Refilwe Gqajela: The ‘Lumumba-Zapata’ Collective Should Change Their Name

Hundreds of UCSD students, faculty members, and staff demanded the University’s denunciation of the Trump presidency during a walk-out strike and public rally on Jan. 20. AJ Peterson/The Triton

For those of you who may be wondering about the absence of the Black Student Union in current campus reactionary work, culminating in the recent walk-out strike, here is your explanation:

The Black Student Union cannot work with an organization that continues to absolve themselves of responsibility to the communities whose history they are actively erasing through name co-option, lack of outreach, and failure to address community concerns. We are demanding that the “Lumumba-Zapata” collective change their name before we can do the necessary community building and development of trust to move forward together in any way; and hope that they take this time to study the histories of the spaces they occupy and listen to the communities within them.

[Read More: Hundreds rally on campus; demand UC to denounce Trump]

Since 1967 Black students on this campus have dedicated themselves to the service of their community, a large and diverse community that has been under attack long before white supremacy took on an orange hue.

The ‘Lumumba-Zapata’ collective, the group seemingly putting together campus mass action, and the Black Student Union have yet to share space, much less an introduction between leadership and/or general body. It would have been nice to meet the group whose name has been co-opted from the long history of not just Black student but Latinx/Chicanx student struggles and labor. A name stemming from the coalition building of communities who aligned their issues and in an effort of solidarity worked collaboratively towards the betterment and representation of their communities. Representation that in this coalition has not been regarded as evident by their lack of outreach and communication.

The name ‘Lumumba-Zapata’ carries with it the weight of two great revolutionary beings, who made their life’s purpose working towards their people’s liberation.

We are in a time, not unlike previous times, where community building and decolonial coalitions could serve as vehicles for community healing and continued attack on oppressive systems. It is unfortunate that rather than being able to focus on that building, burned-out student leaders watch as unforeseen campus support is readily given, not to their historically active and overworked organizations within the Student Affirmative Action Committees, but to an unknown dismissive entity.

Please note that not every Black body on UC San Diego’s campus identifies themselves as a part of the Black Student Union nor would act as a representative for our entire community. Yes, even if they are at the Black Resource Center. There are several organizations on campus representing Black students, one of which is the Black Student Union.

I am violently uncomfortable with unfamiliar folks soliciting our community’s participation in something that has not been adequately understood or brought to us directly and openly. That being said, individuals have their own agency and can choose to participate in whatever actions they choose. Hopefully, moving forward, we can do so together.

Refilwe Gqajela is a student at UCSD and the Chair of Black Student Union.

The positions stated here do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Triton, any of its members, or any of its affiliates.

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