Dear Stanford Community,
As you know, many events impacting the Black community at Stanford and nationwide have recently taken place, from professors exercising their freedoms of speech to Zoom-bombings, and now the outbreak of protests originating in Minneapolis.
We, the white leadership of the ASSU, are writing you today to express our ambivalence toward these events. We are sympathetic to those seeking justice for the death of individuals such as George Floyd because justice is a word with positive connotations, but feel that expressions of violence, looting, and arson are ultimately detrimental to the protesters’ cause. It should be considered, for example, how much it costs to produce iPhones and designer bags, or how an arrest might look on the records of protesters when they seek to apply for employment in the future. We feel that it should be remembered that figures like Martin Luther King Jr. always advocated for nonviolent protest and that he never broke the law or went to jail—perhaps, in following in his footsteps, today’s protesters might find greater success and respectability.
Additionally, we feel that staging these protests at a time of great vulnerability, during this pandemic, comes with risk and danger. Protesters should always stay six feet or more apart and wear the proper masks and gloves, or better yet, postpone the entire endeavor by a few months when life has gone back to normal. Police stations are immobile, after all—they will be just as easy to burn later on.
We empathize with all those who have been isolated in the past months—just as it has been difficult for us to refrain from hosting cocktail parties and beating up the homeless, it must be frustrating to see members of your community murdered in cold blood, perpetuating the institutional racism that has haunted the racial minorities of this country for centuries. We invite protesters to exercise their empathy as well, by considering all the good that the police do for communities all over the nation, by considering the injuries and deaths that may result from the protests.
In closing, we urge anyone in support of racial justice to vote in the upcoming national election for Joe Biden, who has never joined a protest, ever.
Cody Smith ‘22
Miranda White ’20
Jacob Turner ‘21
Allison Allison ‘21