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The Passing of Basil Paterson, the Loss of a Patriarch for Harlem

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By Tony Best
Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

“A selfless leader” and a man of action” who “dedicated his life to making sure other lives were better.” A tribute from a son about his distinguished father, Basil Paterson, who died a few days ago at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan at the age of 87.

The words of praise came from the man who became the first Black Governor of the State of New York, David Paterson who was counseled in the latter period of his two years as Governor by his father, the advisor to mayors, governors, labor leaders and even a U.S. President or two.

Now, many of the people who sought and received his advice during his more than 60 years as a New York State Senator, Deputy Mayor of New York City, Secretary of State of New York, labor attorney, negotiator and federal mediator are showering him and his memory with tributes that speak to his sophistication, wisdom, grit, ability to get on with people and achieve goals that have made the City and state the great places they are today, even in the toughest of times.

“Basil Paterson, exemplified a model of public leadership, serving the people of New York with integrity and dedication to make the state a better place,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo, who succeeded Paterson’s son David in 2010. “From his service in the U.S. Army during World War 11 to breaking barriers to become New York’s first African-American Secretary of State, Basil Paterson put his commitment to this state and our nation first. His legacy inspired a new generation of talented public leadership, a legacy his son, David Paterson, carried on as Governor. “

A close friend, supporter and ally in many of the battles they fought to boost life in Harlem was former Mayor David Dinkins, who like Paterson and his son broke the racial barrier that had previously placed high office out of the reach of Blacks. Dinkins and Paterson had linked arms with Percy Sutton, a dedicated civil rights activist, former Manhattan Borough President and successful media owner and executive who led the way in Black owned radio stations in New York and across the country; and U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, a former Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. They became known as the “Gang of Four,” powerful movers and shakers in Harlem and beyond.

“The Gang of four is no more,” said Dinkins on learning of Paterson’s death. “Basil Paterson was not only the smartest among us, he was one of the most decent human beings and sharpest political minds around. As Deputy Mayor, Secretary of State or labor lawyer, he counseled generations –from presidents to shop stewards in his dignified and brilliantly incisive manner. He was one of the greatest friends anyone could hope for.”

Congressman Rangel was equally effusive in his praise. “He was a man of great integrity, justice and courage to do what is right,” said the federal lawmakers who has spent more than 40 years on Capitol Hill.

“In everything he did in and out of office, Basil was a pioneer who blazed the trail for a generation of leaders in Harlem, in our City and across the state,” Rangel said. “Basil broke so many barriers, giving voice to our community in his own special and unfortgettable way.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio put it differently. “New York City has lost a progressive giant who committed his life to lifting up others,” the new City chief executive declared. “Like so many in this City, I often sought Basil’s advice and gained from his wisdom throughout the most than 20 years I had the honor of working with him. He helped to shape the thinking of so many of today’s leaders in our city and state. And while Basil was known as a trailblazer, he was also a family man who cared deeply for his wife and children, and my thoughts are with my good friend David today.”

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, described Paterson as “one of the ‘lions of Harlem’” and “a groundbreaking public servant. No matter your political views or what neighborhood you came from, everyone respected Basil Paterson, and that was why he successfully mediated so many seemingly intractable disputes.”

Paterson was the son of Caribbean immigrant parents – a father from Grenada and a Jamaica born mother who at one stage was the Secretary of Marcus Garvey when he led the Universal Negro Improvement Association, perhaps the greatest Black mass movement of the 20th century in the U.S.

Like Paterson and his Caribbean immigrant roots, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, a Brooklyn Democrat, was born in New York but traced her background to Jamaica and in a statement said his “contributions to the civil society we share today were considerable – as a civil rights activist, an attorney supporting the rights of workers, as a member of the New York State Senate and a Deputy Mayor for labor relations, in which he provided critical assistance in negotiating contract that allowed New York City to avoid bankruptcy.”

Letitia James, the City’s Public Advocate, who sat as a member of the City Council when Clarke represented a Brooklyn district at City Hall, saw Paterson’s death as the “lost of a patriarch” for Harlem and the lost of a “champion” for New York City.

“Basil Paterson dedicated his life life to helping New Yorkers and inspired countless people into public service, paving the way for other leaders, particularly in the Black community,” said James.

‘Lion of Zimbabwe’ Recalls 'Chimurenga' on Independence Day

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Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Apr. 21 (GIN) – As Zimbabwe marks its 34th year of independence from colonialism, singing star Thomas Mapfumo sent a salute “to the brave heroes and heroines who joined the war of liberation.”

In a radio interview, Mapfumo – the “Lion of Zimbabwe” – recalled the time of the independence war. “When we were singing — it was about freedom, justice hence I coined my music “Chimurenga”.

“Even though I was not holding a gun, it was a difficult terrain and I was constantly harassed, arrested and detained because I denounced oppression and colonialism,” he told Nehanda radio. “My dream was to see a free Zimbabwe where our citizens are able to access education, health, access to decent accommodation, and above all a better life for everyone.”

He continued: “Today, we need all hands on deck to do more to make real the dream of equality, justice and a better life for all. The brutalities of the past – detentions without trial, disappearances of our people, deaths in detentions, hangings of those opposed to colonialism, imprisonment, exile, massacres, assassinations, forced evictions, banishments and laws that made the lives of black Zimbabweans unbearable — are testimonies that our freedom was never free.”

“Although today we walk tall because our collective efforts culminated in the 18th of April being our Independence Day, we all still carry scars that remind us that our freedom, which is at times taken for granted was never free.”

“We cannot allow tribalism to prevail in our society, communities and in any of our various and diverse institutions.”

Finally, Mapfumo closed with the theme of one of his popular songs. “Our nation must develop, but instead of working to develop our country there are those selfish individuals who because of their positions of influence are busy stealing from the poor. That must stop; it’s a betrayal of the values of the liberation struggle and our national independence.”

The 69 year old Mapfumo was imprisoned without charges under the white-dominated regime of Rhodesia. He now lives in exile in Oregon and although he has occasionally returned to Zimbabwe he has not returned since 2005.

Black Families Becoming More Aware of Autism

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As Camille Proctor watched her one year-old son, she knew something wasn’t right. He played with others and enjoyed affection, but he never spoke. He also walked on his toes. His pediatrician assured Proctor that was son was probably just developmentally delayed.

At 15 months old, she learned that wasn’t the case – he was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

“My son didn’t have the telltale signs, but I figured it out without the diagnosis. I had to basically force a diagnosis for my son so he could get the services he needed,” Proctor says. “But it was hard because now I had a name for what his problem was, but that wasn’t helpful for me going through it every day.”

Autism diagnosis rates are skyrocketing. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1 in 88 children had a disorder on the spectrum. By last month, that number had jumped 30 percent to 1 in 68 children.

Although autism rates are highest among Whites, particularly males, studies show that African American children are usually diagnosed much later than their White counterparts.

Because little is understood about autism, information and resources are hard to come by, especially for families of color. Because of that, in 2009, Proctor launched The Color of Autism, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocacy, awareness and knowledge among Black parents, connecting families to local services, and providing one-to-one support.

“I have exhausted my 401(k) and my son’s father did too, because nobody told us all we needed to do was fill out this 100-page document, get it approved, and he could get all these services for free,” Proctor stated. “I only found out because another parent at my son’s swim class asked if I was going to put him in hippotherapy [therapeutic horseback riding targeted for autism], but I said I couldn’t afford it. And she told me Medicaid would pay for it.”

Part of the dearth of information aimed at Black families is because concerted, grounded research did not begin until the 1980s (before then, ASD therapy consisted of electroshock therapy, institutionalization, and drugs). Few researchers have chosen to examine how the spectrum manifests in people of color.

A research team at the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment is working to change that. Dr. Daniel Geschwind and his team have been identifying and studying the genetic causes of autism, how those genetic anomalies manifest in ASD symptoms, and how treatments can be designed around this information. Last year, Geschwind was awarded a $10 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand his research to study African American genes.

“After 10 or 12 years of doing this…I started to realize that from a public health standpoint, it’s time to apply the success [of previous research] to other groups. We lead the field in finding these genes, and I think the next step is the inclusion of underrepresented minority groups in genetic studies—I feel very strongly about that,” Geschwind says. “It’s incredibly important because now, when a person with European genes comes into the [Autism Center] clinic, there’s a 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 chance we can get a diagnosis for them. We assume that would be almost essentially the same for someone with African ancestry, but we actually don’t know.”

Geschwind explains that in genetic testing, it is important to retain the data’s power—a measure of its validity. That power is undermined by a diverse sample of DNA—if dissimilar DNA samples are compared, it’s hard to tell whether an effect is because of autism, or attributable to the genetic differences. Since DNA from White Americans is most ubiquitous and easiest to recruit, researchers tend to only study this population.

And since Black Americans have a calamitous history with medical research, it’s even harder to find willing participants. Without willing participants, there is little to no data tailored specifically to African Americans.

One aspect of raising a child with autism that rings acutely for parents of Black children, particularly boys, is the risk of wandering.

Last October, 14 year-old Avonte Oquendo wandered out of his school in Queens, N.Y. unbeknownst to his teachers and staff for nearly 15 minutes. After a three-month citywide search, his remains were found along the East River.

“Very rarely does a case of wandering from school end like [Oquendo’s] but this shows it can,” says Lori McIlwain, co-founder and executive director of the National Autism Association, and founder of the Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response and Education Collaboration. “Wandering happens from every setting, and people need to be aware, schools and teachers need training. We need to all work together on this.”

From Oquendo’s death came a push for “Avonte’s Law,” and other wandering legislation. Avonte’s Law introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY.), centers on providing voluntary tracking devices to parents of autistic children who wander or bolt. According to AWAARE, tracking devices are a small start.

“A multilayered approach is what [AWAARE] recommends. Tracking is just one component of that,” McIlwain explains. “We hope that with any kind of change to laws, that wandering prevention will be added. We’ve given our suggestions to Senator Schumer’s office, and we also approached the Department of Education with a list of requests to address this on the school side, because of 30 percent of parents report wandering from schools.”

McIlwain has a son on the spectrum who is prone to wander and bolt. In the worst incident, he left a playground and made his way toward a highway, where a Good Samaritan found him. Because her son is nonverbal, it took some time to find out where he belonged.

Proctor’s son wanders as well, especially when he was a toddler. The family dog would follow him, knock him over, and subdue him until an adult came to the rescue.

“I think this legislation needs to be pushed,” she says. “There’s no reason Avonte should be able to walk out of his school in New York City and Al Sharpton is not all over that. I don’t see anybody out marching for [Avonte]. I’m glad the legislation is being done by a White legislator, and I’m okay with everybody advocating for our kids, but I want to see us advocate for our kids so everyone knows that they are valuable.”

Proctor’s organization, The Color of Autism, offers resources for parents starting from the first 100 days after a diagnosis. She is also trying to fund a film, Screaming in Silence, a documentary about the affects of autism in African American families.

“I always ask Black parents concerned about the autism label, ‘Would you rather the label 1234567?’ And they say, ‘What’s that?’ I say, ‘It’s an inmate number.’ Because that’s what’s going to happen to your child when he begins to act out, without a diagnosis or a mental chart somewhere. Nobody cares about a Black child after puberty,” Proctor says. “Autism is not a death sentence. We need to team up and support our own community.”

When Cops Hide Behind Badge to Kill Blacks

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In 1965, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was a hotbed for social protest and bred students passionate about equality, justice and civil rights. Seventeen year-old, Ruby Sales, born in Jemison, Ala., was one of those students.

“Once you got the religion of civil rights and you were really in the movement, it was hard to turn around, because there was something about it that wouldn’t let you loose,” said Sales.

She joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and when youngsters from Lowndes County, Ala., called on the group to help organize demonstration for back payment for sharecroppers and a voting drive, Sales, a sophomore, knew that she had to go.

A mob of White men wielding baseball bats, trash can lids and rakes greeted the peaceful protesters. The cops arrested Sales and her group, holding them for a week feeding them “slop.” Sales said some were tortured. They were afraid to drink the water.

When the group of a little more than 20 demonstrators were released a week later with little fanfare they were relieved and suspicious. The dusty and hot streets of the town were deserted.

Four of the young activists Ruby Sales; Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopalian seminarian; Father Richard Morrisroe, a Roman Catholic priest and Joyce Bailey, a local teen, left the group and walked across the street to buy sodas at the grocery store they had frequented just a week earlier. Sales and Bailey were Black. Daniels and Morrisroe were White.

Sales led the group. Friends would say that she was always in the front.

As she walked up the short set of cement cinder block steps to enter the store, waiting for them in the doorway was Thomas Coleman, a White volunteer special deputy sheriff armed with a pistol and a 12-guage shotgun.

“When I got to the door, he said, ‘Bitch, I’ll blow your brains out!’” remembered Sales. According to the student, Coleman leveled the shotgun on her and everything seemed to move in slow motion. Daniels pulled Sales down the concrete steps. Coleman squeezed the trigger. Sales fell sideways off the steps as the shotgun blast nearly tore Daniels in half.

“I thought I was dead,” said Sales. “I thought, ‘This is what dead must feel like.’”

But Sales wasn’t dead. Coleman fired another round, hitting Father Morrisroe in the back as he fled with Bailey. Sales crawled out and hid behind a car near the grocery store.

Then, Sales said, the volunteer sheriff called the police. Later, Coleman was charged with manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Daniels and claimed self-defense. A jury of his peers found him not guilty in two hours. He never served a day in jail for the incident.

Though traumatized by the experience, the young Sales continued to work with SNCC. It a period of rank optimism, when many young people, Black and White, were determined to remove the walls of segregation and, in the process, change America for the better.

“It’s not that people were suicidal but they were making a statement that they wouldn’t let the fear of death turn them around, they were moved by the spirit toward freedom,” Sales said.

She continued her work in civil rights and after graduating from Episcopal Divinity School in 2001 founded The SpiritHouse Project, a non-profit research, education and action organization that works for racial, economic, and social justice.

There, she was able to rekindle her work as an activist by tracking what is formally called extra judicial killings of Blacks – the deliberate murder of Blacks outside of the judicial system, often by law enforcement officials.

“It’s a crisis for African American people because we are not safe in this country. We are profiled for hate crimes by people who are paid and empowered to protect us,” explained Sales. “We are not safe, our children are not safe and we are targeted for these murders through tasings, hangings, shootings and beatings.”

Sales continued: “It’s a crisis, because it’s not just a Black problem, it’s an American problem.”

It’s a crisis that dates back to the 1890s and the early 1900s, said Sales, when lynching became a virulent reality in this country.

According to archival records from the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, 1,778 Blacks were lynched from 1890 to 1910, compared to 526 Whites lynched over the same time period. In 1892 at the peak use of the terror tactic, 161 Blacks were lynched and 69 Whites were lynched, the highest year for lynchings on record.

Close to 3,500 Blacks and 1,300 Whites were lynched from 1882-1968.

Sales understood that type of violence against Black people on very deep intellectual and spiritual levels. So, her antennae were already up when she homed in on the suspicious death of Billey Joe Johnson in Benndale, Miss. in 2009 and went down to Lucedale, Miss., a neighboring town, to investigate.

On an early December morning in 2008, police pulled Billey Joe Johnson, 17, over for speeding, one of the indulgences of a star high school running back with college skills and NFL dreams.

Later, the George County Sheriff’s Department would say that he tried to break into the home of a sometimes girlfriend in Lucedale, Miss., and that he ran a red light leaving her house. The girlfriend was White. Billey Joe was Black.

The sheriff’s deputy who pulled the teen over said that after Billy Joe gave him his license, the teen went back to his truck an retrieved a 12-guage shotgun that he used for hunting and shot himself in the face. Sales found the report unbelievable and said that the case showed the hallmark characteristics of a modern day form of lynching.

“Immediately, that historical collective memory kicked in,” said Sales. The suspicious death, the quick and incredulous suicide angle pushed by law enforcement, and the White woman, were all tell-tale warning signs, according to Sales.

Lynchings were often seen as the final solution used to intimidate and disenfranchise Blacks, especially Black men who were portrayed as a clear and present danger to the sanctity of White women, Sales said.

Sales began to link that case and more than a dozen other cases, some covered in the media, others just covered up.

“I said, ‘Oh my god, we’ve got a crisis here, Black folks are right back where we were after Reconstruction,” recalled Sales.

Sales said that the nation is being torn apart by these acts of White supremacy and the acts pose a clear and present danger to America’s image in the world and our ability to forthrightly deal with foreign policy.

She asked, “How do you talk about countries who don’t have democracy when the very heart of democracy is being shredded at home?”

In April 2013, The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a human rights group focused on self-determination in the Black community, released a report detailing the extrajudicial killings of Black people in the United States. The group compiled the data from Internet searches, public documents, police reports and eyewitness accounts.

According to the report there were 313 such killings in 2012, nearly one every 28 hours and almost twice the number of murders when compared to the number of lynchings at their peak in 1892.

According to the report in almost half of the killings, police officers, security guards and vigilantes said they “felt threatened,” “feared for their life,” or “were forced to shoot to protect themselves or others”

Thirteen percent of the killings involved suspects firing a weapon “either before or during the officer’s arrival.”

“The extrajudicial murders are tools of social control to re-establish White supremacy and to control African Americans and other people,” said Sales. “Violence has always been a means of doing that. The same ideological perspective that gave rise to lynching is in place today.”

Nothing has changed, added Sales.

“We have to begin to offer that critique in our community to ask why are our hearts are so hardened in the face of these deaths,” said Sales. “Why do we believe in the criminalization of African American people, especially African American men? Why do we believe that black boys and black men are urban animals? Why do we believe that? These are our children. These are our relatives and yet we seem numb.”

Sales draws a direct line from the lynchings that took place from 1882-1968, to the violence that Blacks and Whites endured during the Civil Rights Movement to the shooting deaths of Amadou Diallo by New York City police officers, Oscar Grant III by Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers in Oakland, Calif., Jack Lamar Robinson by police in Waycross, Ga., and the suspicious deaths of Billey Joe Johnson in Benndale, Miss., Chavis Carter in Jonesboro, Ark., and a number of other cases.

Sales plans to invite some of the family members affected by these killings who haven’t benefitted from the direct media spotlight to an event in Washington, D.C. on April 22 to help expand the narrative about the extrajudicial killings and to help people understand that this is not just about a few people being killed. This is a major organized, systemic issue.

“National leaders are not standing up and speaking for the families, the families are speaking for themselves,” said Sales. “They are the ones that have the credible voices and have the right to make their demands known.”

(To learn more about the event on extrajudicial killings that will be hosted by The SpiritHouse Project, visit SpiritHouseProject.org.)

College Students Launch Campaign to Raise Visibility

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By Jazelle Hunt
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – If anyone thought the election of Barack Obama, or the rise of the multi-racial Millennial generation, marked the beginning of a post-racial America, a campaign spreading across college campuses has news for you.

It began with I, Too Am Harvard, a theatrical performance by the Kuumba Singers of Harvard as part of their 16th Annual Black Arts Festival Weekend. The production was centered on 40 unedited interviews of Harvard University students about the challenges of being Black at Harvard. As promotion for the production, the group released its “I, Too, Am Harvard” photo series, featuring Black Harvard students holding dry-erase boards inscribed with racial microaggressions they had experienced during their matriculation:

“Don’t you wish you were white like the rest of us?”

“You’re lucky to be black…so easy to get into college!”

“You don’t sound black…you sound smart!”

“As Black students at institutions of higher learning, our presence is often doubted, questioned, feared, or ignored by our university communities,” explained the show’s producer, Tsega Tamene. “We hope to begin active conversation around this issue.”

On March 3, Buzzfeed, a social news and entertainment site popular among the under-30 generation, ran an article on the photo campaign. The response was immediate and incredible. Over the following days, “I, Too Am,” a takeoff on Langston Hughes’ “I, Too, Sing America,” became a rallying cry for a new generation.

Students of color at other schools started their own “I, Too, Am” conversations on Twitter. It is continuing to pick up steam, spawning thousands of publicly accessible Tweets across 16 institutions, five countries, and three continents.

The movement’s goal is to foster campus awareness and conversation on these microaggressions, and to give students of color a sounding board for their grievances. Each school has tailored the campaign to fit their own needs.

For example, all of the subsequent schools have opened their campaign to all students of color, not just African Americans. A few less racially diverse schools are also highlighting gender, religious, and sexuality microaggressions.

Most student organizers are employing social media, photo blogs, campus demonstrations, forums, or some combination of them.

At Oregon State, for example – where 332 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral Black students make up just 1.2 percent of the student body – the campaign began on Twitter and Facebook then spilled over into a campus solidarity march against racism. The march brought out hundreds of OSU students, faculty, and staff (including the university president and vice provost).

“When people say racism is over because we have a Black president, I just have to laugh to myself,” says Justin McDaniels, a senior political science major (with focus on international relations) and co-organizer of the I, Too, Am OSU campaign. McDaniels recalls a professor who felt “inconvenienced” by the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

“My generation is definitely aware of [racism], and I wouldn’t say it’s any better or worse, the execution is just different,” says McDaniels. “There’s no more ‘No Blacks Allowed’ in your face. Now, no one wants to be called racist, but they also try to get away with saying racist things.”

At New York University, I, Too, Am NYU exists on social media, and as a photo project with more than 100 participants, both on the main campus and at satellite campuses abroad. The student organizers also hosted an open forum for students of color to brainstorm ideas on what the campaign should do next.

“There’s something growing on our campus – the desire of students of color to take this issue on. We’re always saying we need to stop preaching to the choir,” says María-Mónica Andia, senior social work and Latino studies double-major at New York University, and a co-organizer of I, Too, Am NYU. “We wanted to put in the face of the administration, to say, ‘Hey, did you know this was happening to us?’ And it’s not just the students – but the professors see it happening and they stay passive. I don’t know why, but this is an opportunity for our administration to reflect.”

At Notre Dame, the photo project skips the whiteboard and has students write their messages on their bodies to represent how the slights can’t be wiped away simply.

“My purpose wasn’t to condemn or attack Notre Dame – I have personally enjoyed my time here. Most of [the experiences] were not with professors, it was with our own classmates,” says Zuri Eshun, senior film, television, and theatre major and creator of the photo project. She recalled a class in which she had a front row to herself the entire semester, because none of her classmates (all White) would sit near her.

“I don’t know what I can do in the last month-and-a-half as a student at Notre Dame, but I know I can get these images into someone’s head so the people who’ve said these things know that the thing they did and didn’t think was a big deal, was remembered. Changing the mindset of race on campus is the overall goal, not just filtering what people say.”

The University of Oxford was the first international institution to adopt the campaign as a photo project; the University of Cambridge soon followed suit. Someone in Finland extended the campaign to his/her entire country, which is home to many people of color, and immigrants who have earned citizenship there. And more recently, the University of Sheffield (England), the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and Rientjes Mavo (a high school in the Netherlands), have also launched “I, Too, Am” Twitter discussions and accompanying photos.

And there is barely a difference in the experiences highlighted in these international campaigns: “How did you get in to Oxford? Jamaicans don’t study,” or, “You don’t sound like them,” or, “So when are you going back home?”

Not everyone has embraced these campaigns.

A week after the launch of I, Too, Am Oxford, a challenger appeared in the form of We Are All Oxford, described as a multi-racial group of students concerned about future enrollment of students of color. Instead of racial microaggressions, their dry-erase boards bear either university facts regarding inclusion and minority representation, or positive opinions and experiences with multiculturalism.

“We would like to emphasize that we do not aim to undermine the original campaign and we are not working against them. We acknowledge that racism exists at the University of Oxford and it needs to be challenged,” the photo blog’s description reads, “but we believe that the university is working hard to tackle these prejudices and misguided perceptions. Our aim is to present the full picture.”

With the I, Too, Am NYU campaign, a skirmish broke out on Facebook after one student anonymously (and erroneously) expressed frustration that the campaign only featured Black and brown participants, stating, “Frankly, its tiring to see black and brown people have their issues magnified every time race is the topic of conversation…. Every ‘race’ (I use that term reluctantly. we’re all [expletive] human) faces their own unique injustices.”

McDaniels and Andia both report offhand remarks either questioning the necessity and validity of such a campaign, or criticizing the campaign for being “divisive.”

On Eshun’s I, Too, Am Notre Dame blog, a self-identified “ethnic race child of immigrant parents” commenter named Alum left a note stating, “I’m sorry, but this movement, among all of the other ‘I too Am’ movements across college campuses, is extremely childish and immature…. [I] am inclined to believe that there is some severe over-exaggeration and hyperbole at play here. I don’t believe for a second that even the most brash of ND undergrads would ever say to another students’ face, ‘go back to where you came from.’ It’s 2014. And I’m not in denial.”

Still, the response at each school has been largely positive.

“I’ve been really surprised at how powerful social media can be as a tool for awareness. It’s an incredible tool to get people involved in a community effort,” McDaniels says. “Racism is still there, and will probably be there for a long time to come. It’s something we still need to work on as a country.”

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