Let My People Be Free to Breathe

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LISTEN Delashay Carmona Benson speaks at a recent SRJC event. Courtesy of Delashay Carmona Benson.

Returning back to school this year—50 years old, an Afro-Latina, a disabled student—I chose to dive into the community headfirst. I did not wish to allow my adversity to define my experience but to influence how I chose to engage with other students, faculty, and staff at Santa Rosa Junior College. I began joining various clubs, meeting students, planning events, and through time, began to understand that there was a real need for black and brown students to be more active, present and supported on campus. I joined various racial-affinity groups, social groups, and more. I ended the first semester with a 4.0 GPA and was appointed Vice President of Clubs of Petaluma.

Once the Pandemic had begun its onslaught of altering my communities and what we knew as normal, I believed nothing could get worse. That’s when the Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged in the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Tony Mcdade and George Floyd. 

Immediately, the Black Student Union, various community leaders and I began planning a community event that promoted the leadership and presence of black voices and protested against police brutality and injustice. We came up with a series of demands, a program that will ensure Santa Rosa Junior College promotes racial equity and inclusion. 

We will no longer be silent. These are our demands. 

  1. We DEMAND FREE tuition for Black and Indigenous students.
  2. We DEMAND Black Scholarships. 
  3. We DEMAND an Office for Black Student Development starting FALL 2020. 
  4. We DEMAND a more racially-diverse faculty and staff.
  5. We DEMAND the hiring of a Black Counselor, specifically, Dianna L Grayer.
  6. We DEMAND a Black/Ethnic Studies Department be implemented.
  7. We DEMAND Proper Comprehensive Racial Awareness training to all Staff, Faculty and Administration.  
  8. We DEMAND SRJC Create a Strategic Plan that will increase Retention Rates for marginalized students.
  9. We DEMAND the IMMEDIATE Removal of Don Edgar from the Board of Trustees. ANYONE in Leadership, Staff, Faculty or Administration who has been accused of Embellzelment, Bribaries, Discrimination, Bullying, Stigmatizing or Harassing should be removed from their positions IMMEDIATELY.
  10. We DEMAND that Campus Security shows fair and equal treatment regarding events that are hosted by the BSU.
  11. We DEMAND that Summer Classes not have Due Dates or Deadlines.
  12. We DEMAND that Dr. Chong come to our BSU meeting once a semester to keep us posted on the progress of our DEMANDS.  
  13. WE DEMAND THE JOBS OF THE FACULTY, STAFF AND ADMINISTRATORS THAT SUPPORT US NOT BE THREATENED DUE TO THEIR SUPPORT OF BLACK STUDENT UNION STUDENTS.

We don’t want to be pacified. It’s time for a change.
Delashay Carmona Benson is a re-entry college student at Santa Rosa Junior College where she advocates for inclusivity, diversity and equity.

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