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Dear Colleagues,

We represent the Collegewide Latinx Affinity Group at Bank Street College, and are writing to express our solidarity with all Black and Afro-Descendant people in the centuries-long international struggle for Black liberation from White supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

The systemic oppression of Black people in the US is inseparable from that of Black people who have been colonized by Spain and Portugal in Latin America, the Caribbean, and its diaspora. All are products of institutions, policies, practices, attitudes, and values rooted in White Supremacy, anti-Black racism, and settler colonialism. Countries in Latin America mimic the structure and operation of the Spanish racial caste system, which grant disproportionate institutional power to those racialized as White, non-Black, or non-Indigenous to this day. These Latinxs often carry anti-Black racism across borders, and wield it consciously and subconsciously against Black people of all ethnic backgrounds.

Latinx” is not a race; it is an ethnic affiliation. There are Black, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern, and White Latinxs. Some are monoracial, some are multiracial. In Latin America and its diaspora, White and non-Black Latinxs of color frequently exclude those who identify as Black, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Descendant from mainstream conversations about who Latinxs are. And like our Black colleagues with roots in the U.S. and the West Indies, Blackness in Latin America is not monolithic, encompassing multiple cultures and experiences.

We object to the systematic erasure of Black/Afro-Descendant people and Blackness from our mainstream politics, academies, media, literature, and histories (among others), and the violent oppression of Black communities that it attempts to conceal. Consequently, we call on you to support/join us in committing to the following:

- Help advance the policy demands articulated by Black and Afro-Descendant organizers and communities in the US by donating our time, money, and/or other resources. It also means centering the voices, experiences, expertises, and the physical and mental health and safety of Black people across the diaspora as the movement for Black liberation continues to be visioned and organized. To start:

- Educate ourselves and those around us (including students) about the political and cultural histories of our country/ies of origin or heritage, including the US This means we must:

  • Prioritize and visibilize the research, organizing, narratives, and testimonies of Black and Afro-Descendant people across the Americas.
  • Recognize and internalize how White and Non-Black Latinxs/Latin Americans of color participate in whitewashing those histories, as well as appropriating and monetizing the cultures and labor of Black and Afro-Descendant people in Latin America and its diaspora.

- Lean into requests to racially identify (for White and non-Black Latinxs of color). When we do not, we uphold at least three destructive myths: 1) that people in our communities do not claim and/or are not assigned a racial identity (we do/are); 2) that we are racially mixed, or mestizos (most of us are not); and 3) that race does not play a significant role in the histories, life trajectories, or experiences of people in Latin America or its diaspora (it does).

- Expose and disassemble anti-Black racism in our spheres of influence and in ourselves. Diana Lugo-Martínez has a lot of ideas.

Lastly, we underwrite Cabinet’s commitment to intensify the College’s anti-racist efforts, as declared in its June 2nd letter. We agree that these efforts must extend beyond gatherings, conversations, self-education, and expressions of solidarity–important and foundational as they are–into formal structures and policies. They must equitably redistribute power and resources at Bank Street, prioritize the demands of Black people in our community, and fairly compensate those–Black women in particular–who have been at the vanguard of antiracist work thus far. By institutionalizing this work, the progress that has been made can be built upon in ways that outlive individuals.

And so we challenge ourselves and our community to lean into and live our credo by working, unafraid and efficiently, in a world of new needs, new problems, and new ideas–even when they are in fact long-established needs, problems, and ideas like anti-Black racism, White Supremacy, and Black liberation. We challenge ourselves to use gentleness when appropriate while standing and speaking truths that must be heard. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and recognize how anti-Blackness has been internalized and pathologized by non-Black people of color. In our communities, non-Black people of color have at times caused harm to Black people–including colleagues, families, and friends–especially those with common ancestry: Afro-Latinx-identifying Black folks. We know there is much work to do in dissecting and preventing this harm in order for all of us to share in the goal of anti-racist liberation.

In Solidarity, 

The Bank Street College Latinx Affinity Group

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