The South Lawn filled Thursday before a newly hung Black Lives Matter banner on the Performing Arts Center. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency, students coalesced in a call to action against the forces of marginalization and hatred that made his rise to power possible.
At Thursday’s ceremony to raise the banner, members of the student body and the Sarah Lawrence community at large stood atop the short stone wall in front of the PAC and, overlooking the crowd of their peers, spoke on activism and resistance. Especially in the wake of recent bias related incidents on campus, their words were poignant reminders of the danger and violence inherent in Trump’s ideology.
But going beyond the implications of the presidential election, several speakers noted that for many students of color on campus, fears that came out of this week’s events are nothing new. They urged the community—particularly white students—to take the concerns of students of color seriously, and recognize that racism is far from confined to parts of the country where Trump received most of his support.
“I hear your anger over the success of President-Elect Donald Trump, I feel your pain and your fear,” said senior class president Lesedi Ntsele (’17), who organized the raising of the banner with fellow class president Sadie Zavgren (’17). Ntsele continued, “We are all afraid and we are all in pain, and I don’t want to take away from that, but I do want to say that it’s not enough to be angry about Trump and the hatred perpetuated across the country when the same people have been targeted on our campus.”
As Ntsele and Zavgren said in an email to the student body earlier this week, the banner is meant to “stand as a reminder to our commitment to the students of color on this campus and around the country [and] stand as our response to those who committed the acts of bias and to those who stood silent while members of our Sarah Lawrence community were targeted.”
The college’s Committee on Diversity met after the ceremony Thursday, according to an email sent to the community Friday afternoon, where concerns were brought up on how the election will impact students of color, LGBTQIA students, undocumented students, and Muslim students, as well as issues such as reproductive rights and socioeconomic security.
“We must commit to continuing the dialogue about these most serious concerns and finding ways that we can positively impact the future of this campus and our nation,” the committee wrote.
The banner, on which the words “Black Lives Matter” are written over the colors of the Pan-African Flag, will stay up until the end of the fall semester.
Ricky Martorelli ’19