CSU students present Black Feminist Manifesto to highlight racial injustice on campus

Haley Candelario

Students and faculty gathered to watch and listen to a group of students present their Black Feminist Manifesto at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art Friday afternoon.

CSU student Shayla Monteiro recites poetry during the Black Feminist Manifesto release party at the University Center for the Arts on Oct. 27, 2017. (Jack Starkebaum | Collegian)

The release party included poetry about the experiences of Black women at Colorado State University from T’Hani Jenae, Ratu Marutle, Shayla Monteiro, Zelle Moore, Hali Martin and Tricia Alexander, as well as a call to action to from the only male participant of the manifesto, Xavier Hadley, for Black men to speak out on racial injustice within the Black community.

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Presenters saw the need to create the manifesto after attending the Words of Fire Conference at Spelman College in Atlanta. The students were able to secure funding to attend the conference by receiving donations from departments at CSU and recently shared their experiences at this year’s Diversity Symposium during their presentation, Towards a Black Feminist Manifesto.

Alexander thanked the contributors for helping the students in attending the conference because they saw a need to share the information with the campus community.

“Your contributions have allowed us to participate in an event that we not only needed but deeply yearned for … we were searching for something CSU does not have, but desperately needs, which is a framework that really accounts for our struggle as Black feminists and as Black women.”

Martin said the presentation of the manifesto intends to start conversations at CSU about the experiences of Black feminists and Black women.

“To make the presentation, to put it together, was to bring together the community of CSU to celebrate our work … and discuss and bring in people to the conversation about Black feminism, about having a Black feminist presence on campus,” Martin said.

Jenae said the group noticed distinctions between Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college, and CSU.

“(CSU) educates us all as if we were white and heteronormative, in heteronormative ways as if we were men, and doesn’t account for those other identities of womanhood, of queerness, of any of those identities are not accounted for in this land grant mission,” Jenae said.

Martin added that, in comparison to Spelman College, CSU lacks the tools to enable instructors to talk about issues that affect Black students on campus, such as the noose in Newsom Hall. 

“There’s no infrastructure to have dialogue about the topics we want to talk about, and there’s no circumstances that are made that are made specifically to have the kind of conversations we discuss in the manifesto,” Martin said. “(That is) why we felt compelled to write the manifesto and put our feelings, actions, words as well as our academic experience into (a) 45-50 page document.”

Caridad Souza introduced the release party by saying she worked with the students who met every Sunday from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. for the past five months to collaborate on their testimonials for the manifesto. 

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According to Jenae and Martin, the students have been working on the manifesto since March and plan to release a website for it, which will include specific and general experiences the students have had at CSU.

“A huge part of our thing is to make sure that Black women know that this work is being done and that there’s space being created for them,” Holt said. “We’re in a different historical and current context in terms of what CSU stands for and what CSU will fight for in terms of those students.”