without this conversation, the SIUC community will continue to be subject to the forces of institutional racism and fail to reach its potential as an exemplar of inclusive excellence.
It is therefore the position of the Black Affairs Council that this incident must be used as a catalyst for a campus-wide conversation in order to avoid similar incidents in the future, while simultaneously contributing to the development of a campus that celebrates diversity while abolishing institutional racism.