4-year-old leads chant at UCLA Black Lives Matter walkout
- Hundreds of staff and students at UCLA gathered to protest Thursday in solidarity with Mizzou.
- The rally was led by the school's Afrikan Student Union and included chants of "Black Bruins Matter."
Hundreds of faculty members, students, alumni and staff at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), gathered to protest Thursday in solidarity with students at the University of Missouri for allegedly racially discriminatory incidents at the Mizzou campus.
The rally, led by UCLA’s Afrikan Student Union (ASU) and consisting of a variety of chants such as “black Bruins matter” and “hell no, we don’t go,” concluded with a 4-year-old child named Seijani leading a famous chant by FBI-listed terrorist Assata Shakur.
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains,” Seijani recited over a loudspeaker, followed by protesters with fists in the air.
The protesters discussed various similarities between the racially charged incidents that took place recently at the Mizzou and at UCLA. They repeated the ASU’s earlier list of demands from the university, which included a grant of $30 million and an “Afro-House” designated for black students, emphasizing that the university had not yet fully fulfilled their request.
UCLA’s Chancellor Gene Block responded with a letter to the entire UCLA community promising to take action in regard to the racially charged incidents.
“In the past few weeks, I have met with students from the Afrikan Student Union to hear their concerns, and I have reached out to campus leadership to make sure we are doing the best we can to respond to those concerns,” Block wrote.
The actions taken so far include initiatives to increase enrollment of black students, revised anti-discrimination policies, a UCLA-affiliated school to be built in a black neighborhood in Los Angeles, a student advisory group for “equity, diversity and inclusion,” increased scholarship funding for minority students, and a floor in student housing designated for black students.
“Once again, Chancellor Block has failed Black [sic] students by responding to only half of our demands,” the ASU tweeted in response.
One protester noted Thursday that the rally was followed by a visit from campus police.
“How can we focus on studying if we know we are not valued in our everyday lives?” Kamil Oshundara, a second-year world arts and culture student and ASU board member told the Daily Bruin.
“We need to make ourselves heard,” Ummara Hang, a graduate student in social welfare, said. “We all have a common purpose – to confront systems of oppression.”
But many are questioning the ASU’s methods of protest.
“I don’t think praising a cop-killer helps your cause,” Don Frederick said to the ASU.
Others pointed out that it was inappropriate that the black student group resorted to having a young child lead the Assata rants.
“So sweet to see a 4 year old leading a chant written by a cop killer on the FBI’s most wanted,” was one sarcastic response.
“#Mizzou actually appropriate since you’re all acting like 4 year olds,” was another response.
Shantal Razban-Nia, a senior at UCLA, told Campus Reform that she thinks glorifying a violent person is inappropriate in any situation.
“As a Black Panther, Shakur was an irrational and out-of-line individual which, if anything, reflects poorly on the black community,” Razban-Nia said. “I especially think that a protest regarding recent attitudes at the University of Missouri is completely unrelated to Shakur's notoriety. It essentially promotes violence and instills a genuine sense of fear in the campus community, which is the exact opposite of what a solidarity rally aims to do.”
Devin Murphy, organizer of Thursday’s event, did not respond to Campus Reform’s request to comment in time for publication.
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