PLATTSBURGH — The average Black American wants their slice of the pie, according to Dr. Ricardo Nazario y Colón, the State University of New York senior vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
He was the keynote at the recent Black Solidarity Day held at SUNY Plattsburgh.
“We want that slice and our share of it, and we want it now,” he said.
“That has been the conscious objective of our movement. However, we as Black people think of this effort, the very fact that the American institutions, as they now exist, cannot accept the demands for full citizenship of the Black community and remain what they are. To that extent, the Black Revolt is revolutionary.”
Dr. Mary Frances Berry, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Plessy v. Ferguson, said:
“In the one hundred years since Plessy, Justice Henry Brown’s majority opinion and Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissenting opinions have been implicated in the African-American struggle.
“Most of us have never been integrated. and we are not desegregated after slavery, or when successive waves of new immigrants began assimilating into American society. Neither were we really desegregated during the civil rights movement.
“If you look at our history, we have tried everything: coalitions with whites, we tried the NAACP and LDF and CORE and SNCC, we’ve tried Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg and Roy Wilkins and Martin Luther King, and we tried to gain reparations and Garveyism, and the Black Muslims and Malcolm X and the Panthers, and Karenga’s US (Organization), and the Republic of New Africa and Farrakhan.
“And yet, empowerment remains elusive for us. We’ve tried migration up North and then later out West and then back South again, and still we are harmfully affected by the persistence of racism. and our quest for empowerment through community solidarity remains problematic.”
“As far as we, the Black community is concerned, we continue to consciously want to become a part of American institutions as they are,” Colón said.
“So far as our movement is concerned, it demands that America deal with the contradictions of this society, that much thinking — economic, social, and political — be changed, and that new institutions come into existence based on our movement and our unconscious analysis of the situation.”
Here’s why Black Solidarity Day, and the broader support of allies, is crucial according to Colón:
Black Solidarity Day is a source of empowerment. It reminds Black individuals of their shared history and collective power, particularly in the face of systemic obstacles and racial discrimination.
It raises awareness among Black people about the importance of our vote, our economic power, and our role in advocating for social justice and policy change.
The day encourages reflection on past struggles and achievements, as well as education about current issues affecting the Black community.
It fosters a sense of community and unity within the Black diaspora, as it is a day to come together in solidarity to confront common challenges and celebrate shared culture and identity.
By refraining from economic activity, the day is also meant to highlight the Black community’s economic influence and the importance of their contributions to the economy.
The Role of Allies
While Black Solidarity Day is a crucial moment for the Black community, awareness, education, and advocacy should not fall solely on Black individuals, Colón noted.
Allies are importan
This fight is a shared responsibility. Allies can help shoulder the burden by educating themselves and others about racism and privilege and engaging in shared responsibility.
Allies can amplify Black voices, particularly in spaces where they are underrepresented or not heard. Allies can use their platforms, access, and privilege to magnify the concerns and needs of the Black Community.
Allies often have access to different resources and networks, which can be used to support Black initiatives and organizations, thus helping to create more significant change.
“As allies, you can play a crucial role in challenging systemic issues within institutions and communities,” Colón said.
“You can question policies, practices, and norms perpetuating discrimination and inequality.
“The energy and commitment of allies can help sustain the movements momentum for racial equality, ensuring that it is not just a momentary trend but a persistent fight for justice.”
Allyship is critically important at this moment when forces are chipping away at diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, Colón noted.
“As active allies you can help counteract the efforts that aim to dismantle DEI by advocating for the maintenance and advancement of these initiatives,” he said.
“You can use your voting power and political influence to support candidates and legislation that promote DEI and oppose those that seek to weaken it.
“When educational institutions face challenges to DEI, you can support curriculums and programs that provide a more comprehensive and inclusive history and social education.”
In the corporate world, allies can push for inclusive practices, hold companies accountable, and support businesses owned by Black individuals and other minorities.
On a community level, allies can participate in local events, support Black businesses, and engage in community-building activities that foster inclusion and mutual understanding.
“I want to be precise here because people like ourselves are often so far up in orbit that we can’t get some people to understand what we are talking about,” Colón said.
“Black Solidarity Day is a powerful reminder of the collective strength and influence of the Black community. However, the path toward a more just and equitable society requires the active participation of allies across all communities.”
Allies can extend the conversation, share the load of advocacy and education, and enact change within their spheres of influence, ensuring the movement toward racial equality and justice is united and sustained.
“And, I repeat, that the Black movement is, in fact, revolutionary in not its objective but its method and its demand,” he said.
“The tragedy of society today, as it was 60 years ago, is that many refuse to acknowledge the need for a movement for the Black community.
“And therefore, we have the terrible and awesome responsibility as Black people to stay in the movement because its our movement that makes possible many, many things for this society.”