As a BIPOC professor at UW-Madison, I am deeply troubled by the racist remarks made by a student on TikTok about the Black community. Racism and bigotry have no place in our society, let alone in our educational institutions. It is unacceptable and hurtful, and it undermines the hard work we do to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
As a BIPOC, I know all too well the impact that racism can have on individuals and communities. It can make us feel unwelcome, invisible, and devalued. It can also cause real harm, including mental and physical health issues, diminished academic performance, and limited career opportunities. That’s why it is important for all of us to condemn and challenge racism whenever and wherever we encounter it.
As educators, we have a special responsibility to lead by example and promote a culture of inclusion and respect. We must not only teach about the harms of racism but also actively work to dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate it. This means engaging in critical dialogue, advocating for policies that promote diversity and equity, and holding ourselves and others accountable when we fall short of these ideals.
Furthermore, we must recognize that racism is not just an individual problem, but a systemic one. It is the result of centuries of colonialism, slavery, and discrimination that have shaped our society in profound ways. To truly address racism, we must not only address the individual behaviors but also the larger systems and structures that uphold it.
In light of this, it is crucial that our community takes swift and decisive action to address this incident. The university must clearly state its commitment to equity and inclusion and outline concrete steps to ensure that all students feel safe and valued on campus. This goes beyond training and education for students and staff and the creation of safe spaces for BIPOC students. We need the implementation of restorative justice practices.
As BIPOC professor I stand in solidarity with the Black community and all those affected by racism and with the students who are taking action to change this racist narrative. We must continue to work together to create a more just and inclusive society, one where everyone is treated with respect and dignity.