AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Black students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were outraged after a racist letter sent to African American groups on campus suggested they should “consider doing the human race a favor and getting sterilized.”
The school announced Monday it had hired a national cyber security firm to help investigate the source of the emails. University police and the the school’s IT department started investigating the email’s origin last week.
The blatantly racist e-mails recently sent to Black student organizations at UMass Amherst and other deplorable acts of anti-Black hatred are appalling and disgusting. While UMass Amherst is still trying to identify the source of these messages, we do know that the messages in no way reflect the true character of the UMass community and we have zero tolerance for such behavior. We are reminded, however, that we all have an obligation to confront the racism that continues to infect our society.
An email, authored by a group calling themselves, “UMass Coalition for a Better Society,” was sent to Black student organizations. Its content is described by the university’s Office of Equity and Inclusion as “vile, blatantly racist, and violently offensive.”
The email reads, “We look down upon you,” before referencing a long list of racist stereotypes.
This is not the first time Black students have faced racism on campus. “In addition, there have been other acts of anti-Black hate imposed on our community through the ‘Contact Us’ online forms of registered student organizations, as well as an incident involving the offender driving by and yelling an anti-Black racist epithet at a group of Black students,” Nefertiti Walker, Ph.D., vice-chancellor and chief diversity officer at UMass Amherst stated.
Over the weekend, the UMass Black Student Union, along with other Black organizations at the university said in an Instagram post they were “angry,” “hurt,” and “tired,” but certainly not surprised.
Black organizations started receiving racist emails as early as the second week of September. It took the university almost a month from the initial anti-Black racist incidents, to acknowledge these instances. The university’s lengthy response time to racial incidents compared to their rapid response to non-racial incidents is not reflective of a university that claims to be “committed in policy, principle, and practice to maintaining an environment which prohibits discriminatory behavior and provides equal opportunity for all persons.
The group behind the email said they wrote from a non-student account so they are not “victimized by the predictable cries of ‘racism’ and not being ‘inclusive.'”
The disturbing email has caught the eye of Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the local chapter of the NAACP. His son is currently a senior at UMass Amherst studying architecture. Attorney Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer, said, “The increase in anti-Black sentiments at the college is repulsive. Students of color deserve to feel safe on their campus! The administration MUST find who is responsible and hold them accountable NOW!”
UMass said it stands in solidarity with its Black students and is offering resources to those impacted by the rise in anti-black incidents on campus.