What is the State of Emergency?
“We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. We have put our sweat, equity and love for Black people into creating a political project–taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.” – Alicia Garza, #BlackLivesMatter Manifesto
One year ago, the United States Student Association embarked on one of the largest and multifaceted racial justice campaigns of our organization’s 70+ year history. State of Emergency focused on increasing access, success, and retention rates for Black and Brown students in higher education. Ominously enough, the campaign was presented and discussed on the plenary floor at our National Student Congress the day Michael Brown was killed.
In retrospect, the shared outrage over the total disregard of Black life was a predecessor to the months of direct actions, disruptions, demands, and counter narratives synonymous with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
We must hold true to the original demands put forth at last year’s National Student Congress at UC Irvine. However, this past year has shown us that education justice means nothing if Black and brown people are being killed with impunity.
The State of Emergency campaign is intended to simultaneously dismantle the oppressive systems which result in black and brown lives being a) shut out of higher education, b) politically disenfranchised, c) subjected to state-sanctioned violence, and d) funneled into the prison industrial complex. Our plan of action works towards increasing access, success, and retention rates for Black and Brown students in higher education through resources and support in order for students of color to survive.
Dismantling Multiple Forms of Systemic Racism
This campaign is part of many campaigns to restore rights and safety to communities of color in the United States. USSA and the State of Emergency campaign will be joining the larger movement around racial justice by pushing forward several pieces of legislation and campus demands that will level the playing field for communities of color.
Dismantle the School-To-Prison Pipeline and Create Safe Communities
The State of Emergency campaign sees passage of the BALTIMORE Act as one of many steps that can be taken to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and restore opportunity to communities of color.
Give Us Our Vote
The State of Emergency campaign seeks to pass the Voter Empowerment Act into law, which would overrule many of the regressive policies that are disenfranchising communities of color across the country.
Safety and Respect on Campus
The State of Emergency campaign supports students of color on college campuses who seek to create spaces that make them safe and provide students of color the resources necessary to thrive.
USSA will be joining the national coalition against private prison funding. Prison divestment will encourage college campuses and other institutions to reinvest in education rather than incarceration.
Our National Theory of Change
Polarize the Public Around Racial Justice
Following the lead of the Black Lives Matter movement, we seek to force the public to pick a side on systemic racism, voter disenfranchisement, and police brutality in communities of color. By holding disruptive, nonviolent actions on our campuses and within our communities, we seek to have white students and neutral people of color take notice of these injustices and pick a side.
Target Elected Officials
Those in elected positions must also understand the voice and demands of students. We demand officials pick a side. If they are not with us, they are with a system that seeks to deprive us of our rights. We will work to win over Members of Congress to our fight through lobbying and mass call-in days, but also through public demonstrations.
Team Up with Other Organizations
We know there are other organizations working on these bills. Through independent action on our campuses, we will build legitimacy as participants in this fight, and then seek to form informal coalitions with local organizations working on these issues. Work with the USSA Vice President to find local coalition partners to work with: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for help!
Escalate and Absorb!
We seek to build a larger more inclusive national student movement. By polarizing the public and building a larger base, we will hold larger and larger demonstrations, and recruit people from those demonstrations into our campaign.
Electoralize the Issue
If we don’t win by 2016 (and even if we do), we will work to register large numbers of youth of color to vote in the 2016 elections and kick out legislators that oppose justice for our communities.
Start a Petition
Click here to start a prison divestment petition.
Click here to start a petition around your own campus demands.
Click here to start a petition supporting our federal demands.
@usaSOE on twitter
State of Emergency on Facebook