As a concerned member of the Boone community and the Boone Anti-Racism Contingent (https://www.facebook.com/groups/boonearc), some of whom are alumni of Appalachian State University, I and others consider ourselves privileged. We are committed to influencing private and public organizations and institutions in Boone to put forth anti-racism efforts and take responsibility for deconstructing and dismantling systemic racism that weighs on our community. Those of us with more privilege and power must carefully listen to the voices that have historically been, and continue to be, marginalized and oppressed. We must amplify the voices that are demanding justice and humble ourselves as we take a deep look into the ways that we have both knowingly and unknowingly caused harm and injustice by upholding systems that cause harm and injustice. The silence of those of us who have benefitted from these systems is detrimental.
Black at App State recently made a list of demands to address inequities that they have personally experienced at Appalachian State University. They also requested a meeting with Chancellor Sheri Everts to discuss the content of the letter and action plan for the demands. An appropriate response would be for the chancellor and the University to:
• Invite these voices to the table when discussing solutions.
• Sincerely apologize for grievances caused by a system that is both racist and lacking in a solid anti-racist action plan.
The response of the University was disappointing:
• Rather than listening, 40 additional people were invited by the chancellor to a meeting on July 21 that was requested and organized by Black at App State. The chancellor and her guests refused to use the agenda prepared by Black at App State and muted every Black at App State Voice on the zoom call at the start of the “meeting.”
• Rather than inviting these voices to the table and showing gratitude for the diligent work they have put into a strategic list of demands, Everts has insulated herself with Black bodies on the general council and in the role of chief diversity officer, successfully tokenizing these Black bodies, putting them in a precarious position to take the heat for her unwillingness to engage.
• Rather than apologizing for this horrible zoom incident as well as the racism experienced by students and faculty, they have ignored it and reacted in defense by showcasing a vague strategic diversity “plan” that is lacking in detail and lacking in input from the voices most affected.
The Boone Anti-Racism Contingent supports the list of demands laid out by Black at App State and we demand that Chancellor Everts and her cabinet:
• Attend a meeting hosted and led by Black at App State without the presence of 40 other voices who are not requested by Black at App State.
• Formally apologize for their actions towards Black at App State at the meeting on July 21.
• Invite Black students, faculty, and alumni to be the primary decision-makers regarding who the members of their aforementioned accountability team will be.
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Boone, member of the Boone Anti-Racism Contingent