Ruminations on my Open Letter

About a week or so ago I, with the support of a number of POC UC graduate students, sent an open letter to the union to express my concerns with their hiring of a full time organizer position, to make explicit my hiring preference, and most importantly to bring to light the ways that I feel the union has failed to center the voices of the Black community and develop a relationship with Black organizers at the UCs.

That letter has been met with silence. Within that silence I am reminded that challenging people to acknowledge anti-blackness as a building block of our society makes people deeply uncomfortable.

An Open Letter to UAW 2865

As a Black queer woman and doctoral student, I have never felt completely seen and/or supported by the union. The Union leadership historically has not recruited or maintained relationships with Black grad students, organizers or organizations. You all have the opportunity to right that wrong by making a decision now that will center the voices of the Black community and develop a relationship with Black organizing efforts at the UCs. Furthermore, the union needs to address the ways that anti-blackness runs through the very fabric of this organization. Anti-blackness perpetually situates Black people at the bottom of the social hierarchy, and as the basis of racism in this country, it is present in all forms of oppression. The absence of any real concerted effort to fight this by the large majority of union leaders makes the hiring of this position all the more important.

The Union’s motto is “UC for All” — We can’t just say “UC for ALL” and not mean it, we need structural change. We need Black feminist union politics in the labor movement as to prevent the union from replicating the wrongs of the United States labor movement throughout history. The union leadership hires all of the students for its positions. Thus, resources and benefits must be allocated when possible to the most marginalized among us. We’d like to leave you with this question: what is the union doing for people of color?