The Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DAAS) condemns the placement of a noose in an elevator in Allen Hall over Labor Day weekend. Students, faculty, staff, and the community are rightly outraged and incensed by this heinous act. The noose represents a painful symbol of lynching—one of the most violent forms of white supremacist terror and African American racial oppression. We are deeply concerned that the University and local authorities failed to issue a statement and an emergency alert about the noose immediately after news broke about the incident.
The noose found in Allen Hall is part of the rising tide of racism at UIUC. In recent years, swastikas have been drawn on campus buildings. A white UI groundskeeper tossed a noose on a desk used by an African American fellow employee. Anti-immigrant statements have been written on campus sidewalks. Perpetrators have attempted to forcibly remove hijabs from Muslim women. Spanish speakers have been told to speak English on campus and in the community. The University continues to allow the use of racially divisive Native imagery at UIUC-sponsored events. Beyond Illinois, the noose in Allen Hall comes on the heels of recent racially-motivated mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and in a worsening racial climate in the United States. Globally, anti-black racism is resurgent in Brazil, across Europe, and elsewhere.
Given our commitment to the Black Studies’ motto “academic excellence and social responsibility,” DAAS demands that the perpetrator be held accountable for his actions and that the University expel any student(s) or fire any staff person(s) responsible for placing the noose in Allen Hall. We call on the University to increase African American student enrollment, hire more Black faculty, provide additional resources for the underfunded DAAS—and all Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies units on campus—and end the use of Native imagery in all UIUC affairs. We believe that a clear and swift response from the University and community to the noose in Allen Hall is essential for eradicating racism and in promoting social justice on campus and beyond.