Eddie Griffin (BASG)
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Report: “Student hunger strike supports workers” (Star-Telegram, Thursday, April 26, 2007)
A dozen University of Vermont students entered their third day of a hunger strike Wednesday in support of salary increases for clerks, janitors and other service workers on campus.
The strike is aimed at gaining low-wage employees a livable wage. What an act of consciousness! It should put us all to shame that we have not done more to secure a livable wage for under-paid employees and minimum wage earners.
[To Be Updated throughout Today]
Isn't it finals week on most campuses? If I were on campus I'd stand in front of them eating a Snickers bar and telling them how good it tasted. Then throw the wrapper in the trash can so the janitors would have something to do and wouldn't get laid off.
A Few of the Hundreds of Words of Support and Solidarity
Subject: California Hunger Striker sends support...
My name is Angel R. Cervantes... I recently went on a Hunger Strike for 16 days at the Univ. of Calif., Irvine. We risked our lives to fight for social justice. I was touched and moved by your words and your courage...
Sister, I hold you in my prayers and I offer you my spirit and my love... If we are to give our lives so that others may truly live, then so be it... I offer the full support of the Four Winds Student Movement and if we can help your struggle in any way please notify me as soon as possible...
Stay strong... Nourish yourself with the love around you.. and good luck
From: Chula Vista
Subject: UCI student supports Shontae
As soon as I got this news, I felt the need to voice my support for hunger striker Shontae Praileau in your university. I'm a PhD student in Univ. of Calif. Irvine in engineering, and I don´t really have anything to do with UVM or Vermont... the common thread may be our status as students and as humans.
From: L'mani S.Viney
Subject: Student Protest and Activism
As you can see from the most recent posts, whether it be mine, the sister at University of Vermont, or the brother at the University of Hartford, there seems to be a coming of a new wave of student activism and protest on college campuses across the country.
What is disturbing is that many of the students who are figting these battles are becoming worn down at a frightening rate. The reason for this is because of the dynamics of being an activist in college in this time period.
While the 1950´s and 60´s is known for student activism, I believe that it is important to note that the racist policies which these corporations lived under were blatant and a clear obstacle for Blacks and others to identify as the enemy For this reason, many Blacks(not all) came together to fight against these atrocities. Unfortunately, in today´s times, there is no common enemy.
What I mean by this statement is that the racist policies that have and still exist in our institutions have seeped so far into the lifelines of the institutions that the enemy or obstacle is no longer clear. This, for many Black students can be frustrating because they are not able to put their finger on the problem. They know that one exists, but they cannot see it.
That is why now, the activists today, must take up many different and difficult tasks. Tasks such as understanding and pinpointing the policies which are the problem, defining them as being racist, and showing why they are racist. When you get into issues such as financial aid, advisement, faculty hiring, and student life, the process can become highly difficult and complex. After this then the student activists must deal with a few forms of Blackfolk. The first is the "non-confrontational Blackfolk" that is those students who know that a problem exists but is afraid or apprehensive for their own reasons to confront the problem.
The next form of Blackfolk is the "apathetic Blackfolk" that is those students who know there is a problem but do not care about it and refuse to do anything but to criticize the students.
Then there is the "Happynigger Blackfolk" that is, those student who either think that there is no problem at all or that acknowledge that there is a problem, but lessens the magnitude of it to a point where the problem really isn’t a problem at all.
Finally, you have the type of student who is the most dangerous one to an activists cause, the "Armchair Revolutionary Blackfolk" That is, students who acknowledge a problem in vocal and hostile manners, and give the perception or facade of being militant and working to make change. While, in reality, they do not truly understand the complexity of the problem, and their participation for real change is limited to the sounds coming out of their mouth from a lunch table’s distance. Basically, when the sh*t goes down, they cannot be found.
I understand that all of this was existent back in the 50´s and 60´s, but I will take the risk and say not to the magnitude of today. I say this only because the common enemy has hidden itself in the shadows, and if any of you remember the story of the Alegory and the Cave, you will remember that the people chained perceived the shadows as being reality, but then when they became free and looked into the light, they found out that what they saw was not what was real. This realization, forced all those chained to make a decision, either to accept it and move on or to not accept it and voluntarily chain themselves again and look into the shadows because the truth hurt too much.
This is what we deal with today. That is why many of us who have heard the stories of us students must help us and advise us and find ways in which we can unite and make a way to make these institutions more acceptable towards the academic and social growth of students who come after us.
We cannot change every university, but we can make a difference to the ones who send out the Universal Black S.O.S signal for help.
The new wave of student activist will be a group of students who shall be smaller in number, yet unbreakable in spirit until the spirit ascends to a higher destination. The question is, with all the obstacles that we face in our development, where will our elders be?
Black student activism is not an event, it is the inherited responsibility born from the mutation of oppression some 400 years back.
L'mani S. Viney
Well, if I were a student on that campus, I doubt that I would march out and swell the ranks of the starving student contrivance. They can do whatever they want, I suppose, but I believe their show is pointless. Everyone's lot in life is a combo of talent, opportunity and choices. I sympathize with the misfortunes of others, but these janitors are not slaves. Some may try to change their situation, some won't; no one can effectively fight their battle for them.
MSStudent - I am an engineer in California, and my brother is a pipefitter in Tennessee. We are both very happy. Life is good. Very hard sometimes, but good.