The Politics of Race and Culture @ Cuny

By Christopher Day
Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Newspaper
June/July 1997, Volume 8 Number 3

entire article found here

Building A Multi-Racial Student Movement

The key to beating back the attacks on CUNY is building a broad but militant, politically independent and multi-racial student movement. No single race or nationality predominates at CUNY. In order to mobilize large numbers of students on campuses across CUNY it is necessary to build multi-racial unity. But that unity can’t be built on the basis of simplistic slogans like “Black and White, Unite and Fight!” It must be based on an understanding of the white supremacist character of the attacks on CUNY and open admissions.

One of the biggest obstacles to building the kind of multi-racial movement that can win is the temptation to build the movement on the basis of the lowest common denominator and the narrowest of demands such as simply opposing the tuition increase. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t deal with the fact that the cuts are coming down differently on different people.

The core of the movement at CUNY has always been Black and Latino students because they are the ones paying the highest price for each round of cuts. For a white student from Staten Island going to CUNY because it is cheaper than SUNY (the state university system), a $400 tuition increase will make them $400 poorer. For a Dominican student from Washington Heights, a $400 tuition increase may mean they can’t go back to school next year. Fighting the cuts has a different sort of urgency for different students. In order for white students to help build a multi-racial movement they need to acknowledge the way that white privilege operates within CUNY and the larger society and commit themselves to fighting it even when it goes against their own immediate interests.


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