The Resident Student Association’s Statement on Racial Injustice

The Resident Student Association of the University of Pittsburgh stands in solidarity with our black communities, black students, and the Black Lives Matter Movement following the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others. We stand with student organizations at Pitt such as the Black Action Society, who have embarked on projects to uplift black voices and communities, to educate ourselves and both our POC and non-POC allies, and to address the systemic and ongoing racial injustice within America and its institutions. The foundation of RSA is community, advocacy, and representation. When there are those within our community who experience injustice and hardship, it is not only our desire to protect and stand in solidarity with them, but it also our duty.

We have a duty to call out hate, bigotry, racism, police brutality, prejudice, and discrimination in all its forms because there can be no community without elevating the voices of the hurting and the oppressed. As an advocacy and representative body, RSA recognizes the role it has to play in empowering the voices of our black students and communities. We recognize the importance of creating an environment where students feel safe from racial prejudice and injustice, and making sure action is taken against those who seek to violate the dignity, voice, and human rights of our black students and communities.

We recognize that true allyship by non-black individuals and communities starts by addressing the covert racism, prejudices, and racism in our safe spaces- our homes, our thoughts, the jokes that are made when one thinks that “nobody here will get offended”. Being an ally means educating yourself on black issues even if it does not directly impact you. It means listening to black voices when they cry out and speak of their pain, and not trying to justify the unjustifiable. It means recognizing your privilege and the spaces that you can access because of the racial imbalance and injustice in America. Being an ally means speaking out against racism without having to be prompted, and in a way that is genuine and not performative.

If we look at the deepest parts of our communities and see that we are afraid to speak even if we do not agree, it signals that there are difficult conversations to be had and discriminatory thought processes to broken. Our activism and solidarity come with acknowledging that there are not efficient systems in place that protect black lives, black voices, black ideas, and black people.  Action needs to be taken on every level- in our homes with our families and friends; in our schools with our faculty and students; in our institutions with governmental bodies and corporations alike; and most importantly in ourselves.

We recognize that silence is not a stance that any of us can take without being complicit. Inaction and silence, by any other name, is a violent recognition and upholstering of a system that is responsible for the loss of countless lives and the mistreatment of countless more. There is so much work that needs to be done to rectify the wrongs and levels of injustice that are rooted within our society, but it is our hope that we shall learn together, stand together, mourn together, and strive towards change and true community together.

There are so many ways that you can take action, empower, and uplift those in your communities, but if you are looking for a place to start please review some of the following resources:

Signed in Solidarity,

Danielle Obisie-Orlu
Resident Student Association President 2020-2021