Sydney Gidman | News Editor
Throughout September, Black student groups at UMass Amherst have received racist anti-black emails and messages. The first email was sent on September 7th to the National Society of Black Engineers and was signed by The UMass Coalition for a better society. The group is not recognized as an official organization at the university.
Ben Crump, an Attorney specializing in civil rights cases, posted a screenshot of the email on his official Instagram account. The email consists of offensive racial attacks that demeaned the intelligence, vocabulary, and inherent self worth of Black people. The content also included graphic language asserting that Black men should get sterilized.
In a statement by Vice Chancellor Nefertiti Walker, she called the emails “violently offensive” and acknowledged a general “uptick” in anti-black incidents on campus. She explained that “there have been other acts of anti-Black hate imposed on our community through the ‘Contact Us’ online forms of registered student organizations, as well as an incident involving the offender driving by and yelling an anti-Black racist epithet at a group of Black students.”
Walker’s statement included steps the school is taking to “support Black students impacted and targeted by these emails”. The administration promises they will hold Student Affairs administration office hours for “dialogue and support”, contact affected students to “create opportunities for healing”, and provide other campus resources.
Walker concludes with a call to action for students to take responsibility themselves. “Please continue to report these hateful acts, even if the act is not directed to you. Active Bystander engagement is important to eradicating racism on our campus.”
UMass Amherst has been criticized for a lack of action to mitigate racism on campus in the past. Last summer, a list of demands from the Racial Justice Coalition— signed by close to 2,000 people—was sent to university officials. The New Hampshire Gazette included the 9 page document in a 2020 article. The demands included increasing academic equity, preventing racism, healing amidst racism and divesting from the UMass Police Department. Although the university claimed they would take the document seriously, there has been no measurable effect seen from the small changes made.