Statement from the Black Student Alliance

letter to the editor

Black undergraduate students at Duke continue to grieve alongside many members of the Black community nationwide over the losses of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Sean Reed, George Floyd, and the countless other victims of racially charged violence against Black people in America. Each day, we lose more members of our community to increasingly normalized and racially motivated acts of violence. These include police brutality perpetrated by law enforcement, whose duty is to protect and serve; and hate crimes committed against members of our LGBTQ+ community, especially Black trans women, which often go completely unnoticed by the public. These despicable acts are upheld by the notion that Black bodies are disposable. We, the Black Student Alliance, offer condolences, support to our community, and call on the wider Duke community to demonstrate that Black lives do matter through tangible action.

To our Black community, we first want to offer our condolences to the students and families that have been suffering from health-related challenges and loss due to COVID-19. We would like to offer our love and support to families and friends who have lost loved ones, and stand in solidarity with all who seek ultimate justice and desire freedom. It is extremely important that we continue to take care of ourselves during these traumatic times. Self-care is a necessity, and we must remember that our existence in itself is a form of resistance. We encourage our constituents to take the necessary steps needed to prioritize their mental and emotional well-being. We invite you all to reach out to us if you have any thoughts or suggestions for future BSA endeavors, including thoughts on what to propose to the administration. We are dedicated to amplifying your voices while advocating for purposeful education and action that empowers others, leading to justice for all. We are currently working with multiple student organizations to plan initiatives that will support you. You are cherished greatly, and our community would be nothing without each and every one of you.

While the Black community continues to suffer from these hate crimes steeped in racist ideals, we challenge those who actively benefit from white supremacist power structures to show their support and acknowledge their privilege which indisputably accompanies whiteness. Agreeing with this statement alone is not enough. We ask that members of the Duke community who are capable of donating to do so. Perhaps donate to the families of the slain, and/or to organizations fighting to continue the pursuit of justice for these lost Black lives. We encourage Duke student organizations to be active allies to the Black community. This includes taking measures to educate oneself on Black oppression and how to engage in anti-racist behavior. This education can be found through search engines, free online anti-racist courses, podcasts, books, or educational shows as well as campus resources. We also ask that both individual members and prominent organizations in the Duke community practice allyship by donating to the many initiatives which are aiding Black people in their fight for equality (see list below). We expect that the administration will uphold an action-oriented plan in addition to their words of solidarity.

We understand that this is a difficult time for our community, and it is time that everyone commits to being an ally. Thank you to those who are taking action outside of your homes; we hope that you are being vigilant with your health and safety. Lastly, for our Black students, you are all valued members of this community, and we will do everything in our power to aid you.

Duke University’s Black Student Alliance Executive Board

Tobi Akinyelu, Co-President

Cartier Robinson, Co-President

Kelyce Allen, Vice President

Clarke Shead, Chief-of-Staff

Kaycee Hailey, Black Caucus Chair

Aisha Greene, Director of Programming

Giovanny Sims, Assistant Director of Programming

Taylor Braswell, Publicity Chair

Jasmine Clairsaint, Content Creator

Christopher Staley, Financial Consultant

AJ Smith, Historian

Jabari Kwesi, Co-Outreach Chair

Sydney Reede, Co-Outreach Chair

Resources & Next Steps

Register to Vote

Understand Your Rights

Strategize – Organize – Mobilize


Stay in Engaged – Hold Elected Officials Accountable to an Agenda You Set/Believe In

Know Your History – an Empowered/Envisioned Future

Cultivate Your Physical Strength to Ensure You Have Energy to Work

Educational Resources

White Fragility (Discusses why it’s so hard for people to talk about racism)

Discussing Microaggressions (Teenage girls from different backgrounds discuss microaggressions as well as the effects)

Why Coronavirus is Hitting Black Communities Hardest (NPR Code Switch Podcast)

Race, Power & Policy: Dismantling Structural Racism (Explains how racialization affects our society)


Justice for George Floyd (NAACP’s Petition with a list of demands concerning justice for George Floyd)


The GoFundMe for Tony McDade (The organizer of this fundraiser publicly committed to handing all funds over to the mother of Tony McDade in order to pay for funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, and living arrangements for Tony’s mother)

Black Visions Collective (a Minnesota based organization that envisions a world in which all Black lives matter)

Louisville Community Bail Fund (a fund that supports the bail of protesters in Louisville, who are fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor)

North Carolina Bail Fund (a fund to support the protesters in the surrounding Duke community)

Take Action Chapel Hill (a volunteer-run fund to support activists facing criminal charges in the Triangle area)


Share and discuss “Statement from the Black Student Alliance” on social media.