Race, Police & Justice: Voices from the Colgate Community

Kiese Laymon, Associate Professor of English

The Colgate community’s selection of my book, “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” signaled to the rest of the nation that institutional and interpersonal business as usual will not be tolerated at Colgate University. As daring as the selection was, the students, administration and faculty who have been pressuring the community to radically change for a while know that one common read can not tangibly transform any institution.

The students have been doing the heavy lifting at Colgate and all around this country. Their work has saved and honored lives, but it is not enough. At Colgate, and in

Hamilton, we need police chiefs and directors of Campus Safety to reckon with their education around issues of identity. It is impossible to transform if one doesn’t accept one’s own tendencies toward abuse, profiling and unfair disciplining of Black and Brown bodies in this nation. I am a Black college professor. I am paid to educate. That education is, however, bankrupt if I don’t consistently reckon with my investment in White supremacy and heteropatriarchy. We are never delivered from the evils that shape our educations as Americans.

I’d like to call on local police, security, administration and trustees to lead by example and commit to sustained justice-oriented educations and workshops crafted by active

Colgate students. Colgate students deserve to be served, pushed and protected by folks who are consistently doing the work of justice. There is no deliverance. There is only work. Many of the students are doing the work. They are committed. Are the grown-ups who have a disproportionate amount of power doing all they can to reckon with their investment in the institutional abuse of targeted groups at Colgate and in Hamilton? Prove it.